Sunday Special: Picky Eater Approved Irish Beef Stew


The Walsh family emigrated from the southeastern region of Ireland to Richland Center, Wisconsin. While my grandma’s only home was Wisconsin her upbringing was deeply rooted in Irish heritage. In turn, she raised her five children with Irish Catholic principles and incorporated Gaelic traditions through their lives in form of song – specifically the Tura-Lura-Lura lullaby – dance, and food.

As youngsters, a typical meal for my mom, aunts, and uncles consisted of meat, potatoes, and a cooked vegetable. Aside from my beloved Macaroni and Tomato Juice, her cooking wasn’t much different for my brother and me. My grandma structured her meals on simplicity and health and she had a knack for making the most basic meals delicious. She was as simple of an eater as I am and, in my opinion, was a closeted picky eater herself.

In honor of my grandma’s recent passing, I drifted from my comfort zone and made an Irish Beef Stew with the contents of Grandma Marg’s best meals –  beef, potatoes, and cooked vegetables. It was an afternoon to remember.

Irish Beef Stew: This recipe is semi-picky eater approved because I can’t figure out if I like stew or not. It has ingredients I like – beef, potatoes, and carrots – but I’m not sure about the concept of combining all of them in broth.

SS17 - Beef Stew (Sanna)1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon flour

2 teaspoons salt + more for seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper + more for seasoning

3-pounds of beef cut into 1-inch cubes (traditionally boneless chuck roast)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

4 cups beef broth

2 bay leaves

4 fresh thyme stems

4 medium celery stalks

4 cups gold potatoes

1 cup carrots

1 cup frozen peas

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in large pot on medium heat.

Combine 1/3 cup of flour and measured salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place one-third of the meat into the flour mixture. Roll to coat. Shake off excess flour and add meat to the pot. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove meat to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining meat in two more batches. Set aside.

Add onion and 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until transparent. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.

Return the meat (and any juices!) to the pot. Add broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for one hour.

Peel carrots and potatoes. Cut celery, potatoes, and carrots into large chunks and add to the pot. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer for about 45 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

SS17 - Irish Stew (Sanna)
Who says beef stew isn’t Irish?

Remove bay leaves and thyme. Stir in peas and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes or until peas are cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pickin’ Your Brain:

  • What’s your favorite traditional meal from your family’s heritage?

Sunday Special: Picky Eater Approved Chocolate Chip Cookies


If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches for me, please! No questions; no hesitation. Chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven are what make my life great. They pair perfectly with a cold glass of milk and are my favorite treat after any meal. I’ve never met a chocolate chip cookie that I haven’t liked whether they are warm and gooey or hard and crunchy.

Chocolate chip cookies were the first dessert that I learned to bake. My mom and I used the recipe straight from the NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi Sweet Morsels package. I’ve had a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my life, but nothing compares to the salty-sweet dough and perfectly chocolate-y morsels from NESTLÉ®.

NESTLÉ® Chocolate Chip Cookies: This recipe is picky eater approved because if a picky five year-old eats it, any picky eater will eat it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies_Picky Eater Approved2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cups brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Mix softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl. Once creamy, add eggs one at a time and beat well. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing wire racks.

Pickin’ Your Brain:

  • If you had to pick one, what dessert would you eat for the rest of your life?

Sunday Special: Picky Eater Approved Chili


Growing up, one of my least favorite dinners was chili. It wasn’t because of the flavor, but because of the unwanted ingredients that were tedious to avoid. I especially hated kidney beans and wasn’t fond of onions or green peppers either. Without these ingredients I was basically eating meat sauce – which was weird. To mend the situation, my mom didn’t pick out the vegetables (that was my job). Instead, she added noodles to my bowls of chili.  Kidney beans are difficult to see no matter how meticulous I was! I inevitably found one hiding on my spoon every so often.

Now, I don’t have to worry about kidney beans at all. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me since Nestle made nut-less drumsticks. I can enjoy every bite without chalky red beans sneaking up on me!

While this meal is a staple on cold winter nights, it’s also among my favorites on Super Bowl Sunday. If you don’t know what to make next week for your Super Bowl party, give this recipe a try!

To noodle…
Picky Eater Approved Chili
…or not to noodle

Chili: What makes this recipe picky eater approved is the omission of red kidney beans and green peppers (almost) as well as the inclusion of noodles. 

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 lbs ground beef

1 cup chopped onions (chop coarsely for bigger chunks, making them easier to avoid)

1/4 cup diced green pepper (disclaimer: I do not like green peppers; Mitch loves green peppers. He won an argument and collected his winnings by adding green peppers to the recipe. So I was forced to eat around the once again…)

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 cans diced tomatoes (about 32 oz)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 cups noodles

Warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onions, green pepper, garlic, and cook until onion is tender (about 10 minutes). Stir frequently. Add tomatoes, chili powder and salt and cook until contents boil. Reduce to low heat; cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes, boil water and cook macaroni for ten minutes or until al dente.

Accompaniments: Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese

But really, picky eaters don’t use accompaniments…

Pickin’ Your Brain:

  • What’s your favorite meal on Super Bowl Sunday?