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GUINNESS STEW WITH WHITE CHEDDAR MASHED POTATOES

GUINNESS STEW WITH WHITE CHEDDAR MASHED POTATOES

Guinness stew with mashed potatoes

I still vividly remember our first trip to Ireland, it was during the week of St. Patrick’s Day and there was so much to take in.  I enjoyed everything about the experience, the energy of the city, the happy friendly people, the food, and the Guinness.  Yep, the Guinness!!  I know not everyone loves Guinness, but I always say if you aren’t a Guinness fan try it in Dublin.  When served fresh, the flavor of the beer is absolutely incredible, it’s rich, creamy, and unlike any other beer you’ve probably tasted.

So now you know I love Ireland, and me Guinness.  Since my husband and I are an Irish blend ourselves and love good beer we naturally like to get our Saint Paddy’s Day celebration on with delicious food and wait for it… Guinness!

The best Irish stew

Respect for beef stew!  I love how you take basic ingredients and with a little love, care, and a lot of simmering it becomes something special.  This stew really comes to life with the rich flavor of the Guinness and the white cheddar mashed potatoes.  Together it’s an incredible combination.  I use beef but you can substitute lamb too, just don’t skip on the Guinness – St. Patrick will know!

The best Irish Stew

There is nothing better on a chilly day than a big bowl of this Guinness stew served over these rich mashed potatoes.  For me it’s the ultimate comfort food!

Guinness stew with mashed potatoes

I’ve been known to double and sometimes even triple this recipe.  What can I say?  I love my Guinness stew.  Another bonus is how freezer friendly this recipe is.  Potatoes are known to lose their texture in the freezer but you can easily freeze this recipe.  Simply thaw, heat, and whip up the batch of cheddar mashed potatoes separately.  Be sure to find a mature sharp white cheddar for the ultimate mashed potato flavor and don’t skip the fresh herbs either, fresh herbs are life to your food… and it’s also green.  No pinching here!  Be warned you can’t have just one bowl of this Guinness goodness.

Guinness Stew with White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 2-3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 can Guinness
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh parsley
  • 4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz sharp white cheddar, grated

Instructions

  • In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and pepper and the stew meat, toss to combine.
  • Add olive oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, remove the meat with a slotted spoon or tongs and set aside on a plate.
  • Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Pour in Guinness, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the beef back to the pot and add the beef stock. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  • Add carrots to the pot and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes. If the mixture seems to thicken, thin it out with a little extra beef stock. Start the mashed potatoes during the last 30 minutes while the carrots are simmering.
  • Peel and dice the potatoes, add them to a large pot covered with water. Boil potatoes until fork tender, or about 25-30 minutes. 
  • Drain the potatoes, add them back to the pot turning off the heat and mash until smooth. 
  • Add grated cheddar cheese, cream, and butter and mix well. You can keep the potatoes warm in the oven if needed while waiting to serve.
  • When the carrots are tender, remove the stew from heat and carefully taste for seasoning, add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve the beef stew in a bowl over mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with fresh minced parsley and thyme.

Irish Stew

Saint Patrick’s Day is just days away and oh how I wish I was in Ireland again, but until then this yummy stew will have to do.  I’ve blogged some of our adventures in Ireland so if you’re in the mood read Ireland in March and 12 Must See Things to Do in Dublin.  Happy eats friends!

THAI CUCUMBER SALAD

THAI CUCUMBER SALAD

This Thai cucumber salad makes a delicious side or main dish.

I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier and add low-calorie vegetable dishes to our meals, and cucumbers seems to be a family favorite of ours.  We’ve played around with our Thai Cucumber Salad a lot and I think we’ve finally got it just right!  With hot summer days quickly approaching it’s such a refreshing salad to make!  I seem to be obsessed with all salads that have cucumber as a main ingredient, but this one is hands down my favorite!  Do you remember when I recently shared my Asian Sesame Salmon recipe?  This pairs fabulously with it as a side.

julienne cucumbers

This salad has amazing flavor, but another reason it shines is how the cucumbers are prepared into long noodle like strips.  You can use a vegetable spiralizer or julienne strip peeler like I did in the above photo, it’s such a useful kitchen tool.  I do remove most of the green cucumber peel because I find those strips too stiff and they also don’t absorb flavor as well.  To preserve the texture of the salad I stop when I get to the seeds.

If wasting the seed part of the cucumber bothers you, why not slice it up and make some delicious cucumber water?

Thai cucumber salad

After prepping the cucumbers I mix up the dressing.  It’s yummy goodness.  Then I simply pour it into a bowl with the cucumbers and toss.

Thai cucumber salad

Once mixed together add chopped peanuts and sliced green onions.  Amazing!!  By the way feel free to add some cilantro instead of the green onions, and for a fresh twist of flavor and add more chili flakes if you like things spicy!

low calorie salads

I must confess when I blog my own recipes I have trouble with estimating how many it serves.  It seems serving sizes are all over the place these days – especially with us.  I have a very hungry husband who can devour a whole entire recipe if I let him, so do I say it serves 1 hungry man or 6 smaller appetites?  Like I said it’s hard.

As a side dish to a main meal I’d say it serves 4-6 but Brian and I can easily split this recipe for a light lunch.  Feel free to double it if you feel you need more.  I wouldn’t recommend making more than you need though because cucumbers get really watery and don’t always keep well.

Thai cucumber salad

Make sure you use toasted sesame oil instead of regular, toasted sesame oil adds incredible flavor!  When I’m watching my carbs I’ll omit the honey and use stevia drops instead in the dressing.  You’ll want to add one drop at a time, whisk together and taste each time with a clean spoon before adding more to make sure you don’t over sweeten it.

low carb salads

Thai Cucumber Salad

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbs seasoned rice vineger
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Wash and peel cucumbers, then using a vegetable spiralizer or julienne peeler, peel cucumbers into strips stopping once you've reached the seeds, then place in a medium sized bowl.  
  • In a small separate bowl add toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili flakes, honey, and salt, then whisk until combined.  Pour over cucumber strips and mix well.  Top with chopped peanuts and sliced green onions.  
  • Add extra chili flakes if desired.  Best when served immediately.

Thai cucumber salad

Like I mentioned above this salad is best served soon after making because cucumbers get watery.  We’ve also made this recipe with thinly sliced cucumbers but the julienne strips are our favorite, the flavor distributes better and we can have fun eating them with chop sticks.  Haley picked up these chopsticks for us while she was in Japan last summer.  I love them!

ROASTED CARROTS WITH PARSLEY & THYME

ROASTED CARROTS WITH PARSLEY & THYME

Roasted Carrots with parsley and thyme

I’ll be honest I’ve never been much of a fan when it comes to cooked carrots.  I always found the texture too mushy and the flavor lacking.  Then one day I learned you could roast them and my world changed.  This roasted carrots with parsley and thyme recipe is delicious and a total game changer when it comes to cooking carrots!

One of the things I love most about carrots is we always seem to have them in the refrigerator.  Go look in your refrigerator… you probably have a bag you forgot about.  Oh, carrots, I love you… you’re cheap and last forever in the refrigerator!

Roasted Carrots with parsley and thyme

You’ll want to start with 2 pounds of carrots.  I weigh mine after they are peeled and chopped.  Kitchen scales are so useful but if you don’t have one, you can weigh your carrots in the grocery store, just buy a little over 2 pounds to account for peeling and chopping the ends off.

After peeling I slice my carrots in half or sometimes thirds and depending on size I slice in halves or quarters.  Now for the best part, the olive oil and herbs.  Fresh thyme is what really makes this recipe sing!  Thyme is probably one of my most favorite all time herbs, and it’s so easy to grow.

ways to cook carrots

I place some olive oil, dried oregano (you can use fresh if you have it), and chopped up fresh thyme, along with a generous dose of freshly ground salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and I mix together with my hands. Then I spread them onto my favorite large baking sheet, it’s about 13 x 18. You’ll want to use a large baking sheet and place the carrots in a single layer.  Then I cover with foil and bake until soft.

Once the carrots are soft I crank up the broiler on high… I really get excited about this part, it’s my favorite.  I broil about 10 minutes until the carrots start to wrinkle and get slightly brown.  Sometimes I go up to 15 minutes.  I never really know, my carrots are slightly different sizes every time and it does vary.  You really need to keep an eye on them, nobody likes burnt carrots.

Once out of the oven I top them with freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, don’t skip this part!  Fresh herbs make food come to life!  Add any additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Perfect delicious roasted carrots

Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Thyme

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbs flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°  
  • Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or use parchment paper.  
  • In a large size bowl add carrots, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano and mix well.  
  • Spread carrots in an even layer onto the prepared pan.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until carrots feel tender.
  • Remove the foil and broil on high for 10 minutes up to 15 if needed.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Add extra salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Carrots with parsley and thyme

These are so delicious, I hope you see carrots in a whole new way now!

DETOX PUREED VEGETABLE SOUP

DETOX PUREED VEGETABLE SOUP

I’m so excited to ring in the New Year at the Stanley Hotel New Year’s Eve Ball tonight.  Hopefully we’ll get some good photos I can put up on the blog soon, but for now let’s talk DETOX…it’s not even January 1st yet and I’m so ready to get healthy.  I really overdid it, food and drink wise, this holiday season, but hey it’s the holidays so I have no regrets!  As a result though I haven’t been feeling my best.  Like a lot of you I’m ready to transition back to a healthy diet again.  This simple vegetable soup is a great way to detox and help you lose a few of those extra holiday pounds. Those of you who hate vegetable soups, let me explain why this one’s a winner.

It’s all about the pureed texture.  I can’t say I’m really a fan of plain chunky low calorie vegetable soups, I’ve just never found them satisfying.  When you puree this vegetable soup the flavors blend and create a comforting, satisfying texture.  Plus it’s incredibly simple to prepare.  This soup is packed full of vitamins and minerals and is the perfect way to sneak more veggies into your diet, even my kids like it!

I use a small amount of coconut oil to sauté the onions, but feel free to omit that and use olive oil or even a bit of cooking spray.  I also use homemade chicken stock, but feel free to use store bought, just look for the healthiest kind available.  One of these days I will get around to blogging about exactly how I make my chicken stock, or broth.  I have several methods to make it, I’ll try to make that a January or February blog goal.

In the ingredients below I’ve listed 5-6 cups chicken broth.  I typically do 6 cups but it makes the soup a little on the thinner side, it’s thin enough to drink from a cup.  However, if you’d like the soup a little thicker just reduce the broth, you can always add more later if you want to thin it out.  You can also up the veggies a little if you want.

How do you puree it? The easiest way is with an immersion blender, if you don’t have one you can still make the soup.  Just let it cool slightly and carefully transfer it to a blender.  If the soup is hot you MUST VENT THE TOP OF THE BLENDER otherwise the heat will pop the top off and make a huge mess.  It’s a mistake you’ll only make once!  I usually lift the lid and place a paper towel over the top.  The immersion blender method is definitely quicker with less mess.

Once the soup is finished we add a nice squeeze of lemon and top with some fresh herbs for extra vitamins and flavor.  My favorites are cilantro or Italian flat leaf parsley.  I bet chives or green onions would taste great too!

Detox Vegetable Soup

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli and cauliflower combined
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Italian flat leaf parlsley or cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  • Heat oil in large soup or sauté pan over high heat.  
  • Add onions cooking 3-4 minutes until slightly soft.  Add chicken stock, the remaining vegetables, salt, and pepper.  Simmer until vegetables are soft.  
  • Turn off heat and with a hand immersion blender puree until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and any additional salt and pepper if needed.  
  • Ladle into a mug or bowl and garnish with herbs before serving.

Any leftovers should keep for several days in the refrigerator, I’m kind of weird about reheating this soup though.  I will not microwave it, I’m always worried the microwave will destroy the nutrients.  What do you think, will it?  I just always insist on heating leftovers on the stove top.  I’ve also had good success with freezing small size portions of this soup.  Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year and I’ll be back soon with some Colorado updates.  Take care!

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APPLE & BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH ROSEMARY CROUTONS

APPLE & BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH ROSEMARY CROUTONS


Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

We eat a lot of soup in our household, and lately with the cool rainy weather it seems I’ve been making even more.  I mentioned in a previous blog post a while back about the butternut squash growing in our garden, it’s been crazy, but that’s ok… butternut squash is one of my most favorite vegetables ever!  Every time I make this soup I’m amazed at how delicious it is… it’s weird, it’s like I forget how good it is!

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Full disclosure, this isn’t the soup to make when you’re short on time, it does take a lot of prep work so plan ahead, but it’s worth it I promise!  One thing you can do, and I do this a lot when cooking, is you can prep all your ingredients earlier in the day.  Dice up all the veggies and refrigerate, bake the croutons, and the bacon you can easily prepare in the oven while the soup is simmering.  That should cut down the preparation time when you’re in a hurry.

I don’t know… sometimes I enjoy long prep and cooking sessions in the kitchen.  I have couples-cook dates with Brian in the kitchen and it’s so fun, we crank up Frank Sinatra and open wine, I give him a few jobs to do while I’m working.  But I also have my moments where I think ugh… I just want this over with.

The easiest way to get the proper amount of butternut squash is just to weigh one at the store and to try to get around 2 1/2 pounds, it’s not the end of the world if it’s a little over or under, or you can use a kitchen scale like I do.  I have a few more tips on this recipe so read on and remember it’s worth it!

I use homemade broth…at least once a week in the fall and winter I have a big batch of broth going.  It’s thrifty, healthy, and delicious!  Using canned broth is fine too, but just be sure and adjust the salt to your taste.

For the croutons I tear up about half a loaf of french bread.  I used to cube the bread but it’s quicker to tear it, and I prefer the rustic uneven texture.  You’ll get crispy and chewy pieces and some crumbs… I love that!

The chipotle chili pepper is slightly confusing so let me clear that up.  I use canned chipotle chili peppers in adobe sauce, it’s sold in most grocery stores.  USE JUST ONE PEPPER FROM THE CAN.  If you use the entire can you’ll hate me.  Adding one chopped pepper gives the soup just a hint of heat, it won’t be too spicy hot I promise, and it adds a nice smokey depth to the soup.  Save the chilis for another use or freeze them individually like I do.

Once the soup is done simmering I puree it with an immersion blender, it’s the safest easiest mess free way to blend the soup.  However, if you don’t have one you can use a regular blender, it’s more labor intensive and you must let the soup cool and vent the lid or the steam will blow the blender top off… just get an immersion blender they’re awesome!  Mine was $25 from Amazon and you can even find some lower priced ones.

I found small packages of smoked gouda at the grocery store over by the deli and I shred them myself using my salad shooter.  We shred all our own cheese because it tastes so much better.

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Apple & Butternut Squash Soup with Rosemary Croutons

Ingredients

Ingredients for the soup:

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped -USE JUST 1 PEPPER!
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1 pkg bacon cooked and crumbled

Ingredients for the croutons:

  • 4 cups cubed or torn french bread
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Instructions for the soup:

  • In a dutch oven melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add butternut squash, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently 10 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened.  Add apples, broth, cider, and pepper.  
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover.  Simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  While the soup is simmering prepare the croutons.
  • Remove from heat and with an immersion blender blend until smooth.  Ladle into bowls and top with rosemary croutons, bacon, and cheese.

Instructions for the croutons:

  • Tear or cube 4 cups of french bread and place into a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well with your hands, sprinkle with rosemary, salt and mix again.
  • Place the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Oh, this soup freezes well too, but if you’re like us you probably won’t have much leftover.

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THAI CHICKEN SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

THAI CHICKEN SALAD WITH PEANUT DRESSING

I feel like I haven’t posted a recipe in forever!  I can’t think of a yummier recipe to post to get me back into my rhythm than this Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing, and bonus you can make it in about 20 minutes!

We have a serious thing for Thai food in our house, there is a Thai restaurant 2 minutes from our house that we order from way to often!   I’ll tell ya, it’s giving Mexican food some serious competition lately!  We just love Thai food, especially this salad in the summer, it’s so healthy and refreshing.  Combined with our other serious love for peanut butter and this recipe is a total win.

I start with a whole cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, you can certainly roast your own if you’re willing.  Our grocery store has organic rotisserie so I’m good with that.  The recipe calls for 2-3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken.  I never measure this out actually, I just add what looks to be enough to feed everyone.  As for the peanut butter we used Earth Balance Creamy, and for the coconut milk we used Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk in a can.  Save any leftover coconut milk for your coffee, so yummy!

Most of the salad veggies you can get pre-sliced, but you will need to slice a few on your own.  Yeah, veggie slicing is boring so I like to have a glass of wine and crank up some Frank or Ella tunes to get me through it.  Another secret trick I’ve learned is to invite your husband or significant other for a “couples cooking date night”, then I assign all the horrible tedious stuff to him… like mincing garlic.  Ugh… that’s my least favorite thing to do in the kitchen!

Due to the boring veggie slicing I was drinking wine, therefore I didn’t get a picture of the dressing.  It’s the wine’s fault, it makes me forget things!  So just close your eyes and imagine a light brown liquid in a blender.  Great job!  That’s exactly what it looked like.  Seriously the dressing is so easy!  Just throw all the ingredients in and blend for a few seconds, until smooth.

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Make this delicious salad in just 20 minutes!
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 2-3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 4 cups coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup julienne (matchstick) carrots
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 sliced green onions
  • 1/2 chopped salted peanuts

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1- 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • extra lime wedges, for garnishing if desired

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  
  • In a large bowl place all salad ingredients and toss together, excluding the peanuts.   Add salad dressing right before serving and mix well.  
  • Top the salad with peanuts and then garnish with lime wedges if desired.

 

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