Shepherd’s Pie

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When people find out that I love to cook, try my food, or find out that I have a food blog I get several pretty regular, frequent reactions:

“Oh, you’re a REALLY good cook: have you ever thought about going to culinary school?”

“Wow, you should open up a restaurant and/or catering company!”

“You should totally go on ‘Chopped’ ‘Next Food Network Star’ or ‘Master Chef’!” (Popular food tv shows)

I always politely laugh off these remarks and questions in the real world. However, since this happens to be my blog and here I’m not obligated to laugh or even be all that polite about it, I can just give the straight up honest answers that go off in my head when this happens. Because I know you guys can take it.

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Do I ever think about going to culinary school?

Never.  Not once. It’s a notion that has not, nor ever will be a possibility in my life. For one, culinary school tuition is not cheap. I already signed my life away in five years worth of student loans for my B.A. degree- I’m still trying to get it back now in the small loan re-payments I make now every month. Signing off on more loans to go to culinary school? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Second, culinary school is not something I would ever want to pursue because for me, shaping the act of cooking around the very regimen and structure of school would completely take all the fun out of it for me. When I cook for myself and my family, I like having the freedom to not only add or take away from a recipe as I see fit, but also to mess it up. In culinary school you learn so-called rules of making this and that, having to add this many ingredients, and these exact seasoning with very little wiggle room for freedom and personal interpretation of a dish. And if you do make a mistake and blow a dish, you could fail a mid-term or a final. Where’s the fun in that?

I’ll pass, thank you.

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Would I ever open a restaurant?

Heh. Honey, you couldn’t pay me enough to do that. Long, endless hours of thank-less work. An almost guaranteed loss in profit in the first 1-2 years. Disgruntled, rude customers. The stress of continuity in putting out good food. Just a few reasons for me to steer clear of the restaurant business like it’s the Plague. I would want to have a life outside of my restaurant- most restaurant owners don’t. I want to be able to see my family on a regular basis- most restaurant owners don’t. I don’t do so well with failure- statistically speaking, most restaurants go belly up. There are virtually no pros to balance out those cons, at least not for me. A restauranteur, I am most definitely not.

Do I want to go on tv shows like ‘Chopped’ or ‘Master Chef’?

H-E-double hockey sticks, NO! No. No. No. And, uh no. I don’t do very well cooking under pressure,much less the added pressure of cooking on national television. Although it would certainly be nice if I did get to win one of those contests,the emotional repercussions if I didn’t wouldn’t be pretty. I’m a really sore loser, folks. Plus, if I had to cook for celebrity chefs (several of whom I really like and revere) and they didn’t end up liking my food, I would seriously give up cooking for the rest of my life, no joke. Why put myself through all that?

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Okay, moving on.

It’s fall, and that means you have to have a shepherd’s pie. Seriously: you HAVE to. I keep mine pretty simple; it’s a real meat and potatoes kind of dish-literally. If you’re not in the mood to make mashed potatoes from scratch, then please feel free to use the potato flakes you can microwave- I’ve done that in the past and the dish still comes out perfectly fine. We also don’t add cheese to ours, but I know that most people do, so I added it in the recipe. My only regret is that I didn’t make some brown gravy for these pictures, because that’s how I serve it to my family. This is pure comfort food, folks. No frills, no fancy stuff. But it sure is good for what ails you on chilly winter nights.

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 Shepherd’s Pie

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 4.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 12 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 12 oz. frozen, mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 15.25 oz. can of tomato sauce (like for Hunts Meatloaf sauce)
  • 1/2 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder, divided
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder, divided
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. basil leaves
  • 1/2tsp. Ground thyme
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt, divided
  • 1 tsp. pepper, divided
  • Cheese (optional)

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Set a large pot of boiling water over the stove. Cook potatoes, fully submerged in water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender and drain.

3. Mash potatoes using a potato masher (or a mixer fitted with paddle attachment). Don’t worry about making them completely smooth– lumps aren’t a bad thing here. Add the heavy cream, butter, 1 tbsp. garlic and onion powder, and 1/2 tsp garlic  salt and pepper. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

4.Brown beef over stovetop, then add mixed vegetables beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, remaining garlic and onion powder, sugar, basil leaves, Ground thyme and garlic salt and pepper. Bring to a medium high heat and allow to cook for a further 10 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed (it’s okay if there’s a little bit left). Taste and adjust for seasoning if needed.

5. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish (or any casserole dish) with cooking spray. Spoon meat filling into bottom of dish, then spread mashed potatoes over the top. Make sure potatoes completely cover the meat to prevent any juices from bubbling up and spilling over.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until potatoes begin to barely brown across the top. Remove dish from oven and turn on broiler.

8. Spray the potato layer with Butter-flavored cooking spray, or dollop with unsalted butter. You may also add cheese here if you like. Place dish back into oven, directly beneath the broiler and allow to cook a further 1-2 minutes, until potatoes are golden and browned.

Caramel Snickerdoodle Cake

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So today, I’d like to say a few things about September 27th.

(Yes, I’m aware that today is the 26th. I just don’t want to talk about the 26th. I want to talk about the 27th.)

On September 27th, 1779, John Adams formally negotiated the Revolutionary War peace terms with Great Britain.

On September 27th, 1821, the Mexican Empire formally announced independence.

On September 27th, 1908, Henry Ford’s first Ford Model T automobile was leaves the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan.

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On September 27th, 1919, the Democratic National Committee voted to allow female voters.

On September 27th, 1954 “The Tonight Show” first premiered, hosted by Steven Allen.

On September 27th, 1983, basketball legend Larry Bird signed a seven-year contract with the Boston Celtics worth $15 million. The contract made him the highest paid Celtic in history.

Then, on September 27th, 1989 (9:01 a.m. to be exact)…something else happened.

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A baby girl was delivered by C-section in a hospital on a remote Army base in Montana. She was me.

So yeah, guys: tomorrow (September 27th) will be my 25th birthday. I’ve officially hit the middle of my twenties-five years past twenty…and five years away from being thirty. Ouch. Why does just typing that out make me feel old?

Birthdays haven’t been very much of a big deal to me for years. I’ve never actually had a birthday party. Most of them have either been spent at home while my mom or grandma made me a special dinner and cake, or in more recent years, out for a celebratory dinner at a restaurant. Not much of a big deal, which is fine with me. I’m a self-proclaimed introvert and I my social life is very private. I don’t need much of a fuss.

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This year however, was special in that, this was the first time that I’ve ever made me and Jas our own birthday cake. I’ll admit, the blog was a huge factor in pushing me to make that decision. I usually don’t make very many cakes in our house, but for some reason I just felt a necessity to bake a  really good birthday cake for a post. So after running several different ideas by Jas, I finally settled on this cake as one.  We both were very impressed with the result. Despite the title, I wouldn’t say that the flavor mimics a snickerdoodle cookie perfectly- however, you get a lot of the cinnamon, earthy and rich flavors that remind you of autumn baked goods. The texture is very moist and soft, thanks to the sour cream.The icing really sends the whole dish over the top- it’s good enough to eat off a spoon, no joke.

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I’d like to give a small shout out to my twin sister Jas real quick:

We made it to 25 years, chick. Thanks for being a pretty awesome ‘womb-mate’ for nine months, and an even greater roommate for the last 25. It’s been a great ride. You’re not just my twin sister- you’re the person who knows me the most in the entire world- both the good and bad. Happy Birthday. You know I love you.

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I’ll be taking this cake to this week’s Fiesta Friday #35, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Prudy and Naina. Hope to see you all there 😉

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Caramel Snickerdoodle Cake

Recipe Adapted from Gold Medal Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 and 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (5 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Cinnamon Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with shortening. In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture over inside of pan, turning to evenly coat. Shake out any excess.

3. In large bowl, mix remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, the flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Stir remaining evaporated milk, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla and eggs into dry ingredients until well blended. Pour batter in pan.

5. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 30 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

6. Combine all remaining ingredients. Add more powdered sugar or milk if need be to achieve correct consistency. Icing should be slightly thicker than a glaze, but not as thick as a frosting. Using offset spatula, spread icing over cooled cake. Allow to harden for about 30 minutes. Serve.

Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Happy Fiesta Friday #16 all you lovely people who came out the party! I’m pleased to bring this humble offering to share: Apple Cinnamon Scones!

I think just about everyone has had a certain interest, like hobby or skill that in a perfect dream world, they would like to use that hobby or skill as a job that they could do for the rest of their lives. I admittedly, have had quite a few of these in my short 24 years on this Earth.

When I was in elementary school, I loved everything that had to do with babies, thus making me believe that I wanted to be an obstetrician- this was after I consulted with my mom and found that there WAS such a thing as a doctor that only handled labor and delivery of babies. Then I found out that I wasn’t the best at science or math- both of which you kinda have to have decent skills into become a doctor. So that was out.

When I was between the ages of 11-13 I was  sure I was gonna be an Egyptologist when I grew up- pretty much an expert on everything that had to do with ancient Egypt. You know those mysterious (and let’s face it, creepy) curators of Egyptian artifact museums you see in the movies? Yeah, I totally used to fantasize about that being me.

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When I was in high school, I did some acting in a few plays and musicals and really enjoyed it. I also saw the film adaptation of Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (which made me develop a mild obsession with all things PoTO related that lasted far longer than I’m willing to admit to you guys) Thus, I got the idea in my head that maybe my true calling was to become an actress on Broadway, where I would be able to become the first African American Christine Daae to a Phantom that happened to look like Gerard Butler’s twin brother. (Side note, I’ve given up on that one completely).

My main goal during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was to go on to graduate school and become a scholar in academia of African American studies. To be honest, this is something that I’m still kinda considering for my future. I love all things that have to do with African American history, and although the prospect of grad school intimidates me, I’d still feel honored and pleased if given the opportunity to pursue the life of an academic.

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Nowadays, my dreams and aspirations for the ideal job mainly revolve around two things: writing and food. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing fiction and cooking food are the only two things in the world that I could do for free without needing any pay or compensation. I’m totally serious about that too. As a voracious reader as a girl, I finally came to the conclusion one day that instead of just envying the stories of my favorite authors, maybe I should just try creating some of my own stories and characters- so I did. My writing has really become one of the main stress relievers that I have in my life. I can’t imagine life without it. The best part is that it’s become an ongoing journey that never has to end- the more and longer that I write, the  more that I think I have and will continue to improve my skills…which leads to my ‘ideal world’ dream of becoming a bestselling author that just writes books for a living. It’s definitely a long shot, but a girl can still dream, can’t she?

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And of course, there’s my cooking. You guys ought to know by now that my cooking is my refuge. When I cook, all is well with my world. There’s just me, the kitchen, my ingredients, and the music in the background. Blogging has really just served to elevate my love and respect for cooking- I not only get to share it with my family and friends, I also get to share with you all…the pictures, that is 🙂 My friend Prudy at Butter, Basil & Breadcrumbs told me in one of my past posts that I should open a bakery. I found this to be rather coincidental, as running a small bakery is something I can half see myself doing in an ideal, care-less world. Running a restaurant- definitely not. But a bakery, I think I could do.

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So, some of you may remember a few months ago when I first made these Banana Bread Scones. (If you don’t or weren’t following my blog at the time, I highly recommend you go and check them out cause they’re friggin awesome) They were a smashing hit, and I was so impressed with them that I almost immediately decided that I would be making scones- any kind of scones- again as soon as possible. I finally settled on these- and I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did.

I didn’t think it was possible to top the Banana Bread Scones, but honestly I kinda think that these do. What else can I say? They’re thick, flaky, tender and bursting with apples and cinnamon chips. You may notice that mine are iced- technically the recipe didn’t call for it but I went ahead and decided to throw together a quick icing using confectioner’s sugar, a few teaspoons of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. My family always whines about how much I use icing for every baked good that I make, but I don’t care. I love icing. Icing is everything. Everything in life.

These scones make me think that maybe I should start taking my little dream world aspiration of opening a bakery a reality someday- after I’ve sold my hundreds of thousands of books on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, that is.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

8. Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

9. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (Yield: 12 scones)

 

 

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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

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

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.

Thick and Chunky Chicken Stew

 

Chicken Stew2

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.)