Guinness Lamb Stew

I really think that lamb is under-rated in the U.S. for some reason. I’m not sure why but I love it and appreciate the hard work of the American Lamb Board and their Lamb Jam event. Stew  has always been one of those comfort foods for me. I cobbled this recipe together a while back to comfort a friend who had scheduled a trip to Ireland with a bunch of other friends, only to have to back out because she broke her leg. So to cheer her up I made this stew and some soda bread for her. It’s super easy and I love making it in my Instant Pot.  Enjoy!

 

Guinness Lamb Stew

  • 1 lbs lamb (I use a shank)
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 6 oz carrot (I use the baby ones)
  • 12 oz potatoes, cut in 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 cup green beans, diced
  • 1 cup peas
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 bottles Guinness beer
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper

Directions

In a ziplock bag add the flour, salt and pepper. Put the lamb in and give it a good shake to coat it with the flour. Add the oil to your pot, in my case I use my Instant Pot on the saute setting, and brown the lamb. Remove it from the pot and add the bacon. Saute for about 3 minutes until brown and crispy. Add in the onion, garlic, and mushrooms with the butter; saute until the mushrooms have started to release their juice and the onion is translucent.

Put the lamb back in and add the beer and beef broth. Take the rosemary, thyme and bayleaf and tie them in a bundle with some cooking twin. This makes it super easy to fish out later. Add it to the pot along with the potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, celery, and tomato paste. I set my Instant Pot to cook overnight but you can do it in about 2 hours. You’ll know it’s done when the lamb falls off the bone.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Shepherd’s Pie

This is a nice comfort food recipe that I like to make, especially in the winter. It’s even better because it freezes really well. You can use all sorts of meat; ground hamburger, lamb, but I prefer a good country sausage. It adds more flavor to the dish. Enjoy!

Sheppard’s Pie

  • 1 lbs ground meat
  • 1 carrot, diced (about the size of peas)
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup green beans, diced about 1/4″
  • 1 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 lbs potatoes diced and peeled
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • Paprika
  • olive oil

Directions

In a large pot, I like to use my Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven, brown the ground meat and onion.

In another large stock pot cook the potatoes in water with a Tbsp of Kosher salt until tender. Drain and mash with the milk and cheddar cheese.

Once the meat is browned add the carrot, peas, and green beans with 1 cup of the beef stock. Simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk together the flour and remaining stock (I just use a jar and shake it well). Add into the meat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, it should start to thicken.

Dish the meat into ramekins about 2/3rds full. Smooth the potatoes on top making sure to completely cover and seal the meat mixture in. Drizzle some olive oil on top and lightly sprinkle with the paprika. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Butternut Squash Soup

You know I really love a recipe that is short and simple, just a few ingredients and you’re good to go. This is one of those, super simple to make and doesn’t take a lot of time. Well except for the roasting part. This is a savory soup as opposed to one on the sweet side, the crushed red chili gives it a subtle kick. The longer you let it cook the better the flavor. So you can make it quickly and eat it right away, make it in advance, or make it in a slow cooker. Again I love to use my Instant Pot 6 Qt .  It can also be made vegetarian if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken. Enjoy!

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Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 medium size butternut squash
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

Cut the squash in half and seed it. Rub the cut side with olive oil and lightly salt it. Place it on a cookie sheet, cut side up and roast at 400 degrees until tender (about an hour). Cool.

Scoop out the cooked squash using a spoon and place in a blender with the chick stock. Puree until smooth. Place the puree in a pot and add the half & half, chili flakes, onion and garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Heat on medium until hot, about 20 minutes.

Chicken Carbonara

Be warned, this is not a healthy dish! But it is oh so good! This is my take on an Italian favorite. Brings back memories of my first trip to Italy. We were staying at a “castle” near Montalcino. We arrived late and our host was gracious enough to make us dinner and it was carbonara. Quick, easy and delicious. He used prosciutto, which he carved off the leg that was hanging in his kitchen. I use bacon but if you want to be more traditional use pancetta instead. I like the smokey flavor that bacon gives this dish. I also cook my chicken using my Anova Sous Vide but you can cook it in the pot after cooking the bacon. Enjoy!

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Chicken Carbonara

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon (or 6 of pancetta)
  • 4 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 chicken breast cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 lbs (1/2 box) fettuccine

Directions

In a bowl whisk together the cream, yokes and cheese.

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta, season generously with salt. Add the pasta once it boils and cook until done, about 10 minutes.

In a heavy pot, I like my Le Creuset Dutch Oven, cook up the bacon on medium-high heat with the olive oil until crisp. If you’re cooking you chicken in the pot add it here with the bacon. After about 4 minutes turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool slighty.  Add the pasta and then the cream mixture and stir to combine. Put it back on the heat at medium-low. You want to slowly bring it up to a simmer so as not to “scramble” the eggs. Once it’s up to a simmer turn the heat down to low and let it cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like you can garnish this with some chopped basil. It’s also good if you add walnuts, lemon peel, or parsley. You shouldn’t need to add salt because of the bacon but it’ll need some pepper.

Mushroom Whiskey Pork Chops

This is a nice fall comfort dish. I like to serve it with mashed potatoes.  The type of whiskey you use can really change the flavor here. When I first tried it I used Jack Daniels. This made the sauce slightly sweet. The second time I used a rot-gut whiskey, it was just ok. Now I use Bullet whiskey and really like that. Enjoy!

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Mushroom Whiskey Pork Chops

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp flour, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 to 4 pork chops
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 1/2 cup whiskey

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the sour cream, water, flour, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

Put 1/2 cup of flour in a dish, add salt and pepper if you like. Dredge the pork chops in the flour.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in an oven proof pan, I like (surprise, surprise) my Le Creuset Round Braiser. On medium-high heat brown the pork chops, about 2 minutes each side. Once done browning, take them out and put to one side. Lower the heat to medium and add the butter. Once it’s melted put in the mushroom, onion and garlic; saute until fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Add in the whiskey and stir until all the brown bits are off the bottom of the pan. The whiskey should have reduced by at least half. Add the sour cream mix, rosemary sprig, pork chops. Make sure the chops are covered with some sauce. Put in the oven, covered, and bake for 45 minutes*.

*why the asterisk? Well the amount of time will depend on your pork chops. Thin, thick, bone-in or bone-less; all these can make the time needed to cook vary. 45 minutes was how long it took for bone-less and thin cut.

BBQ Meatloaf

I grew up with meatloaf, my mom made it frequently. I liked it but this recipe gives it a unique twist. The bbq sauce, with the kick of the spice, makes it a favorite in my house. I like to use a combination of ground beef and ground lamb but you can make it with just ground beef if you like it that way or can’t find lamb. If you don’t like it too spicy then I recommend you take the ancho chili powder and chipotle powder down from 1 tbsp.

OK I have, so far, posted pictures with all my recipes. I’ve made this one twice now and both times was so hungry that I dug in before remembering to take a picture. So you’re getting a less than perfect pic of what little was left after we devoured it. Sorry.

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BBQ Meatloaf

  • 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I like the Italian ones)
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, plus extra for the top of the meatloaf (about 1 cup)

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the bread crumbs, chipotle, ancho, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Mix until well combined. Add in the onion, beef, lamb, egg and 1/4 cup bbq sauce. Mix until just combined. The idea here is to not over mix it as it’ll make your meatloaf dry and “tough”.

Shape it on a cookie sheet that’s been sprayed with non-stick stray. I like a “log” shape myself but you can do round, whatever. I’ve learned that this is better than putting it in a bread pan, which is how my mom would make it. If it’s in a bread pan then all the juices and grease are trapped in the pan. If it’s on a cookie sheet those evaporate or spill out so your meatloaf isn’t so loose and greasy. Pour bbq sauce over the top until it’s covered.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it read 160 in the middle on a thermometer.

Chicken and Dumplings

I credit my love of cooking to my mother. She was always willing to have me help her in the kitchen and she seemed to share my love of baking. One of the things she gave me when I moved out on my own was a cookbook. I still have that cookbook and use it regularly.

Like a lot of recipes I use I’ve modified this one as well. The original, from that well-worn cookbook my mom gave me, had you boiling the chicken for 3 hours, straining it to get the broth, and then making the chicken and dumplings. Way too much work for me. This recipe takes a fraction of the time and is just as delicious. Enjoy!

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Chicken & Dumplings

  • 1 lbs potatoes, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup carrots, either baby ones or cut in 1/2 sections
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 chicken breast*
  • 4 cups chicken stock (more or less)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup flour

Directions:

In a large oven proof pot, I use a large Le Creuset Dutch Oven, combine the potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, garlic and onion. Pour in the chicken stock. Here’s why I put “more or less” in the ingredient list. Really you only need enough to make sure all of the veggies are covered with stock. So depending on your pot and if you strictly follow the ingredient list (which you don’t have to) will depend on how much stock you need.

Bring to a boil and let simmer until the veggies are tender, about an hour. Then in a jar (this is really the easiest way to do it) add the milk and flour and shake vigorously until combined. Add to the pot and stir until well combined. Continue stirring slowly, it should start to thicken. Turn down to low and make the dumplings (recipe below). Spoon in the dumpling and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Meantime turn your oven to Broil. After 15 minutes, uncover, and put in the oven to finish. You want the dumplings to become nice and brown, probably about 5 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then enjoy.

Dumplings

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup of shortening
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chopped chives and mix. Cut in the shortening until it resembles chunky, wet sand. Add the mix and stir until just mixed, try not to over mix it. If they’re dry lumps that’s fine as long as there aren’t too many or too big. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then drop into the chicken mixture using a regular tablespoon.

*ok what is with the chicken? Like my potpie recipe you have a choice or pre-cooking the chicken or cook it with the rest of the ingredients. I’m a HUGE fan of Anova Sous Vide (I promise I’ll blog about this device soon), which is great for pre-cooking stuff. If you do this add the chicken in just before the dumplings. If you want to cook the chicken with everything else, pour a couple of tablespoon of olive oil in the pot and saute for about 5 minutes. Then follow the recipe above.

Chicken Pot Pie

There’s nothing like a pot pie on a chilly fall night. I like this chicken pot pie which is based on a Martha Stewart recipe. I modified it somewhat, mostly the “topping” as she calls for puff pastry but I prefer pie dough, croissant dough, or biscuit dough (store-bought is fine by me). The ingredient that Martha uses that really make this recipe different is a little cognac. It really add a richness to the pot pie. Now you can also make this vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and using vegetable stock instead.

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Chicken Pot Pie

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 lbs of potatoes (I like the small yellow ones) cut into small pieces, about 1/2 inch
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces*
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen green beans, small pieces
  • 5 oz mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2  cup cognac
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 or so sprigs of thyme (tie these into a bundle)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dough of your choice (I use store-bought)

Directions:

In a large heavy-bottom pot, again I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, potatoes, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots are tender (about 8 minutes). Add the mushrooms and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the cognac and cook for a minute. Add the flour and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Pour in chicken stock, milk, and thyme bundle. Bring it to a simmer, stirring, until it’s thick and bubbly.  Add chicken and green beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now transfer it to either a casserole dish or ramekins, which is what I like to use, removing the thyme bundle. Now roll out your dough and cut it to fit your dish and place it over your dish. Cut a hole in the middle so the pot pie(s) can vent.

Bake in a 400 degree oven, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Now you can make the crust nice and golden brown by adding an egg wash. 1 egg and about a teaspoon of water whisked together and brushed onto the dough. I recommend putting your dish on a cookie sheet in case it spills over, it makes clean up easier.

*Now for the chicken you have 2 options. You can precook it, which I do using a Anova Sous Vide (I’ll be posting about what this is soon). Or cook it before anything else. In your heavy pot add 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken, that’ll take about 4 or 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside, then follow the above recipe.

Cougar Mac & Cheese

Like most people I love a good mac & cheese. My twist on this recipe is I like to use a cheese made by the Washington State University called Cougar Gold. While I know it’s local, I’m sure people who live outside the Pacific Northwest can find a favorite in their area. Or if your lucky enough to be somewhere that they sell Beecher’s Flagship Gold, also a local PNW cheese, you can use that instead; it’s basically the same cheese. I’m sure I’ll get crap for this but I use Velveeta as well. If you’re not a big fan of processed American cheese you can use another cheese that’s really good at melting, such as fontina. I use Velveeta because it’s super easy to work with.

Like my risotto recipe I like to finish this off with some truffle oil at the last-minute before serving. Also this freezes really, really well, so I put it in small ramekins that I have that came with lids. That way I can pull them out, pop them in the oven and 30 mins later eat. Enjoy!

mac and cheese

Mac & Cheese

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I like to use Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 2/3 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup Velveeta, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cougar gold cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups rigitoni noodles (or macaroni if you like that.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Truffle Oil (optional)

Directions:

You’re going to want to have the wine and milk close at hand before you start as you are going to be adding them rapidly and doing a lot of stirring.

Melt the butter in a large pan (again I like my Le Creuset Dutch oven) at medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. You’re really just getting rid of the flour taste here.

Slowly add the wine stirring furiously. The flour mixture will become solid and pasty FAST. Once the wine is incorporated and pretty much evaporated start adding the milk slowly, still stirring furiously. The idea here is to not have lumps. If you just dump the milk in all at once it’s make the flour mixture lump up so you need to do it slowly so it’s smooth.

Once you have all the milk in there you can add the Velveeta. Stir until it’s pretty much melted. Add the cheddar and Cougar gold and stir until melted. Now while I’ve put specific amount for the cheese in the ingredient list this is really just a basic starting point. Add as much as you like until it tastes the way you want. It’s possible to add too much, and you’ll know if you do because it’ll become to thick, but you can thin it out by adding more milk. Add salt and pepper to taste and add 1 tbsp of truffle oil (optional).

Meanwhile put another large pot of water with a handful of salt (I like corse briny sea salt myself) to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (meaning it’s still firm and slightly undercooked). When done drain and put back in the pot. Ideally this will be done just about the time your cheese sauce is done.

Dump the cheese sauce into the pot of pasta. Now here you can either put it in 1 large ramekin or several smaller ones that you have sprayed with non-stick cooking spay. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese. Loosely cover with foil, try to have it not touch the top of the mac & cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes or so until bubbly and slightly brown on top.

Rainy Day Potato soup

So unlike the last recipe, which was fairly healthy, this one is not. But hey, sometimes you need something rich and comforting. I grew up with my mom making this all the time for us. I’ve updated it a little but otherwise it’s pretty much the same as she’d make it. You can use what ever potatoes you have on hand and as many as you like. I chose 1 pound because it struck a good balance, for me, between being to soupy and too much potato; but you can add as many or as little as you like and it will still work. Enjoy!

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Potato Soup

  • 1 lbs potatoes (I like the little golden yellow ones)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion (I like sweet)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter (plus 1 Tbsp optional)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk (or cream)

Directions:

Slice the bacon into bite size bits, about 1/16th of an inch. Add to a pot with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Brown over medium-high heat until the bacon renders somewhat.
What does render mean? When it’s nice and oily, more so than when you put it in. That means the bacon has released some of it’s fat.
Once the bacon is browned add the potato’s and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring so they don’t stick. Add onion and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, again stirring.
Remove it all from the pot and add the 2 tbsp of butter and melt it. Once it’s melted add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk. After 2 minutes it should be good. Slowly add the chicken stock stirring constantly. Once incorporated, add everything back in and bring it up to a boil. Once it’s boiling turn it down to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato’s are tender.
Why do this? It makes the soup a little thicker, which I like. Not as thick as some clam chowders but still thicker than how my mom would make it.
Add the milk, or in my case cream, and bring back up to a simmer. This is the point where you want to taste to see if it needs salt, I’ve never had to add any as the bacon is enough. Add pepper to taste.
Once it’s hot, it’s ready to serve. I like to add a tbsp of butter as a finish, it had a nice flavor right at the end.