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Stew on this

Oct 23, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  1 Comment
Irish Beef Stew

Stewing meat over a low flame for long periods of time is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of cooking. Since man discovered flame we have been slow roasting meat, scrounging vegetables, and making our humble dinners. Our ancestors got it right when they combined simple ingredients and added liquid to the pots simmering over the fire. This slow simmering process makes even the toughest cuts of meat tender and delicious. Make it even tastier by starting your stew as far in advance as you can, the longer the flavors have to meld together the tastier it will be. Nothing’s better for super on these cold fall nights then a bowl of steaming hot and nourishing stew.

Irish Beef Stew

2 lb beef stew meat
2tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup celery chunks
1 onion cut in large chunks
1/2 small head cabbage chopped
1/2 lb small red potatoes
8 oz package of baby carrots
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
16 oz can of beef stock
10 oz bag frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
handful chopped parsley

In a large Ziploc bag toss in flour, salt, pepper and beef. Seal the bag and toss meat around to coat in the flour mixture. In a large soup pot heat oil and then toss in the flour coated beef. Brown meat in all sides to seal in the juices. Once the meat has a good sear begin adding onion, celery, and cabbage. Let this saute a few minutes and then add potatoes, carrots, paprika, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and once it cooks a few minutes, add beef stock. Let the stew simmer a good hour until the root vegetables are soft, at this point you can add peas and stir, let the peas warm through and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss with chopped parsley.

I’m screaming Japanese

Oct 13, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  1 Comment

Asian Dumpling Soup

I’ve worked hard all day and have little stamina left for a time consuming home-made meal. A quick survey of in-stock ingredients yields little: frozen Japanese dumplings filled with chicken and veggies + chicken soup mix+ fresh basil that has seen better days. In the MaryMeals kitchen, sometimes the best tasting dishes are created out of a simple yet somewhat bizarre list of ingredients. The key is to be fearless! I decided that the dumplings are similar to won tons and I love a good cup of won ton soup so why not steam the dumplings and toss them into a broth topped off with fresh herbs? My desperate quest for a fast yet super satisfying meal yielded another great dish I’m sure to make over and over again: a super tasty unbelievably easy dumpling soup. The Trader Joe’s brand chicken gyoza dumplings are a particularly tasty choice since they are stuffed with shredded carrots, herbs and cabbage which adds a great flavor to the soup. It would also be a tasty addition to add some thinly chopped scallions.

Asian Dumpling Soup

1 pkg. frozen Asian dumplings (commonly labeled as gyoza, or potstickers)
2 tbsp powdered chicken broth
4 cups boiling water
3 leaves fresh basil chopped

Steam dumplings according to package directions. Bring 4 cups water to a boil and mix in broth powder. Add dumplings to soup and top with chopped basil. Serve. Super easy; super delicious.

Stong to the finish cause I eats me spinach

Oct 5, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

Roasted Spinach and mozzarella Pizza

Popeye the sailor man was onto something when he obsessed over the power and strength that he achieved from eating mega cans of spinach. With its high level antioxidants, vitamins, and extreme source of iron this leafy green is truly a super food. Fresh spinach melts into creamy mozzarella quite beautifully when it’s roasted on top of this Martha inspired Popeye Pizza. This is also a great recipe for converting the unsuspecting into a spinach lover.

Pizza with Roasted Spinach and Mozzarella

8 oz fresh spinach
16 oz fresh mozzarella sliced
3 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Pizza Crust:
1 cup beer
1tbs butter
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 pouch Instant yeast

Time to dust off the Bread makers you all got as wedding gifts! This crust works great in the dough cycle of your bread machine. Just place the wet ingredients (beer and butter) in the bottom and then add flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast, turn on the dough only cycle and let the machine do all the work. For those of you who need to make the dough by hand follow the wet ingredients first rule and then follow with the dry in a large bowl and mix with a large spoon until combined. Turn dough onto a floured surface and kneed about ten minutes until smooth. Place in bowl, cover and let rise at least 30 minutes.
To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees with a pizza stone. A stone gives the best results but a baking sheet will be fine. Shape dough to desired size and place on parchment paper. This will allow you to transfer the pizza to the stone. If using a baking sheet you can build your pizza directly on the pan just spray pan lightly with cooking spray and then place the crust on top. Brush the pizza crust with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped garlic. Add slices of mozzarella to cover the crust. Top cheese with a huge mound of piled high spinach. This will cook down and melt into the pie. Bake about 20 minutes or until the spinach has reduced and melted into the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a touch of olive oil and serve.

The way to a man’s heart

Sep 22, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

Grandma Nancy's Fried Chicken
They met right around the time he was being shipped overseas to fight in WWII. He kept in touch occasionally with romantic letters that arrived in her mailbox from Europe at just the right moments. But my grandmother was still shocked when he showed up on her doorstep after the war, swept her off her feet, and made good on his promise to spend the rest of his life with her. She had shyly recounted the details of their courtship to me during one of my weekend visits. She was surprised they ended up together. I wasn’t. I was certain that right before he shipped out to war, Ray Potts had an out of body experience eating one of Grandma Nancy’s Sunday dinners and he was determined to find a way to experience her mouth watering meals for the rest of his days. Who wouldn’t? To get you starting your own Sunday traditions please enjoy the recipe for fried chicken that I’m convinced stole my grandfather’s heart.

Grandma Nancy’s Sunday Chicken

2 frying chickens cut into pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp each of paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
Combine buttermilk and spices in a large glass dish. Rinse chicken pieces and place in the dish to marinate for at least 1 1/2 hours up to overnight, turning occasionally to coat all pieces

For Frying:

2 cups flour
1 tbsp season salt
1tsp pepper
oil for frying

In a large tray combine flour with seasoning. Take chicken pieces and dredge in flour mixture to coat. Heat oil to 350 and fry pieces about 6 to 7 minutes just to get a crisp brown on the outside. Remove pieces and place on a baking tray to finish cooking in a 350 degree oven for additional 15 to 20 minutes. Shared on gallery of favorites! With the 21st Century Housewife.

Butternot miss this!

Sep 15, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  No Comments

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Three Sisters. Corn, beans, and squash were the three main crops of many Native American groups in North America. In a technique known as companion planting the three crops were planted close together and benefited from the growing style and nutrients that each put into the soil. The three sisters worked together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided ground cover to limit weeds, while the beans provided nitrogen rich soil for all three. A product of this rich native tradition, squash is one amazingly versatile crop. It can be sautéed, boiled, stuffed, baked, pureed, pickled, or my personal favorite; made into a delicious and nutritious soup. Butternut Squash is the best soup making squash because of its ability to turn velvety smooth when pureed. This tasty soup has few ingredients and is simple to make.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
1 onion diced
2 ribs celery diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3Tbsp chicken soup base (better then bullion is the best! and it comes organic)
2 quarts hot water
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. (You can save them to roast and eat later. I will put a recipe up soon.) Coat squash with oil and lightly salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 45 minuted until soft. While the squash is roasting add oil into a soup pot. Add onion and celery and sauté. After a few minutes add garlic. Let this cook until softened. Once the squash is ready scoop the meat out of the peel and add it into the soup pot. Add pinch of salt and saute with the onion mixture for about 5 minutes and then add water and soup base. Let simmer about 30 minutes. Puree in batches. Soup will become velvety smooth. Return to heat a few minutes. Check for seasoning. Tastes great with a dollop of sour cream

Get ready for The Big One!

Sep 9, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  No Comments

Mary's Minestrone

Minestrone or “the big soup” actually has no official recipe. That’s what makes it an incredible way to give a second life to last night’s leftovers, or clean sweep your pantry. It’s OK to toss into the pot whatever you’ve got in the kitchen. Traditional ingredients like pasta, beans, and tomatoes, and some basic soup making rules apply, but to be truly authentic your minestrone should never turn out the same way twice. Mary’s version includes many of the traditional ingredients along with leftover grilled steaks. Buon appetito!

Mary’s Minestrone

2 grilled steaks cut into bite size pieces
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 onion chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
6 cloves garlic chopped
3 cups water
1 cube beef bullion
64 oz Beef broth
1 tbsp garlic salt
2 zucchini diced
1 can Cannellini beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 cup mini bow-tie pasta
1 hand full of fresh parsley and basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Coat bottom of large soup pot with oil. Saute onion, carrots and celery. When they start to soften add tomatoes. Continue to saute while adding garlic, tomato paste, steak and beef bullion. Let cook 5 minutes before adding water, beef broth, garlic salt, rosemary, thyme, and beans, simmer 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Add zucchini and pasta and let cook additional 15 minutes. check for seasoning and add salt and pepper. Just before serving stir in fresh parsley and basil.

Ice, Ice Baby

Sep 6, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Breakfast  //  1 Comment


As the main ingredient in ice cream, all of the very best desserts, and most perfumes, vanilla has become one of the most popular spices in the world.

A part of the beautiful orchid flower, vanilla was once so rare that it was flaunted as a sign of true wealth. Now days it comes in many shapes and forms, but nothing beats the flavor and mouthwatering aroma of vanilla straight from the bean. Mix it into buttermilk batter
to bring that delicious signature flavor to your morning pancakes.

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 vanilla bean cut in half and scraped (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
2 tsp olive oil

If you do not have buttermilk you can make a substitute by adding 1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice to the milk. Vanilla beans are super flavorful in this recipe. Slice bean in half the long way and use the knife blade to scrape out the soft vanilla to add to the batter. In a non metallic bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil. Whisk together just to combine. Don’t over mix! Lumps help to make a light and fluffy pancake! Pour one ladle full at a time onto a hot griddle or into a nonstick pan. Once the pancakes are bubbling they are ready to turn over. Stack on plate. To serve top with Maple Syrup.

Note: This recipe doubles easily if you need to feed a crowd.

It’s All Greek to Me

Sep 3, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course, Sides, Soups and salads, Starters  //  1 Comment

Mini Burgers with mint and tzaziki

It was in ancient Greece that the first cookbook was recorded into history. With such a rich culinary history dating back thousands of years, the Greeks have had plenty of opportunity to perfect those amazing dishes. One of the main things that makes Greek food into such great party food, is the many meze or “small plates”. They’ll make perfect sides for your end of summer BBQ. Here are some great Mediterranean ideas for your next grill fest.

Mini Burgers with Mint and Tzatziki sauce.

2 lb ground beef
1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp mint chopped
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce mixed with 2 tbsp honey for basting
16 mini French dinner rolls.
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)

16 slices of roasted red pepper(grill w the other side veggies)
Mix first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into patties the size of an ice cream scoop. Should make about 16 mini burgers. Place on a hot grill. Brush with honey mixture on both sides as you grill to your desired done-ness. To assemble: slice open French rolls. Place a slice of roasted pepper (you can grill veggies at the same time as the meat) place the burger, a dollop of tzatziki sauce, and top with the other bun.

Grilled Vegetables

2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
6 small Roma tomatoes
2 red peppers cut into 16 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
Corse salt

Slice zucchini and squash into quarters and then in half. Slice each red pepper into 8 pieces for a total of 16. Leave tomatoes whole. Place on a baking sheet, toss with oil, salt and pepper. Place veggies directly on the grill, turning occasionally. They cook in about 10 to 15 min.


Tzatziki is a classic Greek yogurt dip that is super delish. Garlicky flavor blended with cucumbers and thick Greek style yogurt, its great as a dip on its own served with veggies, chips, crackers, or bread. Here its makes a great topping for the Mediterranean burgers.
16 oz of Greek style yogurt (the thicker, the better)
1 large English cucumber quartered (if u have only regular you’ll need to remove the seeds and peel)
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Some paper towels or cheese cloth for draining the cucumber.

Chop garlic and cucumber in food processor. Since cucumbers contain a lot of water it is important to place them in towels or cheesecloth so you can squeeze as much of the extra water out of them as possible. Do this over the sink. Once you have made them as dry as you can, remove them from the towels and place them in a bowl. Add yogurt, and garlic salt and mix together. Remember to always test for seasoning you may need more. Top with paprika.

Greek Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
6 eggs
1 small red onion diced
1 piece celery diced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp dill

Boil potatoes and eggs. Potatoes are ready when you can easily insert a fork in them. Eggs should boil 12 min. Drain both and run under cold water in order to cool. Once they have cooled, shell eggs and dice along with the potatoes into a large bowl. Add all ingredients and stir to combine. Test for seasoning. Top with a dusting of paprika.

Hummus with kalamata olives

1 can garbanzo beans drained
3 heaping tbsp of Tahini
Juice from one lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pitted kalamata olives
Pita bread or crackers to dip

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more garlic salt it needed. Top with kalamata olives. Serve with pita bread or crackers.

a greek feast

Let’s Go Dutch

Aug 30, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads  //  1 Comment

Home of the Split Pea Soup

It was on the way home from a day trip to tour the wineries of Santa Barbara that I first noticed the towering dutch-style windmill looming on the horizon. As we got closer I felt a strong sense of longing for my childhood home. Having grown up in the scenic Wisconsin river valley I know I thing or two about what makes a windmill go round. In 1887, a small group of dutch immigrants settled in St. Croix County just south of my home town of Baldwin. Dutch settlers from other areas soon joined them since the land was good for dairy farming. They quickly had a thriving milk production and built a cheese factory. St. Paul was a nearby market for their cheese and soon the dutch culture was brought to life in the surrounding towns. Baldwin, in particular, had a thriving dutch population. We even had a “Dutch Days” town festival complete with wooden shoe wearing street dancers! Ultimately, the town built a giant replica of a dutch style windmill to celebrate this rich heritage. The Windmill stands today, a beautiful reminder of the hardworking dutch settlers that tamed the wild river valley. As the giant windmill on the horizon grew closer, it became apparent that it was actually attached to the “World famous Andersen’s Restaurant: The home of the split pea soup!” It’s a whole restaurant. In the shape of a windmill. Devoted to this delicious Dutch dish! It’s also the Andersen’s that puts the label on the very best canned pea soup available in your local grocery store. We pulled in and ordered up. It was a very tasty soup that night at Andersen’s. If I’m ever cruising up north I always make sure there’s enough time to stop in for a quick bowl. When I’m stuck at home I make my own version. If you’ve never tried homemade pea soup I highly recommend you give my recipe a try. Its simple ingredients make budget friendly, fast, and definitely delicious.

Thick as fog Split Pea Soup

1 Pkg. dried Split peas
1 onion diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1 carrot diced
(optional) 16 oz diced dutch farmers sausage (polish sausage is a good substitute) or diced ham
2 spoons of powdered chicken bouillon
32 oz of chicken stock and 2 cups of reserved water
1/2 tsp pepper
salt if needed

The only preparation split peas need are a quick rinse of cold water in a strainer. Once you’ve done that set it aside while you saute your onions in olive oil. Once they are translucent add garlic and carrots, saute until they start to soften a little. If you are adding meat do so at this time and let it cook about 10 minutes. Add peas and 2 spoons of bouillon. Stir together and let peas stir fry a bit in the pan about 5 minutes. Add Chicken Stock and pepper. Bring to a boil about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat and simmer about 50 Minutes. The soup is ready when the peas are soft. You can season with salt if needed. If the soup is getting too thick for your taste (Andersen’s is very thin) Add some of the reserved water. I prefer a very thick soup. Serve with seasoned croutons. Keep in mind as leftover soup cools it will become even thicker. The soup will thin as it is warmed, but you may thin to your taste with additional water during the reheating process. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Pretty as a Peach

Aug 27, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Dessert  //  No Comments

The Grunt, The Slump, The Buckle, The Betty, and the Sonker. These are all various regional names for the American Fruit Cobbler. One thing I love about American cooking is that we are very good at improvising. When our families first arrived here, they brought their favorite recipes with them, but not finding the traditional ingredients, they used whatever was available. That’s how they all came about such unusual names. These juicy dishes were often served for breakfast, or even as the main meal of the day, and it was not until much later that they became the delicious desserts we know them as today. What qualifies a fruity baked dessert as a cobbler instead of a crisp is all in its top layer. Cobblers can have a biscuit, cake, or pastry like topping, depending on what’s in your pantry, while toppings on a crisp have a crunchy crumbly texture.  I’m using ripe in season peaches for this recipe and I happen to have all the ingredients for a light and flaky pastry topping. Should be a perfect compliment to that sweet peach filling. Let’s hope the neighbors think so too, as this is my contribution to their end of summer BBQ.

Peach Cobbler
6 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside while you make pastry topping.
Pastry Topping:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup ice cold buttermilk
4 tbsp cold butter
2 tbsp ice water
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg beat
sprinkle of sugar
The key to making a great tasting pastry is keeping your ingredients as ice cold as possible. Combine flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Add butter and cut into the flour mixture with fork or pastry cutter until mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add butter milk and 1 tbsp of the ice water and mix together. if mixture is too dry add the rest of the water(if it is too wet your can always add a little more flour.) stir to combine,  the dough should start to form. Turn out on a floured surface and kneed dough together with your hands. Once all the flour in incorporated and it has a dough texture, form into a round disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least 30 min.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 350. Pour peach filling into a large square baking dish. On a floured surface, remove pastry from plastic wrap and begin rolling with a rolling pin. It works best to roll pastry in one direction, then turn pastry clockwise and roll, turn pastry again, and roll. Until you reach your desired size and thickness. Using the rolling pin wrap the end of the pastry over the pin and roll the dough up onto the pin. Place the rolling pin at one end of your baking dish and unroll the topping over the filling. Pat topping over the filling and cut a few small slits in the middle for steam to escape while baking. Brush pastry topping with egg and dust with sugar. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.