Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

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Whoever came up with the idea of having breakfast for dinner is a genius.

I know that weekends typically are the time when we think about cooking big breakfasts with all our favorite foods that we don’t have the time to cook during the week when it’s all we can do just to wake up on time and get out the door to work. Fancy, home cooked weekend breakfasts/brunches are great….but in my family, they don’t really happen all that often.

See, the majority of my family really doesn’t get all that much sleep. When the weekend comes around, they’re not really thinking about what biscuits, waffles or casseroles they can get up early in the morning to cook- they’re thinking about being able to sleep in for the next day or so. In fact, the only time that usually happens is when we have family members from out of state visiting, which unfortunately isn’t too often. Generally, in a contest between laboring in the kitchen and catching some extra zzzs…the sleep usually reigns supreme. Me? I’m somewhat of a night owl and an early riser. Personally the idea of getting up early to cook a fancy breakfast is fun and exciting to me. But the idea of getting up to cook said fancy breakfast and no one even being awake (or willing to wake up) to eat it? I’ll pass.

Pic2Luckily, there’s that nifty little invention called Breakfast for Dinner.

With Breakfast for Dinner, I can feel free to make all the wonderful breakfast foods that would otherwise go to waste when made at the crack of dawn. There are certain breakfast themed foods that my family’s willing to eat at anytime of day- Breakfast Bakes are one of them. They’re versatile,  delicious and pretty easy to put together.  Not only that, but they taste good both hot and cold, so leftovers don’t even necessarily need to be reheated. I’ve had/made breakfast bake several different ways; sometimes I make it more ‘breakfast-style’ and include some stale bread in the bottom for a kind of ‘crust’, but most times I go without the bread so that it more resembles a really fluffy, deep dish omelette. It tastes pretty good with sausage gravy over the top, or (my personal favorite way of eating eggs), sprinkled with Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco sauce. Pic3

I started to call this dish the “It’s Your World Breakfast Bake”, just because, when it comes to putting it together, it really is ‘your world’- meaning that you can put just about anything you like in it.I’m providing my recipe that has my favorite vegetables and choice of meat, but don’t necessarily think that means that you have to stick to it 100%. You prefer white potatoes to sweet potatoes? Fine, swap ’em out. Not a fan of green pepper, but a huge fan of mushrooms? Make the switch. Whatever you want, really. As long as you keep the ratio of eggs and buttermilk proportionate to the amount of meat and veggies you add, I’m sure your breakfast bake will turn out fine. Just keep in mind not to add TOO many ingredients; you want the eggs and buttermilk to submerge the solids, not be absorbed by them. Have fun guys 😉

FEED(ME) BACK: What’s your favorite ‘Breakfast for Dinner” food?

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Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Bake

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Yield: About 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups shredded or diced sweet potatoes
  • A little over 1 cup of cooked and crumbled breakfast sausage (both beef and turkey sausage work fine)
  • 16 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 370°.

2. Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place sausage, sweet potatoes, onion and green pepper in baking dish and mix together.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, being sure to beat eggs enough so that the yolks are fully broken.

4. Pour egg and buttermilk mixture over the meat and vegetables in baking dish, evenly spreading the mixture out so that all four corners are evenly covered.

5. Bake in oven for about 60 minutes, or until set in the center.

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

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There are a handful of restaurants and fast food joints that I like going to for one specific thing, and one specific thing only. Maybe they have other things on the menu that taste good. Maybe there are other things on the menu that aren’t so good. But either way, if I’m going to this place, I’m going to get that one specific thing, or the entire point of the trip is negated.

If it’s Cracker Barrel, I’m going for the pancakes.

A trip to Qdoba means I’m getting a chicken burrito with brown rice, corn, peppers and spicy salsa.

Coldstone Creamery? Cake batter ice cream with graham cracker bits and caramel.

Regardless of what city I’m in, if I’m eating at any Middle Eastern restaurant/deli, I don’t even need to look at a menu. I already know that I’m getting a chicken schwarma wrap with extra hummus.

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And then there’s The Texas Roadhouse.

You guys know where I’m going with this. Anybody (ANY-friggin-body) who has ever been to The Texas Roadhouse knows exactly where I’m going  with this. Don’t get me wrong, The Texas Roadhouse has other things on their menu that taste just fine. I have no complaints for the food in general. But for me, and I suspect for quite a few of you out there, there is but one thing that sets this place apart from all others.

No. It’s not the peanut shells that are littered across the floor.

Nope. I’m not talking about the caricature pictures of Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson on the wall.

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I’m talking about bread, guys.

THE bread.

The best bread to ever pass your lips. I’m not kidding. The first time that you try the Texas Roadhouse bread, you’re going to need a minute to yourself just to process what is happening. You’re not going to think it’s possible that something as simple as bread can taste so good. You’re going to wonder what the heck has been that crap you’ve been eating for years at other restaurants that they try to pass off as ‘bread’ (Unless you’re at Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse- they don’t count here). You’re probably even going to think that the chefs in the kitchen are slipping some crack in the dough.

Well, they don’t put crack in the dough (at least, I THINK they don’t), but the developers at the Texas Roadhouse were definitely onto something the day they perfected this recipe. It’s just that good. When me and my family go to eat there, we always request extra bread, whether we end up with leftovers from our entrees or not. If you go to the Texas Roadhouse and don’t take home a doggy bag of the rolls, then you’re either on a diet (in which case I’m not sure why you’d be going to the TRH anyway), or you have no taste buds (which must be pretty terrible).

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I’ve had this recipe pinned to my food board on Pinterest for a long time now, but never got around to making it. This weekend, I decided to just stop the procrastination and get baking. The recipe for these rolls has been posted on lots of other food blogs, but I decided to go with the one that I saw first, at Eat Cake For Dinner. I didn’t do too much to change it. My changes were to shorten the rising time slightly (as my rolls doubled in size once molded quicker than hers). Whenever I make rolls, I always give them an egg and honey wash on the tops before baking, as I love the crust it gives them, along with an added sweetness.

I suppose the main question on everyone’s mind is: do they taste like the rolls from Texas Roadhouse? Well…yes and no. From my own research on the subject, I’ve read that the authentic ones are made with a flour that has a kind of evaporated/dry form of honey sifted into it, and that they also do not contain eggs or milk so as to widen the restaurant’s audience to include allergy sensitive customers.  I can’t imagine how this is possible, but since my rolls do contain eggs and milk, and don’t have any mad scientist flour, it’s obvious that they aren’t going to be the exact same as the original. BUT….they ARE friggin delicious. And if you have a craving for TRH rolls and don’t have one in your town (or you just can’t stand listening to country music), then these will definitely do in a pinch. I’d make them again for sure.

FEED(ME)BACK: Name one food from any restaurant that you only go there to get, every time.

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Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Recipe adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner

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Yield: 24 rolls (Give or take, depending on how you shape them)

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cup milk, scalded & cooled to lukewarm
  • 3 tbl melted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7-8 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 100° or lowest possible setting.

2. Scoop some butter or shortening onto a paper towel and grease 2 9 x 9 baking pans.

3. Dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar; let stand until frothy.

4. Combine yeast mixture, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and enough flour* to make a medium batter (about consistency of pancake batter). Beat thoroughly.

5. Add melted butter, 2 eggs and salt. Beat well.

6. Add enough flour to form a soft dough, about a cup at a time, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl in the beginning. When the dough pulls away from the bowl and is smooth to the touch, it is ready.

7. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Take a paper towel, and grease the mixing bowl with shortening or butter until it is well covered. Place the dough into the bowl, then turn it upside down once to make sure both sides are greased. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and place it in the oven for about an hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

8. Punch the down, and turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or cutting board you’ve sprinkled with flour.

9. Divide the dough into portions for shaping. Place rolls into greased baking pans and cover with plastic wrap. Place pans back in oven and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.

10. Remove plastic wrap from pans. Increase heat to 350°.

11. While oven is heating, whisk egg with honey in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread mixture over tops of rolls.

12. Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes in oven, or until golden brown. Baste them with butter as soon as they are removed from oven.

*If you have a sifter, I do recommend sifting your flour into the bowl before adding the other dry ingredients. The finer the flour is sifted, the softer and fluffier the dough will be in texture. It’s worth it. Trust me.

Honey Garlic Pot Roast

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There are some things that never get old. No matter how often they happen, you never get tired of them. You’re always happy to see them coming, sad to see them gone, and waiting for the next time that they happen again.

Weekends. Football season. Christmas. Reruns of The Golden Girls. Cheap Honey Crisp Apples (the result of which was a wonderful Apple Cider Cinnamon Bread). I can never get enough of any of it.

Another thing that never gets old:

Pot Roast.

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Pot roast is one of those things that just about everyone can relate to in some way. We’ve all had it. We all love it. It’s everything we love about home, comfort food, and good memories. It’s wonderful on Sundays. It’s wonderful during the week after a long day after work. It’s wonderful hot. It’s wonderful cold. See where I’m going with this? It’s just everything wonderful.

I haven’t made a pot roast in a really long time. Why? I don’t know. It’s one of those unexplainable questions of the universe that we’re just not supposed to make sense of, I guess. All I knew going to the grocery store this week was that I was buying a chuck roast, and I was making a pot roast out of it. I have some recipes for some ‘unique’ pot roasts that I have yet to test out, but this time around I wanted to stay pretty traditional with my approach. Nothing fancy. No fireworks. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that have the best results.

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Pull it off on the fork, so I know it’s real.

My grandma was subscribed to this mailing database called Great American Recipes where she would receive several recipe cards in the mail for a while. Since she doesn’t like to do as much cooking as she used to, she would just give the cards to me. As a result, I’ve got quite a collection of recipe cards from GAR now- they even sent a cute little binder to put it in.

This recipe was in one of the mailing packs that they sent. It seemed like a pretty straightforward pot roast recipe, and I liked the idea of rubbing honey over the meat before searing it off. So I tried it. Well, the smell alone was enough for me to decide that this was a good life choice. And the taste was enough to make me want to slap myself silly for letting such a long time pass since I’ve last made pot roast.

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Long story short, this pot roast rocks.  Don’t be an idiot like me and take a prolonged hiatus from pot roast roast…ing. Do the right thing. Make this.

By the way, if you don’t love pot roast, then I just don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

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FEED(ME) BACK: What’s one dish you like to cook that never gets old?

Honey Garlic Pot Roast

Recipe courtesy of Great American Recipes

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Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

*2 tbsp vegetable oil

*2 1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast

*2 tbsp honey

*4 cloves garlic, minced

*3 cups beef broth

*1lb. baby red potatoes, (1-1 1/2 inches in diameter) scrubbed

*1 cup of baby carrots

*2 envelopes (1 1/4 oz each) beef gravy mix

*1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, drained

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Rub the roast with the honey. Firmly press the garlic onto the roast. Cook the roast until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes.

2. Pour the broth over the roast. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Turn the roast over and add the potatoes and carrots. Cover roast and simmer until the roast and vegetables are tender, 45-55 minutes longer.

3. Transfer the roast and vegetables to a large deep platter, using  a slotted spoon. Discard all but 2 1/2 cups liquid from the pot. Whisk in the gravy mix and increase heat. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.

4. Pour half of the sauce over the roast and vegetables to serve. Pass the remaining sauce with the sauce.

Ashley’s Meat Pies

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I do most of the cooking in my house, and usually when I ask everyone what they would like for me to make, I don’t get too specific an answer.  Instead, I hear things like this:

“I don’t care,”

“It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Anything…just as long as it’s not chicken, I’m tired of chicken.”

See what I have to work with? (And for the record, it’s impossible for anyone to get tired of chicken. I certainly don’t- and therefore, it’s impossible).

But sometimes, I will get a very specific request to make something someone has a craving or hankering for. For my twin sister, Jasmine, it’s usually for baked spaghetti (she could eat that stuff every day). My mom really likes fried chicken. My older sister Ashley really likes these meat pies. Truth to be told, she’s been asking me to make her some of these for a long while now. The problem is, the last couple of times I made meat pies, I didn’t make them to her satisfaction. See, being the foodie that I am, I like to experiment with different flavor combinations and various fillings for savory pies. I’ve got dozens of recipes for pies and empanadas that I still have to try out: spicy Caribbean with curry powder and sweet potato, French Canadian with cinnamon and cloves, southwestern with salsa and corn…the possibilities are endless.

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But Ashley doesn’t go for all that. She likes to keep her meat pies simple. And by simple, I mean that the only thing she likes in her meat pies is meat. Nothing else.  Yeah, I know. Weird.

Well, I’m a good sport and I generally like to give people what they want (where cooking is involved anyway), so I decided to put aside all of my great genius of  culinary creativity and make Ashley her meat pies the way that she wanted them. The only ‘challenge’ I saw with a recipe like this is making sure that even though the ingredients are sparse, they still have flavor. Because as versatile as ground beef can be, it can still turn out pretty bland- especially without any powerful spices to give it some character. Since I was essentially only working with a ‘beef’ flavor, I decided to just bump it up a few notches. That ‘bump’ mainly came from a packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix. It enhanced the flavor of the meat, while also giving it some moisture so it wasn’t dried out inside the pastry after baking.

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These meat pies are pretty easy to make, not just because of the simplicity of the filling, but also because the ‘pastry’ is really just canned biscuits that I stretched out with my hands, then folded together. I know, I’m cheating. But I had other things to cook that day, and needed something in a quick fix that would still taste good. I’m not afraid of making my own pie crust, but if you are, then the biscuits in this recipe are an easy and just as delicious alternative.  I went with Pillsbury Grand’s Southern Biscuits. Word of advice though: do NOT use any Flaky kinds. Flaky biscuits puff up and separate while baking, and while this is fine eating them on their own, it doesn’t work well for meat pies. You want them to stay together. That’s the whole point.

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Traditional meat pies in Australia and the UK are typically served with ketchup on the side for dipping. These would probably taste fine that way, but I also think that barbecue sauce or A1 steak sauce would be pretty tasty. I just served them with the leftover gravy I had from the filling, and they got the thumbs up from Ashley. But you can serve/eat yours however you want. It’s your world.

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FEED(ME)BACK: What special dishes do you make for your loved ones?

Ashley’s Meat Pies

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Yield: 16 pies

Ingredients

2 to 2 1/2 lbs of ground beef

1lb sausage (Any variety you like is fine, I used Jenni-O Turkey Sausage)

2 cans refrigerated Biscuits (NO FLAKY KINDS- I used Pillsbury Grands Southern)

1 packet of Beefy Onion Soup Mix

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cups water

4 tablespoons flour

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Brown the beef and sausage together in a skillet over medium heat. Drain off fat, extra juices in a colander. Place drained meat in bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Pour onion soup packet and water in a 2 qt. saucepan with 4 tablespoons of flour and bring to a boil.

4. Add garlic powder, pepper and sugar and stir to combine. Let gravy cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.

 5. Scoop 1/3 cup of cooled gravy and mix into browned meat. Then, add another 1/3 cup of gravy and stir to combine, being sure to evenly coat the filling.

6. Lay out a piece of wax paper or parchment paper on counter top. Open canned biscuits, and separate, one at a time as you go.

7. Use your fingers to gently spread and stretch biscuit, pressing outward from the center to the rim of dough. It should be about 3-4 inches wide.

8. Scoop out a little less than 1/4 cup of meat and gravy filling and place it in center of biscuit dough.

9. Gently fold one side of dough over the filling and press it against bottom side. Crimp the edges of the dough with a fork to ensure that it is sealed and does not leak during baking.

10. Place pies on greased baking sheets, about eight per pan. Brush tops with beaten egg with a pastry brush.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown on tops and bottoms*

 *Depending on the type of oven you have, you may need to rotate the pans from top to bottom oven shelves halfway through to ensure even baking.

Thick and Chunky Chicken Stew

 

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Hello again Cook-letes!

Anyone else here love the Fall? I know I do. Besides Christmas, the autumn is my favorite time of year. For one thing, it’s when Football season begins- and if there’s one thing you guys should know about me, it’s that I’m a MAJOR college football fan. Michigan State University Football, to be exact. Alumni 2013. Go Green! Go White!  You get the idea.

In autumn, the weather here in Mid-Michigan is usually not too hot from August, and it’s not yet gotten to the point where it’s too cold in December. Plus the trees begin changing  into the most beautiful shades and colors.

My birthday is in autumn (September the 27th). I know, you guys missed it. But it’s okay. You can get me something next year. I’m not too hard to please. Kitchen gadgets and cook books will do. Also money. My bill collectors for my student loans would appreciate money as well.

But even as great as all those things are, I think I love the autumn the most because of the ‘autumn food’. You know what I’m talking about. Apples. Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Chili. Food that sticks to your ribs and warms you on the inside. It’s the food with the best flavors to cook and bake with in my opinion, so I’m really excited to share some of my recipes with these ingredients with you guys.

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I thought we’d start with one of my favorite fall foods: stew. Thick, chunky chicken stew with vegetables and mushrooms. Guys, this stuff is good for what ails ya. Really good. Move over Dinty Moore. Campbell’s can shove it. Hungry Man who? That’s pretty much the attitude you’ll have when you try this. Not only is it made completely from scratch, it also isn’t loaded with sodium and extra unpronounceable ingredients like the canned stuff, which makes it pretty good for you too.

Now, is it alright if I pause here and climb on a mini-soapbox for a minute? I wanna give my two cents about something that kinda ticks me off.  I know you guys will understand. I’m sure you all hate it just as much as I do. It can pretty much be summed up in two words:

Watery. Stew.

I hate watery stew. I hate stew that is watery. I’ve read a lot of cookbooks and perused a lot of recipe websites and every time I look at recipes for different types of stew, I inevitably see pictures of huge chunks of meat, and vegetables swimming/drowning in a thin broth. And I hate it. Now don’t get me wrong, there can still be a great flavor in the broth of a watery stew. But to me, if the consistency of the stew is watery, then it may as well not be called a stew at all. There’s another word in the culinary dictionary that would be far more befitting…we call it a SOUP. Heck, call it a Chunky Soup if you want to, but it’s NOT a stew.  Doggone it.

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So having gotten that off my chest, I knew that when I made my stew, it had to have just the right consistency to it. Not too much liquid, but not so dry that it didn’t have any moisture or body to it either. Think of the inside of a pot pie, only SLIGHTLY less thick. Dredging the chicken in flour,    cornstarch, along with a combination of cooking the stew low-n-slow while  uncovered on the stove top gave me exactly what I was looking for.

See the way it stays on the spoon? That's the 'stew' consistency I'm talkin' about.

See the way it stays on the spoon? That’s the ‘stew’ consistency I’m talkin’ about.

I’ve always loved the kick that beer gives to  chicken when marinating and grilling, so I saw  no reason not to include it here. As far as  vegetables go, I just went with my favorites;  sweet potatoes, corn, cipollini onions and  carrots. I also added some baby bella  mushrooms, which gave it an even richer, meatier flavor. I’m not a big fan of celery, I hate peas, and I prefer sweet potatoes to white. But feel free to swap those in your stew (or any other veggies you like). If you’d like to stretch the stew out a little more to save money or make it last longer, you could definitely serve it over some egg noodles. It also goes great with My Grandma’s Angel Biscuits (because you gotta eat stew with bread. There’s got to some place in the world where it’s an official law, or something).  Enjoy guys!

Thick and Chunky Chicken Stew

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

* 2 and 1/2 pounds of skinless, boneless, thinly sliced chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks (You can always pound them out thin yourself)

*1/2 cup flour

* 1 Heaping teaspoon of garlic powder

*1 Heaping teaspoon of onion powder, plus 1/2 tablespoon

* 1 large sweet potato, cut into equal bite sized chunks

* 8 oz of cipollini onions, cut in half

* 8 oz of fresh or frozen corn

* 8 oz of baby bella mushrooms, stems and gills removed, caps roughly chopped

* 8 oz of carrot chips

* 1 teaspoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, divided

* 1 and 1/4 cup of stout beer

*3 cups of low sodium chicken stock

*1 cup of water, plus 4 tablespoons, divided

*2 1/2 tablespoons of honey

* 4 tablespoons of corn starch

Directions:

1. Mix the flour, onion powder, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of pepper together in a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken chunks to the bag, seal, then toss to coat thoroughly, so that there is an even layer over meat.

2. Coat a large pot or Dutch Oven with olive oil. Brown meat over medium- high heat. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, just cook long enough to give it some color. Don’t worry about the thick layer that forms on the bottom of the pot: it’s supposed to be there.

3. De-glaze the pan with the stout beer. Once the bottom of the pot is no longer sticky, add the chicken stock, water, honey, sweet potato, onions, carrots, mushrooms, corn, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to low and simmer stew covered, for 45 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste, if need be.

5. Dissolve the cornstarch in 4 tablespoons of cold water and add to the stew. Cook uncovered over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, until thickened. (If stew still has not thickened after 30 minutes, you can add 1 additional tablespoon of cornstarch. It’ll thicken. You’ll see.)