Today was easily the nicest day I've spent home in a very long time. All alone, no offense to my husband or daughter, but lately I've had no time alone and it's sometimes just what you need to reset your dials.
My day started out with me taking my coffee out to the hot tub where my eyelashes and hair got crispy with frost. I did some house cleaning, listened to some Dylan and then at my cousin Rusty's suggestion I had another soak in the hot tub with a glass of wine. Rusty is a musician, knows how to have fun and has figured out how to spend his life doing what he loves most. So I took his suggestion and enjoyed a glass of Cabernet at 1:00 in the afternoon in my hot tub. It was a perfect day. The best feeling is knowing I have another day off tomorrow, except for one small thing I have to attend to in town tomorrow I may just be spending it like I did today.
Now my day wasn't all wine drinking and hot tubbing. I cleaned and cooked too. I made a Beef Stew with Butternut Squash. I served it over couscous.
Moroccan Spiced Beef Stew with Butternut Squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound stew beef, cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound peeled cubed butternut squash, cut into cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked whole-wheat couscous
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes
4 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate, leaving the juices in the saucepan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute. Return the beef to the pot and stir in the squash, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Spoon the stew over the couscous, and sprinkle each serving with almonds and parsley.
I buy my couscous in bulk from the coop but you can also purchase it boxed in the organic section of the grocery store or in the rice aisle. I made mine with vegetable broth, but you can make it with water alone or chicken broth, adding spices if you wish.