This past week Mike and I travelled to upstate New York to see his parents. The drive was breathtaking with the autumn colors in full swing. The further north we travelled, the more brilliant the leaf color.

New York in October is tradition for us, not only is it our favorite season for visiting, but it’s also cherished time we spend with his parents. They are not getting any younger but then neither are we so creating memories, even if they are small, is important. Mike’s dad, Paul, has become quite the cook, which is obviously special to me. Whenever we visit, there is always a pot of stew waiting for us to eat the minute we walk into the house. This time around it was a Hot Italian Sausage Stew, and boy was it delicious! The smell intoxicating, and the taste delectable. My father-in-law outdid himself! The spiciness, the tang, and the sweetness you would expect from a sausage stew were all there. It was like a huge burst of wow in my mouth. According to the Taste and Smell Center at the University of Connecticut, “flavor is what people commonly call the “taste” of food. It is actually a combination of smell, taste, spiciness, temperature and texture.” This stew had it all!

This simple recipe is done in a crockpot. First, chop everything up, then layer the ingredients, turn your pot on low, and 8 – 10 hours later you have stew. I made the recipe when we returned home, and it was excellent. I will definitely make it again.

This is what you will need:

  • No-Stick Cooking Spray, I used 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (approximately 1/2 cup plus)
  • 1 cup baby carrots, cut each piece in thirds
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed then cubed, skin on
  • 1 lb. hot Italian sausage (more if you would like), cut into 1/2″ slices and then cut those slices in half
  • 2 tsp. dried Thyme leaves
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Italian-style diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste


  1. Spray inside of your slow cooker (crockpot). Like I mentioned above I used olive oil. Then begin the layering process…onions, followed by baby carrots, celery, red potatoes, and sausage. Sprinkle with thyme then pour in the undrained Italian-style diced tomatoes followed by the water.
  2. Cover and cook on low 8 – 10 hours. I cooked the stew for 8 hours.
  3. At the end of the cooking process, stir in the tomato paste and cook on high for 10 minutes more.

This is what I call comfort food…it was warm, hearty, and delicious, and in its own special way made me feel close to family. Thank you, Paul, for sharing this recipe, but most of all for making it for Mike and me to enjoy. At 88 years old, and you don’t look a day over 75, you have become quite the family chef!