Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Welcome  It is the time of year when holiday music and Christmas carols fill the air with warm sounds and, well, tidings of comfort and joy.  As I listened to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen recently, I was thinking about all the wonderful things that bring me comfort, especially this time of year.  I’d like to share a few of those things with you today.

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Food For Thought  Don’t we all want to be comfortable?  I think comfort is a basic human need because we seek it constantly, whether it’s through the invention of climate-control systems such as central heat and air or developing softer, tag-less clothing options.  We want cushy chairs and soft fleece.  When we’re uncomfortable, we look to remedy the situation ASAP.  And being more comfortable doesn’t necessarily have to mean more expensive.  If you’re looking to give the gift of comfort this year, you may want to check out a few things from my “favorite comforts” list.  Some are simple and some are much more complex, and of course, the idea of comfort may vary from person to person.  Here are a few things that bring me comfort and joy.

Comfortable Textures  flannel pajama pants, soft and snuggly sweaters, soft and roomy sweat pants, fleece blankets, cool and crisp cotton sheets

Comfortable Sounds  quiet violin music, a babbling brook, rain falling gently against the window, a crackling fire, a coffee percolator

Comfortable Smells  vanilla, cinnamon, lavender, fresh air after a rain storm, baby lotion

Comfortable Flavors (they don’t call it comfort food for nothing!) smooth and creamy mashed potatoes, warm and savory chicken soup, rich and creamy macaroni and cheese (homemade, of course!), decadent chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, cinnamon-spiced apple pie

Comforts to See  waterfalls, of course!, pristine white sand beaches, a winding trail through a lush forest, flower gardens alive with color and tiny insects, flickering candlelight, twinkling holiday lights, gently falling snow, colorful sunrises and sunsets

Comfortable Feelings  (some things just can’t be bought in stores!) snuggling with my husband on the couch while watching television, when my husband wraps his arms around me and kisses my neck (hey, guys, find you some mistletoe and gift some comfort!), when my daughter comes to give me hugs to express encouragement or gratitude (I love that she still needs hugs!)

Today, I want to challenge you to make a gratitude list of the things that bring you comfort and joy, this time of year, or any time!

Women’s Sherpa Fuzzy Pullover Fleece Sweatshirt

Sherpa Fleece Blanket

HoMedics Sound Spa White Noise and Sound Machine

Farberware Classic 8-Cup Coffee Percolator

Yankee Large French Vanilla Jar Candle

Yankee Large Cinnamon Stick Jar Candle

Relaxing Aromatherapy Lavender Room Spray

Starry String Warm White LED Twinkle Lights

Today’s Scripture  In the song, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the tidings of comfort and joy have nothing to do with physical comforts, but rather the good news that brings us calm and peace about our Savior, Jesus Christ, being born on the day we celebrate as Christmas day.  This message of good news brings a greater level of comfort than any fuzzy blanket or fragrant candle ever could.  I pray that you will allow God to be your great comfort this holiday season, and all the many days to come in the new year.

Today’s Recipe  Of course we need comfort food today!  I think this slow-cooked beef and onions meal, fresh from the oven, is the perfect comfort food on a cold winter day.  This dish ranks very high on my husband’s favorite dinners list!  A couple of notes about this meal, though.  First, it’s not a fast meal.  But then again, comfort food is not about being fast.  No one has ever said, “Ah, this frozen meal makes me feel so cozy,” or “I can’t wait to get home and curl up with my bag from McDonalds!”  No, comfort food is often slow-cooked, or at the very least, takes a little more time and effort than the average week night meal.  But isn’t it worth it?

The second thing is this makes quite a bit.  It’s perfect if you have a big family, if you’re serving out-of-town guests, or if you want to divide the dish and freeze part for a later occasion (minus the mashed potatoes.)  The leftovers are also quite delicious, as they have extra time in soaking in all that yummy, beefy onion gravy.  We like to serve this with a side of green beans.

Slow-Cooked Beef and Onions over Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 lbs. beef sirloin tip roast, cubed (beef for stew meat)
  • 1 cup flour, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup butter, divided (a stick and a half)
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 1 32-oz carton beef stock
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pint cream, divided
  • 2 to 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, washed, and cubed

In a large zip-top bag, add the meat, 1/3 cup flour, salt and pepper.  Shake until meat is lightly coated.

In large skillet, heat vegetable oil on medium heat.  Add meat, in batches, browning on all sides, but not cooking all the way through.

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Add cooked meat to pan; set aside.  Turn oven to 325 degrees.

In same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add onion slices and a dash of salt and pepper.  Cook until browned, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When onions are brown and fragrant, add to the meat.

In same skillet, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter and whisk in 2/3 cup flour until well blended, being sure to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Gradually add the broth and Worcestershire sauce, continuing to whisk.  Raise heat and bring sauce to a boil, stirring to thicken, about one minute.  Turn off heat and continue to whisk until smooth.  Pour over meat and onions.

Cover pan with aluminum foil and place in 325 degree oven to cook for 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove foil and carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream.  Return to oven, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.

While the beef is in the oven for the second time, place potatoes in large pot.  Add enough water to cover the potatoes.  Salt the water and place on high heat.  When potatoes begin to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until potatoes are soft.

Drain potatoes and add remaining cream and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter.  Mash the potatoes (I use a hand masher for this.)

Remove meat from oven and allow to set 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve the meat and onion gravy over a scoop of mashed potatoes.