There's a lot of things we like to do around Halloween time. As a little family with a son who is definitely old enough to remember almost every detail (he still talks about last Halloween), I have been trying extra hard each year to make our traditions stick. Its important to incorporate some of our childhood traditions into our little family, but with all respect, I think it's also super important to make our own, on our own, as our own in little family unit, too.
This year, so far, we've stuck to the plan of carving our pumpkins on the Monday before Halloween. I usually like to carve a couple, while Ryan (the non-pumpkin-carving-kinda-guy) listens to each and every demand the three-year-old has to say about where the eyes should go on the face. It's amazing how much detail that little guy has for just a simple little pumpkin!
We also like to make the yearly trip to Cornbellys or a pumpkin patch. This year, though, we have to hold off a week on the Cornbellys visit. I mean, it's super fun, and there is always lots to do there, but GOOD NIGHT the price is just ridiculous (especially on a weekend, and with a kid over three). We weren't able to fit it into this month's budget. Next month, though, we're SO there!
Also, we LOVE to go see the witches at Gardner Village. Each year, a fleet of ladies dress up like witches (some go all-out!!!) and have a sugar pumpkin cookie on our way out. We usually go with Nana, and it's always a hoot.
Next, I like to make some kind of Halloween-themed dessert in the kitchen with my son. He seriously loves to be in the kitchen, and insists on helping me with everything (kitchen set for Christmas, me thinks?). This year, we made some sugar cookies with our new pumpkin/bat/ghost pumpkin cutters, and frosted them together. Little man is getting better each year with frosting cookies, and quickly learned, too, that the sugar cookie dough is just out-of-this-world amazing!
I LOVE all these little Halloween traditions so much, but sometimes they take up a lot of time. Dinner isn't always the first thing on my mind, but I don't want to spend the day worrying about what we're having dinner and when we're going to eat it. That's when the slow cooker once again takes stage...
This slow cooker beef & broccoli completely floored us. It. Was. AMAZING. The beef was so soft and fell apart the second it hit our forks (after only 4 hours in the slow cooker). Smothered in just enough sauce, the beef seriously stole the show and was seasoned perfectly with just enough of that epic, deep, rich flavor.
What I loved the most about this dish was that the broccoli wasn't overcooked and soggy. Usually when I order it somewhere, or have made this dish before, the broccoli is a dark grey nasty color by the end of cooking. The texture kind of ruined the dish for me. THIS recipe, however, you wait to cook the broccoli until the very end, and the broccoli keeps it's slight crisp/crunch and remains the beautiful green color. This contrast is needed for the ultra-soft beef. We served this over a bed of hot jasmine rice, and there seriously were ZERO leftovers! 6 serving between 2.5 people sounds about right, eh? It's was just that good!
Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
makes 6 servings
1 C beef broth
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C hoisin sauce
1/4 C brown sugar
2 t sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, thinly sliced
2 T cornstarch
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Place beef into the slow cooker and then pour all the sauce mixture over the beef. Turn the beef a couple times to coat. Cover with lid and cook on low for 4 hours.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 C water and cornstarch. Remove lid from slow cooker and stir in slurry. Add broccoli on top of everything. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Serve immediately with cooked rice or noodles.
recipe adapted from: Damn Delicious