The Best Beef Stew


First, let me apologize to all the Catholics out there for sending you beef on the first Friday of Lent. I’m truly sorry. But I thought with another cold front on the horizon you might need this for the weekend…

Oh, the tease of spring… it continues. Instead of cursing the weather gods for keeping me one more weekend away from wearing flip flops, I’m choosing to embrace the chance to make something warming and delicious to curl up with one last time (oh, please). Because before we know it it’s going to be 90 degrees out there and we just won’t look at a hearty bowl of stew the same way…

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For all you Paleo peeps, this happens to be a Paleo beef stew I tweaked from this recipe. Instead of the traditional white potatoes in beef stew, I used two kinds of sweet potatoes – your standard orange flesh variety and Japanese sweet potatoes which have a darker, purplish skin and are actually white inside. Sweet potatoes have loads more nutritional value over their white potato cousins. They have tons of vitamin A, C and manganese and are also high in B vitamins, potassium and fiber. Japanese sweet potatoes have the same make up but their richly pigmented skins also make them considerably higher in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists believe our digestive tracts benefit in particular because the compounds associated with these pigments may protect from heavy metals and free-radicals there. And that means a happier tummy.


So, I know I probably don’t have to sell you on a slow cooker… it’s amazing isn’t it?! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me almost two years after getting one to really use it. I have no idea what I was doing or thinking. There is nothing more brilliant than being able to put a bunch of whatever – meat, veggies, liquid, spice, you name it – in a pot, turn it on and say see ya later. You go about your day (a little less stressed I might add having dinner already taken care of) and when you come home it’s like opening the door to a fantasyland where a private chef has been cooking for you all day. Oh, it smells so delicious. And you just know whatever’s been cooking in that pot all day is going to be so rich, tender and comforting. Still talking about the stew here, ladies… 🙂


The Best Beef Stew


1 1/2 lbs grass fed beef stew meat
2 cups stock
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
3 large sweet potatoes (I use a mix of orange and purple skinned potatoes)
2-3 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/8 cup arrowroot (used to thicken at the end) – optional


First, add the meat to the slow cooker, then add the liquid and all the vegetables, spices and seasonings. Set slow cooker to low and let cook for eight hours. About half way through, give it a stir to move the vegetables.

If you want a thicker stew, do this when the timer dings: Ladle out most of the liquid into a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil, then transfer a small amount to a small bowl and slowly whisk in arrowroot until it’s completely absorbed. Pour the mixture back into the boiling liquid in the pot and remove from heat while you whisk continuously. If you want it even thicker, add some water to your small bowl and sprinkle in more arrowroot powder, whisk well, then add that to your liquid. Once at desired consistency, pour the thickened liquid back into the slow cooker and stir to mix well.


Cauliflower, White Bean, and Leftover Soup

This soup was the unintentional product of a side dish gone horribly wrong. OK, I exaggerate, it wasn’t that bad. It was just a little cauliflower mash that turned out a bit more like cauliflower baby food. So, in my attempt to salvage a botched head of cauliflower, I combined the puree with some broth, added more veggies plus white beans, and the baby food became a creamy, velvety rich vegetable soup. Brilliant! One night’s kitchen disaster becomes something truly great and delicious the next. Love it.

If you avoid dairy, try this the next time you have a hankering for something creamy and delicious. Between the cauliflower, the added veggies and beans, it’ll satisfy and fill you up on the good stuff. I used veggies I had leftover in the fridge and frozen in the freezer: broccolini, carrots, celery, peas and corn. Soup is the perfect vessel for cleaning out the fridge in a completely delicious and non-wasteful way. Sweet potato about to go bad? Chop it up and throw it in! You’ll feel so resourceful.

Cauliflower, as this goes to show, is one of those magic veggies that you can turn into a number of things – roast it, mash it, rice it, puree it… It’s as if it were designed for cook-once-eat-twice cooking. You could roast  a ton of it with chicken on Monday night, then take the leftovers and turn it into this soup the next. I love it when that happens…  It certainly makes it easy to get another cruciferious veggie into your repertoire. Like it’s cousins (broccoli, kale and cabbage) cauliflower is high in vitamins C and K, so you get antioxidents and much needed support for your detox system. It’s also a good source of folate, potassium, iron and calcium.

Cauliflower, White Bean and Leftover Soup


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 qt vegetable broth
cauliflower puree*
1/2 cup peas, frozen
1/2 cup whole kernel corn, frozen
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
and/or any other leftovers you have


In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add carrots and celery. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cauliflower puree to combine. Add peas, corn, beans and/or any other leftover veggies that you’d like. Bring everything to a simmer to heat through.

Cauliflower puree*

To make the cauliflower puree, cut cauliflower into pieces and steam 10-15 minutes, until tender. Place cauliflower in the food processor with three cloves of garlic. Add a little (I mean a little) water or broth and 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Puree, adding more liquid as needed until smooth and creamy.

If you’re starting with roasted cauliflower, follow the same steps as above. You may need a little more liquid to get desired consistency.


Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to bearing the cold. I’m the girl in the gloves and scarf when the temperature drops to 50 degrees. And once we get near freezing and if precipitation is involved, I may not even leave the house (read: icepocalypse 2011). I’m perfectly content on the couch with anything warm — soup, tea, flannel PJs, a comfy blanket and some good company – be it a person, book or TV show.

On Sunday I made a big pot of chicken soup for the week. It’s simple. It’s warm. And the best part is it’s in the fridge, ready and waiting to warmed up for dinner.

Chicken and Vegetable Soup

What you need:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 qt chicken stock
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

What you do:

In a large pot, pour 1/2 cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add chicken and poach 4 min per side until opaque. Remove chicken and broth from pot and shred chicken, set aside. In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and saute 7-8 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Pour in remaining broth and stir. Cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. When vegetables are tender, return chicken to pot. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. If you want to make it a bit heartier, add some cooked brown rice. Enjoy now or store in the fridge to warm up later (it’s always better the next day).

Stay warm!


Cozy Curry

Just a few days ago I was sweating in my skinny jeans and today I’m slipping on ice in my UGGs! That’s right, slipping. I suppose that’s karma for ya. I’ve been on the couch with my laptop and mug, watching from the window as cars and people slide across our street. Tires screeching. Arms flapping. I’ve had a few good laughs. So today I got what was due. I had to get out; I’m on day three of being cooped up in our condo and Ross is the only three dimensional person I’ve seen since Monday. We were headed to lunch and down I went. Why did I want to leave the couch again? I’m not sure I’ll be venturing out again anytime soon. Or at least until I have no excuse not to go into the office. That’s what you’re supposed to do on days like this anyway. They’re for curling up with a warm blanket, using the fireplace, drinking tea and hot chocolate, and cooking soul warming soups and stews. We were ill-prepared for the Arctic Blast of 2011. I wish I had gone to the store and stocked up on supplies to make some of my favorites cold-weather favorites like chicken pot pie or tortilla soup. I did happen to have the ingredients to make this curry dish though with butternut squash and chickpeas. If you didn’t believe the icepocalypse was really coming either and you’re ill-prepared too, you could make the same thing with chicken, potatoes or any other veggies that are just taking up space… that is if you have the right seasonings. And if not, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you were missing coriander. You could make this even if all you’ve got in the pantry is curry powder. Curry has become one of my favorite things to make in the winter because it warms you up from the inside out with all that spice and heat. There’s not much I hate more than being cold and this does just the trick. Plus this one has lots of carbs and we all know those are just good for the soul. 🙂

Vegetable Curry

What you need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1″ chunks
1 can garbanzo beans (no salt added)
8 oz. chicken stock
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
baby spinach
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic. Saute 30 seconds. Add curry paste, curry powder, tumeric, coriander and cumin. Stir to cover the onions with spice and cook 1-2 minutes. Add squash and stir to coat with seasonings. Cook a few minutes and then add chicken stock and stir. Bring to a boil and simmer. Then add coconut milk. Cover the pot and cook 10-15 minutes, or until the squash can be pierced with a fork. Add garbanzo beans and spinach. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Squeeze lemon over the mixture and stir before serving. Serve over brown rice.