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Boeuf Bourguignon and You Can Too!

Today’s recipe (and one of my favorite all time recipes) is Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon.

Sounds intimidating, no?  (See how very French I am!)

Well, as with all my recipes, I’ve made a few changes.  In fact I’ve simplified it quite a bit.  We should really call it Fancy Beef Stew for all the resemblance it shows to the original recipe.  Oh well!  Hopefully Julia isn’t rolling over in her grave and she’d applaud my ingenuity in adapting the recipe to modern cooking and demands.  That’s right!  She’d be down right proud of me!  I just know it!  Thanks Julia, you’re the best!

If you want the original recipe, you can find it here on Oprah’s website (random, but whatever).

Here’s what my recipe looks like:

You can read that right?  No?  Ok, well here’s my actual recipe:

1 9-10 in. oven proof casserole (like a dutch oven)

5 pieces of bacon, chopped

olive oil

2-3 lbs of stew beef

2 cups of carrots

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp garlic salt

4 tbsp flour

3 cups of red wine

2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp thyme

2 crumbled bay leaves

1 bag sliced mushrooms

Step one: pre-heat oven to 350 (this is where things went wrong for me the other day when I set it to 450 instead, doh!)

Start heating up your casserole dish on the stove.  Once it’s nice and warm, add your chopped bacon.

Resist eating bacon, despite it’s deliciousness.  It’s important for the stew and you’ll just have to add more if you eat it all.  So leave it be.  I promise you’ll be getting a mouth full later!

While bacon cooks pat your stew meat dry.

Since I’m an impatient cook, I squeeze the pieces in a paper towel in my hand instead of delicately patting.  Plus the bacon is cooking…The name of the game is time management!  Be quick and efficient!

*A side note on the beef: The meat will be cooking in the casserole for 2.5-3 hrs, so it will be tender regardless of the type you buy.  My advice is to buy the cheapest you can.  Usually the butcher case will have something inexpensive.  If you can get steaks for cheaper than the stew meat, you can easily chunk it into 2 inch pieces.  Seriously, just go with the least expensive.

Ok, next add the now dryer meat to the pot.

Look at that steam rising up!  Oh mama!  It’s starting to smell really good about now.

Move the beef around in the casserole so it gets covered in the bacon fat and browns evenly on each side.  This should only take a couple minutes.

While that’s cooking, chop your carrots and onion. (see how I manage my time?  I’m getting good at this!)

You have two options with the carrots, both of which center around baby carrots because they don’t require peeling.

Option one:  Throw them in whole.  Option two: Chop them up.  It doesn’t matter.

I opted for chopped.  I don’t know why, I just did.

Add your chopped onion and carrots to the meats in the pot.  If there’s nothing left of the bacon fat in the bottom, add olive oil.  Give everything a good stir and let the veggies brown a little bit.

Then, since I like short cuts, I throw the flour on top of the whole mess.  You’re really just supposed to coat the meat in flour, but I really just don’t care.

Give this a good stir and make sure the flour is mixed in.

Now add your 3 cups of wine.  Any red wine will do.  The original recipe tells you to use something like a Chianti.  I used Three-Buck Chuck.  In fact, one bottle of Charles Shaw Merlot is exactly 3 cups!

Now add your 2 cups of chicken stock (or if you want to be even fancier, you can use beef stock!), tomato paste, garlic salt, bay leaves and thyme.

Looking good!

Now the mushrooms are up to you.  Personally, I love mushrooms!  They’re delicious.  I think I could replace the beef in this stew with mushrooms and still be happy.  If you don’t feel the same way though, you can skip the next step.

Add your sliced mushrooms to the stew.

As you know I’m a big fan of anything pre-sliced.  I just dumped this whole bag on top of the stew.  Easy peasy.  And by dumped I of course me I delicately added the mushrooms to the mixture.  (yeah right)

And that’s it!  You’re all done with the active cooking part!

Simply cover the casserole with its lid and place in the oven for 2.5-3 hours.

The original recipe says to place it in the bottom third of your oven.  As you can see my oven is tiny.  I don’t really think it can be divided into thirds by anything other than cookie sheets.  So this goes smack dab in the middle.

Close the oven and go do something else for 3 hours!

Or if you’re me and scatterbrained, 1.5 hours later.  When the oven is emitting smoke open it up, set off fire alarms, fill kitchen with smoke, frighten dogs, yell at child to stay back, startle boyfriend with shrieking.

Thankfully the stew was fine.  I can’t say the same for my casserole dish.  If you ignore the charred sides of my casserole dish, look at the thick sauciness covering the meat and vegetables.  It is too delicious for words!

The time your casserole spends in the oven cooks the alcohol out of the wine and reduces the wine/stock concoction down into a delightful sauce.  It’s so rich and good, you’ll think you’re the world’s best cook (and maybe you are, you just didn’t know it til now!).  Enjoy over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or simply serve with biscuits or a crusty french loaf.  Oh mama!  It’s so good!

Bon appetit!

Just for my own edification, here is a picture of my oven.

It is older than I am.  It is antiquated with its crazy knobs. I accept that I turned it to 450 instead of 350, but come on!  An easy thing to do in this case.  Don’t be like me, check the temperature before you put the dish in the oven.


Apple Muffins

The little man was home sick yesterday, despite appearing to be fine in every way.  sigh. I’m a sucker.

So there were a couple of things that I needed to do:

1. Use the apples that were quickly going bad.

2. Make something I can hand off to Connor in the car in case we’re running late for preschool.

3. Bake something somewhat healthy.

Since all three of these things were easily combined in one quick recipe, I decided to go with Apple Muffins for yesterday’s Sneaky Mommy Eats.

Disclaimer: this is obviously not a home-made, concocted from scratch recipe.  If you are expecting that from me, please, I beg you,….get a dang clue!  I would love to say I don’t have the time to do that, but that’s not true.  The truth is that I just don’t want to.  Why reinvent the damn wheel?


Betty Crocker Cinnamon Struesel Muffin Mix

3/4 cup of milk

1/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 apples, cored, peeled, finely grated

My love for mixes is three-pronged: 1) I don’t have to mix all the tedious dry ingredients myself, thus 2) I don’t make as big of a mess and 3) save time.

My recipe is easy:

Preheat the oven to 425.  Pour mix into a large bowl, setting topping bag aside.  Add milk:

Add oil:

Then Connor’s favorite step: Add the eggs!

He likes to help crack the eggs and stir them into the mix.

I promise he’s wearing a diaper, it’s just hidden behind the bowl.  He was a very good little helper until he got distracted by the tomatoes and started counting them over and over.  Well actually it was more like he lined the up in a nice row, saying “one tomato” every time he added to the row.  My adorable genius.

Anyways, stir the ingredients together.  And once you’ve grated the apples, which are not called for on the box (that’s why this is “my” recipe), add them in and stir until all mixed.

I promise it tastes better than that picture looks.

Pour the batter into cupcake liner cups or into your greased muffin tin.

And then put this on:

While I was pouring the batter into cups, Connor brought me this headband and said “Pretty?”  I thought he wanted me to put it on him, but he refused, pointed to me and said “Mommy do it.”  OK….apparently Connor is concerned that I don’t look pretty enough when I’m baking.  Well…thank you son for looking out for your old mom.

Back to business:

Using the topping from the box, lightly sprinkle on top of each muffin.

Try to do a better job than I did and actually get some of the topping on the muffin.

Follow instructions on the box and bake for 16-21 minutes.  Then you get these:

Yum! Kid tested….

Kid approved!

Busy day and Summer is almost here Cookies

Today was a busy day.  It was the first day Connor was back at school in a week and the first time in five days I’ve been able to hear out of both ears and breathe through one nostril, a huge improvement.

Also my teeth have stopped hurting! Yay! This fun symptom has never happened to me before.  It felt like eight cavities had erupted in my mouth simultaneously.  I have pretty good teeth so I figured the chances of that actually happening were pretty low.  I concluded it was somehow associated with my cold.  I can happily report that now that my hearing has returned, my painful cavity filled mouth has been downgraded to merely achy gums.  I know, I know! “Stop talking, you’re making us cringe.”  I can’t help it.  This blog is like a stream of consciousness thing sometimes!

Anyways…I finally felt well enough to do stuff today that I’d been putting off for the last week.  That means laundry, cleaning, changing sheets, washing dogs, catching up on filing, school paperwork, etc.  I was on a roll!

Until Connor’s school called at 1:30 to let me know that my child had fallen asleep in class.  He had spent the morning alternating between whimpering, enjoying himself, and tantruming.  No he didn’t have a fever, stomach/potty issues, or a runny nose.  He was just out of sorts.  Of course.

So I picked him up from school and plopped him on the sofa with Up while I sorted the laundry/finished the rest of half-done chores.

For whatever reason, Connor was fine as soon as he got home.  Happy, playful, energetic, he was content to play by himself for about an hour.  He even left the movie and went to his room to play with his stuffed animals.  All Connor asked was that I turn on some classical music for him.  Of course my darling!  Whatever you wish!  I will always happily turn off the tv in favor of Beethoven!

I decided a reward was in order.  A reward in the form of a cookie.  A s’more cookie!

*Side note: Since Connor started preschool I have been cooking up a storm.  I love that I have the time to plan meals and execute them.  However, cooking something new every night has produced quite a bit of leftovers.  So the boyfriend has forbidden me from cooking any meals this week.  My only cooking options were desserts! hehehe

I’ve decided to include a recipe or two a week for those of you who are looking for something easy and yummy (my specialties).  I’m no Pioneer Woman so there will be no step by step beautiful photography or anything absolutely from scratch.  I will take both shortcuts and bad pictures.

I’m calling this the Sneaky Mommy Eats section.

Summer is almost here Cookies, otherwise known as s’more cookies.  Yum!

(If you don’t like butter or gooey goodness, you’re not going to like this recipe.)


2 cups Graham cracker crumbs

1.5 cups Chocolate chips

2 sticks of no salt butter

1 bag of large marshmallows

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Melt 1.5 sticks of butter in microwave. In a medium bowl mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter until none are dry.  Using your fingers, push graham mix into the bottom of the pan, creating a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.

In a small sauce pan melt the remaining butter with the chocolate chips, stirring frequently.  Add vanilla extract.  Once smooth, pour over the graham cracker crust. Resist the temptation to eat immediately.

It does look good though, doesn’t it?

Top the chocolate with marshmallows, covering as much of the chocolate as possible.

Then bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how dark you like your marshmallows.

I opted for a light golden color.

Allow cookies to cool completely (which I didn’t do). And enjoy!

Oh Mama!  That is some rich, buttery, chocolately goodness! I was torn between having another piece and drinking some milk.  So…I did both.  First the second piece, then I was so desperate for milk I drank it straight from the carton (don’t tell Connor).  I’m going to have to force people to come over at eat this so I don’t eat the whole pan.

Any volunteers?