Czech Goulash: Updated Recipe.

Four years ago when I went to Prague, I ordered a dish of goulash at a little restaurant near our hostel. It was my first taste of goulash–my first heavenly taste of that paprika-y, hearty stuff–and I’ve loved it ever since. In fact, my goulash might be the first recipe I ever made that I can claim as a Kelly original. That recipe has lived through a few delicious incarnations as I’ve re-worked it through the years; I think this posting is the third version. And it’s by far my favorite. I’ve kept it simple and focused on my favorite flavors, most importantly the deep deep warmth of paprika, which absolutely rocks on a chilly winter day. An homage to my Bohemian relatives and a sweet memory of my trip to Prague, here is my updated recipe for Czech goulash!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
bay leaf
2 lb stew beef, cubed
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tsp paprika
2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
15 oz canned crushed tomato
4-6 cups cold water or stock
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp corn starch
sour cream, green onion, and marjoram or parsley for serving

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil over medium in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and bay leaf, and cook until transparent. Then add the beef and cook until browned.

Stir in the garlic, paprika, thyme, and caraway seed. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

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Pour in the tomatoes and 4 cups of stock and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if necessary.

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After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the corn starch. Cook for another hour at least; I like to cook the goulash for a total of 4-5 hours if I have the time. We’re going for fall-apart tender beef that could almost float away in the broth/gravy/stew juices (or whatever they’re called).

Remove from heat and fish out the bay leaf. Serve with a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion and parsley or marjoram. This stuff is amazing right out of the pot and only gets better as it sits in the fridge!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

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Eternally-Fresh Berries and Greek Yogurt.

This is definitely not a “recipe” in my usual sense. It’s more of a favorite technique, and I’m sharing it with you because ever since I started doing it, I’ve saved money by not letting fruit go to waste and I’ve made my breakfasts a lot healthier and better-tasting. I used to eat those single-serve yogurts that come with a layer of sugary fruit to stir in, which is of course delicious and convenient, but not such a great way to start the morning. Then I started doing fruit and yogurt this way instead, and man is it ever good! Here’s the basics of why this method rocks:

  • the berries last longer because I wash and dry them before they go in the fridge/freezer, which helps fend off mold/mushiness
  • my berries are washed and ready to go whenever I need them, so I never have to eat wet and drippy berries
  • I freeze half, so I have gorgeous berries on hand all the time
  • The fresh berries are (obviously) delicious, and the frozen berries break up easily when stirred into yogurt (just like the sugary stuff, only healthier!)

Convinced? Because I love this stuff berry much. Now orange you laughing at my fruit jokes?

INGREDIENTS

2 packets of fresh berries – raspberries are my favorite, and blackberries are great too, but any berry you like should work
Greek yogurt (let me HEARTILY suggest Fage brand yogurt. I’ve reached the point where if it isn’t Fage, I don’t even want it. Seriously unbeatable stuff)

DIRECTIONS

As soon as you get home with your berries, rinse them under cold water. Then turn them out onto a towel and flip each one upside-down; if you’re using raspberries, for example, turn them so that they’re standing up on their hollow end. This helps them dry completely, which is what we’re going for. Leave the berries for an hour or two, until dry.

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When the berries are dry, put them back in their little plastic basket or other similar container (which should also be dry).

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Put one of the containers in the fridge and use within 2-3 days. Not only can you eat these on the go, without stopping to rinse them and then have them wet and drippy, but they also last a lot longer when they’ve gotten a chance to dry before they get piled on top of each other in the fridge.

Put the other container of berries in the freezer. Because they are dry, the berries will freeze individually, without sticking to one another, and they’ll keep their perfect picturesque berry shape.

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Here’s how I use the frozen berries: before I leave for work, I spoon a portion of Fage Greek yogurt into a tupperware and toss in 8 or so of these frozen gems. By the time I get to work and dig into the yogurt, the berries have defrosted and gone a little bit soft. They’re the perfect consistency to crush up with my spoon and stir into the creamy yogurt. I LOVE this because it’s just as delicious as one of those yogurt-and-fruit single serving cups, but it’s so pure and healthy!

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Here’s what it looks like once I get it to the office and stir everything up. Best easy workday breakfast ever!

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Meaty Chili with Beans and Kale.

Yes, along with every recipe blog out there, I’m celebrating that it’s fall: time for soups and stews! But I’ll tell you up front: this chili post isn’t what you think. I’m sorry, chili lovers, but I’m about to get weird on you. Look at the last ingredient before the toppings—it’s kale. In chili. If that sounds too freakishly non-traditional to you, you’re probably right. I’ve never heard of someone putting kale in chili before either. But I felt like it had to be done. I had all this nice kale in the fridge and thought, it’s just so good for you, I should punch up the veggie credentials of my chili with a bunch o’ the good green stuff. I chopped it up tiny so that it would be inconspicuous and just stirred in near the end of the whole chili process, and it really flies under the radar. I like it. And if you saw my previous post on chili, you might recall that I’m a freak for toppings—well, nothing’s changed. So whip this up, pat yourself on the back for throwing in some kale, and dollop on another spoonful of sour cream.

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INGREDIENTS

olive oil
butter
1 lb stew beef, cubed
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste – this will be spicy-ish, but not crazy)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped (I used frozen multi-colored peppers – any color you like will do)
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 can pinto beans
1/3 cup strong coffee (saw this in an Ina Garten recipe – really interesting!)
1 cup kale, finely chopped
toppings: onion, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips–the list goes on! This chili rocks with a scoop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and some chopped onion.

Just the Recipe link: Meaty Chili with Beans and Kale

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid over medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and a bit of butter to the pot and brown the beef. I did this in two batches: put half the beef in the pot in a single layer, without letting the pieces touch each other, and let it sit without stirring or moving until browned. Then flip each cube of beef over and brown the other side. Remove the beef to a plate once it’s gotten some color (don’t worry about cooking it all the way through) and add the second half of the beef to the pot, repeating the same process until all the beef has been browned. Set aside.

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Turn the heat down to medium low. In the same pot, add the onions and garlic and a bit of salt, which will keep the onions from browning too quickly. Cook until softened but not browned and then add the oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and red pepper. Stir and cook for a minute, just until the spices are fragrant.

Pour in the tomatoes, bell pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, and add the beef back to the pot.

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Bring the chili to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Put the lid on the pot and cook for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and checking to made sure the chili has enough liquid – I ended up adding about 1 1/2 cup of water partway through the process, to keep things nice and juicy.

After 2 1/2 hours, add the coffee, beans, and kale. Cook another 10-15 minutes or so, until the kale is cooked.

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That’s it! Dress up the chili with some toppings and dig in. Worth noting: this was good when I tried it immediately, but it was even better the next day. PRIME leftovers food right here!

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Nutty Cinnamon Cream of No-Wheat, a.k.a. “Faux-tmeal”

Cream of No-Wheat: a hot cereal made with nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and cinnamon – but with no wheat and no oats. Considering how I’ve altered the way I eat pretty dramatically over the past few months, moving away from processed grains and sugar and toward protein, fruits, veggies, and the like, this recipe is the answer to my breakfast dreams! That’s because, while I really haven’t looked back following these big changes, I have to admit that there are a few things I have truly, truly missed, and one of those things is my morning oatmeal.  When I saw a recipe from A Girl Worth Saving via salixisme that looked like a great hot cereal compromise, I had to give it a try. And it is absolutely delicious: creamy, nutty, with just enough sweetness from the dates, and a slightly chewier consistency from the nuts and seeds. It’s a very flexible recipe, and you can swap various ingredients in or out as you like: pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, pecans, dried apples, or brown sugar would all do a little something special if you wanted to try them out in here. And because this recipe makes about 8 servings, you can prep the “oatmeal” dry mix ahead of time, and just cook however many servings you need that morning. I calculated it out, just to see what this dish looks like from a protein perspective: each 3/4 cup serving has about 8g of protein, plus about 10g from the milk, making this a breakfast with about 18g of protein. Yay for hot breakfast!

UPDATE: I recently made another version of this – I was out of sunflower seeds, so instead of the 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, I used about 3 tbsp of chia seeds and an additional 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. The chia seeds were awesome here, thickening the consistency to that it more closely resembled cream of wheat. I’m definitely adding chia seeds to this every time I make it from now on!

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INGREDIENTS:

the dry mix*:
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds, chopped
1/2 cup flaxseed meal (or use whole flax seeds and grind them)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, slivered
1/2 lb pitted dates, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*NOTE: chop your ingredients finer if you want a smoother, more cream-of-wheat-esque finished product, or leave them bigger for a chunkier consistency. I tried to opt for a middle ground.

to cook the oatmeal:
3/4 cups of dry mix per person
1 1/4 cup milk per person (dairy milk, almond milk, whatever you like)

Just the Recipe link: Nutty Cinnamon Cream of No-Wheat, a.k.a. “Faux-tmeal”

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the dry mix ingredients in a bowl and stir together.

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Measure out the amount you’d like to make now (about 3/4 cups per person should do it), and store the rest in an air-tight container in the fridge, for future use.

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To cook the oatmeal, bring the milk to a gentle bubble on the stove and stir in the dry mix.

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Stirring occasionally, simmer gently until thickened to your liking (mine took about 10 minutes, give or take). Remove from heat.

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Spoon the good stuff into a bowl and stir in any extras you like – more milk, fruit, nuts, whatever! Then dig in.

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Savory Braised Short Ribs.

What’s not to love about short ribs? They’re pretty cheap, super meaty, and easy to cook because after a bit of prep, you can just walk away and forget about them. My kind of meal. These short ribs are fantastic and feature one of my all-time favorite flavors in the world ever in the history of the universe: Worcestershire sauce. I’ve loved it since I was little (though we did break up for a short time, when I discovered “anchovies” on the ingredients list. But I got over it and we’re back together). I love cumin and bay leaf with Worcestershire, so they got thrown into the mix, and thyme is always a good time/thyme., so he’s here, too. As far as side dishes go, I like to add petit pois at the end of the cooking process and make a sort of one-pot meal, but short ribs also go great with mashed potatoes, grits, or some delicious buttery rolls. Just go carnivore-nuts on their deep amber goodness.

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INGREDIENTS

5-6 short ribs (I actually prefer boneless short ribs, but my store was sold out, so I used bone-in. Boneless usually don’t need to cook quite as long, so keep that in mind if you go for boneless.)
butter
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 small onions (or 1 large onion), diced
1 1/3 cups carrots, sliced into segments
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups stock (beef stock would be best, but all I have is my homemade chicken stock, and it does the trick)
optional: 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (J‘adore les petits pois.)

Just the Recipe link: Savory Braised Short Ribs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a Dutch oven or other large, stovetop- and oven-safe pot with a lid, heat butter and olive oil on medium high. Season each side of the short ribs with salt and pepper, and brown them in batches, careful not to crowd the pan. Don’t worry about cooking them through; we’re just trying to get some color on these babies. Once all the short ribs have had their time to brown, set them aside.

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Turn the heat down to medium and add more oil to the pan if necessary. Toss in the carrots, onions, and garlic. Cook until softened, and then stir in the cumin, red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf.

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Cook until fragrant, and then pour in the Worcestershire sauce. Stir the veggies around as it steams, and then nestle the short ribs back into the pan. Pour in the stock and bring to a bubble. Taste for seasoning, and add salt as needed.

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Place the top on the pot and put the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure you have enough liquid to keep things good and moist.

Once they’re falling-off-the-bone tender, the short ribs are done, so take the dish out of the oven and remove the bay leaf.  Use a large spoon to remove some of the fat from the top of the juices. Then, if you love peas as much as I do, stir them in now and then re-cover the pot, letting the heat cook them through.

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That’s it! Dig in and let the tender melty goodness fall right off the bone and into your heart/stomach. And watch out for little canine stomachs, who might want to steal a bite.

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Caprese-stuffed Chicken with Basil Oil and Balsamic Glaze.

After three days of work travel this week, I was exhausted when I got home Friday afternoon. I was so tired, in retrospect I feel like the only appropriate word to describe my state is the fantastic Irish expression “knackered.” I was knackered! I wanted to grab my yoga pants, put some 30 Rock on, and fall asleep.

….And then I thought of this recipe, and believe it or not, I got a second wind. The punchy and comforting flavors of caprese go so well with baked chicken, and I was thrilled to get to use two favorite ingredients that I don’t have on hand every day: fresh basil and balsamic glaze. And the finished product was definitely deserving of such delicacies. Apologies for the photos here – when I started cooking, the light was lovely. But the night went on, as it tends to do, and by the time everything was ready to eat, it was too dark for a decent photo. I will most definitely make these again and again, so I’ll just have to snap a picture next time. Make these, and make them soon.

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup cheese (I used a combo of fresh mozzarella and cheddar)
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp fresh basil, julienned, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
salt and pepper
5 – 6 halved chicken breasts (about 1 lb in total, sliced through the center, so they are long and wide, but thin)
olive oil
balsamic glaze (a.k.a. reduced balsamic vinegar – you could use regular balsamic here, too)
also need: toothpicks or kitchen twine

Just the Recipe link: Caprese-stuffed Chicken with Basil Oil and Balsamic Glaze

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F.

First, put 1 tbsp basil in a ramekin or small bowl with 1 tsp olive oil, and stir. Set aside to marinate a little bit.

In another bowl, combine cheese, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp basil, garlic, and tomato.

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Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Top each one with a spoonful of the caprese stuffing and roll the sides over, to seal it in. Secure with two toothpicks. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts.

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Heat an oven-safe, stovetop-safe pan, like a cast iron skillet, over medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken, since it’s going in the oven – just give it some color.

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Then move the chicken to the oven and cook until the middle is no longer pink and the juice run clear. I didn’t time it, sorry. Maybe 15-20 minutes? I swear I’ll time it next time, folks! Just keep an eye on it.

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When the chicken is cooked through, plate it with a good drizzle of balsamic glaze and a scoop of the basil olive oil. Aww, yeah.

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