Inspiration for living a luxuriously and balanced life

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

In the Kitchen #2 - Grown Up Beef Stew (aka Beef Bourguignon)

If you follow along on Instagram - you may already know that I recently invested in my very first piece of Le Creuset enameled cast iron piece. My sister and mother had gifted me some money for my birthday last December - and YES! I held onto for this long. I really wanted to use it to purchase something that would a) last b) I would use regularly c) have meaning. So when I decided to get back in the kitchen on a regular basis - I knew a piece of cookware was it. To break in my new Le Creuset French (Dutch) oven ... I decided a grown up version of beef stew - aka Beef Bourguigon - was going to be the meal!!

Though I have made this meal before (not using a Dutch oven) ... 
using the Le Creuset allowed me to do it all in one pot - as it goes from stove to oven seamlessly. I'll share more on the French (Dutch) oven in a future post - for now let's get back to cooking ...


3-4 lb boneless stew beef (I used sirloin tip) cut in large chuncks
2 TBsp olive oil
2 large carrots peeled and quartered
1 medium - large onion peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic - gently crushed
1/4 C. flour
1 bottle red wine - minus one glass (optional)
4 C. beef broth
1 bouquets garni (see below)
1-2 TBsp olive oil (optional)*
8 slices of bacon roughly cut
30-40 baby onions
1 lb white button mushrooms (I used portobello)
1/2 C. water
salt and pepper to taste

Bouquets garni is made using bay leaf, parsley stems and thyme - wrapped with cooking twine.

Create the Magic ...
Prior to starting bring meat to room temperature for 20 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large pot (that can go from stove top to oven). Working in batches brown meat on all sides, setting aside as it is done. When all the meat is done, cook carrots and onions to same pot until tender and lightly golden. Add garlic - cook additional minute; add flour - cook additional 2 minutes. Add wine and broth to pot stir - add bouquet garni.

 Return meat to pot, cover and transfer to oven - for about 2 hours - until meat is very tender.

If you opted to minus a glass from the bottle ... 
Enjoy it, as you prepare the garnish ;)

*Brown bacon in a pan and set aside. Add small onions, and brown all over, - set aside. Brown mushrooms and set aside.  Deglaze pan with 1/2 C. water, reduce, and pour over garnish. Let stand - until beef is done.
* use olive oil if you wish adding a little - when cooking bacon, onions, mushrooms.

When meat is tender ... remove pot from oven - remove meat and set aside. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables. Pour stock back into pot and bring to boil until thick enough to coat a spoon. 

Return beef and garnish to pot. Cover and simmer until onions are tender and the flavours have blended - about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Apetite! 

Serve with crusty French baguette or olive & rosemary crusty bread ...

Side notes: On occassion I have served leftovers over mashed potatoes, rice and pasta to help stretch the leftovers. - and have also added frozen peas during the last 10 minutes of simmering - before serving.

You are the curator of your life so make it luxurious,

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Afternoon Tea on the Bridge ~ and a little mindfulness

Long time readers of High Heeled Life already know I'm all about a good cup of tea in the afternoon. Making time in your afternoon for tea not only provides the opportunity to indulge in a small treat - to carry you through to dinner or the drive home after work; it also gives you a few moments to pause in your day - practice a little mindfulness and recharge the mind.
With the great autumn afternoons we have been blessed with  my afternoon cup of tea at the country home can still be enjoyed outside. this particular afternoon I set up myself up down on the small bridge.
 My Lady Carlyle tea cup and side plate  by Royal Albert -  some tasty macarons my friend spoiled me with, from Trader Joe's ... I kid you not they are tres yummy!!
a pillow and blanket ... some leisure reading magazines ... the sun shining it's warm rays and I settled in for some time away from computer, phones, and distractions.

The only sounds ... were chirping birds, the gurgling of the stream beneath the bridge ...
After a little leisure reading  ... I practiced a little mindfulness ... below are some steps I 've shared before to help you practice mindfulness... 
noun: mindfulness
  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

With today's demands for us to always be connected it has become more important than ever to unplug, stop doing things on auto pilot and experience being in the moment. Try these simple steps the next time you brew a cup of tea: 

1. Take notice of your environment, the sound of the water as you fill the kettle. Smile at the thought of fresh water and give thanks for having it.

2. Take note of how your feet feel as you make your way across the room, how the floor feels below your feet.

3. Notice the various shades and textures of the dry tea leaves. If you use tea bags still touch the leaves and breathe in the fragrant scent.

4. Listen to the sound of the water as you pour it into the teapot see how the leaves begin to transform as the hot water envelopes them.

5. As the tea steeps try to quieten your mind focus on your breath - inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

6. Holding teacup with both hands raise teacup to your nose. Take three deep breaths inhaling the warmth and fragrant scent of your tea.

7. Take note of the flavours as the tea rolls over your tongue - see if you can identify their origins.

8. As the tea makes its way past your tongue invite it into your body to nourish and heal.

9. Repeat  steps 6-8 until you finish your cup of tea.

You will be surprised at how much more creative and productive you will feel and be when you take the time to recharge your mind.

If tea is not your thing ... no worries ... have a cup of coffee, or smoothie or a glass of water (we can all drink more water - I'm certain). Get outside - stroll to a near by park, and just sit. Be present in the moment. Allow your mind to take a break from the work day. If mid afternoon doesn't permit getting outside - do it during your lunch hour, or find a spot in the office that you can sit looking out a window ...and take in the nature beyond it.

How do you recharge in your day?

You are the curator of your life so make it luxurious,

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