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posted: 12/8/2011 6:00 AM

Cooking in advance makes dinner easy

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  • With Italian Stewed Beef already prepared, this easy ravioli dish is ready in under 10 minutes.

      With Italian Stewed Beef already prepared, this easy ravioli dish is ready in under 10 minutes.
    Alicia Ross/Desperation Dinners


Cooking ahead can seem like a daunting task. Cooking one meal is sometimes overwhelming: How do you cook several at the same time? What if I told you that with only a 15-minute investment, you could have dinner simmering for tonight and possibly several more meals down the road?

Batch cooking the protein speeds dinner to the table faster than you can call for takeout, and it's so much healthier. Today's Italian Stewed Beef is a slow-cooked wonder that can simmer on your countertop all day. The tender, flavorful beef can then be served atop your favorite cheese ravioli tonight for dinner. Leftovers refrigerate for up to four days or will freeze for up to three months. That means dinner is just minutes away another night, too.

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This time of year, when the days are short and the nights are crisp (or downright cold, depending on where you live), moist and flavorful stewed beef is the perfect warm and homey dinner. Stay tuned for next week's Italian Vegetable and Beef Stew. It's an old-fashioned stew your mom or grandmother probably simmered all day long to achieve but takes only 20 minutes.

Suggested menu: Italian Stewed Beef over Cheese Ravioli with chopped romaine with Italian dressing and crusty Italian wheat rolls.

• Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997). Write them at Desperation Dinners, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or More at the Desperation Dinners Web site,

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