Beef Stew with Green Chiles

It has been awhile since I shared a recipe with you guys. This is actually a recipe that I threw together using basic techniques that I learned throughout the years.

I would like to go on record that this is not the traditional “green chile” stew. Traditionally, green chile stew is made with pork, however, I don’t really care for pork in stew. My recipe is very much tomato based which is not typical of a “green chile” stew. There is some added red pepper flake for spice. Additionally, if you have hot green chiles available, that is also an option to crank up the spice. If you really want to feel the burn, substitute original Rotel for hot.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs. of beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour to coat the meat
  • 1/4 cup of flour for the roux
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1 can of Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 1 can of Muir Glen stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced potatoes
  • 1 can of Original Rotel
  • 1 can of diced green chile
  • 1 can of mixed vegetables (Veg-All)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of coarse Kosher salt

EQUIPMENT:

  • Enameled cast iron pot or cast iron braiser pan

METHOD:

  • First, take a look at your stew meat. My grocery store cuts the meat into very large chunks that, as is, will be too large to eat in one bite. I take the time to cut those larger chunks into more manageable pieces. You want to have each of the chunks roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Salt and pepper the meat and then lightly coat in flour making sure to remove large excess of any flour. For ease, I put 1/4 cup flour in a container or Ziploc bag and shake to coat the meat.
  • Using your enameled pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of vegetable (or another light colored, high temperature oil) and 1 tablespoon of butter. I typically use sunflower oil. On my stove, medium heat is hot enough.
  • Do not over crowd the surface of your pan. That’s a quick way to lower the temperature of your pan and you most definitely do not want that. If the meat doesn’t immediately sizzle and start to brown, your pan is not hot enough. It usually takes me 3-4 batches to sear the 2lbs. of meat.
  • After completing the searing process and removing all of the meat to a holding plate, turn down the heat slightly. Your pan is going to be super hot from searing and you don’t want to burn the butter. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the pan.
  • Add 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper, and bay leaf to the butter and cook for about a minute. Just long enough to “cook” the flour.
  • Slowly whisk in the 2 cups of beef broth. It will thicken to a gravy consistency.
  • Turn down the heat to low. Whisk in the can of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, green chiles, and Rotel. The sauce will be thick.
  • Add the seared beef back to the sauce. Cover and simmer on very low for no less than 1 hour. Typically, I simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours if the beef is particularly tough. Just keep checking the tenderness every half hour. The goal here is slowly simmer, not boil.
  • Once tenderness is achieved, add the can of diced potatoes and mixed vegetables. Continue to simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. This should be long enough to heat the canned vegetables through.
  • Last step is to always sample and see if you need to add more seasoning. Because the amount of salt in canned goods varies, it will not always been consistent. I typically have to add more freshly ground pepper and a dash or two of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. That usually does the trick. Other seasonings you might want to try is onion powder or garlic powder.

NOTES:

Can I use a non-stick pot? The short answer is yes. However, if you want the best results, cast iron is really the path to take. In my experience, non-stick does not sear the meat as well as cast iron, nor does it create that magical crust on the bottom from searing the meat. Those crusty bits of flavor are deglazed and add a ton of flavor to the stew. I have never been able to replicate that with a non-stick pot. Can you achieve the end product? Yes, but my experience has been non-stick pans will not create the same texture from the meat, or the same flavor in the broth.

Yes, I use canned vegetables. Yes, I feel like I have to defend them. One of my hobbies is browsing recipes to try and reading the comments for further guidance. A lot can be learned from the comments, positive and negative. The most negative thing I consistently read is the attack on any recipe that uses canned and/or prepared items. This always angers me. I get it. Some people have the extra income and extra time for vegetable prep every day. Some people wake up every Saturday morning to hit up the farmer’s market and hand pick the world’s finest organic vegetables. Some people have dietary restrictions where they must watch sodium intake. Some people have the privilege to worry about those kind of things. I get it. At the same time, I don’t understand the shaming. Is fresh better? Yes. Is canned so bad that we need to make people feel lesser about it? No. So, if a recipe calls for canned goods, and it is not the way you do things, nothing says you can’t alter the recipe yourself. That does not make the recipe “bad”, it makes it not for you. And if you just absolutely cannot stand it, just move on. It really is that simple. So, yes. I try to use fresh where possible, but in this stew, canned works just fine!

Anyhow, let me hop off my soap box.

My family loves to eat this stew with some cornbread muffins. It always seems to hit the spot! It takes a long time to make, but it is worth it!

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Marsala

For Christmas, my son and husband bought me two of the Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks. I like her recipes. They’re down to earth with a dash of high society every once in awhile. She lets her “city” shine through in flashes.

I’ve never cooked chicken marsala before. I’ve eaten it at restaurants and never particularly cared for it. That being said, when I saw the picture of her recipe, I thought…well, that doesn’t look half bad!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Thinly sliced chicken breasts
  • Flour
  • Oil
  • Marsala wine
  • Beef broth
  • Butter
  • White button mushrooms
  • Cornstarch
  • Heavy cream
  • Mashed potatoes or noodles for serving
  • Chopped parsley for serving

Ingredient Substitutions: In her cookbook, she gives suggestions of things you can add to the base recipe to kick it up a notch. On Ree’s suggestion, I did add chopped onion and garlic. It was the only addition/substitution I made.

SUMMARIZED METHOD:

The recipe calls for a quick season of the chicken breasts. They will then be dusted in the flour. A pan is headed with olive oil (I used sunflower oil) and butter. When the pan is nice and hot, the chicken cutlets are cooked 2-3 minutes per side. The cutlets should be fairly thin. Once cooked through, you place the cutlets aside to rest. Using the pan drippings, you add the sliced mushrooms and cook until golden brown. The Marsala and broth are then added to deglaze the pan. Reduce the liquid by half, then add the cornstarch/cream mixture. Bring to a simmer and then cut the heat. Stir in some butter to finish the sauce. Then serve on top of mashed potatoes or noodles.

ChibiChonk’s Thoughts

I actually have nothing bad to say about this recipe. The family absolutely loved it and it will enter our meal rotation.

Preparation Time. I had this meal on the table in less than 45 minutes. That makes it a perfect weeknight candidate.

Flavor. For as simple as the ingredient’s list is, the flavor was amazing. We used cheap Marsala wine that you can find with the vinegars on the vinegar aisle. It was nothing special, but the flavor was there. I used basic salt and pepper to season the chicken. I believe allowing the chicken to rest before eating helped it maintain its moisture.

Definitely add the onion and garlic. Honestly, cooking food without one or both is weird to me, so I definitely recommend taking Ree’s variation suggestion and adding the onions and garlic while cooking the mushrooms.

WHERE TO FIND THE FULL RECIPE:

You can pick up Ree’s cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime at any retailer, but it is currently on Amazon for $14.80. Overall, I really like all of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks and her recipes almost always turn out pretty good.

I Made a REAL Pot Pie

If you don’t recall, I reviewed Joanna Gaines’ pot pie recipe and, while it was not bad, I was very vocal that it was NOT a pot pie. I’m not often passionate about what makes a dish a dish, but her recipe was most definitely NOT a pot pie. I was a bit disappointed to be perfectly honest. What I ended up making was a chicken pot pie soup that was supposed to be served over mashed potatoes. I did not appreciate the deception, Joanna! (I say this jokingly, people. Don’t take me seriously.)

It has been a long time since I actually made a pot pie. My son was a very picky eater growing up and he was disgusted by soups and pies. I had a lot of turkey left over from Thanksgiving and Rugjen kept hinting at me making pot pie.

First of all — I cheated.

I did NOT make homemade pie crust. Why? Because pie crust hates me. What’s the key to pie crust? Cold ingredients. What do my hands do? Melt everything on contact. I have very, very hot hands which is great for kneading bread dough, but not so great for pie crust. So, yes. I used store-bought pie crust.

I did, however, not use a recipe and this made me gosh-darn proud. It’s only taken me roughly two decades to gain enough confidence to try something without a recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter;
  • 1/2 large, white onion, diced;
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, diced;
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh, finely chopped thyme;
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh, finely chopped rosemary;
  • 1 healthy pinch of salt;
  • Freshly cracked pepper;
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt;
  • 1/4 cup of flour;
  • 1 cup of chicken stock;
  • 1 cup of half-and-half;
  • 1 can of diced potatoes, drained (alternatively, you can par-boil your own);
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of frozen peas and carrots;
  • 2 cups of turkey;
  • 2 pie crusts; and
  • Egg wash.

Method:
I used a 12-inch jumbo fryer pan by Calphalon to cook the pot pie filling. It was the perfect size. I think any deep skillet will do. Remember, you are making enough filling to fill a pie plate.

  • Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  • While the oven is preheating, chop your turkey, onions, celery, and pre-measure all of your ingredients to make your cooking seamless. Once all of your ingredients are measured and prepped, move onto cooking.
  • Melt four tablespoons of butter into the pan.
  • Sauté onions and celery until soft.
  • Whisk in flour, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper into pan. You want to cook 1-2 minutes to cook the flour.
  • Slowly start whisking in the chicken stock. Once you’ve incorporated all of the stock, begin adding the half-and-half. It will be thick like a gravy. This is a good thing, but if it is too thick, add more broth. It should be a good, thick gravy, not goop. Taste the filling. If it is a bit bland, add some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to balance it out.
  • Stir in frozen vegetables, potatoes, and turkey. Take off the heat and set aside. No reason to cook the vegetables. They will heat in the oven.
  • Place pie crust into 9 inch pie plate (I use glass), and poke holes with a fork on the bottom.
  • Pour filling into pie crust.
  • Top with second pie crust making sure to join both crusts with egg wash and crimping the crust in your preferred method. There are plenty of videos on how to do a double-crust. I suggest watching a few before you get to this point if you’ve never done it before. Make sure to cut some steam vents in the top crust.
  • Brush the top of the crust with egg wash.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes at 400F.
  • Keep an eye on the crust. If you notice that it is getting too brown, cover with tin foil. If you have a crust shield, use it.
  • Let pie rest for 5-10 minutes after taking it out of the oven.


I am not very good at crimping pie crust, so it looks okay. Not beautiful, but simply. Okay. I forgot to take a picture of the filling, but look at that crust. It was perfect for store-bought.

Anyhow, I think the boys really enjoyed it, so I’ll be looking to make a chicken version on a really cold day.

Chicken Pot Pie: Magnolia Table, Volume 2

Chicken Pot Pie. The quintessential fall meal when the temperatures start to drop and your body craves warmth. Browsing the pages of Magnolia Table, Volume 2, I came across a recipe for chicken pot pie. The temperatures have started cooling off here in Texas, and I was craving that hearty chicken filling.

Once again, let me point out that I do not share published recipes. However, during my research, I found that the Today show has permission to share the full recipe. In the interest of simplicity, you can reference the original recipe here: Chicken Pot Pie via Today

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Salted butter
  • Small white onion, finely chopped (optional)
  • Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • All-purpose flour
  • Chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
  • Condensed cream of chicken soup
  • Shredded meat from 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • Frozen peas
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Refrigerated crescent rolls
  • Mashed potatoes, for serving

Like many of Joanna’s recipes, it seems to be geared toward the working/busy family. Many of the ingredients are what you would already have on hand in the kitchen and/or easily pick up from the grocery store on your way home from work.

Ingredient Substitutions: Our grocery store was out of bulk carrots. I didn’t want to be wasteful and purchase a bag of carrots, so I substituted frozen peas and carrots. I also found a severe lack of seasoning, so I added basic Italian seasoning blend (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary) and a dash of Lawry’s. Also, I somehow missed the mashed potatoes when I originally read the recipe, so mashed potatoes were omitted due to oversight. Unanswered prayers, but we’ll get more into that in my review.

Summarized Method:

The recipe calls for a very large 9x13x3 baking dish. The filling is made in a dutch oven, or similar pot. The onions and carrots are sautéed in butter until soft. Flour is tossed in to make a roux. The chicken broth is mixed in until incorporated. The condensed soup is added and heated through. The sauce is removed from heat and then the shredded chicken and frozen peas are added. Season to taste. The mixture is poured into the baking dish. The crescent rolls are placed on top and baked for 15-20 minutes. The “stew”, as she calls it, is supposed to be ladled over mashed potatoes.

Alterations: I made a few alterations to the recipe. I did NOT need 10-12 servings of chicken pot pie. I cut the recipe in half, but still baked in a 9x13x2 baking dish.

ChibiChonk’s Issues with the Recipe:

Buckle up because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

This is not chicken pot pie. REPEAT. This is not chicken pot pie. This is a modified cream of chicken soup pretending to be chicken pot pie.

You may be asking, “ChibiChonk. What makes a pot pie a pot pie?”

And I would tell you, “I don’t know the technical components, but it a’int this!”

I think most people expect chicken pot pie filling to be hearty. The filling should be mostly chicken, followed by vegetables, covered in a thick sauce (gravy, if you will), and baked in or topped with a pasty shell. The slice of pot pie should hold together. What it should not be is a hot, liquid mess, and this is what Joanna’s recipe is.

Quantity. This seems to be a theme of her recipes. At the time this review publishes, I have tried three of her recipes and each one makes a mass quantity of food that is too much for the average-sized family. This recipe claims to feed 10-12 people. This is not a bad thing! For some of you, it might be a breath of fresh air because you don’t end up with too little food the first time you make a recipe. So, just a warning. If you pick up this cookbook, make sure to look at how many servings it makes!

I am so confused. Why make a roux if you’re going to add canned soup? This, by far, is the most baffling component to the recipe. If you are going through the effort to make a roux, why would you ruin it by adding canned soup AND chicken stock? Now, before you grab your pitchforks and torches, hear me out. Chicken pot pie filling is supposed to be enveloped in a gravy. The creamy gravy element is the glue that binds everything together ensuring that the chicken and vegetables stay moist while giving you a creamy texture that you wouldn’t have had you just thrown chicken, vegetables, and pastry separately on a plate. If you are already making a roux, you have all you need to create a creamy béchamel base. You’ve already done the hard part, so I don’t see the benefit of turning to cream of chicken soup. You gain nothing by it. Really, you don’t. Skip the canned soup and learn to make the béchamel base for chicken pot pie.

Wrong Proportions in the Filling. I’m going to reiterate. This recipe is chunky chicken soup ladled over mashed potatoes. It is not what most of us would consider pot pie filling.

Served Over Mashed Potatoes?! As admitted above, I completely missed the fact that you’re supposed to ladle the filling over mashed potatoes. Why? Because traditional pot pie is not ladled over mashed potatoes, so I would have never thought to do it or even look for it. I hate to be the pot pie police, but no. Once you deconstruct a pot pie to be ladled over mashed potatoes, you no longer have pot pie. You can quote me on that. My family all agreed. If we were served pot pie filling over mashed potatoes at a restaurant, we would be 100% confused. If that is what you want to do, flip the mashed potatoes to be on top and call it a chicken shepherd pie.

Complete Lack of Seasoning. Again, at the time this review publishes, I would have tried three recipes from this cookbook. The complete lack of seasoning seems to be a theme in Joanna’s recipes. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. Recipes are often a starting point. After trying the “soup” mixture before baking it, my husband and I agreed it just tasted like canned cream of chicken soup. That may not be a bad thing if that is/was your expectation. For us, it was a bit disappointing, because you’re putting in quite a bit of effort. At this point, I was convinced I should have just shredded the chicken, heated up the soup, mixed in the peas and carrots into the soup, and just ladled the soup over the chicken and served the croissants on the side. I would have saved myself a lot of time. I ended up adding a dash of Lawry’s, a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder, and a heavy sprinkle of Italian seasoning blend. It tasted much better after that.

What would I change? I would change so much that it wouldn’t even be the same recipe. What I did learn from this recipe is that a cream of chicken soup base tastes just fine and will do in a pinch. That is really good to know. In a world of picky eaters, I can see this something I turn to if I had to feed small children or adults that may not like a more refined filling. My husband and I discussed that the next time I make chicken pot pie, I am going to cut out the canned soup, make my own gravy, and add some diced potatoes to the filling. We’ll also increase the amount of chicken and vegetables to make it more hearty and less soupy. I’ll also add some fresh herbs.

ChibiChonk’s Final Thoughts

Despite all of the fundamental problems I had with the recipe, we didn’t hate it. It was disappointing, sure. I think anyone with cooking experience that expects a higher level of sophistication can tell by the ingredient list alone that this is not a recipe for those of you with a discerning and elitist palette. Many comments on other blogs condemn Joanna and her cookbook because some of her recipes feature store-bought fodder such as pre-cooked chicken and canned pastry. Others dismiss her cookbook on the basis that she was only published because of her success elsewhere. That may be true. For me, whether that is true or not, I can’t condemn her recipes simply because she is business savvy and a public figure.

I actually enjoy her shortcuts. Not every meal by every person can be a sophisticated creation. I think many of Joanna’s fans are interested in her life and wonder how she gets is all done. She’s given us a glimpse that she is an every day person that yes. Buys pre-cooked chicken to feed her family. I admire that honesty and I am not above a pre-cooked chicken. If you are above that, this is not the cookbook for you.

To wrap up, I am going to say, we ate it all. My son and husband both enjoyed it despite it falling short of our pot pie expectations. Will I make this again? No. Not as written. I will modify it to the point that it wouldn’t be her recipe anymore, and that’s okay. They cannot all be winners. That being said, if you are a fan of a more runny chicken pot pie filling, this is for you. If that filling being served on bed of mashed potatoes is your idea of culinary heaven, this is for you. Different strokes for different folks!

You can grab a copy of Joanna’s cookbook on Amazon currently for $20.98.

http://www.amazon.com

Honey Garlic Chicken: MAGNOLIA TABLE, VOLUME 2

Continuing my cooking journey through the recipes of Magnolia Table, Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines, I came across the recipe for honey garlic chicken. Immediately, my mouth started to water. I showed the recipe to my husband and he said, “Yes. That one.”

As stated in all of my recipe reviews, I do not publish the recipes that I find in a cookbook. We can go back and forth on the legality of posting someone’s published recipe and what constitutes copyright protections, however, I don’t care to enter that conversion. Even if you provide me irrefutable information that I can copy and paste a published recipe into my blog, I will still find it unethical. What I do provide is a listing of the ingredients used in the recipe and a quick recap of what the method entailed. If you want the full recipe, please consider supporting the author and purchasing a copy of their book.

Ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Honey
  • Ketchup
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pineapple
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds

From the ingredients alone, I could tell that this was not going to taste like an Asian dish. I think most of us think of honey garlic chicken as something you would order for takeout from an Asian restaurant. This dish is not Asian. Maybe Asian inspired, but the complete lack of soy sauce, MSG, and/or sesame oil rule out any chance that this dish is Asian.

Like most of her recipes, Joanna doesn’t use anything unique or out of the ordinary. These were all ingredients that I had on hand or easily obtainable. That is part of the draw to her cookbooks. So far, very good, simple food.

If I am being honest, the use of ketchup freaked me out quite a bit. I don’t mind dabbing my fries in ketchup. I don’t mind it on a burger here and there. I don’t mind it in barbeque sauce. Beyond that, it is such a weird ingredient. I am not even really justified in feeling that way. Ketchup is nothing but a version of tomato sauce, but yet, I still side eye recipes that use it.

Ingredient Substitutions. Even though the recipe does call for it, I did not use fresh pineapple. Honestly, that is way too much effort and I don’t think going through the motions to cut fresh pineapple adds anything except bragging rights that you did it. I used a can of well-drained pineapple. I also cut the amount of red bell pepper in half. Not on purpose, but oversight. I didn’t buy the right quantity.

Summarized Method:

The recipe first calls for seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, throwing a light drizzle of oil on top, and baking for 15 minutes. While the chicken is going through the first bake, you can mix together the sauce and chop the red bell pepper, parsley, and pineapple. Once the chicken has completed its first bake, you take your sheet pan out of the oven, shove the chicken to one side, and place the bell peppers and pineapple on the other side. The recipe calls for basting the chicken in some of the sauce. It goes back into the oven for another 10 minutes. After the second bake is complete, you turn the broiler on and allow it to caramelize and build a nice char. Once you get just enough char, you remove from the oven, place in your serving dish, and toss with more of the sauce. The final step is to sprinkle on your fresh parsley and toasted sesame seeds and serve with some rice.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, you will end with something that look like this:

Where the Recipe Shined:

Very easy to make. This is a very basic and simple recipe. I think even the most inexperienced cook can make this dish without issue. All of the cooking is done in an oven. The only dirty dishes you should end up with is the cutting board, a knife, the bowl you mixed everything in, your measuring cups, and a sheet pan. All things considered, that’s not too bad!

Time. You can definitely get this on the table in under an hour. It may be too ambitious for a school night for most, but not out of the question.

Bell Peppers and Pineapple. They add a nice touch to the dish. I think without the peppery bite, this dish would not have been as tasty as it was.

Somehow, it didn’t taste like ketchup. I am not sure what chemical sorcery occurred, but it didn’t taste like tomatoes or ketchup, so WIN!

No one will starve! As far as sheer quantity, this recipe makes a ton of food.

Where the Recipe Fell Flat:

No one will starve! Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad. As I was reading other reviews of the same recipe, most of us came to the same conclusion. This recipe makes WAAAY too much. I had at least a cup of sauce leftover. If I had poured all of the sauce like the recipe indicated, we would have had an over-sauced mess. It would have been way too wet. The recipe calls also calls for too much pineapple and red bell pepper. As previously mentioned, I accidentally did not buy enough red bell pepper, but that was divine intervention. I think if I added the called for amount, the red bell pepper would have overpowered everything.

Lacks the Asian flavor that you might be looking for. When I see “honey garlic chicken”, my mind wanders to Asian food. It’s usually chicken thighs nuggets marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, and then tossed in tempura batter, or potato starch, and deep fried. Then, coated in a honey garlic sauce. If that is where your mind wanders as well, you got the wrong recipe. Now, let’s be honest here. Asian cuisine doesn’t have a trademark on the phrase “honey garlic chicken”. This just isn’t the Asian chicken you’re looking for. It is a very Americanized recipe that just so happens to use honey and garlic.

Lacks the garlic flavor I was looking for. I tasted the honey. I tasted the red bell peppers. I tasted the pineapple. The garlic was definitely the understudy to the understudy that reads lines with the third understudy.

How I might modify the recipe:

Let me clear. This recipe is fine as written. I wholly believe if you make it as written, you will get a fine meal. For me, I know there are a few things I can do to take this very good recipe and make it better suited to my family’s tastes.

The next time I make this, I will probably marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy, garlic, ginger, and a dash of sesame oil. While this recipe made some pretty good tasting chicken, all the flavor was on the outside. The inside needed just a little bit more help. I think I will also add a bit of red pepper flake to the sauce to give it a little extra kick. I don’t want it hot, but a little more spice would be nice. I will also reduce the amount of sauce, pineapple, and red pepper by half. I want it to be more than a garnish, but not equal in volume to the chicken…I wonder if that makes sense. I feel like these are all reasonable modifications that doesn’t alter the recipe too much.

ChibiChonk’s Final Thoughts:

Reading this, you might be under the impression that I didn’t like the recipe. That is not the case at all! I think this really is a recipe worth trying as written. Just be aware that it might not be the flavors you are expecting and that it makes a ton of food. Definitely makes a beautiful looking meal.

You can grab a copy of Joanna’s cookbook on Amazon currently for $20.98.

Beef Stroganoff – Magnolia Table, Volume 2

A few weeks ago, I went to Magnolia Market with some long-time friends. I ended up picking up both volumes of the Magnolia Table cookbooks by Joanna Gaines. I thought I would try a few recipes and share my results for you all!

I would like to start by saying that my cooking skills are average. I’ve watched enough Alton Brown and Food Network over the years that I am confident in the most basic cooking and baking skills. I can follow a recipe pretty easily. I’ve also gained enough experience through cooking to identify when a recipe might not turn out the way I want it to if I follow it exactly.

I do not believe in publishing someone else’s recipes, even for the sake of reviewing it. I feel it is completely unethical to take someone’s hard work that they successfully published, and give it out for free. Instead, my recipe reviews will list just the basic ingredients so you can get an idea of what you need to make the dish, and a basic description of the method. If, after reading my review, you feel like you want to give it a try, please consider purchasing the cookbook.

Ingredients

  • heavy cream
  • sour cream
  • garlic powder
  • parsley
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • mushrooms
  • cream cheese
  • beef broth
  • egg noodles
  • yellow onions
  • beef top sirloin
  • flour
  • salt and pepper

As you can see, there really is nothing out of the ordinary. This is why the Magnolia Table cookbooks appealed to me. More often than not, when I browse a cookbook, I am irritated at how many recipes are not every day recipes that a normal, full-time working parent can churn out. These are the basic ingredients you will find in most stroganoff recipes. You should be able to find everything in your local grocery store. The one ingredient that I have not used in my own version of stroganoff is the cream cheese, but I love cream cheese, so no issues there!

Method

This recipe is made with top sirloin and calls for the sirloin to be cubed in 1-2 inch portions. If you’re like me, you probably make stroganoff with ground beef because it cooks quickly.

My intent was to cook the recipe as written, but I am going to be “one of those people” and admit that I did alter two steps of her method. I read the recipe over and over and over, and my years of cooking experience told me, “If you don’t cook that sirloin on low heat for longer than what her recipe calls for, your steak is going to be tough as leather…”

So, I committed the cardinal sin and altered her recipe.

Sin #1: If you’ve ever cooked with top sirloin, it is a pretty tough cut of steak. The original recipe doesn’t call for any simmering of the top sirloin at all. I think the original recipe is meant to be a quick meal you can throw together under an hour. The method does have you coat and sear the cubes of meat. I used a enameled cast-iron braising pan with a lid. Do yourself a favor. After searing the cubes of sirloin, deglaze the pan with your beef broth, cover your pan, turn the heat to low, and allow the sirloin to simmer for an hour. You will thank me! This does not alter her method all that much. Once you have simmered, you can remove the sirloin to a plate, and pour your broth into a measuring cup. I did not lose very much of the measured amount of broth. If you do, you can just top back up to the amount called for in the recipe. At that point, I was able to continue with the recipe’s method without any issue.

Sin #2: The first step in her method is to cook the noodles and set them aside. I, instead, finished the sauce, allowed it to continue to simmer, and then cooked the noodles after the sauce was complete. This is just a preferential thing. I want my noodles to be hot. I don’t feel this alters the original method. It’s just a timing preference.

Beyond those two little steps to ensure tender cubes of sirloin and fresh, hot noodles, I followed the recipe and this was the result:

Despite its very basic ingredients and method, it is a very solid stroganoff recipe. My family absolutely loved it and I will most definitely add this to my normal rotation. The cream cheese really gives it that rich, homemade flavor. The amount of sour cream that the recipe calls for was perfect for me. Sometimes, putting too much sour cream in the stroganoff ruins it for me. The amount of flour she calls for is also perfect. The sauce thickened up just right.

My method alterations did increase the overall cooking time, but I feel the simmering of the top sirloin is what made that cut of meat edible. If you follow the recipe to the letter, let me know if your sirloin turned out tough in the comments. If I can save myself an hour, I will!

Lets talk about seasoning. For those of you who really love a bitey stroganoff, you will probably need to add more Worcestershire. The great thing about this recipe is I thought the flavor was fine as is. Just do yourself a favor and make sure you are sampling at each step to adjust seasonings to your taste. That is the beauty of cooking. I think her recipe is definitely a good starting point!

https://www.amazon.com/Magnolia-Table-Collection-Recipes-Gathering/dp/0062820184

You can pick up a copy of her cookbooks from most major retailers. It is currently $20.98 on Amazon. Have you tried any of the recipes from Magnolia Table cookbooks? Let me know which is your favorite in the comments!

Air Fryer Hot Wings

Let’s talk hot wings.

My husband prefers boneless hot wings and it breaks my heart. To me, boneless hot wings are nothing but drenched chicken nuggets. I’ve never really enjoyed boneless hot wings, but I can’t dispute the fact that they’re more convenient to eat. That’s the only reason I ride the Team Boneless bandwagon.

On special occasions, I have been known to make hot wings at home, but the process was so laborious and tedious that I didn’t do it often. Years ago, I used to break out our deep fryer for the task, but the whole process could take an hour, and it used a lot of oil, to get the job done. Then, on top of that, my kitchen would wreak for days of dirty, used oil. In recent years, I abandoned the deep fryer altogether and started frying them on my stove top in an enameled cast iron pot. I was able to cook larger batches and control the heat a bit more.

But, what about baking? I have baked chicken wings in an oven and never achieved crunchy nirvana. I’ve baked them on cookie sheets, and baking racks, and convection, and breaded vs. non-breaded, and always disappointment.

When we bought our new air fryer, one of the selling points was hot wings. I would very much like to cook hot wings for dinner, not stand over a fryer or stove, and have the results that I wanted. Could an air fryer REALLY do what all of these people claim it can do?

YES. IT CAN. Well, at least the air fryer I own can (Instant Vortex 6 qt. Air Fryer).

I did very little prep work. I took the wings out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature. Generally, you want your meats as close to room temperature as you can get them. That just makes sure that you meats cook evenly all the way to the center. The colder the center, the tougher and overcooked the outside is going to be before the heat cooks the center.

I also made sure that the wings were very, very dry. I wanted to remove as much moisture to promote maximum crispiness. I set my fryer to 360 degrees. My air fryer automatically preheats. If your air fryer does not preheat, I looked it up and the consensus seems to be to run your fryer at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes, but longer if you have a lower-wattage machine.

During the preheat cycle, I lightly sprayed one side of the wings with canola cooking spray. I seasoned them liberally with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a light dusting of red chili flakes. I flipped them over and repeated. When my fryer informed me it was ready for the food, I lightly sprayed canola oil on the cooking grate just to make sure the skin wouldn’t stick to the basket. I was able to lay 14 wings and 4 drumettes inside the basket in one layer. Let me repeat. ONE LAYER. Do not stack your wings. Do not overcrowd your basket. I cooked for 12 minutes, then I flipped the wings and cooked for another 12 minutes. After the 24 minute cooking process was complete, I flipped the wings one more time, turned the heat up to 400, and cooked another 6 minutes.

This was the result:

Unsauced Wings

You can’t tell from the picture, but skin was beyond crunchy and crispy. After quickly tossing in some sweet chili sauce for my son, and Korean BBQ sauce for me and my husband, I have finally found my hot wing nirvana.

The skin was super crispy. I think the most amazing part though was the hot wing actually tasted like chicken. I’ve never really noticed that fast-food/restaurant hot wings lose their chicken flavor. They’re so covered up in sauce that you don’t realize that the chicken flavor is lost. Rugjen agreed and also made the comment that the wings did not feel heavy. Most wing places around these parts bread their wings. I think, in part, restaurants do this because breading is a cheap filler, it soaks up the sauce, and it helps with the illusion that your wings are crispy. I’m not saying that is a bad thing. It is unrealistic to expect large-volume food preparation to not have their tricks of the trade.

Admittedly, a few of the wings did dry out a bit, but I think that can be remedied by reducing the cooking time. After all, half the battle of cooking is making adjustments for your equipment. I think reducing the cooking time to 10 minutes each side and then keeping the 6 minutes at 400 degrees will do the trick.

Honestly, the best wings I’ve had and I didn’t have to clean a deep fryer, or wait for the pot of used oil to cool down before bottling up to throw away. I didn’t have to deal with lingering smells, either. Did it save on cooking time? I would say it did. I usually cooked six wings per batch and it took 5-8 minutes a batch, plus any time allowing the oil to come back up to temperature. So, yes. It probably saved 10-15 minutes. There was definitely a lot less babysitting. Also, a lot less cleanup.

So, if you like hot wings. If you hate the mess associated with making them at home. Try an air fryer. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Home Slice Pizza North Loop

Rewind 8 years. It was 100+ degrees outside, and I, in my infinite wisdom, wanted to go explore Austin.

As we melted down the streets of South Congress, we suddenly became famished. What did my little eye spy, you ask? A cheerful pizzaiola giving me a sultry wink while tossing some dough.

I broke eye contact with the beacon of hope and spot a pizzeria named Home Slice. We didn’t want to actually sit down and order a whole pie, so we went next door to More Home Slice. I mean, come on. You know it has to be good if they literally put a take out/slices only location next door to their dine-location. You DEFINITELY know it is good when the line is wrapping around the building when it is hot enough to melt the soles of your shoes.

Casey barreled his way through the crowd as I managed to find a place to sit. As he walked toward me, I heard the sounds of music filling the air. I glanced around confused. Does anyone else hear that? Their song was sweet and comforting. Are those…are those angels?! As he closed the distance between us, the rising wisps of steam were making motioning gestures beckoning me toward them like the tantalizing temptresses they were. Never in my life has the smell of pizza made me weak in the knees before. Casey gently placed the white paper plates before us on the small counter. I could feel the pride beaming from the plates as they cradled this gift from the Gods. With my eyes closed, I inhaled the sweet scent. As I opened my eyes, a tendril of drool escaped my lips. We exchanged side glances and gave each other an approving nod as to say, “We are about to experience the food of the Gods.”

As we took that first bite, the hustle and bustle of this tiny take-out location faded into nothingness. We felt no pain from our sunburned bodies. We felt no sting from the salty sweat dripping into our eyes. Most importantly, we were able to overlook the overabundance of men in flannel, skinny jeans, and overly-groomed mustaches drinking their Topo Chico.

All we felt was love.

Each year, Casey and I have made it a tradition to visit Home Slice every Valentine’s Day. While some of you filthy casuals opt for steak dinners and roses and boxed chocolates, I expect demand the sweet seduction of that perfect, crunchy crust, robust red sauce, and perfectly melted cheese.

This is the first year we did not travel to the SoCo location, but instead, opted for their newest North Loop location. And, what a beauty is she. We opted to sit outside, and it was dark, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of photographic evidence.

20190213_194019The pizza is still the same quality I have come to expect of Home Slice. It still has that amazing crust, and perfect balance of toppings. Time after time, their consistency never fails to amaze me. Their garlic knots are very basic, but don’t let that fool you. They are carbohydrate bombs of tasty goodness served with a side of the kind of marinara that makes you weep silent tears of joy.

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Their decor takes you back to a time where pizza pie reigned supreme.

If you’re in the Austin area and you’re looking for some legit pie, give Home Slice a try. They have two dine-in locations. One at 1415 South Congress with More Home Slice next door if you’re just looking to grab a quick bite. Their newest location is at 501 E. 53rd Street. If you have kids, opt for the 53rd Street location. They have a dope outdoor play area and tons of outdoor seating.

When you see that sultry minx, the Queen of Pies, wink back and tell her I sent you.

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BONUS PICTURE: I love their pizza so much, we took a family picture outside their SoCo location. We celebrated so many birthdays, concert performances, anniversaries, and other holidays together.

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