Winter Potato Stew

This thick, hearty stew is one of my favorite winter dishes. It warms you up from the inside. And best of all, it can be made a day or two in advance; that way, when you're coming home, frozen down to your bones from having fun in the snow, it's re-heated in moments - to re-heat you in moments. Hmmm...

Ingredients (to serve 4):

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 pounds boneless lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and but into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large carrots, cut into thick slices
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

Preparation (about 2 hours cooking time):

1. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a medium plastic bag. Cut the meat into good-sized chunks. Add the pieces to the flour in the bag, a few at a time, and shake bag in order to evenly coat the meat.

2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Add the onion, celery, and any excess flour mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

3. Add the water, bay leaf, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until meat is tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.

4. Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Replace lid and cook for 20 more minutes.

5. Add bell pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, appoximately 10 minutes.

Ladle the Winter Potato Stew into warm bowls and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley ... enjoy!