...I decided to make beef stew for dinner. I have very fond memories of beef stew since my mom would make this often during the winter when I was growing up. She would let it simmer all afternoon and it smelled heavenly. I'm not as patient as my mom was and I had a starving husband to cook for after I got home from work, so I did the speedy stew method.
I actually prefer picking out the meat and potatoes, then eating them separately. I generally don't like to eat mixed veggies or my food all mixed up, not to mention that I'm not a big soup eater. (I also don't like hot drinks, except hot chocolate once it's cooled a bit and hot tea with lots of sugar in it when I'm sick.) Anyway, I like to mash my stew potatoes and smother them with lots of butter. Because I wouldn't eat my stew like a normal person, I'd have to fix myself some kind of veggie to go with my meat, taters, and cottage cheese. Fast forward to tonight's dinner of beef stew.
Doesn't that look good?? It was!! And I ate it out of the bowl! My mom would be so proud of me. LOL For the first time in my life, I ate my stew as it was meant to be eaten and it was really, really good! I'm still tempted to pick out the meat and potatoes, but I shall overcome that urge. When I asked my husband what he thought about it, he told me it needed a bit more pepper and maybe some okra (ick!). Don't get me wrong, I like okra, but not in my stew. I guess it was good; he ate 3 bowls of the stuff! :)
I don't have a "real" recipe, but I'll share how I made it tonight. This is what I used for just the 2 of us. If you have a larger family, use more of the beef & veggies.
1 lb. lean stew meat
1-2 T vegetable oil
4 or 5 normal size potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
1/2 - 1 med. onion, cut into chunks
2 or 3 carrots (cooked separately-boiled until crisp tender then mixed in once stew was done)
Frozen Corn (however much you want, 1-2 cups)
Frozen Cut Green Beans (same as above)
1-3 ribs celery, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
Brown the meat in oil over medium heat in a large skillet or stew pot/dutch oven until no longer pink. If you want, brown the meat, onions, and garlic together. (I didn't do that this time, but I will next time.)
Add everything else (except the carrots) and mix together. If you didn't add the onions and garlic with your meat, add those now, too.
Season to taste.
Add enough water to cover.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Once boiling, tilt lid, reduce heat a bit and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (about 20 mins or so). Stir occasionally.
BTW, fork tender means that when you stick a fork in the potatoes it should go in easily and come out just as easily. If you have to stab the potato really hard, then it's not done. If you can't get your fork out, the potatoes aren't done either.
While the stew is cooking, slice carrots and place in a small pot. Cover with water and lid, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until crisp tender, about 10 mins. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside. When the rest of the stew is done, (potatoes fork tender and it's thickened up a bit), drain the water from the carrots & stir them in the stew. Cooking the carrots separately will keep the carrots from turning into mush. (Mark doesn't like mushy carrots and I gotta keep the husband happy ya' know!)
Serve with crackers or your favorite bread. Whatever you do, enjoy it!!
Note: You can add whatever veggies you want. If you want a vegetable soup, omit the meat. If you like mushy carrots or you're lazy, just throw them in when you add the rest of the veggies to the meat. You can also add all kinds of different spices to liven it up. We're pretty plain folks, so we don't go "all out" with seasoning.