Lesson one: No amount of processing can save a poorly lit photo. (Thanks for nothing, Standard Time.)
Lesson two: However it may look, this stew tastes incredible. And it’s easy. And clean, paleo, low-glycemic, dairy-free, soy-free, and kid-approved!
Browning the beef beforehand sounds like an extra step, but it is SO important to the full flavor of this dish. And it’s a quick way to get your kitchen already smelling delicious before you even turn on the crock pot! Put this one on your list for the cold, busy weeknights ahead. (Please send some of that cold down here to Florida!)
Paleo Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Original recipe here
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs stew beef (cubed)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large dice
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
- 1 onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
- optional, to thicken broth: 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the beef chunks, season with a little salt and pepper, and sear on all sides. Dump into your slow cooker and cover with the remaining ingredients, except tapioca starch.
- Cook on high 5-6 hours, or on low 8-9.
- Optional: if you want to thicken the broth, 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, whisk the tapioca starch with 2 Tbsp water. Pour the mixture into the stew, stirring gently, until distributed throughout, and allow it to resume cooking.
- Remove bay leaves and enjoy! In the unlikely event that there are leftovers, they reheat beautifully.
Paleo | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean Eating | Gluten-free | Nut-free
I printed this recipe off a long time ago, while I was getting paid to stare at a computer screen 40 hours a week, from an online community that I don’t think exists anymore. The date on the bottom of the printout says 3/28/2008. And I never made it! It sat neglected in my recipe binder for one reason:
So I finally broke down & bought the $1.28 bottle & made these. Can you believe that it took me three & a half years?
(Note: This smells very vinegar-y while it’s in the slow cooker, so I expected a Carolina-type sauce, but it’s actually quite mild.)
From the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker cookbook
- 3 Tbsp. canola oil
- 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder cut into 3 equal pieces
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup light molasses
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Brown both sides of the pork & transfer to the slow cooker. Saute the onion in the oil until golden.
- Add vinegar & deglaze the pan, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring it just to a boil.
- Pour sauce over pork. Cover; cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-10 hours.
- Shred the pork on a separate plate & discard any pieces of fat. Skim grease from the sauce, then return the pork to the sauce, stir to combine, & serve on rolls.
When the weather gets cooler — & trust me, the 60-degree lows we’ve experienced around here the past few days have actually been sweatshirt-worthy — I start craving the comfort food. This is, as the title would suggest, the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, creamy, savory, & you hardly even have to chew! How’s that for comfort?
My friend Kelli made this for us years ago, when we were first married. It was so delicious I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I’ve lightened it up just a tiny bit since. It heats up great for leftovers; just be sure to cook up enough rice to serve with it later!
Creamy Crock Pot Chicken
- 4-6 frozen chicken breasts, depending on size
- 1 pkt. powdered Italian dressing mix
- 3/4 stick (6 Tbsp.) butter
- 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
- 1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup (Campbell’s or Kroger brand)
- Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
- Sprinkle dressing mix evenly over top. Slice up butter into chunks & distribute evenly on top of that.
- Cook on low 5 hours or high 3 hours.
- Shred chicken with 2 forks.
- Add soup & cream cheese; mix well.
- Let sit in warm Crock Pot several minutes to allow cream cheese to melt.
- Stir again & serve over rice.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
Get Your Craft On Tuesdays
I can officially call myself a housewife: I have now cooked pork chops.
That were ridiculously on sale.
In my slow-cooker, even!
It was an interesting meal, too: The Munchkin was tired & hungry & didn’t stop screaming the entire time. She also didn’t eat a single bite of pork chop or orange. Dinner for her was a peanut butter sandwich & like 2 bites of strawberries. Eh, well, you win some, you lose some. We thought the chops tasted delicious! My Husband The Skeptical was completely won over, even though he generally doesn’t think meat should be cooked with fruit; the orange zest isn’t detectable in the taste of the finished product.
This is another one from The New Slow Cooker. You really need to get this book. Like, really. I’ve posted my alcohol-free version (no cooking wine). Also, I have to be honest: their salad dressing was super bitter. So I’ve included the tastier orange vinaigrette dressing I like, from Better Homes & Gardens.
- 6 bone-in pork loin chops, each about 1 1/2 inches thick
- salt & pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large shallots, halved & thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar (it calls for white; I used red)
- zest of 2 oranges (reserve oranges for salad below)
- Season chops generously on both sides with salt & pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sear chops until golden brown on both sides, working in batches if there are too many. Remove to a plate.
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan. Return it to medium heat. Add shallots & garlic; saute until just beginning to brown.
- Pour in broth to deglaze the pan. Stir in vinegar, zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, & several shakes or grinds of pepper.
- Pour pan contents into bottom of slow cooker. Stack chops on top.
- Cover & cook on low 7 hours. (I only made 2 chops & they were done after less than 6.) Chops will be tender.
- Place one chop on each plate to serve. Drizzle some of the braising liquid over each chop. Add salad, below, & serve.
Spinach Orange Salad (with BHG dressing)
- oranges from above
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
- baby spinach
- Segment oranges: Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice off the top & bottom of the fruit so you see the flesh.
- Follow the contour of the orange to slice off strips of skin & pith, revealing the fruit on all sides.
- Slice wedges out of the orange, between the membranes if you can. (I found a navel orange to be a little “sloppy” on the segmentation…) Cut into smaller pieces, if desired. Set aside.
- In a jar with a lid, or a Tupperware, combine vinegar, juice, oil, sugar, & mustard. Cover & shake well. (Your kids will love helping with this step!)
- Mound spinach onto plates, top with a few orange segments each, then drizzle with salad dressing.
Do you have a certain “housewife” dish you’ve never made either? Confession time: my other one is lasagna! Any recipe suggestions for that one?
I may or may not still be avoiding using my oven. So here’s another slow cooker recipe for you!
I saw this recipe months ago over at Talkin’ Chow, Playin’ House, but never found a roast on sale enough to merit trying it.
Now, this is definitely comfort food, so I wouldn’t blame you for waiting to try this until it cools off. It definitely seemed odd to me, seeing this out my window (we have a nature preserve right behind us, & it’s so humid that the windows fog up every morning) & then tossing a big, hearty roast into the Crock Pot. It’s a jungle out there! Literally! But oven vendettas are stronger than heat & humidity.
Whenever you do decide to give it a try, I promise you that you won’t be sorry. My only suggestion would be to season your roast more generously than the Martha recipe suggests (Yes! Even she isn’t perfect sometimes! There is hope for the rest of us!), because the beef tasted bland in comparison to the AWESOME carrots.
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch (a little more if you want a thicker gravy at the end)
- 2 Tbsp. cold water (or stock, if you’ve got a container already open; I used chicken broth)
- 2 lbs. carrots, peeled & cut into thirds
- 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
- 3-lb. beef chuck or rump roast, fat trimmed
- 2 Tbsp. (plus a splash) Worcestershire
- salt & pepper, or seasoning of choice (I think a Steakhouse Seasoning grinder would do a fabulous job)
- Stir together cornstarch & water (or stock) in bottom of slow cooker until smooth, using a non-scratching utensil.
- Add carrots & onion to slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper; toss to combine.
- Season both sides of roast generously. Place on top of vegetables. Drizzle with Worcestershire.
- Cook on high 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
- When finished, slice thinly against the grain. (If you can! Mine was so tender it just shredded. Not the worst problem to have, right?)
- Place meat & veggies in a serving dish, then drizzle with the gravy & serve. Or serve the gravy on the side. (I found there wasn’t enough of it for the latter.) Yum!
Get Your Craft On Tuesdays
We’re back online! It feels so good to have Internet again. We’re still getting settled in, & I’m having a hard time finding places to fit everything inside my tiny kitchen (I may or may not be keeping my spices in a cardboard box for the moment & some of my baking dishes in a linen closet; how ironic that our NJ kitchen was larger!), so no kitchen or craft experimentation just yet, but I do have one recipe that I photographed in our old kitchen & didn’t have time to post before we rushed down here.
When The Munchkin was tiny, she was really tiny. Nursing was a two-handed job just because she was so small, so my long list of books to read while nursing turned into countless hours of DVR’d movies & TV shows in the middle of the night. I barely left the living room sofa. My daytime lineup included several cooking shows, like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. This recipe is adapted from one of hers. In addition to being wonderfully easy, this is a great recipe for picky eaters who have a hard time with texture; the veggies get nice & soft in the slow cooker.
2 lbs. beef round steak, sliced thin (I just buy the pre-sliced stir-fry beef)
2 pkts. fajita seasoning
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 green peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup plus a splash of apple juice
sour cream, cheese, etc., for serving
(I make a half recipe for us, so that’s why one of the peppers is missing.)
To slice your peppers without getting the seeds everywhere, use Ina Garten’s method (which I also learned from my nursing days in front of the TV): Hold your pepper with the stem up on your cutting board, then cut around the core using a large chef’s knife. Discard the core, seeds, & all, when you’re done. No mess!
- Add sliced veggies to the slow cooker; toss with 1 packet of seasoning.
- Add steak slices on top, seasoning those with the other packet as you go to make sure that the beef is relatively evenly coated. I don’t use the whole packet; it’s plenty seasoned with less. But you can choose how much to put on.
- Pour the apple juice over the top.
- Cook on low 8-10 hours.
- To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave, then use metal tongs or a slotted spoon to add meat & veggies. Top with sour cream, cheese, & whatever else sounds tasty!
We’re all looking for ways to save time, energy, & money, right? Well these 2 meals (1 looking significantly more scrumptious than the other, unfortunately, due to my lack of time & natural light on the second evening) will do that for you.
The same exact shredded barbecue chicken goes in both dishes, so you only need to do everything once! I mentioned these two meals once before, but thought I’d post the recipes in one place to make it easier.
Just put the following in your slow cooker in order:
- 3 carrots, grated
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
Cover, turn your slow cooker on low for 5+ hours, & forget about it. An hour before serving, shred the chicken & mix the ingredients together, than re-cover & continue cooking on low until ready to serve.
The first way to serve this barbecue chicken is between two buns:
Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
The second way is to braid it inside pizza or roll dough, in what The Munchkin affectionately refers to as:
Roll your dough out into as close an approximation of an oval as you can.
Take a pizza cutter & create 1-inch-wide strips, but leaving the center few inches intact.
Spread your leftover chicken filling down the middle on the non-strip part of the dough. Top with another squirt of barbecue sauce & some shredded cheese. Keep in mind that the more cold filling there is in the middle, the longer it will take to warm up & cook, so don’t pile it on.
Then “braid” the dough by stretching alternating strips across the chicken filling & pressing into the base of the next strip down on the other side.
Do the best you can to make the bottom pretty. I can’t help you here.
Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until quite golden on top & the dough is done in the middle.
Let it rest a few minutes, then slice using a sharp serrated knife & serve with extra barbecue sauce on the side.
Do you have any multipurpose meals like this one? I’d love to hear about more!