{Rachael Ray’s Autumn Beef Stew With Apple, Onion and Roasted Garlic}

Beef Stew

Apparently it’s turning into soup week here on the blog! Which totally makes sense because its been so cold and rainy here on the central coast this past week… At least in my mind, I guess, if not in reality.

We actually made this soup, or stew rather, for Christmas dinner and I’ve been meaning to share it with you for awhile now, but I got a little distracted in the process. But there’s no time like the present, I suppose! As you know, I try not to each much meat (although I seem to be getting talked into it more and more these days), but this sounded too good to pass up. As a self-proclaimed soup addict, beef stew used to be one of my favorite things to make/devour, so I guess it wasn’t too much of a stretch to indulge myself. And it was Christmas after all!

The most interesting thing about this beef stew, and what I think makes this soup so special, is that you actually make mashed potatoes and serve the soup along side them for an extra hearty meal (see picture above). It reminded me of being in London again in a dark, wooded bar and ordering bangers and mash smothered in gravy on a cold night.

The recipe itself is by Rachael Ray and was featured on the Dr. Oz show in December.

Check out the recipe on his website:

Beef Stew

Rachael Ray’s Autumn Beef Stew With Apple, Onion and Roasted Garlic Recipe


{Split Pea Soup with Apples}

Pea Soup and Panini

Since the first soup we made out of Anna Thomas’s Love Soup was such a success (albeit a bit labor intensive!), I was excited to try the second soup in the book that caught my eye: “Carol’s Finnish Pea Soup with Apples.” This soup sounded interesting for several reasons. First, the name–who wouldn’t be enticed with title like that? Second, the ingredients: split peas and frozen green peas, dijon mustard, and an apple–I was intrigued!

Learning from my past mistakes, I actually read the entire recipe before starting this time and decided to pre-chop and pre-measure everything before beginning, which, strangely enough, made the entire process a whole lot easier. Funny how that happens. Also, this recipe is much more traditional throw-everything-into-a-pot-and-let-it-simmer kind of soup which helped the process just a bit.

Of course, you’re not getting away that easy: there were a few additional steps required! I was pretty excited about one of them: peeling and coring the apple. Now, you could just do this the boring way and use a peeler and a knife and all. Or you could use one of these.

Apple Corer

Honestly, using my apple corer was probably the main reason I chose to make this recipe. I love it! We used to have them at the preschool I went to and I’ve been in love with them ever since. All you have to do is crank the handle and the machine magically creates a fun peeled and cored spiral apple. Cool, right? The corer is also a great time saver for making apple pies or a fun kid friendly kitchen activity. Or just entertaining to use if you’re a nerd like me. They’re not that expensive either!

Apple Corer

Anyway, when you can peel (cracking myself up here) yourself away from the apple corer, the soup itself is pretty quick and easy to make. See the brown ball-shaped things in the soup? Those would be the coriander seeds you were supposed to toast and then grind. But since I don’t have a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, I just decided to throw them all into the soup which makes for quite the burst of flavor when you bite down on one! Note: I have since ordered a mortar and pestle ;)

Pea Soup

Jeff and I had also received a cast iron griddle and griddle press for Christmas, so we decided to make paninis with fresh homemade foccacia. This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands!

Griddle and Press

Foccacia is one of the easiest breads to make and only requires a short rise–about 1 hour.


For the paninis themselves, we just added whatever we had in the fridge that sounded good: brie, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated red peppers, basil with a good ol’ garlic lemon aioli. A lot like these actually. The griddle press was pretty fun to use too!


Can you tell this meal was all about fun kitchen gadgets?

Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup with Apples

Makes 6-7 servings

Adapted from Anna Thomas’s Love Soup

Print recipe!


1.5 cups dried split peas

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 large onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced

12oz fresh or frozen green peas

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper


Rinse the split peas and add them to a large pot along with the carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaf along with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for about half an hour.

Heat up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute, stirring often, until the onion is aromatic, soft, and light brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Add to the onion to the soup along with the apple and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

At the end of the 15 minutes, add the remaining ingredients: peas, coriander, mustard, cider vinegar, broth, cayenne, and pinch of salt.

Finally, let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes to let the ingredients incorporate fully. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (Note: this step makes a huge difference in the flavor, don’t skimp!)

Serve with paninis or bread or whatever, and enjoy!

Total time: 1 hour

{Back to Comfort Food}

Skillet Poached Eggs

For the past few weeks, comfort food Sundays have turned into take-out Sundays in our house. My intentions are always good and I usually have a meal planned but, somehow, by the end of the day I just don’t feel like being in the kitchen. This Sunday, I really wanted to get back to cooking. It is, after all, one of my favorite parts of Sunday. And after a meal like this, I’m hoping we’ve kicked that Sunday night take-out habit for good.

Real Simple Magazine is sponsoring a 30 days of home cooked meal event on their website and in their magazine, and while I haven’t been participating, this recipe made me stop and want to run into the kitchen: skillet poached eggs with braised onions and peppers. Sounds amazing, right?

It was the perfect meal to get back into Sunday cooking–hearty, warm, and comforting. Plus, you cook everything in one pan so there’s virtually no mess! Our eggs were definitely more sunny side up than poached, but that didn’t really bother me. I also added half of that pasilla pepper for a little heat and color.

I served mine with bread on the side…

Skillet Poached Eggs

while Jeff served his on top of his bread.

Skillet Poached Eggs

After 1.5 bites, I ended up piling mine on top of the bread too–definitely the way to go!

Here’s the recipe:

Serves 2

Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, October 2011

Print recipe!


1.5 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 pasilla pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, sliced

1/2 14.5oz can diced tomatoes

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 6-8 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes (with their juices), paprika and about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet. Cover and simmer until the liquid has thicken slightly, about 3-5 minutes.

Using a spoon, make 4 shallow wells in the vegetables and crack an egg into each one. Season each egg with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until the egg whites are set, about 2-3 minutes.

Spoon eggs and vegetables onto toasted bread, sprinkle with parsley, and enjoy!

Skillet Poached Eggs