Hearty Stew

No matter where you travel, you will likely find a local variation on a hearty stew with a mix of meat and vegetables. Stews are basically the same as soups where the solid ingredients outweigh the broth. One of the nice things about stews is that they are very economical as stewing meats are inexpensive and the meat and vegetables can be substituted for whatever is in season at the time. This meal uses ground beef as its base, but it would be equally delicious with beef, pork, or lamb chunks or you can leave out the meat completely to make it vegetarian. This particular stew is meant to be a little bit lighter, but if you wanted to make it even heartier, you could use beef stock and a thickener to create an almost gravy-like consistency. It is one of our Autumn, “go-to”, meals and we always enjoy it.

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Beef Stew in Germany

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb Lean Ground Beef (or any other stew meat)
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups of Baby Carrots – quartered
  • 3 Medium Potatoes – cubed
  • 2 cups Green Beans – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn Kernels
  • 1/2 Small Onion – diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery – diced
  • 3 Small Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 cups Water (may need to be adjusted)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
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One Pot Wonder

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with vegetable oil.  Add the ground beef and start to brown.  Add the celery and onion when the beef is halfway browned.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Add remaining vegetables and seasonings, simmer until the vegetables are fork tender (approximately 45 minutes).  Serve with your favorite fresh bread and butter.

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Ground Beef, Onion, and Celery
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Simmer the Vegetables
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A Complete Meal in a Bowl

 

 

Eating Comfort Food in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a melting pot of a city, which means that it has a variety of food styles that have been combined to create the cuisine that represents the city. The food in Pittsburgh is as relaxed and unpretentious as the city itself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find upscale restaurants with fine food, there are definitely options for that, but the majority of restaurants offer downhome cooking. They are the types of places where you expect to find that the recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. We were able to try a variety of simple meals that had a lot of flavor and taste.

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Inside of Primanti Bros
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Lydia’s Restaurant
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Pittsburgher

There are a couple of things that you have to eat when visiting Pittsburgh. First of all, you will find pierogis on the menus of many restaurants in the downtown area, so you have to try them at least once. We actually had a few varieties while we were there from the traditional potato and cheese filled pierogi to a Reuben pierogi that we found at a restaurant that specialized in pierogis called The Pierogi Bar. Of course, we had to try them with a local beer. Pierogis are served either boiled, pan fried, or deep fried. Another item that you will find at various burger and sandwich restaurants is the Pittsburgher, which is a burger topped with coleslaw and French fries. We heard that Primanti Bros, which is a diner style restaurant, was the best place to get a Pittsburgher. It is certainly an acquired taste and the burger tasted a little bit more like a meatloaf rather than a plain old hamburger.

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Primanti Bros Counter
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Reuben Pierogis
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Eating the Pittsburgher
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Classic Pierogis

Another must have item when in Pittsburgh would be fresh baked pretzels. They can be found all throughout Pennsylvania and the ones in Pittsburgh were as good as any that we have had. Whether you like your pretzels with a beer-cheese sauce or yellow mustard, you will find plenty of places that offer them as a snack or appetizer. One interesting place that we found was called The Yard, an American Gastropub, which specialized in a variety of toasted cheese sandwiches. The toasted buffalo mac and cheese sandwich was extremely decadent, but equally delicious.

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Pretzels with Cheese and Mustard
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Buffalo Mac’n’Cheese
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Sitting at the Yard
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The Pierogi Bar

For an upscale Italian meal, Lydia’s is ideal. We shared the lasagna, which was certainly large enough for two people. We also had an interesting Cajun shrimp pasta that was served with garlic cheese bread at the August Henry Burger Bar. It was also the place where we had the traditional pierogis that are served with sautéed onions and sour cream. We had our pierogis pan fried, which is our preferred way to enjoy these delicious potato cakes.

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Lasagna at Lydia’s
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Fine Dining Atmosphere at Lydia’s
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Cajun Shrimp Pasta
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Crystal

If you like good, simple, food that tastes good and fills your stomach, then Pittsburgh has plenty of options for you. You can also find a nice variety of local craft beer that goes great with the humble meals that are found throughout the city. As always, we asked the locals where to go and received a lot of recommendations that helped us find places to grab a bite to eat. One place that we visited several times, mostly because of the friendly owner and staff, was Crystal, which is more of a neighborhood bar that serves Mediterranean food.

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Beers on Tap at the Yard
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Neighborhood Bar
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Crystal Gets Busy
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Local Beer

 

A Taste of Las Vegas

As we mentioned before, our latest trip to Las Vegas was really about getting some down time and relaxing. When traveling to Las Vegas, food is always a highlight of any trip and this trip was no different. We went to a few of our favorite places to eat, but also purposely chose to go to some places that we hadn’t eaten before. Obviously, there are a plethora of celebrity chef owned restaurants, each one having multiple restaurants in several casinos, but there are other choices that are not as expensive.

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Jardin Restaurant
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Festive Fajitas at El Segundo
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Omelet at Morels

One of the places that we returned to was The Yardbird at the Venetian, a restaurant specializing in eggs and chicken. We had fried chicken with hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, and a fresh baked biscuit. Another place that we returned was Jardin in the Encore, which has an open-air feel overlooking the pool area as well as some creative meal choices. We also went back to Gordan Ramsey’s Pub in Caesars, which offers traditional British fare and a nice variety of beers and ales.

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Fried Chicken and Watermelon
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Gordon Ramsey’s
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Shrimp and Pasta at Jardin

One of the new places that we ate at was a Mexican restaurant called El Segundo, which is at the Fashion Show Mall and features wonderful food at reasonable prices as well as happy hour margaritas. Another new restaurant for us to eat at was Morels in the Palazzo where we had quiche and a very large omelet as well as two for one drink specials.

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Margaritas at El Segundo
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Quiche Lorraine
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Raw Oysters

We always love a good deal on Oysters, so we even had a dozen oysters at the Oyster Bar in Harrah’s, which was nicer than restaurants in Harrah’s used to be. All in all, we enjoyed a wonderful variety of food and even found a few bargains along the way. The buffet seems to be making a comeback as several casinos offered them as well, but since we aren’t heavy eaters, it doesn’t make sense for us to sit down at an all you can eat buffet. Las Vegas has so many food options that you could spend a month on the strip and never eat at the same place twice, although you might go broke in the process.

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Patio at Jardin
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Inside of the Yardbird
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Gordon Ramsey’