Crock Pot Swiss Steak

It’s no secret I love too cook.  It only makes sense that I love to eat.  What do I love more than that?  Making something amazingly easy that tastes like you spent hours slaving over a hot stove.

How do I manage it?  My crock pot.  I couldn’t live without it – without them – any of them.  People laugh when I say I own so many I quit counting.  *cough* nine *cough*  Seriously.  Before you ask, yes, I use them all.  No, not usually at the same time.  I often have two going at the same time, though.  They keep mashed potatoes hot on a holiday.  There’s no better way to serve sloppy joes.  Soup?  Who needs a stock pot?  I almost always make soup in my crock pot.  They are one of the workhorses in my kitchen.

A year ago we bought 1/4 of a cow.  It’s a lot of meat.  A LOT.  But since we had a big freezer that was nearly empty, it was a really good deal and a teacher that works with me raised the cow.  Did I mention it was a lot of meat?  Have you ever seen 40 lbs of hamburger in one place other than the store?  And that was just my share…

Needless to say we’ve been eating well.  We’re down to about 5 lbs of ground beef but I had a lot of round steak to use.  Where’d I turn for recipes?  Pinterest of course!  Most of them pointed to a mix of cream soup, french onion soup mix, and water.  As always, I used what I had and what sounded good.  I was a bit apprehensive because I’d tried this recipe a year ago and it was horrible but I tried cooking the steak from frozen.  We ate it for one meal and I threw the left overs out.  Yeah, it was that bad.  Make sure your beef is thawed if it’s frozen.  It makes a BIG difference.

This time, it was delicious.  It reminded me of the swiss steak my mom used to make when I was a kid – the only difference being she used cube steak, fried it, toiled over the stove to make gravy, then baked it forever.  I didn’t say it was AS good, but for the work involved, I will eat this a whole lot more than I’ll spend the time to make that.

I added fresh mushrooms because they were on sale today and looked great.  You could also use 2 cans of mushrooms that you drain well or leave them out completely if you don’t like them.  You could also add extra onions.  I didn’t want to kill the dish with onions – I know odd for me – but between the fresh onion and the cream of onion soup, it was just perfect (for me).



3 lbs round or cube steak

1 can cream of onion soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 package french onion soup mix

1 onion, sliced

1/4 cup water or beef broth

1 8oz package white mushrooms, sliced

splash of wine (optional – I used dry vermouth)

salt and pepper

In a hot pan, brown steaks, approximately 2 minutes each side.  Set aside.  This step is optional but I highly encourage it.  Anne Burrel says, “Brown food tastes good!” and she’s right!

While steaks are browning, mix soups and soup mix in the bottom of a crock pot.  Once mixed, add onions and browned steaks to crock pot.

Deglaze the hot pan  with water or beef broth and scrape the bottom to get all the bits.  Pour over steaks in crock pot.

Cook on low 3 hours.

Add mushrooms and wine.  Stir.  Cook on low another 3-4 hours or until beef is tender.

Serve over potatoes or rice.

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Crock Pot Beer in the Rear Chicken

Mister bought a huge club-sized package of chicken then asked me to cook it.

Crap.  I don’t like chicken thighs.  I don’t have chicken thigh recipes.  What the heck am I going to do?

Pinterest! That’s what I’m going to do!  Pinterest!  My lifesaver!

I made this recipe with part of the package. I still had half a package.  What to do?  I LOVE beer in the rear chicken.  Here’s my adaptation for the crock pot.  It isn’t quite as flavorful because it’s missing the definite charcoal smoke flavor BUT it’s still pretty good.  Mister will probably eat this right out of the fridge cold.  I can also see myself making this into chicken salad, too.

2 lbs chicken thighs

1/2 tsp seasoned salt

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

sprinkle of pepper

1 can beer

Place chicken evenly on the bottom of a 3 or 4 qt. crock pot.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Pour beer into pot (I used half a can – just enough to come about half way up the sides of the chicken.=).  Cook on high 2-3 or low 4-5 hours or until chicken is done.  Remove from crock pot.  Serve.

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Honey Bourbon Garlic Sesame Chicken

I like Chineese food.  Mister loves chinese food.  Little Bug loves omlette soup (egg drop).  We eat it plenty.

There’s an awesome restaurant right across the street from where my parents live.  They opened the same year that my parents moved into their condo.  We eat there often and know all of the people that work there.  A few weeks ago, they had a fire in the grease trap.  It was a total loss but everyone got out safely.  While they plan on rebuilding, it takes time and we’re desperate for Chinese.20140208-165441.jpg

Mister’d bought a package of chicken thighs and didn’t cook them.  I scoured pinterest and couldn’t find what I was looking for.  This is the closest I could come.  As always, I had to switch it up a bit so here’s what I did:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts could be substituted)

1 tsp. dried minced garlic

1/2 tsp toasted onion powder

1/4 tsp dried minced onoin

7 oz honey

1/4 cup tamari

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup bourbon

2 Tbs sesame seeds

1 Tbs corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

drizzle of sesame oil (optional)

green onions (optional)

  1. Put chicken in 3 qt crock pot.  Sprinkle wiht onions, onion powder, and garlic.
  2. Mix honey, tamarai, ketchup, vinegar, and bourbon in a small bowl.  Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours, or until chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove chicken from crock pot and chop.
  5. Remove sauce to a 2-qt stock pot.
  6. While chopping chicken, turn sauce on medium and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  7. Mix corn starch and water in a small bowl until dissolved.  Whisk into sauce.  Return to a boil and simmer 3 minutes.
  8. Return chicken to pot.  Add sesame oil if desired and stir.
  9. Serve over white rice or noodles.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion if desired.
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Chocolate Covered Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

Today is snow day #3.  Well, not really snow, cold.  The wind chill has been lower than -15 and that’s just not safe to have kids waiting for the bus and walking to school.  I’m enjoying the extra time with Little Bug and her friend, K.  Since K doesn’t have school, there’s no day care either and she comes to our house to play.  Nothing like two 4-year olds to make the house look like a tornado hit!

A friend from work posted a recipe for chocolate peanut butter baked oatmeal.  I had to check it out.  While it looked delicious, it was a few more calories than I like to eat for breakfast.  Clicking around, I found this recipe.  It was the inspiration for what I made below.  I didn’t think to take any pictures of the process but I managed to get one before I scarfed a muffin down.

Chocolate Covered Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

5 cups old fashioned oats (400 grams)

4 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder (176 grams – may vary depending on your brand/type)

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (56 grams)

3 tbs cocoa powder

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups well-mashed extremely ripe bananas (600 grams – I had a bit more)

2 2/3 cups water

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 tbs coconut oil, melted (35 grams)

3 tbs agave syrup, honey, or other natural sweetener

Preheat oven to 380 degrees.  Line 32 muffin cups and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients (oatmeal, protein powder, salt, cocoa powder and chocolate chips).  In a large bowl, mash bananas until there are no more lumps.  Add the remaining ingredients to the banana bowl.  Mix well.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Scoop mixture into lined muffin cups.  Bake 21 minutes until edges are slightly browned and they smell good.

They have a slight banana flavor but it isn’t overpowering.  The chocolate is just right.  These are so good warm!

I used my #20 cookie scoop to assure even sized muffins.  If you wanted a slightly smaller muffin, use a #24 scoop.  You’d get 34 or 36 muffins instead of 32.

Made as I have, they come out to 108 calories each with 3 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein.  Add some fresh fruit and you have a great breakfast!


nuts, seeds, wheat germ, dried fruit, cocoa powder, more chocolate chips

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Short’s Gingersnap

Mister’s brother gave us a bottle of Short’s Gingersnap to try.  It’s a brown ale with spices and molasses.

We didn’t like it.  In fact, it went down the drain.

The ginger is really strong.  I thought it was bitter.  Mister said doughy was coming through for him.  I didn’t get much cinnamon.  Something else was coming through funky.  I know Mister’s brother liked it so give it a shot and let me know what you think.

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Arcadia Ales Nut Brown

There is nothing special about this beer – Nut Brown Ale from Arcadia Ales.  It’s a nice dark ale.  It isn’t terribly bitter but has a nice bite.  I could drink a lot of it.  As a a side, it pairs very well with chocolate cherry bread from Zingerman’s (and no, we didn’t pay $17.50 for the loaf but I swear it’s worth it!).

There’s a story behind how 6 of these beauties ended up in our fridge.

Girl meets girl.  Girls fall in love.  Girl moves to Mississippi to be with girl.  Five years later, girl is diagnosed with cancer.  These girls are my wonderful friends Auntie Bee and Aunt Laurie.  Aunt Laurie fought her heart out but it wasn’t meat to be.  With “bucket list” taking on a whole new meaning, Auntie Bee and Aunt Laurie made a trip to visit “home” for Auntie Bee.  We hadn’t seen Aunt Laurie in a few years.  Other than being shocked at her beautiful, unabashed baldness, it was like our last visit was the day before.  Our friends gathered, we laughed, we cried, we talked but we could not say goodbye.  The night before the Aunts left, we had an impromptu gathering at my house for just one more hug before we parted for what we knew would be the last time we’d see Aunt Laurie.

On the way here, the Aunts stopped at the corner store and Aunt Laurie picked out a 6-pack of this beer for Mister and me.  We drank a few that night and put the rest in the refrigerator.  A few short months later, Laurie left us to go home.  As hard as it was for us, we know she’s kayaking in the most beautiful places and is free of pain.

Since that night at my house, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to open another bottle until tonight.

This one’s for you, Aunt Laurie.  We love and miss you!


Short’s Snow Wheat

Light.  Smells like banana and spice.

Delicious. Not to bitter.  Spicy.  A touch banana-ish but not overwhelming.

Completely appropriate.  We got 18 inches of snow yesterday.  We have record low temperatures and high winds.  They have called school yesterday for today and today for tomorrow before 5 pm.  Basically the entire state is shut down.  I’m glad Little Bug and I don’t have to leave the house.

Not sure I’d want a ton of this, but I am enjoying my snifter of it.

…and we just lost our cable…


O’Fallon’s 5-day IPA

Hi, friends.  It’s been a while.  Mister is workign nights so we’re rarely home to “share” a beer.  I’m still cooking and we’re occasionally tasting but blogging has been low on the list.  I miss it so I’m goign to work harder at making sure it happens.

Today’s taste is O’Fallon’s 5-day IPA.  I know.  An IPA.  We are NOT IPA people.  They’re too bitter for us.

This one has a surprisingly strong citrus nose.  I was ready to dump it out before we started.  I’m glad I didn’t.

It has a mild fruit flavor and bitterness.  It isn’t that in-the-back-of-your-throat bitter that I can’t stand.  It doesn’t taste like you’re sucking grapefruit juice right from the fruit.  It’s well-balanced and mild (at least for an IPA).  Mister agreed.

I can honestly say I’d order this one out or buy another bottle.  Way to go O’Fallon!ofallon 5 day ipa

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Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout

Cranky 3-year old.  What doesn’t pair well with that?

This stout from Old Dominion pours a brown-black stout color with a slight creamy head.

It is unlike any other stout I’ve ever had.  It’s sweet.  It’s dark.  It’s complex.  The oak barrel taste is there but subtle.  It isn’t overly anything.  Mister said it was crisp and clean.  It smells a bit hoppy but it doesn’t taste so.  What bitterness is there quickly fades away.  There is no hint of coffee or chocolate.

This is one stout I could drink a lot of (but not all at one time).


old dominion beer_oakbarrelstout

Short’s Brewing Uncle Steve’s Irish Stout

Short’s is another Michigan brewery.  Mister and I have yet to visit them but I know a visit is in our future.  I will say that Mister and I haven’t had anything that we didn’t like from Short’s.  Uncle Steve’s was no exception.

This is a dark brown stout.  It’s very roasty and malty.  It almost has a salty after taste – a good one, though, like a sea salt caramel.

It’s slightly bitter but it fades away quite quickly.  The coffee notes hang around but it isn’t offensive (to me).