Simple Beef & Mushroom Stew

Simple beef and mushroom stew, that doesn’t taste so simple. The secret is a Danish seasoning called Gehakt that elevates every savory meal to a new level. (I love the smell, so perfectly spicy and warm. It’s perfect to compliment almost any dish this time of year.) Don’t worry if you don’t have it, just add a pinch each of ginger, mace and nutmeg; taste along the way and adjust the flavor as needed. Serve with mashed cauliflower for a special dish on a weekday. Enjoy.

  • 1 pound stewing beef, cubed if not already
  • 1 8 oz. container button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, quartered and halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • a generous sprinkling of Gehakt or pinches of ginger, mace and nutmeg
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the butter, oil and onions. Let them sweat on low heat until translucent. Pull them towards one side of the pot and add in the beef cubes. Let the beef cubes lightly brown on one side and then give them a good toss. Next, add in the mushrooms, tomatoes and seasonings and give the pot a good stir. Cover and let it simmer on low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally.  You’ll see the tomato skins separate, just pull them out with a fork and discard. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serves 4.


Beef, Yucca and Sweet Potato Stew

It’s that time of year where the chill is beginning to last a little longer and a big pot stewing away on the stove is just what’s needed. This stew is a little sweet, a little spicy, a little savory and full of flavor. Enjoy over rice, barley, orzo or grits. Serve in vintage gravy pots, while the sun is still out for a rustic, autumn meal outdoors. Enjoy and happy weekend!

  • about 1 pound of beef rib bones
  • about 2 pounds of yucca
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 68 ounces water (8 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 star of anise
  • fresh grating of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon good quality, apple balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

First cut the yucca into larger yet manageable pieces, so that you can easily remove the outer skin and discard. Usually they are coated with wax and if you look carefully there is a thin layer under that wax that is fairly easy to remove with a paring knife. Be careful. Once the outer layer is removed, cut into chunks. Use a good knife and be extra careful. Combine the beef, yucca chunks, star of anise, water and sea salt in a large Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for half an hour. (Remove any film that rises to the top of the surface along the way.) Add in the sweet potato and simmer for an additional 2 hours. Remove the beef bone and allow to cool. In the meantime, add in the Sriracha sauce, nutmeg and black pepper. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Once the bone is cool enough to handle, remove the meat and break it up, using a fork. Discard the bone and add in the beef to the stew along with the vinegar. Heat long enough so the meat is warmed through. Serves about 6. Great as leftovers.


Quick Steakhouse Salad

Now and then, I make a quick steakhouse salad for lunch; using roast beef from the deli counter, crisp greens and decadent Roquefort cheese, for that added special touch. It doesn’t take long to get this salad together but the flavors take you to a good steakhouse dinner in the middle of the day. Enjoy!

  • romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
  • seedless cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced
  • a few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • a few baby arugula leaves
  • a few roast beef slices
  • thinly sliced or crumbled blue cheese
  • raw pistachio nuts, chopped
  • pistachio nut oil
  • a good sweet and fruity balsamic vinegar or even better a glaze

There is no right or wrong way to make the salad or correct amounts. But a good tip is to mix the salad greens. I love red onions, so I always add a little extra. Not a fan of tomatoes? Just leaves them out and then top your greens with a few slices of the roast beef and top with the blue cheese and pistachios. Serve with the oil and vinegar on the side.


Super Spicy Curried Red Lentils & Beef

It felt a little chilly over the past weekend, so I made these super hot and spicy red lentils and they were so good, the pot was empty in no time. It’s a recipe I have to share, even though it’s expected to be perfect beach weather today, with the temperatures in the high eighties. Save this one for a cool, autumn night. Enjoy!

DSC03325/spicy red lentils

  • 1 pound of flanken chuck short ribs
  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 or more cloves of garlic, smashed and minced fine
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1/2 a teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 heaping tablespoons garlic chili sauce (made by the same wonderful people that make that addictive Sriracha sauce, usually found next to each other)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, heat up the olive oil, until sizzling on low to medium heat. In the meantime, season the beef with sea salt and pepper. Brown the ribs on all sides and add in the garlic and give them a good toss. Watch the garlic carefully so it softens but doesn’t brown. Add in the water along with the juniper berries and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, lower the heat to a low setting and simmer for 1 hour. Next, add in the lentils and scallions along with the rest of the spices. Give a good stir and let simmer for about 30 minutes, give or take. On the side, keep a kettle with hot water going, in case the water evaporates and the lentils aren’t tender yet. They will also start sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add in about a 1/4-1/2 cup of water as needed. (Enjoy a nice cup of tea while you are waiting.) Needing water depends on the freshness of the lentils. I’ve had lentils cook up in a shockingly quick 20 minutes. This batch took 40 minutes and an additional half a cup of water. Discard the juniper berries and bay leaf, adjust the seasoning as needed. Serves 6. This is great warmed up the next day and even nice served cold atop a baby kale salad with a hard boiled egg on the side.


Cannellini Bean, Potato & Beef Marrow Bowl/Spread

I always thought of beans, potatoes and beef marrow as hearty winter food but if you serve it warm; at room temperature with a green salad on the side, it becomes a nice change from the ordinary warm weather dinner fare. But what’s even more special is the spread version; creamy with the potatoes and beans; super flavorful with the fatty marrow. Serve with salty anchovies and capers on the side for a nice contrast. Mmmm…it’s really so good and a nice addition to your table for a party. Serve with some gluten free crispbread and you have a completely gluten free appetizer. Enjoy!

  • 1&1/2 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 small Yukon Gold pototoes, diced to about the size of the beans
  • 4 small marrow bones, about an inch thick or a little larger
  • 4 cups water
  • a few allspice berries
  • sea salt
  • anchovies
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, combine the beans, potatoes, beef bones, the allspice berries, water and sea salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Once it is at a rolling boil, lower the heat to low and simmer for about an hour and a half, until the beans are soft and tender. Serve as is at room temperature, (discarding the berries) with a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper for a meal. (The beef marrow is really flavorful. If you are not a fan of beef marrow, you can always, of course, leave it out.) Or if making the spread, remove the marrow from the bones and let the mixture cool completely. Once cool, remove the allspice berries and puree with a hand immersion blender and serve with anchovies, capers, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. This is nice, as you can have some for dinner and have the leftovers made into the spread. Makes 5 cups.

This cat has some mind control over me, for sure, as I just can’t get enough of this plate, lol!


Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers

What’s a gluten and dairy loving gal that’s avoiding her love suppose to do on Cinco de Mayo when a dollop or two of sour cream makes about everything taste more delicious? And when there are warm, soft, glutenous flour tortillas hugging the insides of tacos and enchiladas, making them oh-so-perfect? But make her own little pockets for celebrating, without feeling like she’s missing out. And these came out really tasty and I didn’t even miss the sour cream! Don’t forget the wedges of lime, avocado and the extra cilantro! Now where’s my Skinny Girl Margarita? Happy weekend and Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  • 1 pound organic ground beef
  • 4 cubanelle peppers
  • 1 8oz. can seasoned tomato sauce, reserving 3 tablespoons aside.
  • 2 tablespoons and 1 pepper from a 7 oz. can of chilpotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice
  • 1 small shallot, minced about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely minced
  • 1/2 cup good salsa
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • fresh cilantro
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Trim the stems if needed and half your peppers. Remove the seeds and membranes. Place them directly on the gas burner, until the outside is a little charred for a little extra flavor. Please be careful. Set them aside, using tongs. Combine the can of seasoned tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce and 1/4 cup of water and spread evenly in the bottom of a heavy bottomed 13×9 pan. Place the peppers in the bottom of the pan.

In a pan, combine the olive oil, shallots and garlic. Saute on low heat until soft and translucent. Add the beef, breaking it up with the back of a spoon. Add in the 3 tablespoons of the tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce and the pepper, minced. Add in more if would like a little more smoky heat. Keep stirring, until most of the beef is cooked through. Stir in the rice, salsa and the cilantro. I love cilantro, so I am never shy with it, so use as much as you like. Adjust the seasonings, adding hot sauce if you like. Next, stuff your peppers, packing in an even amount onto each pepper. Place in 350 degree pre-heated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the peppers are fork tender. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

*Gluten free, if sauces are.

Pistachio & Coriander Crusted Prime Rib Roast

A slow roasted prime rib on Christmas bring a specialness to the dinner table. I remember the first time making it, how nervous I was, it took so long. I think in part because I kept opening the oven and checking its’ temperature, lol. By the time the oven had warmed itself back up, I was checking it again, a roller coaster ride of uneven oven temperatures, a roast does not like. A prime rib roast has a perfect Christmas dinner feeling to it, as the evening becomes dark, the tree is lit, Christmas songs are played in the background and the ooos and ahhhs as the prime rib emerges from the oven. It’s a truly memorable feast, once a year. As funny as it sounds, I remember the years not having it, the vegetarian years, the year I made ham (fantasizing it was prime rib, lol) and the year that I don’t count because I cooked it way too long, where it was all grey inside, as my mood on the outside. I hate ruining anything in the kitchen, especially, a special dinner but there was no saving it, except lots of gravy and having it for leftovers in sandwiches. I’ve always made it as most cook books suggest with salt and pepper, served with a horseradish sauce but adding pistachios, nutmeg and coriander adds a delicious crust to the roast and gives it another level of richness. It’s a nice variation for anyone looking for a twist on the classic. Enjoy!

For the roast:

  • 1 4-pound prime rib roast with bone, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios, crushed very fine
  • 1/4  heaping teaspoon whole coriander seeds, crushed and chopped
  • pinch cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • fresh ground  black pepper
  • sea salt

For the horseradish-pistachio sauce:

  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup home style prepared horseradish in a jar, usually found in the refrigerator section, squeezed dry, reserving the liquid
  • 1 tablespoon of the pistachio mixture

Combine the pistachios, coriander seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings as needed. (A nice amount of nutmeg really stands up to the flavors of the roast.) Salt and pepper the entire roast. On a separate plate, lightly score the fatty part of the roast and pack on most of the pistachio mixture. (Reserving 1 tablespoon, plus some for garnish, for the horseradish pistachio sauce.) You really want to pack it on and then move it to a heavy bottomed roasting pan. Roast in a pre-heated 325 degree oven, averaging 20-25 minutes per pound, with 20 minutes for rare and moving up to well-done. (To be sure, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.) Let your roast rest an average of 5 minutes per pound, loosely covered with aluminum foil. In the mean time, combine the heavy cream, horseradish and pistachio mixture, adjusting the seasoning with extra salt, pepper and the reserved liquid from the horseradish. You can always serve horseradish on the side so everyone can help themselves in making their sauces spicier. Garnish with the reserved pistachio mixture. Serves 4

Oxtail & Lentil Stew in a Pumpkin

This could be a potentially cute couples night, (with a couple that doesn’t squirm at the thought of eating oxtails, lol) With two sugar pumpkins filled with steamy stew and a bottle of wine, this could be the perfect couples night, at your place. Oxtails are really good once cooked down, till the meat is falling off the bone, combined with sage flavored lentils and creamy potatoes, this is a comforting meal. This stew is time consuming to make but the reward is a not-so-ordinary-dinner and the warmth and coziness it brings to your kitchen, is a definite plus, as the longer it simmers on the stove, the better it gets. Serve each couple with a pumpkin, 2 bowls and spoons and good bread on the side. Present each pumpkin with its’ own mini ladle, so each couple can help themselves. Enjoy!

  • 2 sugar pumpkins, each weighing about 3-4 pounds each
  • 1 pound oxtails
  • flour
  • vegetable oil
  • 4 oz. dried lentils, soaked overnight
  • 1 small carrot, sliced and cut into half-moons
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2-3 small sage leaves
  • pinch marjoram leaves
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cups water, plus more as needed
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt

Salt and pepper your oxtails and dredge them in flour. Heat up a generous drizzle of oil in a Dutch oven until hot. Sear the oxtails on all sides, on medium-high heat, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove them from the pot and lower the heat and add your shallots. Quickly saute them and add in the lentils, giving them a good stir. Add in the water, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin puree, sage leaves, marjoram and nutmeg. Stirring up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add in your oxtails and bring to a boil on high heat with the pot covered. Add in the bouillon, and stir until it’s dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer covered for a minimum of 3 hours. Adding water, as needed, as it reduces. And you could enjoy this as a soup or as a stew, depending on how much liquid you add or reduce. While your stew is simmering away, you can prepare the pumpkins. Begin by cutting the lids off the pumpkin. (Leave about an inch to the stem, so none of the stew comes spilling out, once it’s poured in.) Remove the seeds and the pumpkin threads and don’t be shy about carving into your pumpkin with a spoon, to remove all of the threads. You want a pretty smooth surface inside the pumpkin and the lid. (Reserve your pumpkin seeds for roasting, another day.) Place them in a 13×9 baking pan. Pour two cups of water into the pan and place them in a 325 degree pre-heated oven for 1 hour. After the hour is up, cover with aluminum foil, (with the stems sticking through) and bake for another hour. Let them cool a bit before handling. Using good oven gloves, carefully, move the pumpkins to their serving platter and divide the stew into the pumpkins and serve! You can also scoop some of the pumpkin with the soup, it’s really good! Serves 2 couples or makes 4 servings.

Roasted Beef Bone Marrow Platter

Halloween skeletons sway from the trees, as October winds pick up and bring leaves with its whisper. Skeleton arms creepingly emerge from front yards alongside grave stones, as flickering lights complete the eerie scene. Halloween touches upon the darkside, as we embrace it and make peace with it. When I was little, my mom would make chicken soup and sometimes add marrow bones to enrich the flavor. And when the soup was done and I saw some empty marrow bones in my mom’s bowl, my mom had to show me that the marrow had fallen out and were swimming in the bottom of the soup pot. (It didn’t dissolve into the soup, like I had thought, lol and I was relieved!) After much reassurance, lol, I ate my soup and it was so good! It took me a long time to appreciate marrow bones, as my husband reintroduced me to them. In the cooler, rainy summer days, he made a broth with the bones and spread the soft buttery marrow on toast and I was a little hooked! Later tossing them on the grill, and now with the cooler weather upon us, tossing them in the oven. This is an appetizer that is indulgent and all you need to be satisfied is a little bit on toast. It’s delicious with the salty olive tapanade. If you want more of a pungent flavor add a thin slice of blue cheese on top. And if you want pure indulgence, make a little well in your marrow and pour in a little cream…My favorite is the marrow spread on toast and topped with an arugula leaf, just delicious! And so, as we make peace with the darkside of the season, embracing the ghosts, ghouls and the supernatural, I’ve made peace with what I thought was from the darkside that was lurking in the chicken soup of my childhood…those marrow bones.

  • 1 & 1/2 pounds beef marrow bones
  • 1 ciabatta roll, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup black Cerignola olives
  • 1/4 cup oil cured olives
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed baby arugula leaves plus more for garnish
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 smashed garlic clove
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • ground black pepper
  • sea salt, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon pear infused balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • slice of blue cheese *optional
  • heavy cream *optional
Rub the garlic on both sides of the bread slices and lightly spritz with cooking spray, place on a cookie sheet. Place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Take your cookie sheet out, flip the slices over, spritzing the other side. Bake for 3-5 minutes, until as brown as you like. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Wash your bones well and place them in a heavy bottomed pan or glass pie dish and place in the oven for 35 minutes, roasting them uncovered. While your bones roast, make your olive and arugula tapanade. Remove the pits from the olives. Roughly chop the oil cured olives and finely mince the Cerignola olives. If you can’t find the Cerignola olives, use any mild flavored black olive. In a bowl, combine half of the minced Cerignola olives with the oil cured and blend with a hand immersion blender or regular blender to make a paste. Combine that with the remaining Cerignola olives. Finely mince the arugula and add to the olives along with the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Season with sea salt, if needed. Once your bone marrow is done, (they should be brown and bubbly) make your platter. Arrange the marrow bones, olive tapanade, toast, cream, blue cheese and arugula leaves so everyone can help themselves. Serve nice and hot. Serves 4.

Candele Lunghe in a Tomato Beef Sauce

Can also be called, ”Worms in Tomato Sauce” for the older boys and girls that delight in a little bit of “ILLLL!” and “YUCK!” and similar squeals of the Halloween season. This is great to make on Halloween, before the kids go out trick or treating. You can make this ahead and just heat it up in the oven, the day of. Or you can even make it over the weekend and freeze it. (Just defrost before baking.) This is great for an adult Halloween party also! If you can’t find candele lunghe you can use bucatini in its’ place. And you can certainly use ground turkey instead of the ground beef, I actually prefer turkey over beef any day, but found free range, grass fed organic ground beef that I couldn’t pass up. You can always make this dish vegetarian also! It’s really important, to use a marinara sauce that isn’t laden with oil, otherwise the pasta will be swimming in oil and you will get an ill and a yuck, but not the kind you were anticipating, that comes with a giggle, lol. Enjoy and have a happy weekend!

  • 1 pound candele lunghe pasta,broken in half, cooked al dente
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 5 small tomatoes, like Campari, roughly chopped equalling a cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 1 24 oz. jar good marinara sauce (or a little larger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 juniper berry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Begin by heating up a drizzle of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan, add the beef, juniper berry, bay leaf, clove, paprika, salt and pepper. Saute the meat until browned, breaking it up as needed and cooked through, set aside. In the same pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and saute the tomatoes and the garlic on low heat for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes and garlic are cooked through. Add the jar of tomato sauce and cook for ten minutes. Discard the juniper berry, bay leaf and clove and add the beef to the sauce.

Use a nice amount of olive oil when cooking your pasta, so they don’t stick to each other. Stirring the pasta often. Drain carefully and , use tongs to handle the hot pasta and spread out the noodles on parchment paper, so they don’t stick to each other. Spoon 2 cups of the sauce down in a 13×9 pan and top with a layer of tightly packed candele lunghe.

Spoon on 1 cup of ricotta cheese. Follow by 2 more cups of tomato sauce. Top your sauce with another tight layer of the pasta. Spoon on another cup of ricotta cheese, followed by a layer of pasta. Ending with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 30 minutes. This serves 6-8.