Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer drink

I heard Nigella Lawson on NPR the other day, talking about having a backyard dinner, like a BBQ, that still has some style. One drink suggestion really caught my interest, and I tried it and loved it. Her suggestion:

Mix one part rose wine with one part club soda and add some orange peel shavings. (Okay, I didn't do the orange peel because I'm not THAT fancy.)

I found that if you add slightly more wine than soda, it tastes even better. I guess it's a bit like making your own wine coolers? Anyway, it's a perfect summer drink: not too heavy.

She mentioned that wine purists (read: "snobs") turn their little noses up at rose wines, but I like them.

I've tried this idea with a red wine I had that was a bit too sweet, and it was perfect with that as well. I have the feeling semi-sweet or sweet wines work best.

Let me know if you try it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Simple Crockpot Beef Stew

Yes, I know it's summertime, but sometimes, a good bowl of beef stew perks you up! I usually make mine in the fall, or if it's going to be a particularly gloomy day (or three) and it's super-easy and delicious! Prep time is under 10 minutes, since it's a slow-cooker meal, so it's good for busy days. This recipe serves 6 adults.

Loveyh's Beef Stew

1-1.5 pounds sirloin beef, cut into cubes (can also get precubed beef sirloin)
2 jars (16 oz.) premium beef gravy--you can also use homemade; I like the jars of Heinz Slow-Cooked Gravy for ease and speed
5-7 small red potatoes, cubed
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 bag baby carrots OR 5-6 carrots, sliced
Small bag of frozen sweet peas
*Can also add any root vegetables to your liking--parsnips, sweet potatoes, and leeks all add good flavors!
Pinch of salt and pepper

Put beef gravy in the crockpot, turn on high*. Cube beef and add to crockpot, along with onions, potatoes, and salt and pepper. Add any other root vegetables at this time; cover and let cook for 4 hours at a high temperature, stirring occasionally. One hour before serving, add frozen veggies as to not overcook them.

Serve hot, with biscuits and a side salad. Seves 6 adults in 7 ox portions; can be frozen for up to 3 months in a deep freeze. (If you decide to make for freezing, eliminate the frozen veggies and carrots--add when cooking.)

*If you have a programmable Crock Pot, cook on high for 4 hours. If not, and you will be leaving the house for work/errands and cannot stir, cook on low for 6-7 hours. There is no need to brown the meat--juices help flavor the root veggies and thin the gravy.