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Crockpot Beef Stew

I turned on my heated seats which means it’s officially “Winter” (which technically isn’t supposed to start for another month). I doubt the temperature shift would feel as severe if we didn’t have all this crazy wind. There’s nothing like frigid wind blowing in your face. I have the world’s shortest commute to work but even I end up getting home with my teeth chattering and clanking together.

Enter: crockpot

It’s warm-meals-in-the-bellies season. In all my years, I’ve never actually made beef stew but I love it. We didn’t have stew often growing up but I definitely remember one Easter when the family was sick and instead of a big sit-down meal, mom made a huge pot of the most heavenly stew I had ever tasted. To this day she has no clue what recipe she followed either! LOL

There are almost as many online recipes for beef stew as there are for chocolate chip cookies. I was pretty amazed. I decided to slice and dice a few recipes together and make a very basic stew for my first attempt. The result? Pretty darn good.

While dinner for the current night was cooking, I cut up two pounds of beef chuck roast and tossed it with flour, salt, and pepper. Then I browned the meat in a few tablespoons of coconut oil. Then I just threw it into the crockpot with some potatoes, carrots, onions, beef broth, and bay leaves.

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The next morning I plugged it in on Low and when I got home I added 1/2 a bag of frozen peas and let it cook until the peas were heated – and dinner was ready!

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The meat was super tender and delicious but I felt the overall broth could have been a bit richer somehow… I saw one recipe adding a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and I’m wondering if that would take it from an A to an A+.

Crock Pot Beef Stew:

  • Boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cubed (about 2 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2T coconut oil (or your favorite oil)
  • 4 carrots (peeled & chopped)
  • 4 potatoes (peeled & chopped)
  • medium onion (peeled & chopped)
  • 1 carton of beef broth (32oz)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the beef until coated. Cook the beef in oil over medium heat until browned. Dump into crockpot.

Add all remaining ingredients (except peas) and cook in your crockpot (I cooked mine all day on Low setting). Remove bay leaves. Add peas and cook until heated through. Serve!

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Hubbies love stew! It’s the perfect meal after an hour of shoveling the driveway. :-)

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I love easy meals that have leftovers! We had enough for two dinners for both of us and a lunch for Ben as well. Score!

My Condolences to Buffalo

Is anyone doing the “30 Days of Thanksgiving” this month? I think it’s a Facebook trend, but generally each day for the month of November, people post something they are thankful for. I should have done this because I feel it’s a great daily reminder of how much each of us has to be thankful for. We so often get absorbed in what we don’t have and it’s nice to give it balance.

So today, I am thankful – very, very thankful – that I do not live in Buffalo NY. OMG Normally I don’t watch the evening news but we tuned in last night and saw the pictures and footage.

View image on Twitter

Anthony Quintano – csmonitor.com

Our weather man explained about the lake effect and how the Great Lakes are still warm. The wind current pulling the warm air inland and then freezing equals some nightmare snow conditions. I saw one chart that showed the snow line and how within a 5 mile area, the span of snow ranged from 2″ to 60+”. Wouldn’t you hate those 2″ people if you were the ones with the 60″?

Here in the beautiful city of Green Bay, we’re on pace to set some new records ourselves. Not that the records are worth boasting about…we’re looking to set record LOW temperatures. It’s only November!!!!! AGGGHHH!

But here’s a totally random and funny story for a cold and snowy morning.

Apparently there’s a show called “Master Chef Junior” on right now. Ben and I used to love watching the Food Network back when we had cable so last week when we were over visiting friends and it was on, we just all collectively stopped our conversations and watched a slew of 8-13 year old aspiring chefs whip up fancy-schmancy dishes. What were they making? Pie. Ben loves pie with as much vigor as I hate snow. As we watched kid after kid whipping up a variety of pies, Ben suddenly exclaimed: “I need pie. Now.” and he put his coat on and just walked right out the door!

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About 20 minutes later he returned with a 100 watt smile and a peanut butter silk pie. I guess he walked into Perkins, and started looking at the pies with obvious intent. The lady behind the counter commented on it and Ben explained that he’d just been watching a cooking show and now he needed pie. She nodded and confirmed that such a thing happens more often than you’d think.

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I think it’s pretty funny. One minute we’re all silently watching the show and the next, boom, Ben’s out the door on the way to get pie. :-) Thank goodness he didn’t have several feet of snow to wade through because he might have braved a storm at that point.

Anyways, all this crazy weather reminds us to check our Winter safety measures. Here’s just a few things we do to be prepared over the Winter. Is there anything you do that I need to add to my list?

  • Check batteries on flashlights, stock candles and matches in case of power outage
  • Put a blanket, snow boots, and bag of kitty litter or ice melt in car
  • Have a few gallons of extra water
  • Stock pantry with a few ready-to-eat meal options
  • Stock extra toilet paper (can you imagine being stuck at home in a storm without any?)

Stay warm and stay safe everyone. May the snow storms stop soon!!

It Feels Like January Folks

Let’s get it out of the way first thing: I shoveled snow this weekend.

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We woke up yesterday morning to a not-so-lovely sight. At first we didn’t think there was enough to even bother with, but as we drove over it en route to the grocery store, we knew it needed to be shoveled. It’s COLD out folks. I don’t think anyone was expecting this sharp of a decrease in temps. Heck, it’s only mid-November.

Growing up we lived in northern WI and one Thanksgiving (maybe 15 years ago now) we invited a close family over to celebrate with us. The menu was divided and everything was planned. The only thing un-planned was the 6+ inches of snow that fell that morning. Through a flurry of panic and concerned phone calls, we learned that the father worked for the city and had some control over the snow plows. So… he just had someone come and snow plow the route from his house to ours. We got our celebration after all!

The weather man said our weekly forecast resembles January weather. I keep telling Ben I need, NEED a job where I can move South Jan-Mar. I need to beef up my case because the guy isn’t convinced. I keep hoping. :)

One of the restaurant chains in our area opened a branch a couple miles from our house. It’s a café/diner chain – the type you’d be more likely to go for breakfast than dinner. We decided to check it out on our way to our weekly grocery store run.

We got WAY too much food. I had such a craving for French toast but wanted some protein too, so we both ordered the basic egg platter – with sausage and hash browns – and decided we’d split the French toast since it was only two pieces.

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Our meals also came with a choice of muffin top, toast, or mini cakes. I didn’t want toast since I was getting mine a’la French, so I picked a pumpkin muffin top. Ben went with the “mini” cakes – which ended up being two large pancakes. There was a lot of leftover food! Lesson learned.

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We went home in food comas, which probably worked out perfectly because we got a bunch of house stuff accomplished and then tuckered out just in time to watch the Packer game. They look pretty good. It’s fun to watch games that aren’t always nail biters. For many years it seemed that almost every game was fought until the very end.

With 10 days until Turkey Day, I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving dishes… it’s weird to think Thanksgiving is so close now (heck New Year’s feels so close) and I need to start planning. Anyone have an amazing family staple Thanksgiving recipe they want to share?? I’d love some great input. :-)

Meanwhile, have a fabulous day everyone. If you live in WI, stay warm. If you haven’t gotten out the winter coat and accessories, get going! Brr!

Hats, Mittens, and Scarves – Oh my!

After shivering and shaking all week as I futilely rub my hands together while walking across the parking lot at work, I now unearthed my winter accessories. My heavy coat, my thick mittens, my vast assortment of hats and scarves that I rarely wear, and my snow boots. Would you believe I have the same pair of boots from when I was 14 years old? They don’t make stuff the way they used to! :)

We had a fun dinner out celebrating my bridesmaid’s birthday. She works part time at a local restaurant so we went there for her dinner and boy did they roll out the red carpet! It was so much fun. We got free appetizers from the chef and the waitress made her a black forest cake!

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Who gets a homemade cake from their waitress on their birthday?? Totally awesome!

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And delicious! We cut modest pieces but after a filling and delicious meal, we ended up cutting a bit to take home and giving the rest to the wait staff and cooks.

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I love sugar. <sigh>

I do have a very important and necessary question to ask though. Since when did Skittles swap out lime for green apple?? How does green apple even fit in the Skittle flavor profile? They are terrible! At first I thought it was because I hadn’t had it in a while and my tastes changed, but the other flavors still taste delicious… So naturally, my mini bag of skittles would be predominately green. This offends my sugar-loving sensibilities (kind of like when M&M swapped the light brown for the blue – I don’t eat blue things). Am I way behind on Skittles or was this new for Halloween?

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I also can’t believe we’re just two short weeks from Thanksgiving! I’ve only put a few Fall decorations up and now I’m thinking I should just skip doing anything more and start prepping for CHRISTMAS. Boy, it seems hard to believe we’re almost there too. Amazon already is posting their Black Friday daily deals. Didn’t it feel like just 2 or 3 weeks ago when we had 70 degrees, sun, and summer? I can’t remember such a sharp drop. This Fall totally missed the 60 degree weather.

We definitely need to winterize the backyard this weekend. I wanted to set the rabbit traps one last time, cover my rose bush, and see what we can do to protect some of the plants from the rabbits. There’s nothing worse than the trail of rabbit droppings winding all over our backyard all winter long. lol :-)

Is anyone else shocked Thanksgiving is almost here? Has anyone started menu-planning? Christmas shopping?

Giveaway Winners!

T’was (well, is) a dark and windy night…

But I have FOUR lucky giveaway winners to announce!!!

winners 5, 6 winners 2, 3

Lindsey, prettypolymath, Kerri, and Jessica – you are the winners! Congratulations!

I need your full names and mailing addresses – send your contact info over to alis.kitchen@yahoo.com and my Fairy Godfather at NuNaturals will get your goods on their way. I know you’ll love everything!

Winter Storm Alex

Winter Storm Alex was the area\'s first major winter storm of the 2014-15 season.

Credit: WLUK/Gabrielle Mays

I’m really, really glad we’re not still up North. Somehow Green Bay seemed to be just far enough south to miss the brunt of the first official storm of the year: Winter Storm Alex. (My brother Alex is thrilled, by the way) Yesterday’s drive into work was rainy and a couple hours after I was safely inside, it turned over to snow… which then melted by more rain later in the day. Today there’s more rain, more wind, and more snow on the way. It’s raining again which will make walking across the parking lot at work miserable. Normally I love rain but when the temp is around 34 and it’s windy then the rain is freezing! At some point the temp is going to drop again and 1-2″ of snow is expected. I’m hoping we have a repeat of yesterday where it all melts by the time I hop into my car and drive home!

Last night we did a quick dinner and sat down to watch Doomsday Preppers on Netflix. Has anyone watched that show? It’s pretty bizarre but if you get past the idiosyncrasies of the people on the show, it’s pretty fascinating. I’m all for individual sustainability and some of the contraptions they invent and ways they garden are really amazing. I like to think we’re pretty safe in Wisconsin but Ben and I do think it makes sense to have a couple week’s supply of water and food on hand in case there’s ever a massive Winter storm that knocks power out for an extended time. That certainly could happen.

Dinner was sausage, egg, and green pepper (from the garden!).

007I’m back on the bandwagon of making a bigger meal that will provide leftovers for later in the week. I used to do that when I was in school because it helped to do a quick re-heat and rush out the door. The last couple of weeks we have been picking one thing that will take us through the beginning of the week. This week’s meal: beef stew

I have never made stew before, so I’m excited to try this out. There are so many recipes online so I went with a pretty simple and generic one. Last night I cubed the beef and tossed it in flour and then browned it over the stove:

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I peeled the carrots and potatoes and dumped it all in the crockpot this morning. We’re trying out the new pot we got for my wedding shower and I’m crossing my fingers I come home to a delicious smell of cooked dinner waiting for me. Nothing gets better than that on a cold and rainy/snowy day, don’t you think?

Anyone else getting snow? Staying warm? We’ve had the heat on for the past week now and I’m wondering if everyone else has succumbed to that as well.

Get your ice scrapers out and get them in your cars folks! It’s time!

And so, the snow begins

(Don’t forget, you have until EOD Tuesday to enter the NuNaturals Stevia giveaway!!)

Good morning blog town.

It was simultaneously an amazingly fun and wretchedly horrid weekend. Our friends have a family cabin about 90 min North of Green Bay and they invited us and two other couples for a weekend of lounging around and being lazy. Ben got off work an hour early so we could get packed and hit the road.

When we started driving, we noticed it began to drizzle. Soon after, that drizzle became rain, then sleet, and then snow! This was probably not the best time to notice that Ben needs new wiper blades on his car! Let me tell you, the drive up was no fun. Not only was the visibility bad from the sleet/snow and the wipers smeared more than they cleared, but we were relying on spotty GPS on twisty roads loaded with deer. We arrived frazzled, haggard, and starving. It’s amusing to look back on now because all the other couples arrived in similar fashion. Luckily there was a supper club a mile down the road, so we piled into two cars and decompressed about the drive while munching on the delicious salad bar and perfectly cooked steaks.

The Saturday plan was to eat breakfast, play some board games and then head out to try some target practice. Ben and I unfortunately got up at the usual crack of dawn despite being kept up WAY too late by the noise of the other partiers. So Ben made a pot of coffee and we sat in the living room waking up. I brought my tablet along and played a few games of Sudoku and then made breakfast for everyone: hash brown, egg, sausage casserole. It was delicious!

The boys ran outside to throw footballs and by then the snow from the previous night had begun to melt away – by a fresh drizzle of cold rain. The boys came in with soaking shoes declaring it too wet to shoot guns in the woods as planned. So, we settled for setting up a target and trying BB Guns instead.

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I’ve never shot a gun before and I was pretty nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect so the first time I was bracing for more of a kickback and totally missed the target. The main issue I noticed was that I should have had my glasses on for better overall aim. I could track other’s bullets easily enough but when I was looking at the target and missing, I couldn’t see by how much. Ben stood alongside me to help point out “a little lower”, “a little to the left”, etc…

Alas, I never hit the target even once. Ali is no sharpshooter! I guess I need a bit more practice (or maybe they should have let me start closer to the target! :) )

Ben was amazingly good considering he has only shot once before.

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He has incredible patience, which probably helps too. If he misses a shot, he’s good at figuring out how to align and correct for the next shot.

And… after-shooting drinks! (No drinking and shooting allowed)

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The couple whose family owns the cabin were on a similar sleep schedule to us: early to bed; early to rise. So after mid-morning hit and the people that were up yelling until 2am (and prevented the rest of us from sleeping) got tire, I didn’t feel like sitting around whispering so people could sleep – and waste the day. Instead, our hostess took Ben and me into town and we tried a winery that had just opened. We tried a few wines, all had a different favorite, and then stopped by the local general store for toilet paper and to check out their wine supply.

If this picture doesn’t tell you everything…

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You walk in the front door and two large dogs are standing there looking at your. To the right there was a large walk-way that led into the owner’s house (where a guy was watching TV on the recliner) and then the aisles are packed tight with a hodge-podge of everything you could need. It’s definitely the epitome of a hunter’s town. We probably lucked out by going before hunting season or the quiet town would have been buzzing with a crowd of blaze orange.

We were supposed to stay until Sunday morning but Ben and I were pretty dead after dinner and weren’t up for another night of loud partying (aren’t we getting OLD, holy cow!) so we left at 8:30pm and drove back home. We both showered and were in bed by 10:15pm and asleep by 10:16pm. It was wonderful. :-)

I spent most of yesterday curled up on the couch half sleeping and half watching football. I stayed up through the 3rd quarter of the Packer game before declaring that there was no way the Bears were going to come back, and went to bed.

I definitely felt weird leaving all our friends to come home early. I’m interested in opinions. Would you have stayed? The walls were super thin, our friends weren’t interested in being quiet (and we didn’t want to squelch anyone else’s fun), and I didn’t want to be so sleep-deprived Sunday morning that I ended up getting mad/snappy at people. Somehow though, I feel like some of the people thought I was being rude to leave.

Ok, it looks like the morning drizzle is supposed to turn over to snow soon (eek!!!) so I’m going to wrap this up and head to work. Have a fabulous Monday everyone!!!

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