Double Bean Brunswick Stew {Stewsday & Less Meat Monday}

Last Tuesday I cooked my first whole chicken, and it provided dinner for Andrew and me on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  We saved the bones, and on Saturday I used them to make chicken stock.  With the stock and about half of a breast that was left, we decided to make Brunswick stew for dinner that night.  I turned to the internet to find a basic recipe and quickly discovered that there are hundreds of variations with very little consistency.  So we improvised.

This recipe is great for Less Meat Monday or Stewsday!

Double Bean Brunswick Stew

1 qt chicken stock/broth
3 oz chicken, cooked and shredded
1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can white beans
frozen carrots (1 bag)
frozen corn (1 bag)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes 
4 oz tomato paste
3-4 c fresh spinach
1 pat of butter
Worcestershire sauce (generous splash)
White wine vinegar (splash)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste 

The complicated steps:  Put everything except spinach in a large pot; stir and heat.  A few minutes before serving, add spinach and stir.

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As is the case with most stews, the longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste.  We used frozen and canned veggies because we were short on time, but you can certainly use fresh produce if you have more time to let it cook!  You can also add more water if it’s too thick for your taste buds.  Andrew really doesn’t like Lima beans–something I consider a staple in Brunswick stew–so we used other varieties.  You can leave out the chicken entirely if you’d like, or you can add more!  It’s a very adaptable recipe.

All in all this was a very good, easy, quick stew.  I love soups and stews because they are a great way to squeeze in veggies and swap beans for meat without really noticing the difference.  Speaking of foods with lots of fiber, if you’re looking for a more filling, tasty alternative to those popular detox cleanses, this may be your ticket.  It, uh, keeps things moving the way they are supposed to.  😉

I am trying to be less wasteful when it comes to food, so I am very pleased with the fact that we are using every bit of that chicken!  In addition to the three nights we ate the meat, the stew fed us Saturday, Monday, and there’s enough remaining for one more meal.  Heck, yes!

Happy Stewsday to all!

-Have you ever made Brunswick stew?  What do you consider to be the key ingredients?

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup {Stewsday}

Around midday Tuesday, snow flurries landed on my face.

Shortly after that, my Facebook news feed exploded with posts declaring that it was, in fact, snowing in Richmond in November.  We Richmonders poke fun at ourselves for our level of freaking out at the first sight–or suggestion–of snow.  For a single inch of snow, school is often cancelled, the grocery store shelves go bare, people forget how to drive faster than 10 mph… It’s hilarious. 😀  Nothing stuck to the ground this time, but it was still fun. 🙂

With strong gusts of wind and near freezing temperatures (okay, they weren’t that close to freezing… but low 40’s feels cold!), it was a gross day to be outside, but a perfect day for stew.  Conveniently, it also happened to be Stewsday. 😀

Here’s what I threw together last night:

Chicken, Kale, and Black Bean Soup

1 lb chicken (cooked & shredded)
Diced tomatoes
Kale (a few large leaves torn into small pieces)
1 can black beans
2 c cooked brown rice
1 qt chicken broth
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 tsp each: cumin, garlic powder, chili powder
salt, pepper, red pepper to taste

I first made a version of this soup after Thanksgiving last year with leftover turkey–if you have leftover poulty you’d like to use, this is a great way to use it.  I did not last night, so I cooked the chicken in a skillet with some olive oil first, then started the rice (1 c dry) in the rice cooker.  We have lots of bags of veggies in our freezer from our garden this summer, so I used a quart-sized bag of sliced tomatoes.  I’m not sure what the canned equivalent would be–one 15 oz can, perhaps?  Either way, they break down and blend in with the broth, so you aren’t eating huge chunks of tomatoes.

Put everything except the black beans and rice in a large pot (I used the same one in which I cooked the chicken), bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.  Add the black beans and rice (when it’s cooked), and let simmer as long as desired–the longer it all sits together, the better it will taste!

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So hearty.  So nutrition-packed.  So delicious.  Perfect for a blustery winter fall day.


-Did you celebrate Stewsday this week?
-Kale: do you eat it, and if so, what is your preferred method of consumption?  (I don’t love the stuff raw, so putting it in soup works well for me!)

Autumn River Run + Crock-Pot Pho

Yesterday was one of those ridiculously beautiful autumn days, and I decided to skipped my morning run in favor of an afternoon run by the river near my office.

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As you can see from the photos, it ended up being a fantastic decision. 😀  I love the soft trails with the crunch of the fallen leaves underfoot, the sights, the tranquility, and (near) solitude.  I paid no attention to speed or distance, but rather just ran because it felt good.  It was an awesome way to break up the work day.


On a completely different subject, we made Vietnamese Pho in our Crock-Pot Sunday, and I am really excited about having the leftovers tonight for Stewsday!  The food I desire most when it’s cold and I am lazy/tired/sick/(or not) is noodles and broth.  Not chicken noodle soup, not vegetable noodle soup–noodles + broth.  I love it.  When Andrew suggested making a large batch of noodles and broth, I simply couldn’t say no.  (Yeah, there’s some chicken and vegetables in there too, and I muscled them down for good measure. ;-))

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The recipe was easy and probably didn’t actually require the Crock-Pot.  We put 2 quarts of chicken broth + a pound(ish) of cooked, shredded chicken in the pot on high.  After a few hours, when we were close to being ready to eat, we added a box of brown rice noodles, bean sprouts, a sliced jalepeno, sliced mushrooms, chopped basil, cilantro, and lime juice.  As soon as the noodles are soft, the pho is ready.  It was, pho real, a delicious batch of soup. 😉

Enjoy the lovely fall weather and all the delicious foods that go with it today!

Do you prefer running on trails or on the road?
Have you ever tried and/or made pho?

Rainy Day Beef Stew

Rainy days call for hearty dinners.  Last night that hearty dinner was a simple beef stew.  While we typically don’t eat a lot of red meat (and lately I’ve had one foot even more firmly in the vegetarian camp, as Andrew puts it…but more on that another day) we had a package of Simple Truth organic stew meat in the freezer just waiting for such a day as yesterday.

Simple Beef Stew

1 lb stew meat
5 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
3 Russet potatoes, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 c chicken broth
2-3 c beef broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
Worcestershire* sauce (a splash)
1-2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in equal amount cold water
Red wine vinegar (a splash)

(*I spelled that correctly on the first try!  My trick is to say in my head: “Wor-chester-shire” and take out the “h”.  😀  It’s the little things.)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add beef and brown all sides.  2.  Reduce to medium heat, add garlic, and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  3.  Add all remaining ingredients except vinegar and stir well, making sure broth is covering all veggies. 4.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.  5.  Add splash of red wine vinegar.  6. When vegetables are tender, the stew is ready for you to enjoy!



It was quite good :).  And for someone who regularly brings home the baby carrots she packed in her lunch that morning with great intentions, it’s a great way to eat the vitamin-A-packed roots.

Andrew’s review:  “This is really good, baby; two thumbs up… even though it isn’t Stewsday!”

What else tastes great on a rainy night?  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, of course.


Speaking of eating, I’m now off to eat my words from yesterday–specifically the words, “I don’t mind running in the rain.”  😉

Have a great Friday!

-Rainy day meals: what’s your go-to?
-Raw carrots:  love them, or love them in theory, hate them in taste unless dipped in Ranch dressing?

The Easiest Stew You’ll Ever Make

We celebrated Stewsday this week with a recipe I created a few years ago, of which I am quite proud.  This stew is delicious, healthy, hearty, quick, and most importantly, foolproof.  Truly foolproof.  If you can open a few cans, you can make this stew.

Here’s the original recipe:

Simple Salsa Stew

16 oz salsa

1 (15oz) can Great Northern beans, drained/rinsed

1 (15oz) can carrots, drained

1 (15 oz) can green beans, drained

1 (15oz) can corn, drained

1 lb canned chicken

Water to reach desired consistency

1. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan.  2. Heat and stir.  3. Eat.

It’s really that easy.   The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste, but if you are in a hurry you can eat it as fast as you can heat it!

This week we had a few bags of frozen vegetables and chicken breasts (not canned), so we modified the recipe, making it only slightly more labor intensive.


We used: 32 oz medium salsa (2 jars,) 1 bag each corn, carrots, and green beans, 2 cans Great Northern beans, and 1.25 lb chicken breasts (boiled, then shredded with a fork.)  We added chicken broth rather than water to make up for the juices that would have been in the can of chicken.  (Chicken juices… mmm… ;-))

We heated everything over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes;  we let this batch simmer a bit longer than usual to allow the frozen vegetables to soften.  The end result:


So good.  We like to scoop ours with tortilla chips–it is, after all, a souped up version of salsa (pun intended :-D).

There it is: quite possibly the easiest stew you will ever make.  And for the amount of work you put in, the taste is pretty tough to beat.


Stewsday- Drunk Bison Stew

Ah, Stewsday.

Over a year ago, on a cool, possibly rainy, autumn evening, I made stew for dinner.  When it occurred to me that it was a Tuesday, I suggested to Andrew that we should make stew regularly on Tuesdays and call it “Stewsday.”

Andrew just stared at me for a few too many seconds, then finally said, “Our kids are going to HATE us.”

And just like that, Stewsday was born.

There’s something so good about a hearty bowl of stew, and on a week like this, when we haven’t seen the sun in a few days and my raincoat is working overtime, nothing sounds better.

Stewsday this week was a total experiment and turned out fairly well.  We had some ground bison that we wanted to use, so we worked around that.  Why bison?  It’s incredibly lean, but has as much iron as beef (source), so you can get your red meat fix with more health benefits 🙂



In the pot:

1 lb ground bison (browned)

12 oz Baby Bella mushrooms (browned)

6 carrots (peeled & sliced)

4 celery stalks (sliced)

2 potatoes (cubed)

4 garlic cloves

1 Habanero pepper (roasted, then finely chopped)

14.5 oz diced tomatoes

6 oz tomato paste

5 c low-sodium chicken broth

1 bottle of red wine*

salt & pepper

Rosemary, thyme, all spice, parsley (to taste)

A splash of Worcestershire sauce**

*In retrospect, an entire of bottle of wine may have been excessive.  This is why I named it, “Drunk Bison Stew,” even though the alcohol totally cooks off 😉

**When we started cooking I told Andrew that I did NOT want to put in any Worcestershire sauce–he often uses it as a magic ingredient in stews (“It just gives the flavor such depth,”) and on principle I want to be able to make a stew that tastes great without it.  In the end, it needed an extra something, and the W-sauce did the trick.  Smug little condiment.

Once it’s all in the pot, it should simmer for about an hour.  Andrew added onion powder to his bowl (an onion would have been a delicious addition to this stew, but my digestive system doesn’t handle onion well.  I’ll leave it at that.)  I added cayenne pepper to give mine a little extra kick.

We are still enjoying the leftovers–it tastes even better the next day!

I hereby declare it a successful Stewsday!