As the days get shorter and we begin to have our meals after dark, I start to crave hearty meals that can warm my family from the inside out. Though it’s not quite dark yet for dinnertime, I’ve already started to pull out my favorite recipes for fall comfort food. Because we are busy during the day and often get home shortly before dinner needs to be ready, I rely a lot on my slow cooker for delicious, hot meals that are ready as soon as we walk in the door. Not only can I put a delicious meal on the table, but because meats and vegetables cook up tender in the slow cooker, almost everything I make is toddler friendly straight out of the dish.
For our first fall meal of the year, I’ve made my favorite: beef stew, featuring sweet potatoes, and it’s easy to make a little bit spicy if we want to mix it up a bit. Here is my super simple recipe, which cooks up just as nicely without the beef if you prefer vegetarian fare. Throw this in your slow cooker before you walk out the door, and walk back in to the delicious aroma of a savory stew, ready to eat.
Our Favorite Fall Slow Cooker Recipe
This simple stew is a hit with everyone in the family, and the vegetables and meat cook up so tender that they are easy to cut and for little toddler mouths to chew. Mash the vegetables with the back of a spoon, and this dish is appropriate for many babies as well.
1 to 2 lbs. beef stew meat
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lb. baby carrots (or more if desired)
1 large onion, cut into chunks
fresh thyme and rosemary
salt, pepper, and garlic powder (to taste)
2 medium cans diced tomatoes (with chiles if you like it spicy)
Place stew meat in the bottom of the slow cooker, spread out evenly.
Put sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions on top of the meat, making sure that the onion is distributed evenly throughout.
Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder liberally on top of vegetables, using more or less, depending on your preference. Lay fresh thyme and rosemary on top of the vegetables.
Pour diced tomatoes out of cans, over the top of all the other ingredients, covering evenly.
Put slow cooker lid on, make sure it’s plugged in, and turn it on. Use low if you’ve got 8 to 10 hours for it to cook, and high if you’ve got 4 to 6 hours. Cook for the appropriate amount of time depending on if you chose high or low; stew is done when meat is fully cooked and vegetables are tender. Remove herb stems (they usually poke through the top of the tomatoes), stir to combine all ingredients, and ladle into bowls.
Serve on its own or with a hunk of bread. Meat and vegetables are tender and can easily be chunked up into smaller pieces with a spoon for little ones, and vegetables can be mashed if your baby isn’t ready for bigger chunks. Now that it’s served up for your little one, grab a bowl for yourself and whoever else is joining you, and enjoy!