Easy Eats – Slow Cooker Steak & Potato Soup

Easy Eats - Slow Cooker Steak & Potato Soup

Ingredients

1-1/4 lb stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces 1/4 cup chopped onion 1/4 tsp salt 3 cups cubed and peeled Yukon gold potatoes 4 cups beef broth 1 cup steak sauce 1 TB chili powder 1 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 TB minced fresh parsley

Directions

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

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Mary’s Memo – January 2nd

BEST RECIPES OF 2016


DILL PICKLE SOUP


• 5½ cup Swanson Chicken Stock
• 1¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (5 to 6 medium)
• 2 cups chopped carrots (2 to 3 large ones
• 1 cup chopped dill pickles (small dice …. about 3large whole dills)
• ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
• 1 cup reduced-fat Daisy brand sour cream
• 1/3 cup water
• 2 cups dill pickle juice
• 1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
• ½ teaspoon sea salt
• ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In large pot, combine stock, potatoes, carrots and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. In medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time, into soup. This will also break up some of the potatoes which is fine. You will see some initial little balls form, but between whisking and boiling al will disappear. Don’t panic! Add pickle juice, Old Bay, salt (*see below), pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 minutes more and remove from heat.Serve immediately.

*All pickle juice is not created equal so taste before you add salt. You may not need any.

Source: Recipe adapted from http:noblepig.com)

Quick egg drop soup was another 2016 favorite. If you’re looking for a light, easy-to-digest soup, this is for you.

QUICK EGG DROP SOUP


• 3 cups Swanson’s Chicken Stock
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 medium scallion (green onion)
• 2 large eggs, slightly beaten

Heat chicken stock, salt and white pepper to boiling. Stir scallion into eggs. Pour egg mixture slowly into stock, stirring constantly with fork or whisk to form shreds of egg. Recipe makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from my daily moment.com recipe.

MY FRIEND, THE SLOW COOKER


• 1 sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
• 1 5-pound Miller whole chicken
• 1 20-ounce jar Pace medium salsa
• ½ cup butter (1 stick)

It’s no secret that I use my 5-quart slow cooker to make a variety of dishes. It includes this 3-ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken and Salsa. Note: Onions are added for flavor but too fatty to eat.
For easy clean-up, line cooker with Our Family Slow Cooker bag. Spread onion rings in bottom of the cooker. Place chicken on top of onion layer breast side down. Pour salsa over the chicken. Cook on high until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear, about 4½ hours. An instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thickest part of the thigh near bone should read 165ºF. Remove chicken from slow cooker, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before cutting.

Source: Used with permission of www.allrecipes.com, the world’s favorite recipe web site.

TERIYAKI CHICKEN FOIL PACKETS


• 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks canned in juice, drained and juice reserved
• ¼ cup water
• 2 cups Minute Instant-Whole Grain Brown Rice
• 2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1½ chunks (about 2 cups)
• 3 cups fresh sugar snap peas
• ¾ cup La Choy Teriyaki Baste and Glaze Sauce
• 1 pound chicken tenders (you need 12 tenders so that each packet has 3 tenders).

Heat a gas or charcoal grill. Cut 4 18x2-inch sheets of heavy duty foil. Spray each with cooking spray. Pour reserved pineapple and water ln 4-cup measuring cup. Add brown rice; stir and let stand about 10 minutes or until almost all liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss pineapple, bell pepper chunks, sugar snap peas and ½ cup teriyaki sauce until well blended. Place 3 chicken tenders on each foil sheet. Divide rice mixture and remaining liquid evenly over chicken and vegetables; stir gently. Spoon 1 tablespoon glaze; stir gently. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, and expansion. Fold other sides to seal. Place packs over medium heat. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and vegetables are crisp-cooked. Remove packets from grill. Carefully fold back foil; open one end and spoon onto serving plates. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Pillsbury recipe.

Finally, our last best recipe of 2016 has to be Katharine Hepburn’s Brownie recipe, found among her belongings after she died.

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S BROWNIES


• ½ cup butter (1 stick)
• 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened baking chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt together butter and chocolate and take saucepan off the heat. Stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla and bet mixture well. Stir in flour, and walnuts. Spoon into greased and floured baking pan. Bake in preheated 325ºF oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cut into squares and eat out of pan or arrange on serving dish. Yummy and moist.
Adapted from Bon Appetite recipe.

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Easy Eats – Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Easy Eats - Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Ingredients

16 large shrimp, peeled & deveined 8 slices bacon Barbeque seasoning, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wrap shrimp with 1/2 slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Be sure and use the large shrimp--the cooking time for the shrimp and the bacon is similar. If you use medium-sized shrimp, you might want to precook the bacon a little--over cooked shrimp are tough and rubbery--and a real shame. Line a jelly roll pan with extra heavy duty foil, and place baking rack in pan. Place the shrimp on the rack, and sprinkle heavily with the barbecue seasoning, turn and sprinkle second side. Let the shrimp sit for 15 minutes. The bacon will turn from creamy white to a little opaque, and the seasonings will soak in. Cook the bacon for 10 to 15 minutes. The rack keeps the shrimp from sitting in the draining bacon fat. With a little luck, you won’t tear the foil -- you can throw that away and only have to scrub the rack.

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Mary’s Memo – December 26th

The 12 days of Christmas are here in my world, ending with the Feast of Epiphany on January 8, 2017. Many of you will be celebrating on the 31st so were featuring appetizers for you to make. We’re also including non-alcoholic beverages, especially for designated drivers because we want it to be a safe holiday.

DIP INTO THESE TREATS


My all-time favorite vegetable dip was given to me by Mrs. Dale Rupp of Bryan.

BEST VEGETABLE DIP


• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons finely mince scallions
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light La Choy soy sauce (gluten free)

Whisk ingredients together. Store in the refrigerator. Dip keeps for several days. Serve with relishes.

BAKED ARTICHOKE


• 114-ounce can artichokes, drained well and chopped
• 1 cup light mayonnaise
• 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine in a small, oven-proof baking dish. Bake in 350ºF oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

MICROWAVE HONEY-GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS


• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

Cut through each chicken wing at 2 joints. Discard tip (or freeze to make chicken broth later). Arrange other sections in 8x12-inch glass baking dish. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in 2-cup glass measuring container. Microwave on high, uncovered, 2 to 2½ minutes or until mixture boils, stirring once. Spoon over chicken wings. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Rearrange and turn chicken pieces. Recover with waxed paper and microwave on high an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until chicken is tender and glazed.

APPETIZER CHICKEN SPREAD


• 1 5-ounce can boned chicken
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon minced onion
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¾ teaspoon reduced-sodium La Choy soy sauce
Mix ingredients together until well blended. Chill. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and serve with crackers. Note: Chicken can be replaced with same amount of canned tuna, if you prefer.

CHEERS EVERYONE!


This punch was new to me when I moved to Bryan and so I refer to it as Bryan punch. A word of caution, be sure to make it with Canada Dry Ginger Ale, not Vernor's because it will not taste the same.

WHITE GRAPE JUICE PUNCH


• 2 parts white grape juice, chilled
• 1 part Canada Dry ginger ale, chilled

Pour white grape juice into punch bowl. Slowly add ginger ale. Add ice ring made of white grape juice.

RED HOT PUNCH


• 1 cup water
• 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons red hots
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 46-ounce cans unsweetened pineapple juice
• 8 cups ginger ale, chilled
• 1 quart vanilla ice cream

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS


Resolutions are apparently made to be broken because I resolve each year to waste as little food as possible by not buying foods that are on sale unless I know that they’ll be used within a few days. It isn’t a bargain if it spoils, not to mention the food value it loses in storage.

WINTER DRY SKIN PROBLEMS?


A few suggestions from Consumer Reports on Health are to turn down the thermostat a few degrees because cooler air is less likely to aggravate your itch. Bathe briefly and use tepid water because the hotter the water, the more skin oils you strip away. Moisturize after bathing, while you’re slightly damp, using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion for sensitive skin and stick to fragrance-free soaps.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!



• 3 pounds chicken wings
• ½ cup honey
• ¼ cup La Choy light soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/8 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon McCormick California garlic powder

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Easy Eats – Pork & Sauerkraut

Easy Eats - Pork & Sauerkraut

Ingredients

2 large onions, chopped 6 TB butter 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 lb bag of sauerkraut 3-4 lb pork roast salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 250. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Add onions and saute until golden brown, about 10- 15 minutes. Empty sauerkraut into a colander. Rinse it and squeeze out all the liquid a few times. Set aside. Add garlic to onions, saute for a minute or two. Add sauerkraut to saute pan. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 15 minutes, mixing often, until everything is well blended. Add a bit more butter if mixture seems too dry. Generously salt and pepper all sides of a pork roast. Place into a roasting pan. Spoon sauerkraut over roast. Cover with lid and cook for 5-6 hours or until pork is fork tender. If using a lean roast, check pan after an hour. If everything seems to be drying out, add a cup of water. When pork is tender, shred/chunk pork, remove any bones, salt & pepper to taste and mix pork and sauerkraut together. Serve over mashed potatoes, spaetzle, noodles or potato chunks. Enjoy : )

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Mary’s Memo – December 19th

LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN!


Hopefully, your meal plans and grocery shopping is done. These past few weeks we’ve shared tips for making it less stressful. Years ago I was so tired by Christmas Eve that I could hardly stay awake at Midnight Mass. It was then that I realized that I needed to think more about the “reason for the season.” Make a list of daily “to do’s” and stick to it! Whether your family has a brunch, a buffet-type meal, planning early is the key. Mother had baked ham and macaroni and cheese on Christmas Eve. The Thaman’s has soup. As for Christmas day or any major holiday the Smith’s had roast turkey so it wasn’t a once-a-year meat. These are my Christmas memories. It is up to you to create memories for your family.

Soups we’ve made for Christmas Eve include Gumbo, Bay Scallop Chowder and Choucroute. All have been on Mary’s Memo but the Choucroute may be the least familiar. It’s from cookbook I bought in 2001 called Soup Makes the Meal by Ken Haedrich. The author adapted it from a soup he was served at Sandrine’s Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Choucroute, pronounced shoo-KROOT, is French word meaning sauerkraut.

CHOUCROUTE SOUP


• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
• 1 clove garlic, bruised
• 5 cups chicken stock
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
• 1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and grated
• 1 pound sauerkraut
• 1 bay leaf
• ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt, to your taste
• ¾ pound kielbasa or other fully cooked smoked sausage
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, to your taste
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a good-size heavy enameled soup pot over moderately low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until very soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in stock, wine, carrot and potato, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Drain the sauerkraut and squeeze it between your palms to express nearly all of the liquid. Add to the soup with the bay left and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer gently for another 15 minutes. Slice the sausage into ½-inch rounds and cut the rounds in half. Add the sausage to the soup, then stir in the tomato paste and 1teaspoon of the sugar. Cover and simmer gently 15 minutes more, seasoning with pepper and adding more salt and sugar if necessary before serving. Note: If you’d rather, you can skip the wine. Just add stock in its place.
Makes 6 servings.

Haedrich serves the soup with Stollen Soda Bread. Although the dough is sticky, he advises cooks to keep your kneading surface well covered with flour.

STOLLEN SODA BREAD


• ¾ cup raisins
• ¾ cup pitted chopped dates
• ¾ cup diced figs or apricots
• Orange juice
• Cornmeal for dusting
• 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• ½ cup sugar plus a little to sprinkle on loaves
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
• 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
• 1 large egg
• 1½ cups buttermilk
• Finely grated zest of 1 orange
• Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
• Milk, for brushing on loaves

Put the dried fruit in a medium-size bowl and add orange juice to just cover. Set aside to soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF when fruit is done soaking. Lightly oil a large baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices together into a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Set aside. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk and citrus zests. Drain the fruit; discard the orange juice (or drink it for that matter; there’s nothing wrong with it). Add the fruit to the dry ingredients and toss well, to coat. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, add the buttermilk mixture, and stir briskly with a wooden spoon, just until the dough pulls together in a shaggy mass. Let sit for 3 minutes.

Dust your hands and work surface with flour. Cut dough in half right in the bowl, then place on the floured surface. Knead very gently for 30 to 40 seconds. Either shape into a stubby football, or shape like a stolen; pat into a disk about 1inch thick, then fold half of it over the other half, but don’t cover the bottom half entirely; it should look almost like a pair of pouting lips, the bottom half stuck out further than the other. Before you make the fold, brush any flour off the surface, so it makes a good seal. Repeat for other half of the dough. Place on prepared baking sheet with some space between them. Lightly brush the loaves with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake loaves on the center rack for 30 minutes. Turn the sheet 180 degrees. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and bake another 20 minutes. When done, the loaves will be a very dark golden brown color and very crusty. Let cool on a wire rack; they should be lukewarm before slicing.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!


Easy Eats – Breakfast Potatoes

Easy Eats - Breakfast Potatoes

Ingredients

4 TB vegetable oil 6 pieces bacon 3 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks 1/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1 cup shredded cheddar 3 TB chopped scallions

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat half of the oil until very hot in a large cast iron skillet (or other ovenproof skillet). Add the bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning once, until crisp. Remove from the pan and place on a chopping board to cool slightly, then chop into small pieces. Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Heat until very hot again, and add the potato chunks. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and mix together so that the potatoes are covered in the oil. Try to loosen any bits left in the bottom of the pan after cooking the bacon. Place in the oven and cook for 15 - 20 minutes, then turn the potatoes over and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the onions and peppers to the pan. Toss to combine everything and place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the onion and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle on the bacon and cheddar and place back in the oven for 2 more minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped scallions before serving.

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Mary’s Memo – December 12th

LET CHIEF MAKE ENTERTAINING EASY


Enjoy your party with guests by ordering ahead relish, cheese and/or meat trays in the deli. They’ll even arrange food on your own serving plates.

PICK IT UP FAST AND EAT IT?


Is it okay to eat food that had fallen on the floor? Many people abide by the “5-second rule,” which says that anything is fair game if you pick it up within that frame that time frame. Some allow 10, 20, even 30 seconds to pass before relegating the food to the trash bin. But others argue that no dropped food is safe. Who’s right?

The 5-second rule has actually been put to scientific testing. In the latest study, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology in September, researchers at Rutgers University dropped four foods (watermelon, plain bread, buttered bread and gummy candy) onto four surfaces (stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet) that were contaminated with bacteria. They let the foods stay in contact with the surface for four time periods …. Less than 1 second, 5 seconds and 300 seconds. Each scenario was tested 20times. Not surprisingly, watermelon, because it is so moist, became most contaminated at all time intervals, while the fewest bacteria transferred to the candy. Carpet had the lowest transfer rates.

The study’s conclusion: “Although we show that longer contact times result in more transfer, we also show that other factors including the nature of the food and the surface are of equal or greater importance. Some transfer takes place ‘instantaneously’ at times less than one second, disproving the 5-second rule.’

Bottom Line: Use common sense. Occasionally eating food that was briefly on the floor is likely to make you sick. But it depends on what you drop and where. There’s a big difference between picking up a cracker from a just cleaned kitchen floor versus the floor near the cat litter box. On the other hand, since it’s hard to judge how clean a floor is, you shouldn’t make eating off of it a habit. And if you’re immune-compromised or in frail health, it’s best to follow the “zero-second” rule. Keep in mind, too, that kitchen counters can be even more contaminated than the floor.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, December, 2016.

ATTENDING A PARTY THIS MONTH?


Count it as one of your meals of the day, at least that’s what I do so additional calories are not added to the day’s total.

BRAIN FOOD


Folate, B12 and B6 (pyridoxine) are the nutrients that receive the most attention for improving brain health, due to their well-studied role in reducing homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid, that in high levels is linked to brain shrinkage, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease. However, the remaining B vitamins, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5) and biotin (B6), not only produce energy, but also reduce homocysteine levels. Deficiency in B vitamins can lead to fatigue, weakness, mood changes, cognitive impairment and emotional disturbances. “It’s important to eat a balanced diet for brain health, in particular for adequate amounts of B vitamins,” says Abigale Arday, RD, CDN, CNSC, dietitian at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell. B vitamins are found in a variety of food groups. Animal products like salmon, tuna eggs, meat, chicken and dairy products contain the highest amounts of riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B5, B6 and B12. Beans and nuts provide significant amounts of biotin, niacin and B6. A wide variety of whole foods is key to meeting all of your B vitamin needs.
Source: Weill Cornell Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2016.

REMEMBER THIS COOKIE?


Children love Scotcharoos and the cook appreciates the ease of preparation.

SCOTCHAROOS


• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup white corn syrup
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 6 cups Rice Krispies
• 6-ounces chocolate chips
• 6-ounces butterscotch chips

Source: Adapted from cooks.com recipe.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir well. Add to Rice Krispies in a large bowl. Spread evenly in a buttered 4-inch by 9-inch pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together over low heat, stirring constantly until blended. Spread evenly over top of Scotcharoos. When cool, cut into 2 by 2-inch squares.

A LIGHT HOLIDAY DESSERT


• Grasshopper Ice is a light, refreshing dessert to serve with a holiday meal.
• 1 pint (2 cups) lime sherbet, softened
• 2 cups thawed Cool Whip
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Cocoa
• 2 tablespoons Crème de Menthe
• Combine softened sherbet with thawed Cool Whip. Add liqueurs and freeze.

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Easy Eats – One Pan Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggies

Easy Eats - One Pan Honey Garlic Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients

3 TB olive oil, divided 2 TB unsalted butter, melted 2 TB honey 2 TB brown sugar 1 TB Dijon mustard 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp dried basil salt and pepper, to taste 16 oz baby red potatoes, halved 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 24 oz broccoli florets* 2 TB chopped fresh parsley  

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 TB olive oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, Dijon, garlic, oregano and basil; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside. Place potatoes in a single layer onto baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining 1 TB olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken in a single layer and brush each chicken breast with honey mixture. Place in oven and roast until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 25-30 minutes.* Stir in broccoli during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly charred. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired.

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Easy Eats – Crockpot Beef Stew

Easy Eats - Crockpot Beef Stew

Ingredients

1 lb. beef roast 2 carrots, sliced 3 potatoes, cubed 1 cup onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic 4 cups beef broth 2 cups hot water 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. pepper 1 tsp. onion powder 1 tsp. parsley

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a crockpot and cook on Low for 8 hours.

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