Beef Stew with Dumplings & Ice Cream Floats

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I made beef stew with dumplings for dinner saturday night and ice cream floats for dessert.  It was an all around hit with the family and one of my tried and true dishes.

I am cooking all my well-worn recipes this week as my sister is here visiting us from California.  We have been testing some new recipes that I will share here on the blog once they are perfected.

The boys are on cloud nine as Aunt Sue is there favorite…she is not afraid to take them up on all dares, bets and shenanigans.  They love her and so do I.  It is wonderful to have such a carefree, fun-loving sister and her visits are some of the highlights of our year.

So, back to dinner.  Easy beef stew with dumplings is as follows: 

1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 1/4 cups diced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms

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 1 1/2 pounds beef round cubes.  I rinse and pat dry and then take each big piece and cut it into smaller pieces.  

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The beef cooks faster and it is easier to eat in more bite size pieces.

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Heat some olive oil and a Tbsp. of butter in a stockpot on medium heat.  Add in the chopped vegetables and cook until softened, then remove the vegetables from the pot to a plate and set aside.

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Add some more oil to the stockpot and drop in about 1/3 of the beef cubes.  Brown them well and add salt, pepper & garlic powder.  When browned to your liking remove the beef to a plate and drop the next third of beef cubes into the pot.  Add more olive oil if needed and salt, pepper & garlic powder.  Repeat for the final third of the beef cubes.  I brown my beef in small batches because if I were to put it all in the stockpot at once, the moisture that comes out of the beef would braise it and it would not brown properly.  It is best to brown meat in small batches.

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When the final batch of beef is browned add all the beef back into the pot.  Turn the heat up to medium high and add the following:

2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sriracha chili sauce (optional)
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
4 cups of low sodium beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (I had that much left over in a bottle so I threw it into the stew)
2 cups boiling water

Bring the pot to a rolling simmer and cover.  I let this go for about 15 minutes and then I come back and add in my cooked vegetables.  Stir to combine the vegetables with the beef and broth.

Note: It may seem like I have too much liquid in the pot but remember, the dumplings will absorb liquid as they cook and the stew will thicken as the dumplings are basically flour and milk.  If you would rather use only 3 cups of beef broth to start and then add an additional cup later as the dumplings are cooking then please go ahead and do that.  Some people like stew to be very thick and others like them thinner.  It is up to your personal preferences.

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Bring the stockpot back to a simmer and let the beef & vegetables cook (covered) at a rolling simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes.  Taste test your beef to make sure it is tender and cooked through.  While the stew is cooking I prepare my dumpling mix.  I use Jiffy Baking Mix as I like it better than any of the other brands out there but you should use whatever you like best.

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The dumpling recipe calls for 2 cups of baking mix and 2/3 cup milk.  Combine ingredients until blended and then spoon the dough into the simmering beef stew.  Note: the dough is quite sticky, I use a fork to scoop it out and drop into the pot of rapidly simmering stew.

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 Cover the entire top of the stew with dumplings.

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They sink a little bit and it looks messy but believe me when I say these little babies are light, fluffy and delicious when they are finished.

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After I drop in all the dumpling dough, I cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat a little bit so the simmer is medium – not rapid, and let the dumplings cook for about 12 to 15 minutes.  When the dumplings are finished they are puffy and dry on top.  You don’t need to turn them over in the broth for them to cook properly.  Remove the pot from the heat, ladle stew and dumplings into bowls and enjoy!

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After dinner it was time for old-fashioned ice cream floats!  YUM!!  I started with the ingredients you see below.  Vanilla ice cream, vanilla cola, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. 

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I have some lovely old ice cream float glasses that I found at a local antique market.  They were not expensive and I am sure you could find some at your local second-hand or antique store.  They are easy to find and are a fraction of the cost of new ones from places like Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Into each glass I add two large scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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Next I slowly pour in the cola.  Be careful as the cola fizz comes up the glass quickly and it can overflow the sides.

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Top with whipped cream and some rainbow sprinkles.  Add a long-handled spoon and serve to waiting children.

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Doesn’t this look delicious.

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A happy child = a happy mom!

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 As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, comfort foods like beef & dumplings are just the thing to carry us through to the frantic days of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving is only 25 days away.  :)