~5 Christmas Favorites~

Afternoon everyone, I haven’t done one of these in a while and thought well, why not?! 🙂 Christmas has come sooner than expected this year, or perhaps that’s my age hanging out. So today I’m going to share 5 of my Christmas favorites, these rarely change from year to year. Here goes….

1) Christmas Music

Give me some of those old classics from way back when….my personal favorite being Dean Martin! Listening to this music reminds me a lot of my Memaw. She would always have the record player going(and later on the CD player). The TV wasn’t allowed to be on at all Christmas Day. She wanted us to enjoy being together, making those memories and celebrating together the most wonderful time of the year! And the tv stays off here at our house on Christmas Day, we all sit around talking, making memories, sipping on egg nog and munching on holiday goodies. Remembering those who have already gone on ahead of us, the good times we shared with them while embracing the new ones. It’s amazing what a little song can do 🙂

2) Houses Decorated on the Outside

I’m not finicky, if your house is decorated for Christmas then I am in love! Pretty easy to please in that respect. Fewer and fewer people actually decorate the outside of their houses. We have never done it, mostly because of a lack of funds, but I do admire those who take the time to string up some lights on their house! Driving through neighborhoods to see the lights is a favorite of mine, it just brings back that feeling of “ahhhh, Christmastime is here”.

3) Ugly Sweaters

  

Yes, I am an ugly sweater fan! It brings back fun memories of my public school teachers who would wear these fun festive sweaters in December, with their little gold slip on shoes, poofy hair with frosted tips, and gaudy jingle bell jewelry! We’d have room mother’s bring in cupcakes, chips, and koolaid for homeroom parties, get a gift from our teacher and spend the rest of the time on a sugar high of epic proportions! Ugly sweaters get mocked frequently but to me I smile when I see one at its holiday cheer 🙂 If you’re tired of having an ugly Christmas sweater, I’ll give a good home!

4) Christmas Eve Finger Foods

Alright, what kind of blog would this be if I didn’t bring food into the mix?! Seriously I love our Christmas Eve snack food! It’s been something that my family has always done. We pull out a few cookies, the smoke summer sausage with cheese and crackers, boiled shrimp, a cheese ball, and a Claxton’s fruit cake(you know the kind that weighs a ton that no one wants to eat…my Granddad Jones would send one every year, a little something to let us know he was thinking of us and last year in memory of him I bought one for my Dad’s stocking. We all took a piece and ate it to commemorate Granddad Jones). Serve it all with my Mom’s hot apple cider, egg nog, and have some instrumental Christmas music playing in the background. 

5) Christmas Coloring Books

  

Don’t deny it, when you were a kid you would colors for hours and show everyone each page you did! My Memaw always had crayons and coloring books where us grandkids could find them. It was the first thing I’d pull out as soon as we’d arrive. Sit at the coffee table and color until my hand was ready to fall off! A bit exaggeration but you get the idea 😉 Every time I see a vintage Christmas coloring book I am thrown back to when I was little girl and simpler times!

Yes, those were the days folks. But they are not forgotten nor replaced. A smell, a sound, or seeing something from back then can bring it all back! Cherish your memories, your loved ones, and enjoy this holiday season! From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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~Slow Cooked Beef Stew~

Thanksgiving is over, time to get ready for Christmas. Has anyone else noticed just how quickly the year has flown on by? Insane! Feels like it should still be June or July right now, at least to me anyway. Time has certainly gotten away from me. In a couple of weeks we will be out of school (again) and enjoying a three week Christmas vacation, much needed! Not that our one week of of Thanksgiving time off wasn’t nice, it was just busy yet rewarding!

I’ve not forgotten about this lovely blog or my interested readers, every time I get dinged at with another update it warms my heart that someone else is following or reading my content! You all keep me going on here, I may not post all the time but I am encouraged to keep collecting content to share and when I get the chance I know there are plenty of interested folks out there who are waiting to “gobble” it up 😉 So thank you for that!

Alright, you’ve already gotten a glimpse of what today’s post is about(hence the title), but what makes my recipe stand out? What’s so different that will make you all want to try it as soon as possible? Beef stew is one of those classic American stews that just about everyone was raised up on, I personally was never a fan of it because the meat was always tough and I’m not a huge fan of cooked carrots. I used to eat around the meat and just spoon gravy and potatoes over a biscuit. So the week before Thanksgiving I decided I was going to make beef stew for the family, but I was going to do it different from my Mom and put it in the crock pot. The only type of beef I had was a grass fed arm roast. I personally love the grass fed beef, has more flavor and the texture is different. It can take some getting used to when all you’ve been raised on was commercial beef. How to combat that? Put it in for an all day low and slow cooking!

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Slow Cooked Beef Stew

(Yields 7 quart crock pot of stew)

3 pounds grass fed arm roast(the bone will add extra flavor)

3 large carrots, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

5 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 cans beef broth

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp basil

4 bay leaves

1-2 cups boiling water

flour for slurry

1 can peas, drained

Biscuits, optional

 

Turn on crock pot to start warming up. Add in 1 1/2 cans of beef broth(you’ll need the other half to deglaze the pan), carrots and onions.
On the stove top, get a large searing pan(or saute pan) hot, add a little oil. Salt and pepper the roast on both sides and sear it in hot pan for a few minutes on each side. You want a nice brown crust on each side. I placed it in the pan and walked away from it for about 3–4 minutes. I’m always too tempted to mess with the meat and turn it too soon. Once both sides are nicely browned, place it on the veggies in the crock pot. Add about 1/2 tsp of basil on the meat and cook on low for 8 hours.

About two hours before serving, remove the bone from the arm roast and tear the meat up with either forks or tongs. Peel and chop up your potatoes in bite size pieces(or what I call poppable pieces, a size you can pop into your mouth easily). Place into the crock pot and add enough boiling water to just cover the potatoes. Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, adjust salt and pepper, and gently stir in the slurry. This will help thicken up the liquid to a rich gravy.

Lastly, add in drained peas and serve with hot biscuits. This easily feeds 8–10 and the leftovers are perfect for lunch the next day!

 

NOK’s Kitchen Notes::

A slurry is simply taking flour and water, whisking it together and pouring it into a liquid to thicken up. It’s the quick version of a traditional roux(or rue) which is the melting of butter and whisking in flour before adding stock or cream for the base of a gravy or soup.

If you want a quick quick version of making a gravy, you can skip the slurry step altogether and just add in a couple of packages of your favorite gravy mix or country style gravy. It will slightly alter the flavor of the stew but it won’t be a terrible thing. Beef gravy mixes will add another layer of flavor. Those are shortcuts for when you absolutely have no time to wait and need to get dinner served up pronto!

Hope you enjoy this slow cooked favorite(btw there were barely any leftovers to freeze, it was THAT good and yes, I ate a small bowl of it and actually enjoyed it…the meat was uber tender and very yummy)!! It’s tasty, tried and true!

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Slow Cooked Beef Stew by Night Owl Kitchen Blog