Whew

Another weekend is done.  Why can’t we have the week work in reverse.  Have a 5 day weekend with a 2 day work week?  That would be great.  Then I might actually get the chance to complete the things I say I am going to on a weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, this weekend was great, but I could still use about another, oh, 2 years off.  We had friends in town from North Carolina.  They used to live in Wisconsin and then they moved to NC about 2 years ago.  They are now moving back to Wisconsin in May.  I’ve been so excited.

The female of this couple friend, “C”, became one of my closest friends while she lived here.  We worked together at a manufacturing site up in a small town in Wisconsin.  We were the first female engineers to work in the plant.  So, we received a lot of crap from the floor personnel on a regular basis.  It helped that we could lean on each other.  She helped me more than she probably realizes.  Before working with her and becoming good friends I didn’t really know how to cook or bake and nor did I do any physical activity.  “C” encouraged me to start exercising and start cooking and baking.  Now I am addicted to both.  I exercise at least 5 days a week and we only eat out about 2-3/month.  I feel so much better about myself and I have never been in as good as shape physically as I am now.

So, when “C” moved away it was very difficult on me.  I’ve been trying to make other friends, but no one is quite the same.  When she left I filled up my time with more exercise and classes.  Then I became pregnant and that filled up my time.  Still though, I missed having “C” around.  “C” and I flow in the kitchen when we are together.  I am never worried when she is in my kitchen.  I think she knows her way around it better than my husband does.  Conversation is effortless between us.  We are very different but yet very similar, but I think that is what makes us work.  We reaffirm to each other that we are not weird or alone in our worlds.  We aren’t judgemental of each other.  I’m so glad she is moving back.

When “C” came to visit this weekend, Wisconsin decided to welcome her back with the only way it knows how.  A snow storm.  I love snow storms.  I love curling up in my house drinking tea and watching the nasty weather outside.  In my mind I’m thinking about cross-country skiing and getting out and enjoying the snow.

In order to celebrate what little we have of this winter left I made beef burgundy.  It is one of those “winter” meals that just doesn’t taste the same when the temperature is above 40degrees outside.  This stew was excellent.  My husband and I really enjoyed this meal and it really hit the spot after the snow had stopped.  Enjoy!

Beef Burgundy (from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen)

1 (5-lb) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 ounces bacon, minced

3 onions, minces

1 carrot, peeled and minced

1/4 cup tomato paste

6 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried

1/3 cup AP flour

2 1/2 cups Pinot Noir

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 bay leaves

2 cups frozen pearl onions

1/2 cup water

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tsp sugar

1 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved if small, or quartered if large

1.  Dry beef with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Place half of beef in slow cooker.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown remaining beef well on all sides, 7-10 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

2.  Cook bacon in skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Stir in onions, carrot, tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in 1 1/4 cups white, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

3.  Stir broth, soy sauce, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

4.  About 20 minutes before serving, bring frozen pearl onions, water, butter, and sugar to boil in 12-inch skillet.  Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook until onions are fully thawed and and tender, 5-8 minutes.  Uncover, bring to boil, and cook until all liquid evaporates, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and cook until vegetables are browned and glazed, 8-12 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

5.  Add remaining 1 1/4cups wine to skillet and simmer until it has reduced by half, 6-8 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.  Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.  (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.)  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

My Notes:

I used a 2 1/2 pound chuck roast because I couldn’t find a 5 pound one and I thought that was quite large.  Next time I think I will keep with the 2 1/2 pound roast, but half the rest of the recipe.  It didn’t have quite enough meat.

I used 2 carrots in mine since I tend to prefer more vegetables than what most recipes call for.

I used a Merlot instead of Pinot Noir because I couldn’t find a Pinot Noir.  The Merlot was dry enough that it worked.

Enjoy!

(Here’s a picture of my husband scrapping off the burnt goodness from the side of the slow cooker.  It was delicious.)

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