So-So Stew

Budget Stew. This recipe was listed online as something named similar, but I’m pretty positive the pictures and the recipe DID NOT go together. Not even remotely. Plus, I had to change it slightly to keep it from burning. So, this is it’s new name…I guess.

Budget Stew is exactly what it sounds like-stew on a budget. It’s cheap to make and my husband and two of my children liked it. My three year old (that hates all non-fried foods) didn’t care much for it and, surprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan myself. I think I was going for something “beefier” and came out with something “tomato-y”. Those are words, right?

To begin, I need to clarify something that’s noticeable in this picture. The ground beef looks old. It looks terribly disgusting. It was not old or disgusting. It was fresh and was vacuum packed immediately after being purchased (I buy in bulk and then separate and freeze). When ground beef is packaged in this way (vacuumed), it turns brown. Something to do with oxidation or something. I don’t really know. I glazed over reading about it. I just know that turned brown (but was still edible) and no one was sick. WIN!

I had intended on presenting an easy Crock-Pot meal with little to no prep. I am about to fail….

To begin, the meat needs to be browned. I didn’t realize this until I had already peeled the carrots which leads me to the next step. The carrots need to be peeled AND the potatoes. But oh wait, the potatoes do not have to be peeled and I’m just illiterate. GRRR.

Once the meat is browned, drain it and then put it in the Crock-Pot with all of the vegetables that you have peeled, sliced, and diced. Arrange all the vegetables and meat and take a picture and post it on social media. Tell everyone that they just fell in that way. Kidding…sort of.

Next, it’s time to put the sauce in. I used garlic powder (you know my love for this stuff if you’ve read any earlier blogs) instead of real garlic and mixed it with the other spices in a small glass bowl. Then, I dumped the spice mixture and a can of tomato paste into HOT water to help the paste “melt”. Can I insert here that I despise tomato paste? I think it is the nastiest thing ever. I’m not even sure why, but I can’t stand it. I may have gagged a little while scraping the can…. Anyhow, pour the liquid on top of the meat/vegetable “art” and stir everything around.

Put the lid on the Crock-Pot and cook on low 6-7 hours or high 4-5 hours.

On a side note, I chose to cook on high (actually I just forgot to start dinner so I didn’t have an option) and 3.5 hours in, I had to add about 3/4 cup of water. The stew was so very dry that it began to stick to the side of the Crock-Pot so I had to add water. I’m adding this to the recipe at the bottom, but it may or may not be needed. Use your best judgement.

Also, I made cornbread because I felt like the stew needed a bread with it. I’ve included the recipe. It has been posted before, but it’s buried somewhere in archives.

By the way, I didn’t have any at the time, but Crock-Pot bags are seriously the greatest thing since sliced bread. They make clean-up a BREEZE!

Budget Stew

  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
  • 5-6 potates (peeled or un-peeled) diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. After browning the ground beef, add it to the Crock-Pot along with the potatoes, carrots, and onions.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and oregano.
  3. Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. (If preparing on High, may need to check water levels around the 3 hour mark. If low, add another 3/4 Cup of water.
  5. Serve and enjoy

Idiot-Proof Cornbread (a.k.a. Southern Cornbread)
from the backside of Martha White Cornmeal bags

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/3 cups milk (or 1 3/4 cups buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups self-rising enriched white corn meal mix
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Coat 8 or 9 inch pan skillet or baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place skillet or pan in oven 7-8 minutes or until hot.
  3. Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk.
  4. Pour into prepared skillet or pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.
    **Note: I use the 9 inch round pan. The 8 X 8- inch pan makes cornbread that’s a little thicker than we like. **

The Chicken Nuggets that Weren’t

Last night we had some old favorites at our house. I’m so familiar with salmon patties that I can practically cook them in my sleep. Nothing could go wrong with that, right? Um….yeah.

Although last night was relatively uneventful compared to most nights, I did manage to burn my fingers more than once and my pot of potatoes overflowed. By the time my children started asking for snacks, drinks, and dinner every two minutes, I was feeling my eye twitching every time they came into the kitchen. Then Ella, my three year old, walked in and said, “What are we having for dinner?” After my son told her salmon she immediately turned her nose up and started to whine. I quickly caught her attention and told her we were actually having “giant chicken nuggets” (which is exactly what my son thought they were until last year). It is slightly deceiving, but I go with whatever works!

Let’s get started! Here’s what you will need for the salmon patties. Well…and oil, but you get the drift. This recipe is very reasonable on the wallet.

A few important notes:

  1. Get boneless and skinless. If not, you’ll be like me the first time I made these and spend an hour trying to pick the minuscule bits of skin and bones out before just throwing it all away and screaming in frustration.
  2.  I have used different brands and noticed some of them need more or less cornmeal. Just be warned that all brands are different and what works for Double “Q” may not necessarily work for another brand (in terms of cornmeal amounts needed and such).

I mixed together two cans of salmon in medium-sized bowl. I always drain one and just dump in the second one with liquid and all. I added in two eggs and used a fork to mix the eggs and salmon together and then I added in the 1/4 cup of cornmeal and mixed well. Last night I added in an extra 1/8 cup. I usually know it’s “ready” when I push it all to one side of the bowl and it doesn’t automatically slide back into place.

After mixing them up, drop them by small spoonfuls into a skillet of hot oil. You can make bigger ones if you want. I vary on sizes.

It’s time to flip when they turn golden brown on the sides!

Once they are done, they should look like this on the inside:

As a side I also made cheesy smashed potatoes. I washed and sliced five UN-peeled potatoes and boiled them while I made the salmon patties. I then added a little milk, a Tbsp of butter, and a handful of cheese and mashed them up. The skin is just extra nutrients and it’s so much easier than peeling it. I also used my trusty Pampered Chef steamer (no, I don’t sell it- I just adore this product) to steam frozen broccoli in the microwave.

All in all it was a fast and easy dinner!Oh and my three year old still thinks we had chicken nuggets. And she ate every. last. one.

*Disclaimer: I make these pretty plain. You may want to add more seasonings, but we prefer them this way. This should be considered a base recipe by most.

Salmon Patties

  • 2 Cans of boneless, skinless Salmon- ONE drained (I prefer Double “Q”)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 C of cornmeal (may need an extra 1/8 C occasionally)
  • olive oil

Combine regular can of salmon and drained can. Add eggs. Mix together with a fork. Add in cornmeal and mix well. If needed, add extra cornmeal. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium to medium/high heat. Drop spoonfuls of salmon mixture into hot skillet. Turn patties when the edges turn golden brown. Once patties are done, move to a paper-towel covered plate to soak up any extra oil. Serve.

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

  • 5-6 washed, un-peeled potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • “handful” of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (real technical measurements here…)

Slice potatoes and add to a large pot of boiling water. Let potatoes boil until they are tender and easily mashed with  fork. Drain and return to pot. Add in milk and butter and mash by hand. After butter melts, add in a handful of cheese and hand mash.