Whatever You Have Beef Stew

This week has been a blur. Devin started school on the 20th. Classes at VCU started for me last week on the 23rd so this was my first full week of classes. We’re both getting used to getting up early. He took a 3+ hour nap when he got home from school one day! It’s Labor Day weekend though, so with no school on Monday for both of us I can write on my blog, clean the house, do some homework and enjoy our last weekend at the pool for the summer!

The stew I made today is inspired by the rainy day and the bits and pieces of veggies from my cooking this past week that were left in my fridge. In the crisper drawer I had a quarter of a package of baby carrots, a bag of celery with only 2 stalks left, a yellow pepper and half of a large onion. My mom’s fresh canned tomatoes had been opened a few days ago for use in another recipe and I knew the rest of them needed to be used up soon. In the pantry I had a few tiny red potatoes. Making this stew was meant to be!

We served it with cornbread muffins:

Travis took some leftovers to his 95 year-old grandfather and he called me the next day to tell me how much he enjoyed it. He said that, “he wasn’t sure it was beef stew but whatever is was it was really, really good”! How great is that?? Thanks Grandpa!

Whatever You Have Beef Stew

  • 1 pound ground beef (93% lean)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • handful baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips and diced small
  • 3 zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 – 16 ounce bag frozen, chopped spinach
  • 12 tiny red potatoes, sliced
  •  1/2 quart fresh canned tomatoes (a 28 ounce can would work great)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • In a medium skillet cook ground beef and the minced garlic along with a little salt and pepper until the ground beef is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile chop veggies and add them along with the rest of the ingredients (including the cooked ground beef) to the crockpot.
  • Cook 3-4 hours on high.

Meatloaf with French Onion Gravy

Confession: I have watched Racheal Ray off and on for a long time, I even have one of her cookbooks, but I never actually made one of her recipes. I think she had me when she said that the gravy tastes like a thick French Onion Soup. She was right, it does! My boys and my 12 month old nephew ate it up. For a meat-and-potatoes kind of meal, I really enjoyed it too!!

One of the only changes I made to this recipe was the decision to make it as a meatloaf instead of separate “Salisbury Steak” patties. This was a little easier since I had my 12 month old nephew getting a little fussy for his dinner 🙂

Meatloaf with French Onion Gravy

Slightly Adapted from Rachael Ray

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I forgot to add the butter and it turned out great!)
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • Ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pieces stale wheat bread, crust trimmed
  • Milk or half-n-half
  • About 1 2/3 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 1/3 cup beef stock
  • Watercress, for garnish, optional (I served it with a side of peas)


  • Place about 2 tablespoons of EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, a little ground thyme and add the bay. Caramelize the onions until very soft and sweet and light golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soak the bread in half-n-half. Place the meat in a bowl and add the egg. Squeeze out the bread and crumble into crumbs as you add to the bowl. Add the Worcestershire and shallot to the beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and combine. Form into an evenly sized loaf (it will be a little wet feeling). Add the loaf to a medium baking dish and bake until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
  • When the onions are done, sprinkle the flour over them, stir 1 minute. Pour the wine into the onions and let cook a minute or two. Add the beef stock and thicken, stirring occasionally. Serve the gravy over the meatloaf and with Potatoes with Gruyere and Dijon. Serve with peas or sauteed greens.

Meatballs Stuffed with Buffalo Mozzarella served with Whole Grain Pasta

I’m on a roll today! My third blog post! I just had to share the oooey-gooey-goodness pasta that I made tonight for dinner. I had a pound of grass-fed, locally raised ground beef from Mount Vernon Farm that I purchased at Farm 2 Family last week in the freezer. It was raining outside. I wanted spaghetti!

I started rummaging through the fridge and found a ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella that wasn’t used when I made pizza week and thought about trying to make a cheese stuffed meatball.

I looked through some recipes online but decided that I wanted to change so many elements that I would just wing it. Here’s what I did…

Meatballs Stuffed with Buffalo Mozzarella


  • 1lb. grass fed, organic ground beef
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • a palm-full of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • a ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella cut into chunks (I didn’t use it all)


  • In a mixing bowl combine ground beef, shallot, garlic, egg, breadcrumbs and spices.
  • Form into balls and press a chunk of cheese into it…a couple of times I had to grab a little more of the meat mix to make sure the cheese was completely covered. (I had 11 meatballs)
  • Heat non-stick skillet to med and add the meatballs. Once they are browned on all sides (this is a little unconventional) I turned the heat down for a second, grabbed a couple paper towels and sopped up some of the excess fat (there wasn’t much). Cover the meatballs with Emeril’s Roasted Gaaahlic spaghetti sauce (my boyfriend and son love it, what can I say!). Place a top on the pan and turn the heat down to med-low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Spoon sauce over meatballs every couple of minutes.
  • Cook 8oz. of Ronzoni – Healthy Harvest, Whole grain, thin spaghetti noodles according to package directions and serve with meatballs and sauce.
  • Serves 3.

And you must experience the close-up…

Do you believe me now when I say “oooey-gooey-goodness”?