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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Filling stew perfect for chilly nights

Thursday, March 15, 2001

Tested by Bob Martinson, story by Suzanne Martinson

Once a month, Geraldine Hansotte of Ford City and her daughter, Sandra Stanko of Tarentum, hop in the car and head for the Food & Mystery Book Club at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont.

They share more than the love of reading. They both know a good recipe when they see it. In fact, this week's Countdown to Dinner recipe -- Girl Scout Stew -- came into Geraldine's repertoire when her daughter was in grade school.

"She came home after staying with a friend overnight, telling me about this wonderful dish Kylie's mom had made for dinner," Geraldine recalls. "When I asked her for the recipe, I was delighted to find it couldn't be easier to make. My family has always enjoyed it, even when our three children were going through their picky phases. They are all adults now, and my daughter makes this for her young family."

That means Sandra's son, Matthew, 1 1/2, also gets to dip into this family-friendly dish. Geraldine's right: It couldn't be easier. It's as quick as it is filling -- practically a meal in a bowl.

Geraldine works in the volunteer department of Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, and Kathy Stewart, a supervisor in the office, joins the mother-daughter carpool to Oakmont.

Geraldine still makes the soup. "You can scale it down, or double your ingredients and make it for a group."

Although we followed the original recipe, next time we might experiment with frozen vegetables. Leftover baked potatoes cut into chunks might also be tasty. Geraldine says chopped onion or garlic are nice additions. too.

Because this was originally served with Pillsbury refrigerator crescent rolls, that has become their traditional accompaniment, she says, although Italian bread or hard rolls are also good.

Her husband, Donald, recently retired from PPG in Creighton, Pa. The couple have two sons: Douglas, who is serving in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan (a country in Asia that used to be part of the Soviet Union), and Dean, who just graduated from Penn State and lives in Washington, D.C.

Girl Scout Stew

1 pound ground beef
1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 can vegetable beef soup, undiluted
1 can mixed vegetables
1 can sliced potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

Brown beef and drain well. Add the tomato and vegetable beef soups. Add the mixed vegetables and sliced potatoes, including the juice in the cans. Season with pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes to combine flavors. Serve in large soup bowls.

A sprinkle of Parmesan, shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese is a nice garnish.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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