Tag Archives: freezer meal

Butternut Beef Stew

12 Nov

Butternut Beef Stew

This Butternut Beef Stew just says, “I will comfort you,” with every steaming spoonful.  The aromas that fill your house as it cooks will do some solid reassuring as well.

We both enjoyed it thoroughly.  The Big Guy had a couple bowls, which is a testament to the stew’s goodness, when you consider how a single bowl can fill you up.  It’s stuffed with all sorts of good, simple, hearty ingredients: butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, beef.  I found myself wishing for some tomatoes, and more carrots.  I love carrots.  Next time!

This is a crockpot recipe, but you could easily make it on the stovetop.  After you add all the ingredients, just cover and simmer, probably for at least an hour.  This is an almost-universal stew and soup truth: they get better the longer they simmer.

Digging In

Crock Pot Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
recipe from EatLiveRun
serves 6

1.5 lbs beef stew meat, chopped into 1″ pieces
1 tbsp canola oil
5 small red or purple potatoes, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms (I used portabella)
1 2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 quart beef broth (4 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup flour

Place the flour in a shallow dish with the chopped beef. Toss well to coat.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for about five minutes until soft.  Add the beef and garlic to the pan and continue sauteing until the beef has browned.

Place the beef, onions and garlic at the bottom of your crockpot (the biggest you have!). Next, add the bay leaf, butternut squash, mushrooms, chopped carrots and potatoes. Pour the beef broth over and add the Worcestershire, soy sauce, sugar and paprika— if you are using a 5 qt crockpot, it will almost overflow but don’t worry, it won’t! Also, it won’t look like there is enough liquid in the pot — there is.

Place the lid on the crockpot and turn the heat to low. Cook for 8-10 hours. Right before serving, add the salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaf!

Freezes beautifully.


Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzones with Homemade Marinara Sauce

1 Nov

Enormous Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzone


These things are tasty.

They are also huge.

I’d suggest making them using frozen dinner rolls instead of frozen bread loaves (even divided into thirds, they took up half a plate).  Then invite a bunch of friends over to watch a game, and chow down.  Sounds like a good time.  I enjoy feeding people.  I think I inherited it from my grandma.  She likes nothing better than to fill her home with a big, chaotic group (aka, my family) and weight down her small kitchen island with dish after dish.

The filling is rich, what with the pork sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan.  It’s also quite mild; the recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.  I couldn’t taste any heat, so I think you could increase that to 3/4 or even 1 whole teaspoon, and get just the right amount of heat.  Disclaimer: I have been known to be very, very wrong about the spiciness of food…  Also, I often misread recipe instructions.  For instance, this time I cooked the calzones at 350 instead of 400.  No doubt the higher temperature will give you a better-looking crust!

That Filling

The recipe made 9 calzones, which means our freezer now holds 4 of these puppies, just waiting for that day I don’t have the time – or the inclination! – to cook something new.  Then, I’ll pull them out, thaw them for a few hours and pop them in the oven at 400 until they are light golden brown.

The Homemade Marinara Sauce is dee-lightful as well.  So fresh and flavorful, it’s hard to believe the tomatoes come from a can.  That’s my kind of recipe.  The sneaky kind.  (Recipe adjustments:  I added 2 teaspoons of dried oregano and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, plus a couple Tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, and used 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes.)

Did I mention these are both Pioneer Woman recipes?  You can always count on the Pioneer Woman.  In fact, I am 90% sure I’m using her Cowboy Quiche recipe when I host a little brunch next week.  For your cooking ease, though, I am copying her recipes below – and including any changes I made to the recipes.  If you want the unadulterated versions, click on her link above.


Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzones

3 whole frozen, un-risen bread loaves (I used Rhodes, can also use frozen dinner rolls)
1 tablespoon butter
1 whole medium onion, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional: increase to 3/4 teaspoon)
15 ounces whole milk ricotta
1 1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
2 whole eggs plus 1 whole egg, beaten
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Marinara Sauce, warmed, for serving, recipe follows


Place the frozen bread loaves on a baking sheet to thaw. Cover with a tea towel and let thaw and rise for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, crumbling the sausage as you stir. Add the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool on a plate.

In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, some pepper, parsley and 2 eggs.

When the sausage is cool, stir it into the cheese mixture and set aside.

When the loaves are thawed and risen, divide them into thirds (or quarters) and roll each out on a lightly floured surface until paper thin. Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 cups of the filling onto half of the dough circle. Fold half of the dough over itself, and then press the edges with a fork to seal.

Brush the surface of each calzone with the beaten egg, and then bake until nice and golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Serve with warm Marinara Sauce.

Marinara Sauce

Olive oil
3 to 4 whole cloves garlic, minced
1 whole small to medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
Couple pinches sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Minced fresh parsley, to taste (about 1/4 cup)

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium-high heat and throw in the garlic and chopped onions and give them a stir.

Now add the wine (or chicken broth), whisking to deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the liquid reduces by half.

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus sugar, oregano and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Toward the end of the cooking process, chop up your fresh parsley and add it to the sauce to taste, stirring to combine.  Adjust salt, pepper and sugar as needed.

Kitchen Mommy’s Note: Leftovers freeze well!  To defrost, just sit on your kitchen counter for a couple hours (but is that up to health codes?) or run warm water over the sides of your freezer container, then drop the frozen sauce into a saucepan and reheat on low until thawed and warm (probably closer to health codes).