Family Recipe Fridays: Beef Stew

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I’ve posted this recipe before, but since most of you probably haven’t found it out there in the VW archives, I thought it needed a second take here for Family Recipe Fridays. With the nippy weather this week, I’m definitely itching to make stews and soups.

This is our very favorite beef stew in the whole world. The first time I made it, scoured from the pages of my Stuffed Cougar cookbook, Mr. V declared it was “better than his mama’s.” Have you ever met a Southern man? THAT IS THE ULTIMATE COMPLIMENT!

The simple ingredients meld together for ultimate yumminess. Try it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And let me know if you do!

Also, my friend Meredith made this after I posted the recipe originally. She subbed tomato juice for the wine and she said it was still great. A little mix of red wine vinegar and beef broth would also work.

Beef Stew (Slow Cooker or Oven)

Yield: 4-6 servings

Beef Stew (Slow Cooker or Oven)

Adapted from The Stuffed Cougar cookbook


  • 1 lb. stew beef, cut into small pieces
  • 4 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (11 oz.) condensed cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 c. red wine
  • salt and pepper


Peel potatoes (if needed) and dice potatoes, carrots, and onions. Mix all ingredients together. Either cook in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or in a 300 degree oven for 4 hours.

(In more more grown-up cooking days, I sometimes sear the beef in oil quickly, but it's not necessary.)

Serve with a crusty bread, homemade biscuits, or grilled cheese. Be all warm and tingly inside.


Family Recipe Fridays: Tater Tot Casserole

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Tater Tot Casserole

A week or two ago, I asked my mom what recipes I could use for my Friday posts. She is so, 100% NOT a recipe person. She made stuff up, or used a recipe once and then improvised the second time around.

I could remember several recipes she made I didn’t like: bean soup, lima bean casserole, and this tater tot casserole. We laughed over the idea of me using the tater tot casserole as a Family Recipe Fridays post. And now here it is.

It’s not that I don’t like it, exactly. It’s just not what I would prefer for dinner. But my dad and sister love it. It’s like junk food without going through the McDonald’s drive-thru. I remember one time my mom was out of town, and I went to our house and made this for my dad and Ashley. You would have thought I’d hung the stars. They were ecstatic.

At the beginning of my pregnancy with Libbie, I could not even THINK about chicken without getting sick. I think it all started with the chicken salad fiasco and went downhill from there. I didn’t eat chicken again until I was at least 16 weeks pregnant. So during that time, I pretty much ate beef. And one night, out of blue, I decided the only thing I could stomach was Tater Tot Casserole. Pregnancy will do that to you.

All the taste of a Sonic cheeseburger and tots without having to sit and wait there … but without the goodness of a cherry limeade. I suppose you could make your own of that, too! (Another major pregnancy craving of mine.)

Tater Tot Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 generous servings

Tater Tot Casserole

Forget fast food - make your own junk food at home with this traditional, simple, tater tot casserole.


  • about 1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
  • 29 oz. canned green beans, drained
  • 10.75 oz. can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • about 2 c. frozen tater tots


Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Press the (raw) ground beef into the bottom of the dish into an even layer. Spread green beans over the top of the beef. Drizzle with condensed cheese soup. Spread tater tots on the top of the casserole in an even layer. You want to cover all the space without overlapping.

Bake 50-60 minutes, until the beef is all cooked through.

Added to Ingredient Spotlight at Finding Joy in My Kitchen


Family Recipe Fridays: Cabbage Rolls a la Donna

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Did I ever tell you about the time my grandpa called me and my sister “study German girls”? He thought it was a compliment.

I have German ancestry on both sides (my maiden name and my mom’s are VERY German). Maybe that is why I like this dish so much. It reminds me of my childhood.

Unfortunately, when I try to weasel a recipe out of my mom, she always tells me she doesn’t have a recipe. She throws in some of this, some of that, and cooks it for awhile. Hm. Which is why I had to try to make her potato soup for three years before I got it right.

So when she was here last week, we made this together and I came up with measurements so that there is now an actual recipe! I hope Libbie will like cabbage and sauerkraut so I’ll have someone to share this with—Mr. V ate the insides of one roll and some mashed potatoes.

Cabbage Rolls a la Donna


  • 1.25 lb. ground beef
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 3/4 c. instant rice (white or brown works)
  • 1 T. dried minced onion
  • pepper
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 27-oz can sauerkraut
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar


Freeze the head of cabbage overnight; let thaw in the fridge the next day until dinner.

Core the cabbage from the bottom (you don’t want to cut into the leaves, just cut a circle around it and yank it out from the bottom). Remove cabbage leaves one by one; cut off the very thick part (vein) of the leaves.

Combine ground beef, rice, dried onion, and black pepper. Form into 2-inch balls. Wrap each ball in a cabbage leaf. Place one layer of cabbage rolls in the bottom of a Dutch oven or deep casserole dish. Pour half of the tomato sauce and half the can of sauerkraut over the rolls. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Repeat layers once more. If desired, cut up the rest of the cabbage and add to the top. Pour 1 cup of water over it all.

Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours at 350, or until the beef is cooked through.

Family Recipe Friday posts:

Divine Chicken Divan (OhAmanda)
MaMaw’s Chocolate Layer Cake (It’s Come to This)
Mrs. Compton’s Rolls (The MawMaw)
Cheesy Chicken (Giving Up On Perfect)
Homemade Milky Way Ice Cream (Rebekah’s Bits and Pieces)
Chocolate Cherry Cake (Cook with Sara)
Swirled Peanut Butter Bars (Musings of a Housewife)
Orzo with Spinach and Tomato (Hope Does Not Disappoint)
Oatmeal Muffins (PhotoGrove)

Also linking this up with Your Life, Your Blog at Sarah in Real Life. Go, add a link, free publicity and get to see some other great blog posts from the past week!

Family Recipe Fridays: Mom’s Enchiladas

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

I cook a lot of recipes. Cooking Light, Southern Living, and recipes saved in my Google Reader are my go-tos for recipes on any given night.

But I also have a treasure of family recipes—my family, Mr. V’s family, close friends’ families. These are recipes I come back to again and again, because they are not only tasty but also sentimental.

When we were engaged, Mr. V’s mom gave us a small 3-ringed book, filled with pages on which you can write your own recipes. The green (YES GREEN. Mr. V thinks it’s blue, but he’s obviously blind) book is tattered, stained, and was obviously chewed on by our dog, but there’s no way I would let it go.

I remember spending nearly a whole day at their house, going through my MIL’s own stash of recipes and copying down the ones Mr. V insisted were keepers. I did the same at my home with the collection of church cookbooks and recipe cards my mom kept stashed in a cupboard above the microwave.

I thought it would be fun—now that I think I am at a place in my bloggy “career” where people might participate—to start a carnival where people share their family recipes. These are usually the BEST recipes because they are tried and true, perfected over time.

Here’s my first great recipe.

Mom’s Enchiladas

Mom’s Enchiladas


  • 1 lb. ground beef or cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/2 c. diced onion
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 8 oz. taco sauce or salsa
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 T butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 tsp. chicken bouillion
  • 1 1/3 c. water
  • 4 oz. diced green chiles
  • 2/3 c. sour cream


Cook beef and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. (If using chicken, just saute onions then add in cooked chicken.) Drain fat. Divide meat into tortillas. Top meat in each tortilla with 1 oz. of taco sauce/salsa and 1 Tablespoon cheese. Roll the tortillas up and place them seam down in an oblong baking dish.

In saucepan, melt butter, then whisk in flour and bouillion. Stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, then stir in chiles. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream. Pour the sauce over the tortillas.

Cook at 350 for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until melted, another 5 minutes or so.

In case you’re not familiar with carnivals, here’s what you do! Write a post on your blog about one of your family’s “hand-me-down” recipes. Link here to THAT POST, not to your main blog page (if you need help doing that, you can e-mail me). If you don’t have a blog, leave the recipe in the comments. Then we all visit each other’s blogs and see the wonderful, delicious recipes that we can make over the weekend.


WIN IT! [CONTEST OVER!] Everyone who links their post here or leaves a recipe in the comments will be eligible to win this Cath Kidston Recipe Organizer so you can have a place to write all your treasured recipes. If you Twitter about this carnival, you’ll get another entry (just leave a comment that you did). Same for Stumbling/Kirtsy-ing/Digg-ing this post. US and Canada only, please. (Please still link if you’re international, you just won’t be eligible to win.) I’ll pick a winner on Saturday.

Bon Appetit!

[since Mr. Linky went down after this post, I’m inserting the links myself.]

Mom’s Pasta Salad (Lattes and Life)
Cornbread Salad (The MawMaw)
Broccoli Casserole (It’s Come to This)
Chicken Lime Soup (Shannon)
Rainbow Slaw (The MawMaw)
Chicken Parmigiana (Once a Month Mom Tricia)

Publix Bargain Meals: Mexican Stuffed Shells

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Since this was such a big hit at our house last night, I’m going to recommend you make Mexican Stuffed Shells for your bargain meal this week!

ground chuck 2.69/lb
Pace chunky salsa 1.40
Publix shredded cheese 1.66

Mexican Stuffed Shells (adaptations in red)
12-18 large pasta shells, cooked [for unstuffed adaptation, use small shells or other shaped pasta]
1 lb ground beef [or turkey]
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups salsa, divided
1 cup grated cheese, divided (jalapeno Monterey Jack is especially good, but cheddar will work well too.)
750 ml tomato sauce [huh? I think this is 3 cups. I used a 15 oz. can and it was plenty.]
chili powder, to taste
green onion, for garnish [I omitted, cause I’m not crazy about green onions.]


1. Brown ground beef and onion, drain.
Add seasoning, water, onion, and 1/2 cup of salsa and 1/4 cup cheese.
3. Mix together remaining salsa, tomato sauce,and chili powder.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking pan.
Fill each shell with the ground beef mixture and place in pan. [OR–make a layer of sauce, layer of pasta, layer of ground beef mixture, and layer of cheese. Repeat. Ignore step 6.]
Pour remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese on top and garnish with green onion.
7. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
If desired sprinkle additional cheese on top after baking and return to oven for 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts.

Mr. V loved this dish AND John McCain’s ribs, which we had earlier in the week. He doesn’t usually rave about my dinners, so we are going to put both of these into the rotation!

For more Bargain Meals, check out $5 Dinners. Thanks, Tricia, for the link to this yummy dinner!

Taco Mac & Cheese

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Last week ended up to be much stranger food-wise than I thought it would be. I managed to give Mr. V a mini-version of the sickness I had, so neither of us were really hungry Monday or Tuesday. Monday I made lasagna–I ate about three bites, he ate nothing. Tuesday he decided Arby’s curly fries were the only thing in the world he wanted, so we had Arby’s. I think Thursday night we both had lasagna, Friday night we had the beef barbecue sandwiches, and I ended up making double the taco mac and cheese and had five people over for Valentine’s Day. So then tonight (Sunday) we ate leftovers. And we still have 2 servings of taco mac, probably half a lasagna, and one slice of meatloaf from last Sunday. And a pork chop meal I didn’t make last week.

So here’s the plan.

Monday: leftover taco mac and cheese (see below), watermelon
Tuesday: leftover lasagna–freeze the rest
Wednesday: chicken fried steak at church (or hamburgers, for those of us who are not chicken fried steak fans–me)
Thursday: Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes
Friday: Stouffer’s french bread pizza–on sale 1/2 price at Publix this week
Saturday: supper club–gotta figure out that menu now!!
Sunday: supper club leftovers or sandwiches or soup

Thus–I don’t have to go to the store this week except for supper club stuff! Score!! And since I usually spend a decent amount on supper club, especially since the hostess usually makes the main dish and that would be me this month, it’s not a bad thing.

I altered Erin‘s taco mac and cheese and thought I would give you the recipe!

Spicy Taco Mac and Cheese

Taco Mac & Cheese

Yield: 6-8 servings

Taco Mac & Cheese

Adapted from $5 Dinners, this is a great twist on a classic!


  • 1 12-oz. box whole wheat pasta
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 T. butter or margarine
  • 2 c. milk
  • 2 c. Mexican-blend or cheddar shredded cheese
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can Rotel (I prefer mild because I am a wimp about spicy things)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, brown hamburger with onion. When browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon, leaving the drippings. Set aside meat/onion. Add butter and flour to skillet; whisk together. Let bubble 1 minute. Whisk in milk. Stir constantly for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese.

Add hamburger mix, taco seasoning, and drained Rotel to the sauce. Toss with pasta and serve immediately. Add sour cream, extra cheese, and/or crushed tortilla chips if desired.