Monday, November 12, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Sorry, picture!  I kept forgetting to take one, then we ate it all!  Also, while you see slow cooker in the name, this is not a dump everything in and let it go...there is some prep work.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into about 1-inch pieces (I purchased marbled meat to add extra flavor to the stew)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided (cook the beef in 2 batches...1 tablespoon oil per batch)
3 to 4 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced carrots
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Emeril's Original Essence seasoning
32-ounce carton beef broth, divided
1-ounce package dry onion soup mix
3 tablespoons butter
2 small onions, peeled, cut in half then sliced
1/4 cup red wine (I used Burgundy and I used closer to a whole cup)
8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  1. Prep the potatoes and carrots and add them to the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with the dried parsley, black pepper, and Emeril's seasoning.  Give it a rough stir to coat. 
  2. Place the stew meat in a gallon-size resealable baggie along with 1/4 cup flour and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt; shake well until all pieces of  meat are coated. 
  3. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the beef on all sides...DO NOT fully cook the beef.  Also, you should do this in 2 or 3 batches so as not to crowd the pan.  I use stainless steel cookware, because I have an induction-top are some tips on less sticking; however you want some of that gunk to stick so when you de-glaze the pan with the wine you get all that flavor.  If you are using stainless steel cookware, heat the cookware prior to adding the oil.  You know your pan is ready by throwing a few drops of water into the pan and they dance across the hot surface.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the hot pan and work the pan until the bottom is coated.  Now wait until the oil is hot....really REALLY hot.  You should see faint wisps of vapor when the pan is ready.  To test it, touch the edge of the meat to the bottom of the hot pan.  If it is properly heated, the meat will easily slip and slide across the bottom of the sticking.
  4. Add the meat to the top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.
  5. Boil 2 cups of the beef broth; add in the packet of onion soup mix and stir until dissolved.  Pour this over the beef and vegetables in the slow cooker.
  6. Using the same pan you cooked the beef, melt 3 tablespoons butter; add onions to the hot butter and sauté until they are softened; add them to the slow cooker.
  7. Keeping the same skillet heated, pour in the red wine slowly so the vapor doesn't make your eyes water; scrape up all the bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan; let simmer on low until the wine has reduced and is thick; pour this in the slow cooker.  If you're using a stainless steel pan and the bits are really stuck, use a metal spatula to scrape them up.
  8. Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
  9. Reduce slow cooker heat to LOW and cook for 6 to 6 1/2 hours.
  10. Right at about 6 hours, I added the 2 remaining cups of beef broth, the can of tomato sauce, and the flour/water mixture, stirring to combine everything.  Take a taste test to see if it is salted to your this point you may want to add some additional salt.
  11. Continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes.
This is a pretty thick stew, so feel free to add more beef broth to thin it out.

Print Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

Nifty Noshing!!

Collette :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Easy Meals

Macaroni & Cheese with Smoked Sausage

You can feed your family a hot meal without having to spend a long time in the kitchen.  We have had several meals from my "easy" category lately.  I will be the first to admit they are not always the healthiest meals, but easy...they are!

Easy Meal #1:  The meal pictured above is macaroni and cheese with smoked sausage.  Because I have 2 growing twin boys and a growing husband, I prepared 3 boxes of macaroni and cheese according to package directions.  While the pasta was boiling, I cut into small pieces 21 ounces (1/2 of a 42-ounce package) of Ekrich Skinless Smoked Sausage.  I put the smoked sausage in a glass bowl and heated it in the microwave for about 3 minutes or so.  Once the mac and cheese was prepared, I folded in the smoked sausage.  This is soooooo easy!!  Serve it with a salad or green veggie and it adds some healthy back into the mix.

Sloppy Joes
Easy Meal #2:  Sloppy Joes.  I tend to buy ground beef in bulk and freeze it in one-pound increments.  For these sloppy joes, I defrosted 2 pounds of ground beef in the microwave then browned it over medium-high heat.  I drained the meat and added it back to the skillet.  I stirred in a little garlic salt then added 2 cans of Great Value sloppy joe sauce.  Normally I use 1 can for 2 pounds of ground beef, but we had open-faced sloppy joes so the sloppy can be a little sloppier.  While the meat was defrosting, I threw some Kroger seasoned fries in the oven (they need approximately 20 to 25 minutes in the oven plus preheat time) and served those with the sloppy joes.  I ate chips with  mine; hence, the potato chips seen on my plate above.  I usually serve this with a veggie, but I didn't this time...oopsie.

Easy Meal #3....Hamburger, Chicken or Tuna Helper.  I accidentally stumbled upon Beef Pasta HH and that has turned out to be my absolute favorite!  I'm not a HH fan, so I don't fix it often, but occasionally it hits a sale paper and I have a coupon and I can get it for super cheap!  Season it up just right and it can be delicious!  Always yummy with a salad and/or veggies for the side.  How hard is it to open a bag of salad and throw dressing on it or open canned veggies?  Cooking doesn't have to be complicated!

Easy Meal #4....Frozen breaded chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.  Last night I threw frozen breaded chicken tenders in the oven.  While those were cooking, I prepared 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese on the stove top and opened 2 cans of french-cut green beans, dumped them in a glass bowl, seasoned them with lemon pepper and ran them through the microwave for 3 minutes.  What kiddo doesn't love breaded chicken tenders?

Easy Meal #5....Smoked Sausage, Macaroni and Cheese, and Ranch Style Beans.  Please do not ask me where this meal came from, but we all love it.  Slice the smoked sausage and place it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.  Prepare 1 to 2 boxes of macaroni and cheese according to the package directions.  Open a couple of cans of RS beans, dump then in a glass bowl, and run them through the microwave for 3 minutes.  You can also replace the RS beans with canned green beans.  I love green beans seasoned with lemon pepper!

Easy Meal #6...Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  I place 3 pounds of ground beef in a large glass mixing bowl then add an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 large eggs, 3 tablespoons A-1 Original Steak Sauce, 1 cup crushed seasoned croutons (any brand), 1 cup crushed french-fried onions, and 1 packet of onion soup mix.  Wash your hands, take off your jewelry, and dig in!  I mash mine all together with my hands until it is blended together.  I then give my hands a good washing, place the meatloaf in a metal 13 x 9-inch baking dish, and place it in a preheated 350-degree oven to cook for 30 minutes.  I like to cook my meatloaf in a 13 x 9-inch pan, because it seems to cook more evenly and takes less time.  While the meatloaf is in the oven, prepare some instant mashed potatoes according to package directions.  Open a couple of cans of green beans, place them in a glass microwaveable bowl, add lemon seasoning and run them through the microwave for about 3 minutes.  This is excellent served with Texas toast!  Basically just butter both sides of some plain white Texas toast bread (made by Mrs. Baird's or Sunbeam), pop it in the toaster and when it is golden brown, it's ready!

I'm sure I have a ton of other easy meals like this, but here are just a few to get you started.  And for my friends out there who say they can't cook....I say YOU CAN!  This is cooking, folks!

Nifty Noshing!!

Love ya,
Collette :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Field Trip and Football Game

Photo from Inner Space Caverns Website
Yesterday, the boys' 5th grade class went on a field trip to Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown, TX.  This was a 3-hour trek from the school, but I rode with my friend, Whitney, and with all the hot air blowing in her SUV, we were there before we knew it!  I have to admit, I did get a little car sick and was warned that if I threw up in her vehicle, I was riding the bus back home!

I didn't actually go down into the caverns so I can't give you my personal experience, but I did hear it was very muggy and just a little creepy when they turned out all the lights.  The boys were extremely disappointed that they saw no bats, but they were able to take a gander at petrified bat poo....lover-ly, just lover-ly.

Can you believe I did not take ONE single photo yesterday?  I know...40 lashes with a wet noodle!!  Ed tried to get me to take the camera, but I said, "Nah...I've got my phone." we are.

On a side note:  Do any of you remember the shooting at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009?  Chris Royal, one of the survivors is running 80 miles from Fort Hood in Killeen to the capitol in Austin.  The first leg of his run ended yesterday at the Inner Space Caverns.  So while all the kiddos and parents were underground in the cavern, I was able to sit outside and watch this guy take pictures with everyone and walk his wife and little boy around to see the animals, etc.  It was sweet.  He has a pretty good limp from being shot twice in the back.  Apparently it messed up his back and hip pretty badly.  He started a non profit for the surviving victims called 32 Still Standing Foundation.

After the kids and parents came up from the cavern and everyone visited the gift shop, we celebrated Emma's birthday with some yummy cupcakes with pink frosting and sprinkles...Happy Birthday, Emma!  Then it wasn't long, and we loaded up to leave.

We were scheduled to eat lunch at the Denny's in Waco (Siri pronounces it Wacko), but Whitney and I grabbed the boys and headed for this dive she found on Yelp....Health Camp.  The food was great, but a little pricey for a burger joint.  Don't you just love the name?

Then on the way home, we stopped at the Outlets at Hillsboro to do some shopping at Bath and Body Works...great deals right now....and I got some nice little treats for AY.  They'll be in the mail soon, sweetie! 

Then on to the football game.  This was our district championship game against First Baptist Academy.  Can I just say how disappointed I am in the players and crowd from FBA?  That's all I'm going to say about that.  Ed met us there from was nice getting to spend some time with my honey.  Afterward, Jon Jon went with Ed so he could finish up his work for the evening and Benny Bear came home with me and we crashed.  (I don't care how old they are...they will always be Jon Jon and Benny Bear to me!!) 

And on that note...cherish your time with your children!  I hear so many people saying, "I can't wait until they can do this or that," but the time slips away so quickly.  I want it to slow down...I CAN wait! was hard enough when Lindsay graduated from high school and we sent her off to college, but when these 2 guys graduate and head off to college at the same might as well reserve me a room at Timberlawn right now!

Thanks for visiting my blog today!  Hope you have a wonderful day!

Collette :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012


We are not a family that "celebrates" Halloween so to speak.  Do the kids like to dress up and get candy?  Of course they do.  And what parent doesn't inflict the candy tax?  You know what I mean!  I usually wait until the kids are at school then pick and choose my favorites.  But I don't go all out and decorate and such...just the fun stuff for the kiddos.

The boys waited until the last minute to decide and work on costumes, but I think they came up with some pretty good ones!  We went to their grandparents' house last night for some family time, and Uncle Josh and Aunt Amanda took the boys trick or treating with their cousin, Luke.  Lots of fun was had!  I stayed back and chatted with Bill and Lee.

Lindsay is at college, but it appears that she went as Pippi Longstocking
And here is Max's grave...his mom and grandmother decorated it for him
Hope everyone had fun and got lots of yummy candy!

Collette :)