It's school vacation week, and you've got your hands full. Why not toss a few ingredients into the slow cooker, and let dinner cook all day while you're making snow angels or going to see The Hobbit with the kids? This Italian pot roast tastes great on the day you make it, served with boiled potatoes or egg noodles, and even better the next day. The balsamic vinegar and olives lend their perky tang, and sun-dried tomatoes deepen the sauce, turning a humble chuck roast into a divine stew. Dinner doesn't get much easier, or more comforting, than this.
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When I found a couple of bottles of O'Doul's nonalcoholic beer in the far recesses of my refrigerator, along with a partial bag of chopped kale, I searched the pantry and freezer for other ingredients that would bring those two together. This year I've made a real effort to cook with more dark leafy greens, especially kale, and though I didn't love it in January, I can say honestly that I love kale now. For my husband Ted, a true believer when it comes to any variation of beef stew, I decided to put that "near beer" to good use in this braised beef with kale. The slow cooker makes it easy; let the beef cook all day while you're out finishing your holiday shopping, and half an hour before you serve, stir in the kale so it retains some texture without turning to mush. Like all stews, it's even better the second day, and it freezes well, too.
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If there had been any red wine in the house, a bottle of cheap wine or even fancy dinner party wine, I'd have made my grandmother's brisket, the tried-and-true recipe my mother and her mother used to make with the sweet Manischewitz wine that was, at the time, the only kosher wine you could buy. And that would have been a shame, because without wine, I turned to my pantry for inspiration, and what I found were all of the ingredients for this Southwestern beef brisket that's a little bit sweet, and a little bit smoky, and a little tiny bit hot and spicy. Slice it or shred it, as you can see in the photos. Make this on Friday, serve it on game day, or freeze for your next Tex-Mex party.
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Though I love to try new dishes at Indian restaurants, I'd always been a bit intimidated about tackling those same recipes at home. I didn't have many of the unfamiliar spices and ingredients in my pantry, didn't even know where to buy them, and I froze in fear at the number of steps of preparation many recipes required. Then, a $19 slow cooker came into my life, and with it, a couple of cookbooks that made cooking Indian food fast and easy and not at all scary. My husband Ted and I loved this recipe for Sindhi beef curry adapted slightly from 150 Best Indian, Thai, Vietnamese & More Slow Cooker Recipes, a must-have book for slow-cooker cooks who love Asian food. Unfamiliar as I am with regional Indian cuisines, I researched the origin of this dish, and learned that it is from the Sindhi people who come from the area of west India that is now, geographically, in Pakistan. It's a simple tomato-based curry that's perfect over rice. Make it ahead, if you can; like all stews, it's even better the second day.
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