Crock Pot Lamb Stew

It has been extremely cold here in Arkansas! It’s as if Mother Nature decided to skip from summer to winter. In the winter, I love cooking plenty of big, hot, filling meals. Anything I can do in a crock pot…even better. I had the idea after doing Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon (Paleofied Recipe to come soon!) to use wine and lamb in the stew. I was sitting down with my grocery list and knew I had some ground lamb in the freezer that needed to be used. I had found a really great clearance deal and stocked up. So…how most of these intro’s end when I make something up…Bing, bang, boom! I made lamb stew!

Here’s what you’ll need for this hearty winter stew:

  • 3 pounds of Ground Lamb
  • 1 Medium Butternut Squash
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • Red Wine (I used two bottles of red cooking wine, but use something you’ll drink if you’re fortunate enough to not live in a dry county!)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Crushed Dried Mint
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (It seriously doesn’t need salt if you’re using red cooking wine.)

Having most of the ingredients in the house made this extremely easy. I didn’t even bother to defrost the lamb. Add everything but the butternut squash into the crock pot. Check it every once and a while and move the lamb around. This can take four to six hours. I didn’t want the squash to get mushy, so I waited two hours before adding it. But, by all means, if you add it all at first, let me know in the comments if it turned out okay. 🙂

This stew is hearty, but yummy. The mint added a lovely after taste. I was a little proud of myself for throwing this together. I hope you enjoy this crock pot recipe. I think this would be great if you ran home and threw everything together on a lunch break. The leftovers are great. I hope you’ll come back next time to see what this Crock Pot Loving, Common Sense Cook will dream up next. I’m sending you a hot meal for the cold weather, from my kitchen to yours.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

Manic Monday – A New Way to Do Souvlaki

Souvlaki Before and After Souvlaki in the Crock Pot

One of the first recipes I wrote for the blog and the food column in our local paper was Souvlaki (Blog title: Inspiration for Greek Food). Ever since I first made this dish with a friend, I have been hooked. I make this 2 to 3 times a month and with the update on this recipe, it may go up! The flavor is enhanced and it is so delicious. I am truly excited to make this dish more accessible to more people. Throw this in your crock pot in the morning and by supper time you’ll be in heaven.

Here’s what you’ll need for this Greek dish:

  • Country Style Pork Ribs (I think next time I’ll buy two packages.)
  • 1 Bottle of Red Cooking Wine (We’re in a dry county, so if you can get wine, use something you would drink!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill (Seriously, if you can, don’t use dried. Dill is so much more amazing fresh.)
  • Fresh Garlic (Add to your liking. I added 5 small cloves to finish off an old clove.)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Onion, Sliced
  • Salt and Pepper

Throw in your ribs and crack some salt and pepper over them. Add the wine. They do not have to be completely immersed, but get it close to the top. Add all of the seasonings, onion, and the juice of the lemon.

Let this cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or low for 6 to 8. I did mine on high for 4 hours and low for the last two. The longer it cooked, the softer and more delicious it became. I whipped up some mashed potatoes and used full fat coconut milk instead of regular cow’s milk. It did not leave a coconut flavor as you would think. The juice from the pork made a lovely gravy. The after picture above was after the 4 hours. It was very yummy then, so if you forget, or put it on at lunch, no worries! The plated picture was about 7 or 8 hours.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I encourage all of you to play around with the way you cook a recipe. The only wrong way to cook, is to not cook at all. 🙂 I’m sending you the yummiest smelling house, from my kitchen to yours. I hope you’ll come back next time to see what this Common Sense Cook will throw in that crock pot next.

Happy Cooking.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

Epic Noodle Soup

Well this morning was a bust. (See Recipe Review-Coconut Flour Pancakes) So let’s talk about a more positive experience and something that I am excited to share with you. One of the first things I really nailed when I started trying to make homemade, healthier versions of food years ago was Chicken Noodle Soup. I used organic stock, organic chicken, and organic seasonings. I don’t know why but it was superior in flavor and texture to anything that could come out of a can! I dubbed it then, “Epic Noodle Soup!” I even fed several friends, kids, and friend’s kids this soup with many seconds…thirds….and sometimes fourth bowls… But sadly, my favorite organic broth is gluten contaminated, along with soy and milk…Not sure how you do that with what’s listed on the ingredients…but I digress. I had to paleo-fy this and even made it in the crockpot. Have I mentioned? I love my crockpot!

Here’s what you’ll need to get this Epic Soup going:

  • 2-3 lbs of chicken breast (You could use other cuts if you like.)
  • 1 Onion Sliced into Long Strips (Or diced if you don’t like to slurp up onions like noodles.)
  • 2 Stalks of Celery
  • Mushroom Broth
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Spaghetti Squash

To add a good depth of flavor to the chicken I decided to grill the chicken breasts first. I browned them on each side on my indoor grill. I didn’t worry about if they were still pink in the middle.I just used some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I believe if I would have cooked them all the way through and crock pot cooked them…it may have ended up quite dry tasting.

Chop up all of your veggies. I like the noodle like quality of sliced onions. I use a vegetable peeler on the celery and then mince finely. I chop the ends off the of spaghetti squash and then slice it around the middle. I dig out all of the seeds. I’m currently saving seeds to see if some of them are edible like pumpkin seeds and such…Will report on that later if I figure anything out…or just plant them. Cut out the end of the squash so that you basically have a large open cylinder like shape. Use a vegetable peeler and remove the skin.

Add the mushroom broth (I have blogged this if you would like to check it out.) to about half full of your crock pot. Mine is pretty large so I could use about 2 quarts. Add the chicken to the bottom, the onions, the celery. On top of this set the spaghetti squash. It does not have to be fully submerged in the water. Just make sure your lid can fit on top.

I would say about four hours later I checked this. I pulled out the chicken and took two knives and shredded the chicken. If at this point you think you’ve added too much chicken, you could always reserve it for another meal like I did. Add it back in and then start pulling the spaghetti squash apart into strands. There may be some clumps where the skin was thicker, you can remove this or leave it. As long as your chicken is cooked, you’re welcome to go ahead and dig in!

I thought I left my crock pot to cool down over night but I had actually left it on low over night. It simmered on for about 16 hours and really concentrated and reduced down. It really softened the chicken. So whether you cook this 4 hours or 16, it’ll be EPIC!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Remember, we don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents! (Who said that?) I’m sending you some warm, soup memories for this upcoming fall and winter from my kitchen to yours. I hope you’ll come back next time to see what this Epic Soup Making, Common Sense Cook will throw in the crock pot next. If you try it out, come on over and like the Facebook page to see even more tips, tricks, and common sense at http://www.facebook.com/commonsensecook

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

P.S. The picture above is only after 4 hours. If you let it go overnight, mine turned a lovely orange-ee, amber color. Bon Appetit!