Is it cool enough for soups and stews?

January 2019 is over and it seems as if only yesterday was New Years Day and here we are watching Super Bowl LIV! It is Sunday evening and I got in today, from a fun and work filled week in the Devine area. The family was involved in an Estate Sale and we worked really hard for the three days of the sale and other members worked for several weeks getting it all set up. I got to see several people I hadn’t seen in years, and on Sunday morning one of our customers was the daughter of someone I had played with as a child. We always had a great time together, and the daughter told me she was in the car, so I went outside and visited with her. It was fun sharing some old memories. So many of the friends that were around back then are no longer living and we compared notes on them and our memories of them.
All three of my daughters were involved at one point or another and we had lots of fun visiting as well as working. We got to go to lunch together on Thursday with my son, and tried out the new Italian restaurant that is now in Hondo. The food was great and so was the service. My youngest great-grandson and his mother were with us and he and I got to get reacquainted, as I hadn’t seen him since his birthday several months ago.
Saturday evening when we got off, we went to my son’s home for a wonderful dinner and I got to visit and play with this little guy some more. He is so much fun and so cute. On Sunday, it was back to the house and work for two or three more hours after I went to church, and then I headed to my son’s home one more time, as I had to come home on Sunday. My daughter drove my car and me to the Buc-ee’s at Luling, her husband met us there and we headed out in different directions. It was a great weekend for me as it was unusual for me to be able to have all four of my children together at the same time, as that usually happens only on holidays.
Since I love soups and stews, I am always ready to share recipes for them. The weather in the early morning is cold enough for this type of comfort food, but the afternoons turn very warm. Saturday and Sunday when I got up, it was a very chilly 37ºF, by noon, it was in the high 60ºs and Sunday evening, it is back down into the low 40s.
It seems to me as if now is a good time for soups and stews, so get out the crock pot and the cook book that goes with it and try some new recipes. My daughter told me while ago that she made pork chops in her crock-pot this past week and they were delicious. She sliced some onions into the pot, added a layer of pork chops, poured barbecue sauce on them, added another layer of pork chops, more barbecue sauce over that layer, then another layer of chops and barbecue sauce. She then turned the pot on low and cooked this for 4 to 5 hours. She said they were fork tender and tasted wonderful. Sounds good to me!
Here are a couple of recipes that I like to cook in a crock-pot.
Beef Stew
2 to 3 pounds boneless stew meat (or buy chuck or other cut of meat on sale and cut into cubes yourself)
Salt, pepper, flour
1 sliced onion
4 or 5 carrots, cut into chunks or use baby carrots
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Cooking oil
2 to 4 cups water or broth
Season meat with salt and pepper, dredge in flour. Heat oil in skillet, add meat in small amounts until brown, removing and adding meat as it browns, adding a little more oil if necessary. Remove from skillet and set aside. Place onions in crock-pot, add carrots and potatoes, place browned meat on top of vegetables, add water, cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Thicken gravy if necessary. Serve with hot cornbread for a wonderful meal. All you need to add is a salad, if desired.
Cornbread
1½ cups corn meal
½ cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup melted shortening or cooking oil
1 egg
1½ cups milk
Preheat oven to 375ºF.Mix together dry ingredients. Mix together oil, egg and milk and stir into dry ingredients. Pour into oiled, preheated cast iron skillet* or 9-inch square pan and bake until golden brown. Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet or pan in oven while you are mixing the cornbread).
Carne Guisada
2 to 3 pounds boneless stew meat, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces OR 2 pounds round steak (venison works great) cut into small chunks or strips
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (16-oz) tomatoes*
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
Oil
Brown the meat in a small amount of oil. Pour into crock-pot. Add the onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes, mashing or chopping the tomatoes so they are not whole. Add the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on high 6 to 8 hours until the meat is very tender. Serve in flour tortillas that have been heated. Garnish with picante sauce or pico de gallo if desired. *A can of crushed tomatoes will work well for this.
Slow-cooker Stroganoff
2 to 3 pounds round steak (venison is great)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ to teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic (fresh or bottled)
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup water
1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese
Cut meat into 1 x 1½-inch strips. Mix with flour, pepper, salt and garlic. Add to crock pot with rest of ingredients (except cream cheese). Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Stir occasionally. During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, dice the cream cheese and add. Cook until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot egg noodles.
The following recipe for tortilla soup is not actually cooked in a crock-pot, but it can be kept hot in one set on low for a party. My crock-pot has a setting called “keep warm”, and that is what I use.
Tortilla Soup
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and quartered (can use a large can of tomatoes cut smaller)
1 small onion
½ medium green bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Place above ingredients in blender container or food processor bowl and process until finely chopped. Remove from container and place in large saucepan.
Add to ingredients in saucepan:
1 cup diced cooked chicken
5 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons cilantro
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes. Serve in mugs or Styrofoam cups into which you have crumbled several tortilla chips. Before serving, top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream, if desired. Once this is cooked, it can be kept hot in a crock-pot and served.