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Friday, September 11, 2009

Slow Cooker Meaty Meals

Yesterday I had a huge craving for meat but I didn't really feel like cooking. It's been cold and rainy here the past few days and I think I may be coming down with a bit of a head cold. So, my first priority was curling up under the covers with a cup of hot tea and a good book. But I knew that my husband was going to have a long day at work so I decided to throw something together in the slow cooker, so I could curl up in bed, AND have a fabulous, and meaty meal for dinner.

Remembering this shredded beef and pepper dish that we had at my aunt's for Christmas dinner last year (when I took my now husband home to meet the family for the first time), I was convinced I could easily recreate it with a few of my own.....touches. While I didn't exactly pay attention to her making it, I am pretty good at deciphering the basic ingredients and techniques necessary to create a dish just by tasting (and looking at) it.

The dish, her own version of a Latin-style braised beef called Ropa Vieja (meaning, literally “Old Clothes” or “Old Rags”), is basically a slow cooked beef dish where the meat has been cooked until it is so tender it can be shredded into what resembles a pile of rags. My version of the dish has an admittedly more Italian flavor than the traditional versions of the dish, but nonetheless is an intense burst of sweet and spicy flavors that will stimulate your taste buds!

In fact, this dish is the only shredded beef dish that my husband has EVER liked. It has a ton of flavor, and with practically NO effort to make, it is quickly becoming a family favorite. Just throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker....wait..... and enjoy!

Ropa Vieja - Italian Style
(Serves 4)

Approximately 1.5 lbs. flank or round steak
(I used a Round Top Round Steak which was on sale this week at our local grocer.)
1-2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 green bell peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly shaved
1 onion, cut in half then sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
a dash of salt and pepper
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Stock Base
Approximately 2 tbsp. Bella Sun Luci - Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with Pine nuts

In the bottom of your slow cooker bowl, stir together jalapenos, peppers, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and salt. Toss in a tablespoon of the stock base and a tablespoon of sun dried tomato pesto. Next, prepare the steak by rubbing a small amount of salt and black pepper into both sides of the steak. Then rub the remaining sun dried tomato pesto over one side of the steak and place into the slow cooker on top of the sliced peppers. Pour the tomatoes and juice over the steak. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.

With tongs carefully separate the meat and the peppers from the gravy. Discard the bay leaf. Using two forks, shred the steak into fine strips. Serve the steak and pepper mixture over rice (and with corn tortillas and sour cream, is desired) and top with gravy.

Per serving: Approximately 400 calories, 56 g protein, 7 g fiber and high in Vitamin A, C and Iron.


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