Brielle’s Beef Stew Recipe

Modern life doesn’t give us a lot of time for putting together elaborate meals so I have developed a love affair with my slow cooker over the past decade. I have used this lovely appliance to create and cook delicious tasting meals with minimal hands on time and effort.

My go to staple is beef stew. After years of experimenting with different recipes/ingredients, I am proud to share what I think is a hearty, decadent, extremely satisfying stew for the colder months.

Brielle’s Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker (serves: 4-6)

Ingredients:

4 oz Thick-cut bacon, chopped

3 tablespoons Flour (I use wheat flour)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 lbs Boneless beef chuck trimmed of excess fat and cut into chunks (I prefer 100% grass-fed beef from Whole Foods)

1/2 lb Baby carrots

1 Stalk of celery, chopped

3 cloves Minced garlic

1 lb Medium potatoes, cut into cubes

1 cup (8 fl oz) Red wine (I use a Malbec)

1 cup (8 fl oz) Beef broth (*If you live in NY, go to Brodo http://www.brodobroth.co and get the Hearth bone broth. The flavor is unreal. If you want to be healthier, use unsalted beef broth)

2 tablespoons of tomato sauce (I use Prego No Salt added sauce)

1 tablespoon Rosemary, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Bay leaf

Basket Brodo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation:

  1. Cook the bacon: in a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally until crisp – about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off the drippings into a small heatproof bowl leaving about 1 tablespoon drippings in the pan. Set the pan, reserve drippings and bacon aside.
  2. Brown the beef: In a resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef chunks and shake to coat evenly with the flour mix. Return the frying pan to medium-high heat. When the droppings are hot, add half the beef chunks and cook, turning once, until well browned – about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining beef counts adding the reserve drippings if needed. Scatter the carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes on top. Add the bacon.
  3. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the wine, broth, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. Mix well, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Pour the contents over into the slow cooker. Add the bay leaf.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours (high) or 8-9 (low). The beef should be VERY tender. Stir in the rosemary. Cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.
  5. Optional: Beef Stew always tastes delicious over pasta. Keith and I usually enjoy it over egg noodles or bucatini (because the inside is so hollow it sucks up all the juices).

Final Stew

 

Beer Grain Treats for Dogs!

My new favorite treats of the year are made with Beer Grains! No, I can’t get drunk off these but it certainly helps with the flavor!

Thanks to Gunther’s Goodies http://www.gunthersgoodies.com and Josh Morton & Eve Alintuck, owners of Barrow’s intense Ginger Liqueur, who gifted me these goodies for Christmas, I have to say these beer biscuits keep my tail wagging!

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Motivation Monday: Mirror!

To keep us motivated on all our 2016 resolutions!

Mirror

Christmas in The Villages, Florida

When my in-laws, Henry and Diane Witek, told me they were moving to the The Villages, Florida my mind immediately went to the M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, The Village.

Demons? A freaky little community? Supernatural situations? What could this place be?

the village village again

Henry, was quick to explain that it was an active retirement community located in sunny central Florida. According to the website https://www.thevillages.com the purpose was “To create a retirement community where people’s dreams could come true.” It boasted a redefinition of retirement living: great, affordable homes with lifestyle and amenities for every cycle of retirement life.

villages sign

That’s a tall order! My idea of retirement would be in the Amalfi Coast, Italy with Cristiano Ronaldo (age now) serving me Krug Rose champagne in his CR7’s, Mario Batali cooking my meals, DogPound still training me and Keith, Rambo and I just chilling in our infinity pool looking at the beautiful clear blue sea.

amalfi cristiano_ronaldo_real_madrid_wallpaper_2014-wallpaper-1366x768 mario batali_2

Well, I have been there twice now and while it’s not my vision of retirement, I could see how it’s a paradise for the people who have chosen to end their lives there.

Imagine a Disney Land for over-55 year-olds. It holds more than 100k residents in an area bigger than the island of Manhattan. And… everyone gets around via golf cart. I’m not going to lie, the first time I visited, I couldn’t believe it. There were designated parking areas for golf carts at all the businesses. There were golf-cart tracks. There were golf-cart tunnels and even a golf-cart bridges to cross the major highways. I can’t make this up.

ACG_Golf_Cartsweb.jpg.w560h150 Villages-Golf-carts-2

Why golf carts do you ask? The Villages is really a village. Within those gates you have everything you need: Town Squares, Theaters, Shopping + Dining, Grocery Stores, Doctors, Schools…

Here’s the kicker, those carts can cost upwards of $25k and you can pimp them out with rims, make them look like a hummer or race car, add custom detail, etc. I guess when you retire and you have extra dough to spend, why wouldn’t you do it with a custom golf cart?

The Villages is also known for its extensive amount of golf courses – I think there are over 3 dozen. I am not going to pretend to know anything about golf. I went to a Nike Golf School and own my own clubs. I wound up perfecting my flask swig vs. my golf swing and I have used my clubs once. Golfing is just not my thing.

Henry is The Village’s golf course expert. He knows every course name, clubhouse, trail, the animals that inhabit the courses…trust me, he has educated me so well on these topics even I know my way around at this point. The man has his own bench on the first hole of one of the courses. I finally saw it live on this Christmas Trip.

IMG_3250

There are additional “distinctions” about The Villages. In 2009, the New York Post labeled it “ground zero for geriatrics who are seriously getting it on.” The story reported that couples had been caught having quickies in the golf carts and noted there was a thriving black market for Viagra. These facts make me chuckle.

villages Cart

My favorite thing about The Villages is that they forbid children. Kids can of course visit briefly, but that’s about it. They have to get visitor passes, haha! The place is truly a +55 adult playground.

No-kids-Allowed-from-Picnik1

 

So that’s the summary of the Villages, Florida. Here’s the detail on the Christmas Visit and how I spent 4.5 days there.

Day 1:

  • The earliest flight from Newark to Orlando. Children galore!

Airport

  • Diane makes the best bacon. I’ll give the woman that! She made me a BLT with a garnish of bacon.

Bacon Breakfast

  • Keith, Henry and his brother Steven go golfing. Diane and I get more groceries (need food!) and do some shopping in one of the Towne Squares. I discover The Villages makes its own wine.

Villages Wine

  • Dinner at Cody’s – check out these Happy Hour Specials and prices! How do they make money? As soon as I sat down, I ordered the 2 for 1 special: red wine baby! Oh, and the grilled wings were actually delicious. The young chef, Cory, came out and I gave him a hug.

CodysWine Codys

Day 2 – Christmas Day:

  • Since the plan was to golf in the morning, there was no formal breakfast. I made myself a roast beef sandwich on a whole wheat pita with my morning supplements.

Christmas BreakfastHappy Easter

  • Golfing – you can see how engaged I was in this activity.

Bri Golf Phone

  • Seeing the bench.

Witeks on Bench

  • Nicknaming The Witek Family the Buttertons because I have never seen so much butter used in my life.

Buttertons

  • 4pm Christmas dinner – The Witek’s Christmas Tradition is to serve a prime rib for dinner. See my 2015 Summary post for more detail. It’s a very simple Christmas meal.

Prime Rib Christmas Dinner Table

  • Seeing the holiday lights on the houses.

Holiday Lights

Day 3:

  • Took a side trip to see my Aunt and Uncle, and cousins in Palm Coast. Food frenzy and fun times.

Ross' spread

  • When I returned to The Villages, before dinner, we sat and watched a concert in one of the Towne Squares. 55+ folks were moving and shaking. It was definitely a sight to see.

Town Square Concert

Day 4:

  • Had a lovely brunch at one of the golf course clubhouses. Mimosas! Pancakes! Bacon! Omelets! I ate everything.

Brunch

  • Star Wars 3-D – the force was with me for sure!
  • Killed 2 bottles of Caliche Rum and Don Q Limon at Las Tapas. Sara, our bartender was terrific and created some special on the spot cocktails for the guests. Diane and her 12 girlfriends have become mini ambassadors and visit the account once a month for Caliche/Don Q Cocktails.

las taps

Day 5:

  • Time to go home. We had to deal with this security nightmare in the Orlando airport. I have never seen so many wheelchairs and carriages under one roof. It was like the circle of life condensed.

Orlando Airport

Definition of Hangry

I think this speaks for itself.

Hangry

w/o Jan 4th: Stains 101

No matter what I do, or how refined I try to be, I am a hot mess and always manage to get a stain on myself. I absolutely love wearing white but that is always a fashion risk for me. I carry my tide pen and have my dry cleaners on stand-by.

When I came across this nifty stain article, I figured I’d share the knowledge. It’s proven incredibly helpful!

Stains

Rambo’s 2016 New Looks

At 11 1/2 Rambo is ready for a change. He’s going for two new looks this season.

The Intellectual

Rambo Glasses

The Work Out Warrior

Rambo DogPound

Which ones do you prefer? Post a comment!

Motivation Monday: Magic!

A little inspiration for the week

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2015 Highlights

While this is not all about travel, it falls under merry-making + travel + partying. Here are few fun highlights from 2015 – Enjoy and hope it makes you laugh as much as I did while writing it.

January

  • Set the intentions of kicking ass this year

2015 Jan Reso

  • Seeing my godson, Jacob Thomas

Jan Jacob

February

  • Keith and I bought international property in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Feb Mr Nica Feb Nica Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb BK NicaFeb Nica Land

March

  • Planning the 2015 Summer Travel

Mar Travel Planning

  • Celebrating Easter

Easter

  • My 34th Birthday

Mar Bday BK Mar Bday BT   Mar Bday BNBsMar Bday Group

April

  • Got to see 2 of my oldest friends, Justin Leffler and Matt Ciantar. It was Matt’s wedding. We’ve all known each other since 3rd grade!

April Matt and Justin April Matt Wedding

  • The DogPound Appreciation Party

April DP Party

  • Learning to enjoy Caliche Rum with cigars. Thanks Shendi Lu! Thanks Felicia and Dan for joining the craziness!

April Cigars

May

  • Ran a 10k

May 10K

  • Visiting Jerusalem (check out my Jerusalem post for the actual city guide)

May Jeru City May Jeru BC

June

  • The Pilgrimage Tour with my best friend, Linda Gomes. We hit Paris, Ibiza (we made it!) and Lisbon

May praying May Paris May IbizaJPG May Ibiza 2

  • Best Dominican brunch with the DogPound Crew

June Brunch with DP

  • Swan’s Birthday Extraganza

June Swan Bday

  • Lunch with former Rutger’s coach Kyle Flood. He liked Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur!

June Coach Flood

  • Bi-annual Hennessy Crew reunion over…surprise, surprise…Italian Food and wine/champagne

June Henny Crew

  • Lauren’s Engagement Party – the Bad News Bitches Crew and our men

June Lauren Engagement

July

  • I work for the coolest company, Serralles, USA. Company meeting was in NOLA

July Company meeting

  • Helicopter ride with Keith

July HelicpoterJuly Helicopter

  • The annual Shitek’s Summer Series Mets Game: Keith and Brian make it on the Met’s jumbo tron

July Mets Beer and Brian July Mets Game

  • U2 Concert

July U2

August

  • Keith’s 35th Birthday

August K Bday Frances August K Bday Del

  • The 10-day Scotland + Ireland Trip with my in-laws (I will be posting this story in the next month – stay tuned!)

August St Andrews August Scotland August Mead August Ireland

  • Trish Mannion’s “Sensational” Miami Birthday

August Trish 40 August Trish 40 2

  • Keith and I felt grown up. We bought a new washer and dryer

August Washer

September

  • Global Citizen with the DogPound

Sept Global Citizen DP w. Hugh Sept Global Citizen

  • Joy Luck Club gals (Swan + Mel) hit Wo Hop (my dad’s old chinatown haunt)

Sept JLC Wo Hop

  • Swan and my Brooklyn / Queens pizza tour

Sept Pizza Tour

  • I bought sparkle sneaks!

Sept sparkle shoes

  • Caliche Rum made it on the Times Square Billboard with Instapour

Sept Times Square

October

  • METS Playoffs + World Series. Thrilled we saw Game 3 – Home field and they won

Oct Mets 1 Oct Mets Citifield

  • Rutgers vs. Wisconsin – Halloween in Madison with the RU Crew – rained all weekend!

Oct WI 2 Oct WI 1

November

  • LA Adoption Ball with Domenic Venneri. I won 2 nights at the Bangkok Peninsula hotel and a baby bag…what does that mean?!

Nov Baby Ball

  • Keith in Dodgeball Playoffs

Nov Dodgeball

  • John Santos’ epic Birthday

Nov John Bday

December

  • Dec 1st: Launch of Three Quarters There and celebrating the life of my beautiful sister, Nicole Caruso, with her favorite wine

Dec Blog Launch Dec 1 Nicole and Blog Launch

  • Decided if I ever own a home, this will be my Holiday Front Lawn Decor – always wanted a Griswold Family Christmas 🙂

Dec Griswald Christmas

  • Melissa Mao and Chris Cedeno’s Fabulous Holiday/Housewarming Party with the original Rutgers Matia Crew

Dec Mel's Holiday Party

  • Bi – annual Hennessy crew dinner (aka: Bad News Big Shots as Keith named us)

Dec Henny Crew last dinner

  • Leaf Cookies – my favorite cookie (thanks Mom)

Dec Leaf Cookies

  • My favorite ornament (thanks Adam Ponsi)

Dec Merry XMas

  • The Guest Bartender Series at Piora featuring Caliche Rum and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur, and bringing together some of the finest bartenders in Manhattan. The cocktail creations = AMAZING.

Dec Piora Caliche Series

  • Christmas @ The Caruso Household: hanging with Rambo and my brother, Paulie Walnuts

Dec Rambo and Paulie

  • STAR WARS

Dec STAR WARS

  • Keith and my holiday ritual: Tree, lighting candles for our families, Broadway and champagne at the Palace Hotel

Dec TreeDec Allegiance

  • Spending Christmas in The Villages, Florida with my in-laws. Can’t you tell I love golf, and the bench is real! Stay tuned for the detailed post on this later in January

Dec Villages Bench Dec Villages BC golf

This had to have it’s own category. The different Christmas Food Spreads I experienced.

Small: The Witek Family (Keith’s parents)

Party of 5 (all big eaters): Prime rib, croissants, 3 rolls and butter from Christmas Eve dinner at Cody’s Restaurant, caprese salad, 4 baked potatoes, string beans

Witek Prime Rib Witek Spread

Large: The Ross Family (my Uncle Frank and Aunt Evelyn) 

Party of 5 adults and 3 small children who ate already: Ham, 2 Chicken dishes, 3 veggie dishes, macaroni salad, baked potatoes

Not shown: beef stroganoff, antipasto plate

Ross' spread

XXL: Mom and Dad Caruso (no one does it better than my parents who have no concept of portion control or assortment of trays)

Party of 4: There are no hunger games at my house – Salad, Mom’s Famous pepperoni bread + meatballs, sausage and peppers, meatloaf wrapped in bacon, potatoes and onions, raviolis, fresh bread and she always gets me my leaf cookies. Check out the leftovers picture. That’s what we took home!

*I fell in love with Keith even more knowing he was comfortable enough to constructively criticize her pepperoni bread: “You have to go back to semolina. The bread dough you used doesn’t have the structural integrity to hold all the fillings.”

Caruso 2nd Course Caruso Apps Caruso Bread  Caruso SnacksCaruso Leftovers

And another that deserves its own category

Epic Rutgers Tailgates – Holy food! Awesome friends! Overdosing on fun! We now have babies at the tailgates. Crap, we’re getting old. Will the team ever win?

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Cheers to a memorable 2015!

 

2016: A New Hope

I am that person that loves symbolic fresh starts and the opportunity to take stock of what I have done and what I need to do. It’s a clean slate. January 1st is a glorious day to set the foundation and tone for the upcoming year.

Sparkle

After some reflection, I realized my personal and work life never had clear demarcation lines, but have always managed (for the most part) to co-exist… OR the people in my life are incredibly patient. I think it’s a bit of both. This helped me realize my hope for the new year: Prioritize better and focus. I’ve become an expert at multi-tasking, but lost much of my focus on one thing at a time…or just paying attention for more than a minute without getting impatient.

This year happens to be the start of my new 5-Year Plan. If you know me, you know about my insane, detailed plans.

Not Normal

 Closing out the last plan and seeing all that I’ve done was amazing. I realized I just do shit. I have an idea and whether it works or not, I’ll try it. I guess that’s a good thing but realize sometimes I pile so much on my plate, I get overwhelmed.

So aside from the big hope of the year, here is what I want to accomplish in 2016. Friends and family, please hold me accountable! I am putting this out there.

  • By my 35th Birthday (March 27th – Easter Sunday! Bri and Jesus celebration, haha), I want to be in the best shape of my life. That would be 100lbs – mind you, I was 103lbs at my wedding 7.5 years ago. Yikes.

Fat Booty

  • I cut my blood pressure medication by 75% in 2015. Want to cut the remaining dosage in half this year. Gotta remove this from diet.

Butter

  • Learn Spanish at Idlewild: http://idlewildbooks.com This has been a resolution for a decade. I signed up for a class that starts January 11th and have Rosetta Stone. Bueno suerto, Bri!

Spanish

  • Take a comedy class. Yup, I’ve secretly always wanted to be comedian. I think laughter is the best feeling in the world and when I can make someone laugh it feels awesome. I am not clever and I take things way too seriously so stand up comedy does not come naturally. What I do have are funny stories and content. Hope the classes will help me communicate it like my idols Chris Rock and Jim Gaffigan (side note: have you read his book Food? Hysterical). My classes start this summer and I do a show as the finale. My friends are highly anticipating this event. Might be bigger and better than one of my birthday parties. How clever is this –

Fantasy Offense

  • Do a second tour of Asia. This time it will be Thailand, Vietnam, China. Plan is for April to celebrate my 35th.

Bangkokgreat wall Vietnam

  • Continue posting on this blog and just enjoying it.

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  • FORGIVE. I would like to believe I do it well but I don’t. I am awesome at holding grudges whether I mean to or not. I also remember everything. I will probably use my next hypnosis session to work on this one…

Mood Swing

There’s my hopes for 2016. I think this summarizes it completely:

Fucking Plan

It’s amazing to think, but in the end, you really get to make your own life. 2016 is gonna be one hell of an adventure.

Give everything yourself

Love,

Brielle x