Rush Hour

December is a month filled with more than our fair share of rushed moments. So, this month, I'm offering you comfort food that makes itself! Well, not quite, but close. If you have a slow cooker, all you need is your choice of stew meat, a variety of vegetables (fresh and frozen work) and an envelope of onion soup mix.

I like to use frozen roasted potatoes in my stews because they add a fun texture and fresh potatoes often don't get soft enough in a slow cooker, even after hours of cooking. If you want to include fresh potatoes, I either suggest parboiling them and adding them to the slow cooker in the beginning or cooking them completely and adding them to the stew before serving.

As for other items to add, I am a big fan of venison or beef cubes for stew -- they seem to give it a true comfort food feel. I also like to add large diced onions, baby carrots (on the bottom of the slow cooker, please), frozen green beans, diced green peppers, and maybe a few mushrooms. But my rule of stews is this: make it to suit your tastes. This dish is almost as much about fond memories as it is about filling your belly, so make it special for you!

Toss It Together Stew

  • 1 lb. cubed stew meat -- choose beef, pork, lamb or game
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 c. baby carrots
  • 1 c. frozen green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic -- minced
  • 1 large onion -- diced
  • 1 green pepper -- diced
  • 1/4 c. apple juice
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar

In a large skillet, brown the stew meat in the olive oil. Sprinkle the soup mix with the meat, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large slow cooker, arrange the vegetables in layers, starting with the carrots and ending with the pepper. Add the meat and seasoning to the top. Combine the apple juice and vinegar and pour into the slow cooker. Place the lid on the cooker and cook on the LOW setting for 7-9 hours. Serve over hot, buttered noodles or potatoes.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus cooking time
As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .