Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Tonight we tried the first of the slow cooker meals I found on Saving You Dinero – Simple Beef Stew. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:
2 pounds cubed stew meat (I split a large Costco pack in half, basically eyeballed it)
1/2 white onion chopped (I use chopped frozen onions from M&M Meat Shops – huge timesaver!)
2 garlic cloves, diced (I used minced garlic)
3 cups water
2 beef bouillon cubes
Bag of baby carrots (I chopped some large carrots I had in the fridge)
2-3 large potatoes, cut into large chunks
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add the beef, onion, garlic, water, bouillon, potatoes and carrots to the crock pot. Cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

For freezer bag prep: add everything except the potatoes and carrots to the freezer bag and freeze. Potatoes and carrots go in fresh.

Review: this recipe turned out great. It was very tasty and the meat and veg were super tender. I would add peas and more carrots next time to bulk it up. My only complaint is the sauce is very thin. I scooped out two cups of juice an hour before it was done (I used the low cooking option) and thickened it with a roux (3 tablespoons of butter melted on low, mix in 1/4 cup flour and whisk till smooth, then whisk in juice) and added it back to the pot. Then I turned it up to high for an hour. It was definitely better and more gravy like, but could’ve been thicker. Any suggestions for how I could fix it from the beginning so I can avoid this step at the end?

I will definitely make this again, if I can fix the sauce it will certainly be a keeper. What else do you put in your stews? I’m not a fan of mushrooms or onions, but I know they would probably add even more flavour!

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13 Freezer Meals In 3 Hours

Before our second baby was born, I fully intended to fill my freezer with crock pot-ready meals.  To our great surprise, he arrived 2.5 weeks early, so it didn’t happen.

As the weather changes and our schedule starts to get busier, I wanted to get ahead of meal planning for the next month.  I love my Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker and I wanted to go beyond my standby recipes – chili, meatballs, scalloped potatoes, etc. There’s a ton of great websites out there with recipes for bulk crock pot freezer meals.  I came across a blog called Saving You Dinero and I LOVE these recipes!  I decided to try these ones:

  • Garlic Honey Chicken
  • Southwest Chicken
  • Spicy Chicken
  • BBQ Ranch Chicken
  • Creamy Chicken & Broccoli
  • Simple Beef Stew

You can find all the recipes and shopping lists here. I had a lot of ingredients already on hand so I didn’t have to buy much.  Since I was already planning a big mess, I also decided to make batches of chili and spaghetti sauce.  I went to CostCo and bought a large package of chicken breasts, a package of stewing beef, and a large package of ground beef.  I also stumbled upon a cheap pre-seasoned pork roast for pulled pork so I picked that up too!

Now came the assembly!  I bagged all the meat first (I browned, drained and cooled the ground beef before bagging), then cut up vegetables and then added the other required ingredients.  I then wrote the name of the recipe on the bag, any ingredients that aren’t frozen that need to be added (like cream cheese) and the cooking times. I won’t share everything here because it would be way too much in one post, I will share the details in separate posts as we cook the meals.

So after about 3 hours (because I had to do this in phases, I have two kids after all!) and about $100 in ingredients (CostCo meat was about $70 and I bought about $25 in canned goods and then used pantry ingredients for the rest) I have 13 meals ready to go (one of each chicken recipe above, two batches each of stew, spaghetti sauce, pulled pork and chili) into the slow cooker!  I will still need to make sides (rice, noodles, vegetables), but I always have lots of those on hand and can easily whip them up.  I can’t wait to try them all!

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13 slow cooker-ready freezer meals!

A few things that worked well:

– labelling each bag before I began

– bagging the meat first and keeping a large garbage bag ready to dump all the packaging

– cutting up the vegetables and then dropping into their respective bags

– sorting all the dry/canned ingredients on the counter by recipe so everything was at my fingertips

– cleaning out the freezer first!

Breakfast Ham Egg and Cheese Boats

I was watching The Chew last week and saw a recipe for Bacon Egg & Cheese Boats and it looked SO easy I had to try it! Of course I couldn’t find the recipe when I was about to make them so I whipped up my own version.

Ingredients:

Your choice of bun (I only had hamburger buns on hand so I used the tops only because they are deeper)

One egg per portion/bun

2 tbsp of milk per egg used (I eyeballed it)

Your choice of meat, cheese and any veg you want to include (I used ham and cheddar, it was what I had on hand)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Hollow out centre of buns leaving about a cm at the edge and bottom so the eggs won’t leak through. Place on greased foil wrap on baking sheet (for easy cleanup if anything leaks).

Crack eggs into mixing bowl, add milk and whisk. Finely chop meat and cheese and add to mixture. Add a dash of salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into buns, make sure the meat and cheese are evenly distributed. Much of mine stuck to the bottom of the bowl so I spooned it out into each bun).

Immediately put the buns in the oven, as the eggs start to soak into the bread. If it leaks out a tiny bit, no worries!

Bake for about 15 mins. I watched until they rose and turned a golden brown.

Next time I may add some extra cheese on top in the last few minutes of baking. Otherwise, remove and enjoy! They are egg-celent!!
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Five Ingredient Slow Cooker Chili

The other night I left a movie to be welcomed by a blast of cold air. It was one of those nights that smell like fall. I love the cooler temperatures, the harvest decorations and making yummy meals with the slow cooker. It was quite cool yesterday while I was making my grocery list and was inspired to pull out the slow cooker to make chili!

I’ve made this recipe a lot and it’s super easy and tastes great! I love that I can put dinner together in the morning and I’m done for the day. You can make this with or without meat, depending on your preference.

Ingredients:

– 2 cans of kidney beans
– 1 can of diced tomatoes
– 1 can of condensed tomato soup
– peppers (whatever kind you like, I used sweet red and yellow)
– ground meat (I used lean ground beef but you can use pork, chicken or omit altogether)

Rinse the kidney beans in a colander then add to the slow cooker. Drain the water off the diced tomatoes and add to the slow cooker. Add the can of condensed soup (no water).

At the same time, brown the ground beef with your favourite spice (I like the Club House Vegetable spice) and drain. Then add to the pot. Then wash and dice the peppers and add to mixture. Stir everything together with a big spoon.

I found a new Club House Maple Bacon spice at the grocery store and decided to add it on top, it smells nice and smokey and should taste great.

Turn the slow cooker on low and leave the chili for about 6 hours.

It may seem like the chili looks “dry” but the diced tomatoes break down and combine with the soup to create the sauce. If it’s too soupy before it cooks, it will be even worse once it’s done. It’s easier to have super thick chili and add a little water later.

I’ll post a pic later once it’s done. Now I can kick back and relax for the rest of the day…or at least dream about it. Let’s be realistic, I have two boys to entertain!IMG_2444-0.JPGIMG_2446-0.JPG

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