Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ranjo's Beef Stew

Last night I was treated to a home-cooked meal by my boyfriend (this is a big deal considering he normally works very late, so I'm usually the chef). He worked from home for the day, so dinner was up to him... and it was delicious! He made one of his favorite childhood meals, his Dad's specialty, a beef stew with red sauce. Being Irish, I always grew up with a brown beef stew, so I was anxious to see how this differed.
This is a great no-fuss crockpot recipe that is perfect for a busy weekday when you are on the go. All you need to pair it with is a side of biscuits and you have a well-balanced, hearty meal and ample leftovers.

Ranjo's Beef Stew
Serves 4

1.5 lb stew beef
4 Idaho potatoes (peeled and cubed)
2 handfuls of fresh green beans (how's that for measuring?)
1 package sliced white mushrooms
1/2 package of baby carrots
2 jars of spaghetti sauce

  1. Pour some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the crockpot. Start layering ingredients. Potatoes on the bottom follow by carrots, beef, green beans, mushrooms, top with remaining spaghetti sauce and salt and pepper.
  2. Cook in crockpot for approximately 8 hours on medium. Stop cooking for about a half hour before serving so sauce can thicken up.
  3. Serve with a side of biscuits for dipping.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pinterest Party Favorites

This weekend I hosted a jewelry party for a bunch of the neighborhood women and figured this was the perfect time to try out some recipes I "pinned" on Pinterest. I seem to have this recurring problem where I can't take a picture of my creation fast enough because as soon as I set it down on the table (the party hadn't even started yet) my creation was mutilated by hungry guests.

But I take it as a compliment. The snacks were delicious if I do say so myself. The menu consisted of: caprese salad bites, crispy brussel sprouts with garlic aioli dipping sauce, mini chocolate chip cheesecakes, stuffed bread (my Mom's signature recipe that I will include at a later date) and the standard fruit and cheese platters. I also must not forget the abundance of Portugese wine provided by my sister.

I would highly recommend any of these treats for your next girl's night out or cocktail party. They were all a big hit, easy to prepare, and just as easy to clean up!
Crispy Brussel Sprouts w/ Garlic Aioli

For Brussel Sprouts:
20 brussel sprouts
canola oil
salt & pepper

For Aioli:
6 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp minced garlic
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp flat leaf chopped parsley
  1. Place brussel sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil.
  2. Crack some fresh salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Mix around brussel sprouts on pan to ensure they all get nicely coated in the oil.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown on at least one side.
  5. Mix together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and lemon juice.
  6. Serve in a ramekin.

Caprese Salad Bites

1 pt cherry tomatoes halved
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cubed
fresh basil leaves
balsamic vinegar to drizzle
salt & pepper

  1. Thread 1 basil leaf, tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto toothpicks.
  2. Place toothpicks in a shallow serving dish.
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over each.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup of sugar
1 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
24 mini vanilla wafers

**Note: I used a miniature muffin pan as opposed to the standard size.**
  1. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, yogurt and sugar until smooth. 
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Place one mini vanilla wafer in the bottom of each muffin cup.
  4. Evenly divide cheesecake batter between the muffin cups. 
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes are set.
  6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan.
  7. Top cheesecakes with chocolate chips.
  8. Let cheesecakes set in refrigerator until serving.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Man-Pleasing Chicken

Photo credits: Witty in the City
I came across this recipe on Pinterest (every woman's new obsession), and with a name like "Man-Pleasing Chicken," I couldn't resist. This recipe was adapted from law school food blogger Witty in the City, so I decided it would be best to try on my lawyer boyfriend. Needless to say, it was man pleasing.

I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever tasted something like this before. This chicken really was the most savory thing I have ever eaten. Even though the sauce calls for maple syrup and rice wine vinegar, it didn't even have the slightest taste of sweetness or acidity. The only way to describe it is savory, and it is something you just need to taste for yourself.

So now for the recipe you've all been waiting for...

Man-Pleasing Chicken
Serves 3

1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
fresh rosemary

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Mix together mustard, maple syrup, rice wine vinegar and mix thoroughly
  3. Put chicken thighs into an oven-safe baking dish
  4. Salt and pepper the thighs
  5. Pour mixture over the chicken thighs
  6. Turn the thighs over again so they are fully coated
  7. Bake the chicken thighs for 40 minutes, basting the tops of the chicken halfway through
  8. Take out of oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve
The meal is that easy and that good!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Super Easy Beef Stir Fry

Stir fry has been my go-to meal since college. It is easy, uses barely any dishes, and is the perfect mix of vegetables and protein. Probably my favorite thing about it is how it is super filling without making you feel bloated or sick afterwards. For my fellow IBS sufferers out there, you know what I am talking about!

I have used a variety of marinades over the years. My favorite pre-made being Trader Joe's Island Soyaki sauce. But I have also done a good job at replicating the recipe myself, which is what I include below for the recipe.

This time around, I made it with beef strips, but it also tastes just as good with chicken, shrimp or tofu.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Super Easy Beef Stir Fry
Serves 4

**I don't measure when making a marinade. I am a firm believer of starting off with less and tasting as you go.**

For marinade and sauce
Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic
Minced Ginger
Onion Powder
Red Pepper Flakes

For stir fry
1.25 pounds of stir-fry beef (found pre-cut at the grocery store)
2 red peppers
2 green peppers
2 yellow peppers
1 zucchini
1 red onion
head of broccoli
package of white mushrooms

  1. Marinade beef for a half hour
  2. Julienne peppers, zucchini and onion; slice mushrooms; and cut broccoli pieces
  3. Heat up wok/large sautee pan
  4. Cook beef 2 minutes per side on medium high heat
  5. Add vegetables to the wok and mix with beef
  6. Add remainder of sauce stirring every so often making sure vegetables and beef are saturated
  7. Stir fry is ready when beef is cooked and mushrooms are browned
  8. Serve with a side of white rice