a99kitten’s Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

Even though it has not been terribly wintery all January (pretty much do **not** like you at all right now Mother Nature), it’s still pretty darn chilly at night. So warm and wintery dinners sound good. I found several recipes for beef stew and thought I’d try that!

As a a kid, I LOVED Dinty Moore beef stew. There is nothing short of a zombiepocolypse that could get me to eat that now (no clue what that meat is…), but boy oh boy did I love it when I was 10-11yrs old. So I combined several recipes that I found that kinda sorta looked like I remembered and changed it a little for my tastes:


2 lbs of beef cut into 1″ (ish) cubes – I asked the guy at the meat counter for the best type/quality of beef (you need some marbly fat)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic – minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot – chopped (all recipes I found called for onion but ick)
2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
4 baby red and 4 baby white potatoes – quartered (left skin on)
4 carrots – peeled and sliced
10 oz white mushrooms – sliced (no recipe I found called for this but I love mushrooms)

For later: 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup cream

All of the recipes called for celery – also yuck. But if you like it, go for it.


Place meat in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Pour over the meat and stir to coat the meat with the flour mixture.

Stir in the garlic, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, wine and veggies. Then put in the bay leaf and stir in but kind of on top.

IMG_6973 copy

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours. The cook on high option says 4-6 hours but I always prefer the low cook.

At around 9.5 hours I thought it looked a little watery for stew. So I added the additional 1/4 cup flour and cream. This pretty much made it perfect. It cooked for another 1hr 15 mins and YUM!

Plus I’m guessing it will be even better tomorrow!

beef stew

I’m thinking next time, use 1.5 cups of broth to prevent the wateriness. Maybe? Or maybe just keep the cream ;)

Another yummy sounding winter recipe that I found after digging through my big box of recipes (that I really need to get sorted out.) Plus it sounded like a fairly easy one and I like those :) I did change it to suit my tastes AS USUAL!


4 (to 6) boneless chops about 1″ thick
1/2 cup flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
10 ounces sliced mushrooms (original recipe called for 8oz and I say the more mushrooms, the better!)
6 tablespoons butter, divided (I used unsalted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a whole small shallot)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery (I did not use, but did mic in about 1/4 teaspoon of celery seed)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk (I used non-fat as that’s what in my house…probably even creamier with whole milk)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the flour, the paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; Stir to blend well. Dredge the chops lightly to coat all sides.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter; add the mushrooms and cook until tender and golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and brown the pork chops on both sides, for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the pork chops to a baking dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and add the onion and celery (seed). Cook, stirring, until onion is tender. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the skillet and stir to blend into the onion mixture. Add the chicken broth and milk and cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the mushrooms and add salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice.

Pour the sauce mixture over the chops in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.


I served over Jasmine rice because I could live off of the saucy white rice combo :) This was DELICIOUS. It was like a homemade cream of mushroom recipe. So, less people (yes..talking to you pretentious foodies) might not be AS condescending about using not an actual can of cream of mushroom soup in a recipe. Maybe. But probably not. But then, if I cared about that, I’d probably not have a #zombiepocolypse supply of blue box mac and cheese in my pantry. :)

We feasted on pea risotto and Hunters chicken, both from the Cipriani cookbook, plus some roasted Brussell sprouts with maple and bacon on Christmas Eve.

Then the hashed brown sausage scramble casserole Christmas morning.

Then some neighbors came over and we had champagne, cheese and an amazing homemade antipasti they brought over around 3. So by the time Christmas dinner time came around, we felt some more cheese and a few bites of leftover chicken and risotto was sufficient while we watch a great Christmas classic, Trading Places :)

So December 26th became the planned Christmas dinner time! On the menu was Caramel Apple Pork Chops with au gratin potatoes, green bean casserole (because I need this at least once between Thanksgiving and New Years and had not yet had it!!) plus apple sauce.


4 (3/4 inch) thick pork chops
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tart apples – peeled, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons pecans


1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees F. Place a medium dish in the oven to warm.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush chops lightly with oil and place in hot pan. The original recipe said to cook the chops for 5 to 6 minutes but I found they took about 8-9 minutes but they were probably 1″ chops. Turn the chops every couple minutes to cook evenly. Transfer to the warm dish, and keep warm in the preheated oven.

3. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add butter to skillet, and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples. Cover and cook until apples are just tender. Remove apples with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of chops. Keep warm in the preheated oven.

4. Now, according to the original recipe there should be some sauce to continue cooking sauce but we found there was almost none so added some butter and brown sugar and spices to create a little more. Cook this uncovered in skillet, until thickened slightly. Spoon sauce over apples and chops.

5. The recipe called to just sprinkle pecans on at the end and serve. But next time, I will roast or brown the pecans first (perhaps in the sauce at the very end) as they seemed bland. Although the tastes combined were good. I just think the pecans needed something.


I would make it again for sure but would use thinner chops and dress up the pecans. But very yum!

Christmas morning breakfast needed to be something to tide us over to dinner. And fuel us for snow hikes! Oh…this did! My interwebz were basically down yesterday (on Christmas) as the tourist hordes come up here and everyone tries to use it at once. And apparently Suddenlink doesn’t realize Bay Area tourists use the internet like water so refuse to upgrade (oh…I’ll be sending off a scathing letter to corporate as my technician suggested.)

ANYHOO….didn’t get this recipe up ON Christmas.

Hash Brown and Egg Casserole

1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown potatoes – THAWED. I used the Alexia brand with onions, garlic and white pepper
The original recipe called for a diced small onion which I did not use as the potatoes had it and I’m not a huge fan of onion.
1 pound pork sausage – cut up in small pieces
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese


0. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan – I used a nonstick pan and did melt about 2 tbspns of butter and spread it around. Place the hash brown potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish. The original recipe did not have this step but I baked the hashed browns in the pan (pour some melted butter over the top to add yumminess) for about 30 mins.

1. If you have a double oven, pre-heat the second oven to 350 degrees. If not, lower single oven to 350.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook and stir the sausage and onion until the sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and pour over the potatoes. Layer with half the cheddar cheese, the sausage mixture, and the remaining cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 – 60 minutes. Remove cover; return casserole to the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This WAS SO GOOD. Mmmmmmmm.

Brown Butter Blondies with Cherries, Chocolate, Cashews & Pecans

Found this recipe on Williams Sonoma. First time trying it so who knows but let’s face it…how can it possibly taste bad??


16 Tbs. (8 oz.) unsalted butter
3 cups (21 oz.) firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. bourbon
2 tsp. salt
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (4 oz.) coarsely chopped cashews
1 cup (4 oz.) coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup (2 oz.) dried tart cherries
2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil and grease well. I melted a bit of butter and spread it in there.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter, stirring constantly, until it turn golden and the butter has a nutty fragrance. Be careful not to let the butter burn. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Set aside and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, bourbon and salt. Whisk in the cooled butter mixture, then fold in the flour and baking powder.

Making sure that the mixture is almost at room temperature (to prevent the chocolate from melting), stir in the nuts, cherries and chocolate chips. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the top is shiny, set and slightly cracked around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.



We just “tested” these. WOW!!!! SO GOOD!!!!!


Merry Christmas!!

It’s cold & snowing outside and my 49ers just lost and got booted out of play-off contention so comfort food is needed. Stat.

First. Put this on.



Slice up spicy Italian sausage (I used 5)
Slice up some mushrooms (I used a package of mushrooms – 10 oz)

Brown them in some olive oil

Meanwhile, boil some water

Make some pasta – I used a box of Gluten-free, non-GMO Quinoa rotini (yeah…we’ll see…)

Once both are done, mix in a baking dish, pour in a jar of sauce (or gravy if you prefer Corleones) and a few handfuls (big giant football player handfuls) of mozzarella. Make sure mixed well and bake at 350 (oh yeah…preheat your oven) for 25 minutes or so. FYI – I used “Rao’s Homemade Arrabbiata” sauce to keep with the spicy theme.

Then sprinkle Parmesan on it and bake a few more minutes.




And if your team lost and you are out of play-off contention, pour a glass of red too :)

I have been digging through my box of old recipes for cold weather. I’m pretty sure this one came from Rachel Ray’s magazine a few years back that I changed a bit for me…


2 tablespoons butter
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 cups rotisserie shredded chicken
Parmesan cheese (shredded)


Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat until just melted. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened/browned (about 5 minutes). Sprinkle the flour on top and stir in for 1 minute. Stir in the Marsala and cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in 2 cups water, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

In a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch casserole, spread the rice in an even layer; top with the chicken. Carefully pour the mushroom mix on top. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes.

Discard the foil, sprinkle the Parmesan over top and bake for 5 minutes more or until melted/lightly browned.

Yum! Good quick meal for a cold, winter weekday night :)

It’s unofficially winter so I thought it was time to break out 1 of my big Staub pans and make something winterey! Decided on soup for this weekend since it has been snowing and raining all week…literally all week…today was the first day it stopped raining for more than a few minutes. #notcomplainingthough #drought #wouldprefersnow

Dug through my box of recipes as I knew I had a good one (well, sounded good on paper) for chicken and rice soup. Found it!


6 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of shredded chicken breats (I actually used both light and dark)
1/4 c up Vermouth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots – peeled and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves – minced
2 cups white rice, cooked
1 cup wild rice, uncooked
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
4-5 basil leaves, minced
Several dashes of celery seed (since I didn’t use celery)
handful of fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper
(original recipe also had 4-5 green onions and 3 celery stalks – blech)

Prepare white rice according to the package directions and set aside

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot add 2 tbsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots (and celery and green onion if using) and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add 6 cups of chicken stock, uncooked wild rice, cooked white rice, chicken and herbs and simmer for at least 20-30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the flour in the 1 cup of chicken broth making sure the flour is thoroughly blended with no lumps. Slowly add the flour/broth mixture to the soup. Simmer until soup thickens (about 15 mins or so.) If it does not thicken enough, take a little broth out of the pot and mix in another tbsp of flour and slowly add back to soup. Keep simmering until soup reaches desired consistency.

Add the heavy cream and vermouth. Season with salt (I used Himalayan pink salt because duh…pink!) and pepper and add minced parsley. Simmer 10 minutes and serve!!


Creamy Chicken Rice soup

p.s. I tasted the Vermouth….GAH! Don’t think I could channel Robin channeling Mork channeling Julia with that….

p.p.s I paired my soup with a glass of Piper Sonoma Rose Brut – Delicious! (obvs)

A tip: If you have distribution deals with Costco and Safeway (or other large grocery chains) you know we can access your product at a discounted price. You’ve given up exclusivity for mass appeal and sales.

So then do not send me OHMYGOD CAN I BELIEVE THE DEAL emails that discount your wines by a few measly percent (at best, some have no discount) plus charge me shipping when I can just pick it up literally for 30-50% less than your full price at Costco or Safeway. It’s actually insulting. Offer me free shipping, or buy 5 and get 6th free or **something**. Without naming names since I like these places and don’t want to diss them, but if I can buy something from you for $22 plus shipping or I can pick it now up at SFY for $15, which do you think will happen? Hmmm…let me think….

I’m sure I am not the only person deluged with Black Friday, Extended Black Weekend, Cyber Monday and Cyber week e-mails. But come on man. I think 100 emails every morning followed by repeated ones through the day – sometimes 3 or 4 from the same store/site is RIDICULOUS. And honestly I just delete them all and don’t even look. It’s too much. Good grief Charlie Brown. I had to turn off the volume on my laptop because of the constant alert dinging from new email coming in.

The only 1 that caught my eye had a picture of Chewbacca slippers (Hammacher). So naturally, I saved that one. But still haven’t clicked on it.

And do NOT get me started on the snail mail catalog situation which I think keeps USPS afloat (well…afloat in USPS terms anyway…)

I love Christmas. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I am also a huge capitalist who loves to shop. And loves to give gifts! But the marketing departments really need to think about their campaigns and not not just think the solution is MOAR EMAIL MOAR CATALOGS MOAR JUNK.

Sigh…I know…not likely.

I finally listened to the entire new album (1989 in case you live under a rock) by Taylor Swift. I like it. I think my favorite song (at least after my first 2 run-thrus) is “How You Get the Girl”.

But honestly, I miss this Taylor…

She was never super duper country, but I think she did what she did well. And I can only listen to pure pop for a short time before I can’t take it. Maybe 1989 will change that? #doubtit