Slow Cooker

Beef and Butternut Stew with Pumpkin, Sage and Cherries (Slow Cooker)

  Another soup?!?  What kind of tyrant am I, right?
  Actually I haven’t subjected G to 2 soups in one week, I just had this recipe sitting on the back burner and forgot to write it up.  That said, it’s really a perfect fall-into-winter stew with lots of hearty ingredients to fill you up and warm your belly.

1-2 lbs beef, cut into chunks
4 c butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 c dried cherries
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 c beef stock
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c pureed pumpkin
salt to taste
1 Tbsp butter
  According to the original recipe, you ought to start by saute-ing your onions with your sage and thyme and then browning your beef.
  You guys know how I roll.  We’re not doing that.  Throw everything except the squash and the cherries in the crockpot, turn it to low and forget about it for 6 hours.  Don’t actually forget it.  Maybe set a timer (I did).  When your timer goes off after 6 hours, toss the squash and cherries in and let it cook for another hour or two.  Stir in your pumpkin just before you serve it.
  With an all-told cook time of up to 8 hours, and that not counting prep time, I had to be dealing with food waaaaay too early in the morning for my taste with this one, but it wound up being worth it.  It took me a long time, but I’ve finally recognized that chicken+slow cooker=BLERGH, but beef+slow cooker=heaven!
  Aside from the beef doing it’s usual, ohmigosh tender deliciousness thing, I was really impressed with the dried cherries in this.  They plump back up as they sit in all the broth and juices and just make for a really fabulous addition.  I’m honestly tempted to start throwing random dried fruit in all my crock pot meals after this…
  Of course, G was not impressed.  Soup!  Warblegarble!!!
  Fooey on him.
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Veggie Heavy Beef Stew (Freezer Friendly)

  I love being outside in the fall.  Summer is nice and all, but come autumn I don’t have to worry quite so much about getting sunburned just going to the mailbox, and that tiny chill in the air reminds me to get out and enjoy the sunshine before winter storms in.  That means that the last thing I want to do is go inside and cook dinner in the evenings.  
  Welcome back crock pot.
2.5 lbs beef cut into chunks
2 c beef broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
One small rutabaga, peeled and cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, diced,
8 oz frozen chopped collard greens, (don’t thaw)
1 Tbsp arrowroot/tapioca powder
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
  Combine all of your ingredients, except for your arrowroot powder in your crockpot and cook for 8-9 hours on low heat.  Shortly before serving, whisk your arrowroot powder together with a ladle of broth from the pot.  Mix it until there are no clumps and return it to the pot.  This will thicken the stew.  Serve hot!
  This is a great, hearty stew with an awesome helping of veggies included.  It always frustrates me when I make a slow cooker main dish and then am stuck cooking up a side anyhow because we need something green with our meat.  Not a problem here!  This will definitely be on the menu again!

Slow Cooker Coffee Roast (Paleo)

  Now that the days are starting to get shorter, the boys get kind of squirrely in the evenings.  There isn’t ever quite enough time between when they wake up from naps and when it starts getting dark and I need to start cooking dinner to run them around outside and wear them out.  That makes getting dinner on the table when my Mr. is at work late hard.  Thankfully, at least when I know he’s going to be gone late, I can pull out the slow cooker and get dinner going in the morning, before the wee-bits lose their tiny minds.
5-7 lb chuck roast
1 large onion, sliced thin
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
sea salt, pepper, marjoram
1/2 c coffee (brewed strong)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 c baby carrots (optional)
 Place your onion slices and smashed garlic cloves into the bottom of your crockpot.  Rub all sides of your roast with salt, pepper and marjoram.  Depending on the size/shape of your roast/crockpot, you may need to cut your roast into smaller chunks to fit.  Place the meat on top of your onions and garlic.
  Brew your coffee and pour it, along with your vinegar, over the roast.  If you’re like me and preparing this first thing in the morning, enjoy the remaining coffee while switching your slow cooker to low.  The roast should cook for around 10 hours.  If you want to add the carrots (I suggest it, they were wonderful) toss them in about halfway through.  Pull the meat apart using two forks and serve with the juices from the pot.
  Gah slow cooked meals are such sweet torture.  This one made my whole house smell downright painfully good all day long.  The meat broke down wonderfully and, as I said, the carrots were incredible.  I did find that this needed a bit of salt after it was cooked…the flavor only really reached the outside portions of the roast, so the inside was a little bland…but perhaps cutting the meat into smaller pieces would help distribute the flavor?  I was surprised by how little I actually tasted the coffee.  The roast absolutely had a great, unique taste…I just expected it to be more mocha than it was I guess.  Anyhow, certainly worth trying on a day you know you’ll want dinner to be taken care of before you even change out of your pjs!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken with Pears and Portabella

  Ok, who wants to be in charge of stenciling the words “no chicken breasts” onto the top of my crock pot?  I did it again and slow cooked chicken and was disappointed.  Those flavor combinations just sounded too tempting though!
1lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 large or 2 medium pears, cored and sliced thick
10 oz portabella mushrooms, sliced thick
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
  Put everything into the crock pot and let cook it for about 4-6 hours on low, or until chicken falls apart easily.
  There wasn’t enough moisture and the chicken wound up dry and tough.  I should know by now!  The flavors were really good together, but good flavor on shoe leather still isn’t particularly appetizing.  We do have a few ideas for making this either on the stove top or in the oven to take advantage of the flavor combination, but for now we’re going to call this a fail!