Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beef Stew with Dumplings

This was probably the greatest experimental recipe experiment I have ever had!  Last week was one of those weeks where I knew I wasn't going to be able to go to the grocery store, so I had to think on my feet. The weather in the Piedmont region is becoming conducive to warm, hearty....soupy meals, so I thought BEEF STEW! The downside was that I didn't have any potatoes. I had planned on making Chicken and Dumpling Soup that week anyway, so I thought, Why not make Beef Stew with Dumplings, instead?

And so, the experiment began.

There are a million ways to make this meal. Some people like a more brothy stew, some like it to almost take the form of a casserole. Some people add wine or beer, others just add broth or even water. I saw recipes for the dumplings that were from scratch, used Bisquik, and even used canned biscuit dough! My point in saying all of this is that you could probably make this recipe tonight with the things you have in your fridge, it's just that versatile!

Beef Stew With Herb Dumplings

Stew Ingredients:
1 lb stew beef, cut into bit size pieces (I actually used a cut of denver steak, and it worked wonderfully!)
4 tbsp fat (I used coconut oil, but I will use bacon fat next time)
3 tbsp cornstarch of flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
A handful of baby carrots, sliced into rounds
2 stalks of celery, sliced into half moons
1 cup of frozen peas
1 1/2 cup of mushrooms, sliced thick
5 cups of beef broth
1/2 cup of red wine or dark beer
1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce (I don't think that word could be any more difficult to spell...)
1 tsp chili sauce or powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
Salt and Pepper to taste

Dumpling Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk (I used coconut milk and it worked just fine)
1 tbsp Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (or any yummy "throw on anything" seasoning blend you have in the cabinet)

1. Salt and pepper your beef. You can actually do this up to 24 hrs in advance and you'll end up with moist, flavorful meat! Then dredge it in the cornstarch (add a little salt and pepper during this step, too!). Heat a skillet with the fat over medium high heat. Then, brown yo beef! When all the sides are brown, place the beef on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
2. Add all of your veggies (including your garlic) to the pan and let saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and you can tell the veggies have lost a quite a bit of their water content.
3. Now scoop everything into your slow cooker, along with the rest of the ingredients in the "Stew Ingredients" section, and cook on high for about 4 hours. After its done, your stew will look kind of soupy, but I promise the dumplings will turn that broth into gravy :)
4. In a mixing bowl, stir together your dry dumpling ingredients. Then in another bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients. Slowly pour your wet mixture into the dry mixture while stirring the dry mixture. Mix thoroughly so there are no lumps. You'll notice the whole mixture "rising" a bit...that's good!
5. With a teaspoon, scoop the dumpling mixture in your simmering stew by the spoonful. After all the dumplings are in, let the stew cook for another 30 minutes. Check a dumpling for texture to adjust time.

(QUICK TIP: If your soup tastes a little bitter after you add the beer or wine, simply add some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the soup and it will take that bitter taste away! I guess it's like a double negative thing...)

Now, partake, and be satisfied by this delicious stew you just created! Go you!


Mrs. Curly Girl

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Lesson Learned

My weekends go by very quickly during this time of year. My husband and I are both working quite a bit. The perk is extra money, but the downer is only having one full day in the week to spend together. For any newlyweds out there, you know that that one day can be great or...interesting...depending on how the rest of your week went. Dave and I had a couple rough moments today, but some discussion, a little wine and some cuddling made it all better :)

Yep, we're that cute. Just ask Allie :)

I did, however, come away from this weekend with a very important lesson learned: always budget MORE for car repairs than you think is necessary. I thought I had done the preventative thing by taking my car to my mechanic (who is a saint, by the way) for an inspection-before-the-official-inspection to pick up on any issues that needed to be addressed. As always, the Saintly Mechanic found an issue and fixed it perfectly for less money than he quoted us!! I thought I was getting away with spending LESS money than anticipated on my car...but cars don't work that way, folks.

I take my car in for the official inspection, and what do they find? Fifteen hundred dollars worth of other repairs that caused my car to fail, that's what they found! So, naturally, I was pissed. But then I realised, how else would these guys make money but off of helpless women like myself? I told my husband what the deal was, and he assured me that the Saintly Mechanic would know what to do. To be continued on that story, but I hope we're in for a happy ending.

The moral of this story, however, is clear. Make sure you have money set aside for car repairs... A LOT of money (I'm aware of my repetitiveness, but its just that important). Especially if you drive a used car. It's inevitable that you'll need it, and I'm so thankful that my husband had the presence of mind to keep the budget a little more strict this month so that we could handle our car conundrums comfortably (oh yes, gotta love some alliteration).

Have I mentioned how much I love my husband?

Also, this weekend I celebrated our Fall-like weather with 2 scrumptious soups - Beef Stew with Dumplings and Potato and Corn Chowder!  I'll be posting these recipes this week!


Mrs. Curly Girl

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In The Beginning...

Hi, my name is Courtney and this is my blog - The Life and Food of Mrs. Curly Girl!

It's been quite the journey to finally start this blog... Actually, that's not totally true. Mainly, I was just trying to think of a decent name! Before I go into that, let me tell you a little about myself.

I am 25 years old and I'm married to the most incredible man walking this earth, Dave (hence, the Mrs.). I am also a total food lover - I have been since I was 4. There was a stretch in middle school when I just knew I was going to culinary school after high school and eventually open my own restaurant. But around 14 years old, my passion switched to music. For the next 10 years, I sang and played instruments (drums, and then guitar) in various church bands and choirs. Now, at 25, the passion for food has been reignited with the honor and pleasure of cooking for my husband.

Oh, and the curly part...I'm sure you can tell by my profile picture that I have "gone natural". I started thinking of going natural as a teenager, but after I left for college and could no longer afford the relaxers my parent's had always paid for, I thought to myself, If I do this now, I'm still young enough to change my mind down the road. So, in 2008, I did a big chop and have been natural ever since!

Basically, my choice with my hair, and recent choices with food, signifies my recent life choices - a choice to live more naturally. From making our own pantry staples from scratch and cooking with local organic ingredients, to even adopting a more organic approach to faith and my relationship with God, this blog will be a place where I record my journey.

Speaking of The Life and Food of Mrs. Curly Girl (or Mrs. Curly Girl for short), this blog is NOT written by an anything. Every once in a while, I may record an new epiphany or a revelation, or a simple recipe, but I have not "arrived", by any means.  There are those in the blogosphere who are experts in cooking, homemaking, religion, and everything else under the sun, but that's not me. I'm just a 25 year old woman who, by God's grace,  is living as best she can.

After all the talk and planning, I'm so happy that I am actually doing this! And I hope that, with every post, I encourage you to go on your own journey and to share your best you with the world!


Mrs. Curly Girl