Have you ever considered buying frozen vegetables?Frozen vegetables are a convenient, time-saving short cut when preparing meals at home. Perfect for soups and stews (where the vegetable is NOT the primary ingredient), these packaged foods sometimes hold flavor better than their fresh counterpart, especially when the vegetable is out of season. I would never recommend using frozen vegetables in a fresh salad; or frozen onions in a French Onion Soup, however, they work well in hearty dishes cooked in a slow-cooker, such as the Bachelor Beef Stew below.
Which frozen vegetables are best to buy?Not all vegetables are worth buying from the frozen food department. Vegetables with a lower moisture content generally freeze well, while their high-moisture counterparts turn mushy when frozen.
GOOD WHEN FROZENPeas – more convenient than fresh; when frozen immediately after picking, sugars in the peas do not form starch. Corn – only out-of-season; fresh corn is still best in the summer, but during the winter, frozen corn is sweeter. Onions – during long cooking processes when the texture will not matter. Lima Beans – good texture and flavor, unlike their canned counterpart which is often mushy. Fresh Lima beans difficult to find. Spinach – easy to use in cooking, make sure to thaw and dry. Stick to the produce department for salad spinach. Frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans are acceptable options for soups, stews, and long-cooked dishes, as their crisp texture is not a factor.
SKIP THE FROZEN OPTIONOn high-moisture vegetables like bell peppers, snow peas, snap peas, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Does brand make a difference when buying frozen vegetables?Some foodies say yes…I am one of those foodies. I have tried store brands, national brands and organic brands. Although much cheaper, some grocery chain brands lack flavor and have a comprised texture. I stick to national brands, such as Green Giant or Birdseye. Cook’s Illustrated magazine recommends 365 Everyday from Whole Foods supermarkets. Make sure to read the packaging ingredient list to verify there are not any added, unpronounceable chemicals. During the winter, I try to keep a stash of frozen vegetables in the deep freezer, mainly for the convenience when cooking with the slow-cooker. I love this Bachelor Beef Stew recipe; not only because it is so easy – ANYONE – could prepare this; but also, it is so cozy and delicious. Last time I prepared it, we ate all the potatoes, so I just had beef and stew left over. I refrigerated the leftovers for about 3-4 days; gradually warmed up the stew on the cook top, and served it over rice for a second meal.
Bachelor Beef Stew
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 15 minutes
- 2 Cups of frozen, chopped onions
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 8 ounces baby carrots
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Minute tapioca
- 3 Bay leaves
- 3 pounds beef steak tips
- 1 lbs. frozen French fries - of your choosing
- Optional: 1 cup of frozen peas
- Set up slow cooker.
- Microwave onions, tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon oil, garlic powder and thyme in a bowl for about 5 minutes. Stirring every 2 minutes, until onions are tender. Pour into slow cooker.
- Stir into slow cooker; chicken broth, beef broth, carrots, soy sauce, tapioca and bay leaves.
- Season beef tips with salt and pepper.
- Add meat to slow cooker, making sure all meat is submerged into sauce.
- Cover and cook until beef is tender; 1st hour on high; then turn to low for 6 - 7 hours.
- After 6 - 7 hours, test tenderness of beef by picking up one tip with a fork, if it will easily break apart, the meat is done.
- Transfer all beef tips to a cutting board and shred into bit size pieces.
- Let remaining stew in slow-cooker settle for about 5 minutes; then using a large spoon, remove the fat from the surface of the stew.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Microwave the frozen French fries with remaining Tablespoon of oil, in a bowl, stirring occasionally until thawed and warm, about 6 minutes.
- Stir warm potatoes into stew. Stir in shredded beef. Stir in optional frozen peas.
- Allow to heat through for about 5 minutes.
- If stew is too thick for you liking, you can gradually add beef broth as needed.
- Turn off crock pot and serve.
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