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Finally….

The weather outside in most of the country is chilly, and in Wisconsin it’s downright cold. I think I might make a giant pot of chili this weekend. We fired up the slow cooker this past week to make one of my favorite meals, beef burgundy. The one we made is from an old cookbook and includes beef, mushrooms, onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, cream of celery soup and red wine. That’s about it. But to help you out, check out this Google search for beef burgundy, which basically is a beef stew made with some sort of red wine.

So what about you? What do you like to make when the weather gets cold, football season is in full swing, fires are raging in your living room, and you’re out shoveling snow, cross country skiing or out Christmas shopping, and want something hot to eat. Man, I’m getting hungry.

Cooler weather=warmer food

I have to admit, by the time September hits, and there is a chill in the air, I’m ready to stop grilling and making salads and gazpacho and ready to start cooking stick-to-you-ribs meals like chili and stew and roasts. One of the reasons I was excited about moving to Wisconsin last year was for the earlier changing of the season from that of Nashville. Of course, there is the down side to that–i.e. early and lots-of-it snow. But we have some time before that happens (well, hopefully we do). And the warmer fall has been a mild bummer in a cooking sense, because who wants to make stew when it’s 80 degrees outside, as it was the first week to 10 days of the month here in Madison. Something is wrong with that picture, but I’m no climate scientist.

As I write this, however, it’s a brisk 60-ish with temps dropping into the low 40′s tonight. It’s stew time, and I’ve got a beef stew on the stove. I’m not making the one I posted here last year, but a new recipe I found in a magazine. But I have to tell you guys, I re-visited my chili recipe last week during a football Sunday (the beef one), and it came out way better than it ever has before. I think the key was just to let it thicken naturally, but either way I felt pretty good about that recipe, admittedly better than the first time I made it and created the recipe.

I’m also looking forward to re-visiting casseroles and mac & cheese like this one. I also want to give another go-round with this Buffalo chicken mac I saw in the Food Network magazine recently. Man, was that amazing. Oh, and don’t forget about soup. Maybe I need to make new soups a priority this year–dude soup. Yeah, that’s it.

Beef stew with beer–perfect for cold weather this weekend

If you’re snowed in this weekend, hopefully you’ll have a chance to grab some stuff at the grocery store and make this stew that I posted on Grub for Guys a while back.

Guys, I know what you’re thinking. Slow cookers, a.k.a. crock pots, are for girls. Well, maybe. But if you give my beef stew with beer recipe a chance, you’ll find out what I already know—that slow cookers rule. Not only are they great for making your pad smell like your grandmother’s kitchen, but you can get your dinner started in the morning before leaving for work, or if it’s on the weekend, you can get it started before the games start and have an awesome meal cooking while you watch said games. What could be better than that?

Ingredients
2 pounds lean beef such as sirloin or top round (any cut really works, as the slow cooking breaks the meat down, so I like to use leaner cuts)
¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 package onion soup mix
1 12 oz. bottle of beer (I used Newcastle)
2 cups beef broth
½ cup chopped onion
8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
2 cups small new potatoes, or larger ones cut into chunks
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced thick
Cornstarch, if necessary
Egg Noodles (optional)

Directions:
Cut the beef into large chunks, and mix with flour in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and brown the beef, which should take 5 minutes or so. Place the beef in your slow cooker, and top with soup mix, beer, broth, onions, and mushrooms. Cook on low heat for 5-6 hours. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for about 2 hours more. If the consistency is a bit thin for stew, mix 2 Tbsp. cornstarch in a small bowl with about ¼ cup water, and stir into the stew. Serve over noodles if you like, and/or with some crusty bread. Also, a stew like this is great with a hearty beer or red wine. Serves 4.

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