Thursday, August 11, 2011

When the Day Gets In the Way...

I've had a long day today, and it's only 1:30pm. 

I feel mentally exhausted, and overwhelmed with the day-to-day crud I've let pile up.  I've cooked dinner for my family every night since Saturday, including lunches (no sneaky trips to Culvers this week!), so I feel like tonight I'm ok breaking out the coupons, and grabbing something for me and the kids.  The husband has a work thing, and I need to run kids to practice, and attend a school function, so there.  I've justified it. 

I still have a recipe for ya, though!  I hadn't had stroganoff for a long, long time, until my mom brought us some when our kitchen was torn up at the old house (oh, how I miss that kitchen now!).  It was so good!  And the kids ate it!  I tinkered with some recipes I saw, and came up with this lighter, freezer- and wallet-friendly version for the fam.  We like it, and it's a quick, easy meal for busy school nights. 

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

1-1/2 lb. beef stew meat
1 8-oz. pkg. sliced white mushrooms, finely chopped (as small as your family needs!)
1 med. onion, sliced, diced or however you like it
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard or dry mustard (add a little more to taste after it cooks)
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (splash in a little more befoe serving to taste if needed)
1 pkg. egg noodles

Have on hand:
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. water
1/3 c. light sour cream (or more if you like)

To freeze: Add the meat, veggies and seasonings to a gallon storage bag, close, and “knead” gently to evenly distribute the marinade. For a swap, include a bag of egg noodles for each bag [Aldi, baby - cheap and a good size bag]. To prep in bulk, add about 1 c. finely chopped mushrooms, and a heaping 1/2 c. diced onions to each bag.  A food scale is helpful to distribute meat evenly.

To prepare: Take out the frozen meat mixture the night before, or a day in advance. The day you want to have it for dinner, toss the meat mixture in your crock pot with about 1 c. of broth or water. Cover & cook until beef tips are tender, about 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high (depends on your slow cooker). Can cook frozen, but add a few hours.  If you cook it "fresh" you can sear (not cook through!) the meat quickly in a little oil in a med-hot skillet, and then throw it in the crock pot - an extra step, but adds a little more flavor.

About 15-20 minutes before dinner, cook your noodles.  Then stir 2 tbsp. of cornstarch into a small bowl with 2 tbsp. water (keep stirring, it thins out). Whisk in about 1 c. cooking liquid, then pour into a saucepan, and boil about 1 minute until thickened.   To punch up the flavor, add a little Worcestershire and/or mustard into the sauce to your liking. Stir that back into your meat mixture.  Just before serving, stir in 1/3-1/2 c. light sour cream.  Ladle the beef mixture over the noodles, and you're good to go. 

Meat Note: For our meal swap, I called our local grocery store, warehouse club, and another nearby store and compared prices on beef stew meat.  The grocery store matched the lowest price AND had it all cut, measured and wrapped for me, for no extra charge, so I just walked in, picked it up, and boldly displayed the 27 lb. of raw beef as I walked through the store. At home I just weighed out each bag for the swap to make sure everyone had the same amount.

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