Monday, January 17, 2011

In the Kitchen: Meat & Mushrooms

With my parents move into my house came many things — two more bodies, two more cats, a lot more stuff and a new presence in the kitchen. While I mostly handle the household chores (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc), my mom does make an occasional dinner. It's usually a "childhood favorite", a meal I grew up on but just never bothered to make myself. Today, I bring you one such meal, one we creatively call Meat & Mushrooms.

If you are a regular follower of my recipe posts, you may have caught on that I am not a beef eater. There are two occasions when I eat it, and this is one. This meal is the epitome of simple, hearty goodness. Beef, onions, mushrooms — that's about it. It feels like it was transported from my grandma's kitchen in 1960 and dropped onto my counter.

1.5 – 2 lbs boneless top round beef steak
1 large onion, sliced
8 – 12 beef bouillon cubes
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
Pepper to taste

In an electric skillet (we swear by a 30 year old Lifetime brand one), place the raw beef, sliced onion, bouillon cubes and one bay leaf (if desired). Add enough water to just cover the meat and simmer, covered, for about 4 – 5 hours or until the meat is cooked to your liking. By the way, don't be scared of the onions if you're usually not a fan. They cook away into nothing but flavor which isn't oniony and gross, but essential and delicious!

Beware, this dish will make your house smell amazing all day, therefore making you really, really hungry and possibly driving your dog (and maybe your husband) crazy.

Once the meat is done, add the mushrooms and continue simmering until the mushrooms reach your desired tenderness.

When the mushrooms are done, remove the meat and thicken the liquid to make a gravy. Mix about 3 Tablespoons flour with 1/2 cup water and add to the pan. Continue adding additional flour/water until the gravy is as thick as you'd like. Add pepper to taste, and salt if you wish, but the bouillon has enough salt to last you a lifetime! This is definitely not for those on a low-sodium diet :)

Add the meat back to the pan to heat up and you're ready to eat!

We prefer to serve this over rice with some veggies, but it's delicious with mashed potatoes, too. The gravy is so good you'll want to keep any leftovers to spoon in your morning coffee, err… well, you get it.

And find more easy and delicious recipes here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The year ahead (and a giveaway!)

print by laurageorge

Happy New Year, everyone! Hmmm, where to start? This may get long, so bear with me…

I thought 2009 was crazy, little did I know what I was in for in 2010. In many aspects, I have no idea what this new year will bring, though I guess that is usually the case for most people. I just happen to have every major aspect of my life hanging in the balance right now. This year I will most likely bury my father, move across the country and possibly lose my mind. But let's not jump so far ahead…

Starting with something I can control, this blog, I have some sad news. Due to the increasing demand on my time of caring for my father, I have to take a step back from blogging. I'm honestly amazed I've kept it going strong for this long. The amount of time I spend on this blog each week is just insane, but it has been a bit of a saving grace in the fact that it's something I have total control of in the midst of chaos, and I really love doing it.

My dad was admitted to the hospital in mid December due to increasing pain problems. We moved him from the hospital to a hospice facility on December 23 and brought him home (to my home) with hospice care two days ago. His cancer is spreading through his bones so fast it has more or less crippled him. He only has use of one limb, his left arm, and cannot get out of bed. He has a very large tumor on his spine which will soon crush his cord paralyzing him. He is starting gamma knife radiation today, however, and is scheduled for 8 days of treatment. It's hard to say if he will be able to handle it, but the hope is that this will slow down and shrink the growth of the bone tumors giving him a little pain relief and possibly some mobilization.

Nothing will 'cure' him at this point, so it's a matter of making him confortable, but no one knows right now whether he will live another week, another month or more, so we just continue to take it day by day. Since my 'free' time is so slim, I realized I need to devote every bit of it to doing things that, most importantly, make me money, and hopefully a few things that make me happy. This means continuing to make new jewelry when I have the time and probably some freelance design and photography work as well.

I won't be abandoning the blog completely, I just won't be blogging every day. My plan is to post at least once a week, more if I feel the urge or have the time, but to not have to worry if I don't have time at all. I'm planning to continue most of my current features and favorites so I do hope you all continue to stop in and visit. I'd like to have one Spotlight interview per month, one recipe, one craft project, a few Coutures, a contributor post and maybe some miscellaneous tidbits now and then. But you know what they say about best laid plans, so we'll just have to see how it goes :)

On a different subject, I have some fun news to share about a new adventure (which some of you already know about) but since this is getting long and I still have a giveaway to get to, I think it will have to wait another week! I know, I'm such a tease…

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Now onto the giveaway!

It's been way too long since I've had one and I thought it would be the perfect way to kick off the new year. Since I've never been good at picking just one winner, I'll be picking two and here's what's up for grabs…

Each winner will receive their choice of one of the following:

A Reversible Locket Necklace in gunmetal OR antiqued brass with your choice of flower color:

A custom Carved Stone Rose Bracelet in the color combination and style of your choice. Below are two examples but I will work with you to create a piece designed to your specific preferences.

A set of Filigree Fleur Rings, one brass and one silver with your choice of flower color:


Please leave a comment on this post with one of your new year's resolution, a goal for 2011 or something you would like to accomplish or change in the new year.

You can enter once per day with a new resolution or goal but you must include your first name AND your email address or Etsy username with every entry.

I'm going to leave this open until next Sunday night, January 9 at 9pm (EST), and will announce the winners on Monday.

Welcome 2011, let's make this one count!

xo ~ nicole