Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Whole Chicken in the Crockpot

This Whole Chicken in the Crockpot has become a family favorite. I have served this for dinner, but I usually make one of these and keep the chicken for using in other dishes. This is perfect for when you’re busy and don’t want to take the time to make anything complicated – which is a lot of the time, for me. Put a chicken in the crockpot with your favorite seasoning, go on with your day, and when you’re ready for dinner, the it’s ready. Serve this with a nice salad and a loaf of take-n-bake bread and you’re good! This is a delicious rub that I use on chicken in the crockpot, but I also use this rub when we make a chicken in the smoker. You can make it as spicy as you like. My family likes it a bit spicy, and that’s saying something for Scandinavians. This is ridiculously easy to do, it’s quick to pull together, and it’s darn good.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Whole Chicken in the Crockpot

1 whole chicken, drained and patted dry

Spice Rub:

1 Tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it

Rub the chicken, inside and out, with the chicken rub.

Put chicken on top of 4 foil balls (or anything that will keep the chicken up off of the bottom of the crockpot, like onion slices, or lemon halves) in crockpot.

Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

There are such simple ingredients in this rub, but it makes a very flavorful chicken.

You can use an organic chicken, or fresh, but I just keep an eye out for bargains on bagged whole chicken at my store, and sometimes you can find a very good deal. This one was $3.68!!!

I normally wouldn’t use the foil balls, but I was totally out of anything else I could use to keep the chicken up off of the bottom. You don’t have to do this, but it keeps the chicken from stewing in its own juice. There will be a lot of liquid left when the chicken is done cooking – I just put it in a freezer container and put it in the freezer for the next time I want to make soup.

You don’t have to put on a rub – good old salt and pepper is delicious, too. You can try all kinds of different seasonings, but if you ARE going to use a rub, make sure to get the it into all the nooks and crannies!

It fits snuggly in the crockpot. Put on the lid, turn it on low, and go about your business for about 6 hours.

At the end of the cooking, the chicken comes out tender and delicious! It will be falling off the bone, and I can’t believe I got this one out of the crockpot without it falling apart! You can serve it for dinner just as it is, or you can pull off the meat and use it for all of the things you would use a rotisserie chicken for: chicken salad, chicken hotdish, or chicken sandwiches. I used this one for putting in a batch of Chicken Salad. You’re going to love making a Whole Chicken in the Crockpot – it’s perfect for a busy weeknight or weekend.

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Barbecues or Sloppy Joes

Even though I’m calling these Barbecues or Sloppy Joes, we didn’t ever call them sloppy joes. They were always barbecues to us growing up. I wonder if that’s a regional thing. Hmm. My mom has made these for us for as long as I can remember, and she always made them when she visited my sister and her family because my nephew loves these. When my sister first moved to Virginia, my mom would bring her chicken gumbo soup cans in her carry on because she couldn’t get that soup out there. Once, after 9/11 when we weren’t able to bring liquids on the plane anymore, she forgot she couldn’t bring them on the plane and she was stopped. When she told the security guy what it was, he let her bring the soup cans! I guess she must have told him that her daughter was craving a taste of home and he felt sorry for her and let it go! This is especially tasty with my mom’s homemade Buns. This recipe is a bit unusual with the chicken gumbo soup in it, but it’s really good. I know you’re going to love this one!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Barbecues or Sloppy Joes

Brown in a skillet:

3 pounds ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, finely chopped (optional)

Drain, if necessary.

Add:

2 cans Chicken Gumbo Soup

3 cups ketchup

Simmer 20 minutes or put into crock pot on low for 6 hours.

Serve on buns.

You can cut down this recipe if 3 pounds of ground beef is too much, but it also freezes well, so you might as well make the whole recipe and keep some for another time. I usually cook the chopped onion and peppers (if I use it) at the same time as I brown the beef.

Then all you do is add the ketchup and chicken gumbo soup and let it simmer. The reason I put the optional chopped green pepper in the recipe is that sometimes I feel like the chicken gumbo soup doesn’t have the flavor it used to have.

That’s it! It’s really pretty quick and easy. You can use store-bought (gasp – like I did here) buns, but like I said above, these are particularly delicious with buns made from my mom’s recipe for homemade Buns. I put this in the crockpot a lot (after browning the beef), for when we’re busy working on the weekend and want to have dinner ready whenever we are.

This is a bit of an odd recipe with the chicken gumbo soup in it, but it is absolutely delicious. I made this and put it in the crockpot recently, when my oldest daughter moved to her new condo. It’s perfect for that kind of day, and has been a staple at all the moving days in our lives. People can eat when they’re hungry and get on with the moving. Try this delicious recipe for Barbecues or Sloppy Joe’s on your family and it will become a staple for you, too!

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Quiche Lorraine

I made this Quiche Lorraine one night for a dinner with girlfriends, and let me just say – it went over real well. This is another throw-back to the 1970’s, when we used to make Quiche all the time. Why did that go out of style? I’m not sure why or when, but that was dumb. Really dumb. The recipe comes from my old standby Betty Crocker Cookbook, copyright 1982. This Quiche is absolutely delicious and so easy to do. This one can even be in the “Make Ahead” category. I love that!

This recipe gives you a few bonus ideas to try!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Quiche Lorraine

Sprinkle into a pastry-lined pie plate:

12 slices bacon, crisply fried and crumbled

1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded (about 4 ounces)

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

Beat:

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups half-n-half

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper

Pour egg mixture into pie plate.

Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Cook uncovered until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes longer.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

The ingredients are so simple, but so very delicious. For the pie crust, I used Grandma’s recipe for Never Fail Pie Crust.

Once you put the egg/half-n-half mixture in, it’s ready for the oven!

Oh wow – it comes out so beautiful and ready to eat – and I topped it with some chopped chives from my garden. I love the tip on the recipe for doing this ahead of time – you can have this ready the night before and bake it when you’re ready for it the next day – just bake it a bit longer. It’s also very easy to transport if you need to take this on the road.

Bacon, cheese, and eggs. It has all the yummiest things!!! Keep a pie crust in your freezer or use a (gasp!) store-bought one, ready to go, and this can be on the table in no time. Add a green salad and it’s dinner! As you can see by the additional ideas on the recipe, you can use whatever you have to make a Quiche – chicken, ham, or even crab. Maybe call some girlfriends and try a Quiche Lorraine this weekend – I highly recommend it!

 

 

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Ham Balls

This recipe for Ham Balls comes from one of my mom’s cousins and is similar to Grandma’s recipe for Iowa Ham Balls that I posted a couple of years ago. The name implies, and rightfully so, that they’re Ham Balls instead of meatballs. That’s exactly what they are, even though there is both ham and beef in these. My mom prefers this recipe to the other one, so I made these for her birthday dinner this year. I think this would be perfect for using up leftover ham from your Easter or springtime dinner (as long as you have enough ham leftover). This recipe uses 5 pounds of meat, but I did get two pans out of it and put one in the freezer for another time.

This is a really good recipe.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Ham Balls

Mix together:

2 cups milk

4 eggs

Soak in this mixture:

4 cups bread crumbs (It says Pepperidge Farm, but I couldn’t tell if that meant a loaf of bread or premade bread crumbs. A loaf of crumbs seemed like they’d be too soft so I used premade bread crumbs, but never found that brand.)

Mix into this:

3 pounds ground ham (I don’t have anything to grind it, so I used a food processor)

2 pounds lean ground beef

Roll into balls.

Put into a roaster (I used a cake pan).

Sauce:

1 cup water

1 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Pour over balls in roaster or pan.

Cover with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes, or do not cover and baste every time balls are turned.

First mix the eggs and milk, then add the breadcrumbs.

It looks weird, but I just let the breadcrumb/milk/egg mixture sit while I got the beef and ham ready.

The food processor made quick work of the chunks of ham. My biggest glass bowl would barely hold all the ingredients so I had to move it all to the biggest container I had.

You want to leave yourself plenty of space to mix all the ingredients, and make sure they’re all mixed very well. It does take a lot of mixing! It’s a good arm workout!

I got 20 balls in this pan and another 8 in the pan that went in the freezer. It seems like a lot of work to turn the balls every 15 minutes, but you want that delicious sauce to totally cover and coat them.

You can see how the delicious sauce makes the balls incredibly tasty.

My mom likes these Ham Balls better, but family likes the Iowa Ham Balls better. Why not make both recipes and see which you prefer? Next year you could use these for your Easter dinner instead of a ham because these are absolutely delicious. If you did make a ham for your Easter dinner this year, I hope you have enough leftover to make these. You don’t really have to wait for Easter or use leftovers, just make these Ham Balls. Any way you can.

 

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Easter Ham

Oh, how we love a good Easter Ham in our family. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we’re big on traditions in our family. Maybe my kids get it from me, because I think I’ve always been that way. They’re the worst when it comes to tradition – we have to do the same things EVERY year for holidays. They’ve always been that way, too. One tradition that stays the same is the movies we watch for each holiday, and the other main traditional thing that stays the same is food. Each holiday has its own decorations, movies, and food and there is no exception. Additions are rare, and deletions are even more rare, and Easter is no exception. This photo show just where the tradition thing originally comes from. This is Grandma, me (at about 6 years old), my mom, and Grandma’s oldest sister at Easter.

These women were heavy into tradition, and frankly, I’m very grateful for that. We all need traditions – that’s what makes a holiday, a holiday.

My family demands the same food – every year – for every holiday and occasion. I make this Easter Ham every year for our Easter dinner, but the exact recipe for the glaze does change from time to time. Sometimes I use honey or orange marmalade or crushed pineapple. Sometimes I use regular yellow mustard, but this is the basic glaze recipe that I use almost every year. This is also a money-saving meal because you can save the ham bone to make Split Pea Soup later.

Here is the recipe as I made it (this time):

Easter Ham

Glaze:

1 cup real maple syrup

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons grainy mustard

4 ounces pineapple juice (1 of the small individual cans you can buy in a 6-pack)

Ham:

Pre-cooked, smoked 16.5 pound ham. (We get ours double-smoked from a local store that does their own meats and smoking.)

Bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes per pound.

I put the ham in a 9″ x 13″ pan, added 2 cups water, and covered with foil for first hour.

Then it’s time to uncover, baste with glaze and bake another hour. Baste with the glaze again until done. Let  it sit for 10 minutes or so before carving.

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I put the pineapple juice in mixing up the ingredients and I knew that I would need a bit more glaze. Double it or make another half batch if you need more for the basting.

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This is the ham after the first hour – and after the basting and second hour of baking.

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When cutting this ham, try to get a little of the deliciously basted outside crust on every piece.

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This has a nice caramelized crust and it’s moist and tender on the inside. Tender isn’t quite the word for it – I think I’d say it melts in your mouth.

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Easter Ham is one of those “must have” and traditional food items at Easter dinner. Don’t forget to save the ham bone for a batch of Split Pea Soup! Try this glaze and ham it up! Ha! Ok, ok. I know – that’s enough. What are some of your Easter food traditions? I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

 

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Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

The recipe for today is one continuing our sun-shiny lemon recipes, but today we’re not making dessert – we’re making a pasta dish.

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Lemon Pasta with Shrimp is a main dish that’s also going under the heading of Money-Saving Meals. If you find a good deal on shrimp (frozen in this case), this is a very economical meal. This one is loosely based on Ina Garten’s recipe for Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp, but as usual, I had to put my own spin on it. It’s easy, it’s lemony, and it’s delicious – sounds like it fits all the criteria for letting the sun shine in.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

Thaw:

2 pounds frozen cooked shrimp (you can roast raw shrimp, like Ina does, but this was what I had on hand)

If using cooked shrimp, remove tails once the shrimp is thawed.

Meanwhile, cook according to package instructions:

1 pound thin spaghetti, angel hair pasta, or other pasta – whatever you like

Drain pasta and reserve a cup or so of the pasta water to add to the sauce, if needed.

Melt in a large skillet:

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 green onions, greens only, thinly sliced

Add the shrimp just long enough to warm through.

Add cooked pasta to the sauce in the skillet.

Combine.

Add some reserved pasta water, if needed.

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It helps to zest your lemon rind and juice the lemon before starting.

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I had cooked frozen shrimp on hand, so that’s what I used.

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My skillet isn’t big enough to put the pasta into, so I combined the pasta and the sauce right in the bowl.

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I made a mistake and didn’t notice before starting, that the recipe calls for 2 pounds of shrimp and 1 pound of pasta. I only had 1 pound of shrimp and should have used only 1/2 pound of pasta. I used the whole pound, but because of the amount of juice in the lemons from California (they were incredibly juicy), the amount of sauce was just fine.

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This is a delicious and lemony pasta dish, and you’re going to love it! Make this one tonight! It’s faster to make than fast food!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tostada Grande

I think this recipe for Tostada Grande originally came from a magazine Grandma used to get called “Farm Wife News”. It had articles, crafts, and recipes in it, and Grandma would always pass it along to me and my mom to read when she was done with it. Once in a while I would copy down a recipe, and this is one that I’m so glad I copied. It’s quick and easy to make and it’s so good! This has become another one of my family’s favorites, and it’s requested A LOT! I just make two pans of this now whenever I make it. If we’re lucky, there will be leftovers, but that hardly ever happens. Well, it never happens. Ever. No doubt about it, this is real comfort food.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Tostada Grande

In a large skillet, brown:

1 pound ground beef, drained

Stir in:

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix (1/2 of a package)

8 ounce can tomato sauce

4 ounce can diced green chilis, drained

3-4 drops Tabasco Sauce

Heat until hot and bubbly.

Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until mixture thickens.

Lightly grease 9″ or 10″ pie pan.

Separate and arrange in pan:

8 ounce can Crescent Dinner rolls or biscuits

Press rolls over bottom and up sides of pan to form crust.

Spread over crust:

1 can refried beans

Top with meat mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until crust is golden.

Sprinkle immediately with:

4 ounces grated cheddar cheese

It can go back into the oven for a minute or two if the cheese doesn’t melt.

Garnish with:

1/2  head lettuce, shredded

1 large tomato, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

Salsa

Sour cream

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Sometimes you have to really work the crescent rolls like puzzle pieces and just fit them in there to cover the bottom of the pie pan.

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Then smear on the refried beans.

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Next – on goes the ground beef and then into the oven with it.

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Once it’s done baking, don’t forget to sprinkle on the shredded cheddar cheese. It comes out of the oven golden brown and ready for the garnishes.

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I used green onions on top here with the salsa and sour cream, and I did manage to get a quick photo before this piece disappeared before my eyes.

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It’s so pretty and so quick and easy to make and so delicious! Try this comfort food and your family will thank you! Trust me, you’ll be making a double batch in no time – and I bet there won’t be any leftovers.

 

 

 

 

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Pork Chops with Rice

The recipe for today is another one that I’ve been making since I was in junior high school. My mom made this years ago and it wasn’t long before I was making it for the family for dinner. Pork Chops with Rice is one of my family’s favorite meals. In fact, my oldest daughter requests this most years for her birthday dinner. It’s total comfort food for us!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pork Chops with Rice

Mix together:

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I have also used Golden Mushroom Soup)

1 can (1 cup) milk

2 (3/4 cup) servings instant rice (I used instant brown rice here)

Put in 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Brown:

1 package pork chops (I used boneless pork chops here)

Lay pork chops on top of rice mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

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I used boneless pork chops for this dish, but you can use regular bone-in chops, too.

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It doesn’t look like much, but it is so good!

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Just lay in the chops and into the oven.

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Once it’s baked, the rice is saucy and the chops are tender – oh my!

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All you need is the obligatory green vegetable and you’re all set. You can also make this the night before, so you’re all ready for dinner the next night. Give this one a try – it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s absolutely delicious!

 

 

 

 

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Individual Pizzas

The recipe for today goes back to junior high school. This card came from my sister, but I remember making these in Home Economics class, too. These Individual Pizzas are so easy and so good and are perfect for anything from an after school snack to serving at a New Year’s party. You can keep the ingredients on hand and be ready, at any time, for a tasty snack. These are really fun to do. On the day I made these, I was wishing I had more than one can of refrigerator biscuits so I could just keep on making them. But that would be bad. Someone has to then eat all of them, right?

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I got so many great recipes from my junior high school Home Ec classes that I still use today, and I’ve now handed them down to my kids and now they’re making them!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Individual Pizza

Pop open:

1 tube of Country Style or Buttermilk refrigerator biscuits

Flatten until thin or about 5 inch in diameter.

Top with:

Pizza sauce

Italian seasoning

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Your favorite pizza toppings – sliced olives, mushrooms, onions, peppers, pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, ground beef, etc.

Bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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You can flatten the biscuits as thin as you want.

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Go ahead and top the biscuits with your favorite ingredients.

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Before and after baking, you can see how delicious these are!

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I cut up a leftover grilled turkey dog to put on one of mine.

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Pepperoni is always good!

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This one is topped with sliced green olives. Delicious. Make up a can or two of these fun little pizzas and get the party started! Let everyone make their own and put their own favorite toppings on. Everybody’s gonna have a great time. Don’t forget to keep some for yourself!

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Beef Stew

Are you tired of eating leftover turkey? I have a great recipe for you today that is NOT turkey and that is perfect for the upcoming holiday season when time is of the essence and you don’t have a lot of time to make a great meal. This recipe for Old-Time Beef Stew is from an old cookbook series that my mom had years ago (and I now have in my possession) from Better Homes and Gardens, called the Creative Cooking Library. The book that this one came out of is called So-Good Meals, and believe it or not, the section it’s under is called “Meals Men Like”. Seriously? Um – women like them, too. I know it was a different time, but wow. Anyway, there are some great recipes in these books, and this is one that I’ve been making since I could write like I did on this one to use “no thickening”. The recipe is for making this in a Dutch oven, but I use my crock pot and just throw it all in.

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This is one of my all-time favorites!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Old-Time Beef Stew

If making this in a Dutch oven, brown the meat:

2 Tablespoons fat (I use olive oil)

2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2″ cubes (I will sometimes use a more economical round steak for this)

Heat the fat and brown the meat on all sides.

Add:

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic (they say to take it out, but I mince it and leave it in)

2 cups boiling water

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 or 2 bay leaves

Dash allspice or cloves

Cover and simmer (not boil) for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove bay leaf and garlic.

Add:

6 carrots, cut in chunks

1 pound small white onions (or whole onions cut in chunks)

6 medium potatoes, cubed (optional)

Cover and simmer 30-45 minutes longer or until everything in the pot is tender.

If desired, thicken the gravy (I clearly thought when I first made this in about 4th grade, that this step wasn’t necessary).

Combine in a jar:

1/4 cup cold water

2 Tablespoons flour

Shake to blend.

Stir into mixture.

Cook, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens and boils.

Gently cook 5 minutes more.

To cook in crock pot:

You can brown the meat for more flavor, but I don’t. I’m all about quick and easy. I just put everything into the crock pot in the morning, turn it on low and let it go until dinner time. I never thicken it.

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Please excuse my very well used crock pot – it IS clean. I promise. I just put in the cubes of meat – no browning.

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Next in go the veggies and spices. Put on the cover and turn it on! Dinner is done!

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This is really more like a soup when you make it in the crock pot. The Dutch oven method makes more of a stew. You could serve this with a green salad, some crusty bread or crackers, and some fruit.

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There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s day when you’ve been running around shopping, or baking, or wrapping. Throw this all into the crock pot, run your errands or do your chores, and dinner is ready when you are!! This stew is delicious and I know it will become one of your favorites, too! Well, your man will like it. Oh come on, everyone will like this stew!!!

 

 

 

 

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