Homemade Beef Stew

IMG_2024I love beef stew and have been making it in my Crock Pot for many years because it was so easy to throw everything together in the morning and let it do it’s thing all day. But, I recently made it in my Lodge Dutch Oven and all I can say is, “Why haven’t I been doing this all along?!”  It was so much better!  It has a nice, thick gravy, and the flavors really do meld better.  I’m pretty sure that I will be making it this way from now on.  In fact, I made it again and decided to share my recipe with you. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures throughout the process.  But, beef stew is super easy and can be ready in about an hour for dinner.  Especially, if  you keep all the ingredients on hand in your pantry.

Beef Stew (made in a cast iron dutch oven)

1 lb stew beef

4 medium-sized Russet potatoes, peeled & cubed (can also use red or gold potatoes – leave peel on, if you do)

2-3 medium-sized carrots, washed & sliced (I do not peel my carrots since most of the nutrients lie just beneath the surface of the carrot.)

1/2 cup each of dehydrated peas & corn (I have used frozen, too)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbs.garlic – minced, optional

approx. 1 cup flour

salt & pepper to taste

1 tsp. garlic powder, optional

1 Tbs. smoked paprika, optional

Place flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, & smoked paprika in a bowl – mix well.

Next, I cut my stew beef into smaller pieces (mostly just cut the pieces in half).  This lets the meat distribute better in the stew, and it makes it feel like you have more meat. Place meat into the flour mixture and coat meat thoroughly.

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the dutch oven.  I used lard, but you can use a combination of olive oil and butter, too.  Once hot, add meat and brown.

Once your meat has browned, add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add enough hot water to fill dutch oven about half way. Add remaining ingredients, including a bit more salt and pepper.  Finish filling dutch oven with water.  Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cover and continue cooking until potatoes are fork tender.  Serve with fresh, hot, homemade biscuits & enjoy!

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Long Term Onion Storage

My local Aldis had onions on sale this week – 3 pounds for $0.79!!  Great stock up price!  So, I bought 18 bags = 54 pounds of onions!  So, now what?  How in the world do you store that many onions until you can use them up without going bad?  Well, it’s simply really.  Old panty hose!  You take a pair of old panty hose, drop in an onion, tie a knot close to the top, repeat process until the legs are full, tying a knot above the last onion.  To store, simply hang in a cool, dry, dark place.  When you need an onion, simply cut below the last knot and you have your onion!  Simple.  Easy. Frugal. 
Here’s what 54 lbs of onions (minus 4 onions) looks like once they are in the panty hose. 
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They will hang in my pantry to await use.  I may eventually dehydrate some but, for now, they will simply hang in my pantry.  Stored like this, they will keep for up to 6 months!  Another great reason to take advantage of a great sale!
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Menu Plan: 04/30–05/06

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I confess, I’ve been very bad about menu planning the last few months.  When life became chaotic & I never knew when we would get home, I let my menu planning fall to the wayside.  (SIGH)  I know better. When I do this, my grocery budget suffers.  Badly.  As well as our eating out (read: swinging through the drive-thru) goes up.  Thankfully, things are settling down and I am finding more time to fix good homemade meals again.  And we’re all very thankful since we’d rather eat at home than eat out any day. 

 

AND, now that it’s summer-like weather here in good ol’ East Tennessee, it’s time for me to start switching over to my summer cooking routine.  This will be a bit hard through the month of May since we still have Awana and our homeschool co-op classes, but I’m going to do my best to stick to my plan and keep our eating out down to the very bare minimum (hopefully none).  My plan this week will include some of the chicken that I cooked Saturday night in the Crock Pot ™.  I put 5 pounds of chicken breasts into the Crock Pot ™ on Saturday.  I used 4 of them to make homemade chicken salad yesterday morning, which turned out delicious!!  (I’ll try to share the recipe with you later on this week.)  So, my menu plan this week will be using some of that chicken in another meal.  The rest will be divide  & frozen for future quick meals.  I’m also using ingredients that I already have on hand. 

 

Breakfast:

  • Amish Baked Oatmeal with fresh/dried fruit added (made a double batch, which should last us most of the week)
  • Fruit/Yogurt
  • Oatmeal Pancakes
  • Egg Cups (Bacon & eggs baked in the oven in muffin tins)

 

Lunch:

  • Sandwiches on homemade whole wheat bread
  • Leftovers

 

Dinner:

  • Roasted chicken with veggies
  • Homemade Pizza (might do
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Crock Pot ™ Beef Stew with homemade rolls
  • Chicken Enchiladas with homemade whole wheat tortillas & homemade enchilada sauce
  • Hoagie Sandwiches on homemade whole wheat bread- choice of Ham, Turkey, or homemade chicken salad
  • Spaghetti with sauce & homemade garlic bread

See, I’m keeping things pretty simple around here, but they will be good, home cooked, filling meals that will keep us from eating out!  So, what’s on your menu for the week? Not sure what to fix?  Head on over to Organizing Junkie for more great menu planning ideas!

Menu Plan: 02/06 – 02/12 (Pantry Menu)

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Last week ended up being busy enough that I never did get around to making out a menu and, believe me, my week showed it.  We still managed to eat at home but every day I heard the dreaded question – “What’s for dinner?”.  This week, I’m determined that I will get a menu plan made for the week.  Nothing really special planned for this week so I’ll probably keep it simple, using items that I already have on hand.

Breakfast:

Lunch:

  • Leftovers
  • Sandwiches
  • Soup
  • Ravioli

Dinner:

  • Sun:  Planned dinner out for Michael’s birthday on the 4th
  • Mon: Crock Pot Taco Soup
  • Tues: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with homemade buns, baked beans, & oven baked fries
  • Wed: Leftovers
  • Thurs:  Crock Pot Ham & Bean Soup
  • Fri: Creamy Tortellini with homemade garlic bread, Ceasar salad
  • Sat: Dinner out with friends (also preplanned)

For more great menu plans this week, don’t forgot to check out Organizing Junkie!

Have a great week, everyone, and may God bless you!

Make Your Own: Instant Oatmeal Packets

 

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These are so simple & quick to make & they can save you quite a bit of money, depending on what all you add to them.  If you’re like my family, we like all kinds of varieties.  These can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences, AND you won’t have all of the additives and preservatives in yours that you find in the ones that you would buy prepackaged in the stores. 

My 8-year-old (very soon to be 9) son loves oatmeal but has trouble remembering what all the measurements are, so these are easy for him to grab and fix himself with a little supervision with the hot liquid (usually milk).

The ones that I mixed up today are just brown sugar and cinnamon because that I what I have on hand right now.  But you could add chopped dried fruit, or even fresh fruit after it’s been mixed up, plus any other spices or flavors that you love. 

I got the original recipe from Frugal Families, but I almost always customize it to our tastes & what I have on hand at the time.

Instant Oatmeal Packets

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  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 Tbs ground oatmeal
  • pinch of salt

For the ground oatmeal, I place 2 heaping tablespoons of oats in my mini food chopper and process:

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Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container, label, & store until ready to use.

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A few variations:

Dried fruit & cream:  1 Tbs. dry milk or nondairy creamer & 2 Tbs. chopped fruit of choice.

Raisins/Craisins & Brown Sugar:  1tsp. packed brown sugar & 1 Tbs. raisins/craisins. 

Spiced Oatmeal:  1 Tbs. Sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and scant 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon:  1 Tbs. packed brown sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Possible Additional Toppings: Fresh fruits, peanut butter, maple syrup, butter, jam/jelly, apple butter, etc.   The possibilities are endless! 

The cost?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  For me, the cost is  about $0.09/packet vs. $0.18-$0.20/store bought packets.   Again, with dried fruits and other toppings, the price could increase to about $0.12/packet, but it’s still cheaper than buying store bought & adding additional toppings to that, which we usually ended up doing.   This time, I mixed up 26 packets (ran out of baggies) in about 10 minutes time.  It really takes very little time to do this. 

I hope this inspires you to MYO oatmeal packets.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you do. 

 

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Pantry/Laundry Remodel – Phase 1

Well, it has finally begun.  I’ve been reorganizing my pantry off and on for a while, but now we’re into the remodeling phase.  My dryer has been out in the storage building since we moved here.  There was no place for it in the house.  That’s the way my in-law’s had it and never got around to changing it.  Well, when  my dryer died a little over 3 months ago, we decided we’d get ready to start the remodel so that when we purchased a new one, it would not have to go out in the building since we’re still having some issues with mice out there. 

So, with the money that we received off of the sale of the timber, we have purchased a new hot water heater and a new dryer.  The hot water heater is another desperate need of ours.  The one we have right now is not working very well.  Some days we have just enough hot water to do what we need and other days there’s barely enough.  Even my father-in-law is unsure of the age of this thing, but he knows that he purchased it USED back when they moved in here which was in 1978!  So, needless to say, it’s served its purpose well and it’s time for a new one. 

Several months ago, we ran new gas lines under the house, and we purposely ran one for a new hot water heater, which will be here next week!  So, more on that then.  Back to the pantry/laundry room remodel and my new dryer.

In case you haven’t seen my post The Blessings Of A Well-Stocked Pantry, here are the pics of what my pantry looked liked.

pantry pic 4 pantry pic 8pantry pic 5pantry pic 6

If you notice, the flooring is not done, and it’s still kind of a mess.  Well, the “mess” portion is now all over the rest of my house at the moment until we get done.  But, the shelving is back in place and reorganized, the drawers and microwave are still in there, and the brown cabinet is still in the corner, but it will be coming out as soon as we get the hot water heater in because then the washer will join the dryer in what will be my new laundry area! 

Brian built a small wall to go in front of the shelving so that I can add some curtains in front of them, but the wall is not done yet.  Also, the new doorway is framed up but he’s not done there either.   But, we did get the flooring down and the new dryer installed.   So, without further ado, here’s what phase 1 looks like!

The widened and newly reframed doorway:IMG_0008  The small wall that will be in front of my shelving:IMG_0010 The flooring which is the same throughout the rest of the house:.  Plus, I left you a peek at what was there:IMG_0012 IMG_0013

Shelving back in place and mostly reorganized: IMG_0015

Last, but certainly not least, my new dryer in its new home! IMG_0017 IMG_0018

I can’t wait until it’s finished!  It’s so exciting to see things finally progressing a bit.  Let me tell you, paying cash as you go is a whole lot slower than paying with credit, but it feels so good to know that, as we finish something, we don’t have a big credit card bill to contend with for the next several months/years! 

So, there’s phase 1!  Now, on to phase 2! 

Menu Plan: 07/19 – 07/25

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Wow!  It’s hard to believe that another week has gone by!  We’re eating out of the pantry/freezer again this week!   A couple of meals will be repeated on this week’s menu because they did not get made last week. 

Breakfast:

Cereal
Amish Baked Oatmeal 
Crepes
eggs, bacon, & toast

Lunch:  leftovers or sandwiches

Dinner:

Sunday (small group pot luck)
Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin (repeat from last week)
Hot Dogs (repeat from last week)
Chicken Enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce
Baked Potato Soup
leftovers

There are only 6 meals listed because we may be attending a cookout on Saturday.  If not, I’ll think of something (out of the pantry, of course).

Don’t forget to check out Organizing Junkie to see what everyone else is eating this week!