June 13, 2009

Super Meals under $20 and 20 minutes - Beef Stew

Beef Stew for a Hungry Family of Five
(This one is cooking while you are at the office or standing on a rain soaked baseball field waiting for the first pitch.)

I usually prepare this meal in the morning (even before breakfast), place in the oven, set the automatic start and come home to a piping, hot meal. Now I know some of you are thinking the house could explode. REALLY? Well, don't you think it's better we are not home when the house takes off like the Wizard of Oz? We haven't had a problem...yet.

A great find at Marshall's was the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 7-1/4-Quart Round French Oven (pictured above). These are not cheap, but you know how Supermom101 is all about value and would never pay full price...EVER! I paid $75. I use this French oven at least twice a week in the winter. This meal costs less than eating out and is much better for you, of course. Plus, the cast iron will last forever. Now, that's GREEN!

Prep time is 15 minutes
2 lbs of organic beef stew meat ($10) - cut into bit size pieces
1/4 cup of unbleached flour
1 large onion - diced
6 clean (skins still on) Russet baking potatoes (maybe $3.00) - cut to bit size pieces
4 carrots (washed but not peeled) - sliced to bit sized pieces
3 bay leaves
1 container of organic chicken or vegetable broth ($2.19)
1/8 cup of olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

2 loaves of whole foods frozen ready to be baked french baguettes ($3.29)
Olive oil for dipping bread

Heat olive oil in Cast-Iron skillet. You never want to heat olive oil at high temperatures because it will smoke and burn. Since our meat is packaged in a plastic bag I just add the flour and shake until the meat is coated. Place meat in bottom of pan and brown all sides. As the meat is browning cut up the potatoes, onion and carrots.

Once the meat is brown on all sides (about ten minutes) add the broth to cover. Add the potatoes, onions and carrots. Add just enough liquid to cover the poatoes, carrots and onions. Break the bay leaves in half and place in the liquid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lid on. Program the oven to 325 degrees for three hours. I usually set ours to turn on at 2:00PM and turn off at 5:00PM.

Just before you are ready to eat and you are setting the table, bake bread as directed on the package and serve with olive oil for dipping. ENJOY!

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