Hearty Beef Stew

When it starts to get cooler, it’s really hard to beat a good stew. And, beef stew is one of our favorites. It’s warm, filling and feeds a lot – what’s not to love about it?! OH, and it is super easy to make!

I started by chopping my vegetables. Since it was going in a stew, I just rough chopped everything.

The cooking started with, as so many things that I love do, a little bit of olive oil, the onions I chopped and garlic. I cooked the onions and garlic until they started to get soft.

Then I added in the stew meat and browned it – adding in the seasonings, when it started to get browned.

Finally, I added in 4 cups – or one carton – of beef stock, the can of crushed tomatoes and the vegetables.

I let it come to a boil and then reduced the heat and covered the stew.

** Side note, the recipe is written up to indicate that you should, after lowering the heat cook it for about an hour (which is what I would normally do) – however, tonight, my daughter had volleyball and I was getting the dinner ready prior to leaving for the match, so I deviated slightly. I brought it up to a boil and then simmered for about 30 minutes or so. I had preheated my oven to 450 degrees. When I had to leave, I put the dutch oven (lid on) in the oven, turned off the oven and let it continue to cook in the oven. While this isn’t necessary for this recipe, and isn’t even how I would normally do it, I do mention it in case it is helpful to someone! The Le Creuset dutch oven is so well insulated, that this works perfectly – and kept the beef stew nice and warm for the time that we were away from the house. It was nice to be able to come home, only needing to thicken the stew before eating!

When we got home, I removed the dutch oven from the oven and returned it to the stove, as I wanted to add a quick slurry (just a couple tablespoons of corn starch mixed with about 1/2 cup or so of cold water) to the stew to thicken it a bit. To help it thicken, I brought it back up to a boil prior to adding in the slurry. Point of note – even after being in the oven, which wasn’t on – but, had been preheated to 450 degrees, for a couple hours – the stew was still pretty hot and was up to a boil in a matter of about 2 minutes.

We were hungry and we were cold – we enjoyed our beef stew about 10 – 15 minutes after adding the slurry! Super easy – super filling – super delicious – super perfect for this busy evening.

Hearty Beef Stew

2.5 – 3 lbs stew meat
5 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6-8 red potatoes, diced
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
4 cups beef stock
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
3/4 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp Umami seasoning

  • Chop vegetables
  • In a large dutch oven, add olive oil and then onions and garlic, cook until soft
  • Add in stew meat and brown, add in seasonings
  • Add in tomatoes and beef stock, bring to a boil – then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1 hour (timing may vary depending on the size you cut your veggies)
  • Just before serving, bring back up to a boil – and add in a slurry of cold water and corn starch to thicken

Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole

I was looking for something easy to make tonight – and I knew I wanted to use chicken. So, I decided to make an easy chicken and rice casserole – that I could just throw together, put in the oven and forget about it (for the most part). Is it just me or should a casserole be comfort food? Maybe it is because I love casseroles, but I tend to associate them with comfort food. After a night of not sleeping well, and feeling poorly as a result of that, comfort food sounded just like what I needed.

Comfort food, at least in my house, tends to be creamy! And, what could make a casserole more creamy than Campbell’s ‘cream of whatever’ soup? For this recipe, I decided to use a cream of chicken and a cream of celery. To that, I added some celery, carrots and onion – to go with the rice and chicken.

As far as seasonings, I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and umami seasoning.

For the chicken, I used my instant pot to cook it (in 1 cup of stock, which I also added to the casserole). I cooked 2 very large chicken breasts, from frozen in 20 minutes – and used my hand mixer to shred it. I’ve blogged about this before – and, I still stand by the fact that I’ll never do shredded chicken any other way!

I chose to make the casserole in my large dutch oven. Once all the vegetables were chopped and the chicken was shredded, I just dumped everything into the dutch oven.

And stirred… Yes, it is really that simple! Dump the ingredients and stir!

I then put the lid on, and put the dutch oven in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, I removed it from the oven, uncovered, topped with bread crumbs. You don’t want to add the bread crumbs until some of the liquid from the casserole have been absorbed – otherwise, it will just get mushy, instead of adding a little crispiness to the top of the casserole.

And back into the oven it went, uncovered – for another 20 minutes.

There are vegetables in the casserole, but if you want – you can serve alongside another vegetable or side. I had some field peas with mine.

Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 – 3 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (along with stock from cooking the chicken breasts)
2 1/2 cups rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery (or mushroom) soup
2 1/2 ‘cans’ (using soup can to measure) chicken stock
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp paprika
2 tsp Umami seasoning
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs

  • In a large dutch oven, mix all ingredients (yes, it is really that easy – dump it all in!)
  • Cover dutch oven and cook for 45 minutes, at 400 degrees
  • Uncover – top with Panko bread crumbs – and bake for another 20 minutes, uncovered

Easy Red Chicken Chili

WHAT?! It is Sunday and I’m not making pasta? What in the world is happening here?? Oh, well… chicken chili it is!

This recipe is very easy to throw together and you likely have all of the ingredients on hand. I had 2 chicken breasts (3 may have been better – but, you work with what you have!) that I had defrosted in the refrigerator (thinking that I’d be making pasta – best laid plans, I guess!). Cans of beans and tomatoes in the pantry and some fresh cilantro and Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese. Chicken chili sounded good!

The chicken breasts were separated from a family pack, into a separate freezer bag (it’s cheaper to buy the family pack and repackage to amounts you’d use!). I’ve, since, bought a very inexpensive vacuum sealer that I’m using – if you’re interested in which one I got – let me know, I can do a review on here!!

As all good recipes do, this one started with me chopping up some onion…

Rather than cube the chicken, I decided to cook it whole and then shred it. Given that direction, I sprayed the dutch oven (have I mentioned how much I LOVE my Le Creuset dutch oven? I’m not a fancy person, at all, but was given this as a 20 year anniversary gift from the company I work for – and I, absolutely, adore it!!) with some olive oil – added in the onion and garlic (medium to high heat), cooking until the onions were mostly translucent. Then I added the chicken breasts, browning both sides to lock in the moisture.

While the chicken was browning, I opened the can of chipotle peppers and rough chopped them (my daughters probably wouldn’t be excited to get a mouth full of a chipotle pepper, so chopping makes sense). I did not throw out the adobo sauce, as it really adds to the chili, so hold onto it!!

After the chicken is browned and the chipotle peppers are chopped, it was time to start adding everything to the pot – tomatoes, beans, peppers – all straight into the pot. Also, add the chili seasoning at this time (and any salt and pepper you may want). I allowed the pot to come to an initial boil, then reduced the heat – covered and set a timer. You’ll want to let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour (longer is better, in my opinion).

Once the timer goes off – remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred.

Then return to the pot, add some cilantro, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes!

I decided to top mine with some grated Colby & Monterrey Jack cheese (fresh grated is best!) and cilantro – perfection!

Easy Red Chicken Chili

2-3 chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
1 large onion, rough chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 small can Rotel tomatoes and chilis
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chop peppers, reserve sauce)
1 packet of McCormicks chili seasoning mix
avocado spray
salt / pepper to taste
Cilantro and cheese to garnish (I also add some cilantro to the pot of chili at the end of cooking)

  • Rough chop the onion
  • Spray pan with avocado oil and add onion, garlic and cumin. Cook until onions are translucent.
  • Add whole chicken breasts – cook until browned on both sides (locks in the moisture!)
  • Add all tomoatoes, beans and (chopped) chipotle pepper (with sauce) to pot.
  • Stir through to combine all ingredients
  • Add seasoning mix, salt and pepper – stir and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 min – 1 hour.
  • Remove chicken breasts from pot, shred and return to pot.
  • Add cilantro, stir and serve.
  • Top with more cilantro and cheese for garnish (** would also be good topped with sour cream, jalapenos, corn chips, etc.)