Some of my friends and I decided to start a crockpot challenge for the month of November.  It’s kind of like NaNoWriMo except it involves cooking (at least) one meal in the crockpot each week.  Some of them are upping the ante and going for two.  I’m being less ambitious, because as we all know, I’m not the primary cook in the house.

However, I do some fun stuff in the crockpot.  The margin of error is less, the prep time is more manageable, and it cooks while I’m working hard all day to implement important changes to make government work better.  Plus it’s just a lot less scary for me to cook in the crock.

Anyway, I have done two weeks (I started a week early so I could hopefully squeeze in an extra meal, plus C was out of town and it gave me extra dinner), and part of the deal is posting the recipes/reviews, so here goes:

Week 1:  Beef Stew
Key ingredients:

– 1.5 lbs all natural stew beef

– Butternut squash

– Sweet potatoes

– Carrots

I got a small carton of sweet potatoes and about a pound of carrots from the farmers market.  The squash was enormous, so I used some of it for the next recipe (see below).  Spices included a bay leaf, rosemary, basil, oregano, turkish seasoning, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and paprika.  I also used dried minced garlic and onions.

I didn’t measure it, and it was underseasoned; I think this could easily be remedied with the used of beef or vegetable broth instead of water, and also fresh onions.  The second day (and third) it was a LOT better.  The beef really broke down after about the third cooking, so trying to eat this sooner rather than later is best.  Also, egg noodles. 

Week 2:  Veggie chili

There were a lot of liberties taken with this recipe, most notably quinoa instead of bulger wheat.  Also, I used the second half of the butternut squash, and added kidney beans (in addition to black beans) to make up for it.  I only used one can of tomatoes.  Instead of the chipotles in adobo, I used 1 tbsp adobo chili spice from Penzeys, in addition to their Chili 3000.  (Note – most of my spices are from Penzeys.)  Most of the rest of this I stayed with the recipe.

Eating this now.  It’s delicious.  Much less a failure than the first time I tried to make this.