Here’s a good old-fashioned dinner that can be ready when you are.

Some slow-cooked dishes need to be watched a little more closely. This one can just simmer a little longer should you need it to.

Want to pick up a few holiday supplies or gifts for an office party on the way home? Like me, you might suddenly realize you aren’t as far along on Christmas shopping as you thought.

For those kind of hectic days, this is the kind of dinner you want — a favorite stew or soup.

For this recipe, you can use either beef tips or stew meat. You can even cut up a chuck roast if you like.

Many recipes are more flexible than you think. Perhaps you don’t want meat at all and prefer to make this one a bean side dish. That’s OK, too. Just keep in mind that if you don’t add meat, you will need to cut down the cooking time.

So, here’s to the days ahead and to keeping the holiday spirit bright. Don’t let meal stress take over.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at