Monday, December 5, 2016

Homemade Beef Stew

This is one of those recipes that I never got from my mom.  I watched her make it but never really made notes.  I can remember bits and pieces of how she did it but I'm not certain.  It was a dish that when I was married, she would always call me to say "I'm making stew for supper if you want to come over".  If the ex-husband was working, he was lucky because he didn't like stew.  However, if he wasn't working, tough nuggets for him because that meant he was eating a sandwich or McDonald's because this girl was going to her momma's for supper!  Over the years I had always wanted to try and make it.  When I was first married, I made all things simple.  If recipes called for a lot of directions and prep, I would avoid it.  If I thought it was hard, I would avoid it.  Key words being "if I though it was hard".  I laugh at myself now because those recipes don't scare me now.  I've come a long way baby.  Not that mom's beef stew was hard, but it required a little more and plus, mom would make it often enough when it was cold so I could enjoy it then and the ex didn't like it so I avoided dishes he didn't like.  I also naively believed my mom would be around forever.

Fast forward to December 4, 2016.  Its cold and rainy out and my children are at their father's for the weekend.  It's the perfect weather and opportunity to make beef stew.  I still didn't have enough bits and pieces of my memory to make stew mom's way but there is Pinterest and cookbooks.  I found the recipe below on Pinterest and decided this would be the one I wanted to make.  Part because the picture looked a lot like momma's stew and part because it was titled "Classic Homemade Beef Stew".

Ingredients

1 1/2 - 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, diced into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups beef broth, homemade or low sodium
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 star anise (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Instructions

1.  In a large ziploc bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, onion powder and thyme.  Add meat and shake until well coated.

2.  In a large dutch oven or pot on medium high heat, add cooking oil and brown the meat on all side for about 5 minutes.  You may have to work in batches so you don't crowd the meat.

3.  With all the meat browned, toss in onions and garlic.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent.  Add tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.  Stir in beef broth, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, rosemary, dried parsley, potatoes, carrots and celery (and star anise if using) and stir to combine.

4.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

5.  Combine flour with 1/4 cup stock or water, whisking until there are not lumps. Turn heat back to high and stir flour mixture into stew and cook until stew has boiled and thickened.

6.  Adjust seasonings if needed and serve hot with fresh parsley.

Now for Missy's adjustments...
I did not include the star anise.  I have never heard of this and it was optional so I opted to not include it.  Saw a picture of it in the picture but chose not to use it.

I also did not include celery.  Instead, I used bell pepper. I remember mom put bell pepper in hers, confirmed by my siblings, so I was going to use it in mine.

Little story here...I made my list of ingredients I needed, went to the store to get them, came home and began to prep.  Going down the list...balsamic vinegar?  Where the hell did that come from?  Crap. I don't remember seeing that?  So I get dressed and run back to the store to get the vinegar. I get home, change back into my comfy clothes and get back in the kitchen to finish and discover I missed the cloves of garlic as well.  Screw that, I'm not running back out again, I will use garlic powder.  And that is what I did.  So here is my lesson learned, double and triple check your recipes and ingredients before heading to the store!

After I combined everything, I didn't think there was enough juice so I added about 1/4 cup or so of water.

I followed the recipe as instructed combining everything at once even though my gut and memory remembered momma never adding the potatoes at the same time because they don't need to cook as long as the carrots.  I should have followed my gut.  The potatoes ended up being a little too soft so I definitely make that adjustment next time, adding them in about halfway through the cooking process.  Other than that, this stew was delicious.  It wasn't momma's but it was a good reminder.

Oh, I also didn't add the fresh parsley at the end. If I were cooking for family or a date, I would have for presentation but for me...I don't need it.  Ha!

If you like beef stew and looking for a good recipe, I encourage you to try this one.  Its sooooo good!! Perfect for a cold day.

Have a good one y'all!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome December


Its December y'all and that means it needs to be cold outside.  I'm so over the 80 degree temps.  Normally I wouldn't complain about the 80's however, it is now December 1st so its getting a little ridiculous.  It would be awesome if we could see something beautiful like this...



There was that time in 2003 or 2004 I think it was that it snowed Christmas Eve and we woke up to a very white Christmas.  That was amazing.  


Isn't that just beautiful?  

I will settle for this....


But if Mother Nature changes her mind...I'll take the snow too!!






Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Monkeys

Gush....I love these two more than anything else.  I hope they know that I really do try to make the best decisions regarding them and give them everything I can.  


That tall young man next to me is 17 and still calls me Mommy, everywhere and in front of anybody.  That little girl standing in front of me calls me Mom, Momma and sometimes Mother.  Rarely does she call me Mommy anymore and it bothers me more than I really care to admit.  Christopher is even baffled by it. 

I ask you to please say some prayers for that young man above, prayers to make good decisions, the right decisions.  Prayers to study hard in school, try harder.  Prayers for responsibility and not bad judgement calls.  I am still so proud of this kid but dadgumit, he has made some choices recently that has left me completely disappointed, confused and questioning myself as a parent.  All I can do is continue to pray and talk to him.  I think and hope he has his head on straight now.  We shall see.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Turkey Leg Everybody!!!

I am extra thankful and grateful for all the many blessings I have received this year.  I am also thankful for some of the hardships that have come my way.  I have learned in my 44 years that they only help me to grow and indeed make me stronger.  Its not always easy to see it at the time, but I always find the lesson in it.  

I extra thankful for these guys right here...



I hope y'all have a wonderful day filled with lots of family, friends, food and fun!  Cheers!!