Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This is one of my favorite comfort foods to make for those long cold winter evenings. What I like even better, is throwing it all in the slow cooker and let it do all the cooking…not to mention the delicious smell wafting from the kitchen for most of the day. There is a bit of prepping involved, but it is so worth it. The meat in this stew comes out so tender and flavorful from the herbs and spices, while the potatoes and tender carrots turn this into a hearty meal. It’s even better served with some crusty bread to help soak up all of that rich stew.

Here’s what you need:

*3 TBS or more of olive oil

*2 lb. stew meat or a chuck roast cut into bite size pieces.

* 3 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices or more if you prefer more carrots

*2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks; I prefer using russet potatoes because it has more starch which helps thicken the broth, but you can use any other potato if you prefer.

*1 small onion chopped

*1/4 cup flour

*2 tsp. dried Thyme

*2 tsp. paprika

*1/2 tsp. celery seed

*2 tsp. dried rosemary

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*2 tsp. onion powder

*1 tsp. salt or more to taste

*cracked black pepper to taste

*1 large bay leaf

*2 cups water

*2 tsp. or more to taste Better Than Bullion Beef Base or 2 beef bullion cubes

*3 TBS. tomato paste

*2tsp. Worcestershire sauce

*cornstarch and water if needed

In a large bowl, add beef, Thyme, paprika, celery seed, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. I find it easier to just use my hands,  it’s messy but what can I say, I like playing in my food. Add the flour and toss to coat all of the beef pieces.

In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat to medium high heat; add some of the beef to the pan. Do not over crowd the pan or the meat will not brown properly. You will need to do this in small batches.

Cook about 2 minutes then turn the beef over and cook another 2 minutes. If needed, add more oil to the pan.

I will be honest and say that at times, this is my least favorite part.  I did leave this step out once and the flavor was just not the same. So with love, patience and tongs in hand, I will brown the beef.

When the beef is seared on all sides, add them to the slow cooker. Next, add in the carrots, onions and potatoes.

Stir everything together.

In a large bowl, add the water, beef bullion base, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce; mix to combine. Pour over the beef and vegetables.

Add in the bay leaf, cover and cook for 6 to 7 hours on low.

Remove the bay leaf and stir. If the broth is not thick enough stir together 1 1/2 Tbs. of cornstarch to 1 1/2 TBS. of water and stir into the stew. Cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes or until broth thickens.

Enjoy!

Skillet Buttermilk Biscuits

There is something so comforting about making biscuits. It’s been my Sunday tradition for a while now. I recently wanted to try something a little new, new to me that is….cooking the biscuits in a cast iron skillet. As much as I love cooking in my cast iron skillets, I have never made them this way before. I know there are probably many of you out there thinking, really….you’re Southern….never? This is the way so many of our grandmothers and mommas used to cook biscuits, so why I have I never tried it? I will admit, the first batch I attempted was an utter failure. I really should have taken a picture, they looked like a bleached blobbed mess. *sigh* This was my second attempt and ya’ll, they turned out so good. It was hard to eat just one. These turned out a little crunchy on the outside, but pillowy soft on the inside.

Here’s what you need to make your own skillet buttermilk biscuits:

*3 cups self rising flour + more for dusting your hands

*1/4 cup butter cut into small cubes + 1 TBS melted for tops of biscuits

*1/4 cup shortening or lard + more for the pan

*1 tsp. salt

*1 1/2 cups of buttermilk ( you can use whole milk or you can add 1 1/2Tbs to the whole milk to make buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 425°

Melt 1 TBS of butter; set aside.

Cube the 1/4 cup of butter into small pieces.

Place in the freezer until ready for use.

Rub a thin layer of shortening on the bottom and sides of the skillet; set aside.

In a large bowl add flour, cubed butter, shortening and salt. With the back of a fork ( or a pastry cutter which I do not have) cut the butter and shortening into the flour. Do this until the shortening and butter is well mixed into the flour and there are no large lumps.

Slowly pour in the buttermilk, stirring to make sure it all comes together.

Continue stirring slowly until dough starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl .

The dough should not be too dry, it should be a little sticky to the touch, but not wet.

I do not kneed the dough or cut them out. Dust your hands with a little flour and scoop out some of the dough and shape into rounds.

Do this pretty quickly because you do not want to warm up the butter in the dough or the biscuits do not seem to rise as well.

Place the biscuit dough in the skillet, sides touching or at least close to touching ( this helps the biscuits to rise taller). Continue this step with the rest of the dough.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

Serve with butter or your favorite jam.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers with Sautéed Onions

I was craving a burger over weekend and really wanted to come up with a burger that I have never made before. As I was looking thru my pantry for some ideas, I found a bottle of BBQ sauce. Well, then I knew what I had to make and this is that burger. It has a nice juicy beef patty topped with melted American cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce and sautéed onions. If you are looking for a burger that you can eat on the go or while you are busy multitasking, this is not that burger. I will warn you, this is a bit of a messy burger, but it is so worth the use of extra napkins.

Here’s what you need:

*1 small yellow onion, chopped

*1 TBS butter

*1 tsp. olive oil

*1 LB or ground beef ( I used an 80% to 20% meat to fat ratio)

*1 1/2 TBS BBQ sauce (I used KC masterpiece original, but you can use any kind)

*1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

*2 tsp. onion powder

*cracked black pepper to taste

*1 tsp. salt + more for the sautéed onions

*bacon, 2 slices per burger, cooked

*sliced cheese; I used white American cheese.

*ketchup (optional)

*mustard (optional)

*sliced dill pickles (optional)

*hamburger buns

Heat a small sauce pan to medium high heat; add butter and olive oil.

Add the onions and salt to taste to the sauce pan.

Cook for about 1 minute, then turn the heat down to medium low. Continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring occasionally until onions become soft and a light golden brown.

While onions are cooking, in a large bowl add ground beef, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, pepper and salt.

Mix until combined, but do not over mix or the patties will not be as tender.

Form into 4 patties making an indentation in the middle. This will help the patties to cook evenly; set aside.

Heat a large cast iron pan to medium high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the patties to the pan.

Cook for about 5 minutes then turn them over. Cook for another 3 minutes for medium rare burgers or 5 minutes for medium burgers. If the burgers seem to be getting too done too fast, turn the heat down to medium.

Place the cheese on each patty and cook for another minute or 2 until cheese melts.

Remove from the pan and place on the bottom slice of the hamburger bun. Add bacon, onions, BBQ sauce, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. I will admit, I forgot to take a picture of building the burger, but I was so hungry for this that I completely forgot.

Top with the the other half of the hamburger bun and enjoy!

Air Fryer Hot Dogs

Do you love grilled hot dogs as much as I do? But what if you get that craving for one and you can’t fire up the grill? Boiling them is ok as well when you’re in a pinch for time, but it does seem to lack flavor. I found that the next best thing to grilling them, is put those little babies in the air fryer. They come out really tasty and it takes no time at all to have them on the table. Pair this with my hot dog chili and you have one great, flavorful dog. My hubby even approved and went for seconds.

Here’s how to cook them in the air fryer:

Preheat the air fryer by running it at 400° for 5 minutes.

Place the hot dogs in the air fryer in an even layer.

Cook for 3 minutes and then shake the basket. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.

*Note*

Cooking times may vary depending on the size and the brand, so make sure to check them around the 3 minute mark. I sacrificed a few hot dogs by not doing this.

Remove hot dogs and place in buns. These are also great cut up and cooked in scrambled eggs.

Enjoy!

Grilled Chili Cheese Sandwiches

Whenever I think of a chili cheese sandwich, I think of my dad. If we had chili leftover from hot dogs, he would use the hot dog chili to make chili cheese sandwiches. He would assemble them and then put them in this big, heavy sandwich press, almost like the kind you used to see at deli and sandwich places way back when. It toasted the bread so crispy, and the cheese turned out so gooey. I loved those. To this day I still make them, but the sandwich press died a long time ago so I use a griddle instead. These sandwiches are so simple to make and so comforting on those cool days when you want something a little different. This also pairs great with your favorite tomato soup.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

*Left over chili preferably with out beans such as hot dog chili

*sliced bread, 2 slices per sandwich

*mustard to taste (optional)

*ketchup to taste (optional)

* shredded or sliced cheese; I used a Colby Monterey Jack blend

*butter

Heat a griddle or large pan to medium high heat.

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.

Place a slice of bread, butter side down on to the griddle.

Spread some of the chili over the bread.

Add mustard or ketchup, or both on to the chili.

Layer the cheese on top.

Top with remaining slices of bread, butter side up.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the bread turns golden brown. carefully turn the sandwich over.

With a spatula, press down on to the sandwich to flatten it a bit. Continue cooking until the bottom id golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Hot Dog Chili

When I was a kid, there were a lot of weekends we had either hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner. Looking back, it was probably because it’s a cheaper meal, easy to fix on a busy day and we loved them. I mean, who doesn’t love a good hot dog with chili. Down here in the South, most restaurants serve hot dogs topped with chili or as we call it, a chili dog. I thought that’s how everyone ate their hot dogs…..hey, I was a kid what can I say. My hubby, who is from up North, wasn’t quite sure what to make of a hot dog with chili not to mention that it doesn’t contain beans. He pretty much loves them now. My mom and dad always made their chili from scratch. My recipe is pretty much they way they made it….and my mom still does to this day, but of course I’ve tweaked it a bit. It’s great topped with ketchup, mustard and even a sliced pickle or two. This also makes a great chili cheese sandwich…..but that’s for a later post so stay tuned.

Here’s what you need:

*1 LB or ground beef; I use a leaner beef for this

*3/4 cups ketchup or more to taste

*2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce or more to taste

*2 tsp. mustard or more to taste

*1 TBS chili powder or to taste

*1 tsp. onion powder or more to taste

*1/4 tsp salt or more to taste

Heat a large pan to medium high heat and add ground beef, break up into very small pieces as it cooks; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining ingredients.

Mix well to combine.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for abut 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve over hot dogs and add your favorite toppings.

*Note*

This can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Waffle Maker Bacon and Chocolate Chip French Toast

Yes, It’s time for another waffle maker goodie. This time I tried making French toast with bacon and chocolate chips nestled in the middle. This is defiantly for one of those indulgent breakfast mornings. The bacon and chocolate chips take this to the next level, not to mention all those crispy, square pockets that are perfect for holding that rich syrup. I used sourdough bread and cut it a little thicker so this made a nice, thick French toast, but regular sandwich bread works too. Just make sure the bread is not too fresh, or it will not hold up well when dipping into the egg mixture.

Here’s what you need:

*sourdough bread or any other preferred variety

*2 slices of bacon per serving cooked until crisp

*semi sweet chocolate chips

*2 eggs

*1/2 Cup milk

*1/2 tsp. cinnamon (apple pie spice is really good instead of the cinnamon as well)

*1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*no stick spray

*butter (optional)

*syrup

Pre heat waffle maker and spray with no stick spray.

In a dish add eggs. milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Whisk to combine.

set aside.

Cut bread to desired thickness, remember that there will be two slices for each serving or you can use the pre sliced kind.

Place bacon onto one of the slices.

Then add some of the chocolate chips on top of the bacon.

I only added a few because I did not want the chocolate to over power the bacon.

Place the other slice of bread over the chocolate chips and place bottom side down into the egg mixture.

Let it sit in the mixture for a few seconds to absorb the egg.

Turn over the “sandwich” and soak the other side in the egg mixture.

Place inside of the waffle maker with the bottom side down.

Close and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and heated thru.

Place on to plates add butter if desired and top with your favorite syrup.

Bacon, Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

I made this for hubby and me for our New Year’s Day breakfast. I couldn’t decide between sausage or bacon, so I decided to use both. It’s very hearty and will satisfy the carnivore and cheese lover in everyone. It’s easy to assemble the night before if you prefer as I did. It’s tastes just as good the next day.

Here’s what you need:

*6 slices of bacon cooked and crumble into bite size pieces

*6 sausage links cooked and cut into bite size pieces; I used the brown and serve sausage links. You can also use 1/2 lb. bulk sausage cooked and drained.

*8 eggs

*1/2 Cup milk

*salt and pepper to taste

*1/2 tsp. hot sauce or more to taste (optional)

*2 Cups shredded cheese divided; I used a cheddar Monterrey Jack blend

*2 Cups. frozen diced potatoes

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray an 8×8 casserole dish with no stick spray.

In a bowl crack in the eggs and add salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Pour in the milk.

Very carefully whisk to combine; set aside.

Mix the bacon and sausage together and spread on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Add 1 cup of the cheese on top of the bacon and sausage.

Add in diced potatoes.

With a spoon mix all of the ingredients together.

Pour egg mixture over the meat and potato mixture.

Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the eggs in the middle is set.

*Note*

If you are assembling this the night before follow all of the steps, then cover tightly with foil. The next morning take out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking and uncover.