Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Grilled Tri Tip Steak

There is something about grilled steak that just screams summer.  That summer reminder seems so important right now as the kids head back to school and summer hours at my office come to an all too quick close. Grilled steak, done right screams, “You can’t take summer from me!  I will Not go gentle into that good night!”  But, as the mornings dawn a tad chillier and the evenings beg for a sweater, I realize Mother Nature could not be held back and I celebrate one of the last grilled steaks of the season.

Ingredients:

3 lb beef tri tip steak
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper

Preparation:

Combine ingredients, except tri-tip steaks. Mix well and pour into a resealable bag.  Add tri-tip, close and refrigerate for 2 hours. Preheat grill. Remove tri-tip steaks from marinade and discard marinade. Place steaks on hot grill. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally to get an even sear. Remove steaks when the reach your desired doneness. Rest steaks for 5 minutes and serve.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bourdeaux
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Grenache

Serves: 6
Active time: 20 minutes; Inactive time: 2 hours

Grilled Tri Tip

*Derived from AboutFood.com

Quick Beef Stroganoff

I love beef stroganoff, and it seems that there are so many different recipes out there with the smallest change making a huge change if flavor.  What attracted me, though, to this recipe from Gimme Some Oven was it’s 30-Minute timeframe.  While this did take me a little longer than 30 minutes, it was so worth it!  And between you and me, I think the reason it took longer was completely my scattered fault.  I just can’t seem to get my ducks in a row, and if I finally get them in a row, they certainly don’t stay that way!  There were some substitutions I made to make it a little healthier or I was missing an ingredient.  There are also many ways you can make this healthier, instead of steak, you can use sliced chicken or turkey.  Or, if you are vegetarian, sub mushrooms and use vegetable broth.  All in all, a wonderful weeknight dish!

Ingredients:

1 lb wide egg noodles
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 ½ lb thinly sliced steak (I bought the fajita sliced steak in the meat department.  They also have super thin carne asada style)
1 white or yellow onion thinly sliced (I used a small one, the size depends on your enjoyment of onions)
4 cloves garlic minced (As always, I used the pre-minced from Spice World)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (You can use a mixture of different kinds of added flavor)
½ cup dry white wine (or you can just use more beef broth.  I had the wine, but it fell into my mouth . . . )
1 ½ cups beef broth
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce (thanks to the kids experimenting, I didn’t have any.  I used A-1 instead and it brought a very nice, unique flavor)
3 Tbs flour
½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt (or you can use light sour cream, the yogurt added a different flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as optional garnish

Preparation:

Cook egg noodles in boiling water according to package directions (Gimme Some Oven recommends actually adding the egg noodles to the water at the same time that the beef broth is added, and this is a perfect recommendation for timing!)

As pasta water is coming to a boil, melt 2 Tbs of butter in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add steak in a single layer and season with salt and pepper, let it cook for 3 minutes without turning to get a good sear.  Remove the steak from pan with slotted spoon, transfer to a separate dish.  Discard the cooked butter from the pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 Tbs butter.  Once melted, add onions and saute for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms, stir to combine.  Continue sauteing an additional 5-7 minutes, or until mushrooms have through and onions are soft.  Add white wine (or broth) and deglaze pan.  Let mixture cook down an additional 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together beef broth, Worcestershire (or A-1) sauce, and flour until smooth.  Pour the broth mixture into the pan and stir to combine.  Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, stir in Greek yogurt (or sour cream) until combined.  Finally, stir in cooked steak.

Serve over egg noodles, garnished with parsley if desired.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noire
Sangiovese

Total time: About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Quick Beef Stroganoff

Quick Beef Stroganoff

 *Derived from Gimme Some Oven

Beef, Veggies and Rice

Sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table fast. Maybe it’s been a long day and you left work a little late. Or you finally made it to the pharmacy, after hopping the puddles of an early storm, only to discover the pharmacy is closed (is it that late already?). You’re finally home and frantically trying to put a meal together that does not include bags or boxes, but every movement is met with, “Mommy! He . . . ” or, “Mom! She . . .” It’s too early to call Calgon (totally dating myself. Do they even still make Calgon?) and no one has been fed. This recipe is tantamount to Calgon in that you can get a tasty, not processed meal on the table. Oh, and once again I’m singing the accolades of my rice cooker! Everyone quietly eating almost makes you think you are soaking in that bubbly warm bath, sipping your favorite glass of vino

Ingredients:

2 cups low sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups rice
1 cup sliced carrot (buy them pre-sliced to save even more time for bubbles)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb top round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into thin strips (Or save time and buy fajita steak. Are those bubbles I hear calling??)
1/4 cup onion chopped ( you can buy this pre-chopped, too. Think of it as having your own personal Sous chef)
1 cup fresh snap pea pods, strings removed (Who has time for this?? I subbed a cup of frozen peas)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preparation:

 To rice cooker, add broth and carrots. Set it and forget it. If you choose to not use a rice cooker: heat broth to boiling in 2 quart saucepan. Stir in rice and carrots. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer 6-8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender; remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

While rice cooks, heat oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef and onion about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until beef is brown and onion tender. Stir in cooked rice and carrots, peas, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender. Add a small amount of water if it becomes dry before peas are tender.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec
Merlot
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Petit Sirah

 Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes; Total time: 35 minutes

photo (4)

*Derived from Pillsbury