Beef Stew with Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Beef Stew with Polenta (premade) and Parmasen

To start off, this isn't one of the quick and easy receipes that could be features on Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals". This meal takes some commitement. But the rich stew and creamy polenta you end up with are worth it. And to make you feel better for the 3 hours you'll spend on making this the first time, if you make enough to freeze a few servings, the stew freezes and reheats great!
I divided this receipe into 2 parts. The first part is the stew, which of course, can be served without the polenta. The second part is the receipe for the polenta.
Ingredients for Beef Stew
  • Olive oil, for searing
  • 1.5-2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 6ths
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour or to cover
  • 10 cups beef broth or cold water (broth leads to a more intense favor)
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium red or yellow potatoes, quartered --> do not use russet potatoes, the texture is not right for a stew
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 5 (for step 2, 1 tbsp of tomato paste can be substituted) + 7 medium sized tomatoes (for step ___, canned whole tomatoes can be substituted), cut into medium-large pieces
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

Cook's Notes:

  • You will need some kitchen twine for this recipe.
  • Beef chuck, from the shoulder, because of its marbling of intra-muscular fat, is the choice for any type of stew. If you can't find chuck cubed for stew in your meat department, buy a thick chuck steak and cut it into 2-inch cubes.
  • I've found that using tomato paste in step 2 leads to a much more tomato-y (how's that for a word?) base for the stew. I'm not really a big fan of tomatoes so I use fresh ones because the tomato flavor is much more subtle than when using the paste. By the way, I totally cannot spell tomato.

Directions for Beef Stew

  1. Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. You can also use a large soup pot with a well-fitting lid. Pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/4-inch deep. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, and add to the pan. Saute half the meat, uncovered, stirring only occasionally, until well-browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef. Discard the oil and wipe out the pan.
  2. If using a Dutch oven, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. If using a pot, you will not be using the oven. Return the pot to the stove and melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the 5 chopped tomatoes (or tomato paste) and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Add the reserved beef and scatter the flour over the vegetable and beef mixture (enough to lightly coat) and cook stirring until lightly toasted. Add the water or broth, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with a piece of kitchen twine and add the bundle to the pot. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste. Cover and transfer to the oven (if using the Dutch oven) or cook over low simmer on the stove. Cook the meat until just tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove pot from the oven (if using the Dutch oven). Skim the fat from the cooking liquid with a spoon or ladle. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
  5. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Stir in the vinegar (taste as you go along...too little and the flavor isn't right, too much and you may have just ruined an entire pot of stew!) and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. If serving without the polenta, divide among bowls and serve. Remaining stew can be frozen.

Ingredients for Polenta

Polenta is now readily available in most grocery stores. You can either by it in a roll that just needs to be reheated, or you can buy uncooked, dry polenta/corn meal. I prefer the uncooked because it is so easy to make and tastes a little fresher than the roll. The crappy picture I included is featuring the premade roll of polenta instead of homemade polenta.

  • ~1 cup Dried Polenta or Corn Meal
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter

Directions for Polenta

  1. Boil water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low and add dry polenta until mixture begins to thicken. Continue to stir and add polenta until mixture is like a think gravy, but not too thick. The polenta will continue to absorb water over the next few minutes so there should be some free water in the pan.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add grated Parmesan and butter, stir to combine.
  4. To serve with the stew, add a serving of the polenta (~1/2 cup) to the bottom of a bowl. Fill remainder of bowl with beef stew and top with some freshly grated Parmesan. Serve and Enjoy!

Walnut, Pear & Jack Cheese Salad

It's just what the title says it is...a quick, easy and tasty salad.

Green Lettuce (for decoration)
4-5 Ripe Pears
.5lbs Jack Cheese, cut into ~1/2" cubes
1/2 cup Roughly Chopped Walnuts

Line medium sized bowl with green lettuce. Chop pears and jack cheese into ~1/2" pieces. Roughly chop walnuts and combine with pears and cheese. Serve.


Mozzarella Tomato chicken...or mushroom

First of all I totally spaced that I was taking pictures so there are a few gaps.

5- Pieces chicken flattened
7- Cloves garlic diced
4- Small tomatoes diced
Lots of fresh basil chopped
1.5 cups fresh mozzarella, 1 cup diced .5 cup sliced thin
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Egg
Splash of milk
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (found in Japanese isle)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
Cooking twine

Preheat oven to 475. In small bowl combine, garlic, tomato, basil, 1 cup mozzarella, balsamic, salt and pepper. Flatten chicken and fill with mixture. Roll up. Tie shut with twine. On two separate plates combine egg and milk and then the bread crumbs on the other. Roll chicken in egg and then bread crumbs. Place in baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and spoon tomato sauce over each one and top with remaining sliced cheese. Bake until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Finished product.

Vegetarian low cal style cooked in portabello minus bread crumbs.

If you use chicken breast it will be much easier to use a whole breast and just cut a pocket in the side. Since I had to de-bone thighs that is why I flattened it out. For a low calorie version measure your cheese and eliminate the bread crumbs. Also for gluten free eliminate the bread crumbs.


Mushroom bacon brandy gravy & spicy fried chicken

1/4 package bacon sliced into 1/2 pieces
1 package mushrooms chopped up
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp pepper
5 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp garlic powder

In large saute pan saute bacon until crisp over medium high heat. Add mushrooms into bacon grease and saute until brown. Pour in brandy and light on fire. Wait for flame to die down and reduce heat to medium low. Pour in cream, stock and garlic, pepper and garlic powder and simmer until thickened. Serve over steaming hot bowl of mashed potatoes.

I also served it with my fried chicken.

12 chicken drumsticks
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot
2 tsp Tapatio
2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups flour
3 tbsp pepper
3 tbsp salt
3 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp ranch flavoring
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp poultry grill seasoning
enough vegetable oil to fill frying pan half inch

in large bag combine buttermilk, Franks, tapatio, red pepper flakes, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp pepper and chicken. Let sit for an hour. On plate combine all dry ingredients on plate. Roll chicken in flour and put in hot oil. Reserve marinade. Fry until chicken runs clear inside.

In small sauce pot pour marinade in and simmer on low until thickened. Serve on the side as a sauce to dip chicken in. It will knock your socks off!

Sauteing mushrooms and bacon

After cream, brandy and bacon

As gravy on the tatoes mmmmm so damn good

Frying chicken

Finished product!


Salmon in crazy water

Salmon fillets
1.5 Cups water
.5 Cup vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic crushed up
2 Lemons one juiced one reserved
1 Tsp pepper
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 Tsp Rosemary
1/2 Tsp Thyme
1 Tsp butter

Bring all ingredients but salmon to a boil in a large frying pan. Boil for about 6 minutes to develop flavor. Taste it, season accordingly. You don't want it overly flavored just a nice hint of each flavor. add in salmon skin side down and simmer on one side until pink. Flip and simmer till pink. Remove carefully as salmon will be very flaky and good. Squeeze reserved lemon juice on salmon. You can also make a second batch of the water and use it to make rice as a complimentary side dish.



Peppers in all colors
3 cans vegetable broth
Rosemary (fresh)
Thyme (fresh)
1 cup of rice

I do not tell you an amount for the veggies above because it is up to you. I liked more mushrooms and celery then carrot but you may not. I would use at least a half cup of each chopped small.

Dice up all veggies. Put rice in rice cooker along with two cans of broth. Add veggies salt and pepper and season to taste. Allow it all to cook until broth lowers and add last container of broth. Let cook and serve.

If you don't have a rice cooker simply cook on the stove usig one can of broth at a time and let it cook down then add another and so on until rice is soft. Mmmmm


Guest recipe via Kari....super good chocolate pudding pie stuff

This crust will blow your mind people. I had it last week and can't stop thinking about it, not to mention I bothered her every day for a week for this damn recipe. This is super simple. Go make it now, and if you gain five pounds its not my fault!

First Layer - CRUST
1 cup flour, 1/2 cup marg. or butter (softened), 2 tbl sugar, 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I used almonds) Mix w/a mixer

Smash crust into a greased and floured 9X11 pan
Bake at 375^ for approx 15 min or until golden brown

Let cool for 15-30 minutes before adding the next layers...

Second Layer - 8 oz of cream chees, 1 cup powdered sugar
Mix w/a mixer

Third Layer - 2 Packages of instant chocolate pudding (6oz packages) Add 3 cups of cold milk and mix w/a mixer

Top Layer - Cool Whip with sprinkled nuts (your choice)

Put in the fridge for 30 minutes to settle!!!

Enchilada Lasagna

2 pounds chicken breasts*
1 large can red enchilada sauce*
1 cup green onions, chopped
1 can chopped olives
tortilla chips, crushed
2 tomatoes, chopped
pepperjack cheese, shredded
corn tortillas
garlic powder

1. Bake chicken breast seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper at 350 F for 20 minutes. Turn chicken breasts over, and cook an additional 20 minutes. (Make sure chicken is fully cooked - no pink.)
2. Remove and cool. Cube up chicken breasts into about 1/2" pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
3. In a baking dish, coat the bottom of the dish with a little bit of the enchilada sauce. Just enough so nothing will stick to the pan. Add the remaining enchilada sauce to the chicken.
4. Stir about 1/2 cup green onions in with the chicken mixture.
5. In the baking dish arrange corn tortillas to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of chicken mixture and pepperjack cheese. Place another layer of tortillas and remaining chicken mixture and more pepperjack cheese.
6. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.
7. Remove and top with crushed tortilla chips, olives, tomatoes, remaining green onions, and more pepperjack cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until top layer of cheese is melted.

*Substitute for 3-4 cups of Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken, and skip steps 1-3. Coat the bottom of the baking dish with a little bit of the sauce from the chicken to prevent sticking.

Slow Cooked Spanish Chicken

2 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 small cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
1 small can Rosaritas enchilada sauce (red)
1/2 cup water

1. Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray. Place all ingredients in the crock pot except for enchilada sauce.
2. Cook on low heat for about 8 hours. Stir chicken with a fork, this will easily shred the chicken. Add the enchilada sauce and cook another hour.
3. Stir again and serve. Serve with Spanish rice, or use for burritos or tacos.

NOTE: To speed up the recipe cook on high heat for 5-6 hours.


General Chicken

1 1/2 lb chicken breast cubed
3 eggs

1/2 cup cornstarch
, plus
4 teaspoons
10 dried chili pods (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar

4 tablespoons white
rice wine
6 tablespoons
6 tablespoons
soy sauce
Peanut oil

1. In a large bowl, mix the 1/2 cup of cornstarch and the eggs; add the chicken and toss to coat.
If the mixture is too thick, add some vegetable oil to separate the pieces.

2. In a small bowl, prepare the sauce mixture by combining the 4 tsp cornstarch with the wine, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce.
3. First-Stage Frying: Heat 1-2 inches of peanut oil in a wok to medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in small batches, just long enough to cook the chicken through. Remove the chicken to absorbent paper and allow to stand.
4. Second-Stage Frying: Leave a tablespoon or two of the oil in the wok. Add the pepper pods to the oil and stir-fry briefly, awakening the aroma but not burning them. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the pieces are crispy brown.
5. The Sauce: Add the sauce-mixture to the wok, tossing over the heat until the sauce caramelizes into a glaze.

* I like things HOT so probably used about 20 chili pods, use less to make it not as spicy.


Twice Baked Potatoes

  • Large russet potatoes (or any other larger potato with a thick skin)
  • Sour Cream
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Chives or green onions, finely chopped
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Paprika (optional)


  1. Thoroughly clean the outside of the potatoes.
  2. In the oven (or microwave), bake the potatoes until soft in the middle (35-45 minutes, depending on size, or 5-8 minutes in the microwave).
  3. Let cool until the potatoes are cool enough to handle with your hands. Cut each potato in half and scoop out the inside into a medium sized bowl, trying not to tear the skin. Place skins aside. Repeat for all the potatoes.
  4. In the bowl with the potato insides, add other ingredients (sour cream, milk, cheese, chives and salt and pepper) to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Fill each potato skin with the potato mixture that you just made. If they are heaping out a little, it's ok. Sprinkle with paprika and place in a large glass pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tops are slightly crispy.

Pork Adobo WITH PICTURES!!!!


So this recipe is totally the same as the chicken one, cept I used pork baby back ribs. It smelled really good in the house, like some kind of tasty sausage.

1- very large pack baby back ribs
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 whole head garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
olive oil

In a dutch oven (or large pot) coat bottom with olive oil. Brown ribs on both sides until slightly golden. Add everything else to pot, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. If you want your ribs softer and falling off the bone continue to boil until

How it looks while boiling in the pot (this is my dutch oven it is a Les Crueset, they are sooo expensive but damn they cook a good meal)

How it looks after husband gets a hold of it (see he pours the juice over the rice)

This is how just the ribs look when they are done. Then he poured the sauce on em, stuck a lid on and took em to go for lunch!


Mmmmm. Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You can't get much easier than these mmmmalicious chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies (depending on how big they are, in my case I get about 4 dozen because I like my cookies big).

  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs on medium until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. The dough will be stiff at this point.

  3. Stir in chocolate chips and mix thoroughly.

  4. On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by spoonfuls ~2 inches apart.

  5. Bake 11-13 minutes, or until light brown but still soft in the middle. Cool for a minute or two and remove from cookie sheet onto cooling rack.

For nut lovers, you can add ~2 cups of coarsely chopped nuts in the cookie batter and follow directions above.

Because I can't eat 6 dozen cookies (or even 4 dozen large cookies) I freeze half of the dough in the shape of a log, wrapped in plastic wrap. This makes it easy to cut off a slice or two and bake them up whenever you are in the mood for fresh out of the oven cookies.

Muffalata roll

(The photo doesn't do this justice because I totally forgot to take a pic while it was all pretty and rolled up!)

1- Tri tip roast filleted and flattened (You can have your butcher do this, or simply cut it down the middle and then from the middle cut each half out from center almost to end flattening it more, then put plastic wrap over it and whack it with a can to flatten) basically you want a very flat piece of meat.

1- small white onion diced
8- cloves garlic 3 finely chopped and 5 cracked
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1- egg
28 oz- can diced tomatos
10- slices bacon cut into 1/2 pieces
3- slices turkey
3- slices ham
10- slices salami
4- slices mozzarella cheese
1- cup white wine
2- tbsp olive oil
lots of salt and pepper

In deep dutch oven cook bacon until fat comes out (about 7 minutes) add cracked garlic and onion and saute until soft. While bacon is rendering mix egg, parmesan, finely chopped garlic, bread crumbs, olive oil, salt and pepper. On flattened steak layer turkey, then ham, then salami, cheese and finally bread crumb mix. Allow a half an inch around all edges of steak. Roll the steak up similar to a jelly roll and tie it closed. Remove bacon from pan leaving grease and place steak in pan over medium high heat. Brown on all sides, for about ten mintues. After steak is brown add wine and scrape all the brown off the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine reduces to half. Add bacon, onion, and garlic mix back in and cover with tomatoes. Add a bunch more salt and pepper, stir and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, less if you like your meat rare. No matter what the outside will be cooked well done! This meal was great. I actually tasted some of the sauce and even some of the meat and I was impressed. My husband especially liked the sauce with the bacon fat in it and loved the salami inside of the steak. He packed it up to take to lunch tomorrow. I served this with some fresh store baked bread for dunking in the sauce.

If you are cooking on a budget you can substitute tri tip for flank steak.

I saw a recipe similar to this in Rachael Ray's magazine but her's was much more high maintenance and hoity toity. I made mine more people friendly and it turned out great.

Chicken Adobo (Filipino style)

Seriously folks, I've never cooked such a quick and easy meal in my life. It is ridiculous how fast this cooks, and apparently if you like meat this shit is pretty good.

1 package chicken bone in skin on (I use thighs)
1 WHOLE head of garlic chopped
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 cups water
2 cups uncooked rice

In a large pot (I use a dutch oven but a deep pot will do) brown chicken over high heat for about 6 minutes. Throw in everything else. Cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Cook rice per instructions and serve chicken with all the juices over the rice. I think it taste a lot like fried rice, my husband says it taste like home, the shit, awesome and sooooo good. He has eaten it like 3 times in the last month and already wants more. It makes amazing left overs and reheats great. Actually we serve it as single portions at my house, so you can reserve some rice for left overs with out it getting soggy over night. Also, you can use the left over chicken the next day shredded to make a great chicken fried rice or even a chicken salad sammy with a bit of an Asian kick. Seriously that chicken with some mayo and pepper on some wonder bread WHOAH!

I will post pics of this next time I make it and my dumb ass remembers the camera!

This whole meal is knock you on your ass good and sooo fucking easy. Your a moron if you don't make it right now! The greatest part is that all of the ingredients are things I have on hand every single night. This means that all I have to do is pull some chicken out of the freezer and I have a quick meal that is ready to go in the amount of time it takes you to chop garlic!