Category: Crock Pot


I set out to make vegetable beef soup last week, but in my search through the freezer for ingredients I noticed a package of beef stew meat. Since I’m trying to use up my freezer stash, I decided on beef stew instead of the soup.

Beef StewIf you’ve never made stew before, you’ll be happy to know it’s easy and very forgiving. Use the recipe as a starting point, but add and subtract ingredients to suit yourself. If you like root vegetables, chop and add some more. Mushrooms would probably be good in this as well, if you’re a mushroom person.

I adapted the recipe from a slow-cooker recipe. I’ve never liked slow cooker recipes that require browning the meat first. I’m lazy and don’t like cleaning that extra pan. 🙂 I have a 7 qt. dutch oven I absolutely love. And when I say I LOVE it, I’m not exaggerating. It’s my go-to for soups, chili, pot roasts, etc. I can use it on the stove top or in the oven. Or, as in this case, I can brown the beef on the stove and finish the dish in the oven. No need for the crock pot, and only 1 dish to clean!

If you want to use your slow cooker, please do so. Just follow the first few steps and instead of putting the pot in the oven, transfer the mixture to your slow cooker and turn it on low for 4-6 hours.

So back to this beef stew. I know it’s turkey season, but you only need so many turkey dishes, right? Beef stew makes a great change of flavor from the traditional holiday meals, and with the weather cooling off, it’s a welcome dish. If you have leftovers, they’re great to pack up for lunch at the office.

This stew is rich and flavorful, a nice hearty meal if you serve it with a salad and warm rolls. It was everything I was hoping it would be! Tender beef, tasty carrots, potatoes and celery in a broth that thickens as it cooks. Try this and let me know what you think!

Very Delish Beef Stew

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Stuff you need: 

1-2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes [My package was 1.3#]
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 Tablespoons cooking oil, separated
1 Tablespoon minced garlic [I used garlic from a jar.]
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon Steak Dust, optional [In the spice aisle]

 

Now what?
If using the oven method, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, seasoned salt and pepper.
Heat 1 T cooking oil in your dutch oven (or skillet if using crock pot method).
Brown the beef in batches. Toss 1/3 of the beef in the flour mixture and put in oil to brown. Do not crowd the meat – brown the meat in batches for best flavor. [When browning meat, leave space between the cubes. Let the meat sit in the oil until it’s browned, then turn the pieces to lightly brown the other side. This is where a lot of the flavor will come from.]
When browned, transfer meat to bowl and set aside and repeat with another 1/3 of the oil and beef until all beef is browned.
Set aside the meat.
Add 1 T oil if needed and drop the garlic and onions in the oil. Let them sizzle about 30 seconds then stir.

[At this point, if you are using your slow cooker transfer the meat, onions and garlic to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 4-6 hours.]

If continuing to use the dutch oven, stir in 1 cup beef broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the pieces. Add the remaining broth, browned beef, and remaining ingredients.

Cover the pan and put it in the oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours.
Be careful when you take the lid off – steam is HOT!!

Stir and enjoy!

I made dinner with a blender and a crock pot! I’m not sure I’ve said that before.  🙂  

Last weekend I was looking for something new and different to make for dinner, something I could make ahead and re-heat for easy dinners on my late nights. I found this Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas in my Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.Plum-Sauced Chicken Tacos

I love plums but I’ve never had them with chicken, or anything savory, for that matter. The recipe sounded interesting, but the kicker was how easy it looked! This was the one to try.

I followed the recipe as written, but because I’m me, next time I will make a tweak or two. Chinese Five Spice Powder is a mixture of five spices used primarily in Chinese cuisine. It may include star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, licorice, black pepper, mandarin orange peel or other spices. It can be a bit sweet, depending on the mixture in your particular jar. Mine is sweet, which I like. However, I will add more grated ginger next time for some pop. The fresh ginger mellows a little when it’s cooked.

I could only find a large can of plums, so I used half the can of drained plums and saved the remaining plums to throw in my morning protein shakes. I’ve never used tapioca before, and think the little beady things are cute, but if they get loose they roll all over your counters!

This is really an Asian chicken taco, and who doesn’t like tacos, right? Be sure to top them with the broccoli slaw or some bean sprouts or something crunchy that complements the chicken and tortillas.

I liked the flavor of this for something different! Sometimes I get in a cooking rut and a new recipe adds some spice. Or five spices, in this case.  😉 I don’t know that I’ll make it often, but it’s a nice change of pace from my usual flavor profiles.

This would be a great addition to a buffet menu. Your guests will be wondering what’s in them! They’re easy to throw together, easy to cook, and easy to clean up. Perfect-o!

Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

Stuff you need:

16 ounces canned whole, unpitted purple plums, drained
1 cup hot-style vegetable juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
5 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 -3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoons 5-spice powder
1 – 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 x 7-8 inch flour tortillas
2 cups packaged shredded broccoli or packaged shredded cabbage with carrot

Now what?

Remove pits from plums. Place plums in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Add vegetable juice, hoisin sauce, tapioca, ginger, and 5-spice powder and briefly blend until mixed.

Transfer plum mixture to a 3 1/2 or 4-quart crockery cooker. Stir chicken into crockery cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours, or high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove chicken from cooker, reserving sauce.

Spoon about 1/3 cup from the chicken mixture onto each warm tortilla just below the center. Drizzle with the reserved sauce. Top each with 1/3 cup shredded slaw mix. Roll up Tortillas.

* To warm up tortillas, wrap a stack in foil. Heat in a 350 degree for 10 minutes to soften.

Crock Pot Jambalaya

Crock Pot JambalayaLike a little zip in your food? Then this just might be the thing for you!

I’d bought some andouille sausage and threw it in the freezer because I didn’t use it right away. When I found this recipe, I remembered that spicy sausage in my freezer and knew I had to try it!

This was a crazy-easy recipe! The hardest part was chopping the onion and green pepper. Other than that, everything is just tossed into the crock pot and then you wait. I even stuck the chicken in the crock pot when it was still frozen!

Easy enough, right?

And I’m sure you want to know if it was good. Well, here’s what The Pretty One had to say (excuse the texting language):

“What the [whoops!] did you put in this soup my mouth catches on fire every bite i love it

i couldn’t taste anything for a week [he’d been sick] then I ate this and flavor exploded in my mouth!”

How do you like that endorsement? I had to agree with him – it was really good!

Crock Pot JambalayaNow I’ve got to say if you aren’t a fan of spicy food, you can cut back the heat but still keep the flavor profile. You can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper, and cut back the Cajun seasoning. I’d still use 1 teaspoon Cajun / blackened seasoning for the flavor.

And you can always start mild and add more Cajun seasoning or cayenne later. Or pass those and everyone can add more spice if they like more of a bite.

Andouille sausage is a bit spicy, but I wouldn’t call it “hot.” It’s got great flavor so if you can handle some spice, I’d use it. If not, you can swap it out for regular smoked sausage.

This recipe is definitely a winner — great flavor with minimum effort. That’s how I like to cook!!

 

SLOW COOKER JAMBALAYA

Slightly adapted from Cats and Casseroles

Stuff you need:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast [I used frozen chicken breasts and stuck them in the pot still frozen.]
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced [I used Eckrich or Johnsonville.]
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun (blackened) seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 c instant rice

Now what?
Place all ingredients except rice in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot.

Cook rice according to package instructions. Add rice, as desired, into each individual serving of jambalaya. Store rice separately from rest of stew.

I associate crock pot cooking with cold, winter days, but recently it occurred to me that summer is an even better time for using the crock pot. Kansas City was expected to be in the triple digits for several more days. I didn’t want to turn on the oven or stand over the stove for long, and I surely didn’t want to stand on my west-facing deck next to a hot grill in the late afternoon sun! Yet we need to eat.

For the most part I’m happy with picking at bits from the frig, but The Pretty One really needs a meal to keep him going. Between 40-50 hours a week at his internship and 9 hours of online summer classes, he needs “real” food.White Bean Chicken Chili

The Pretty One eats at the golf course when he’s working, but golf course food typically isn’t very healthy. Menus are designed for speed, not nutrition. Once he’s home, he heads to his laptop to study and take his tests for his online courses, so I like to have something healthy ready for him.

It seems weird to make chili in the summer, but I guess it shouldn’t since we eat hot foods all year round. I found this recipe on Taste of Home. It’s not a thick and creamy white chicken chili, so don’t expect that. I followed the recipe closely, but added a bit more pepper since I wasn’t feeding anyone who is spice-challenged. The flavor is great! It had just enough pop without being too much. The consistency, though, wasn’t what I expected. It’s more like a soup than a chili, so I took one of the reviewers’ suggestions and add a cup or so of cooked brown rice to it. I think the rice made it a more filling dish that was still somewhat light. Click for recipe.

I’m happy with this recipe and think it’s a nicely-spiced, healthy meal that didn’t heat up the house. The crock pot may become one of my go-to kitchen tools this summer. In fact, I’m already looking for more recipes to try!