Chunky Beef Stew

I know that I am not going to get any sympathy from northern blog readers, but it’s been darn right cold in San Diego. It’s actually even been raining quite a bit. But to be perfectly honest, I kind of like it. There is something kind of nice about staying in to avoid the cold, wet weather and making the inside of my house warm and comforting. It also gives me a great excuse to break out one of my favorite cookbooks –  The Ski House Cookbook. Yeah I know, 50 degrees outside (it feels colder with the ocean breeze!) isn’t exactly snow ski weather, but it’s as close as I’ll get in San Diego!

This beef stew is a recipe that I have come back to every year since my aunt gave me this cookbook. One thing that sets it apart is the cooking of the vegetables and stew separately but at the same time. This helps to avoid mushy vegetables or having to keep an eye on the clock to add the vegetables at just the right time to cook them without overcooking them. You’re going to want a fork AND a spoon for this stew so you don’t miss any of the chunky vegetables/meat or delicious gravy.

 

Best Fajita Marinade

Whew!! It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, my in-laws flew all the way from Ohio to visit us here in China. Never having been to China (as I think is the case for most Americans!), they wanted to do lots of sightseeing. During their 2 week visit we did a lot of traveling. First we flew to Hong Kong, where we walked Nathan Road, road to the top of the peak, shopped till we dropped at the Ladies Market in Mongkok, and just generally wore out the bottoms of our shoes. After Hong Kong we had just 2 days of rest in Suzhou before hopping on a high-speed train to Beijing. In Beijing we climbed the Great Wall, walked in THE Water Cube, toured the Forbidden City, walked Tiananmen Square, and, of course, ate the most delicious noodles ever!

By the time we got back to Suzhou we had just enough time to squeeze in one last bit of excitement – by riding the scooters to Guanqian during rush hour. If you know Suzhou, you know how crazy that is! Needless to say, I’m exhausted! I *almost* didn’t even have the energy to write this post, but I had to because I couldn’t wait any longer to share this recipe!

I first made this marinade last month and I was blown away by the flavor! My search for the best fajita marinade is now over. This keeps the meat (chicken or steak)  juicy and provides just the right amount of heat and citrus. The key/secret to this marinade is the zest. Donna, from Apron Springs, wrote up a great post about it so if you’re interested in reading about why she chose zest over juice, check it out!

 

Here are a few more great marinade/sauce ideas to add variety to your chicken/fish/beef!
Southwest Marinade
Lemon Greek Chicken
Grilled Marinated Mahi Mahi

Barbacoa Beef for Burrito Bowls

I love parties, I love to cook, I love to make cakes, and I love to entertain, so when one of our friends had a birthday recently, it only felt right to throw a party for her! I knew right away that I wanted to make some kind of Western foods. Something new and different for the birthday girl. Thinking about how much she likes spicy food, Mexican food came to mind. I’ve been absolutely CRAVING Chipotle recently, so I’m not surprised that’s where my mind went. 🙂

With Chipotle on the brain, I came up with party menu plan. Being a little nervous about how my guests react to Mexican food, I thought a buffet style meal would be a safe way to go. That way everyone could take as little or as much of each food as they wanted, and everyone could build their own burrito bowls. I am happy to say the party was a success and the guests devoured the food!

For the bowls I made cilantro-lime rice, black beans, barbacoa beef, and pico de gallo. And because no bowl would be complete without it, I also had freshly grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Keep an eye out because next week I’ll be sharing the cake that I made for the party! It’s a pretty one!

 

 

 

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend Jesse and I took another trip to Hong Kong. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all play time – we went to Hong Kong so that Jesse could officially get his Z Visa, basically a resident visa! It’s weird when things feel like they are such a long time coming, then once they happen it feels like it was all so fast! Who would have thought we would be living in China? Crazy.

We had these Stuffed Peppers early last week before our trip, and I was hoping to get this post up while we were in Hong Kong, but I completely forgot to take my lap top with me! Better late than never, though, because we really loved this dinner. Stuffed Peppers are bright, colorful, filling, and delicious.