RedPack wants to really focus on helping families find ways to have a hot meal waiting for them after a busy school / work day. Slow cookers definitely make mealtimes easier. What’s more, in most families there’s usually some delicious leftovers to freeze and reheat on another busy night! Using tomatoes in soups, stews and casseroles may also offer more nutrition than fresh. When tomatoes are heated, the antioxidant lycopene (linked to several health benefits) is released.
Since RedPack had previously sent me a free Slow Cooker Kit, I decided to make their Beef and Barley Stew with some changes to make it my own. We are closing on our first home this week so we have been packing and running around trying to get last minute stuff taken care of. A crockpot meal was perfect because I could basically set it and forget it and have a few days worth of meals out of it.
As you might be able to tell from the time on the stove, I started this after I got home from work – at 12:46am. I just kept it on low overnight, and when Tony left for work at 6:30am, he switched it to “keep warm”. I stayed like that until I got home from work at 11:30pm that night. After that I shut it off, let it cool a little and put the whole slow cooker in the refrigerator. I had been worried that the barley and/or veggies would get mushy, but they were still perfect!
I had some trouble finding a good mixed vegetable bag in my local supermarket – for some reason they mostly had bags of just one kind of vegetable, and the mixed bags had seasoning or cheese in them. I eventually found two bags of assorted grilling vegetables and bought that. Inside was Squash, zucchini , Onions and Red Bell Peppers. When I got them home I just cut up the veggies into bite sized pieces since they were a little big for a stew. I also bought chicken stock instead of chicken broth by accident. Also the bigger boxes were on sale so I figured I would just use both anyway, and reduce the amount of water. My local supermarket also didn’t have quick cooking barley, so I used regular barley. I used a cup of regular barley and it was probably too much, barley expands quite a bit. Instead of garlic powder I used minced garlic – I also used probably two tablespoons because we really like garlic! After cooking overnight in the slow cooker, I added another tablespoon of chili powder, two tablespoons of thyme, and a few shakes of italian seasoning because it tasted kind of bland.
I kept it on warm for a few more house and had some for lunch. I sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top of my bowl and it was wonderful! Tony had some for dinner, but decided to add a little seasoned salt to his bowl and that really kicked it up a notch – I tried it and it was delicious!
Next time I would add more meat, but it was quite filling with the barley and vegetables. The best part is we have had leftovers for a few days now! Thanks to RedPack for providing the Redpack® Crushed Tomatoes In Thick Puree!
If you would like to win your own RedPack Slow Cooker Recipe Starter Kit like I received, enter our giveaway!