Well, save my sanity anyway! 🙂

This has been one of the busiest falls I can remember.  Even with our determination to keep our schedule simpler than many people do, with our kids getting older, they naturally have more going on.  I am also teaching a few more piano students this year, which is so fun for me, and helps us out financially, but of course takes time in my week.  So, my goal this fall was to use my crockpot a minimum of twice a week.

The most common things I have made in my crockpot are: chili, whole chicken, chicken breasts with bbq sauce for “pulled chicken” sandwiches, beef stew, and chicken stew.  I decided to master these things first (remember, I am a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to cooking!) and then expand my repertoire.

The tricky thing about soups with food allergies, for me anyway, was I could no longer follow any recipe that used a soup mix, or a gravy mix, or a can of anything.  I know that there are plenty of healthy, all natural soup recipes out there, but I needed to find a way to make what we already loved, in a new way, not just change all of the food we ate on  a regular basis.

Enter Stephanie, my sis-in-love (married my youngest brother- incidentally, my brothers had fabulous taste in choosing their wives… so glad they chose women I could become friends with! 🙂 )  Oh, but back to my crockpot, and Stephanie… Stephanie is one of those people who have a knack with food…. you know the ones? They are excited about food, watch cooking shows compulsively, and somehow remember everything they watched, and manage to apply it in their own kitchen.  She can taste something, and then name all the ingredients in it.  I’m not joking! We call her our personal family gourmet chef, and for family gatherings, we all look forward to “what Stephanie is making!” 😀

This is what she made me for my birthday “cake” this weekend. I posted about these eclairs I saw on a blog I follow… and she offered to make me some!!  (I think I gained 5 pounds in 24 hours… they are all gone, and oh boy were they good!)

Can you say YUMMMMMM!!!??!?

Anyway, there have been many panicked last minute phone calls during the dinner prep hour, when I call Stephanie and say “the recipes says___”, and she helps me figure out a way I can make it work for my allergies.  Being a natural, she does things rather intuitively… you know, without measuring and things like that?  So our conversations often sound like this:

Me: Hey Stephanie, I am trying to make tetrazini, but I can’t use the can of cream sauce the recipe calls for.

Steph: Ok, well I would start by making a roux.

Me: Ummm.. what’s a roux?

Steph: it’s a starter for things with white sauce… you melt some butter and stir in flour.

Me: um… how much butter?

Steph: um…. try 3 tbs.

We were just joking about this over the weekend, that she always makes sure to answer the phone when I call, especially at supper time. LOL  How amazing is that!?  I call at the worst time of the day- her husband has just come in from work, the kids are hungry, and she is making dinner, but she makes sure to take my call. I {heart} her!

Just in case you think I take advantage, (well, ok I do a little, but I try not to) I do try to talk food on purpose at other times, so I can write it down in my little food notebook.

My mom gave me this little notebook the first year I was married.  I had just spent 4 years honing my music and teaching skills, and came into marriage with a blank stare in the kitchen- I had learned to make all kinds of things as a teenager, but.. I was a little rusty.  And I was calling my mom several times a week asking “how do you make_____?” 🙂

Notice, not only did I ask her how to cook squash, I had to write down what color it was so I could be sure to buy the right one! LOL!  I think I also remember a phone call of “what does a turnip look like!?” 😀  Now, Stephanie helps me tweak things for my food allergies, and I add them to this little notebook… not that I never still have to call my mom and ask her what something looks like, or how you cut it…

Cooking “lessons” with Stephanie is how I came up with this beef stew recipe.  Then, amazingly, as I have begun to FINALLY click a little bit with this whole cooking thing, I came up with the dumpling recipe last month.  I am so excited to  be sharing what I have been learning here with you!

Beef Stew

I put 2 tbs of butter, and 2 tbs of olive oil into my pasta pot.  I add stew beef cut into small pieces, and half of a red onion diced finely. While this starts cooking up over med heat, I peel and cut 4-5 carrots, slice them up, and add them to the meat and onions frying in the pot.  Once the meat has browned on the outside, and the onions are looking clear, I add in 6 or so tbs of rice flour. (I add more if I want the stew to be thick).  The flour should at least soak up the remaining liquid in the pot, and coat the veggies and meat like so:

I then cover the stuff in the pot with water, about 5 cups of water. While that is coming to a boil, I peel up 5 or so potatoes, dice them, and add them to the pot.  I add a few pinches of salt, a few shakes of pepper, and a few shakes of thyme, then stir in about 1/4 c. of ketchup. (We use Organicville ketchup, as the other gluten free ones have corn in them).  At this point, I usually transfer the whole thing into my crockpot, to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

*Edited to add: I have also learned from Stephanie that you actually TASTE things while you are making them!  So, taste this broth before you make the dumplings, in case you want to add more thyme or salt, etc.  Oh, but be careful not to burn your tongue- even with the crockpot on the low the broth is HOT.  (Don’t ask me how I know this…sigh..) 🙂

A half-hour before serving time, I put the crockpot back up on high, and while it heats up I make the dumplings:

  • 2 tbs veg oil (I use light olive oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c rice milk
  • 1 1/2 c rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (my own)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum

Mix it all up, and it should be kind of thick, and fluffy.  (Adjust milk/flour if needed). I then plop by spoonfuls into the stew in the crockpot, put the lid back on, and wait 20 minutes.


Today when I made this, I used 6 cups of water, and it was too much, so I ended up mixing some flour in cold water, and then adding it to the crockpot to thicken it up some more.  I tend to go easy on salt (history with blood pressure that I want to stay down where I have it now!), and my hubby just adds a little extra shake of salt and/or pepper to his own bowl.  I also left out the sugar today, from the biscuits, and it didn’t seem to affect it at all… maybe I’ll keep leaving it out?

This was SO GOOD we each had two bowls… and guess what I am having for  breakfast lunch tomorrow! 😉


This is part of a 31 Days series on Less Stress in Allergy-Free Eating.  To view a list of all the posts in the series you can go here. To subscribe to my posts via email, you can go to my homepage, and type in your email address in the box on the right-hand margin.  To view the list of over 700 bloggers participating in this 31 Days blogging challenge go here!


One Thought on “Day Thirteen: My Crockpot and Sister in Law Save My Life, and a Beef Stew Recipe”

  • oh man, that stew…yummmmm!
    take it from me folks, the stew is very good.

    well done love.

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