Sometimes, I do think ahead. It really pays off with menu planning; you'd think I'd do it more often... this week I had my act at least somewhat together, food-wise, and planned on beef stew for tonight. It cooks in the crockpot:
2lbs, more or less, cubed beef stew meat
1 bottle of Guinness
2 tsp beef bouillion (or 2 bouillion cubes)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
several grindings of black pepper
Our preferred vegetables: baby carrots and green beans.
Plug in your crockpot and turn it onto low.
Brown the beef well in hot skillet lightly coated with oil or a non-stick spray -- don't crowd the pan or the meat won't brown, it will steam, and it won't be as yummy.
While the meat is browning, pour the Guinness into your crockpot, then add the bouillion, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and pepper. Peel the garlic cloves and put them through a garlic press, or mince if you prefer, and toss in the garlic as well. Give all that a stir.
When the meat is browned, tip it into the crockpot, and continue with the remaining pieces. When all the meat is browned and in the crockpot, put the skillet back on the heat and pour about a cup of water into it. Stir and scrape vigorously to deglaze the pan, which is just a fancy way of saying getting all the tasty stuff off the bottom that is now stuck there. Add this deglazing water to the crockpot as well.
Cover the crockpot and let it cook until 3 or so hours before you want to eat it, and then add your vegetables. Baby carrots get a quick rinse. Green beans are snipped and cut to bite size, and a potato gets a good scrub and then is cut into good size cubes. We don't normally do potatoes, but Mom's here and she likes them. I have to admit that they are very tasty in this recipe. You throw the veggies in and let them cook for a few hours. Then it's done -- as simple as that. I suppose you could put the veggies in at the beginning if you absolutely had to, but then they'd likely be mush. You'd want to keep them in bigger pieces if they had to be in the crockpot the whole time.
This is not a fancy recipe, but it wins for two reasons: 1) it is deeply flavorful without being weird, and 2) the kids will eat it. I would never have thought to use Guinness as a base until I read the stew-blogging posts over at Instapundit a little while ago, but it is awesome.
Mom and I hit the mall after dropping DS2 off at school -- she's looking for new walking shoes. No luck with that, but I scored 2 new pairs of shoes myself, plus some new tops, and a sweet, sweet find for DS1's upcoming birthday. We were out the entire time and got back to pick up DS2 just as his class was ending... exhausting but I was glad to get the stuff as I needed it and the stores, as usual, are giving everything away after Christmas.
Went with the little ones to Border's after picking up DS1, and it was nice to just hang out and read silly books to them for a couple of hours.
On the way home, DS2 declared Eric Clapton Unplugged "pretty boring music, Mom." Then he piped up with, "Mom, do you remember the Beatles?" I didn't laugh, but it took some effort not to. As there was no objection, I switched the music to "One", and enjoyed listening to DS2's version of "With Love from Me to You," "She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah," etc.
And when we got home, dinner was all but ready. Yay!