Comfort foods beef stew 0326

Less-expensive ground beef can easily be turned into a hearty, delicious comfort meal with a few carrots, onions and potatoes.

As we all strive to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible from the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, we find that safety measures are impacting more than simple daily activities.

We worry about running out of so many things we normally take for granted — household goods, food, going to places where we wouldn’t normally give caution a second thought.

We isolate in place and miss sports, parties, special events in the community, visiting loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals, attending funerals and even church services and so much more.

In our own family, a quota on attendance meant we could not attend a funeral service this week for a beloved grandson in Ocala, and a military burial service for him at Florida National Cemetery was postponed to a later date.

Quotas and restrictions are sadly affecting everyone in many different ways, from our businesses and health providers to schools and law enforcement.

But those in our American community are taking this crisis in stride.

We will make the best of what we have and be creative with what we have to work with.

In that spirit this week, I gathered some tips and easy recipes to help the way forward during the daily struggle.

The following recipes and tips are courtesy of Debi Schull, who hosts an internet site with a bounty of old-fashioned tips and recipes:


  • 1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, diced large
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups water or beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix (or homemade mix)
  • 1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix (or homemade mix)

Add the cooked ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic to a 5-quart or larger slow cooker.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix and oregano.

Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours, without opening the lid during the cooking time.

Note: Can add 1 can cream of mushroom soup to drained beef (optional).


  • 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (up to 2 teaspoons)
  • Dash salt

Place the cream in a bowl, add the lemon juice and whisk briskly for a minute or so until thickened. If it’s not thickening quickly enough, add a dash more lemon juice.

Once the sour cream looks like it’s store-bought counterpart, add a tiny dash of salt and whisk again just to incorporate it.

Make your own ranch, dry onion soup mix and taco seasoning

Making your own ranch, dry onion soup mix and taco seasoning to store in small mason jars had added benefits: It is healthier than those with additives you buy at the store.


  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1/8 cup ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Put ingredients into a jar and shake.


  • 2/3 cup dried, minced onion
  • 3 teaspoons parsley flakes
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in a jar, then give the jar a good shake. also shake the jar before each use to mix ingredients.

Use 4 tablespoons of the mix in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.


  • 5 tablespoons dried minced onions
  • 7 teaspoons parsley flakes
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together and store in an airtight container.

For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.

For dip: Mix 2 tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream.

Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend.

(You can also substitute Greek Yogurt for the Ranch Dressing)


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil, butter or shortening

Mix dry ingredients together and add most water, mix and add water until it has the consistency of tacky pizza dough. Knead for a few minutes. Let rest in greased bowl for 30 to 60 minutes.

Divide into 6 pieces and roll out thin on floured surface (tortilla thickness).

Heat griddle to 350 degrees. Cook until spots of golden brown appear and flip, cooking until done. The bread can be made ahead and kept under a flour towel or frozen for later use. (Good to know when there is a shortage of store-bought bread.)

Keep bananas fresher longer

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

Keep dairy items fresh

A pinch of salt in your milk when you first open it will help your milk last longer. When you buy cottage cheese or sour cream, refrigerate them upside down to prevent water from forming and keep them fresher longer.

Get rid of pesky ants in kitchen

Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it “home,” can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed.

Say goodbye to fruit flies and gnats

To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small cup, fill it 1/2 full of apple cider vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. The flying insects will be drawn to cup and perish.

Citrus County is filled with great home cooks and we know you would love to share your recipes with our readers. Please click "Submit Your Recipe " to send us your recipes.

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