The weather is getting cooler but that doesn't mean that you're any less busy. Kids still have activities to be driven to, you have to work and still try to get a hot meal on the table. The solution? A crock pot.
There are lots of different dishes that can be made in a crock pot so that dinner is waiting for you when you get home. With a little planning you can adapt recipes to be cooked in the slow cooker. What I decided for this blog post was to do Beef Stew in the crock pot. It's always a family favorite. The recipe I used is from the Better Homes and Gardens book called Crockery Cookbook. There are actually two recipes for beef stew, I used the one that has a little more prep time but will give tips in the recipe to cut down on prep. I used a roast and cut up one pound of it instead of buying stew meat. I just couldn't see the sense in paying $7.99 a pound for stew meat when I could buy a huge roast for $2.49 a pound.
To make Crock pot Beef Stew:
2 Tablespoons flour 1 pound beef or pork stew meat cut into one inch cubes. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 /2 cups cubed peeled potatoes 2 cups sliced carrots 1 cup celery 1/2 cup chopped onions 2 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 1/2 cups beef broth
1. Place the flour in a plastic bag. (I seasoned the flour with salt and pepper) Add the meat cubes a few at a time to coat the meat with flour. In a large skillet brown meat, half at a time in hot oil.
2. Meanwhile in the bottom of a 3 1/3- 4 quart crock pot layer potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Add garlic, basil and thyme; add meat.
3. Pour broth into the skillet that you browned the meat in, scraping up the brown bits. Pour over the ingredients in the crock pot.
4. Cover; cook on low setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high setting for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.
Here's the tips for easy prep:
If you don't want to have to flour the meat and brown it first you can put the meat in the crock pot raw, add the vegetables and seasonings along with a can of either cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup, along with a package of dry onion soup mix. Or you can turn the crock pot up to high and add a slurry with is flour and water (1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon water) then cook the stew for another 5-7 minutes or until thickened.
Variations: Vegetable broth can be used instead of beef broth. You can also add 1/2 cup of red wine if you'd like.
I'll serve mine with biscuits and possibly a salad.
Have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Need to adapt a favorite recipe for the slow cooker? After all who wouldn't want dinner waiting for them when they get home?
Check out more from Kim at her blog, From My Corner of Saratoga here! Next week: Our Anniversary Dinner