Irish Stew Even Kids Will Eat

bowl-of-irish-stew-2This photo is from Kelley Chisholm’s Irish Stew recipe here, with permission. Check out her other great recipes!

Last semester my 2nd grader had to do a presentation about his ancestry, for which he interviewed my father about his Irish heritage and the first relative who came to America from Ireland in the early 1900’s. There was much conjecture, since we are descended from poor Irish working folk, who didn’t exactly leave detailed registries of our lineage. Still, my son was able to cobble together a sense of what life was like for a young boy in Ireland who came to America during that time, and his presentation was precious.

Another part of the assignment had to do with food. This project has become something of a rite of passage at my children’s school: parents are asked to bring a dish to this presentation that is indicative of the cuisine from their ancestor’s culture. Since the Irish aren’t exactly known for their culinary delights, and I am short on time, I chose a simple Irish Stew. It is easy to throw everything into a crockpot, turn it on, and walk away. My favorite.

Actually, what is really my favorite thing about this stew is that the children loved it. Imagine a roomful of 2nd-graders and one or both of their parents eating something you made, spooning it out of little cups, and going back for more. One little girl flitted past me, eagerly downing her stew, exclaiming “This is AMAZING!” It was like I spiked the pot with pixie dust or something.

But I think it was just the thyme.

Here is the recipe I adapted from Taste of Home:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 pounds stew beef
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
8 new potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons water

1. Place 1/3 cup flour in a large resealable plastic bag. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.
2. In a saute pan, brown beef in batches in 2 tablespoons oil. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, saute onions in remaining oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
3. Add broth, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.
4. Pour broth into crockpot. Add beef, potatoes, and carrots. Cook for 4 hours on low or until meat and vegetables are cooked through.
5. Add frozen peas, seasonings, and Worchestershire sauce.
6. Combine remaining flour with water until smooth; stir into stew. Cook for 30 minutes until peas are tender and stew is thickened.

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irish stew

A Pot of Lunch: Quinoa and Red Beans Recipe

IMG_6676Early this year I went through a diet overhaul. I had to find out what was giving me stomachaches and adjust what I eat accordingly. After a 90-day elimination diet which eliminated just about everything that gives a person a reason for living, my loose conclusion is: gluten and dairy.


During the diet the only grain I could eat was quinoa, so quinoa and I got to be very good friends (here is my Pinterest board devoted to it). I found this wonderful recipe on Food Network and I tried it, omitting the ingredients that were on my suspected food allergy list at the time: garlic, cayenne pepper, and cheese. I found it wonderfully filling, which was the best part about it because I was having trouble satisfying my hunger on such a strict diet. I would make a pot of this dish and it would last me several days.

Once the diet was done, I added back the omitted ingredients without incident (except the cheese), and then I started changing up what I put into it, and now I have my tried and true method. The only problem is that my husband likes it too, so sometimes the one big pot shrinks far faster than I would like!

Quinoa and Red Bean One Pot Lunch:

Olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp chopped onion (any kind)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
2 cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed
4 large kale leaves, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped cooked chicken

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions and celery and saute until vegetables soften. Add the mushrooms, garlic, tomato paste, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the tomato paste is evenly distributed and garlic and mushrooms cook a little bit. Stir in the quinoa, water and beans. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered but with the lid open a little tiny bit, stirring often, until the quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in kale. Cover and let sit for a few minutes until kale is wilted. Stir in chicken for more protein.

A note about tomato paste: I buy the tiny can, use 2 tbsp for one pot of this recipe, then measure out 1 tbsp of the leftover tomato paste into ice cube trays, one cube at a time until it’s gone. Then I freeze it, and pop the cubes of frozen paste out into a ziptop bag and keep it in the freezer. When I am ready to make another batch, I take out two cubes and let them defrost while I chop the vegetables. It takes a little longer to cook into the veggies when it’s cold like that but it still works just fine. This way I don’t waste a whole can of tomato paste for one meal.

You can eat this hot or cold, as a side dish or as your meal. When I have big containers of this dish in the fridge, I am more likely to eat healthy and skip the 3pm snack attack!



I use kale because I have a lot of it.


I have a lot of it because look at my garden! (This was in the summer. It looks different now but the kale is still growing!)

Get Fresh Meals on the Table With The Fresh 20

Fresh 20logo
My friend Melissa Lanz is just like you. Yes, in the same way that “celebrities are just like you” when caught on film being regular people coming out of Starbucks with their kids. She is a woman, a wife, a mom, and a go-getter. But here is where she is different. Because she recognized the problem of feeding her family healthy meals with limited time in a busy schedule, she came up with a solution that helped not only herself, but anyone else who has the same problem.

And that’s how The Fresh 20 was born.


Or rather the high cost of not being prepared in the kitchen. It was tax time. I added up receipts. I was ashamed. Our busy, unorganized lifestyle had driven us to spend the cost of a brand new car on takeout food. It wasn’t my fault really. There are so many alternatives to cooking at home. If I could microwave it in 5 minutes, we ate it. If someone delivered it, we ate it. And yet, at the end of the year, my energy was low and my healthy living defenses were down. I did what all modern moms do. I went to the Internet well. There are millions of recipes available. There are dozens of meal planning services. I still could not find what I needed. Everyone wants a quick solution, but I just was not willing to serve mushroom soup casseroles or refrigerator dough to my growing family.”

Melissa developed a meal plan that relies on 20 fresh ingredients per week. Supported by the Pantry 20 – or 20 staple ingredients you should always have on hand, and the Kitchen 20 – or 20 kitchen tools that are used all the time, The Fresh 20 assists you in getting a fresh, wholesome meal on the table (or in my case, sometimes standing up at the kitchen counter) for your family, no matter how much or how little time you have to make it.

You can join The Fresh 20 by subscribing to their weekly meal plans that are emailed to you. You can choose Classic, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, or even a lunch plan. It only costs $5 per month. You may scoff at paying for a meal plan but I swear to you it makes a huge difference, especially if you spend a lot of time going through cookbooks and a crazy box of recipes to figure out what to make for dinner this week, or if you are getting bored making the same old things for your family. I sit down once a week and look at our family’s schedule, look at the meal plan I was sent for the week, and pick the meals that are appropriate for the amount of time I will have on any given day. Every day I look at my printout on the fridge and it tells me what to do. “Defrost meat.” “Start crock pot meal in the morning.” Etc. It has relieved me of a burden that I didn’t realize was taking up so much of my headspace.

Book Cover End of Vi#2E49CB

And the even better news is that The Fresh 20 Cookbook is coming out next month! You can pre-order it here. In celebration of the cookbook release, The Fresh 20 is giving away The Pantry 20 – all of the staples that Melissa uses and recommends you keep on hand. If you enter and win this giveaway, BAM. Pantry – handled. All the ways you can enter the contest are mentioned in this video (where you can meet the wonderful Melissa herself):

The Fresh 20 Pantry Giveaway from TheFresh20 on Vimeo.

I am happy about The Fresh 20 for so many reasons. One, because I like Melissa. Two, because her motto is “Shop Once, Eat All Week,” which is basically my motto, only nicer. (Mine is “I’m not going back to the @*&$-ing grocery store until next Sunday.”) Three, because I totally want one of you to win The Great Pantry Giveaway! So go enter!

I was treated to a complimentary meal plan subscription and a sneak peek of the cookbook to facilitate this feature.