This Warnerful Life
I’m Nina Warner. Army wife and girl mama currently dwelling in South Jersey.
An avid thrifter and lover of all things neutral. Serial hobbyist, participating in anything that allows me to express my creativity. More recently knitting and photography have become my favorites.
After nearly fifteen years of working in the restaurant industry I’ve developed a love for all things culinary and am often in the kitchen testing recipes to feed our growing family.
In summary I’m just a mama trying to figure it out one day at a time and here to share the things that keep our little family’s hearts happy and tummies full.
Red Wine Braised Beef Stew
Easily one of my favorite dishes to serve during the fall and winter seasons. Simple, hearty and so very abundant in flavor. This meal is sure to take a spot on your weekly menu during those cold months.
- 1-2 lb chuck roast
- 5 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 5 medium sized carrots roughly chopped
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups dry red wine (ex. Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1|4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- salt + pepper
1. Wash and prepare all produce. Pat chuck roast dry with a paper towel and generously season with salt, pepper and dried thyme on both sides. Cut into 2x2 cubes.
2. Bring a large pot (6qt) to a medium high heat. Add olive oil and begin to sear chuck roast (about 3 minutes on each side) then remove and place in a separate bowl.
3. Quickly add butter, onions + garlic to the pot and cook until soft and lightly caramelized (5 minutes). To the mixture add your celery + carrots and cook until slightly tender (5-7 minutes).
4. Stir in the flour + paprika and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the red wine and stir rigorously ensuring there are no clumps of flour. Bring to a simmer.
5. Add your vegetable stock and thoroughly combine with the rest of the mixture. Bring back to a simmer.
6. Place your chuck roast pieces back into the pot as well as any resting juices from the bowl making sure the meat is fully submerged. Bring back to a simmer and lower heat (low|simmer). Cover with lid and cook for 2 hours stirring midway through.
7. Salt and pepper the beef stew to taste. Serve over your favorite mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potato or butternut squash and enjoy.
~ I personally like to season with salt and pepper at the onion stage and towards the end of the recipe to ensure the full flavor and proper seasoning of the stew.
~ Things like several bay leaves or 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar are fantastic additions to bring even more depth to your stew.
Brown Butter & Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
Chewy, crunchy, sweet with the perfect dash of fall folded into a childhood favorite.
- 10 cups crispy rice cereal
- 2 (10 oz) bags mini marshmallows
- 1 (8oz) bag pumpkin spice marshmallows
- 3/4 cup (1 1|2 sticks) butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice extract
- pinch of salt
1. Butter a 9x13 baking pan.
2. In a large (6qt or more) lightly colored pot melt butter over medium heat.Continuously stir butter until it becomes a deep golden color with dark flecks. (8-10 minutes)
3. Once butter is browned add in maple syrup. This may bubble up slightly, do not be alarmed.
4. Quickly stir in your two bags of mini marshmallows and combine until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
5. Lower your heat to low|simmer and stir in extract as well as your pinch of salt. Remove pan from heat, quickly add your rice cereal and remaining bag of marshmallows.
6. Pour mixture into prepared pan and lightly press to ensure fluffiness. Rest for one hour at room temp. Cut into squares or your favorite shape and enjoy.
Stores in an air tight container on the counter for 4-5 days.
~If unable to find Pumpkin Spice marshmallows sub with another bag of original mini marshmallows.
~ Garnish with a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt for an extra kick.
~ Rest upside down on a flat surface (large cutting board) to better cut and portion out squares.
Truffle Mushroom Pasta
Paired with a salad of mixed greens, fresh green apple, parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts + a homemade vinaigrette
Inspired by a Hello Fresh recipe, this pasta dish is hearty, full of flavor and a meal the whole family will enjoy.
- 4 cups penne pasta
- 8 oz of mushrooms trimmed and sliced
- 2 small shallots thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp cream cheese
- 4 tbsp sour cream
- 1|2 cup grated parmesan split
- 3|4 cup reserved pasta water
- 1 tsp truffle zest (sabatino zest on amazon)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- salt + pepper to taste
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- lemon zest (optional)
1. Wash and cut all produce while also preparing your penne (use directions on pasta box)
2. Bring a large pan to medium high heat and add olive oil, then mushrooms. Cook until browned. (3-4 minutes)
3. Add shallots and continue to cook until mushrooms are slightly crispy and shallots lightly caramelized. (2-3 minutes)
4. Reduce heat to medium and to the mushroom shallot mixture add your cream cheese, sour cream, truffle zest, and 1|3 cup of your reserved pasta water. Stir until everything is blended.
5. Add butter, another 1|3 cup pasta water and half of the parmesan to sauce. Season with salt + pepper to taste.
~ feel free to use more pasta water if needed in little increments at a time
6. Finish by adding cooked penne mixing throughly until pasta is completely coated. Top with remaining parmesan cheese, fresh parsley.
~ add fresh lemon zest for a little touch of acid and freshness
~ serves 4
Salad + Vinaigrette
My go to salad to pair with multiple meals during the week. The vinaigrette is simple to make and combined with toppings like chopped walnuts and seasonal fruit this salad makes for a fresh side dish all year long.
- 1|2 cup olive oil
- 1|4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 1|2 tsp dried thyme
- salt + pepper to taste
1. In a small bowl or jar with lid combine all ingredients by whisking or simply tighten the lid on your jar and shake until mixture is completely blended
~ this will make enough dressing for several family salads and stores in the fridge for about a week on the bottom shelf
~ for the salad simply place an amount suitable for the amount of people you’re feeding of mixed greens, fresh sliced apples (I prefer green), grated parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts, and enough vinaigrette to coat the salad well.