Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Delicious Beef Stew perfect for Fall but who wants to wait?!
I do this every winter.  I dream of summer--of bathing suits, river trips, weekend boating, floating my cares away with a "pool noodle" and an ice cold beer.  But, as soon as the temperature hits close to 100 for the first time, I'm already wishing for Fall.  Pumpkins, Halloween, Crisp Cool Breezes, Scary Movies, "Fall Back" Time Change, Warm Stews, and Hot Spiced Wine!  See.  I'm doing it again.  The smells... the tastes... the fun of Fall!

To help get you in the Fall mood, I have for you a delicious stew recipe this week!  This is seriously one of my most favorite stews, which I found a while ago and modified from AllRecipes.com

This recipe calls for a lot of ingredients, and it could feed probably close to 10 people!  Instead of feeding tons of people, though, I just made it for me and the hubby and froze individual portions for quick, "there's nothing to eat" meals!

Without further ado, let's begin!  First, I gathered all of my ingredients together.

Lots of yummy ingredients... and yes I cheat a little.  I hate peeling potatoes!

Then, in a large plastic bag with flour, salt, pepper, and garlic, I tossed the stew meat, making sure to coat each piece.  While that was going on, I heated up a little oil in a skillet, so I could have somewhere to put all of this deliciously tasty stew meat.

I know, right?!  Looks super appetizing right now!

Once the meat was coated in flour, I browned the meat in the skillet and dumped it into the slow cooker with the carrots and potatoes.  At this point, you can also throw in any other seasonings you may want to include!  I just opt for garlic, and lots of it!  

Before the meat was added!

In a medium sauce pan, I heated up some water and beef stock.  Once it started to boil, I mixed in the dry onion soup mix and poured it over the meat and veggies.  And, in the same pan as I cooked the meat, I sauteed the onions until nice and caramelized.  

Of course, I added more garlic to the onions.  

Once the onions had softened, I dumped them into the slow cooker and used some wine to deglaze the pan, making sure to get all of the delicious crunchy bits of meat and onion up.  Then, I dumped that into the slow cooker as well, gave everything a good stir, and turned it on low.

Mmmmmmm deglazing pans with wine is fabulous!

After ten hours of cooking, the stew was perfect and ready to eat.  I ended up using a little extra flour to thicken up the stew 30 minutes before serving, but I'm sure it would be equally fabulous without the added flour.

That's right people.  I serve wine with my stew (and everything else)!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

-  3 lbs. Beef Stew Meat, cubed
-  ¼ cup Flour
-  TT*   Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
-  8 oz. Baby Carrots
-  4 large Russet Potatoes, washed, peeled, and cubed
-  2 cups Boiling Water
-  ½ cup Beef Stock
-  1 pkg Dry Onion Soup Mix
-  3 tbsp Butter
-  ½ cup Red Wine (3 Dreams Merlot or Chandon Pinot Munier)
-  3 large Sweet Yellow Onions, sliced
-  ¼ cup Water, warmed
-  2 tbsp Flour
-  TT*        Fresh Garlic (minimum 4 cloves, minced), Parsley, Thyme

* TT means To Taste
-  Combine ¼ cup flour with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
-  In large plastic baggie, place meat and flour mixture; close baggies and shake until all pieces are coated
-  Heat oil (grapeseed oil or almond oil work best) in a large skillet over medium high heat, and add stew meat and cook until evenly browned on all sides
-  Transfer browned meat to slow cooker and add in the carrots, potatoes, fresh garlic cloves, parsley, thyme, and any other herbs you would like
-  In a small pan, heat water and beef stock until boiling, then remove from heat and add the dry onion soup mix
-  Once the soup mix is combined, pour the mixture over the beef in the crock pot
-  In the same skillet that you browned the meat, melt the butter and sauté the onions until softened then spoon into the crock pot
-  Using the same skillet, heat on low heat the red wine to deglaze the pan, loosening the crispy bits, then pour into crock pot
-  Cover the crock pot and cook on Low for 10 hours
-  At this point, you can turn off the slow cooker and serve, or...
-  Optional Step 1: Once the meat is finished cooking, spoon a few tablespoons of the juice into a plastic shaker with the ¼ cup warm water, then add in the 2 tablespoons of flour and shake vigorously
-  Option Step 2:  Stir the shaker contents into the stew and cook uncovered for 15 minutes to thicken up the sauce

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

Dottie Approved Meal

Life is crazy and crazy busy.  I don't have time to slave over a stove for 4 hours whipping up delicious meals every day.  I may get to do that once in a blue moon but not usually, which is why my CrockPot is my best friend in the kitchen.  With just 5 minutes of prep time and 4-6 hours of cooking, you have an amazing meal that will feed you and 7 of your closest friends (or feed you 8 times)!

Today's recipe is one that I adapted from AllRecipes.com.  It takes a pork tenderloin, four or five other ingredients, and a little patience, but it's so worth it!

First, you'll want to gather your ingredients together (onion soup mix, fresh garlic, red wine, soy sauce, and spices).

There aren't going to be many photos because I actually
forgot to photograph until the very end...

Then, you dump everything into your slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or until the pork roast is to your liking!

Yeah, I know... it looks terrible, but I promise it's delicious!

Once the pork roast was finished cooking, I just sauteed up some green beans and threw in a bag of the Ore Ida Steam 'n Mash frozen potatoes and we were in business!

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

-  3 lb. Pork Tenderloin
-  1 pkg. Onion Soup Mix
-  1 cup Water
-  4-6 cloves Fresh Garlic
-  1 cup Red Wine (I like 3 Dreams Merlot or Chandon Pinot Munier)
-  1-2 tbsp(s). Soy Sauce
-  To Taste:  Other spices* including Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, etc.
-  Optional:  2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch

*You don't need to add any more salt because the soy sauce will take care of the saltines for you!

-  Place the pork tenderloin in the slow cooker.
-  In a bowl, combine the soup mix, seasonings, garlic, water, and soy sauce.
-  Pour the mixture over the pork tenderloin, and cover with your lid.
-  Cook on high for 4-6 hours (depending on how you like your roast).
-  Once your roast is finished cooking, you can take it out and either cut it up or use two forks to shred the meat.

Note: Once your roast is out of the pot, you can either serve the juice as an au jus, or you can make a gravy by combining 2 tbsp. flour or cornstarch in a shaker with a few spoonfuls of the juice, shaking vigorously until the flour and juice have been combined, then pour the mixture into the pot and make sure the temperature is still set to high, stirring continuously so the flour doesn't separate.  After about 10 minutes, your juice will become slightly thicker and you can use it as a gravy over your meat and potatoes.

As I mentioned above, this recipe is great when served with a vegetable and a potato, but you can also use it as filling for pork sliders or roasted pork tacos.  The uses for this recipe are nearly limitless.  I used the leftovers to add to salad, which went very well with a balsamic vinegar dressing.

Also, another thing to note is make sure you use a good quality wine.  A $5 bottle of wine isn't going to do the trick.  You don't have to go all-out, but choose a wine that is moderately priced ($10-25) and you know to be good quality.  I actually like the flavor that the Merlot gives this recipe, even though I don't typically drink Merlot, but use a red wine that you enjoy!