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

Chicken Skillet with Asparagus and Mushrooms

I do, truly, love a one pot (or skillet) meal! I love the easy cleanup and I love having one dish that covers all the bases – protein, veggies and starch (if starch is your thing – it’s, clearly, mine!). This recipe checks all the boxes. And, to top it off – it couldn’t be easier!

The prep started by cutting up my chicken to bite size pieces. I actually used chicken tenders, so cutting it to approximately 1 inch pieces was super easy. I seasoned the raw chicken with the umami seasoning and let it hang out, while I prepped the vegetables.

For vegetables, I used onion, asparagus and mushrooms – I chose those vegetables because that is what I had in the refrigerator. Certainly, you could use carrots and celery for a chicken version that would be similar to the pork chop skillet, as another option. The flavors would definitely work!

Once I had everything prepped – I started cooking. I started with browning the chicken in olive oil. I didn’t want to cook the chicken through, but I did want to get some color on the chicken. After browning the chicken, I removed it from the pan.

I had enough oil left in the pan, but if you don’t – just add a little more at this time. Then add in the onions and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then add in the other vegetables, along with your salt and pepper and saute for 8-10 minutes (or until the asparagus starts to get a little soft and you get some good color on your veggies).

Once the vegetables have sauteed for a bit, you’ll want to add in your rice. Add it into the pan, prior to putting in your liquids – allowing the rice to get coated with the oil that is in the pan (it makes for such a flavorful rice, if you let it soak up the oil and the seasonings, prior to bringing it to a boil!) and stir through.

Once your rice is fully mixed in, you’re ready to add in your liquids – chicken stock, milk and cream of mushroom soup. Once added, mix well.

Then add the chicken back into the skillet – and bring it up to a boil.

Once a boil is achieved, you want to reduce the heat, cover the pan – and let it cook for about 20 minutes (or until the rice is done – for the jasmine rice I use, that is about 20 minutes).

Top with some shaved or grated romano cheese, if you like!

Chicken Skillet with Asparagus and Mushrooms

1 1/2 – 2 pounds chicken breased, cubed to about 1 inch pieces
6-8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
15-20 spears of asparagus, cut to bit size pieces
1 onion, diced
2 cups of rice (I use Jasmine)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp Umami seasoning
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Romano cheese (optional)

  • In large skillet, add 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Add chicken, which has been seasoned with Umami seasoning, to hot oil and brown
  • Remove chicken from skillet
  • Add onions and garlic, saute for 5 minutes
  • Add in the asparagus and mushrooms (as well as salt and pepper) and saute vegetables for 8-10 minutes
  • Add rice in and stir – allow the rice to soak up some of the oil from the sauteed vegetables
  • Add in the chicken stock, cream of mushroom soup and milk and bring to a boil
  • Return chicken to skillet
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes (or until rice is done)

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

Welcome to Michelle Cooks – I’m happy you’re here!

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” 
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

My name is Michelle and I love to cook. I love the process of creating new recipes and just ‘throwing things together’ and hoping for the best. I have some hits and misses – but, I love the process, none the less – and even the misses often lead to new ideas.

I love all food, truly – but, I do have some favorites. I love pasta, one pot/skillet meals, crock pot meals and anything that reheats well (I love leftovers!).

I plan to share my hits and my misses – in the hopes that others are inspired to be creative in the kitchen!