Daily Archives: February 9, 2012

Tes Makes Beef Stew with Apples

Tes' Beef Stew photo by Tes at Home

I was pleased to pop over to Tes at Home and find Tes created a wonderful recipe that would be perfect for a tonight’s slow cooker recipe exchange   It sounds like she peeked into her kitchen and found a variety of ingredients and decided they would make a good stew.  I believe she’s right.  Click link below or either picture for the recipe.

Tes’ Beef Stew with Marjoram and Apples

Can't wait to try this. Photo by Tes at Home


Thursday Recipe Exchange: Portuguese Beef and Pasta

Years ago, when I was first learning to ski, I was very frustrated by the amount of time I spent on my ass and not skiing.  Someone told me that if I wasn’t spending  a lot of time picking myself up, I wasn’t really skiing. I needed to push my limits to get better. In other words, it was all good.  I find that information works for a lot of things in life.  Cooking is no exception.

This week, I spent a lot of time on my figurative ass, playing with the new crock-pot making various recipes.  There were epic failures.  The first thing I tried was a slow cooker meatloaf.  It called for a basic meatloaf recipe – I have a favorite – and then cook all day on low.  The results were not stellar.  More like steamed meatloaf.  An unappetizing color and texture.  Not the nice deep brown of a good baked loaf.  I was able to salvage it by cutting it into thin slices and frying it up for sandwiches.

I'll stick to these scalloped potatoes from now on.

The next failure was the scalloped potatoes.  This called for a slightly modified recipe, a bit more moisture than in the baked method.  The flavor was fine, the texture was horrible.  Kind of like if you reheated some that you baked.  Rubbery and chewy.  I’m not sure how you could modify the recipe to get a creamier texture.  I’d love to hear any ideas in the comments.

The rest of the week was spent making traditional slow cooker foods – soups and a lovely pot roast.   It wasn’t a total loss.  I did learn that for a fool-proof slow cooker recipe it’s best to have a recipe that can cook, unattended, all day without risk of ruin.  Both the potatoes and the meatloaf really could not have cooked any longer than they did.  They would have turned out even worse.

So that was adventures in cooking this week.  What foods do you use your slow cooker for successfully? Anything usual that we’ve never thought of?  Hit the comments.  Next week I think our theme will be Mardi Gras, and I’m hoping you’ll come prepared to share some favorite drinks as well as Cajun food recipes.  Someone should bring the King’s cake recipe, too.

Here’s one of my favorite fool-proof slow cooker recipes:

Portuguese Beef & Pasta

This works best if you cook the pasta separately and either add it to the beef the last 15 minutes or serve the beef over the pasta.  This is one of those slow cooker recipes that the longer it cooks, the better it gets, usually 10 hours minimum for best flavor.

  • 1 lb round steak, cut into thin strips, remove excess fat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz dry macaroni**

Slow-Cooker and saucepan

Add beef, salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, garlic, paste, diced tomatoes, water, bay leaf & red pepper to Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low) until beef tears easily with a fork. In saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well (you don’t want any water in your beef mixture) and mix beef and pasta and serve.

**Ditilani works really, or any tiny pasta, like tiny elbow macaroni or tiny bow-ties.

Potato Soup

Mrs J uncovered some smoked pork shanks and neck bones in the big freezer yesterday so I boiled up a nice stock using those along with the classic mirepoix of  carrots and onions and celery.  The aroma from that pot simmering drove all of us a bit crazy.  The dogs were wandering about in a daze, bumping into walls and ignoring kitties.  I’m lucky to survive the deboning of the pork.  I did have their attention.  Annie and Buddy shared the carrots – Jack was waiting for the good stuff.

I was thinking a bean recipe would be great but Mrs J was adamant that I cook a cheesy broccoli potato soup and when she gave me the “I have spoke” look I considered the recipe selection process closed.  Google turned up plenty of variations on the basic theme, I won’t link to any of them because none of those added much to my basic plan.  I will note that one recipe called for Velveeta.  I’m far from a cheese snob and have gobbled a ton of that mixed with spicy tomatoes from a can in a nacho dip I’m sure all of you know well, but I used shredded cheddar this time.

To the strained and de-fatted stock I added four medium cubed potatoes and simmered them until they were nearly done, then added a couple of cups of broccoli and the chopped meat from the necks and hocks.  Give the broccoli a few minutes then add heavy cream and the shredded cheddar and bring back to a simmer until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is done.  The amounts of cream and cheese are not really a big deal, I used a bit more than a half pint of heavy cream and six or eight ounces of cheese in a quantity of soup that would feed six.  Salt and pepper to taste, I also added a shake of cayenne pepper.  Garnish with more  shredded cheese and serve with some nice hearty bread.