The Practical Pantry began in 1998 as a weekly newspaper column. After 10 years, The Practical Pantry's first cookbook was published. The food column continues to be published weekly, with the plan that another cookbook will be published on or before the 20-year mark. Many of the newspaper columns appear below and the menu above offers more Pantry tidbits.

Start with strips of beef

Published the week of March 28, 2016

The convenience of pre-sliced beef might entice you at the grocery store, but with a sharp knife it is easy — and cheaper — to buy whole pieces of meat and slice them at home. Just remember to slice against the grain so that your meat is as tender as possible.

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If there is any fat and gristle on the roast, remove it before slicing.

Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds beef chuck roast, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 green onions, sliced, white parts only
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 10.5-ounce can condensed beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 6-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup white wine
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Season beef slices with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then push the beef strips off to one side. Add the onions and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then push to the side with the beef strips. Stir the flour into the juices on the empty side of the pan. Slowly pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Five minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms, sour cream, and white wine. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.

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If you want extra sauce to coat your rice, double the sauce ingredients.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

2 pounds beef sirloin, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large green peppers, cut into strips
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
Hot cooked rice, optional

Place sliced beef in the slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion, soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Cover; cook on low until meat is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours. One hour before the end of the cooking time, add green peppers and 1/4 cup water.

To serve, remove meat and vegetables to serving bowl. Transfer liquid to a saucepan; bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water. Add to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour over meat and vegetables. Serve with hot cooked rice if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Wing it at the Super Bowl

Published the week of January 29, 2015

Americans will eat over one billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl, and for good reasons. Wings are tasty, versatile, and easy to nibble on while watching the big game. And when you choose a baked recipe over fried, they are easier to prepare as well.

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Teriyaki Chicken Wings

1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 pounds chicken wings

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, sugar, pineapple juice, vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chicken wings, coat with the marinade, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and shake off excess and place the chicken wings into the prepared baking sheet. Discard the remaining marinade. Bake wings until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 1 hour. Makes 12 servings.

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Buffalo Chicken Wings

12 chicken wings
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 9×13-inch baking dish in preheated oven. Coat chicken with flour, shake off excess, and place in dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn pieces and bake, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, vinegar, pepper sauce, and salt; mix until well blended. Add chicken and toss until evenly coated with mixture. Makes 6 servings.

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Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
5 pounds chicken wings
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir onion, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, butter, mustard powder, and garlic; cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Spread chicken wings in an even layer into a shallow baking dish; pour sauce over the wings. Marinate wings in refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken wings, turning occasionally, until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 90 minutes. Makes 18 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Ranch dressing and barbecue sauce are the most popular dips for chicken wings, followed by bleu cheese dressing.