To utilize my slow cooker more, I have decided to devote every Tuesday to making a CrockPot dinner. A new year, a new challenge!
As you know by now, when it comes to cooking up dinners, I like to go into the kitchen without a plan--just an idea. Last night, I was looking for a recipe for inspiration or even to follow (hey, I didn't say I never use a recipe) but nothing was working for me. So when I went into the kitchen this morning while the girlies played together, all I knew was that I planned on using the beef that has been in my freezer for quite some time.
I started by drizzling some Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing in the bottom of a pan (that has a lid) over medium heat. I then dumped the frozen chuck beef in the pan and sprinkled kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder over top. Then it was covered and left to cook up for a bit. I returned about 15 minutes later, flipped it over and replaced the lid. This time it probably went about 20 minutes, with me checking it occasionally. I was satisfied with how it looked after that; it was closer to being medium-rare.
When the beef was finished cooking, I turned it out onto the cutting board. Starting by cutting it into thick slices, I proceeded to cube it--still in large pieces. The juices on the board were tinged red so I left the juices on the board and placed the cubed beef in the CrockPot. The juices in the pan were a nice brown so I poured that into the CrockPot over the beef.
Now it is time to add the can of diced tomatoes, the can of chili beans, the can of vegetable broth, and about a cup of frozen peas and carrots.
I diced up three peeled Russet potatoes and added those in as well. Set the CrockPot at low heat and stir up the contents, cover and let it go!
With three hours to go, I decided to toss in about 1 cup of cooked rice.
Now to cover it back up and let it finish for 6 o'clock dinnertime!
While this goodness slow-cooks up, let's look into what defines soup and stew, courtesy of an awesome Christmas present from my mother-in-law. The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion, written by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst, is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. For a bookworm and foodie, this is a fabulous gift!
Okay, getting back to comparing soup and stew. Reading in the Food Lover's Companion, soup is defined as "any combination of vegetables, meat or fish cooked in a liquid". There is no consistency or temperature that makes a soup, well, a soup. The flavor of soup can be enhanced by making it a day ahead and letting it refrigerate overnight, or adding a garnish before serving. So the term 'soup' could really be applied to most liquid-y things.
Now we shall examine 'stew'. The basic gist of it is a soup that is cooked (or "stewed") for a long period of time. This allows tough meats to become tender and allows the flavors to become more enhanced and blended together.
Final update: I'm sure you are all wondering how this turned out and how my picky eaters received it.
It was fabulous! I loved it! My hubby loved it! My picky 4 year old actually asked for bites of it! (she was eating something else at the time) My 18-month old wanted the beans and peas from it! It was a huge success (yes, that is considered a success in my house, haha) and my husband loved it so much that he's having it for lunch after having it for dinner the night before!
Okay, so Kyleigh and I made whole wheat biscuits to go with the stew and they were finished and ready to consume at about 6 o'clock pm. The total cooking time for the beef stew was approximately from 10 o'clock that morning till 6 o'clock that evening, about 8 hours. After putting our servings into bowls, I topped each with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
This was a wonderful, stick-to-your-ribs, warm-you-up-from-the-inside kind of meal. Very savory and comforting and all-around delish!
I hope you will try this recipe, it is just that good!
|Nearly done with the fantastic beef stew and biscuits!|
Whole Wheat Biscuits
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cup white wheat flour
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin tins and set aside.
Slice the butter into pats and place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. (Or, put the sliced butter into a mixing bowl; proceed.)
Add in the remaining ingredients except for the milk and cheese.
If using a stand mixer, beat the ingredients in the bowl together. As everything is coming together, beat the milk in a little at a time. Once all milk is incorporated, stir in the cheese. (If not using a stand mixer, use a pastry blender or two knives to cut butter up into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then stir in the milk and cheese.)
Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough into the prepared muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Place on a serving plate and enjoy!