Monthly Archives: February 2010

February 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Stew beef is on sale at the local grocery store this week.  You can make a number of things with this cut of beef including, vegetable beef soup, beef burgundy, beef stroganoff, beef pot pie, and beef hash, just to name a few.  But, my favorite is Beef Stew.  It’s an easy, slow cooker meal and can be doubled to feed a crowd.  Slow cooker meals are really great this time of year because we want comfort food to ward off the cold, but we generally don’t have too much time to prepare these nutritious meals for our families.  I often prepare this hearty stew during the winter months when friends come to visit.  Serve beef stew with cornbread, biscuits, or garlic toast for sopping up the delicious sauce.  Round out the meal with steamed green beans or a green salad. 

You can use chuck roast that has been trimmed and cubed for this recipe, or any recipe that calls for stew beef.  Both chuck and stew meat need to be slowly cooked in a liquid (braised) in order for the meat to be tender.  If you buy chuck roast or chuck steak, just ask your butcher to trim and cube it for you.  This will cut down on your prep time for this recipe.

You can use white or red potatoes in beef stew.  If you use white potatoes, peel them.  If you use red potatoes, don’t.

Enjoy the ease of preparation of my beef stew recipe and reap the compliments on this good-for-the-soul comfort food.  

Connie's Beef Stew

Beef Stew 

1 lb. beef stew meat or chuck steak, cubed
3 potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 c. pearl onions or 1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 ½  c. beef broth, divided
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t. steak seasoning
1/4 c. red wine
2 T flour
1 c. frozen peas

Season beef with salt and pepper.  In large skillet, heat 1-2 T. Olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add seasoned beef and brown.  Place browned beef in bottom of slow cooker and top with potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Return skillet to medium-high heat and deglaze skillet with 2 c. beef broth, scraping up bits off bottom of pan.  Add Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning, and wine to skillet; pour over vegetables and beef in slow cooker.  Strip leaves from thyme stems and add thyme leaves to slow cooker.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours or until beef is tender and potatoes are cooked.  Combine remaining 1/2 c. beef broth and flour; stir until smooth and add to beef and vegetables with frozen peas.  Stir well; cover and cook on high 30 more minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

February 24, 2010

CrockPot Ribs Recipe

I have to say this week I am so busy I  do not have time to make anything new. I know sad ha? I thought I would share a quick dinner idea that I used last night since we had Karate at 4:30-5:30 and then basketball 6:00-7:00. I mean sometimes you just have to do what you can.

1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

1/4 cup of water

1 crockpot

as many ribs as your family can eat or will fit in your crockpot

Place 1/4 cup of water in the crock pot add ribs $4.18  and pour on the sauce $1.00. Place your crock pot on low for 8 hours… Voila dinner!

I threw in some Uncle Ben’s rice 90 seconds (free) in the microwave and a bag of Dole Salad mix ($1.00). DONE for under $7.00!

February 20, 2010

Crispy Roasted Chicken Recipe

Chicken has been on sale at most stores so this is a perfect time to try this recipe! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

This week, I had lunch out with my friends.  We ate at a local restaurant that serves the moistest, most tender, classic Southern fried chicken.  I really wish I could fry chicken like my grandmother did.  She would soak the chicken in buttermilk and then coat it with a magical seasoned flour that I can’t seem to duplicate.  Of course, I have tried and tried to make my Grandma’s fried chicken, but as of late, I have not been successful. 

So, I’ve been working on roasting chicken so that the skin will be crispy out of the oven.  The trick is to increase the oven temperature just before the chicken is done.  A meat thermometer is a must when roasting meat.  Using one will insure that your meats are properly cooked and turn out tender and juicy as well. 

Whenever I bake chicken parts or quarters, I buy them when they are on sale, and I cook 3-4 pounds so that I will have leftovers to make another dish.  After your family enjoys Crispy Roasted Chicken, pick off all the leftover meat and either freeze it for a later use or make it into another delicious dish.  You could make Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings or Chicken Tetrazzini.  Baking chicken whole or in parts and then using the leftover meat to create a second meal is a smart way to cook since you are saving money and time.  In this recipe, I’ve included how to roast whole garlic.  Try this and you won’t believe how delicious your home will smell!   

Crispy Roasted Chicken 

3 lbs chicken parts or quarters (skin on and bone-in)
1-3 heads of garlic
1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, scraped and cut into chunks
3 T white wine
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh chopped basil
1/4 c. butter, melted 

In a baking dish, place onion, carrot, and white wine.  Place chicken on top of vegetables. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Combine thyme, basil, and butter; pour over chicken.  Prepare garlic heads and place in baking dish beside chicken.  (See tip below).  Roast chicken in 375 degree oven for 1 hour  (increase heat to 425 for last 10-15 minutes of cooking).  Bake until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees.   

Tip:  Roast garlic heads with chicken:  Cut off top 1/4 of each garlic head, and discard.  Place garlic heads, cut side up on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap foil around garlic heads, sealing foil at top.  Bake along with chicken for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and cool.  Remove papery skin, and squeeze out soft garlic into a small jar.  Seal and refrigerate; use within 2 weeks. Add roasted garlic to steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice, or soups.  Spread on toasted bread or add to pasta sauce.

February 9, 2010

Homemade Cleaning Products

 This post is from our partners at Studio One Networks.

Ideas That Spark: Home Style

Be a Clean Freak … for Less

From the Editors of Ideas That Spark

By Sarah Mahoney

It took a bout of unemployment to jolt Joyce Wilden of Melbourne, Fla., out of the cleaning products aisle. “We were out of window cleaner and looking for every possible way to save money,” she says. So she went online, searched for a recipe for a homemade version and has never looked back. “I discovered it works exactly the same!” she says.

Skeptical that homemade formulas actually work? Most people are. “When I teach workshops, I have everyone clean the bottom of an old copper pan with just lemon juice and sea salt,” says Leslie Reichert, a green cleaning coach and author of The Joy of Green Cleaning (CI Publishing 2008). “People can’t believe something homemade works so well.” Reichert says the biggest money waster is falling for the idea that you need a different product for every surface. People spend on average approximately $140 per year buying cleaning products, whereas making your own will average around $30 a year.

An easy place to start is using what you already have. “Soap is soap,” says Marla Cilley, author of Sink Reflections (Bantam 2002) and creator of FlyLady, a housekeeping Web site. You don’t need to buy special toilet cleaners. “I use old shampoos and bodywashes — the things you bought and didn’t like, for whatever reason — in an old vase by the toilet, with a brush in it. Swish the toilet daily — if you keep up with it, you don’t need stronger cleaners.”

Other ways to save:

Make Your Own All-purpose Counter Cleaner
Mix equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar is a mild acid that kills most germs, mold and bacteria. Hate the smell? Buy a small bottle of essential oils in a fragrance you like and sprinkle a few drops directly into your container of undiluted vinegar before mixing with water.

Savings: A $3 gallon bottle of vinegar and a $5 bottle of essential oils yields 2 gallons, or 255 ounces; spray-on cleaners cost $4 for 32 ounces.

Use Baking Soda for Scouring
When not fully dissolved, baking soda acts as a mild abrasive and is safe for scouring anything. Plus, it won’t hurt your eyes and will prevent kids from getting near chemicals. Use it straight out of the box or mix with other products, like borax or sea salt, for extra scrubbing power.

Savings: Buy 4 pounds for $3, versus $1.49 for 14 ounces of a leading scouring powder.

Make Your Own Dishwasher Soap
“I mix equal parts borax with baking soda and use two tablespoons of it in my dishwasher,” says Rene Christensen, a blogger at BudgetSavingMom. “It’s environmentally friendlier, and I think it works better than store brands.”

Savings: A 76-ounce box of borax costs $3.59 and contains roughly 10 cups. Add another $3 for the baking soda, and you’ll create 152 ounces or so for $6.59, versus spending $3.35 for 20 ounces of a leading brand.

Get Streak-free Windows
Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol with water for a great glass cleaner. And because it kills germs and leaves behind a nice shine, it’s great for many grimy places, including appliances (even stainless steel) and granite countertops.

Savings: A $2.06 bottle of rubbing alcohol will make 64 ounces of cleaner, versus $4.50 for a 32-ounce bottle of a leading brand.

Copyright © 2009 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

February 6, 2010

Game Day Chili Recipe

crockpot chili
Super Bowl is this Sunday AND we have a big, fat snowstorm going on. So, warm, comfort food is on the menu. Chili can be easily made in your slow cooker and then served three different ways. Make a big pot of chili and warm up with this homey soup after being out in the snow. Then, use the leftovers to make nachos and chili dogs for the big game.

Once you’ve eaten the chili as a soup, take the lid off the slow cooker and leave it on “low”. The chili will cook down and thicken as the liquid evaporates. Use the thick chili as a topping for hotdogs and to make your own nachos. Chili dog toppings to have on hand are spicy mustard, chopped onions, warm sauerkraut, sweet pickle relish, coleslaw, and of course, ketchup.

Making your own nachos is easy; just think layers. On the serving platter, spread tortilla chips evenly. Next, goes your thick, warm chili. Then, shredded cheese (cheddar, Monteray Jack, Pepper Jack, asiago, a mix…your choice). Top the cheese with finely, shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, jalapeno slices, dallops of sour cream, and fresh chopped cliantro. This will make a beautiful presentation and guests will gobble it up!

Game Day Chili

1 lb. Ground beef, venison, or turkey
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz diced tomatoes
28 oz water
½ lb dry kidney beans (soaked overnight) OR 2 (14.5 oz) cans
1 T salt
½ T chili powder
dash cayenne pepper

For topping: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped jalapenos

Brown meat with onions. Drain. Place meat and onion mixture in crock pot. Add garlic, tomatoes, water, soaked kidney beans, salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until beans are soft. You may reduce water for a thicker consistency.

Serve with shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro, or your choice of toppings.