“Burn the Candles” and One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

This One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew is delicous enough to serve for a cozy dinner party!

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

My husband and I took dinner to our friends’ house last Friday evening. Nothing fancy, we brought the main dish, One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew, and crunchy bread, and they whipped up the appetizer and salad (along with wine of course!). We sat and talked for hours – literally hours. It was a fun night, and a great start to a new year. Our friends are wise, spiritual, caring, dreamers, movers and shakers. They are good for me and my husband to hang out with. They get us thinking, they care about what’s on our minds, our goals, our passions. They aren’t just people who sit back and take life in, rather they live life daily by using their gifts and loving others.

Burning candles.

During our conversation–bodies leaned in, dinner consumed, tummies warm and full–I glanced at Karen’s burning candles on the table, and I thought back to a post I had started over a month ago.

For three years I’ve had a box of candles and 2 silver candle holders stashed in my entertaining closet. Brand new, I’m not quite sure what I was waiting for to use them. I also have a few boxes of beautiful paper napkins stashed away … ready for company! My daughter has reminded me over and over, Mom, do not buy any more paper napkins! :)

Stashing them away.

How many of us save what we have because it’s pretty, we’re keeping it for that “special day” or dinner party, or the right time to use it. “Things” sit in our cupboards or on the shelves for months, or years?

This year I opened the shiny new (dusty) box of IKEA candles and silver candle holders, and used them at every dinner party we hosted over the holidays! It was a reminder for me to use what I had, and not buy anything new!

Then, yesterday I read Shauna’s brand new blog post, “just burn the candles,” which I loved.

"This year, let’s burn the candles. What are we saving them for? Who are we saving them for?” —Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist.

Shauna says, “This year, brew the good coffee, wear the sparkly jewelry, crack open that fresh journal. Gifts are to be loved, to be burned, to be eaten and used up completely, reminders that someone loves us, that someone thought of us.

What would would it look like for you, this year, to burn your candles, to allow yourself to be as loved and worthy as the people around you believe you are? What are you hoarding away for another day, for someone else, someone more deserving or special or fancy? What have you been given that you won’t allow yourself to enjoy?

Open the jam, the journal, the wine. Slather that fancy lotion all over your feet. Put on those sparkly earrings even if you’re just going to the grocery store. Because someone gave them to you out of love. Accept that love. Burn the candles.”

Shauna says it well. Karen lives it well. I’m inspired by both to have NEW (monthly) entertaining goals where we invite people in—and I open up a brand new package of pretty napkins, make an easy one-pot dish, and we burn the candles.

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew.

This delicious One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew is the perfect cozy winter meal!

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

It only takes a few minutes to combine all the ingredients.

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

Then place in the oven for a few hours to braise and cook.

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

Oh, and a little warning. The house will smell very, very good.

Are you a “stasher” like me? Do you have candles or napkins sitting in your cupboard or drawers just waiting to be used?

I’d love to hear your hospitality goals for the winter months!

This One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew is delicous enough to serve for a cozy dinner party!

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew
Print Recipe
0 from 0 votes

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, December 2014
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 20 mins
Total Time3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8 -10


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil divided
  • 4 pounds boneless chuck roast trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 red onions sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
  • 4 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5-6 thyme sprigs
  • 16 ounces small button mushrooms
  • 8 large carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Thyme sprigs


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of beef; cook 8 minutes or until well browned, turning to brown on all sides. Place browned beef in an oven-proof pot; sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon salt. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining beef, and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  • Melt butter in the same frying pan; add onions to pan; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Add onions to the oven-proof pot.
  • Add garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes or until half of liquid evaporates. Add stock and pepper; bring to a simmer. Nestle thyme sprigs into liquid. Add beef into the pot; top beef mixture with mushrooms; scatter carrots over top.
  • Cover with a lid and cook in oven (300 degrees) for 3 hours, or until meat is tender.
  • Remove the thyme leaves; serve over mashed potatoes, brown rice, or quinoa.
  • Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Are you following me on InstagramTwitterFacebook and Pinterest? Thanks being here today, and if you’d like to subscribe to Reluctant Entertainer, to have each post delivered straight to your e-mail box, then please add your email, here. It’s really easy!

One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew

22 comments on ““Burn the Candles” and One-Pot Beef Marsala Stew”

  1. Question – Could you make the stew in a slow cooker?

  2. After you add the stock and bring to a simmer do you add the liquid to the meat and onion mixture. The instructions don’t mention it.

    Thank you

  3. I do burn my candles – but don’t always use the “good stuff” but I’m going to start! BTW, made the Marsala Stew over the weekend and it was just divine! I have to admit I was nervous it would taste like Marsala, which my hubby and I are fans of, but my kids not so much. Anyway – amazing! Didn’t have a Marsala taste, but you could definitely tell there was something different than any other stew. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have been reminded so much recently to embrace the moment and the make the best of that precious gift God has given us. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Sandy, I love this post! Great reminder to be present, in every moment, and to celebrate every moment. . because sometimes the unexpected ones are great! and I am totally guilty of “saving” certain things for “big or bigger” occasions. . hell, I’m going to whip out the good stuff all the time! why not?! and your friends sound amazing. . good to be in the presence of inspiring people and love love love the stew!!

  6. This is our kind of meal, so comforting and delicious and you can’t beat that it’s cooked in one pot! Love the idea of burning the candles, good inspiration!

  7. Hi Sandy,
    Boy do you have me pegged. I have pretty candles, napkins, dishes, silver ware, etc. etc. etc. A lifetime of gifts not used. It’s all stored away saved for WHAT? My daughter doesn’t want any of it. If I don’t start using it now it will probably end up in the Goodwill dumpster some day.
    Thanks for the gentle kick in the pants. I’m using my good china for breakfast in the morning ;-) Can’t wait to see my hubby’s face.
    I love your blog…Happy New Year to you and your family.

  8. Sandy,
    I’m a stasher too. I have so many things stashed away and never use them. It’s time to start. Starting with the Lennox dinnerware.
    Your stew looks delicious too.

  9. This sounds yummy. I love variations on beef stew. Question: 400 degrees? I’ve made a lot of beef stews and they usually braise at lower temps–especially when you’re talking 3 hrs. Is this a typo?

  10. This stew sounds amazing! Perfect for a chilly afternoon or evening!

  11. I absolutely believe in this. I think this attitude comes with a bit of age behind you, however. When I was younger, I saved my stuff for special occasions. Now, though, I drink out of stemware daily (even my soda is poured into stemware!). My Waterford crystal is easily accessible should the mood strike me. With a little prompting I recently started using really cool sugar spoons I picked up in Norway in 2003. What in the world was I saving them for?! Our expensive Italian leather sofas are now being sat on every day. Life is short. Enjoy every day!

    • Bridget, I would say I did the same thing as a younger woman, partly because that is what my Mama did. I agree, life is short – ENJOY it all :)

  12. Sandy, thank you so very much for this post! What a great reminder to freely use the gifts & the nice things we have! My wonderful mother could scarcely allow herself to use any of her pretty things, instead she put them away in their original wrappings for “someday special”.

    Thanks too for constantly reminding us that we should be hospitable to others. God has given us so many blessings, many of which are designed explicitly to bless others in our lives.

    Many blessings on you & your family throughout 2015!

  13. Thank you again Sandy for a good reminder to savor every moment of every day that the Lord has given us. One of my favorite writings by Erma Bombeck is “If I Had My Life to Live Over”
    If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less & listened more
    I would have invited friends over for dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
    I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
    I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
    I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
    I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
    I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
    I would have cried and laughed less while watching t.v. and more while watching life.
    and it goes on and on and then ends with this –
    There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorrys”
    But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute.. look at it and really see it.. live it.. and never give it back.

  14. ohhh Sandy, you have no idea. my family is really bad about not “burning the candles”, for so long I have seen perfectly wrapped “new” items in my moms (and grandparents) cabinets…waiting for, not sure what. I have the inclination to do the same, but I really know better. My mom and I have talked about this a lot and it’s something we are trying to get better at. It’s engrained in us I guess.
    I love love love this meal. It is perfectly rustic and I can just see you all enjoying it with bread and wine. I love how you talk about your night with your friends, those are the best moments.

    • Thank you, friend. Next time you see your mom or Grandma, ask them if you can pull out the “new” pieces and use them!? Fun?? Yes! :)

  15. Very inspired by your heart for Him and willingness to enjoy life in this very moment. That is in line with God’s word, (not making plans for tomorrow) and honoring the gift He gave you of today! I love when you write about why you entertain and why you so willingly share the gift of time and food and love. You are a gift to so many in so many ways… for me I just can’t help but want to be more like you… to follow in your lead! Hope your day is blessed!

    • Awww, thanks Amanda. Not perfect here, but definitely understand the benefits of hospitality and opening our home! Biggest blessing? Our kids “get” it! Thank you!! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *