A Husband’s Beef Stew

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Being recently married has been the greatest adventure and taught me much about myself, my husband and learning to love more deeply.  It has also taught me the importance of “man food” and Texan “soul food.”

Apparently growing up, Stephen’s favorite meal was his mom’s beef stew.  After a big day at work, I surprised him with his favorite “soul food!”  I don’t know if it quite lived up to his Mom’s famous stew but he did eat three bowls!

This is a quick meal to throw together and fills the house with savory smells of winter goodness.  A successful soul food meal with a nutritious twist!

Ingredients:

2 pounds stew meat

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

12 ounces red wine

1 cup beef broth

6 cloves garlic

1 large red onion

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 parsnip

10 mushrooms

1 fresh sprig rosemary, chopped

handful fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

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Melt butter in a large soup pan.  Chop the onions and sauté with garlic in butter (or leftover bacon grease) until onions are soft.  After about 5 minutes, add the tomato paste thoroughly coating the mixture.

Add chopped vegetables, herbs, stew meat, and all liquids.  The liquids should cover the top of all the ingredients.  Simmer on low for 3-4 hours.  Turn off the heat about 10 minutes before serving to let the stew thicken and set.

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Parsnips add rich flavor and when cooked taste like potatoes, but without all the carbohydrates.  This powerful root vegetable is high in Vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber.  Like carrots and other root vegetables, parsnips are contain phytonutrients, or nutrients found in plants, that give vegetables their color, smell, and natural flavor.

This vegetable meat stew is great for flu season as slowly cooking meat and vegetables does not destroy any natural minerals or vitamins.  Do not throw any of the liquid away as that is where the maximum nutrients remain!

I served this with cornbread, that I soaked for 24 hours.  Recipe soon to follow!

Tomato basil soup with crème fraîche

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For California standards it is freezing!!!  I have been wearing my snow boots, sitting next to the fire, and enjoying beautiful chilly mornings….and making tomato soup!

This creamy soup is warm, savory and perfect for winter days.  I had some extra duck stock left over from Thanksgiving and added about 2 tablespoons.  The duck stock adds a rich and smooth flavor to the soup.

Serve with a dollop of creme fresh and fresh basil pesto!  If you don’t have this French cream you could also add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter

2 shallots

3 cloves garlic

1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste

pinch of sea salt

2 (28 ounces) canned crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons finely chopped basil

1 2/3 cups chicken stock (or combination of beef, chicken and duck)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Crème fraîche

basil pesto

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots, garlic, tomato paste and salt together.  Sauté until shallots are soft (about 5 minuets).
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Add the chicken stock and whisk together until the mixture begins to simmer.

In a blender, cream together the crushed tomatoes and stock mixture.  When this has a creamy, soup like consistency transfer back to the pot.  Add the cream and simmer until ready to serve.  I would recommend transferring the soup you do not want to eat to glass jars and store in the refrigerator as you do not want to over cook the soup.

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Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and fresh basil pesto.

*Crème fraîche is a cultured French sour cream that is slightly more creamy and richer in taste than normal sour cream.  It adds a creamy, yet, not too tart addition to soups.  In France they add it to soups, savory crepes and chicken dishes.  Its full of good fats and tastes delicious!

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