Thursday, October 23, 2014

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

With the cold weather settling in, all I want to do is snuggle up in my sweatpants and eat comfort food! I tend to slow down on some of the "fancier" cooking this time of year, and opt to cook more "one pot" meals in my slow cooker.

Slow cookers not only produce mouth watering meals, but they are a gift from the heavens for those who may not have much time to cook (or are lazy like me)! :) So as you can imagine, once I heard that this weeks post for the FN Dish blog needed to be a slow-cooker meal, I was more than ready to partake!

Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

Ingredients (please note, I always end up just tossing ingredients in and do not measure them exactly, so these are approximate amounts):
-1 onion chopped
-1 cup celery, chopped
-2 cups carrots, chopped
-1 15oz can diced tomatoes
-Approximately 1 1/2 - 2 cups fingerling potatoes or chopped potatoes (can leave the skin on - just clean them)
-2 lbs beef for stew, cubed
-2 cups beef broth
-1 beef bouillon cube (you can use vegetable bouillon if you cannot find or do not have a beef cube)
-Parsley for sprinkling
-Salt and pepper to taste
**1 or more tablespoons of flour for thickening

Prepare all of the ingredients and set your slow-cooker to cook for at least 8-10 hours.

Place the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and beef in the pot.  Season with salt and pepper and a little sprinkle of parsley.  Pour in the beef broth, and then fill the rest of the pot with water until just all of the ingredients are covered. Toss in the beef bouillon cube, cover the pot, and let cook!

**If you want a thicker beef stew, then mix a tablespoon of flour with a little water and add to the pot.  The more flour you add, the thicker the stew will become. I recommend adding up to 1/4 cup of flour if you want a thicker stew.  My photos show what the stew looks like with just one tablespoon of flour.

Important: Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you may have a hard time fitting in all of the ingredients.  When I had my smaller cooker I would leave out the potatoes for a few hours until the other ingredients had time to cook and reduce down.  Potatoes will cook fast so it is okay for them to be tossed in a few hours later if needed.

Feed Me Phoebe: Moroccan Lamb Chili with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes and Kale
The Lemon Bowl: 
Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetables with Cinnamon and Garlic
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Stew with Rosemary, Thyme and Sage
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: 
Slow Cooker Cassoulet
Slow-Cooked Meals from Breakfast through Dessert
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Slow-Cooker New Mexican Vegetable Chowder
Red or Green: 
Slow Cooker Red Beans, Vegetables & Rice
The Cultural Dish: 
Slow-Cooker Beef Stew
Domesticate Me: 
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
Taste with the Eyes: 
Elegant Braised Leeks
FN Dish: 
6 Desserts to Cook Low and Slow

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil

I love garlic! Yes, I am Italian, so of course I love garlic, but it is just such a magical and fragrant ingredient that adds flavor to your dishes! However, for those of you who may not be as much of a fan of garlic, you must try it roasted!

Roasting garlic does something magical - it turns the raw and bold flavors to a more subtly sweet ingredient.  Roasted garlic is great to mash up and spread on bread for bruschetta, combined with mayonnaise or butter as a spread, and can even be used to infuse olive oil!

There are two ways in which you can roast garlic, so let me break it down for you and you will be roasting in no time!

Roasted Garlic Method 1

-1 to 2 bulbs of garlic
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

Leaving the garlic bulbs whole, slice off the top pointy end of the bulb to expose the heads of the cloves. Place the garlic bulbs on a pan or heat proof bowl and fill about half way with olive oil (if you are just roasting garlic and do not want to make olive oil, then only drizzle a little oil).  Make sure you pour the oil over the exposed heads of garlic so that the oil gets in between the wedges too.

Roast in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cloves are browned and a pairing knife easily sticks through the center clove.

Strain the oil into a jar and seal and save.  The plus side of using this method is that you not only get a nicely flavored olive oil, but you can also use the roasted garlic cloves for other spreads or dips.

Roasted Garlic Method 2 (just for oil)

-Several peeled cloves of garlic (approx. 30 - 40 cloves)
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread the cloves of garlic out on a baking sheet.  Pour the oil over all of the cloves and fill the pan with oil too.  Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cloves are nice and browned.  I really like to brown my cloves, so you can pull them out about 10 minutes earlier if you do not want the cloves to be as browned.



Pour the cloves and oil in a jar and use when cooking or for dipping bread.  This oil will last for a few days, so only make a little at a time. 

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