Snow Day Dinner

It’s snowing like crazy here! Unless you’re a polar bear, you probably like to stay inside on snowy days. I know my only outdoor adventure today will be clearing off my car- reluctantly.
Days like this are perfect for relaxing inside, guilt free! Perhaps just pull out a blanket, plop yourself on the couch and catch up on your favorite tv show!
If that sounds a bit too unproductive for you, how about dusting off the crock pot and making a comforting, bone-warming dinner?!
I’m always looking for new recipes to try in my crock pot, but too often I find myself unable to cook them up because I’m missing ingredients. Oh the disappointment! It’s much worse if you live far from the grocery store, or it happens on a day like today, when it’s too cold and snowy to drive anywhere.
My goal is to find delicious, easy recipes with super basic ingredients found in every kitchen, and share them with you!
A basic hearty crock pot dish is the classic beef stew. My biggest challenge with this used to be that I didn’t always have a seasoning mix packet in the pantry. Thankfully, I found a solution- make your own! Here’s a recipe I found online to make your own seasoning. You can save a few dollars, and never again have to make a trip to the store for this one thing, or skip the dish altogether.

http://www.thesefour.com/2013/02/beef-stew-seasoning-recipe.html?m=1

I’ve tried the recipe and I think it makes a great stew- exactly what you’d expect! Now I have a big ziplock bag of this stuff in the pantry, ready for many, many more delicious meals!
Another reason why beef stew is a favorite of mine is that you only need 4 or 5 basic ingredients (besides the seasoning mix). You can use pretty much any piece of beef you have on hand. I’ve used London broil, thin sliced steaks, and many others that I can’t remember. Just make sure you cut them to the appropriate size. The rest of the ingredients are potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. If you don’t have one of the veggies, it’s not that big of a deal, but don’t forget to check your freezer in case you have a bag of one of the veggies frozen in there.

If beef stew isn’t for you, I have a boneless pork chop recipe for the crock pot. I think I invented it myself but I’m sure there’s similar recipes out there. You’ll need:

1 boneless chop per person (you can cut the bone off regular chops if that’s all you have)
1 potato per person, peeled and chopped into .5″ x .5″ x .25″ pieces
1-2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced
A teaspoon of minced garlic
Your favorite BBQ sauce
A few drops of liquid smoke- optional
Salt
Pepper
A few drops of your favorite spicy sauce (I use Lawry’s Baja chipotle marinade)
Some water

To save some time I fry the pork chops in a pan with some olive olive for a couple minutes per side (make sure it’s mostly cooked through). Place the chops in the bottom of the crock pot, and lay the sliced onions on top, then the potatoes. Mix the other ingredients together, adding just enough water to make it liquidy, not saucy. Pour the mixture in, making sure to fully cover over the potatoes, but do not fill any higher. If it does not cover, add a bit more BBQ sauce and water.
I turn my crockpot on high and cook for about 1.5-2 hours. *It will cook faster if you are making a small portion and could burn if your sauce is to thick.* To see if it’s ready, poke a chop with a fork- if it falls apart, they’re done. Also poke a potato and make sure they’re soft. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli, carrots or whatever you like.

I hope these ideas have inspired you to get slow cooking! I would love to hear about your favorite “basic ingredients” crock pot meal. I always need new recipes!

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