Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Football Stew

The big game is this weekend, and it’s the last football hurrah. Although I prefer college football over the pros (maybe that’s because I grew up in a state that didn’t have a professional team), I get a little bummed when the Superbowl is over. No more football until August. No more football UNTIL AUGUST?! At least I’ll have a great spread of food to drown my sorrows on Sunday.

I know appetizers are a popular choice for game time. Mini foods and dips are the best! But I keep thinking how fun it would be to change up the spread and do a meal instead. This Football Stew is so tasty and warm it’s bound to get anyone out of their seats for more (and to celebrate that first touchdown)!

What makes this stew delightfully delicious is that it’s chock-full of vegetable and beef, it’s made in the slow cooker, and…drum roll…it’s served over mashed potatoes! This recipe has been in my personal recipe box for years, and one of the changes I made to it was to serve it OVER the mashed potatoes rather than include the potatoes in the stew. I turned it into the ultimate comfort food, and I haven’t looked back.  

Who are you cheering for this weekend, the 49ers or the Ravens? And more importantly, what’s your must-have food at your Superbowl gathering?

Football Stew
Source: Ashley’s recipe box

1 lb. stew beef
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
1 cup low sodium V8 or tomato juice (I use V8)

Mashed potatoes, prepared how you prefer

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine carrots, celery and onion; mix well. Layer the vegetables and meat (vegetables, meat, vegetables, meat, and vegetables). Sprinkle the top layer of vegetables with sugar, salt, and tapioca. Pour the juice over the vegetables slowly, trying to cover all of the vegetables. Cook on low for 8 hours. Serves 4-6.  

For the mashed potatoes, I have always used the notion that, in general, a pound of potatoes will make 2 cups of mashed potatoes. My mashed potatoes are simple; I peel potatoes, rinse them, cut them, boil them (until fork-tender), drain them, mash them but keep them a little lumpy, and I add milk, butter, sour cream and salt and pepper (to taste) until I get a consistency I like…this is a total “cooking-by-feeling” process for me. They’re not fancy, but they're oh so good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spicy Peanut Chicken Cups + Crunchy Lettuce Toss

What a fantastic long weekend we had. My mom visited, and the boys loved the attention from Grandma (although they missed Grandpa…darn work—but fun!—trip to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan). We had a lot of fun: we shopped, we went to the Children’s Museum, we played (a lot!), and we ate (duh!). I’m so excited to share with you the stars of the weekend menu. 

Spicy Peanut Chicken Cups and Crunchy Lettuce Toss are the perfect meal combination. The chicken cups definitely bring the heat and have such a great flavor. The salad is coated with a delightfully sweet yet tangy vinaigrette. What makes the lettuce toss extra special is the addition of broccoli and toasted ramen noodles. Seriously, what’s not to love? My husband couldn’t get enough of both! And would you believe that my three-year-old actually ate the salad? I can’t even make that up.

The beauty of the chicken cups is that there is a lot of room to alter the recipe to suit your own taste and to yield as many as you want. I used a bottled peanut sauce, but Closet Cooking’s Thai Spicy Peanut Sauce would be extra-fantastic. Although I intended to add chopped water chestnuts to the chicken mixture before baking, I completely forgot! I actually developed this recipe as a way to use up the remaining won ton wrappers from our Taco Cups we had earlier last week.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Cups
Source: Ashley original

Cooked, shredded chicken breasts
Peanut sauce (I used House of Tsang Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce)
Won ton wrappers
Green onions, chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Combine chicken and peanut sauce in a bowl. Use as much peanut sauce as you prefer (I used enough peanut sauce to coat the chicken generously, but I didn’t want the mixture too runny). In a mini muffin pan, place as many won ton wrappers in the cups as you are planning to make. Make sure you push the wrappers gently into the wells; you may need to fold the sides to get a good fit. Spoon in the chicken mixture into each wonton wrapper being careful not to fill too full (you will want to leave room for the toppings). Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (or until the wrappers have slightly browned). Top cups with green onions, cilantro and peanuts.   

Crunchy Lettuce Toss
Adapted from: Taste of Home

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pkg. (3 oz.) ramen noodles, broken
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
1 small bunch leaf lettuce, torn
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

To make the vinaigrette, combine sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Discard the seasoning packet from the ramen noodles or save for another use. In a skillet, sauté the ramen noodles in the butter until golden brown (be careful because once they start to brown, they brown fast!). In a large bowl combine lettuce, broccoli, and onions. Just before serving, toss in noodles and walnuts. The vinaigrette may be drizzled over the salad (and tossed again) or it can be served separately (my preference). 


If you are living in the Land of the Cold, I hope you are staying warm. The wind chill was -30 degrees yesterday. Woof. As cold as it gets, it sure is pretty around here. I am thankful for beautiful South Dakota sunsets. Truly spectacular. And definitely no photo editing needed.

I was not compensated to use House of Tsang Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own.