Pepper Steak Stew

beef2This simple slow-cooker recipe offers up the hearty, savory flavors of traditional pepper steak, but uses a less expensive cut of beef. I like to double this recipe and freeze half for workday lunches Enjoy – your tummy and your wallet will thank you!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat Continue reading

Excellent Beef Stock

onion soup

Excellent Beef Stock can be used to create awesome meals such as French onion soup!

Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we are encouraging every cook (well, every non-vegan cook) to master the simple craft of making an excellent pot of beef stock. Quality beef stock sold in gourmet shops is delicious, but outrageously expensive. Those supermarket cans of stocks and broths? Well, read the label. Less expensive than their gourmet shop counterparts, those cans are over-salted and still overpriced. Some commercial food manufacturers are shameless enough to add caramel coloring to their beef stocks and broths. That’s right… the same artificial coloring added to soft drinks is added to beef stock!

Some recipes for beef stock call for the use of whole vegetables (i.e., a few carrots, or a whole onion). We think that’s just a little too precious. The fact is, you get the same flavor from vegetable scraps and peels, so why use up perfectly good vegetables making beef stock? We’re using peels (see below), and are sure you can find a good use for the peeled veggies themselves. ¬†ūüôā Let’s get started!

WIN_20160430_104540Ingredients (Makes 2 quarts)

3 pounds beef bones (ask the butcher at your local market – bones are always available)

Peel and outer layer of Continue reading

Grandma’s Beef Rouladen


My amazing Grandmother left this world yesterday.  She was a wonderful artist, an enthusiastic collector of curiosities, and loved her family fiercely.  She was an excellent cook, and was happy to feed any and all who found their way to her kitchen table.  She wasted nothing, and could conjure a meal for a crowd out of just about any unlikely combination of ingredients found in her pantry.  I aspire to someday cook as well as my Grandmother.

Today I’m sharing a recipe for Beef Rouladen, a German dish and beloved comfort food that Grandma made.¬† I’m working from memory, and may have inadvertently taken a few liberties with her exact recipe, but this is how I remember the dish.¬† Enjoy, and celebrate your loved ones this Thanksgiving.¬† I certainly am.

WIN_20141122_131936Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 pound thin sliced (1/4 inch) top round steak

4 slices bacon, cut in half

1 small onion, sliced thin

2 dill pickles, cut into 4 spears each

WIN_20141122_134750Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups beef stock

16 toothpicks


Step 1) Trim round steak into 8 rectangular pieces, each approximately 6 or WIN_20141122_1353077 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide.

Step 2) Lay a half piece of bacon on top of each piece of round steak.  Place a pickle spear and a few onion slices crosswise near one end of the steak, as shown above.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Step 3) Beginning at the end nearest the pickle and onion, roll each piece of steak as you would roll up a sleeping bag.  Secure each roll with two WIN_20141122_191113toothpicks.

Step 4) Brown the rolls in a nonstick pan over medium heat.¬† This will take about 3 minutes per side (“sides” being above and below the toothpicks, as shown).

Step 5) Place browned rolls in a crock pot, and cover with beef stock.¬† Slow cook on “low” for 5 – 6 hours.¬† Serve with cabbage and yams as shown, or enjoy with spaetzle.

I love you, Grandma.


French Spaghetti



I’ll admit it.¬† The variety of pasta available in France surprised me.¬† In hindsight, that seems foolish, but there it is.¬† I just didn’t think of France as a pasta-loving country.¬† Wow, was I ever wrong!¬† Consider the variety of dried pastas available in a typical French market:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was surprised by the wall-o-pasta, Half-Pint was just plain delighted.¬† “Noodles!” He spotted with glee.¬†¬†It didn’t take long for Half-Pint to wear me down…¬†sure, we’ll have “pa-sketti” tonight.¬† ūüôā¬†¬†All we need are a few fresh vegetables, thin cuts of beef, a bit of mild cheese, and yes, spaghetti noodles.¬† Join¬†us for a simple, if slightly surprising, dinner in France!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIngredients (serves 4)

1 pound dried pasta

1/2 pound beef, sliced in wafer thin (1/4 inch or thinner) strips

sea salt

black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion

4 cloves garlic

4 ripe tomatoes

2 ounces mild white cheese

1 teaspoon herbes de provence


Step 1) Dice onion and saute in olive oil over medium heat until onions are almost translucent. Add garlic and beef strips. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Step 2) Quickly brown the beef strips on both sides – this should take no longer than 1 minute per side.

Step 3) Remove beef strips from pan and set aside.  Add tomatoes, chopped, and saute with onions and garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until tomatoes just begin to dissolve.  Return beef to the pan and stir gently to coat beef with tomato juices.  Remove pan from heat.

Step 4) Spoon tomato sauce and beef strips over pasta which has been cooked al dente (slightly chewy). Top pasta, beef, and sauce with thin slices of mild white cheese.  Sprinkle crushed herbes de provence over the entire dish. Serve immediately, preferably with a green salad and red wine.  Enjoy!