Old-Time Beef Stew

We have four freezers in our basement. None of them are the king-size chest variety, but regardless, they hold a lot of food. I always keep my fingers crossed that we don’t have a power outage like we did in 1997.

The other day, when I was going through one of them looking for some pheasant legs and thighs, a vacuumed-sealed package of elk meat caught my attention. The backstraps were from 2009 but being sealed and not allowing in any air, there was no freezer burn. I immediately starting thinking of ways to use the meat.

So today, I decided to make some stew. Actually, Therese and I tag-teamed it. She cooked the meat in our pressure cooker while I cut up vegetables.

When the meat was done, we added the vegetables and some spices that were listed among the ingredients in a recipe I found in Therese’s “Better Homes and Garden” cookbook. We used one vegetable that wasn’t included in the recipe, celery. Therese calls it her “secret ingredient.”

Here is the “BHG” recipe. Give it a try. I think you’ll like.  And don’t forget the celery!

Old-Time Beef Stew
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons shortening or oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash ground allspice or cloves
6 carrots, pared and quartered
4 potatoes, pared and quartered
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
In Dutch oven, thoroughly brown meat in 2 tablespoons hot shortening, turning often. Add 2 cups water and next 9 ingredients. Cover; simmer for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove bay leaves and garlic. Add vegetables. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Slowly blend 1/3 cup cold water into the 3 tablespoons flour. Stir slowly into hot stew mixture. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook and stir 3 minutes longer. Serve stew in bowls.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Red Bean and Rice Party Dip

I’m a big fan of dip. I also like beans a lot. Ditto for things that are hot.

So, when I saw the recipe for Red Bean and Rice Party Dip from Zatarain’s, a company known for its Cajun and Louisiana style cooking, my mouth started to water. No only does the recipe contain red beans and rice, it also lists salsa, jalapeno peppers and two kinds of cheese among its ingredients.

Zatarain’s suggests the recipe for a Mardi Gras party, but I won’t be able to wait that long before giving it a try.
Red Bean and Rice Party Dip
3 cups water
1 package Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice
1 cup salsa
2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 8-ounce packages shredded Cheddar cheese
Prepare rice mix as directed on package, using 3 cups water instead of 3¼ cups. Reserve ¼ to ½ cup of the shredded cheese to garnish dip, if desired. Stir remaining ingredients into rice mixture. Place mixture into food processor or blender; cover. Process or blend until smooth. Keep dip warm in a chaffing dish or slow cooker, if desired.
Yield: 60 2-tablespoon servings.

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

I usually don’t need an excuse to make soup. I probably enjoy throwing a pot of soup together just as much as preparing any other food.

But today, I had a reason to make some. A family illness that’s been consuming a lot of time for some friends of mine means that they don’t have the luxury of preparing meals on a regular schedule. I remember what that was like when our family went through a similar experience a half-dozen or so years ago.

So, I decided to lend a hand by making some soup for my neighbors.

I opted for a variation of a recipe for cream of wild rice soup that can be found in Taste of Home’s “Big Book of Soup.” The only changes I made to the recipe was substituting pheasant for chicken and leaving out the chopped chives that are to be used as a garnish.

With the weather expected to turn colder over the weekend, this soup would provide a nice way to take off the chill.

Cream of Wild Rice Soup
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped
¼ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup evaporated milk
Chopped fresh chives, garnish
In a large saucepan, saute the onion, carrot and celery in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually add broth. Stir in the rice, chicken, salt and pepper
Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in milk; cook 3 to 5 minutes longer. Garnish with chives.
Yield: Serves 10 (2½ quarts).

Get Comfy with Meatloaf

There are some things I like about winter. No, it’s not the snow and cold that I find appealing. Actually, the snow and the cold do have something to do with it. They are conducive to serving up comfort food.

And one of my favorite comfort foods is meatloaf, which we are going to have for supper along with some sweet potatoes and corn. I’ve been going over several recipes to find one that most comes closest to the meatloaf we used to have as kids.

I remember watching my mom when she mixed her meatloaf. If my memory serves me correctly, it consisted of ground beef, diced onion, oatmeal, an egg, a little Worcestershire sauce and milk. I came across a couple of recipes that contain those ingredients, including one of the following, which we tried and is very tasty. The other meatloaf recipe calls for bread crumbs instead of oatmeal.

And if you like garlic, check out the recipe for garlic-whipped potatoes.

Economy Meatloaf
1 pound ground beef
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan. Combine all ingredients and mix. Pack firmly into pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Maple Syrup-Glazed Meatloaf
Vegetable oil spray
½ cup chopped/diced frozen onion
½ cup chopped/diced frozen green bell pepper
¾ pound extra lean ground beef
2 teaspoons ground sage
½ cup plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons maple syrup (divided)
1 egg white
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Microwave onion and green bell 1 minute on high in a bowl to defrost. Mix in beef, sage and bread crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup, egg white and salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Shape into 2 loaves, about 4 by 6 inches, on prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with remaining syrup and bake 3 to 5 minutes, until meat reaches 145 degrees.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 466 calories, 22 percent of calories from fat, 11.7 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated, 5 grams monounsaturated), 216 milligams cholesterol, 42.7 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 2.8 grams fiber, 313 milligrams sodium.

Garlic-Whipped Potatoes
3/4 pound red potatoes
16 medium garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Scrub potatoes (do not peel) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a large saucepan with the garlic and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, 10 minutes. Set aside 1/3 cup cooking water and drain potatoes. Mash them, beating in the cream, reserved water and salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 203 calories, 27 percent of calories  from fat, 6.1 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated, 1.6 grams monounsaturated), 20 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 35.4 grams carbohydrates, 3.7 grams fiber, 54 milligrams sodium.

Oven-Fried Chicken

One of my fondest memories from my childhood are Sunday mornings after we came home from church, and mom started putting together our dinner.

We always had meat as the main dish. Sometimes, it was a beef roast. Other times, it was a pork roast. But probably my favorite Sunday dinner was one that featured fried chicken.

I remember watching Mom brown the chicken before putting in a cast-iron roasting pan with a little bit of water. Mashed potatoes, a vegetable and sometimes bread or pork sausage dressing most often accompanied the chicken.

Now, we have chicken about once a week, but I usually baked it whole with potatoes, carrots and an onion. Recently, though, Therese has suggested we try something different with the chicken. So, yesterday, I took a chicken out of the freezer and decided we should give it a try fried.

Believe it or not, I’ve never cut up a whole chicken.  I used to watch my mom do it, but that was 40 to 50 years ago. Luckily, Therese is an old hand at cutting up chicken, so I deferred to her.

The recipe we chose to use comes from “America Cooks: The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Cookbook.” It’s one that Therese used years ago when she lived in the country and raised her own chickens. It doesn’t call for the chicken to be browned before going in the oven like my mom’s recipe, but nonetheless, it sounds pretty good.

I’m betting it’ll even beat the Colonel’s.

Oven-Fried Chicken
2 ½ to 3-pound broiler-fryer, cut into serving pieces
½ cup presifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ cup melted butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wipe chicken well with damp towel.
Combine flour and seasonings in paper bag. Put a few chicken pieces at a time in the bag. Shake well to coat.
Arrange in shallow baking roasting pan; brush with butter or margarine; cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove foil. Increase temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Yield: Serves 4.

Tuna and Pasta — A Tasty Combo

I like the versatility of canned tuna. It’s one of those foods that I always buy when there’s a sale at the supermarket. I can never have too many cans on the pantry shelf.

One of my favorite things to do with a can of tuna is to mix it with some Miracle Whip, put it on saltine crackers and top it with a slice or two of sweet (bread and butter) pickles. I’ve been doing this since my college days at Bemidji State. I remember coming home in the afternoon after class and having a snack of tuna, crackers and pickles while watching “The Little Rascals” or “The Three Stooges.”

Another dish that I like to make is tuna casserole. Just this past week, I made one for supper. The recipe I follow is my own creation. It calls for a couple of 7-ounce cans of tuna along with a can of cream of mushroom soup, a 4-ounce can of sliced mushrooms, a diced onion, two stalks of diced celery, a tablespoon or two of Miracle Whip and salt and pepper to taste. And, of course, some pasta.

Canned tuna and pasta is a good pairing. The following recipe combines the two. The tuna topping is chunky and colorful when combined with roasted red bell pepper. It’s tossed with nutty whole-wheat or farro pasta. The recipe is courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research (www. aicr.org).

Spaghetti with Mediterranean Tuna
1 medium red bell pepper, halved and seeded (or use jarred roasted pepper)
1 tablespoon capers, preferably salt-preserved
1 7-ounce can solid light tuna in olive oil, well-drained
1 lemon, preferably organic
½ cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti, broken into thirds, or whole-wheat corkscrew shaped pasta
If roasting pepper place rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees degrees.
Line baking sheet with foil and coat foil with cooking spray. Place pepper on baking sheet cut-side down, and roast on top rack for 20 to 25 minutes, until skin blisters and is black in places. Transfer pepper halves to small bowl, cover with plate or plastic wrap, and steam for 20 minutes. When pepper is cool enough to handle, use your fingers to pull off skin.
Finely chop pepper and set aside.
Rinse capers, place in small bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse capers well and pat dry on paper towel. Chop capers, and set aside.
Boil large pot of water for pasta.
Place drained tuna in medium-size mixing bowl, and using a fork, flake it. Add capers, and roasted pepper. Zest lemon and set zest aside. Squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from lemon and add to tuna. Save remaining lemon for another use. Mix parsley into tuna. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour additional boiling water into large mixing bowl. Set bowl with tuna mixture into larger bowl to warm it and help flavors to meld while pasta cooks, stirring sauce occasionally. Let sit for up to 30 minutes.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water. Divide pasta among 4 wide, shallow bowls and moisten with 2 tablespoons of cooking water. Top each serving with one-fourth of tuna mixture. Sprinkle zest over tuna, and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 302 calories, 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 46 grams carbohydrates,
22 grams protein, 1 gram dietary fiber, 267 milligrams sodium.

Cajun Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Generally, I don’t need a reason to make a pot of soup. But sometimes, it nice to have an excuse.

Today, the weather is expected to take a turn for the worse. Actually, we’re only supposed to get less than an inch of snow, and the temperatures are going to dip into the single-digits by tomorrow morning. That’s not really too bad.

But I have another reason to make soup. I’m going to have three teeth pulled this afternoon and will be fitted with a bridge, so the idea of eating something that requires a lot of biting doesn’t really sound that appealing.

I’m considering a couple of different kinds of soup. One, a rustic tomato, is really easy to make. I’ve written about it here before. I first made it at a Go Red event several years ago at UND’s Wellness Center as part of a cooking demonstration.

I leaning toward the second, though. It’s called Cajun Shrimp and Corn Chowder. It sounds like a  great pairing. I love both shrimp and corn, and the idea of spicing it up a little with some Cajun seasoning is right up my alley. And all I have to do is buy a few shrimp, since we already have all the other ingredients.

Cajun Shrimp and Corn Chowder

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon Cajun or Creole spice or seasoning, divided, more to taste
2 12-ounce boxes frozen corn
2 cups chicken stock, more as needed
1 cup bay shrimp
1 cup heavy cream, more to taste
Chopped parsley, garnish
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2½ tablespoons butter. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in 1 tablespoon Cajun spice, corn and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until the corn is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, saute the shrimp. Season the shrimp with the remaining Cajun spice. Heat a large saute pan over high heat, melt the remaining butter and quickly saute the shrimp until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and move the shrimp to a bowl. Set aside in a warm place.
Stir the heavy cream into the soup and heat to a gentle simmer. Cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes to thicken the soup slightly.
Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth. Adjust the seasoning as needed and stir in additional cream if desired. Stir in the cooked shrimp.
Serve the soup garnished with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Yield: Serve 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 323 calories, 10 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 19 grams fat (11 grams saturated). 87 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams sugar, 476 milligrams sodium.

Marinade Magic

I really like this time of the year because there always is plenty to eat in our house. We’re still living off many of the vegetables we grew in our garden this past summer, and the wild game in our freezers is still abundant.

My most recent foray into the freezer yielded six pheasant breasts that I marinated and cooked on our Foreman Grill. Along with some steamed asparagus topped with a nice Hollandaise sauce, baked potatoes and salad, it was a most memorable meal.

Normally, I would have put together my own marinade (the recipe follows) for the pheasant, but this time a bottled version from JP & Foods of Fargo did the trick. The Hunter’s Choice Marinade (original) was as tasty a store-bought marinade as I have tried.

I marinated the breasts for about four hours before putting them on the Foreman for about seven minutes. The pheasant was very tender, and the flavor appealing.

I read on the company’s website (www.hunterschoicemarinade.com/)  comments from several people about the marinade products One person said he’s marinated pheasant breasts for 48 hours and then put them in the dehydrator. The result was “great.”

Here are a few tips from Hunter’s Choice on how to be successful marinading:

— Keep your selection simple.
— Pat meat dry before marinating.
— Always use covered container.
— When using a zippered plastic bag, remove as much air as possible.
— When using a covered bowl, invert it often to distribute marinade evenly.
— Keep meat thin  —  ¼ to ½ inch.
— Allow enough time for marinade to permeate meat.
— Use a very hot grill.
— Do not overcook.

Wild Game Marinade
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3  cup honey
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary (optional)
Mix ingredients. Place marinade in large, flat container (covered) and then put in meat. Refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight.
Note: Any kind of domestic cuts of meat  works well alos, including beef, pork, buffalo and chicken. Recipe can be doubled easily.

Go Red On Valentine’s Day

February is American Heart Month, a time of the year when volunteers visit their friends and neighbors with a goal of raising funds for research and education and to pass along information about heart disease and stroke.

As many of you know, heart disease has probably touched you or someone you know and love.

I’m no exception. In November 1993, I had a stroke. Luckily, I’ve made a good recovery, but not without working hard at it. I quit smoking (no easy task), lost 30 to 40 pounds and have been exercising regularly since.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the American Heart Association chose February as American Heart Month, since the color red is often associated with Valentine’s Day.

With that in mind, I’ve chosen a heart-healthy red recipe to share with readers today. It’s for stuffed red bell peppers. The peppers are stuffed with nutrient-rich brown rice and low-fat ground turkey. The nicest thing about the recipe is you can be eating within a half-hour of starting the preparation.

Stuffed Red Bell Pepper

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cored
½ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup red onion, diced
¼ cup ground turkey
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
Brown the turkey and cook the rice per the instructions on package.
Mix the turkey, rice, onion and parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Stuff the pepper with the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until pepper is heated through.
Yield: Serves 1.

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Snackin’ Good Snacks

I’m a sucker for snack mixes, especially if they contain pretzels and nuts. I sampled some pretty tasty pretzels at work recently, courtesy of Matt Purpur of our Circulation Department. The pretzels had a little kick to them, which I really liked.

I asked Matt if he could get me the recipe and within a day or two, an e-mail came my way. I haven’t had a chance to make the recipe because we’ve been busy with youth hockey this weekend (three game in three days). But it’s on my to-do list for next week.

If you would like to give the recipe try, here it is along with another for a mix called Santa Fe Crunch, which also looks pretty interesting.

Spicy Pretzels
¼ pound small pretzels
¼ cup Crisco vegetable oil
1 1-ounce package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Put pretzels in a roaster pan. (A 13-by-9-inch pan will work, too.) Mix together Crisco, dressing mix, salt and cayenne pepper. Pour over pretzels and toss thoroughly.
Bake at 200 degrees for 1½ to 2 hours, stirring about every 20 minutes.
Yield: Serves 6.

Santa Fe Crunch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 12-ounce box oven-toasted square corn cereal
4 cups minipretzels
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups pecans
2 cups pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a small saucepan over medium low heat, stir together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper until the butter melts.
In a large roasting pan at least 3 or 4 inches deep, combine the cereal, pretzels, peanuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle the butter mixture over the cereal and toss gently to coat.
Bake in the center of the oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for about 1 hour or until heated through. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Yield: 20 cups.