For me, few things herald the arrival of colder temperatures than beef stew. (Chili and all things pumpkin go without saying, of course!)
Granted, "my" beef stew recipe is about as basic as you can get...but the results are mouth-watering all the same. It's kind of hard to ruin the combination of stew meat and tasty veggies.
You can make this for the crockpot or for a big pot on the stove. Right now, I'm about to start getting ready for work (I just work afternoons.) My stew is in the crockpot already, with all the flavors mingling nicely. When I get home from work, all I'll need to do is spoon it into bowls!
Here's the basic recipe, but remember, you can always improvise. Throw in those left-over veggies in the fridge...have less of this or more of that. It'll still be yummy.
EASY BEEF STEW
1 package of stew meat pieces
Seven or eight potatoes, peeled and cut up in chunky pieces
[NOTE: Since my husband and I are being careful about carbs, I actually use only 1 large potato now, when it's just the two of us. It still tastes wonderful!]
1 package baby carrots (cut each carrot in half if you wish)
[NOTE: I used "real" carrots this time.]
1 can mixed vegetables
1 can green beans
1 can corn
1 large can tomato sauce
1 and a half packets beef stew mix
[NOTE: Since my hubby and I are empty-nesters and don't have to make the stew stretch to feed several, I just use one packet of the stew mix]
Brown the stew meat in a little oil. (My mom advocated dipping the pieces in salt-n-peppered flour first, but I don't always take the time to do that.)
While browning, chop up veggies and put them in the crock pot. Add tomato sauce (you can add a can of diced tomatoes if you like--my family just doesn't like to SEE tomato pieces in anything. Weird, I know.)
Add canned veggies, INCLUDING the juice. (Again, this might also be a good time to get rid of left-over veggies that may be in the fridge and are still good.)
Pepper the meat and add some seasoned salt if you like, then dump in the crockpot with everything else. Add beef stew mix.
When making this in the crock-pot, you probably won't need to add extra liquid...but if you're making it in a big pot, you'll probably need to add at least a cup of water, maybe more. Play it by ear.
If using a crock-pot, cook on HIGH for four or five hours. If cooking in a pot on the stove, cook on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender.