Monday, February 22, 2010

Vegetable-Beef Soup

    I make soup at least once a week in the cold months.  It's just nice to come home to the yummy scent of a prepared meal in the crock pot all ready and waiting for you to eat!  This one does just that.  In fact, it's one of those that the longer you let it cook the better!  This is a recipe that came from Mom's kitchen, I just added a few things to make it my own.
    This is a hearty soup that is so tasty, and simple to make. The base of it is lean stew meat and a bag of frozen vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, green beans, etc) and you can add whatever you like.  I always add lots of diced potato to mine (steak and potatoes are a winning combo!) and a diced up tomato for freshness. I have never tried it, but it could also be good with shredded chicken instead of the stew meat if you don't eat red meat.  Just substitute the beef boullion cube for a chicken one.
   I like to serve this with a side of corn bread or a roll.  This could also be good with a crusty bread to dip with.  It doesn't need a garnish in my opinion, but you can really do whatever you want with it!  So here it is, my Winter Vegetable-Beef Soup!

Cut your stew meat in half for smaller chunks. Pat off the meat to dry it with a paper towel.  This will allow the meat to brown more evenly.   Heat olive oil in a pan on a medium-high heat (I use my cast iron skillet) and brown the stew meat on all sides. I like to salt and pepper it while it's browning. Remove the meat and put in the crock pot.  Discard some of the grease in the pan.  With the grease that is left in your pan, put in the finely diced onion and let it soften for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic for another 2 minutes.  Once those are finished in the skillet, put them in the crock pot with the meat.  Add the frozen vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, and then add the tomato juice, beef boullion cube, a few dashes of worcester sauce, and some enough water to thin the soup out.  Add lots of salt and pepper, 3 bay leaves, and dried basil.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours. I like my potatoes very tender and meat almost falling apart, so I cook mine for 8.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Best Banana-Nut Bread Pancakes

I am so excited about these pancakes we just now had for dinner--yes dinner!--that I just have to share them with you! I got home late from work tonight and what better for a quick late night dinner than pancakes?!? I must preface that Heath and I love pancakes.  He is really the pancake maker between the two of us, but I am improving! We make everything from chocolate chip pancakes to blueberry or just cinnamon and sugar pancakes.  They're all so yummy and special for a celebration breakfast or just a lazy morning with the family.  So, tonight Heath noticed there were a couple of ripe bananas that were too spotty to eat, and just suggested I add them to the pancake mix.  So that's where the goodness begins!

This recipe is not from scratch, but I used this yummy Meijer Natural Pancake mix that is already so good and fluffy. That is the base (you just need milk and canola oil for the mix) and I always add a little sugar.  So, for these unbelievably delicious banana nut bread pancakes I also added cinnamon, one whole very ripe banana, and chopped pecans.  I mashed the banana very well and stir it gently into the batter. The batter is a little thicker than normal because of the banana so i added just about 1 Tbsp. more of milk. I use a little bit of butter one very hot large skillet or griddle and cook these baby's up!  I ladled about 1/3 cup batter in the skillet for each pancake and then sprinkle the chopped pecans.  They browned up beautifully. Serve while hot with warm real maple syrup and sliced bananas and you think that you've died and gone to Heaven!

No kidding, these are quite possibly the best pancakes I have ever eaten, and I can't believe we have just now thought to make them.  So take it from us, after a long day you should make yourself a short (or tall) stack of the best banana nut bread pancakes with warm maple syrup and you will end the evening with sweet satisfaction and a good night's sleep!