I hate it in the morning, but man, I love it in the evening!
Slow cooker recipes are becoming more and more a part of our weekly routine here at the Kimball house. I’m making it a priority to find and try many slow cooker meals, and I have not been disappointed. It is absolutely a joy to be able to interact more with my kids, go over homework, play with the toddler, ETC. between the hours of 4-5:30 rather than futzing with dinner.
I still have to cut raw vegetables for salad and sometimes make a side veg or remember to start some rice, but on the days when Morning Katie gives Dinnertime Katie the gift of a slow cooker meal, Evening Katie is eternally grateful.
On that note, I’m actually supposed to be getting the crockpot started right now with the BBQ chicken recipe from Crock On! which was also reprinted with permission in The Healthy Lunch Box. We haven’t had it in a while, and it’s a big hit with everyone – but that doesn’t mean I really want to take 10 minutes to throw it together in the morning.
(Don’t worry, Evening Katie, I’ll get it going as soon as I post this lovely recipe.)
This month’s focus in on using fresh ginger, so imagine my glee when I was searching through one of my slow cooker eBooks a few weeks back and found a recipe calling for fresh ginger! From Your Freezer to Your Family (no longer available) by Stephanie of Mama and Baby Love includes ways to make slow cooker meals that get frozen and then go directly into the slow cooker (boy, Morning Katie would love that!). I have never actually taken the time to do the freezer part, but the recipes are great for regular slow cooking too.
Stephanie gave me permission to reprint this ginger beef recipe, and although I tweaked it a little, it’s still definitely hers. In her old book, she used to list the ingredients for a double recipe assuming people were making two bags of meals for their freezer. In the new version, she offers a number of methods for cooking, including freezer-to-slow-cooker, stovetop, Dutch-oven-in-the-oven, and slow cook without freezing. It’s much more versatile and has quite a few new recipes as well.
Recipe: Ginger Beef in the Slow Cooker
Are you ready to set the slow cooker and forget it?Print
- 2 lbs. beef roast (either leave bone-in or cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 3 carrots, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
- 1 c. scallions (green onions), sliced
- 1 c. chopped red bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2–4 Tbs. grated fresh ginger (use a microplane)
- 1 – 1 1/2 c. beef stock, or if using bone-in roast, use water
- 2 Tbs. tamari sauce (same thing as gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1/2–1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbs. tapioca or arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp. salt (I recommend Real Salt)
- 1/2 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
- chopped kale or swiss chard, to preference
- 1 c. sugar snap peas
- Simply place all ingredients except sugar snap peas into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, put the sugar snap peas in a pot with just a bit of water on the bottom (or use a steamer basket) and briefly steam on high heat for 3 minutes or until peas become a beautiful bright green. (Alternately, you can add the snap peas into the slow cooker for the last thirty minutes of cooking, but I prefer al dente, lightly steamed pea pods). Just rinse the pot and let it air dry; no more dishes!
- Serve over white rice or soaked brown rice.
* Here’s how to freeze fresh ginger so you can have it on hand and not let it all turn to mush!
* A chuck roast or round roast are both fine for this dish, or pre-cut stew meat is a great time-saver.
* A reader says it works great with a pork roast too!
* If you use a large roast without cutting it up, you’ll want to use two forks to pull apart the well-cooked meat before serving, making sort of a shredded beef topping for rice. This will work best with fattier cuts (i.e. chuck roast) and you might find that you need to break out the knife anyway for nicer roasts (i.e. sirloin). If that’s the case, you can cut it up before or after.
* Shoot low on the crushed red pepper if you have kids or sensitive palates.
* Adding extra steamed veggies is great too – broccoli is perfect to bulk up the meal. You can serve with other sides as well if 2 pounds of meat feels a little rich for one meal, and guaranteed, you’ll have leftovers.
* Leftovers can be frozen and reheated with a little extra broth. Cooked rice is great frozen on its own.
* If you don’t feel like you have enough leftovers to go around for an entire meal, add some broth and a few more veggies, include the rice and make it a delicious soup with bread on the side and a big salad.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Technology and Meal Planning
I recently started using the software from our sponsor Plan to Eat regularly in my attempt to reduce paper clutter and utilize technology to keep me organized. Overall, the effort, which included putting my calendar exclusively on Google calendar, trying to-do lists in Evernote and meal planning with PTE, is going…okay. There are some bumps in the road and I think I don’t know how to use Evernote very well, but the meal planning part is good, as long as I remember to do it.
With this recipe, I didn’t have the appropriate cut of beef, and I must say it was pretty cool that it was all in my phone on the auto-generated shopping list. I didn’t have to do a thing for the info to be ready for me when I was shopping, along with reminders to buy tamari sauce and snap peas, neither of which are constant staples. THAT is where PTE can really save you time, although for me, I’ve realized that I generally shop to stock my pantry and mostly choose recipes that enable me to cook from the pantry, so almost all the auto-generated shopping list items are unnecessary for me.
Here’s the ginger beef recipe on PTE, if you’re a member. If you’re not, they have a 30-day trial, and if you join the KS group, you can pretty quickly populate your meal plan for a few weeks with new recipes and some favorites from this blog.