Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Guinness Hunter’s Pie March 17, 2013

Filed under: Casserole,comfort food,Fall/Winter — hmills96 @ 7:14 pm

The man I’m marrying lives and breathes Notre Dame. He’s got auburn hair and green eyes (Yes, Jen. Green eyes. Not blue.) He’s stubborn, opinionated, and loving. He’s about as Irish American as you get in Indiana.

I have some Irish blood somewhere along my mutt pedigree but I’ve never taken St Paddy’s day very seriously. The last few years, it’s just meant a couple of beers at one of my favorite old pubs up in Muncie, where they always have some live bluegrass music playing.

This year, and probably every year from here on out, it meant waking up to Guinness instead of orange juice. A tradition I am quite OK with. And normally, he would make corned beef hash…a tradition I am not quite OK with yet. We had biscuits and gravy this morning because we forgot to stop by the store last night.

A friend of mine was given some venison yesterday and, luckily for me, found out that she’s not such a fan. Knowing that I have a much more adventurous palate, she knew I’d probably like it. YES! What a better way to use it on St Patrick’s Day than in a Shepherd’s Pie!

This was sooooo yummy. For those of you who enjoy the gaminess of venison, this dish is perfect for it. It makes the gravy even more savory than it normally would be with lamb or beef. If you don’t like the gaminess, you can certainly make this with “normal” meats.

Guinness Hunter’s Pie
Adapted from

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb venison
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup Guinness
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth
6 cups mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil over med high heat. Cook carrots until just tender, add onion and cook for another minute.

Add venison and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.

Add butter and peas.

Sprinkle with flour and stir.

Add tomato paste, Guinness, and Worcestershire.

Let reduce slightly, then add broth. Reduce until sauce is thick. Remove from heat.

Grease casserole dish. Pour in meat sauce. Spoon mashed potatoes on top.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes or just browned on top.


Crockpot Lean Pork Roast July 11, 2011

I have some big plans for my future. I can’t tell you what they are yet, only that I could use some prayers, thoughts, etc for the next several months. I’ll let you guys in to my secret as soon as I know what’s going to happen!

Part of this new plan is to lose weight. I need to lose 10 pounds at first, but want to lose 20 altogether. I started this plan Tuesday, and I’ve already lost 5 pounds!

I’m doing the Slimfast 123 plan, which is working really well. I’m doing a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, a slimfast shake at lunch, and some kind of meal in the evening. I usually stick a slimfast bar in there somewhere as a snack.

My biggest struggle with this diet is the variety. It’s a LOT of sweets during the day, and I’ve never been a HUGE sweets person. Occasionally yes, but I much prefer more savory foods. By the time I get home at night, I crave real protein. So yesterday I decided to braise a lean pork shoulder so that I could have some good things in the evening. This recipe is more of a how-to than anything. there isn’t much to the marinade–just a few things to tenderize the meat and bring out the flavor of the pork. I’ll use the meat to make tacos, pulled pork sandwiches (on lowfat bread and with a vinegar based sauce instead of a heavier one), etc etc.

Crockpot Lean Pork Roast
Original Recipe

1 lean pork shoulder
1 can light beer
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp honey
1 large onion, quartered
Dry rub of your choice
1/4-1/2 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock

Trim most of the fat off of the shoulder. It’s ok to leave some, it will keep the meat moist. But mine came with a good 1/2″ of fat on one side…that’s too much!

In a large plastic bag, combine all ingredients, excepting the pork and onions. Add the pork and marinate overnight (or at least 4 hours).

Remove pork from marinade and pat dry with a papertowel. Rub on all sides with your favorite dry rub. Brown on all sides in a medium skillet over medium high heat.

Place in crockpot with onions, wine and chicken stock, and turn crockpot on medium low (mine is the 8 hour setting. Cover, and let it do it’s thing for 6-8 hours.

The meat should be fall off the bone tender when it is done. Literally. The shoulder bone was completely separated when the pork was done cooking. Use two forks to pull the pork apart. Use for anything!


Marinated Chuck Roast June 4, 2011

Filed under: Beef,comfort food,Fall/Winter — hmills96 @ 8:17 pm

Its a stormy night here in Indiana. I’ve already spent some of the evening hiding under my stairs as a funnel cloud spun over Yorktown. No confirmed touchdowns, but several reports of damage have already come through. A transformer blew just east of my house, and unfortunately, a fatality was reported in Madison County when a tree landed on a campground in Mounds Park. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of that victim.

However, before all this nasty weather hit, I started an amazing meal. I’ve had a few chuck roasts in my deep freeze for awhile, but did not really know what to do with them. After this recipe, there is no problem in that area anymore!

This meal takes awhile, but it is soooo worth it. This was just amazingly delicious. The marinade and slow, long braising made a normally tough cut melt into my mouth. And the gravy that resulted from the braise was so savory and delicious. I cleaned the pan with dinner rolls.

Marinated Chuck Roast

Adapted from Food for a Hungry Soul

3-4 lb chuck roast
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp country dijon
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Zinfindel
6 cloves garlic, smashed

Mix all ingredients together in a large bag or container. Marinate chuck roast for 3-4 hours.

Remove roast from marinade and let it come to room temp. Preheat oven to 350. Preheat large saute pan/skillet over med-high heat.

Sear both sides of roast–only about a minute on each side.

Pour marinade over meat and roast in oven for 1 hour.

Let the roast rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing. While the meat is resting, put pan back on stove and let remaining sauce reduce.

Slice thinly against the grain. Serve with gravy and simple roasted vegetables.


Country Onion Soup May 1, 2011

I have always been fascinated by storms. I remember one summer, when I was really young, my dad pointed out a massive storm cloud gathering over the fields, and told me, “That’s where tornadoes form.” I remember Mom freaking out one afternoon because Dad had taken off to follow a funnel cloud. Ever since then, I’ve watched the clouds, curious about what makes one thunderstorm different from the cells that form tornadoes. I watched Twister so many times, enthralled by the power and beauty (only now do I realize how awful that movie really was).

Thanks to the Internet, I can do something I’ve always wanted to do–Chase storms. Ok, so I’m not ACTUALLY out in Kansas with radars on my truck, but it’s still pretty thrilling. This will be my third season watching, with Michael Phelps behind the wheel, teaching all of us amateurs/wanna-bes what is happening as a supercell develops. There’s 20-30 of us regulars who have really become a family on the chat. We always look forward to storm season, not just for the cells but also for the conversation.

This has been a particularly crazy season so far–the kind that us storm nerds both love, and hate. The storms that have hit America so far have all been in majorly populated areas, in Wisconsin, and the southeast, instead of in the middle of nowhere in the plains. As much as we love seeing the awesomeness of an F5 sighting, when it devastates an entire town, we are struck silent in the chat, we are praying, we are mourning. None of us want to hear that 200+ people are gone forever, thousands are injured and suddenly homeless. My heart and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the storms this spring.

Minestrone di Cipolline (Country Onion Soup)

Adapted from Smoky Mountain Cafe

1/4 cup olive oil
3 small yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp sage leaves, minced
1 small can of tomato sauce
6 cups chicken stock
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/4 cup red wine
10 oz vermicelli
Grated Gruyère or Parmesan

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Cook onions 8-10 minutes until golden-brown and caramelized. Add garlic and sage, cook another minute or two until soft. Add tomato sauce, cook another 2 minutes.

While onion mixture is cooking, put bouillon cubes in one cup of stock, microwave 2 minutes, or until dissolved. Add this and the rest of the stock to the onion mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. Salt & Pepper to taste.

Bring to a full boil. Add pasta, cook until very al dente (You want to keep the pasta with some bite to it).

Serve hot with lots of shredded Gruyère or Parmesan over the top. You can broil the cheese French Onion style, only without the soggy bread.


Tortellini en Brodo March 25, 2011

Filed under: comfort food,Freezer Meals,pasta,Quick and Easy,soup — hmills96 @ 9:16 am

What a crazy week! It’s definitely has been up and down! As in our IT systems at work. We are all exhausted, stressed out, backlogged. But somehow my team just keeps pushing through it. It’s why I love working where I do. We just do it. We just get it done.

Not only have things been all over the place at work, but can you say Spring in Indiana? Monday I was at the park in shorts and a t-shirt. Today, I had to wear my winter coat to work. Last night we had some epic storms in the area. The temps dropped 30 degrees in a few hours!

To combat this craziness, not to mention the sudden plunge in temperatures, I needed something warm and comforting. This dish was just the thing. Now, I have a new friend who loves the blog and was looking forward to my next post. Unfortunately, he’s going to be really disappointed because he hates spinach. I suppose you could leave it out, but it just wouldn’t be as good. There really isn’t much to this soup, but is filling and hearty.

I would recommend using homemade broth. It may take you a few hours on a Saturday to make, but the clean, pure flavors really shine in this dish. You can use any flavor of tortellini you want, or even buy two different kinds and mix it up! But really, this is way too simple and too amazing not to make for dinner tonight.

Tortellini en Brodo
Adapted from Skinny Taste

1 Tbsp Butter
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
Rind of Parmesan (I actually used Guyere Rind because that’s what I had)
2 pkgs tortellini
10 oz Frozen spinach
Pepper, Nutmeg, and Salt

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and garlic. Cover and cook on low heat for about 6-8 minutes, until carrots are tender.

Add broth, water and rind and crank the heat up to medium high. Bring to a boil. Season broth with salt (taste it, if you’re using store bought, you won’t need as much), pepper, and nutmeg. Add tortellini and spinach. Simmer until pasta is al dente.

Serve warm, but be careful, the insides of those tortellinis will be lava hot!


Eggs and Tomatoes March 23, 2011

I will always love winter. My friends give me hell for it, I mean, we live in Indiana after all. Sure it’s not the upper Midwest, but it gets COLD here. And the ice. And the snow. And did I mention ALL THAT ICE???

Don’t get me wrong, I love the spring. Summer not so much. For all of you balking at that–get sun-poisoning where you can’t walk for 3 weeks. Then you’ll understand. Plus, my migraines always hit really hard this time of year, as the temperatures and pressures go up and down and up and down.

All of that said–it is GORGEOUS out today! (I’m writing this Monday night, but you guys won’t see it until Wednesday.) I normally swim on Mondays, but I couldn’t wait to get home and head to the park for a walk. 72 degrees in March? Yes please! I’m dog sitting my Mom’s “princess” and the two of us had a blast walking around Morrow’s Meadow.

When I got home, I was hungry, but didn’t want to put a lot of effort into the meal. Eggs sounded good, but not just eggs and toast–boooooooooring. I had seen a recipe for a Moroccan-style tomato sauce with eggs on top somewhere. I don’t remember to be honest. It had a bunch of foreign ingredients that I cannot pronounce. But I figured, hey, I can do that my way! So I did. And it was awesome. I would recommend doing this with some heavy Italian bread–my white Wonderbread (don’t hate, it’s good) didn’t quite hold up to the heavy sauce. But the rich creamy yolk and the herby tomato sauce…mmmmmmm….

It wasn’t pretty, so no pictures this time. But this was a great throw-together meal. Just toss in whatever herbs or spices you have on hand. Play with your food!

Eggs and Tomatoes
Original Recipe

1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of herbs, chopped (I used rosemary and sage)
1/2-1 cup diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt & Pepper
2 eggs

Heat some olive oil in a pan. Toss in some onion, garlic, herbs. Let them cook for a minute or two over medium heat, until soft. Add tomatoes, cook for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

Carefully crack eggs over sauce. Cover. Cook until eggs are just set.

Serve with thick, crusty French or Italian bread. Eat in your pajamas in front of the TV. This is not a fancy dinner. Could be breakfast too, if you like savory in the morning like I do.


Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans March 2, 2011

I love pasta. It’s kind of my “everything but the kitchen sink” type meal. When I’m pushing my budget for my biweekly pay cycle, but have a gourmet craving, it’s so easy to throw whatever I have into a pan and simmer for awhile.

This is one of those great dishes. Sun-dried tomatoes and cannellini beans are two ingredients I stock up on when I have some cash and keep them in the pantry. And when have you ever not known me to have garlic and pasta? I used bowties but I think longer pasta would be great with this, like fettuccine. A splash of lemon juice, if you had it, would brighten things up even more, and play off of the tart tomatoes.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans
Adapted from Amateur Gourmet

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups pasta

Boil your pasta in salted water.

Pour 1 Tbsp of sun-dried tomato oil into a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, let cook for 1 minute, until just soft. Add sun-dried tomatoes, cook for another 2 minutes.

Add 1 ladle of pasta water. Simmer until reduced by half.

Stir in beans, a pinch of salt, and another ladle of pasta water. Simmer for 4 minutes.

Add pasta to the sauce and toss together. Serve and relax!