501 Life Magazine | New Year's resolution is now resolved!
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New Year's resolution is now resolved!

by Don Bingham

By March, we should be well established and on our way with the 2012 New Year’s resolutions that we so confidently made the first of January. We thought it might be interesting to follow up with Jan Newcomer, who we featured in the January 2011 issue.

Jan, along with her husband, Bruce, created a new year challenge of cooking at least one new recipe a week — with all recipes taken from Jan’s collection. Jan’s personal archives of recipes are housed in volume- after- volume of collections from parents, extended relatives, travels and favorites that have been enjoyed through the years.

When we contacted Jan, she was elated to report that more than 60 new dishes had been tried over the 12 months of 2011. “Most were good,” Jan reported, “and the few that were not worth doing again were tossed from the collection!” 

Weekends seemed to be the perfect time for experimenting, as it gave Jan the privilege of cooking without pressure —time to go grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients, and time to enjoy the dishes prepared. There was not a particular criterion for selecting the recipe to explore —just what the couple might be “in the mood to try, at the time.” Sometimes the recipe would be determined by what ingredients were on hand — what was on the shelves in the pantry!

Among the top favorites were 11 chicken recipes, 11 appetizer recipes, eight cookie recipes, eight stews and soups and seven cake recipes! The ultimate winner was a crockpot beef stew, a goulash and “cowboy caviar” (a combination of black-eyed peas, corn, peppers and Italian dressing).

When we asked Jan if she and Bruce were repeating this “resolution” for 2012, she said “probably not, but it did motivate us to cook more — to explore different culinary offerings — and to enjoy the less-stressful times to cook.” 

501 LIFE congratulates Jan and Bruce Newcomer for a successful and completed new year’s resolution!

Some of the couple’s favorite recipes:

This is one of those soups that some might call a stew. Its rich, beefy taste has lots of old-fashioned appeal.

For a great light meal, serve with thick crusty rolls and a tossed salad.

This soup makes enough for leftovers. It will freeze well, so ladle into freezer-safe containers, label and store up to three months. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) water to soup when reheating.

This soup can be completely assembled up to 12 to 24 hours in advance. Follow preparation directions and refrigerate overnight in the slow cooker stoneware. The next day, place stoneware in slow cooker and continue cooking as directed.

Hearty Beef Goulash

(Serves 6 to 8)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

3 cups beef stock

1 small can (7.5 oz) tomato sauce

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)

1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf     

In a bowl or plastic bag, combine flour, paprika, salt, pepper and thyme.  In batches, add beef to flour mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a plate. In a large skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Add beef in batches and cook, adding more oil as needed, until browned all over. With a slotted spoon, transfer beef to slow cooker.

Add stock, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes and bay leaf to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high for four to six hours, until vegetables are tender. Remove and discard bay leaf before serving.

Easy as Pie Coffee Cake*

(Makes 12 to 15 servings)

1 (18 1/4-ounce) yellow cake mix 

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 eggs

1 (14-ounce) can apple pie filling OR other flavorof choice

1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 to ¾ cup chopped nuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir until well combined.  It will be dry with consistency similar to raw pie crust dough.  Add apple pie filling and mix well. Batter will be thick and pasty.

Spread batter in a greased 12-by-15 inch jelIyroII pan (make sure there is a lip on it) and sprinkle top with brown sugar and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

*From Dinner Bell by Irene Wassell.

Cowboy Caviar

(Makes about 5 cups)

1 (1 5-oz.) can of corn, drained

1 (1 5-oz.) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced

1 medium tomato, diced

3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/3 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced

2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Tortilla chips

Combine the corn, black-eyed peas, jalapenos, tomato, red bell pepper, onion and salad dressing in a large mixing bowl. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, allowing the flavors to meld.

Just before serving, add the cilantro and lime juice and toss again. Serve with tortilla chips. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

This Texas dip is sure to liven up any party and, thankfully, it could not be easier to make. If you don’t like cilantro, substitute flat-leaf parsley. The herbs give this dish an important kick of freshness.