Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

imageI adapted this recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen version. This stew is a winter classic, and the kitchen wizards over at ATK have perfected it by coming up with a way to allow the meat to slow cook while preventing the veggies from becoming a mushy mess (spoiler: you’ll put them in a tin-foil packet on top of the stew). I like to prep this in the evening and leave it cooking overnight, floating out of bed in the morning and following the aroma of slow-cooked beef into the kitchen . . .  Michael Scott gets it.

 

Slow Cooker Hearty Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds grass-fed beef stew meat (chuck) or bison, cut into 2” pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fat of choice (olive oil or avocado oil work well)
  • 1 large yellow onion, minced
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (white or baby bella)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Minute tapioca

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pat meat dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Cook half of the beef until it is well browned on each side, about 4 minutes. Put the meat in the slow cooker and follow the same process with the second half of the meat (you may need to add another tablespoon of oil to the pan if it looks a little dry). Remove the meat to the slow cooker.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add another tablespoon of oil. Add the onions, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are translucent and golden, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the broth and coconut aminos and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and transfer it to the slow cooker. Add bay leaves and tapioca.
  7. In a large bowl, toss the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, 1 tablespoon oil,  and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme. On the counter, lay out a large piece of aluminum foil. Place the tossed vegetables on one side of the foil. Fold the foil over the vegetables and crimp the edges really well to form a little foil packet that will fit in the top of your slow cooker. Place the packet in the slow cooker on top of the beef mixture.
  8. Cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 10-11 hours.
  9. When the stew is finished cooking, remove the foil packet from the top of the stew. Carefully open the foil packet (watch out for the steam that will escape as you open it!). Return the vegetables and any juices to the slow cooker and gently mix them into the stew. Add remaining ½ teaspoon fresh thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Parsnip Truffle Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli

imageThese crispy, salty, crave-worthy fries may not make it off of the baking sheet, know what I mean? They’re a quick side that I like alongside a burger and arugula salad, or just on their own (IMMEDIATELY).

The recipe below uses truffle oil, but if you’re not a fan of that musky flavor, try plain with sea salt or make garlic fries instead: saute chopped garlic in olive oil and drizzle the mixture over the warm fries.

Parsnip Truffle Fries with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Ingredients:

For the fries:
1 1/2 lbs parsnips, scrubbed clean
1 T olive oil
1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp black truffle oil, plus more to taste
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems discarded and leaves minced

For the aioli:
1/3 cup paleo mayo
5 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped parsley

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut parsnips into matchsticks by trimming off the top and bottom, halving, halving once more, then cutting into wedges, then strips, and set aside.
  3. Place the garlic cloves (with their papery skins still on) on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil, Wrap the foil around the garlic to make a small foil packet.
  4. Place parsnip fries on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Arrange in one layer and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the baking sheet in the oven, along with the foil packet of garlic.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, tossing/flipping once to ensure more crispy edges and even cooking.
  6. When the fries are done, they should be golden brown and crispy.When the roasted garlic is done, it should feel soft.
  7. Drizzle the fries with truffle oil and sprinkle with parsley and more sea salt, then toss to coat.
  8. For the aioli: Allow the garlic to cool to the point that you can handle it (be careful — the inside may still be pretty hot!). Squeeze each clove out off its papery skin and into the mayo. Add parsley and stir well.
  9. Dip fries into aioli with abandon.

Corey’s Famous Sausage Soup (+ Kale)

This recipe comes from my friend Corey’s blog, Corey’s Clean Eats — I made it for the first time this weekend and now I know why it’s famous. It’s hearty, warming, and a little spicy, and tastes even better the next day. I modified by adding kale at the end of cooking, subbing hot Italian sausages for sweet, and threw in fresh garlic and some thyme from my garden (which thinks it’s still fall outside). Thanks for the recipe, Corey!image

Corey’s Famous Sausage Soup (+ Kale), modified from the original, posted on Corey’s Clean Eats

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 large hot Italian sausages (good-quality pork, turkey, or chicken), casings removed and discarded
1 28 oz. can San Marzano diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups low-sodium beef broth (if you can only find brands with added sugar, use all chicken broth instead)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (more to taste)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, chopped and thick stems removed

Instructions

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions, carrot, and celery and sauté until onions are translucent.
3. Add the sausage (without casings!) and  thyme, pepper, and salt.
4. Cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
5. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
6. Add diced tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil.
7. Add chicken broth, beef broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least one hour.
8. Before serving, stir kale into the soup. It’s ready to serve about two minutes later (once kale has had a chance to cook briefly). Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Corey says: “I tend to simmer my soup for long periods of time. I love how it makes my house smell, and I usually am doing 800 other things so leaving it on the stove to cook until I’m ready to eat works well for me. This soup is also exponentially more delicious the next day, once all the flavors have had a chance to meld together overnight.”

 

Gremolata Mushroom Beef Stew

Image

Stew before its magical 3 hours in the oven

This is one of my favorite winter comfort food recipes, comin’ atcha from Health-Bent.com – you can always count on the wonderful cooks over there for an interesting flavor combo to liven up an old classic like beef stew. (This time it’s orange and rosemary keeping it fresh.)

The original recipe calls for 5 lbs of meat (yowza! I’m a hungry cavewoman and all but that’s aggressive), so I cut that in half and add more veggies while keeping the sauce amount the same. This makes enough to feed 4 plus leftovers that just get better the next day!

Gremolata Mushroom Beef Stew, modified from Health-Bent’s original recipe

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb grassfed beef chuck roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled & diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato or Japanese yam, scrubbed clean (or peeled) and cut into ½” cubes
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup basalmic vinegar
  • 1 organic orange, sliced
  • 2 stalks rosemary + more for garnish
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

Image

And after. Tastes so much better than it looks! (Yes, I know I always say that. TRUST ME.)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of fat over medium-high heat. Trim your meat, removing any large pieces of fat, and portioning the meat into about 4 large hunks (for more brown-age & faster cooking).
  3. Brown the meat hunks on all sides, and set aside.
  4. Add in the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Let sweat for a few minutes, then add in the mushrooms, sweet potato or yam, stock, tomatoes and vinegar. Let come to a simmer and remove from the heat.
  5. Add in the browned beef hunks. Tuck in the rosemary stalks and top the whole thing off with orange slices.
  6. Place in the oven, with a lid (slightly ajar) for 1.5 hours. Then remove the lid and cook another 1.5 hours. Cooking time with vary based on how large your beef hunks are. The beef is done when you can easily shred it apart with a fork.
  7. Once it’s done, go ahead and remove the beef hunks, shredding them and then adding them back to the pot. You can remove the orange slices and rosemary stalks before serving, but I like to leave them in and eat ‘em!
  8. Serve with extra minced rosemary on top.

Golden Beets with Beet Greens and Pine Nuts

beetsDo you like foods that taste like dirt? I do, apparently, so here’s a recipe with beets AND beet greens for my fellow earthy-root lovers. It’s midsummer farm-share season, so I had a bag of beet greens to use up and wanted to find a new way to eat them instead of blending them into smoothies or sautéing them and folding them into scrambled eggs. I loved the richness of the caramelized onions, the nutty Parmesan, and of course the beet’s perfect combination of dirty and sweet (isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway? HAHA).

This recipe calls for golden beets (and pasta . . . forget that), but I bet red or those beautiful striped Chioggia beets would be wonderful in their place. I served it up with roasted skin-on chicken breast marinated in lemon juice and garden herbs.

Golden Beets with Beet Greens and Pine Nuts, adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat (cast iron is wonderful to use if you have it). Add pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer.
  3. Add garlic and stir 30 seconds or until aromatic. Scatter beet greens over onions. Cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl.
  5. Stir beets into onion-greens mixture and beets and season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, if using. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Avocado Dip

photo (7)This dip, when made the original way (with feta), is affectionately called “Crack Dip” because it’s the kind that you put out at a party and people just hover around the bowl, not speaking, completely addicted and shoveling it in.

HUGE shout-out to my friend Suzanne, who gave me this recipe and brought it to many, many memorable parties over the years! Party-animal Suz, this one’s for you.

Avocado Feta Salsa

For serving 2-4 people, use the lesser measurements. If serving more than 4 people, use the higher measurements of each ingredient.

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 avocados – cut in chunks (put in last, right before serving, to avoid browning)
  • 2 – 4 plum tomatoes – chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup red onion (1/4 –1/2 of an onion) – chopped very fine
  • 1 bunch fresh curly parsley – chopped very fine
  • Garlic to taste (1 – 2 cloves) minced
  • ½ – 1 tsp oregano
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 – 4 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 block of feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Instructions

For best results, mix all the ingredients, except the avocados, the night before or several hours before serving so the flavors have a chance to marinate.  Then add the avocados right before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips, sliced red peppers, plantain chips, or alongside some protein. Yum.

Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken “Pasta”

Photo from PaleOMG -- way prettier than mine turned out! As usual!

Photo from PaleOMG — way prettier than mine turned out! As usual!

My friends Corey, John and I made this recipe from PaleOMG and none of us knew before trying it that artichokes, when sautéed and blended up in a food processor, taste luxuriously creamy and when garlic and herbs are added in there, it forms what I can only describe as the lovechild of alfredo sauce and pesto. So yeah…wrap your Paleo-lovin’ head around that and get ready for the satisfaction of a creamy pasta dish without the ensuing bellyache. This also comes together pretty quickly so it’s a good weeknight option!

Artichoke Lemon Pesto Chicken Pasta, from the awesome Juli Bauer at PaleOMG

Ingredients

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (or chicken thighs if you prefer)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise (get a BIG one)
  • 12-15 artichoke hearts, cut in half (I used jarred artichokes that were in olive oil for more flavor)
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3-5 cups of spinach (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 405 degrees.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, place cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until squash gives when you poke the outside of it.
  3. While the squash is baking, make the pesto and chicken.
  4. Place a large pan over medium-high heat, add a splash of fat and 1 minced garlic clove. As soon as the garlic becomes fragrant, add the halved artichokes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let cook until slightly browned and tender on all sides.
  5. Once artichokes are browned, add them to a food processor along with the walnuts, olive oil, vegetable broth, and second garlic clove. Puree until smooth.
  6. Then add the parsley, basil, lemon, and salt and pepper. Puree once more until smooth. Taste and add more lemon and salt and pepper to your preference.
  7. Once pesto is done pureeing, add the chicken to the same pan that you sautéed the artichokes in.
  8. Cook chicken over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
  9. Once chicken is cooked through, add in about ¼ of a cup of the pesto to the chicken along with the spinach, in the pan and mix well to coat. Cover and let cook for 2-4 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  10. When your squash is done, use a spoon to remove the excess seeds, then a fork to thread the strings from the squash and make your “spaghetti.”
  11. Then add the threads of spaghetti squash to the pan (or a large mixing bowl if you need more room). Mix spaghetti squash, pesto, and chicken all together.
  12. Serve with some fresh basil on top.