The Science Nerd

Slow Cooker

Hearty Meal – Beef Stew

December 6, 2012

Sometimes you just want a hearty dinner.  And even though it was a warm December day,  (temp was in the 70′s, no kidding!) it just felt like the perfect day for beef stew or stroganoff.   So, knowing that we needed to eat fairly early so I could go to my knitting group and then on to choir practice, I began searching for a beef stew recipe that could be made in the crock pot.  (I love my crock pot!  It makes dinner, or even lunch, super easy!)  After searching around a little bit, I found something that sounded good and used stuff we already had in the house.  A trip to the grocery store for one little ingredient would have thrown off my whole day!

So, while I was fixing lunch (OK – heating up leftover pizza) I also worked on dinner.  I defrosted half a roast we had frozen.  We like to buy a pretty good sized roast when they are on sale and cut it into two or three pieces.  One gets cooked right away while the others get frozen (the other kitchen gadget that I really love is my Seal-A-Meal.  I am able to vacuum seal leftovers or meat or whatever and it lasts so much longer.)  Anyway, I defrosted a roast, cut it into bite sized pieces, covered it with flour and placed it in a skillet with a small amount of oil.   While the meat was browning, I cut up 4 small potatoes, 2 carrots (I’m the only one in our house that likes carrots, so I didn’t put many in there) and one large onion and put them all in the crock pot.  When the meat was browned on all sides I added it to the crock pot and then added one cup of beer.  Finally, I put a cup of water into the pan that browned the meat, scraped up all the browned pieces from the pan and added it all to the crock pot as well.  I set the crock pot on medium ( which says 8 hours, but the food is usually ready in half that time with this particular model) and let it get to work.  All in all this took about 15 minutes.

After lunch, I pulled out the bread machine, added everything to make a loaf of bread and let it get to work too.  It wasn’t long before the house was smelling wonderful!

And Voila! at 5:00, dinner was ready –  and it tasted great too!  The beef stew was not as soupy as I’m used to, but it hit the spot.  And fresh bread is rarely a bad addition to a meal.

We decided that this was definitely a keeper meal.  The only thing we might do next time is add some mushrooms.  I could also get everything ready days in advance, seal it and freeze it for a quick easy meal with no prep – just defrost, place in the crock pot and hit start.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1-2 pounds beef roast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • flour
  • 4 small potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup beer
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours


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Crock Pot Steak Fajitas

March 20, 2012

In our quest to add diversity to our dinner repertoire, I have turned to Pinterest.  (You can check out my Food page here).  If you haven’t checked out Pinterest yet, I would highly recommend it.  Just don’t start if you have somewhere to be.  Tonight’s dinner was found while goofing off planning this week’s dinners.

Here is the recipe


1 pound thin steak, cut into strips

This isn't my picture, I forgot to take one.

1 green pepper, cut into strips

1 medium onion, cut into strips

1/2 cup beer (or water)

1 tsp. chili powder

salt and pepper to taste


Place all ingredients into crock pot, cook on high for 4-6 hours.  Serve in corn or flour tortillas with cheese, salsa and sour cream (or whatever you like with your fajitas).

I also heated up some refried beans as a side dish.

These were incredibly tasty, the only complaint we had was that they were too watery.  Next time I will take the steak, green peppers and onions out of the crock pot and drain them before serving.  Other than that, they were excellent.

This is also one of those crock pot meals that can be made ahead of time and put in the freezer.  Just put all the ingredients (except the beer) into a Seal-A-Meal bag or freezer bag and place in the freezer.  Then, when you need a quick easy meal, it can go straight from freezer to crock pot along with the beer and a few hours later, dinner is served!  It couldn’t be any easier.

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Chicken & Dumplings Redux

February 18, 2012

A few weeks ago I made chicken & dumplings in the crock pot and while they were very good, they weren’t great.  So, Thursday was another cold rainy day and we decided to have them again with a few changes.  Check out the original post here.

I made sure to buy some Cream of Chicken soup and used that instead of the Cream of Celery.  I also omitted the onions.  The plan was to dice them much smaller because in the first batch they were just too big, but I was lazy and just decided to leave them out altogether.  They were not missed.

The Cream of Chicken soup gave a much better taste to the dish and as I said above, neither of us missed the onions.  I might leave them out in the future as well.

Of course, when making this dish, you could add anything you wanted – peas, carrots, mushrooms, celery, corn, onions….whatever makes you happy, and I’m sure it would still be good.


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Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

January 11, 2012

I have attempted Chicken & Dumplings on two separate occasions, and neither time turned out that great.  In fact, they were both pretty awful.  So, I was a bit trepidatious about trying a third time.  But, as they say, “Third time’s a charm.”

The recipe I worked with was found on  I made a few changes, but not many.  Here’s my take on Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of celery soup (I didn’t have cream of chicken soup)
1 can chicken broth
1/2 onion diced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 cup milk
1 can Grands Jr. flaky refrigerator biscuits



Place chicken in crock pot
Add butter, cream of *WHATEVER* soup, chicken broth, and onion
Cook on high for 4 hours
Remove chicken and break into pieces with a fork, return to crock pot
Put cornstarch in a bowl and mix with milk, add to crock pot and stir well
Cut each biscuit into fourths and place in pot
Cook an additional 30 minutes




I used Cream of Celery soup, but next time I will stick to Cream of Chicken.  The celery flavor didn’t quite fit with our idea of Chicken & Dumplings.  I also will dice the onion very fine.  The pieces were too large and didn’t blend in well.  I added the cornstarch to thicken the broth, but if you wanted your dish more like soup, you could leave it out.  You could also add in whatever you wanted to make it yours – mushrooms, peas, corn, etc.


This dish will also be put in the rotation.  It was easy and tasted great.  It was especially good on this rainy blustery day.


UPDATE (2/16/12) – We had this for dinner again and I made some changes, check them out here.


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