Weekly Winner: Changing Up Beef Stew – Chinese-Style

beef stewI’m not a huge fan of typical beef stew.  Cubes of beef with veggies in a broth is just not that exciting to me.  Pot roast is a bit better … succulent beef that falls apart or shreds at the lightest touch… better but not perfect.  Spicy shredded beef on noodles (and not just any noodles, but toothsome, slippery Udon noodles) – now you’re talking beef perfection!!!

Slow-Cooker Chinese Beef Stew with Noodles might just become my new favorite comfort food.  This is fancy enough for company but also perfect for cozying up on the couch in your jammies with.  To top it all off, it’s made in the slow cooker!  Hands-off comfort food.  You just can’t beat that!  I got this winner from Food Network Magazine.  It couldn’t be easier to prepare or tastier to eat.   I did change up the recipe one little bit:  it called for watercress as it’s “greenery”.  Hubby doesn’t care for watercress and I already had a combination of spinach and arugula so I used that.

Slow-Cooker Chinese Beef Stew with Noodles

Serves 4


2 pounds beef chuck roast

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

1 pod star anise

1 9.5-ounce package dried udon noodles

1/2 bunch watercress, leaves picked (about 3 cups baby arugula and spinach combination)

Sliced scallions and balsamic vinegar, for topping


  1. Put the beef in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker and season lightly with salt and pepper. Whisk the flour and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, tomato paste, chili-garlic sauce and ginger. Pour into the slow cooker and turn the beef to coat. Add the star anise. Cover and cook on low until the beef is tender, 7 to 8 hours.
  2. Discard the star anise and transfer the meat to a plate. Shred into bite-size pieces, removing any large pieces of fat. Skim off any excess fat from the liquid in the slow cooker. Return the meat to the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs; drain. Divide the noodles and beef stew among bowls. Top with the spinach/arugula, scallions and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Weekly Winner:  Super Simple, Speedy, Sumptuous Satay – Noodles

I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that I dearly love anything with a good peanut sauce.  I’m also a complete sucker for noodles of any variety or nationality.  If there’s a noodle dish on the menu, I’ll probably order it. And if that noodle dish happens to include a peanut sauce. Ding-Ding-Ding!   We have a winner.

Beef Satay Noodles is a super easy, totally delicious recipe that can be whipped up anytime.  I tried it out at home first a little over a week ago and then made it for a client and both responses were the same — “keep this in short rotation”.  The thing that makes it so quick and simple is the use of pre-packaged broccoli slaw.  It can be adapted to various heat tolerances by adding more or not so much Sriracha and, if you’re like me, you can completely omit the cilantro. I didn’t miss it and I doubt you will either.  The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine.  Find it or copy it here because trust me: you need this recipe.

Beef Satay Noodles

Serves 4


8 oz stir-fry rice noodles

1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp grated peeled ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb ground beef sirloin

2 Tbsp roasted peanut oil (or 1 Tbsp each sesame oil and vegetable oil)

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 9-oz package broccoli slaw

1 tsp Sriracha, plus more for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges, for serving


Put the noodles in a bowl; cover with warm water and soak at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef and mix with a spoon to combine.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli slaw and cook, stirring, until it starts wilting, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in the skillet, then add the beef mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently stir the noodles to separate. Reserve 1/2 cup soaking water, then drain the noodles. Return the vegetables to the skillet with the beef and stir to combine. Add the noodles, the reserved soaking water and the Sriracha. Cook, gently tossing, until warmed through, about 4 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and more Sriracha.

Weekly Winner:  Brightening up Beef Ragu – Thai Style

Beef Ragu is generally big, bold, rich, and definitely Italian.  It is usually a slow-cooked sauce of decadent beef loaded onto a pile of perfect pasta. Nothing wrong with that in the least! As a matter of fact it is one of my all time favorites.  Until of course you are cooking dinner for someone who is avoiding gluten.  That is when things get a bit challenging for me.  Until now. Enter Thai Ragu with Rice Vermicelli.

This was a light (no, really!) bright and zesty dinner that definitely had me re-think ragu.  And, it was done in a flash which gave me lots of time to visit with my dinner guest.  This recipe comes from Cuisine at Home Magazine and will probably replace my Thai Beef and Basil recipe that I’ve made a bunch of times, I think this is just an all-around better recipe.

Thai Ragu with Rice Vermicelli

Serves 4


8 oz dry rice vermicelli

2 Tbsp peanut oil

1 cup diced shallots

2 Tbsp each minced fresh ginger and garlic

1-2 tsp purchased red curry paste

1 lb ground sirloin

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp light brown sugar

1 cup each torn fresh Thai basil and mint leaves

Chopped dry-roasted peanuts for garnish


  1. Prepare vermicelli according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water
  2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium.  Add shallots, garlic and ginger; cook until shallots are translucent, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add ground sirloin; cook until browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk together broth, fish sauce, and brown sugar until brown sugar is dissolved; stir into ground sirloin mixture and bring to a simmer.  Cook ragu until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  5. Serve ragu over vermicelli and top servings with basil, mint and peanuts.

Weekly Winner: Addictively Zingy Beef … no really!

Thai Beef BasilSo I realize that December should be “Every Other Week Winner” but travel has been an almost weekly occurence this month and I just haven’t done my usual amount of cooking.  And, I’m getting a little cranky about it too!  Cooking calms and centers me so I was terribly happy to get back in the kitchen this Sunday after returning from a week in Hawaii.  Yeah, I know… tough duty.  You’re feeling real sorry for me right about now, aren’t you?

Anyway, so last night I was anxious to get the pots and pans going again and decided to whip up this dish from Bon Appetit Thai Beef with Basil.  Oh, my!  It was like I simply could not stop eating it!  The lime and the fish sauce added zing, the chile added a bit of heat, and the carrots, which are not cooked, added an amazing crunch and freshness.  It is not your typical beef and basil dish but it well worth a try!

Thai Beef with Basil

Serves 4


2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat, divided

1 lb ground beef

½ cup low sodium chicken broth

3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided

2 medium carrots, coarsely grated

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 Tbsp fresh lime juice, divided

2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

Steamed rice and lime wedges for serving


Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8-10 minutes.  Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Toss carrots, scallions, 1 tbsp lime juice and remaining chile, 1 cup basil leaves and 1 tbsp oil in a small bowl.

Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 tbsp lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.

Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing.  Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Weekly Winner: Beef + Broccoli + Buckwheat = Booyah!

Beef, Broccoli, SobaI’ve made this week’s winner before — I’m certain I have.  Thing is, I just don’t remember it being so good!  Usually you think of stir-fried beef and broccoli as being served over rice.  It would have been fine over rice — quite tasty actually.  But add one of my favorite things in the world — peanut sauce — and then put that on soba noodles…..Ding, ding, ding … we have a winner!

The other surprise about this dish is that I’ve always had peanut soba noodles cold.  Having them hot with the beef and the broccoli made it a yummy, comforting dish for a chilly, dreary evening.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It just goes to show you should make recipes you like more than once … obviously you get better at it as you go!  Practice may not make perfect … but it makes it pretty dang good!

Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

Serves 4


  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. flank steak, cut across the grain into thin strips
  • 3 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 medium navel orange
  • One 1-1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 8 oz. soba noodles
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs. canola or peanut oil
  • 10 oz. broccoli crowns, cut into 1-inch florets (about 4-1/2 cups)


Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Toss the beef with 2 tsp. soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Finely grate the orange zest and then juice the orange. Put the ginger and garlic in a food processor and pulse until minced. Transfer all but 1 tsp. of the mixture to a small ramekin. Add the peanut butter, zest, 2 Tbs. of the juice, and 2 Tbs. of the soy sauce to the food processor. Process until smooth, adding 1 to 2 Tbs. water so the mixture loosens a bit.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tbs. of the remaining orange juice with the oyster sauce, the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, and 2 Tbs. water.

Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and toss with the peanut butter mixture and half of the mint.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil with the minced garlic and ginger over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until it just loses its raw color, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil to the skillet, and then the broccoli. Cook, stirring, until browned in places, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture, cover, and cook until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Return the beef and its juices to the pan and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Portion the noodles among 4 plates and top with the beef and broccoli. Sprinkle with the remaining mint and serve.

Weekly Winner – A Spectacular Stew

I’m usually relatively indifferent about beef stews.  To me, they all tend to wind up tasting the same.  Not bad mind you, just similar.  There might be a few different spices or herbs.  Some might be beer-based, some wine-based but basically, it is stewed beef with vegetables.   Satisfying, but not exceptional.  Until now.

When I cut this recipe out of Bon Appetit magazine, I had no idea what Kerala-style meant.  I’m still not really sure I know, but what I do know is that this recipe is definitely a winner.  It is a mild-curry flavored beef stew that, thanks to the coconut milk actually winds up tasting a little creamy.  It is fragrant, cozy and spectacular.  It quite possibly will replace most of my beef stew recipes.

Kerala-Style Beef Stew


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds beef chuck, cut into 1″ pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 serrano chiles, seeded, chopped
  • 1 1×1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • ½ pound small carrots, scrubbed or peeled, halved lengthwise
  • ½ pound baby red-skinned potatoes (about 1-1/2″-diameter), halved, or quartered if large
  • ¼ pound frozen, thawed pearl onions, halved
  • 2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • Cilantro sprigs (which I did not use – hate the stuff)


Heat  1 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches and adding remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil between batches, add beef and sear, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate.

Stir in garlic, chiles, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add 1 tsp. pepper and turmeric; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth and reserved beef; bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add carrots, potatoes, and onions. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 15–20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk.

Divide among bowls. Garnish with cilantro (or not, in my case)