Before we get started, I just want to welcome everyone to Lessons in Adult Life! This blog will document my personal journey of trying to live like an adult while still a junior in college. I’ll tackle everything from cooking (healthily!), managing money, cleaning, and every other adult life skill you could think of. Think of it as life hacks for floundering college kids. Lessons in Adult Life will not only follow me as I attempt to live life like an adult, but also will serve as a resource for readers where I will answer questions, teach you how to do things, and provide tips and tricks for living like an adult. Let’s get started!
I decided to start off with something that every broke college kid – I mean, adult – needs: A Crock Pot.
If you haven’t bought one of these yet, immediately step away from your computer and get to it. You’re a busy college kid, I get it – which is why you need this! Crock Pots (or slow cookers) are amazing because you essentially just throw in all of your ingredients, wait a few hours, and BOOM! Dinner’s ready! You don’t even need to be at home while it’s cooking, so feel free to actually go to your 9:30 am class for once.
I chose to make mediterranean beef stew for one simple reason: It looked really yummy on the cover of “Skinny Slow Cooker”.
This recipe is super easy, even if you’re an awful cook like me. I was actually kind of shocked at how fast I was able to get all the prep done. And, like I said, the Crock Pot takes care of the rest! So, without further ado, let’s get cooking!
Mediterranean Beef Stew – Better Homes & Gardens Special Publication: Skinny Slow Cooker, pg. 62
Prep time: 25 minutes (according to the recipe, but it took me probably more like 40, because I am terrible at chopping)
Slow cook: 7 to 9 hours (low) or 3.5 to 4.5 hours high, plus 30 minutes on high
You will need:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds of lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (most places will already have pre-cut stew meat)
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 medium yellow sweet pepper, seeded & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
- 2 gloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup lower-sodium beef broth
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- Optional: cooked pasta
The first thing you have to do before you start cooking anything is to get all of your ingredients together. Now, I admittedly have had a history of being terrible in the kitchen, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s always get your ingredients gathered beforehand. Too many times has my mom yelled at me in high school for forgetting the salt. Or the water. Eventually she just gave up and stopped letting me help, but look who has a blog now, mom!
Now that you’ve got all your pretty ingredients together (plus an extra yellow squash – I already did something wrong. Whoops.), we can begin chopping. This is about as complex as this recipe gets, so yippee! Relish in the fact that you have a Crock Pot and don’t have to actually spend time cooking. I’d also take a moment here to measure out your spices (salt, pepper, seasoning, garlic) and put them in a small bowl. It’s okay if you mix them; they’ll all be going in the pot at the same time.
Please note that I’m using baby carrots here instead of the large carrots like the recipe asked for, because I can. And because I already had them and didn’t want to go shopping for more. Since we’re just throwing our ingredients into the slow cooker, it doesn’t matter if you’re super precise. Feel free to add whatever else you think might make it taste more interesting!
Once you’ve got all your ingredients chopped and measured, it’s time to start cooking the beef. Heat the olive oil on a skillet with medium-high heat. Stir until the meat is brown on all sides. Don’t worry about being perfect, it’ll get cooked through completely in the slow cooker.
Once you finish with the first half, cook the second half and add it to the pot. Now you can add your carrots, sweet peppers, and onions – NOT the zucchini!
Now, go ahead and add the Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic. The recipe calls for garlic cloves that you mince yourself, but I went the easy and cheap way.
All you have to do now is add in your tomatoes and broth, then put the lid on your Crock Pot and start cooking! Remember, 7 to 9 hours on low heat, or 3.5 to 4.5 hours on high. Now you have all the time in the world to go to class, clean your house, or you can sit around and play Super Smash Brothers like I did.
After your chosen cook time is done, turn the Crock Pot up to high and toss in your zucchini, then cover it back up. Cook for 30 more minutes. If you’re going to add pasta, now would be the time to start cooking it.
After the 30 minutes, turn off your Crock Pot and serve, over pasta if you like. If you don’t want to serve it immediately, you can keep the lid on your Crock Pot and turn it to the “Warm” setting, but don’t leave it on warm for more than four hours.
Now, for the taste test: My boyfriend Patrick. He’s the one who said that we should have a party in honor of me cooking for once, so thanks for that one, babe.
Patrick’s review was short and sweet: “It was filling and satisfying, and goes well with Sam Adams.”
There you have it! This is just the first of many posts here on Lessons in Adult Life, so stay tuned. I hope this “Lesson” in slow cooking was helpful, and let me know what else you’d like to see in the comments!