Recipe Substitutes – Beef Stroganoff

I was at it again! This week’s recipe comes from the book Slow Cooker Tonight! by Cooking Light; Beef Stroganoff. I love using my slow cookers (I have three in varying sizes), so I have several cookbooks dedicated to giving me fun recipes to try! The ingredients for this one are:

  • Top round steak
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Dried dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Garlic cloves
  • All-purpose flour
  • Beef broth
  • Sour cream
  • Egg noodles

Based on my food preferences, I immediately eliminated the onions and mushrooms. I also wasn’t able to get any top round steak, but I had a chuck roast I’d cut up a few weeks ago in the fridge, so I threw that in there. I also cut the recipe basically in half. Normally I’ll make a large amount so we can have leftover options, but I wasn’t totally sure about this one, so I just made enough for two. My list of ingredients is below:

RSbeefstroganoff

  •  1/2 lb Chuck roast (cut into chunks)
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Macaroni noodles

As before, my steps were a little different since I was winging it. Here they are:

  1. Place chuck roast, mustard, and spices in a small slow cooker and stir well.
  2. Pour water into measuring cup, then add broth and whisk together until well blended. Pour over ingredients in slow cooker. Set to high for 1 hour, then reduce to low for 7-8 hours.
  3. When time is done, turn slow cooker off and remove the lid. Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour in milk.
  4. Serve over whatever type of noodles you have. I used macaroni.

Now, my only frame of reference on what beef stroganoff is supposed to taste like is the Hamburger Helper version. I have no idea if I should really be calling this recipe beef stroganoff anymore. What I ended up with was fairly bland (most likely due to replacing the beef broth with water), but not bad. It’s not one that I’ll pull out very often, but it was a nice little bit of variety in the week’s meals. The mustard and dill weed are flavors that we don’t often get in my main meal list.

Anyone out there know what beef stroganoff is supposed to taste like? How far off am I?

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Recipe Substitutes – Slow Cooker Chicken and Cherries

Every other week I do my best to introduce a new recipe into our meal list. This keeps us from feeling like we’re eating the same thing day in and day out. My husband sometimes feels like a guinea pig, but I can attest that there have only been a few truly terrible outcomes from my new recipes.

Before getting into the recipe, I should first let you guys know how I cook. Basically, I tend to start with a recipe, realize I don’t have half of the ingredients, and then I just start throwing ingredients and herbs into the pot. Maybe not the best way to use a recipe, but I’d rather use what I’ve already got than go out and buy a bunch of ingredients that I’ll only use for one recipe.

The recipe in question is one from The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone; Chicken with Figs. Because I don’t want to cut down on Michele’s profits, I won’t post the exact recipe. Instead, here’s the list of ingredients the book asks for:

  • Bone-in chicken things, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Medium shallots, sliced
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Dry white wine or chicken broth
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dried Black Mission figs

I have a confession to make; I’m a picky eater. I also don’t have the kind of income that would allow me to have fresh ingredients on hand often. Looking at that list, I already knew that I was going to make quite a few substitutions. I was also interested in using up some cherry preserves that I’d had in my refrigerator for a while. I figured that they would be an alright substitution for the figs, since they’re both fruit (such a scientific method, I know).

Here is my list of ingredients:

RSchickencherries

  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Marjoram
  • Bay leaves (dried)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 tbsp Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 jar Cherry preserves

For the herbs, I didn’t really measure (because in my mind, measuring is a waste of time). I’ve discovered that when you’re adding herbs to a slow cooker, a little goes a long way. Don’t over season, or you won’t taste the chicken at all. Trust me, I’ve done it.

I didn’t follow all of the steps Michele specified, so I don’t mind posting the instruction information. Those steps are below:

  1. Sprinkle chicken all over with salt and pepper, place in slow cooker.
  2. Scatter herbs over the chicken.
  3. Mix liquid ingredients (except cherry preserves) together in separate bowl and pour over chicken.
  4. Cook on low for 5 hours (6 if you start out with frozen chicken breasts).
  5. Heat preserves in a small saucepan or pot. Stir in cooking juices from crock pot until liquid is reduced and saucy.
  6. Place chicken on plate and pour sauce over the chicken. Serve with French bread.

Despite the fact that this recipe is almost completely unrecognizable compared to the original, it turned out really well! I was a little bummed that I had to use more than just my slow cooker to make it, but it was worth it to include a flavor that is so different from what we normally eat.

Are there any substitutions that you often make? How important is measuring, really?

Chicken and Cherries – Serves 3-4, Cook time 5-6 hours, Active time 20 minutes