My first baby turned six this month. I still remember every detail about the day he was born like it was yesterday. We were so excited to have a kid. I reiterate...Kid. I say KID because I remember, in all my naivete, the images that filled my head when I found out we were pregnant with a boy. Playing catch with Dad! Camping trips! Bike rides! Sports every weekend! I thought we were giving birth to a 6 year old.
Being the first of our friends to have a baby, we didn’t really know much about the baby/toddler phase. We started our family the day he was born and the years to follow were some of the best I’ve ever had! But, there were many years and experiences before we got to know the big kid I’d expected to meet 6 years ago.
For his 6th Birthday we bought Drew his first, shiny new big-kid bike. When Kevin brought it home, I was doubtful that the large 2-wheeled contraption would even be his size. It looked twice his height! The tires were huge and narrow! Nonetheless, when he hopped on to give it a spin it fit like a glove.
Yesterday, for the first time, I ran alongside my first born baby while he rode his bike to the store. It was a perfect, crisp fall day. The kind of day that took me right back to my own childhood family bike rides. I said a silent prayer of thanks… Thank you Lord for blessing us over and over again in our six years as a family. Thank you Lord for giving me a healthy body so I can run and bike with my own children. It took some time, but we are right where I’ve always wanted to be.
When we got home from our trip to the store (thanks Camelback for carrying groceries) I put this stew together for the crockpot. It is not your standard dump and go crockpot recipe. It took some time, but it was worth it!
Sweet Potato Beef Stew
1 pound (or more) of lean stew meat
32 oz (1 box) beef broth
3/4 cup wine
1 large sweet potato
1 package (not an exact measurement here) of mushrooms
4 slices of bacon
a couple cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon thyme
couplea bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup tomato paste
parsley for garnish (optional)
I wanted to avoid flour this time so I used corn meal to coat the stew meat and cornstarch to thicken the stew. Go ahead and just use flour if that works for you!
First off, I put the stew meat, a couple spoonfuls of corn meal, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and shook it up. (Again, flour does the same trick…)
Then I sliced the four pieces of bacon
And threw the in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in a couple cloves of chopped garlic.
After a few minutes, add in the chopped onions and mushrooms, give them a toss, then let them do their thing for a few minutes without touching them.
While that’s going… get to the sweet potato. First I took the skin off, then cut in half. Slice the ends of both sides.
Stand half the sweet potato upright (on the flat base you created by slicing off the ends) and slice down into thirds.
Then lay them flat and cut into sticks. Hope that made sense! (You could also save half here in their stick form for sweet potato fries another night in the week)
After cutting into sticks, cut the opposite direction to create evenly diced sweet potatoes.
Now your onions/bacon/mushrooms are done!
Put them both in the crockpot
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into that same skillet and heat it before adding the stew meat. You want to just sear the sides, so high heat for a few minutes.
Then add into the crockpot.
Add the whole container of Beef Broth
About 3/4 cup of wine… I really only measured for the blog’s benefit :)
About 3 oz of a 6 oz can of tomato paste
Tablespoon of thyme and the bay leaves
Set it on low for about 5-7 hours.
When you’re about half an hour out from being done, thicken the sauce by adding 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 2 tablespoons of cold water. Whisk, then add into the stew.
Add the cup of frozen peas too.
I garnished with a little chopped parsley because I happened to have it and it was just so dang pretty. Seriously, how good does this look. I need to go heat up some leftovers now.