Irish Beef Stew

Kiss me I’m Irish! Well, about a quarter Irish or so.8T65Egz7c A month ago my dad decided he wanted everyone to come over and bring a homemade soup. Either a favorite recipe or to try a new recipe. I decided to try a new one. I found this Irish Beef Stew recipe and it seemed perfect.

Normally, I’m not a stew fan (in fact, I wasn’t even a soup fan until I moved to Colorado and froze my butt off)  but I know my dad is so I gave it a go. I found this recipe and it seemed easy and flavorful. The highlight was that it was advertised as a great recipe to make ahead and freeze for later use. Perfect!

All the ingredients were pretty basic for a stew. I got lucky with the beef because my local Stater Bros was having an awesome sale.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2.5 lb beef chuck ,brisket or any other slow cooking beef (no bone)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 onions , chopped (brown, white or yellow)
  • 6 oz  bacon , speck or pancetta, diced
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 14.9oz can Guinness Beer
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth 
  • 3 carrots , peeled and cut 
  • 2 large celery stalks, cut
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme

I love when recipes give you different options! I decided to use bacon which turned out to be everyone’s favorite part of the dish. It was what made it stand out. I bought beef chuck and replaced the Guinness with a water/Worcestershire sauce mixture (my dad wasn’t too keen on the beer since he doesn’t drink).

Let me tell you, the house smelled amazing all day! Since I was going to freeze it for a later date it was incredibly hard not to sneak a bowl.

  1. Cut the beef into 2″ chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  3. Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.
  4. Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
  5. Cook until bacon is browned then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.
  6. Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well) then add remaining ingredients and return beef to the pot (including any juices).
  7. Add enough water so the beef & veggies are almost fully covered.
  8. Cover, bring to simmer then lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours – the beef should be pretty tender by now. Remove lid then simmer for a further 30 – 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  9. Skim fat off the surface.
  10. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!!

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The only thing I wish we had done differently was serving it with mashed potatoes, I just ran out of time that day. Even reheated it was delicious and a big hit. My dad loved it and had it for dinner again the next day. The only people who weren’t fans were the kids but I’m sure the mashed potatoes would have changed that. I can’t blame them too much since I didn’t like any soup either until a few years ago!

Okay, now go try it! It’s perfect for a chilly fall day.

 

Camping + Dutch Oven = Amazing!

Sometimes a girl just needs to unplug from the world and go camping! Last weekend, that is exactly what this girl did. We headed up to Lake Isabella in the Sequoias. It was peacefully quiet, relaxing, and such a nice break from everyday life.

IMG_1352 We went fishing (we only caught a couple of crabs) and explored the lake and Kern river. We got to hang out with our dogs, who are currently staying at my brothers’ (Did I mention we moved back to California in a quick last minute decision? No? Well we did but that’s for another post). And eat smores, which is why the girls like camping so much. It was beautiful up there and such a fun family adventure.

*As a side note if anyone goes up there, stay at a camping spot on the river in Kernville. The river was a blast with people rafting and going in tubes down the river.

I’ve been wanting a dutch oven forever but have yet to purchase one. The majority of my childhood was camping and eating dutch oven dinners or desserts. Camping just needs it the same way it needs scones and Hot Cha Cha (Taco Salad). I decided for this camping trip I was going to borrow my dads’ dutch oven and test it out. My dad loves it and couldn’t contain his excitement while we were digging through all his old recipes.

Most of his recipes are printed from a typewriter and look like they could fall apart if you stare at them for too long, so I decided to find one online for my first try.

I found this lasagna recipe online and it certainly did the job. I honestly was a little nervous because it was so plain; just straight ingredients and no extra seasoning. A lot cheese, meat, and spaghetti sauce. That’s it. I thought for sure I’d hear the dreaded word, bland.  However, when it was all combined and baking in that dutch oven the flavor was anything but BLAND!!! I don’t know what the magic of a dutch oven is but it’s something and it’s amazing.

If you notice on the first picture I didn’t get my order completely correct omitting the sauce until I already added the final layer of cheese. This was such a shame because Layla and I worked so hard on getting the cheese even and to look pretty for the final picture.

You do not need to be camping to use a dutch oven. In fact, tomorrow we are going to make a chicken and rice recipe in the backyard. Just make sure the coals don’t burn the grass or start any fires. (As my dad reminded me over and over)

Lastly, on our camping trip, we, of course, made bacon for one breakfast and I decided to do something I saw on Pintrest . You put the bacon on skewers and roast them over the fire. It was pretty cool and the girls had a good time making them. Sorry to say I didn’t try any of the bacon (I know right, how do you not eat the bacon) but the girls and Hubs thought they tasted great.

With life being as crazy as it has been these past two months, this was exactly what I needed. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, go camping, it does wonders to your soul.

Summer Fun!

Since it has been summertime, we have hardly cooked at all. It has been so hot and humid here in Colorado that we basically have been surviving off popsicles.

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We went on an overnight camping trip and made Chrissy Teigen’s chili, why do I always make chili why we are camping? (the answer is; growing up we always had hot cha cha AKA a Frito pie bar so I just have to make it every single time we go camping) Of course, we had to make s’mores because a camping trip isn’t complete without them!

 

These past couple weeks, I have only made a handful of dinners but I have been sticking with Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, Cravings,  We made her meatloaf, – which is the BEST meatloaf you could eat- with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. I also made prosciutto wrapped chicken. If you haven’t tried Cravings recipe for prosciutto wrapped chicken, DO IT! It is so good, just do not, under any circumstance, tell your kids -or husband- it has goat cheese in it.

As a fun activity with the girls, we made homemade jam. It was seriously so easy and tasty that I may never buy jam again.

To make it all you need is:

-1 cup sliced strawberries

-3 Tbsp cold water

-2 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

Layla put the strawberries in a saucepan and mashed them with a fork. Lucy, using a small bowl, mixed the cold water and cornstarch, I added the sugar after. We combined them into the saucepan and heated until it started to boil, turned down the heat and cooked for 5 minutes. We had to stir constantly, which for the girls was the hardest part. We put the jam in a fancy bowl and let it chill.

The result was delicious. Lucy had hers with cream cheese, while Layla and I had it with peanut butter.

Try it!

 

First Day of Summer

It is no secret that I L.O.V.E. summer. Yes, I know it gets hot but I grew up in Riverside okay!  I would much rather be all hot and sweaty than freezing my backside off. To each their own. Summer to me means VACATION and I love me some vacation. The girls have been on summer vacation since Memorial Day and I have been trying to keep these kids entertained, healthy, and happy.

On Monday, Lucy asked if we could do a daily activity based on the alphabet (I think it’s because she wants to make sure we go to the zoo this summer). So today was ‘C’ and we did Creepy-Crawly Day. The girls dug outside for worms and then we decided to make a Creepy-Crawly pie.

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A graham cracker pie crust, Jell-O chocolate pudding mix, crushed Oreos, and a bag of gummy worms later we had our pie! To be honest I could not eat the gummy worms once they were in the pie, it grossed me out too much. Let me tell you – they don’t look like gummy worms when they are covered in pudding and the dirt oreo!

 

The girls had so much fun making and eating this simple dessert. I love making memories that last a life time, even the simple ones.