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Friday, February 8, 2013

Beef stew

One of Aaron's favorite meals that his mom makes is beef stew.  A few years ago my mom made this family cook book and when Aaron said he wanted me to make him beef stew I thought No problem, I'll find the recipe in the mom's cook book.  I was wrong.  It turns out my mom never made us any beef stew so we didn't have a recipe for it.

As soon as I realized mom didn't have a recipe in the book, I went online and searched for a beef stew recipe.  I was looking for a simple "meat and potatoes" type recipe.  When I think of beef stew I think big chunks of stew meat, potatoes, and carrots.  I guess I'm thinking of canned beef stew.  So I made this real simple stew with just meat, potatoes, carrots, and beef stock.

Kinda like this.

Aaron ate it but it wasn't what he was imagining when he made his request.  He said it wasn't like his mom's.  (Isn't that what guys always say?)

Well, my next step was to ask his mom how she makes it.  Have you ever noticed when you ask anyone over 45 for a recipe they usually act like it's some secret?  This is exactly what she said to me.

"Well, you know, I just put some beef in the pan and add some potatoes and some vegetables and then some broth.  It really just makes itself."

How is that a recipe?  How am I supposed to make anything from that description?

So, how did I finally figure out how to make this stuff?  I did the only thing I knew to do.  I asked Aaron's mom to make beef stew for us.  I developed the recipe based on what I could taste from hers.  The funny thing is, it's the same recipe that my mom uses for vegetable beef soup except Aaron's mom thickens hers with a little flour making it more of a stew than a soup.  Crazy, I had the recipe the whole time!

This is one of those meals that wouldn't be complete without bread, and what do ya know, I needed to make sandwich bread anyway.  I just cut then ends off of our sandwich loaf and we eat them with dinner.

We don't particularly like onions.  Sometimes I add them and sometimes I don't.  If I do add them I cut them very small and make sure to put them in early so they cook down very soft.  Also, the flour is just to thicken the broth so if you want more of a soup than a stew you can skip the flour.  You could also substitute 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water added just before serving in place of the flour to thicken it as well.  I think my mom adds a small half-sized can of lima beans too which I looooove, but Aaron is not a fan of lima beans so I leave them out.

Beef Stew

olive oil spray
1 lb stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
2 Tbsp flour
1 medium white onion, diced
2-4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2 cans beef broth
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 can cut green beans
1 can peas
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 bay leaves
pepper to taste

Spray a large soup pot with olive oil and heat on medium-high.  Add the meat and cook until browned and no longer pink.  Add the potatoes, onions, and carrots.  Add the flour and toss to coat.  Cook about 1 minute and then add the broth and corn.  Bring to a boil and then add the green beans, peas, tomato sauce and spices.  Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and serve hot.

This is a warm and snuggly meal, perfect for a cold night.  For Bailey I either feed her with a spoon or I drain the broth out of hers and spread the veggies and meat out on her tray and let her feed herself.  It's ideal for a toddler because of the variety of vegetables.  I'm thrilled to death that Bailey eats every vegetable in it! (Especially with two picky eaters for parents.)

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