Winter Warm-Up: Beef Stew

Beef stew reminds me of being a kid. I guess that’s because my parents always made a really amazing one. It’s also just the thing to warm you up on a cold winter night when soup sounds sooo good, but just not filling enough. And for those of you who love red meat but are trying to eat healthy, you can always buy a super lean cut of beef.

You can put pretty much ANYTHING you want into your stew, but I loosely followed this recipe from Dave Lieberman. In my stew, I put beef (duh, obvi), carrots, green beans, mushrooms, and potatoes. I think it would be really good with leeks and turnips too. However, you should probably take note that the stew takes a while to cook. So if you start making it at 8:00 p.m. on a Monday, it probably won’t be done until around 11:00 p.m. (oops). But that’s basically because it has to cook in the pot for a while, and you can leave it and go about your regular business, while your stomach rumbles.

So, first you’ll want to brown your meat. I bought lean beef from Trader Joe’s that’s already cut up and perfect for stews. Then cook the carrots, onions, and mushrooms (or whatever you decide to use); stir in the flour; and add chicken or beef broth (I used Trader Joe’s beef broth), wine (I used 3 buck chuck Cabernet Sauvignon from TJ’s), and crushed tomatoes (mine had garlic in them). Now you need to turn the heat down and let the stew simmer for 50 minutes. Make sure you stir it occasionally or it will get gross and stick to the bottom of the pot.

Then throw in the potatoes and let it sit for another 45 mintues (Yes, I was starting to get hungry by now). Finally, you can add the green beans for about 5 minutes before you’re ready to dig in to the stew (if you’re still awake and haven’t accidentally fallen asleep and let the stew cook all night and burnt your apartment down in the process). I also added some Gravy Master at the end to give it a bit more color. I admit I had no idea what Gravy Master was and let it sit in my cabinet for a few months after my mom gave it to me (why would I want to add brown color to my food??), but then decided this was the perfect opportunity to use it. I may have gotten a little overzealous.

Lucky for me, the stew can be made a couple days ahead of time. But you’ll probably need to add some water to it once you take it out of the fridge because it will be super-thick. I was really happy with how the stew came out

Not only is the beef stew really delicious, but it’s made even better when you listen to the suggestions of 2Guys Uncorked and pair it with a pinot noir (try A to Z) or a California Syrah (try Rosenblum). Obviously, these wines (along with everything else in my life) can be found at Trader Joe’s. Really, what can’t? Besides marshmallows; TJ’s doesn’t have marshmallows.


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Stop… Shower time.

Time out…I think I just fell in love. I was looking on NYC based Izola Shower‘s website and found some of the coolest shower curtains known to man. Enlarged black and white photos with perfect contrast are on my top ten list of favorite things. A perfect b&w photo on a shower curtain… could legit make the top five list. I especially love the Brooklyn Bridge, London, and Faile ones. Need them the second I own a place with three bathrooms! Hmmm, or I could buy them now and just rotate 🙂



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Taco Dip That Will Make You Popular

I’ve learned that sometimes the easiest things can be the biggest hits. I’ve been making this simple taco dip ever since high school when my mom got sick of making it for my get-togethers and started having me do it myself. It’s not one of those crazy 7-layer dips or anything, but it is absolutely delicious and makes the crowd go crazy. It’s simply cream cheese, salsa, cheese, lettuce, and olives thrown together. It really doesn’t get much easier than that. And I seriously have never made anything that people are so wild over. I have a guaranteed invite to any party if I say I’ll bring a taco dip. Chelsee has already hired my mom and I to make her a taco dip wedding cake, which will probably be at least 20 layers (with a bride and groom on top). Sometimes I wonder if people really like me or are just using me for my taco dip. But, really, it’s SO easy to make that anyone could do it themself.

I had tons of work to catch up on yesterday, but was planning on going to a small Super Bowl gathering, so I wanted to make something that wouldn’t take too long. I knew everyone would love a taco dip, so I whipped one up.

Here are the ingredients you need:

I think the dip is best with Newman’s Own hot salsa, which is seriously the best salsa in the world. And it’s really not that hot. I have friends who greatly dislike spicy food, and I’ve never had a complaint about this. Just be careful not to make the mistake I’ve made before and use peach salsa (the jars look way too similar). Unless of course you enjoy peach salsa in your taco dip. Then, by all means, go crazy.

The chips? They’re called “tortilla chips with an identity crisis” and I bought them at Trader Joe’s because it was legit so crowded there (2nd busiest day of the year, after the day before Thanksgiving according to the cashier), I could not get down the chip aisle, so I just grabbed these. They’re made with corn, brown rice, and potato, and were actually really good. And the name is adorable.

So, basically all you need to do is get whatever size dish/pan/pie plate you want to use and spread the container of cream cheese on the bottom. Then pour the jar of salsa over that. And a bag of cheese over that. Then layer the shredded lettuce on top and throw on some chopped olives. And that’s all. I told you it was easy.

The completed taco dip.

You should try to chill the dip for a couple hours before serving, but it’s not absolutely necessary. It will taste good no matter what!

The taco dip after it has been demolished.

Chels and me watching the game and enjoying the dip.

And being incredibly upset and depressed that the Patriots lost. Seriously, not cool. I think we all lost our appetites after that. But let’s not talk about it. Just concentrate on the taco dip. Yum.


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