Easy Beef and Potato Stew (Seriously easy and seriously beefy)

October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is now the go to slow cooker beef stew recipe I’ve been making lately. Now that Fall is here, it’s certainly going to be part of the regular rotation. It really is quite beefy, so head to Sam’s or Costco to get the large portion of meat. The recipe is derived from the ATK slow cooker easy prep cookbook, which has been a great resource for crockpot cooking. Basically I added a few more herbs and carrots to the recipe. Unfortunately I have no good pictures of the stew, because stew generally does not photo well, but it sure tastes yummy!

The Stuff

2 10.5 oz cans of condensed French onion soup

1 cup water

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 1/2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1-2 tsp dried thyme

1-2 tsp dried, crushed rosemary

2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half

3-4 carrots, cut in large chunks

4 pounds (yes, 4!, but 3 works too) stew meat in 1 1/2 inch pieces (or use sirloin steak tips)

salt and pepper to taste (shouldn’t need much salt)

2 cups of frozen peas (gets added at the end of the cooking process)

The details

1. Whisk soup, water, tomato paste, tapioca and herbs together in the slow cooker.

2. Stir in potatoes and carrots.

3. Season beef with a little salt and pepper, and stir into slow cooker. There is enough liquid but add up to another 1/2 cup if desired.

4. Cover and cook until beef is tender. 9-10 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high.

5. Skim excess fat from surface of the stew. Stir in the peas and let sit until heated through (5-10 minutes while some bread is heating in the oven perhaps).

6. Adjust consistency of the stew with extra hot broth if needed. Season with a little pepper (and/or salt) if needed. And eat it up. Leftovers also freeze fairly well.


Crockpot: southwest chicken

December 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

All hail the trusty workhorse of the kitchen: ye olde crockpot.  To continue with the crockpot recipe trend, I submit my own: this is pretty much the only thing I bust out the crockpot for, and it’s really good.  And dare I say, healthy?  Obviously once you put in on white rice and add cheddar and sour cream things change a bit, but as is (e.g., if you ate it alone as a very hearty stew) it’s pretty much fat free, high protein, and low calorie.

Ingredients (adapted from budgetbytes.com, a really great website)

  • 1 lb chicken breasts (frozen or thawed – if frozen, I chuck them in frozen and everything is cooked well within 4 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low)
  • 1 entire 16 oz jar of your favorite salsa (this is one of the biggest contributions to flavor, so make sure you like it)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn (usually this is half a bag)
  • 1 big clove minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder (I do a heaping Tbsp)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin (again, heaping)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano (heaping… I like spices!)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water (I start with 1/4, but usually end up adding more if it’s looking dry towards the end)


  1. Put chicken in the bottom of the crockpot
  2. Unceremoniously chuck everything else on top.
  3. Stir so chicken is covered by wet stuff.
  4. Put on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4.
It's not pretty, but it's tasty!

It’s not elegant, but it’s tasty after a couple hours!

Eat by itself, or on top of rice accompanied with cheddar, sour cream, cilantro… yum!

crock pot balsamic pot roast

November 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am SO MAD at you guys for not turning me on to this whole crock-pot thing earlier.  It. is. amazing.  More amazing than the appliance itself is the fact that it seems to have inspired trusty sidekick to try his hand at cooking with some regularity.  And all was right in the land.

So, as to this recipe: although I’ll admit that I was dubious that pot roast in the slow-cooker could rival a pot roast prepared the old fashioned way in a dutch oven, last night’s crock-pottery was a big, big winner that we will surely be making again and again.  It’s also remarkably low-prep for a crock pot recipe, with no browning-of-the-meat or sauteing of the vegetables at 6AM, which is in and of itself a win. In fact, you could easily prepare everything the night before, saving only the quartering of the potatoes for the morning. The recipe is adapted from one found here which is itself derived from one found here.

Because I have a 6 1/2 quart crock-pot, I doubled the amount of the sauce ingredients called for in the original recipe.  If you have a smaller crockpot (e.g., a 3-quart pot), you may want to consider halving the liquid called for below.

The stuff:

  • 4-5lb beef roast (I used two two-pound chuck roasts).
  • 3 c. beef broth
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you, like me, only have low-sodium soy sauce on hand, then double the amount of salt you’re adding to the mix)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2-1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • approximately the same amount of celery
  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes, quartered

the how-to:

1. whisk together the beef broth, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, salt, pepper and garlic.  this can be done the night before and placed in the fridge.

2. chop your vegetables.

3. place half of the vegetables in the bottom of the crock pot, and place beef roast on top of vegetables.  cover with remaining vegetables and pour liquid mix over everything.  the liquid will likely not hit the magic 3/4 mark of your crock pot, but fear not! the beef’s own juices will make up the difference.

4. cook on low for 6-8 hours.  I set the crock pot to 8 hours and then had it switch itself off to warm, and arrived home to a perfectly tender roast.

Oh, and then I made gravy.

the stuff:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
3c. broth from the crock-pot
1/2t of salt
1/2 t of pepper
1 1/2 t herbs de provence

the how-to:
1. melt butter over medium-high heat.
2. slowly stir in flour until incorporated. continue to stir until the roux begins to brown to a light caramel color.
3. slowly stir in beef broth in cups, stirring to incorporate each cup completely before adding the next. (Note: if you prefer very thick, “lunchroom style” gravy, you may want to stop at 2 c. of broth. If you like your gravy very runny, consider adding more than the called-for 3c).
4. season with salt, pepper and herbs de provence.
5. keep on heat, stirring constantly throughout, for a total or approximately 6-8 minutes.
6. gravy!

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