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!
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
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.