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Saturday, November 13, 2010
Sunday Cooking, Take Two
For my second week of Sunday afternoon cooking, I decided on the following menu:

beef stew
macaroni & cheese
fish tacos
prep cauliflower

The macaroni and cheese recipe comes from an old friend.  She posted it on Facebook, and I was intrigued.  It's a recipe that is made in a crock pot.  It only takes 2 1/2 hours, so it's not a good one to leave going when you're heading out for a day at work.  It did sound interesting though to bring to a carry-in.  I could lug all the ingredients with me to work.  Toss it together, plug it in, and it would be ready by lunch.

For the beef stew, I wanted to try a new recipe.  I love beef stew, but I've never really loved it when I made it.  I always made it the way I remembered my mother making it.  I remember loving hers, but I never loved mine.  I saw a recipe on a blog that was an adaptation of a Cook's Illustrated recipe that looked interesting.

The meatballs were from another blog.  The blog writer called them "Yummy Balls", and said her family loved them. 

And the fish tacos were in my recipe archive.  I think I got them from a cooking board years ago.

Results first, and then recipes.

Macaroni and cheese was very good.  Surprisingly, it developed a crispy topping.  Sera did not care for it because it wasn't creamy like the box stuff.

The beef stew was just amazing.

The meatballs were a little garlic heavy and the rice did not cook in the stated time.  I baked them for an additional 1/2 hour, but they were still crunchy.  I would make them again, but I'd double the sauce.  I think they need to be completely submerged.

And the fish tacos never got made.  I saved it for the end of the week.  They were to be Thursday's dinner, but they didn't the fish didn't thaw fast enough.  In fact, they were still frozen when I checked them Friday morning.  On Friday, we decided to go out for dinner and by Saturday, the fish had turned.  Poor planning on my part.  I'll add the recipe after I try it.

The cauliflower didn't get used either.  I haven't checked it, but I'm hoping it's still okay.  I plan to either roast it or puree it.

I neglected to mention in my previous post that I froze half of the chili and roasted vegetable soup.  I also froze half of the beef stew.  My goal is to get to the point that I only do this batch cooking 1-2 Sundays a month.

Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Place cooked macaroni in slow cooker that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Reserve 1 cup cheese; add rest of cheese and the other ingredients to the macaroni. Mix well. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cook on HIGH at least 2-1/2 hours. Do not remove cover or stir until ready to serve.

To bake in a conventional oven: spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour in macaroni mixture and top with additional cheese. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until set and the top is golden brown.

Recipe courtesy of Mr. Food.
Via Pat Barnes

Hearty Beef Stew

recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated via Joelen's Culinary Adventures

5 pounds boneless beef chuck eye roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt & pepper to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 onions, minced (about 4 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1/4 cup all purpose flour, seasoned
2 cups red wine
2 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth (I used beef)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound baby carrots (I just peeled & sliced my own)
1 cup button mushrooms, halved
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (I was planning to use dried & that is when I learned I was out)
2 bay leaves
2 cups frozen peas (I'm a LeSeur girl myself)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over high heat until just starting to smoke. Add half of beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, reducing heat if oil begins to smoke or fond begins to burn. Transfer beef to large plate. Repeat with remaining beef and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, leaving second batch of meat in pot after browning.

Reduce heat to medium and return first batch of beef to pot. Add onion to Dutch oven and stir to combine with beef. Cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until onion is softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds.

Slowly add wine, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits. Increase heat to high and allow wine to simmer until thickened and slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, bay leaves, thyme, and soy sauce. Bring to simmer, cover, transfer to preheated oven, and cook for 1½ hours.

Remove pot from oven; remove and discard bay leaves. At this point, I removed half to a freezer container.  To the rest, add carrots and potatoes, cover, return to oven, and cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Using large spoon, skim any excess fat from surface of stew. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat on the stovetop until meat offers little resistance when poked with fork (meat should not be falling apart), about 15 minutes. Stir in frozen peas, and allow to warm through. Check for seasoning and serve.

Yummy Balls
via Foodmomiac

1 pound ground beef 
½ pound ground pork
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup uncooked rice 
½ cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 can tomato soup 
1 can water

Combine all ingredients except soup and water. Form into golf ball-sized balls and place into a greased 9 x 13 pan. In a small bowl mix soup with water then pour mixture over meatballs. Bake in a 375º oven for one hour. (Next time, I'd make the meatballs smaller and increase the soup/water mix.  After one hour, the rice was still crunchy.  I think it's because the top half of the meatballs were not in the sauce.  I covered the pan with foil and cooked them for another half hour to get the rice less crunchy.)



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