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July 04, 2017

A Perfect Grilled Burger

If you want a burger that has great texture, tastes delicious and keeps it shape try these few simple tips.

  • Use ground beef with enough fat content, at least 20%
  • Don't over work when mixing, this toughens the meat
  • Form burger and press into the middle making a serious indention or even a hole.

    In the UT Culinary Institute Community Cooking Class Chef Joseph used two salad plates to form the burger. Turn one plate upside down, place round ball of mixed meat mixture, about 1/3 pound (more or less depending on how thick you want your burger), then press down to form patty with second plate, bottom side down on top of the burger.

  • Make sure grill is clean, can use a little oil to help prevent sticking
  • Grill on high heat
  • Resist the urge to flip the burger too soon. It will stick
  • Only flip once
  • Keep formed burgers very cold until ready to cook. You can even put them in the freeze
  • Let the burger rest about 5 minutes.

    To enhance flavor and create a tender, moist burger follow this recipe.

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    July 02, 2017

    Grilled Gourmet Hot Dog

    Even a hot dog can be turned into something special. And it is so simple you won't believe it.

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    Rolled and Stuffed Flank steak

    This flank steak was stuffed with an Italian flare but you could make it your own by creating a Mexican or Asian version or even a meat lover's version. It is wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill giving it a nice smoky flavor.
    The steak can be seasoned with just about anything you like, starting with salt and pepper, a commercial steak seasoning, a Cajun rub, or even a dried herb blend.

    To see additional pictures refer to the June 29, 2017 Grilling class

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    Grilling Class

    Grilling can be for everyone! In this hands on grilling class we learned how to:

  • Make the perfect burger
  • Turn a hot dog into a gourmet delight
  • Stuff and roll an incredibly delicious flank steak
  • Grill vegetables even Romaine lettuce

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    August 09, 2016

    Stuffed Bell Peppers

    This is a traditional family heirloom recipe passed down from my granny Mae. She always used green bell peppers but I love red and yellow bell pepper because they are sweeter and provide such a beautiful presentation.

    There are many variations of this traditional recipe. One of my favorites is the Bolognaise Stuffed Pepper.

    You can also add other vegetables to the rice mixture such as peas or scallions.

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    March 07, 2016

    Mini Meatloaves

    This is a great recipe for kids to make. They might need help pre heating the oven and removing hot pans when the meatloaves are done.

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    Kids in the Kitchen II

    Several years ago I taught a cooking class for a little girl's birthday party. She was turning 7 and most of the kids at the party were between 5-9. Her mother is a friend of mine from a previous job. She selected the menu and I brought the food and equipment. It was a blast. I loved watching the excitement on their faces as they made their food and enjoyed every bite.
    Kids in the Kitchen I

    Shortly after that, I left my 20 year public health career to teach more cooking classes. I recently got connected with a home school program after one of the moms contacted me to teach classes for her kids.

    This was our first menu.

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    March 01, 2016

    Create Your Own Quesadillas

    Take this basic recipe and make it with your favorite ingredients. I love chicken but you could use shrimp, beef, or any combination of ingredients that you like. There is even a vegetarian version.

    See how to modify this recipe

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    January 31, 2016

    Beef Pot Pie

    Simple and yummy, that's what I want my beef pot pie to be. So I use a frozen or refrigerated crust and beef from last night's dinner. Make a sauce and whoa-la you have a great meal.

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    January 27, 2016

    Taco Night

    Set up a taco bar and let everyone create their own version. All you need are the basic ingredients plus a few more. It's fun and easy.

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    December 29, 2015


    Bobotie is a type of minced beef pie cooked with spices, herbs and dried fruit all topped with a mixture of egg and milk then baked until set. While we were in South Africa we tried many different foods and this was one of our favorites.

    I was recently reading that this dish was most likely brought to South Africa by Asian settlers and it is now the national dish of the country.

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    November 11, 2015

    Cuban Ropa Vieja

    For this Latin America Cooking class I wanted to feature a typical Cuban dish. Ropa Vieja is traditionally made with shredded beef. We used ground beef in class to save a little time.

    Ropa vieja, or "old clothes," describes the shreds of meat, peppers, and onions resembling a mess of colorful rags. The name got lost with the ground beef :o))

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    November 08, 2015

    Smoothered Pepper Steak

    This recipe uses frozen bell peppers to save time but when in season fresh peppers should be used. It takes a little longer to prepare but worth the effort. Use green, yellow and red bell peppers and add a small sliced onion too.

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    October 30, 2015

    Beef Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

    This is the recipe that I cooked for Dennis when he said "I do." Granny always said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

    Growing up we usually had this for Sunday dinner. The potatoes are my favorite part but Dennis is all about the beef :o)

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    August 31, 2015

    Mom's Beef Stew

    Mom always canned tomatoes in the summer and used the juice for chili, soups and sauces. I have been canning for 30 years myself and home made tomato juice makes every dish so much better. If you don't have access to home made, try Campbell's Tomato juice.

    Use the Pepper encrusted beef roast from last night's dinner and save time. The meat is cooked, tender and full of great flavor.

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    August 18, 2015

    Mini Meatloaf with Herbs and Scallions Served with a Tomato Jam

    Make these mini meatloaves in a flash or for a more elegant version bake in an oval baking dish. Either way the meatloaf is so flavorful and the delicious tomato jam can be served as a side or topping.

    Serve with Mac and Cheese and add fresh fruit for dessert. Try my ,fruit with mint

    Wine pairing: A jammy Zinfandel from Lodi CA.

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    August 14, 2015

    Pan Seared Beef Tips in a Red Wine Sauce

    Cutting the beef into bite sized pieces creates a fast and easy meal. The red wine and broth add a rich flavor to the meat. The beef tips can be used in so many ways; on top of your favorite salad greens, in a delicious sandwich wrap or serve over pasta.

    I also like to serve as an appetizer with a good bottle of red wine.

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    July 26, 2015

    Super Duper Taco Pie

    Tacos are a favorite for the whole family. Use ground beef, ground turkey or even cubed pre-cooked chicken. You can even make a kid's version and a parent's version.

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    June 19, 2015

    Pepper Encrusted Beef Roast

    Believe it or not, this recipe has about 10 minutes hands on time. It cooks in about 2 hours depending on the weight. The beef cooks in beef broth and red wine creating a succulent and tender meat encrusted in cracked black pepper. Some might call this an old fashioned pot roast with a wine sauce.

    Wine Pairing: Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon

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    March 31, 2015

    Beef Tenderloin for any ocassion

    Even though I usually reserve beef tenderloin for special occasions, it is always a good choice for dinner. Because it is a lean and very tender cut of meat extra ingredients are usually added to enhance the flavor. Here are a few suggestions for preparing tenderloin and tips for trimming.

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    Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Bacon

    Whatever the occasion, beef tenderloin is an excellent choice for the main course. It is a lean, tender cut of meat that benefits from adding a few ingredients like bacon, garlic and onions.

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    March 12, 2015

    Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

    Wine Pairing:

    2012 Terra d'oro Barbera from Amador County.

    This wine is layered with soft red fruit and rich spice.
    The high acid and low tannins make it a very versatile and food friendly wine.

    Taste this wine with this dish at Ashe's Wine and Spirits, Knoxville, TN
    Friday, March 13, 2015

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    February 08, 2015

    The Best Grilled Burger

    Another hit from Cook's Illustrated is this tender, juicy grilled burger. I've grilled burgers for years but after following a few simple tips I've finally perfected a delicious hamburger, better than in the restaurants.

    This recipe includes grinding your own beef to avoid commercial ground beef that tends to be too fine and too tightly packed resulting in tough burgers. Adding butter makes the burger juicier.

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    January 28, 2015

    Tuscan Style Beef Stew

    My dinner guests loved this recipe. How do I know? Because they said so and they asked for the recipe. Anytime someone asks for the recipe that tells me they enjoyed. It is a favorite from Cook Illustrated, but check out my notes because I made a few notes that might be helpful.
    For one, you can use onions if you don't have shallots. Shallots are in the onion family but are formed more like garlic. They are slightly milder than onions and you'll probably notice that shallots cost more.

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    April 01, 2014

    Grilled Italian Meatball Skewers with Parmesan Cheese

    I wanted to try something a little different. Instead of using a lot of sauce with the meatballs, I wanted the flavor of them to take center stage. So I grilled them as skewers. Don't forget to top with lots of Parmesan Reggiano- I forget this important step in my class but no one seem to really care since I just added the cheese to the salad instead.

    When you are cooking live in front of 20 + folks you have to be flexible.
    The key is to have fun!

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    Red Wine Braised Beef Shanks

    Rich with flavor, this recipe is so good, you won't mind the time it takes to develop the flavors. I recently ordered braised beef shanks at a very popular local restaurant. It didn't hold up to this recipe. Enjoy

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    February 13, 2014

    Mom’s Best Meatloaf

    Mom made several favorite dinners that we had on a regular basis. Meatloaf night was always one of our favorites. She usually served the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green peas. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are on my top 10 list for best "Comfort Foods".

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    February 12, 2014

    Meatloaf with Fresh Scallions and Herbs

    Meatloaf, definitely an all time favorite "Comfort Food" can be just about anything you want it to be. I have several recipes and all of them are good in their own way. My mom's is most likely still my favorite but I will have to admit that this recipe is pretty darn good. It is made very flavorful with several wonderful herbs.

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    January 07, 2014

    Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

    Bolognese has a rich sauce with ground meat usually beef and pork, vegetables, all enhanced with wine and milk. It takes time to make a really good Bolognese but well worth it. If you prefer a quicker sauce see my Spaghetti made simple recipe.

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    December 02, 2013

    November Wine Dinner

    This was a fabulous wine dinner. The entrée was a salted pastry encrusted beef tenderloin. The flavor was amazing. It resembled a beef wellington with the difference being that the crust wasn't eaten. It was peeled away from the meat.

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    November 25, 2013

    Pasta and Bolognese Casserole with Spicy Meatballs

    There's nothing like a good Bolognese sauce, rich and flavorful it is usually served over pasta. This recipe takes it one more step, adding cheese and baking until the cheese melts.

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    November 21, 2013

    Momma Mia, that’s a spicy meatball

    I love teaching Italian cooking classes. There are so many fabulous ingredients to talk about and each region has its own distinct culinary specialties. Again the students had they own set of skills, some more advanced than others but each eager to try a few new recipes. During this class we all learned a little bit more and enjoyed a delicious meal in the end.

    They enjoyed the final product, their scallop stuffed roasted red peppers were fabulous.

    Presentation was the key and these caprese skewers were beautiful.

    They had a good time and enjoyed their successes

    It took a little bit of time to cook these egg yolks but they perfectly mastered it.

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    September 05, 2013

    Flank Steak with Rosemary, Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar

    The flank steak is served over salad greens. To tenderize pound with a meat mallet or marinating. This one calls for a little pounding action.

    See my suggestion for pairing this recipe with a flavorful red wine.

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    August 13, 2013

    Marinated Grilled Beef Tenderloin

    This tenderloin was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. Tenderloin is exactly as it is named, tender. But because it is such a lean cut of meat the flavors are usually created by rubs or marinades. This was a food and wine dinner hit!

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    January 05, 2013

    Beef Chipotle Tamales

    Hot tamales are a popular Mexican dish that uses masa dough that surrounds different fillings. The masa (corn flour)dough package is steamed until the dough is cooked through. If you like tamales try my recipe for pork and vegetables too.

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    October 01, 2012

    Bolognese Stuffed Bell Peppers

    As far back as I can remember my family had stuffed bell peppers on the dinner table. This version is a little fancier than the stuffed peppers I grew up with and it is delicious. A few extra ingredients and a rich marinara sauce create a wonderful re-make of this old time favorite

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    September 27, 2012

    MOREL and Beef Stroganoff

    If you love rich, you'll love this recipe. It is rich in every sense of the word. Morel mushrooms are not only rich as in pricey, they're rich with flavor too. You can use any mushrooms but for special occasions use the morel.

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    September 13, 2012

    Gruyere and Smoked Bacon stuffed Burgers

    This delicious variation on the classic cheeseburger is stuffed with Gruyere (Swiss) cheese and smoked bacon, then topped with sauté mushrooms and grilled onions. This is my favorite burger, good any time of the year but especially during the summer when you are taking it outside to the grill. Enjoy with a bottle of Zinfandel with pepper and berry flavors. Zinfandel pairs well with both the beef burger and the Swiss cheese.

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    June 26, 2012

    Stuffed Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

    Have you ever created a sensational recipe, one that everyone loved but you forgot exactly how you made it? I try to write it down immediately but sometimes it just takes too much time and then I have regrets because I can’t remember what I did. I am happy to say I wrote this recipe down because it turned out to be delicious and definitely a keeper.

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    March 06, 2012

    Sirloin Steak Bacon Skewers with Gorgonzola

    This is a delicious, fun appetizer for any occasion. Open a bottle of Burgundy wine (Pinot Noir)to deglaze the pan and enjoy drinking the wine as you cook then finish the wine with the steak.

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    January 08, 2012

    Middle Eastern Meatballs with Toasted Sesame Seeds

    Make as many meatballs as you need by varying the size

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    December 28, 2011

    Indian Meat Stew

    Cardomom, cinnamon and cumin create the flavor profile for many Indian dishes. Lamb or beef can be used depending on your preference.

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    December 11, 2011

    Cold Roast Fillet of Beef with Mixed Salad Greens

    A French red Burgundy is a good choice for this recipe. The smooth tannins in the wine will complement the beef and tarragon especially well.

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    November 07, 2011

    Smoky Beef Chili

    The beef broth added to this chili creates a rich and flavorful broth. Any stew or soup made the night before allows time for the flavors to develop.

    I also used my home canned tomatoes to replace the store bought tomato products and I added one can of refried beans to thicken the chili.

    My secret ingredient was 2 tablespoons Pampered Chef's Smoked Apple wood Rub. This gave the chili a wonderful rich and smoky flavor.

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    October 24, 2011

    Brazilian Feijoada (pronounced fay-zwah-da)

    I selected this recipe specifically for the Don Manuel Villafañe Reserve Malbec 2008 featured from the winery of the week at Campbell Station Wine and Spirits. I served it at our last dinner party and it was a hit. The stew is prepared in a slow cooker making it easy for a party or a busy night. The richness of the dish pairs wonderfully with the dark fruit and chocolate flavors of the Malbec wine.


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    September 30, 2011

    Beef Brisket with Memphis Dry Rub

    The brisket is a cut of meet from under the ribs. It is best when braised, a very long and slow cooking process. I recommend selecting the more flavorful point cut with more fat for this recipe. The fat will melt away and create a thick, rich sauce.

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    June 11, 2011

    Italian Meatballs with Marinara

    Enjoy a beautifully balanced Sangiovese, an easy sipping wine that pairs perfectly with Italian food. Try this recipe, using the wine for making a rich, delicious sauce; then enjoy the rest with your meal. You will be coming back for more wine so save yourself the trip and pick up two bottles. Serve meatballs as an appetizer or over pasta.

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    Cheese Stuffed Grilled Burgers

    When it's too hot in the kitchen take it outside.

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    May 07, 2011

    Stuffed Peppers

    Use an assortment of peppers, green, yellow and red bell peppers or poblano for a color and flavor rich dish.

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    April 07, 2011

    Italian Stuffed Eggplant

    A bottle of red Italian wine such as a Sangiovese will be a very good pairing with the rich tomato sauce in this dish.
    You can easily make this dish vegetarian, see below under make it your own.

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    January 15, 2011

    Argentine Meat Empanadas

    Our wine club enjoyed a fabulous food and wine pairing dinner this month. We tasted South American wines and paired them with several Argentinean and Brazilian recipes. One of my favorites was the Argentine Meat Empanadas with an Argentina Malbec. Select a wine that has fruit, hints of spice and rich flavors.

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    September 20, 2010

    Trimming a beef tenderloin

    If you have more time than money, try trimming your own beef tenderloin. Follow these tips for easy, successful results:

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    September 17, 2010

    Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Sides for Topping

    The tenderloin is a lean and very tender cut of meat that is often prepared for special occasions. I say "enjoy it anytime even just for two." The left overs can be used later for sandwiches, in a salad or frozen for later. Reheat and enjoy a fantastic meal after a long day at the office.

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    September 02, 2010

    Marinated Beef Stew

    There's no need to add salt to this recipe. The herbs and spices provide a powerhouse of flavor. It is incredibly, melt in your mouth delicious.

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    Italian Sausage Casserole

    Feel like going Italian tonight? This rich but simple dish will satisfy especially when you add a glass of vino. Try a Sangiovese wine

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    June 30, 2010

    Rib-Eye Steak with a Western Dry Rub

    Start any holiday like the 4th of July with a pitcher of refreshing Watermelon margaritas and finish with another one of America’s greatest traditions a big, thick rib-eye steak on the grill, Western style. Add Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Bourbon Baked Beans, and Apple Pie and Ice Cream for a spectacular celebration. You can find all these great recipes on my website.

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    June 26, 2010

    Beef Burgers with Turmeric Raisins and Onions

    Try this burger for something fun and different. You can grill, bake or cook it on top of the stove with a skillet or grill pan. The tumeric will give the burger a slight yellow color, plus it offers important health benefits especially for meats that are grilled. Read more about these health benefits Health benefits.

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    June 11, 2010

    Grilled Rosemary & Sage stuffed Burgers with Portabella Mushrooms

    Don't let the hot weather keep you from preparing a wonderful meal, just take it outside to the grill. Grilling provides wonderful flavor to meats and vegetables. The rosemary in this recipe not only enhances the flavor of the burgers but now research studies are confirming that it offers important health benefits too.

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    June 07, 2010

    Five Herb Stuffed Meatloaf

    If you are tired of the same ole meatloaf try this one. It is very flavorful and it will wake up your tastebuds and put a smile on everyone's face.

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    May 27, 2010

    Homer's Best Marinade

    After several taste tests, cooking experiments and lots of eating, we found this to be the best marinade for beef brisket. The wine will tenderize the meat so it will melt in your mouth. You can also use this marinade for any beef you plan to grill or smoke. This recipe will make enough for 3-4 pounds of beef.

    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Total time: 30 minutes

    1 cup red wine
    2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
    2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1 cup oil
    4 tablespoons ketchup
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    1 teaspoon marjoram
    1 teaspoon rosemary
    ½ teaspoon pepper

    Mix all ingredients for marinade and stir well. Marinate beef at least 4 hours up to 12 hours.

    • Use this marinade on any beef you plan to grill or smoke for great results
    • The wine in the marinade will tenderize the beef; use a light wine like a Burgundy or young Pinot Noir.

    April 30, 2010

    Recipe: Pumpkin Stew

    Have you ever noticed how versatile pumpkins are (and I don't mean just around Halloween)? You've probably enjoyed pumpkin pie, but have you ever had pumpkin stew?

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    April 29, 2010

    Recipe: Beef Bourguignon

    Beef Bourguignon, a famous and traditional French recipe, is a wonderful stew made with beef braised in red wine, mushrooms and spices. This is one of my favorite recipes and I am presenting it to you with my special tips! Serve with a French Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

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