Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Meal Exchange

My neighbor and I have been exchanging meals once a week for about a year and a half.  I have heard of people doing this with a larger group of people so that they only have to cook one night a week, but we have found that our small scale meal exchange works for us and means that we get off at least one night a week from cooking and it is much easier to just double a recipe than to triple or quadruple it.  It is so nice to have a meal brought to you at least one night a week.  We have found some recipes that work for both our families as we try to focus on healthy and kid-friendly.  I will be sharing some of our tried and true recipes here on this blog.  I have also found that doing this helps me do better in planning meals for the week as well as giving me something to look forward to.  Today's recipe is Daube provencale, which is basically a fancy or French name for beef stew.  The past time in making it I felt like Rachel Ray because it really did take less than thirty minutes to prepare, but the cooking time is longer.  You can follow the recipe and cook it in a dutch oven in the over for about 2-3 hours, or I like putting mine in the crock pot for a good part of the day.  This makes the beef extra tender.
2 t olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs stew meat cut into pieces
1 1/2 t salt, divided
fresh ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups chopped carrot
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup beef broth
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
3 cups hot cooked egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked)
Preheat oven to 300. Heat olive oil in dutch oven, add crushed garlic (not minced!, just take garlic clove and smash them with butcher knife) and cook til fragrant.  Remove w/ slotted spoon; set aside.  Increase heat and add beef to pan, sprinkle with 1/2 t salt and pepper.  Cook 5 min til browned.  Remove from pan.  Add cup of wine to pan and bring to boil, loosen browned bits.  Add garlic, beef, remaining one teaspoon salt, pepper, carrot and rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and bake in oven for 2 1/2 hrs or until beef is tender.  OR--transfer to a crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours.  Before serving over egg noodles, remove bay leaf.  (I also remove the whole garlic cloves if I can find them).  Garnish with fresh chopped thyme or parsley. (Recipe by Lia Huber, from Cooking Light).  It is great served with a green vegetable or salad.  I lucked out last week when my neighbor made fresh bread!!

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