Tri-Tip Beef Stew

My memories of beef stew growing up was that it came out of a can and tasted pretty bad.  My mother was not a very good cook.  She was however very good at opening cans.  Consequently, I never really cared much for beef stew.

This weekend we had friends over for dinner.  At first, we were thinking pizza.  No, we just did that a couple of weeks ago with this crew.  So I decided to cook but wanted to keep it simple.  I also wanted to clean out the freezer a bit since winter is coming and there might be some stuff in there that needs to get cooked.  I went rummaging.  I found tri-tip steaks.

“Am I going to grill these things before next summer?”

Probably not.  Stew.  Problem solved.

Tri-Tip Tips:

This cut makes a wonderful stew.  The packages of stew meat you find in the store consist of cubes from different cuts.  Some are very lean which makes for a healthier dish, but less flavor.  A good tri-tip is well marbled and the extra fat makes this stew quite tasty.  You’ll note no potatoes in this stew.  I served the stew over plain rice.  Add potatoes if you wish.  We had homemade cornbread and salad on the side.  A crusty bread works too.  Readers with a keen eye will notice this recipe is similar to Mike’s Pot Roast.  You caught me.

Update 01.07.17

As much as I love making this stew I have a confession to make.  I’ve been making beef stew with top blade steak.  I’m not going to change the name of this stew.  But I should.  Good tri-tip has been hard to find at the stores but one store always seems to have top blade steaks in their meat case.  Well marbled too.

If you decide to use top blade keep the steaks whole and brown on both sides.  The rest of the instructions are the same.  Prior to serving pull the steaks apart with two forks into bite sized chunks.  This particular cut will make the most tender beef stew you ever had.

A lot better than canned too.

Tri-Tip Beef Stew

Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs boneless tri-tip roast,  well marbled, cut into one inch cubes
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T butter (optional)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled, small dice
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 lb white mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
  • 1/2 lb frozen organic green peas
  • 1/2 C Sweet Marsala wine
  • BIG Pinch dried thyme
  • 2-3 T tomato paste with basil
  • 1 C low sodium beef broth
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a cast iron enamel covered pot heat 2 T of oil on medium high heat. Brown beef cubes in pot, several minutes on each side.  You might need to do this in batches to allow a good browning of the meat.
  2. When beef is browned add the onions, small dice carrot, and celery to the pot and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, mushrooms and a pinch of thyme, and saute for another minute.  Add the Marsala wine and continue to saute until the alcohol evaporates.   Add tomato paste, beef broth and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cover and adjust the heat down to a low simmer.
  4. Cook for 2 hours, or longer.
  5. Approximately 45 minutes before serving add 1 T butter (optional) and the remaining carrot chunks.  Reduce heat back to low.
  6. Around 10 minutes before serving, add 1/2 pound frozen organic green peas.
  7. Simmer on low heat until peas are heated through.
  8. Adjust for seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.

What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like – The Atlantic

I know that Chipotle burritos are extremely caloric, but I’ve managed to convince myself that the burrito bowl—all the cheese, guac, and juicy beef, but without the tortilla wrapping—is practically a health food.

No need to work out today, I walked up the Metro escalator! And sure, eight drinks a week is technically “heavy drinking” for women, but I’m Russian.

via What 200 Calories of Every Food Looks Like – The Atlantic.

Go to the article for some sample pictures.  If you dare.

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (1½ lb.), halved and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. )
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
8-12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, scoop into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Add chiles and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in mashed squash, cream cheese, cumin, and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer tortillas followed by the squash mixture, then cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with cheddar cheese as your final layer on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the sides start bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

5. Serve with your usual Tex-Mex sides and condiments. Extra cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, jalepeno peppers, salsa, chips, beans, rice. Or a side salad works too but not as satisfying.

I sometimes forget this blog is about recipes.  I get off on a tangent like mislabeled seafood or nasty who knows what’s in them chicken nuggets from China.  FOCUS!  It’s about the food, the recipes, and the memories.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to make a squash enchilada  casserole when fall rolled around and the hard squashes started appearing in the market.  I was always amazed at how tasty this dish was without any meat in it.  Like all great family recipes this one exhibits the following classic characteristics.

The kids didn’t like it when they were little and I never wrote the recipe down.  I’m sure if I wanted to waste an hour or two I could find the original recipe yellowed and faded, taped to a 3 x 5 card somewhere.  I also know that when I find the original recipe it won’t be how I make it now.  Why bother looking? I do recall the original recipe called for some cooked potato added to the squash mixture.  I also recall the original did not have green chilies in it.  So here you go. This recipe is from memory.  I hope it tastes good.

I can’t believe this is my 100th post.

TIPS

 If you like (or need) an extra kick, sub a heartier pepper for the green chilies.  Need protein?  Add a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, to the middle layer of the casserole.  Monterrey Jack would be a nice sub for the cheddar.  Or Smokey Chipotle Cheddar might work too.  (I have a chunk of this in the fridge and it’s looking for a recipe).  But most of all, have some fun with this recipe.

Update 11.17.14

I know, two days after posting and I’m making changes already.  Step 4 –  for the middle layers, tortillas, squash mixture, cheddar cheese, repeat.  No enchilada sauce.  The red sauce goes only on the bottom of the pan and on the top layer of tortillas.  The final layer is tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded Monterrey jack cheese.  Yellow corn tortillas are fine but I used white corn tortillas.  I only needed ten tortillas.  You’ll get eight generous servings from this casserole.  I made some quick enchilada sauce with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock.  You can leave out the chicken stock if you’re a picky vegetarian.  You can leave the cheese off too but I won’t take any responsibility for how your casserole turns out.

Oceana Study Reveals Misrepresentation of America’s Favorite Seafood

 

Yikes!

Oceana Study Reveals Misrepresentation of America’s Favorite Seafood.

“I’ve seen cute little cleaner shrimp in aquariums and while scuba diving, but never expected to find one on a grocery shelf,’” said Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana. “We really know very little about the shrimp we eat, and the information we do get may not be trustworthy. Consumers have a right to know more about the shrimp they purchase in order to make more responsible choices.”

Among the report’s other key findings include:

  • The most common species substitution was farmed whiteleg shrimp sold as “wild” shrimp and “Gulf” shrimp.

  • Forty percent of the 20 shrimp species or categories collected and identified were not previously known to be sold in the U.S.

  • No samples labeled as “farmed” were mislabeled, while over half of the samples labeled simply “shrimp” were actually a wild-caught species.

  • A banded coral “shrimp,” which is an aquarium pet not intended to be consumed as food, was found commingled with another unidentified shrimp in a bag of frozen salad-sized shrimp purchased in the Gulf.

  • Overall, 30% of over 400 shrimp products surveyed in grocery stores lacked information on country-of-origin, 29% lacked farmed/wild information and one in five did not provide either.

  • The majority of the 600 restaurant menus surveyed did not provide the diner with any information on the type of shrimp, whether it was farmed/wild or its origin.

China Completes Paperwork for Poultry Export to U.S. | Food Poisoning Bulletin

And yet another reason to never eat another chicken nugget unless you know where that nugget comes from.  Yikes!

via China Completes Paperwork for Poultry Export to U.S. | Food Poisoning Bulletin.

The food safety scandals in China have ranged from companies adding melamine to milk to increase its nitrogen content and hide dilution, which sickened 300,000 babies; to plastic added to bubble tea; to pork blood pudding made with formaldehyde and industrial salt. And jerky pet treats imported from China into the U.S. have been linked to thousands of sickened and killed pets.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup low fat milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flours, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a small mixing bowl combine egg, milk, pumpkin, spice mix and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir batter just till blended.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto a lightly greased preheated griddle or heavy skillet. Cook several pancakes at a time over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or till the tops are evenly bubbled and the edges are dry, then turn and cook until golden brown on the second side. Repeat with remaining batter.

An unused cup of canned pumpkin stored neatly in a tiny plastic container  sat at eye level in the fridge for nearly a week.  This was really starting to bother me.  I really didn’t want to throw away perfectly good pumpkin.  Worse, I hoped the squash wouldn’t spoil before I figured out what to do with it.  Muffins?  Bread?  I just couldn’t make up my mind.  Eventually I settled upon pancakes.  Those with a keen eye will notice that this recipe is pretty much my standard pancake recipe with pumpkin in it.

Memo to Family:

This is a new recipe.  So don’t try to remember when I first made everyone orange colored pancakes.