I look out our triple-pane deck window, in the distance I can faintly see the flash of headlights and flicker of blinkers in distant parking lots, no doubt last-minute holiday shoppers getting that final gift or ingredient for supper. As I let my gaze refocus, I see the all too familiar sight of branches that line the forefront of our backyard view – the monotonous brown hue that will grace our scenery for the next few months of Winter. The sky looks like it wants to snow, but is still holding out on us (to my delight, and quite a few family members disappointment). I am reminded of the week, month, year we have had and reflect. I have been doing that a lot this week, just spending time reflecting. Right now, I love the anticipation and comfort that this pre-Christmas week brings. Every single year I have tried to take the time to relish the sense of joy, the sense of comfort, and the sense of wonder that these few short days bring.
Just a few days ago, I was just another person lost in the crowds (or rather running about avoiding them at all costs) while I was finishing off my grocery list to stock us up for our holiday meals. I braved the bad weather we had and drudged through cold rain with one too many heavy bags under my arms and then somehow stumbled inside our apartment – wet, cold, and exhausted. That’s where this stew comes in. For dinner, I wanted comfort food, in the form of hearty stew meat and robust vegetables. Something I could cook easily and then melt into the couch.
The braised beef and stewed vegetables really shine in this stew. The flavors combine very well together in a harmony of succulent beef and bright vegetable tones of carrots, tomatoes, and potatoes. We paired this stew with some freshly baked croissant rolls for dinner that were great additions to really get a full range of the flavors in this stew. What is especially enticing to me about this particular recipe is that it does not require 8 hours and a slow cooker. The prep is just as easy as a slow-cooked meal, but the time is much shorter – around 2 hours. For me, after the initial prep and first phase of cooking, I took the time in-between to finish out some cleaning and chores so that I could enjoy the rest of our night after dinner just relaxing. This one will definitely be on our permanent rotation list this winter as a great way to warm up after chilly days.
P.S. We got a new and shiny addition to our family a few days ago – A Canon 5D Mark II DSLR Camera! Needless to say, we have been happily snapping away since the day it arrived. Today’s post is our first attempts at playing with our new toy – yum, yum!
- 3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 package Italian salad dressing seasoning
- 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 2 cups water
- 1 cube beef bouillon
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed beef broth
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 6 small potatoes, quartered
- 1 cup chopped baby carrots
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- In a large skillet, heat oil to medium heat. Stir in cubed stew meat and cook until browned. Add in Italian Dressing seasoning and continue to cook beef until cooked through. (You can add the option of deglazing the pan at the end with a little red wine if that suits your taste – allowing to simmer a little before adding to stew pot)
- While the meat is cooking, I like to prepare the stew pot. In a large stew pot, add the following: water, beef bouillon cube, diced tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and pepper. When meat is completed, add to the stew pot, give everything a quick stir and then bring the contents to a boil. Then cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.
- At the hour mark – start to prepare your vegetables. Wash, pat dry, and cut them all and then throw them into the stew pot. Cover and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Combine flour and cold water until smooth. Add into the stew and bring to a boil for about 2 minutes and stir until stew has thickened. Discard bay leaf and serve in soup bowls. Enjoy!
Source: slightlty modified from Allrecipes recipe for Savory Vegetable Beef Stew