Archive | January 2012


Dear Readers,

I have tried to get comfortable with the wordpress format, but I must return to my first blog hosting home, Blogger.  Please follow this link and visit my blog at the new location (I’ve imported the entire blog, so you will not miss anything).

(If you need the link to the new bloghome, here it is:


Thank you for reading and following and please come by my new home!

Menu-Planning Mama


Smoky potato and beef soup

Okay, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I apologize.  If you follow me on facebook, you’ll know that I announced I had been dealing with some personal issues, and I have been.  Between uncertainty of when my husband is returning, and whether we will be moving, and with having to put one of our pets down right before Christmas, I was definitely down and dealing with other things.  I hope no one was left in the lurch.

With the new year and doubtless new resolutions on everyone’s plates, I’ve concocted a new recipe utilizing more vegetables than meat.  And, if you have any on hand, soup bones!  (I asked at the butcher counter at the grocery store, turns out they generally package them up and have them frozen!  Now I know!)  Keep in mind that I am cooking for one adult and one toddler, so this is a significantly pared down portion size – and since I chop everything super small for toddler bite size, it takes less of each ingredient.  To make this for adults, simply double this recipe

1/2 pound stew meat, diced
1 Tbsp. oil
1/3 c. parsnips,diced (about one small)
1/3 c. carrots, diced (about one small)
1/4 c. celery, diced
half a soft-ball sized onion, diced
2 Tbsp. cognac (optional)
2 c. cold water
2 qt. water or broth from boiled soup bones
2 Tbsp. beef soup base
3 small bay leaves or 1 large
2 garlic cloves, smashed (let sit for at least 10 minutes after smashing before adding to recipe)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 large russet potato, diced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste

In a dutch oven, heat one tablespoon oil on medium to medium high heat until it begins to shimmer, 2-3 minutes.  Dump in your meat (one layer please!) and allow to brown – meat will release from pan after seared.  Turn and allow to brown on all sides, remove from pan (note – it is NOT cooked yet!).  Add parsnips, carrots, celery, and onion to pan drippings and oil and allow to brown well, don’t worry if some of them stick a bit.  Carefully add cognac and stir vegetables.  Allow to cook off a bit and then add the cold water – using a stiff, flat-edged utensil, scrape all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan (easier time doing dishes, adding awesome flavor to food!).  Allow the water to come to a boil, then add the meat back to the pan, along with all juices from plate.  Add in additional water or bone broth, soup base, bay leaves, garlic cloves, cumin, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, and mustard.  Allow to come to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cover.  Cook for one hour.  Add potato and tomato paste and allow to cook for at least 1 hour more.  Fish out bay leaves and serve.

This can easily be adapted to a crockpot – low for 6 hours, high for 4 hours.  Also, if you don’t have cognac or don’t want to use it, try using instead 6 oz. of red wine or a heavy white wine, 3 oz. coffee/3 oz. red wine, or one of your favorite beers.  You really can’t beat the background flavors these ingredients add.  And the alcohol will cook off, don’t worry.