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It’s hard to imagine, but in the near future, the temperature will drop and we will feel cold!

This always changes my dinner plans. Instead of sending Old What’s His Name outside to barbecue, I will be watching him sitting in his recliner with a cat on his lap and a glass of wine in his hand.

Fortunately, with a crockpot I can do the prep earlier and join him — somebody’s got to keep him out of trouble!

Crock Pot Burgoo, California Style

Servings: 12

Preparation time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

1 pound lean beef, for stew cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound pork tenderloin cut into 1 inch cubes

2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

3 sliced carrots

1 large onion, chopped

4 skinless chicken thighs (whole, do not cut yet)

4 medium red potatoes, quartered

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 3/4 cups petite cut tomatoes w/ jalapenos, canned, undrained

1 teaspoon sodium-free chicken bouillon granules mixed with 1 cup water

1/2 cup dry sherry

1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, cooked and drained

1 1/2 cups frozen lima beans, cooked and drained

Place beef and pork in a 6-cup crock pot. Sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning. Toss until coated.

Layer the carrots, onion, whole chicken thighs, potatoes, green bell pepper and tomatoes and their juice, in order — do not stir. Pour in the bouillon/water and dry sherry. Do NOT add the corn or lima beans now.

Cover and cook on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, or on low for 8 to 9 hours or until the vegetables and meats are tender. Remove the chicken and set aside. Stir in the corn and lima beans; cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, or until heated through. Cut the reserved chicken into 1-inch pieces and return to pot and cook until heated through.

Serve in bowls, accompanied with hot cornbread

Freeze leftovers.

Per serving: 164 calories; 3g fat; 18g carbohydrates; 94mg sodium

C’est Si Bon Beef Burgundy

Servings: 10

Preparation time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

2 1/2 pounds beef top round, cut into 1-inch cubes

Pan spray, as needed

1/3 cup flour

2 tablespoons paprika

1 1/4 cups burgundy, or any dry red wine, such as merlot or pinot noir

3/4 cup water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

2 tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons orange zest (finely grated orange rind)

2 teaspoons sodium-free beef bouillon granules

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup pear. onions, browned and drained

1 cup baby carrots (for best results, use carrots of equal size)

Preheat oven to 500 (475 convection). Spray a large sheet pan with pan spray. Put flour and paprika in a plastic bag and shake. Add beef cubes a few handfuls at a time. Shake with flour. Place on baking sheet; don’t crowd. Bake for about 5 minutes (4 minutes convection) or until brown. Add to large crock pot along with wine, water, herbs, garlic and bouillon.

Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours until tender. While beef cooks, briefly cook carrots until crisp tender; saute onions until brown. Add carrots, onions and mushrooms, and cook an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with rice or potatoes.

Per serving: 261 calories; 11g fat; 9g carbohydrates; 108mg sodium