Irish Lamb Stew in Guinness and Puff Pastry

Guinness Irish Stew in a Puff Pastry

Happy First Day of Fall!

This time of year is awesome. I really enjoy it for the the vibrant orange and yellow colors, and for the smell of baking. Even if it’s colder outside our senses are filled with warmth. Not to mention, I love Halloween and Thanksgiving.

This is my first attempt at stew. I have to tell you, I’m not a fan of stews. Mainly, because it has cooked carrots in it. I have no idea why, but I’m not a fan. In my humble opinion, carrots are best served raw dipped in ranch dressing. Glen, my significant other, loves a good stew. So, I thought, “I’ll make it for him.” And, I thought, “I’ll add beer. Maybe that will make it all the better.”

With a little research on the Internet, I reviewed many recipes. A few from Food Network, Food.Com and AllRecipes. There are a lot of stew recipes out there. I needed to make it my own, but how? I dig Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets. I use those for all kinds of things, especially, my baked brie that I make over the holidays. The pastry sheets are super easy to use. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you get some.

Being this is my first time at stew, I should call it Virgin Lamb Stew, but who knows what kind of spam comments I’d get. Er… I’ll end it here and get on with the show.

You’ll Need

1 pound of smoked bacon, chopped
3 to 4 lbs of boneless leg of lamb or beef for stew
1/2 cup of flour
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
2 Guinness (one for the recipe and one for you to drink)
4 bay leaves
7 cups of beef broth
3 carrots, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped
Cornstarch, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

For Pastry

Pepperidge Farms Ready to use Pastry Sheets (two sheets per box)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of water

Let’s get started…

toss lamb or beef in flourIn a cast iron skillet cook your bacon. Transfer it to a paper towel and let it cool before chopping. Keep the bacon grease in the skillet.

While you cook your bacon, cut (cube) up your leg of lamb (or beef). Toss it together with the flour, a little sea salt, and fresh ground pepper until your meat is nicely coated. That’s what he said.

Once your bacon is cooked, brown the meat pieces on all sides and toss into a five quart dutch oven, or stock pot.
 The bacon should be cool enough to handle. Roughly chop it up and toss it into the pot with your meat.

saute onions in guinnessIn the same skillet, sauté your onion, garlic, and thyme for about five minutes over medium heat. Pour in your Guinness to help scrape up all the goodie bits sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

add onion mixture to stew
Toss it all into your pot with the meat and bacon.

Add the beef broth and bay leaves. Bring it all to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is nice and tender.

Add in of carrots and potatoes. Mix your cornstarch with a little water. Bring the stew back to a boil. Add in a little cornstarch mixture at a time. Take baby steps. This will help thicken your broth. I put in a tablespoon every few minutes until I like the consistency. The broth should be a little creamy but not overly thick.

Continue to simer over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Remove the bay leaves before serving.

The Umph

Follow the instructions for thawing on the Pepperidge Farm Pastry Sheet box. I usually set it out on the counter before I start to prepare the stew.

Once the pastry is thawed, 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat an egg and a little water together for the egg wash.

scoop stew into pastry then baste with egg washHere are two ways you can bake the stew in a puff pastry:
  1. In a 16-ounce oven safe dish, spray with PAM. Place one puff pastry into the bowl
 like a pie crust; wrapping over the sides. It doesn’t have to be a perfect fit. 
Add in a scoop (about 3/4 to 1 cup) of stew.
 Fold your pastry over the stew and pinch dough to seal shut.
  2. Or, before placing the pastry sheet in the bowl, first scoop your stew into it. Cut the pastry sheet in half and place on top. Pinch the dough around the sides of the bowl to seal shut.

For either method, brush the top with the egg wash. Place the bowls on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 – 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Side note: Oven-to-table bowls are a must! I love that I can use it for everything. From eating cereal to baking a pot pie. I only have two, but want more. I’ve added a set of four Le Creuset Stoneware Soup Bowls to my wish list. I’m hoping Santa brings me these this year.

Irish Lamb Stew in Guinness and Puff Pastry

I’m hungry!

This recipe serves 8-10, depending on the size of your bowls. Since I freeze the majority of it, I only use one box of pastries. If you plan to use all 8-10 servings in one meal, you’ll need to buy more than one box of pastry sheets. Use one sheet per bowl. Of course, you do not need to use the puff pastry. You can serve it in a bowl all by itself with a sweet crusty bread. However, the pastry really makes the dish.

Glen always pokes fun at the fact I never cook the same thing twice. Since blogging, I need to make sure I have something to write about. He said the stew was by far the best thing I’ve made, and has requested I make it again for his Birthday. Beginners luck! But, I truly believe that the secret ingredients are the cast iron skillet, the smoked bacon, and the puff pastry. The iron skillet gives it that rustic flavor, the smoked bacon makes it smoky, and the puff pastry makes it gourmet. Not to mention, the Guinness does make it all the better.

Let the soup & stew season begin.



Dark Chocolate Chili Cupcakes

Happy April Fools! Who’s going to try one of my cupcakes?

We are meeting friends for dinner tonight. Since it is April Fools, I wanted to bake them some yummy cupcakes, but make two of those, not so yummy. My friend Paula recommended that I use chili powder. I have a great recipe for dark chocolate and chili pepper sauce for pasta, so I didn’t think that chili powder would do the trick.

I was already planning on making dark chocolate something, since our friends both love it. And, since Paula inspired me to use spice as my trick, I found a recipe.

First, I need to tell you that I’m not much of a baker. It may taste yummy, but my artistic ability to make baked goods, look like works of art, are not so good. My decorating skills look more like a Jackson Pollock painting. So, even though I followed this recipe exactly from The Cake Mistress, it doesn’t look like hers. Sigh.

I will say, especially since I’m posting this, it tastes scrumptious. However, I think I will try a different version next time. I’ll explain what I’ll do different throughout the post.

Let’s get started…

infused-water-chili-pepper, photo by Jenny MacBethI couldn’t find baby chillies, so I used two small chili peppers. I like it spicy. The Cake Mistress calls for two baby chillies sliced and seeds removed, or use dried chili flakes. I opted for the fresh chillies by adding to 1/4 cup of hot water for about 10 minutes, but since I take photos of my food and preparation, my chillies were soaking for about an hour. This takes time. but don’t worry, you only get a hint of spice in the finished cupcake. Next time, I’m going to skip this step and add crushed chili flakes to the batter. I also wouldn’t mind trying Jalapeno jelly.

Kitchen Aid, photo by Jenny MacBethI love my Kitchen Aid. It’s the best for whipping up batter. I tossed in 3 eggs, 1 cup of butter, and 1 cup of sugar, then mix until light and fluffy. The Cake Mistress says to use caster sugar. Of course, I couldn’t find it. I just used regular sugar.

Add in 1/2 cup of milk, 1 1/2 cups of flour, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

mixer, photo by Jenny MacBethAdd half a bag of Nestle special dark chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, and 1/2 of the chilli-infused water and combine. This is where I would add the Jalapeno jelly for next time.

Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until light and creamy.

cupcake tray, photo by Jenny MacBethPut mixture in your cupcake pans with liners. If you are planning an April Fools prank, make sure you remember which ones are meant for the joke. I added tons of salt to two – Shhh! <insert evil laugh here>

Bake for 20 minutes at 350, or until firm to the touch. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to the counter. Finish cooling fully before icing.

chocolate-butter, photo by Jenny MacBethIn the meantime, start your topping. Combine the other half of the dark chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. As the mixture begins to melt, reduce heat to low, stirring constantly, until melted.

melted-chocolate, photo by Glen GreenRemove from heat, and whip in 1/3 cup of heavy cream, and remaining chilli water. I guess this is where I went wrong. The Cake Mistress said to let it rest for 10 minutes until the mixture was velvety.  It took a good 30 minutes to thicken up, and it still wasn’t thick enough to make her cute swirly topping. Nonetheless, I added the dark chocolate sauce to the cooled cupcakes.

guinness goes best with these cupcakes, photo by Jenny MacBeth Since I couldn’t find baby chillies, I added crushed chili flakes for garnish.

I put the cupcakes in the refrigerator and the icing harden to perfection. My cupcakes have a crunchy layer.


Secret ingredient: Pair this cupcake with a Guinness. Oh so yummy!

Please share your ideas because this girl likes to eat.


NY Strip Steak in Chipotle Ale

The other day, a friend posted a yummy picture on Facebook of steaks. I was inspired to make a couple of steaks. Thanks Hector!

To me it’s not natural to put anything on a steak other than it’s own juices. However, I like beer. Need I say more? Steak is simple, but you need to spend a little more money on the better cut of beef. I’ve tried saving money, going with a cheaper strip steak, but in the end, it’s just not the same.

NY Strip Steak, Photo by Jenny MacBethTake a Ziploc bag and toss in a couple of steaks, pour in half a bottle of Rogue Chipotle Ale. What do you suppose you do with the other half?  Guinness is another option. Hell! Any beer is another option. Let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. The Chipotle Ale has a little bite, but I still add some fresh ground pepper and sea salt to the steaks when I’m ready to cook.

There’s nothing better than a steak on an open fire, but the next best thing is a cast-iron skillet. Toss the steaks and juice into the skillet and broil to your liking. I like my medium rare; cooking it about 3-4 minutes on each side. When ready, pull the steaks out, and let the steaks rest for five minutes in the skillet. This is very important. The steaks start to seal in their yummy juices.

It’s moan worthy! Especially, if you serve it with another bottle of ale.



Please share your ideas because this girl likes to eat.