Slow Cooker Roast Beef with Gravy

I love roast beef. It is super tasty and fairly easy to make in the crock pot. Not to mention, it makes your house smell Ah-mazing! 

beef and gravy

Before we get to the recipe, I want to talk about the ingredients. All you need are carrots, potatoes (I like to use red), beef chuck roast, condensed cream of mushroom soup, an onion soup/dip dry mix packet, and water.

  • I also highly recommend purchasing grass-fed beef. It is better for your health and the environment. There are many reasons grass-fed beef is better, which could be a blog post all on its own. In the meantime, check out this NY Times article for a short overview.
  • For the cream of mushroom soup, I recommend Pacifica’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup. It is good quality, and I think it adds great flavor to the roast. If you don’t choose this soup, I would recommend an organic or all natural variety. (When in doubt, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you shouldn’t buy it.)
  • Finally, the packet of onion/soup mix I often use is Simply Organic’s French Dip Mix. It adds the right flavor to the roast. My co-op had an onion soup dry packet mix by a local producer, so I used that this time around. It also add great flavor and had high-quality ingredients.
  • I purchased organic produce. For carrots and potatoes, it is always best to buy organic to avoid pesticides on your produce.
  • Obviously, you should buy what works for your budget. However, buying quality organic/local/sustainable ingredients are not only better for the environment, but also for your health (which can lower your health care costs in the long run).

Ok, now on to the recipe! I forgot to take photos of the prep for the crockpot. Sorry, I was prepping it before work. However, everything is pretty easy and straight forward.

  1. First, wash and peel your carrots. Cut into large chunks. 1″-2″ chunks are best. Then, wash your potatoes and cut into similarly sized large chunks. Set aside.
  2. Put the cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups of water and 2/3 of the onion soup/dip mix packet in the crock pot. Stir until it is combined.
  3. Place your potatoes and carrots in the crock pot.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the onion soup/dip dry mix on your roast. Place on top of the potatoes and carrots in the crock pot. It is best to have your roast partially submerged. You may need to move the potatoes and carrots a bit to accommodate your roast, but try not to have the roast sit on the very bottom of the crock pot.
  5. Finally, scoop a spoonful of the liquid in the crock pot on top of your roast. Cover and set your crock pot on low. Cook for 6-8 hours, until the roast falls apart and is tender. (Flip your roast at least once while its cooking if you are able.)
Fully Cooked Roast in Crock Pot
Fully Cooked Roast in Crock Pot

Once your roast is cooked, remove the roast and veggies. Cover with foil and set aside. I like to pull apart the roast, but you can also just cut it up and serve it in larger chunks. Now it’s time to use all that delicious liquid. You can strain the liquid and skim the fat. However, I usually don’t. It is partially because I don’t have one of those fancy fat skimmer/separators, so I don’t often feel like going to all the work. 

So, that delicious liquid full of soup mix, beef juices, and more. We are going to use that for our gravy. I used to always buy gravy, until I realized just how easy and quick it is to make. You can use this recipe to make any gravy. If you have pan drippings (or juice from cooking a roast in the crock pot), use that before you would use pre-made stock.

  1. First, you start with 3 tablespoons of fat. I usually do half unsalted butter and half pan drippings. If you don’t have pan drippings, use all butter (your welcome).Melt the butter with pan drippings in a sauce pan on low.
  2. Once melted, add 3 tablespoons of flour*, and whisk immediately. This will form a “rue,” which is a paste to help your gravy thicken. Heat this rue on low for a minute.
  3. Slowly add you liquid (3 cups), keep continually whisking to have your rue combine with your liquid. Turn up your burned to about medium, heat to a low boil. Then, turn your gravy back down to low immediately. Your gravy will thicken up during this whole process.
  4. If it doesn’t thicken enough for your tastes, you could add a little bit of all-natural potato flakes (Bob’s Red Mill has good quality potato flakes). The potato flakes will help your gravy thicken, while not taking away from the taste.

gravy

Once your gravy is done, top your roast and veggies with some gravy and enjoy!

potatoes

Matt and I paired our roast with Fox Barrel Pear Naked Cider. The acidity in the cider paired nicely with the savory roast beef. I don’t often like ciders, but I thought this one was pretty tasty. We served the cider in a Boom Island Brewery glass, which is an awesome local brewery in the Twin Cities.

foxbarrel

*I used Gluten-free All-Purpose flour (and onion soup/dip mix in the roast) to keep this whole recipe GF!

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“Hollywood” 1997 #tbt

This week’s TBT brings us back to the year 1997, when our family had a vacation in California. Our aunt and uncle were getting married, however while we were out there we decided to visit a few attractions. I was 11, and Amy must have been about 14. 

FakeHollywoodSign1997

Now, by looking at this photo, you may think we were visiting the actual Hollywood sign. Yeah..not so much. We were at Universal Studios Hollywood, which had this backdrop for a photo op. Pretty fancy, huh. Who doesn’t want to reminisce about the fake Hollywood sign they saw. I do remember Universal Studios was awesome! 

Can you tell this photo was taken in the 90s?! I am sure us Midwestern folk would have really just “blended in” if we decided to actually go to Sunset Blvd. I would also like to point out a) Amy’s floral shirt with sleeveless turtleneck, b) our brother’s mushroom/bowl cut and c) my baggy clothes and really reflective sunglasses. At the time, I remember thinking Amy and I had brought such fashionable clothes on our trip. As well looking forward to getting Amy’s “fashionable” floral top as a hand-me down. However by the time it got to me, it was out of style, which was pretty typical of all her hand-me downs. I really hated hand-me downs,  I did usually envy Amy’s clothes when she wore them…but just hated the clothes by the time I got wear them.

True Sconnie Happiness

Amy came this weekend to visit me in Minnesota. Well, she mainly came to go to our cousin’s bridal shower, as we helped in planning a little bit of it. However, we were able to have some nice family time together too with each other and our other family that visited from Wisconsin. While the visit was quick, it was a lot of fun. 

After they left Sunday, I was treated to a nice surprise. I was making lunch, so I opened the refrigerator. (You know, the normal action you do when making food.) Anyways, I came across something I did not put in my fridge. Cheese Curds. Good ‘ol Wisconsin Cheese Curds. Honestly, Cheese Curds are really the best thing ever to a Sconnie gal like me. I mean look at those delicious and glorious cheese curds. Someone left their cheese curds behind. While I don’t know how that could happen…maybe it was on purpose…either way, I did not care. I had Wisconsin Cheese Curds, which are really the best thing ever!

curds

And you know the best part?! They were still squeaky. If you didn’t know, the fresher the cheese curd, the squeakier it will be. There is nothing better than a squeaky cheese curd. 

Squeaky Cheese Curds=True Sconnie Happiness

cheese curds

Graze

I recently came across an ad for graze, a subscription-based healthy snack delivery service. It was very unlike me to actually click an ad, but I was very intrigued. Besides, they were offering a free box of snacks. Free food? Yes please.

I explored the site (and the snack offerings) and realized that graze could be a great snack option for me! Each box is just $6 (including shipping) and is “nutritionally balanced with a great mix of sweet and savory, healthy and tasty food.”

After signing up for the service, I went through some of the snack options to rank things I knew I wouldn’t like. For example, I don’t like pistachios, so I “trashed” any snack that included them.

My first graze box arrived last week.

Graze box delivery

I love all the details on the packaging! I especially love that the box is made using wood from a sustainable forest and that it’s 100% recyclable! Even the plastics used for the snack packs is recyclable!

Graze Box

All the little details and personalizations were a nice touch.

graze box details

I was excited to see what surprises awaited me in my box!

graze box contents

I received the cheese board, sour cream & onion cashews, fruity mango chutney and toffee apple.

cheeseboard1

My only complaint with the cheese board (above) was that I wanted seconds immediately.

fruitymangochutney

I also tried the fruity mango chutney (above), which I didn’t really care for. It’s spicy in a black pepper – savory kind of way and just didn’t appeal to me.

Oh, and did I mention you get a card detailing all of the nutritional information for your box? It even includes “best by” dates for each of the snacks.

nutrition

I brought the cashews in the car for last weekend’s road trip. They were AMAZING. I’m going to take the toffee apple to work this week for a snack!

Overall, I am very pleased with graze – for its variety of healthy-yet-tasty options, its sustainable practices and its value. There’s no way I could get a comparable variety of healthy snacks at the store for this cost!

Wanna try graze?

If you click the link below (or visit graze.com and use my friend code: AMYK1774P*), you’ll not only get your first box free – but your fifth box will also be free

https://www.graze.com/us/p/AMYK1774U

 * When you sign up using my friend code, I’ll get $1 off my next box, or the option to donate $1 to the graze school of farming. I’ve been doing a one-for-one with the referrals. So, if two people click the link and sign up, I’ll save $1 off my next box and I’ll donate the other $1 to the graze school of farming!

Easy Fruit Sorbet

Fruit sorbets are super tasty.  If you have the right equipment in your kitchen, they are also very easy to make. One advantage to making your own sorbet is you control the ingredients and the type of sweetener you add. I used my Vitamix to create this sorbet, but any high powered blender should work.

This recipe is easy to alter to your tastes. I start with 2 cups of frozen fruit, coconut almond milk and agave nectar. Any frozen fruit will work, however my favorite fruits to make sorbets are berries, mangos, and peaches.

sorbet ingredients

The agave nectar is optional, only add if you want the added sweetness. I find I often don’t need to add it, especially if you have the right combination of fruit. Above I have peaches and blueberries, however mangos and blueberries are my favorite sorbet combination.

You only need to add a small amount of milk, just enough to smooth out the sorbet (and to help out your blender just a little). You could also substitute some greek yogurt instead.

Put all the ingredients in the Vitamix, blend it up until it has the right consistency. This should take less than a minute. 

Bam! You now have an easy dessert that you can feel good about eating. This sorbet is super refreshing on a warm summer day. However, if you are in the Midwest, that seems very far away right now. Don’t worry, it is also delicious on a frigid spring day!

sorbet

It was hard to get a “good” photo of the sorbet, but I can assure you it sure is tasty!

 

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Emily and the rotisserie chicken

Editor’s note: Once upon a time, we had a different blog. The year was 2009. The blog was called “Kant Touch Us.”  It shut down in 2010. We saved some of the posts however. Here’s one of those gems, originally posted in August 2009.

Emily tried to carve a chicken tonight. She was mildly successful.

The problem with “No Show” socks

This weekend, I bought some new “no show” socks at Target. It was $5 for two pairs. I was excited to get a couple new pairs because I always seem to lose these things! I grabbed the black lacy ones and slipped on black ballet flats and ran out the door for work.

Then, as I walked from my car in my work’s parking lot, I looked down.

no show socks

Um… hey lady, your socks are showing.

These socks were promoted as “No Show Liners.” As in, they shouldn’t show. So I took to social media and asked friends if I was the only one who has this problem. Here’s a sampling of what my friends said:

Those things don’t work at all. They always show.

Always. Those never work.

Mine come off my ankle and get wadded up by my toes.

The lace ones are supposed to show! I love them! I have many that don’t show, but the lace ones are always bigger so they can peek out.

Yes!! When I wear black ones with black flats it’s ok. But my nude ones make me look like I’m 85.

Here’s my problem. These “no show socks” or, as I like to call them, “footies,” serve a purpose. I’ve found I cannot go barefoot in dress shoes. My feet get sweaty and gross and within a couple of weeks, the shoes are gross. And, while I agree that sometimes a little peek-a-boo from the lace footies is ok, I feel like this pair is pushing it. I mean, really. I might as well be wearing ankle-high socks.

No show socks

And let’s talk about the one on my left foot below. I have yet to find a single dress shoe that works with this “no show” sock. Now, the one on the right is actually working out pretty well. I think they are cotton Merona ones from Target. They have a little silicone strip on the ankle part which helps keep it from slipping off. Maybe I’ll just have to buy those in bulk and hope for the best. :/ So much for trying something new!

No Show Socks

 

Sconnie Pride

sconniepride

It’s no secret that we have a deep-rooted love for Wisconsin. Why else would we call our blog “Sconnie Sisters”? I’ve even been thinking about getting a Wisconsin tattoo for years… just haven’t pulled the trigger because I can’t decide where to get inked. 

For years, I’ve been scouring the Internet, rummage sales and thrift shops for things that scream “Wisconsin”. I’ve collected some of my favorites here. You can see even more on my “Sconnie” Board on Pinterest.

Source: Drink Local Wisconsin Bottle Opener, $40 on Etsy
Drink Local Wisconsin Bottle Opener, $40 

I open all my beers with this bottle opener.

Drink Wisconsinably T-Shirt, $18
Drink Wisconsinably T-Shirt, $18

A truer shirt was never made.

Milwaukee is for beer lovers, $3.50
Milwaukee is for beer lovers, $3.50

Great card! I actually received this card for my birthday last year.

Wisconsin Coasters, $35
Wisconsin Coasters, $35
Laser cut Wisconsin coasters, $35
Laser cut Wisconsin coasters, $35

Both sets of coasters are pretty darn cool. I’d love to add them to my collection. *cough cough*

Wisconsin shaped cutting board, $48
Wisconsin shaped cutting board, $48

This cutting board is great! You might have seen it in my guacamole hummus recipe photos. The artist will customize the placement of the heart, too!

Wisconsin Cast Iron Skillet, $125
Wisconsin Cast Iron Skillet, $125

I want this if for no other reason than to make Wisconsin-shaped cornbread.

I Heart Wisconsin necklace, $55
I Heart Wisconsin necklace, $55

I have this necklace and wear it multiple times a week!

Wisconsin State, solid sterling silver necklace, $58
Wisconsin State, solid sterling silver necklace, $58

Here’s another variation of the state-shaped necklace.

Wooden Wisconsin HOME sign, $35
Wooden Wisconsin HOME sign, $35
Love Wisconsin, $39
Love Wisconsin, $39
Wisconsin State Map Home, $30
Wisconsin State Map Home, $30

I would love to have any of these signs hanging up in my apartment. I bet I could actually make something similar. Hmmm… future blog post?

Represent t-shirt, $25
Represent t-shirt, $25

This might have to be my next ‘Sconnie apparel purchase! REPRESENT.

Wisconsin Home T-shirt, $21.95
Wisconsin Home T-shirt, $21.95

This will have to be the next one purchased.

Made Locally, $15
Made Locally, $15

If I ever find myself pregnant, I will buy this onesie in every size. It’s hilarious. The shop also offers variations including “Native,” “Someone in Wisco <3’s Me,” and “Oh, Yah!”  

Wisconsin Cookie Cutter, $2.25
Wisconsin Cookie Cutter, $2.25

If you think I don’t already have one of these, you’re crazy.

Wisconsin Cloth Napkins, $28
Wisconsin Cloth Napkins, $28

These will have to join my ever-growing collection of cloth napkins soon!

Wisconsin State Pillow, $58.50
Wisconsin State Pillow, $58.50

This would be such a cute wedding gift!

Vintage cheese tin
Vintage cheese tin

Here’s an awesome vintage cheese wheel tin I found on Etsy. I have it on display on top of my dining room hutch. Speaking of cheese, here’s another Etsy find currently on display in my living room:

boxFor as many awesome Sconnie items I’ve found, there has been some equally un-awesome items as well. See what I mean on my “Bad Sconnie” Pinterest Board.

What’s your favorite state pride product? (Doesn’t have to be Wisconsin). Share links to your favorites in the comments below!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough #tbt

fro 2004

This week’s Throw Back Thursday photo is from 2004, when I was a senior in high school.  Yes, I that is me. Yes, I have an afro. No, it is not my real hair (unfortunately). 

My high school choir was doing a medley of songs from the 70s. If you hadn’t guessed, I got to be a Supreme. It was awesome, not only did I get an amazing afro wig to wear, but I also got a wear long white gloves…and a full body jumpsuit that was this orangish red color. (This is also the only time in my life I could probably get away with wearing a full body jumpsuit.) Anyways, they kept the “Supremes” backstage until “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” came on. The roar of the crowd when they saw the “Supremes” walk out was pretty fantastic. Having the fro was so fun. It was huge and super bouncy…not to mention, I think I can actually rock a fro. (If I can’t rock a fro, please don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. Let me live in my dreamland.)

The whole experience was amazing, from the costume to being on stage. In high school, I loved to be in front of crowds of people performing. Probably would still love to do it, but the opportunities to easily do this greatly dwindles once you leave high school. You will probably see a few more photos of Amy and I from high school on TBT, as we both participated in the fine arts…which lends itself to some awesome photo ops!

Guacamole Hummus

Whenever I hear the word “hummus,” I think of this.

What Gets Out Hummus Friends

“What gets out hummus? What gets out hummus?!”

I am a huge fan of hummus. I love all the varieties and I especially love to make it from scratch. I think a lot of people get intimidated by making hummus, but I’m telling you it’s not that difficult. As long as you have a blender, Magic Bullet or food processor, you’ll be fine!

guacamole hummus

First, you’ll gather up all your ingredients: garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas), tahini, olive oil, avocados, lime, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, onion powder and cayenne pepper.

ingredients spices

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.

garbanzo beans

Pour the garbanzo beans into your blender and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add all the remaining ingredients except for the avocado.

adding spices

Pulse some more until the mixture is well mixed.

mixture

Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl.

beanmix

Next, cut up the avocados.

avocados

Add to the mixture and mash lightly with a fork.

avocados2

Serve with your favorite chips, crackers or veggies.

guacamole hummus

Adjust the cayenne pepper to taste. If you don’t like spicy things, use less. (Me? I like spice!) I think next time I might try adding a little more lime and try a diced garlic clove instead of the garlic powder.

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