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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

02/23/2021

~ Homestyle Beef Tips, Gravy & Amish Egg Noodles ~

IMG_9493Beef tips and gravy.  It's one of those humble-yet-hearty, frugally-inexpensive, weeknight meals our moms and grandmoms served to a hungry family after purchasing a pound or three of cheap-at-twice-the-price odds-and-end chunks of beef cubes (aka "stew beef") at the butcher shop.  No one had to be called to the table twice when this dinner was goin' on the table.  Some families preferred their meal ladled atop white rice, others liked it ladled atop mashed potatoes, and, still others served it ladled atop buttered egg noodles.  My family fell into the egg noodle category.

My recipe came via my mother and her recipe came from her mother, which means this recipe has been kitchen-tested and mother-approved through three generations.  I doubt it differs much from most family recipes for beef tips and gravy.  That said, it's worth mention that neither my mom or my grandmother used the type of prepackaged "stew beef" we find in our grocery stores today.  Why?  What we buy today is a random sampling of various beef cuts.  Some are marbled with fat and others are not, and, that can only mean one thing, some of the cubes will end up tender and others will end up shoe leather.  It's frustrating, so, for that reason, I recommend using inexpensive chuck steak exclusively.  Of course it is your choice, but, you've been warned.    


IMG_9406For prepping, seasoned-flour dredging & lightly-browning the beef
:

2 1/2-3  pounds 3/4"-1"-cubed beef chuck steak or chuck roast

1/2  cup Wondra quick-mixing flour for sauces and gravy

1  packet granulated beef bouillon

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon onion powder

2  teaspoons sea salt

2  teaspoons coarse-grind pepper

2  tablespoons vegetable oil

2  tablespoons salted butter

IMG_9482For the vegetable add-ins:

1  cup medium-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  cup peeled and thinly-sliced carrot

1  cup thinly-sliced celery

1  4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, well-drained, liquid reserved to be added to beef stock mixture below

IMG_9459For the liquids to make the gravy:

3  cups beef stock

1/4  cup reserved liquid from the can of mushrooms

1/4  cup port wine

1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

~ Step 1.  Add the beef stock, reserved liquid from the can of mushrooms, port wine and Worcestershire sauce to a 1-quart measuring container.  Set aside.

IMG_9360 IMG_9364 IMG_9364 IMG_9414 IMG_9417~Step 2.  Using a large chef's knife, cube the beef as directed, discarding any large fat pockets you will find along the way.  To dredge the beef, place the flour, granulated bouillon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a 1-gallon food storage bag.  Toss to incorporate the spices throughout the flour.  In three batches, add the beef cubes to the seasoned flour, thoroughly tossing to coat the beef cubes in flour on all sides after each addition.

IMG_9400 IMG_9407 IMG_9421 IMG_9424~Step 3.  Place oil and butter n a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  Over low heat, melt butter into the oil.

IMG_9426 IMG_9426 IMG_9434 IMG_9437 IMG_9442~Step 4.  Increase the heat under the Dutch to medium-high and wait a moment for butter and oil to get hot.  Add all the flour-dredged beef cubes. Using a large slotted spoon or spatula to keep the meat moving around almost constantly, sauté until beef is ever-so-slightly browned and swimming in a flavorful gravy, about 10-12 minutes.

IMG_9448 IMG_9450 IMG_9454~ Step 5.  Add all of the vegetables to the beef in the Dutch oven (the diced onion, sliced carrot, sliced celery and drained mushrooms).  Continue to cook, stirring frequently with the slotted spoon or spatula, until onions are tender and all vegetable are steaming and cooked through, about 10-12 more minutes.

IMG_9460 IMG_9460 IMG_9468 IMG_9473 IMG_9475 IMG_9478 IMG_9400~Step 6.  Add the 3 1/2 cups of liquid (the beef stock, liquid from the mushrooms, wine and Worcestershire sauce) to the Dutch oven.  Give the mixture thorough stir.  When the mixture returns to a boil, adjust (lower) the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 45-60 minutes.  The gravy will be nicely thickened and the beef tips will be tender.  Partially cover the Dutch oven and allow the mixture to steep, about 30 minutes, to allow all the flavors time to marry.

While beef is steeping, prepare noodles (or potatoes or rice): 

IMG_9499Homestyle Beef Tips, Gravy & Amish Egg Noodles:  Recipe yields 6-8 hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  1-quart measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon ziplock bag; 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven or 4-quart wide-bottomed stockpot w/lid; large slotted spoon or spatula; soup ladle  

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4d83358200bCook's Note: Soups and stews.  We can't seem to get enough of them this time of year -- I know I can't. The difference between the two is easy to describe.  If you started by simmering meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in a pot of seasoned water-, wine-, juice- or milk- based liquid, you've made soup.  If it is thickened at the end of the process, a soup can be stew-like.  If you started by cooking/sautéing meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables in a small amount of seasoned oil, butter or fat, then added just enough of flour and liquid or thickened liquid to it to bring it to an almost gravy-like consistency, you've made a stew.  If only a small amount of flour is used, a stew can be quite soupy.  Soup or stew?  Thick or thin, it's all about how you began the process.  ~ My Pennsylvania Deutsch-Style Beef Noodle Soup ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021) 

02/20/2021

~ Fry the Entire Danged Thing -- Unsectioned Wings ~

IMG_9376Chicken wings.  While not even close to the top of my list of healthy-eating snacks or meals, they are at the top of my list of favorite snacks or meals, and, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, from time-to-time I get a craving for them.  Also, much like the greater percentage of the rest of the population of the United States, I am in agreement, deep-fried wings, as opposed to air-fried oven-roasted or barbecue-grilled, are the best wings.

What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms.  Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce as a glaze to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into some previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals.  Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, only in the privacy of her own home (where she's free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), while different, many of my Buffalo-Style delicacies are every bit as enjoyable as classic wings.

Fresh chicken wings 101 -- each wing has three parts:

Screen Shot 2021-02-20 at 6.24.57 AMThe drummette, the flat wingette, &, the wing tip.

Wings_tray_packaged-image-2019-1024x673As you shoppers all know, there are two ways to purchase fresh wings: sectioned (sold as wingettes or party wings, which contain only the drumettes and the flats, not the wing tips) and unsectioned (sold as chicken wings). Sectioned wings are more expensive for a reason.  One doesn't have to get out the poultry shears to cut them apart at their two joints, or, get out the cleaver to hack them apart at their two joints.  In my girly-girl food world, both quality as disagreeable tasks that I prefer to deligate to family menfolk.

Perhaps it was the last two months of intolerable weather (many snow storms mixed with a few shots of freezing rain for good measure), or, perhaps it's after a year of isolation against Covid-19. Perhaps it was the TGIF gin-and-tonic that was talking to me, but, yesterday, standing in my kitchen all by myself and faced head-on with the task of sectioning a four-pound package of chicken wings with my own two hands, I resisted.  "Screw this", said I.  "Damned the torpedoes, full steam ahead."  "Throw these suckers into the hot oil of the deep-fryer just as they are." Seventeen minutes later, the first batch of three emerged, and, sigh-oh-my.  I will NEVER, EVER, section wings again.  Some days are better than others, and, this old dog just learned a new trick.

Fried & salted -- each one pulls-apart perfectly & easily:

IMG_9384Try it my way.  Life's too short to section chicken wings:

IMG_9395"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary & Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/17/2021

~Jiffy Mix Cornbread, Corn Casserole & Corn Pudding~

IMG_9352Three distinctly-different recipes with three decidedly-different results, all using one, inexpensive common-to-us-all, ingredient:  Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.  At 59 cents for each eye-catching blue-and-yellow box, it's been a time-saving staple in my pantry for over four decades.  I am not alone.  A week ago, there was discussion, on one of my Facebook friend's pages, about store-bought cornbread mixes.  We discussed the rising cost of them, and, which one us "cheaters" consider the best.  As it turned out, almost unanimously (Martha White gets honorable mention), it was the Jiffy brand.  We went on to share our favorite ways to "doctor it" up.  Fun, yum and don't tell anyone it's a mix.  It's the hands-down preferred brand amongst all of us card-carrying cheaters.

~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Double-Delicious Cornbread ~:

IMG_9121~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Triple-Corn Corn Casserole ~:

IMG_9208~ In a Jiffy-Cornbread-Mix Creamed-Corn Pudding ~:

IMG_9320"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)