Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

While home the other day I felt the urge to make a nice, rich but healthy stew.  And what better way to do that than to set it and forget it with my Crockpot?  So I commenced searching for a healthy beef stew recipe, and then modified to suit my taste.  I actually found a Weight Watchers recipe, so if you follow that, this is WW approved and my modifications do not affect the health-factor of this meal. 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Here's what I used:

1 lb cubed stew beef (packaged as stew meat at the store)
2 cups mini-carrots
3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup AP Flour
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups stock (your choice, I used chicken)

Here's what I did:

Set nonstick skillet on medium heat, and add onions.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until translucent.  Add them to Slow Cooker.  Meanwhile, add flour, salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic powder to a large ziplock bag, and shake to incorporate.  Then add stew beef to bag and shake to coat the meat evenly.  Using same skillet and 1 tbsp olive oil, brown beef on all sides, 7-10 minutes total.  Add browned beef and drippings to Slow Cooker. 

Add in all vegetables but the potatoes, crushed tomatoes and stock.  Let cook on High for 6-8 hours.  1-2 hours before complete, add in potatoes and cornstarch (to thicken).

This turned into a decadent, silky and healthy meal that took very little preparation.  Everyone loved it.  Even Miss Sydney.

Kitchen Gadgets: Ceramic Pot Minder

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

For my second installment of highlighting my favorite kitchen gadgets, I remind you of a common problem.  While a watched pot may never around the corner to grab something at it just might Boil Over.  I've turned to face a spitting, frothy, angry pot more than a few times.  Enter the Pot Minder.  Another shout out to my Mom for a fun stocking stuffer. 

How does it work?  Simply place the 2" diameter ceramic disk into a pot of water prior to boiling...and it won't boil over!!  I looked this one up and its under 4.00.  Brilliant.

Slow Cooker (Crockpot) Beef Round Roast with Baby Carrots and Red Potatoes

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Well, we got hit with another snow storm yesterday, that added 12" to the 33" that were already on the ground here in Northern Virginia.  Good thing we all shlepped to Costco for a few hours on Tuesday, mostly to get out of the house - but we also stocked up on some goodies.  Wine.  Goat Cheese.  Fresh know, the essentials!  ;)

Let me say that Costco Goat Cheese and Mozzarella are awesome.  And for 2 lbs...and just under 4 dollars each...that's an amazing deal.  We pay 7-10 dollars for a half pound at our local grocery chain. 

I digress...  Being stuck inside, and wanting something comforting and hearty, I checked my fridge.  I had a 2.7 lb Beef Round Roast that was looking pretty good.  So I looked up recipes on All Recipes and found one called "Erica's Delicious Slow Cooker Beef Roast"...and modified from there.

After reading some of the reviews, I made more than a few modifications...

Slow Cooker Beef Round Roast

Here's what I used:

1 2.7 lb Beef Round Roast (other roasts will work, too)
20-30 baby carrots (enough to cover bottom of Slow Cooker)
1 medium onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
6-8 red potatoes, quartered
1 cup chicken broth
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp AP Flour
2-2 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce

Here's what I did:

Add all vegetables to bottom of Slow Cooker, except for the potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet (I used nonstick) with 3-4 tbsp of vegetable oil, and set to medium/high.  Season the roast with salt, pepper, and dredge lightly with AP Flour.  Add roast to pan, and sear for 15 minutes, browning all sides of the roast.

Place roast on top of vegetables in the Slow Cooker, and pour broth, soup and worchestershire sauce over roast.  Set to LOW for 6-8 hours.

During the final 1.5 hours, add potatoes, and make sure they're covered in gravy so that they heat evenly.

I sliced the roast in 1/2" pieces, and then placed them back in the slow cooker during the last 20-30 minutes, and served the vegetables and roast in soup bowls.  This was an easy, hearty meal for a blustery day.

Fresh Egg Pasta (Fettuccine) with Butter and Parmesan

Monday, February 8, 2010

Due to record snowfall and impending cabin fever, I gave Nick his Valentines Day Gift Early.  I figured it would only benefit me if I got some fresh pasta out of the deal.  Amazon was running a special on the Kitchen Aid Roller, Linguine and Spaghetti attachments, so I got that along with a pasta drying rack and the Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles. 

Nick started by reading the entire book of instructions, he likes to take his time and understand his new gadgets.  Once he had tried the attachments on the front of the mixer, he picked a recipe out of the book.

We agreed that he should keep the first go-round simple.  Mainly because during my THREE trips to the nearby grocery store in preparation for the 33" inches that would soon envelop our house, I had forgotten eggs,so we only had 3 eggs in the whole house.  One if the key ingredients to pasta, as well as several other meals that we've not had the ability to make due to our egg-lessness.

Finally, as an impulse more than a necessity, and due to lack of ingenuity on my part, I also ordered a pasta drying rack.  I don't know that there is a prettier culinary picture than fresh pasta hanging from one of these contraptions.  Beautiful.

For the dough, which last time we tried our hands at it, we did by hand with a mound of flour - this time we used the Kitchen Aid mixer. 

Fresh Egg Pasta

Here's what we used:

2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
3 large eggs, beaten

Here's what we did:

Using our Kitchen Aid standing mixer and flat paddle attachment, added flour and briefly pulsed to aerate the flour.  Then, added eggs, and mixed for about 30 seconds.  (Nick is a little particular, so he used a kitchen timer).  Removed formed dough, and added flour to our countertop and kneaded dough for 2 minutes.  At this point, we noticed that the dough was a little tough, so we added 1/2 tsp of water - which helped to loosen up the dough and make it more soft/pliable (you can do this by 1/2 tsp until the consistency is what you want).  Then Nick tightly wrapped the dough in saran wrap and allowed it to rest for 15 minutes (you can leave it for up to 2 hours).

At this point, Nick attached the manual pasta roller and set to the widest setting, #1.  He cut the dough into 6 pieces, and ran the first dough ball through, twice at each setting up to the 4th setting.  At this point and thickness, he was able the attachment for the Fettuccine attachment, and run each flattened dough strip through.  Once cut, we carefully moved the Fettuccine strands to the drying rack to rest.

Meanwhile, 4 quarts of water was rapidly boiling, and right before dropping the noodles in, we salted generously with kosher salt and allowed the pasta to cook for 2-3 minutes, until just al dente.  We then drained the pasta and returned it to the pot.

Fettuccine with Butter and Parmesan

Here's what we used:

5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan (not the powdered stuff in your fridge)

Here's what we did:

Now that pasta is cooked, drained and sitting in the stock pot, add butter and parmesan and cook over low heat for 1 minute, tossing to combine ingredients. 

We divided this among 3 1/2 bowls (little one for Sydney) and enjoyed every....last....bite.  Fresh pasta is divine.  So good...

Seriously Good Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Potatoes & Onions

Sunday, February 7, 2010

As with most of my cooking decisions, I got a good price on a 3 lb pork tenderloin.  I was able to find two recipes that I combined to create possibly the most tender and moist pork tenderloin I have ever eaten.  No joke.  Even days later, I'm eating slices of the pork loin cold as a snack - an activity I usually reserve for leftover filet mignon, still scrumptious cold.

My recipe is an adaptation of a Giada de Laurentiis recipe "Roasted Pork Loin with Fig Sauce" but without the Fig Sauce, using the leftover seasoning that I had from the Fiorientina recipe that I posted last Monday.

Here's what I used:

3 lb pork tenderloin
6-8 red potatoes, halved
2 small onions, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken broth

Fiorientina Rub:

1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper

Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover roasting pan in foil to save cleaning time.

In a small mixing bowl, combine Fiorientina Rub with olive oil and blend.  Place pork loin in roasting pan, and coat with rub and oil mixture.  If tenderloin is in more than one piece, wrap with cooking bands (as seen in picture below).  Add potatoes and onion to remaining rub mixture and stir to coat.  Add vegetables to pan around pork.

Roast for 45 minutes, turning pork every 15 minutes to evenly brown the meat.  At end of cooking time, meat should register 145 degrees.  Once removed from oven, place pork on a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm and allow to rest another 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, add chicken broth to pan with vegetables and meat drippings and stir to remove browned bits into the broth.

I plated this with some quick cook brown rice, and drizzled the sauce over the plate.  This was seriously good pork.

Kitchen Gadgets: Cooking RubberBands

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I thought I might start highlighting some of my favorite kitchen gadgets as part of my blog. I do not have a large budget for these sort of items, and usually a new pot or item must be planned and approved by the hubbs before I order. I did get a few COOL gadgets for Christmas this past year though and wanted to share one with you now.

These are Soooooooo handy!! So far I have used them to tie chicken legs together on a roasting bird AND to hold a pork tenderloin together (this was last night...and I have pictures - but will have to post the recipe later). You can also use them to hold veggie groups together, hold bacon on a filet...the possibilities are endless.

I got these as a gift, but they look to run about 3.00 for a pack, which I think is extremely reasonable.

Also, the colors represent different resistances, I was easily able to wrap the tenderloin using tongs and a fork, and then adjust with my hands. I just love these little guys. Dishwasher safe, oven and grill safe... They're just so NIFTY! Wow, that sounded really cheesy.

Steak Fiorientina with Sauteed Spinach

Monday, February 1, 2010

This week my local grocery store was running a special on Ribeye Steaks. Usually I would marinate the steaks in soy sauce and coat them with Montreal Steak Seasoning - but 1. I was out of seasoning and 2. We ALWAYS do that, and Nick and I wanted to try something new. Enter our new Mario Batali cookbook - thanks Mom!

I have adapted this recipe in several ways because it calls for 3" T-Bone steaks and fresh herbs. My steaks were barely 1" by comparison, and I only had dried herbs. But you know what, this recipe was very, very good with a much subtler flavor than our usual marinade. I highly recommend this as an alternate to your everyday marinade.

Steak Fiorientina with Sauteed Spinach

Here's what I used:

2 1" thick Ribeye Steaks
3-4 tbsp olive oil, in small bowl

1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper

1 large bag baby spinach
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic. chopped
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
S&P to taste

Here's what I did:

Allow steak to sit at room temperature while preparing the rub. Combine rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat steaks evenly with seasoning rub (I did not use all seasoning, had about 1 tbsp remaining, which I saved). Drizzle with olive oil, and use a cooking brush or the back of a spoon to evenly distribute olive oil over meat.

Meanwhile, I set my ridged cast iron pot to med-high and drizzled surface with olive oil. Once this was hot, about 4-5 minutes later, I added my steaks and cooked for 4 minutes per side.

While the steaks were cooking, I started my spinach. In a high-sided skillet I added my olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic about 30 seconds before adding spinach. Allow spinach to wilt, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste and drizzle in lemon juice. Cover and set aside while finishing steaks.

Once steak is finished, allow to rest about 5 minutes. This will seal in the juices. Plate steak with spinach. I also had some long grain basmati rice at hand from another dish. I plated the rice and spinach, with the steaks on top. The juice from the steak and spinach was plenty to add character to the rice.

I will definitely be using this recipe/rub again in the future. Go Mario!

City 2 Burb, and all that it entails... Copyright © 2009 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template for Bie Blogger Template Vector by DaPino