A proper traditional dinner? On a school night? Beef and ale slow cooker extravaganza 

So, I may have mentioned that my husband is slowly turning himself into a beefcake. And in order to do this the man needs meat, apparently. 

Unfortunately we both work full time and between work, the gym, volunteering, Church and a newfound passion for Lindyhopping the amount of time available for cooking beefcake appropriate foodage is limited. Modern life is BUSY, isn’t it?

But FEAR NOT. The slow cooker is your friend. 

This is the sort of meal you do about 5 mins of prep for and then just does itself. And you get to feel smug about producing such a hearty, traditional looking meal whilst also being a Busy Bee Awesome Human Being (which you are.) 

I either prep it before work and leave it to putter away while I’m out, or do it overnight, then chill and reheat before eating.

Makes 4 servings (so if there’s two of you that’s two dinners…#maths…)


Ingredients, quantities are approximate:

  • 1tbsp oil
  • 3 onions, one chopped , two sliced into rings 
  • 2-3 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into lardons
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • 500g stewing steak
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 450mls ale 
  • 2 tsps English mustard
  • Two medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper 

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan over a low heat and then add bacon, your chopped onion (reserve the two onions cut into rings for now) and garlic. Sweat gently for 2-3 mins. 
  2. Turn the heat up a notch and add your beef. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes until there’s no pink bits on the outside. 
  3. Add the flour, mustard and tomato puree and stir around. 
  4. Add the ale and turn the heat up so it comes to the boil for 1 minute
  5. Put your onion rings in the bottom of the slow cooker. Tip in your beefy ale mixture and your carrots, mushrooms and bay leaves. 
  6. Switch the slow cooker onto low and cook for 8-10 hours. 
  7. Optional: Just before serving, and if you’ve time, you may wish to transfer the casserole to a saucepan and just briefly bubble it uncovered for 5 mins or so, just to thicken the gravy.
  8. This goes with pretty much any carb: rice, buttery mash, baked potato, quinoa, fresh French baguettes. If you’re really tight on time it even works with a slice of toast! Greens on the side work well and will keep your mum happy, but they aren’t essential. #nojudgementhere
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Ch-ch-ch-ch-chicken (and quinoa) soup

So Hubs has been on a bit of a fitness drive since January, (and I am super proud of him for it!) which has required something of a rethink of how and what we eat. Suddenly we’re thinking about macros and measuring protein. So anyway, we realised that lunches needed a bit of a revamp. We’ve experimented with tuna salad, which is, ya know, fine, I guess. And we’ve eaten so much humus I think I might BE a chickpea. But a winner so far is this one. A warming, comforting, filling soup with chicken AND quinoa for a protein double whammy. 

I used homemade chicken stock, because it makes me feel smug. (You can see my recipe for slow cooker stock here

Makes 4 lunches:

1 onions, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed 

2 medium carrots, finely diced 

2 sticks of Celery, finely diced

2/3 cup of quinoa

1.25 litres chicken stock 

As much left over Roast chicken as you can muster (about a cup?)

Half a lemon 

Parsley 

Plenty of salt and black pepper 
Method

  • Sweat your onions, garlic, carrot and celery in a little oil or butter for 5mins until the onion is soft. 
  • Add your quinoa and swoosh it around with the veg and oil so it takes on lots or flavours
  • Add the stock, bring to the boil. 
  • Cover and simmer for about 20 mins until the quinoa is translucent and tender.
  • Add your chicken and stir through to warm.
  • Squeeze in half a lemon and a good handful of finely chopped parsley. 
  • Check you seasoning – this will need plenty of ground black pepper. If using a stock cube you probably won’t need much salt. If using homemade you can be a little more liberal. But remember, you can always add more salt – you can’t take it away.
  • Enjoy!