Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Yummy Beef Stew

beef stew

I love soups and stews! They are prime candidates for the crock pot (easy to make), doubling up and freezing or sharing with friends, and microwaving by the bowl when you are rushed for time. Last week I made one that was particularly good– Mr X commented several times, and all I can think of that I did differently than normal was the amount of herbs I used… so here goes:

Start with beef stew meat. Get the leanest you can, and chopped in the size you want. 20130305-181724.jpg

I had put it in the freezer and it wasn’t even thawed out all the way– no worries! Preheat your skillet and oil over medium-high heat, and plop the whole thing in.

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Season heavily– there’s a lot of surface area stuck together. Cover and let it cook about 5 minutes, then turn it over and cover it again. Break apart what you can, but don’t work up a sweat!

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After it cooks another 5 minutes or so, you will be able to break it apart easily. It’ll look like this.

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Keep cooking till all the pink is gone. Then I add the onions– probably 1/2 cup of a leek-like onion from my garden– and celery. I like to soften them up a bit before I add the rest.

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Carrots take longer to cook than potatoes, so I cut them fairly small and add them next. I love the color and flavor they add, so I used about 4.

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Then the potatoes– they were getting old, so I put them all in– about 10 small ones, cut into quarters.

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Next came the seasonings and liquid: A teaspoon of minced garlic (no fresh in the cabinet), a quart of chicken broth, petite diced tomatoes with their juice, and a tablespoon of dried basil and oregano (plant some– I’m using leaves I dried last summer and they are so much fresher and more flavorful (not to mention less expensive!) than what you buy.

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Hmmm. Still not enough “white” so I added a can of corn.

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I cooked it all about 15-20 more minutes and added a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley (also from the garden) and served it with Granny’s cornbread. YUM!

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Second-Generation Meals

beefy vegetable soup

(Are you hungry now?)

In my never-ending quest to make my life easier (and share with you, of course!), I’ve taken a hint from that Robin lady from Food Network, mixed it up with Once a Month Cooking, and come up with Second-Generation Meals.

What’s the idea? It just takes a bit of planning– First you cook something that you can eat as it is, but more than you need. Then you change it up a bit use it in something else. You can easily make it 3rd or 4th generation! It’s the same thing that restaurants do with their leftover food. They’re trying to save money; I’m desperate for TIME!

For instance: First meal: Grilled chicken. Then chop the chicken and have Grilled chicken salad one meal– Chicken soup another meal– then Chicken and pasta. Get the idea?

Earlier this week I fixed beef stew meat into beef tips. Served up over rice, it’s a perpetual favorite!

Get beef or pork stew meat, or make a mixture.

Dredge them in seasoned flour. (For you new cooks, that just means roll them around till they’re coated.) I like Tony Chachere’s, which is an all-purpose seasoning. If you put it on wax paper, it saves on dirty dishes!

seasoned flour flour coated stew meat

Then brown them over medium high heat in a bit of hot oil. Be sure to let it get REALLY HOT!  Flip them so they brown all over. Don’t be impatient, and don’t keep fooling with them. Let them brown 4 or 5 minutes then flip them and leave them another 4 or 5 minutes. All you are looking for here is brown on the outside; uncooked all the way through is okay because you’re going to cook them longer. Once they are brown, either take them out or scoot them to one side, add a tablespoon or 2 of flour and let that brown. You’re making gravy! Stir it around, add seasoning,and let it cook 3-4 minutes. Then add water and one of my favorite “tricks of the trade:” Lipton Soup mix #loveit! in whatever flavor you like.

making gravy Lipton soup mix You want to add enough water where the gravy is a bit thin, because you are going to cook it down an hour or so. Turn the heat down, cover it, and let it simmer. Notice I had a large quantity of meat, because I’m making 2 or 3 meals. You can add more soup mix if you want it a little thicker or more flavorful.

Behold the beauty! Serve it up over rice or mashed potatoes and you will be much appreciated at your house!! Beef tips

NOW FOR THE NEXT GENERATION

Cut up whatever stew veggies you like– I did carrots, celery, and potatoes, no onion because of the onion soup mix– boiled them in some water to which I added a soup bone for flavor– and cooked till tender, probably half an hour. Then I added the whole shebang to the beef tips. I added some corn that I had cooked earlier in the week, and a can of green beans, and YUMMO! Beefed-up vegetable soup! Add a pan of Granny’s cornbread and you are done!

This will freeze really well in either form– so start out with 3-4 pounds of meat and freeze half of each, and you are even more ahead! Enjoy– and tell me how it goes over at your house! beefy vegetable soup

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