Slow Cooker Favorites and a Recipe for Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew (Podcast #69)

It’s been way too hot outside these past few weeks to turn on our ovens, so we decided to devote our weekly Cooking with the Moms podcast show to the slow cooker. Our first recipe for Spinach Goo was recently featured on our blog, so be sure to check it out.  Our second recipe is for Sweet & Hearty Beef Stew and literally takes just five minutes to prepare. Our slow cooker philosophy to “dump and go” definitely applies to this recipe!

Beef Stew via

Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew

Makes 6 Servings

  • 8 ounces presliced mushrooms
  • 2 pounds lean stew meat, trimmed of fat
  • One 16-ounce bag baby carrots
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

1.  Place the mushrooms in the bottom of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Top with the stew meat and carrots.  In a bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar, and salt and pour evenly over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low until the meat and carrots are tender, 6 to 7 hours.

2.  When done, maintain the slow cooker on low heat. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until well combined. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture and the peas into the slow cooker and cover until the liquid thickens and the peas heat through, about 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  350 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated), 420mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 32g protein, 220% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 24% iron

Print Recipe

During the show, we also had an opportunity to dish about some very sensible slow cooker advice.  We adapted the following tips from A Year of Slow Cooking, a blog written by Stephanie, who, by the way, is coming out with a new cookbook called, Make it Fast, Make it Slow:

What size slow cooker should I buy? It depends on what you are interested in cooking, and your family size. Slow cookers work the best when they are 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. The recipe times are for this amount of food, so if your pot isn’t full enough, the food will cook faster and might burn. If it’s a bit too full, your food will take longer to cook than the suggested cooking times.

> For a family of 2 to 3, buy a 2- to 4-quart slow cooker
> For a family of 3 to 5, buy a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker
> For a large family, or for entertaining groups of people, opt for a 7- to 8-quart slow cooker


What if I only have a huge slow cooker?  Can I still make recipes that call for a smaller size? Yes. Simply insert an oven-safe dish (Pyrex, Corningware, etc.) into your large stoneware, and load the ingredients into the dish. This will create a smaller cooking vessel inside of your slow cooker. Then cover and cook like normal. It will take a bit longer for the dish inside to get up to temperature, but your food will cook just fine.

Another option if you have a 6-quart slow cooker but are making a recipe that calls for a 4-quart is to put the ingredients into your slow cooker, then put a layer of foil or parchment paper on top of the food to help trap in the steam and moisture. Then cover and cook like normal.

If you have a favorite slow cooker recipe you’d like to share, please post it here on our blog. We’re always looking for new ideas and would love to hear from you.

9 responses to “Slow Cooker Favorites and a Recipe for Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew (Podcast #69)”

  1. Tony Valente says:

    Please send me the recipe for a [Sweet & Hearty beef stew

  2. Ann says:

    Love my slow cooker! Such a life saver! My favorite meals to put in the slow cooker are turkey sloppy joes and chicken stroganoff. I definitely hope you put some in the new book. I especially like to double the recipe when I make it so I can freeze the other half for another time.

  3. Kristin says:

    Love these recipes and my slow cooker. I was all in to the podcast during my morning run, but I only got 13 minutes of it!? May be my Itunes, but I swear I will hear the rest and get my hands on another good slow cooker soon! My old one is on its last legs!

  4. Kendra says:

    I took the stew recipe and modified it to incorporate the fresh veggies and herbs from my co-op. I used fresh tomatoes instead of sauce, fresh garlic and herbs instead of salt. I had a zucchini so I added it in place of the peas. It smells great. We will see how it goes over for dinner.

    Love the crock pot recipes, keep them coming!

  5. Hi Ann, your recipes sound great! Would you post them here so we can give them a try?
    Kristin, thanks for letting us know about the podcast. Somehow the last few minutes got cut off. Our IT guy is working on it now.
    Kendra, how was the stew with all your fresh co-op items? We encourage people to add veggies they have on hand to our recipes. Keep on cooking!

  6. Kendra says:

    The stew great! My picky 6 year old ate most of his since the veggies he doesnt like turned transucent. Probably would have eaten the carrots if I had cut them up smaller(live and learn). Have to say not much left over. I left the salt out since it was flavorful enough with the herbs and garlic. I was able to mash it down so my 1 yr could eat it too.

    Now I need to tackle the coconut, eggplant and bok choy from the co-op????

    BTW my crock pot is making applesauce for the kids right now. It is such a underutilized tool that saves the day for our family.

  7. Ann says:

    Both are from Steinback Slow Cooker meals

    Chicken Stroganoff (this could also use a makeover!)
    1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1 10 3/4 oz can low fat cream of chicken soup
    2 c nonfat sour cream
    1/4 c instant minced onion
    2 tblspn chicken bouillon granules
    1/2 tsp. onion powder
    3 c cooked rice or no yolk egg noodles

    Spray inside of slow cooker w/cooking spray.
    Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low heat 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hrs.

    **I cooked it on low. I did feel like around hour 3 it seemed really thick so I added about a cup of water to thin it out a little.

    Turkey Sloppy Joes
    1 1/2 lbs. lean turkey
    1 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp minced garlic
    2cups frozen seasoning vegetables – thawed and drained
    1/2 c ketchup
    4 tsp tomato paste with roasted garlic
    1 tsp cider vinegar
    2 tsp molasses
    1 tsp worcestire sauce
    1 tsp chili powder
    1/4 tsp paprika
    1 c water

    Spray large nonstick skillet with spray. Add ground turkey, onion powder, minced garlic, and seasoning vegetables to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until turkey is browned and crumbled and vegetables are softened.
    Drain well. Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, molasses, worcestire sauce, chili powder, and paprika in slow cooker and mix well. Add turkey mixture and water; toss to mix. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat 3/4 hours. Serve on bread.
    153 calories, 15 total fat, 270 sodium

  8. Maria says:

    The Sweet & Hearty stew recipe caught my eye. It sounded so good, except for the beef (my family eats vegetarian most of the time). So, I subbed the stew meat with 1 lb kidney beans that I partially cooked in the pressure cooker. I also added 2 potatoes that I cut into large chunks (put them on top of the beans). At the end of the 8 hours on low, the potatoes had released enough starch that I did not need to add the cornstarch slurry. At that point, I stirred in 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce to add some more umami. I served it with homemade whole wheat rolls. It was spectacular. Thank you for a great recipe and a great podcast!

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