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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Retirement House in Miami?

Miami, Florida is one of the top places to retire in US. I guess it is the combination of warm climate, beautiful beaches and vibrant city that attracts people to make this city their "everyday is a vacation" place. People planning to move to Miami, or to spend a vacation in Miami, could find houses and condos for rent and to own in many various sites such as: for miami beach real estate.

Personally, I have not been to Miami yet even though visiting Florida's National Parks is in my to do list. Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park are all in Southeastern Florida, closest to Miami. Two of this National Parks are underwater park, which hubby and I also love exploring. We would want to see US treasured and preserved underwater ecosystems. The only challenge for us visiting these parks or Miami is that my vacation mostly is in summer, and I never could convince hubby that Miami is livable in the summer, because of extreme heat and humidity. The only time acceptable for him for me to make plans for Florida's National Parks would be in December, January or February, when it is cooler there. However, I do not have vacation January and February.  December is also that time of the year where I really do not want to be anywhere, but home ( San Diego or Philippines). But I know, one day, I would be inspired enough to spend Christmas in Florida. Miami, here we come? Soon, San Diegans will rock in Florida's National Parks, :). Haha!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Guide to Making the Perfect Beef Casserole

Making the perfect beef casserole is definitely an artform that few can master. You can get it so wrong if you aren’t careful; veg that’s too mushy or too crunchy, flavorless meat, thin/thick gravy, and more. Read on to learn the secrets to making the perfect beef casserole, so you can impress the family and your guests time and time again:


Use a Great Cut of Beef

If you use any old cut of meat, then the beef casserole isn’t going to taste amazing. You want tender beef that melts in the mouth, so try to use a chuck cut of beef to get it spot on. If you can’t get a chuck cut, choose your beef carefully.

Sear Your Beef

The flavour in your stew will come from searing your beef so don’t simply throw it in raw. You should even scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan to give a richer flavour! Cook the chunks in batches so each one can brown off properly and to avoid steaming. You’ll love the deeper flavor your stew develops this way!

Don’t Over Thicken

You can make your stew thick, but it won’t be as delicious. Potatoes will naturally thicken your stew, so if you’re using them you need to be extra careful. However, if you do like a thicker stew, you can toss your beef in some flour before you sear it, and it’ll thicken up with a deeper flavor. Just remember; it isn’t supposed to be like gravy!

Experiment with Herbs

Choose your favourite herbs to add flavour, but make sure you save herbs like tarragon, chives, and parsley till last, as they will make your stew tons more dynamic. Don’t be afraid to give your stew an Indian or Thai kick either! You can also experiment with different vegetables.

Add Veggies with 45 Mins to Go

Instead of throwing everything in at the same time, add your vegetables with 45 minutes to go so they’ve still got a good bit of crunch, and your casserole isn’t too soupy.

Skim the Fat

Before you serve your strew, remove as much fat from the top as you can. However, if you plan on refrigerating your stew, you can wait until after when the fat will harden and be much easier to get rid of. You don’t want to serve your guests/family too much fatty food!

Only Cook for 2-3 Hours

Some people say leave your stew all day to cook, but you can actually overcook it this way. Try to only cook for about 2-3 hours for the most amazing result with an unbeatable flavour.

Oh, and don’t forget to serve a good chunk of crusty bread with your stew, so you can mop up any leftover bits and leave your bowl clean!

A beef casserole/stew can be one of the most comforting dishes ever when cooked properly. Follow these tips and you’ll have a stew worthy of a Michelin star restaurant!