Just so you know, this recipe works much better if you remember to put the beef in the slow cooker. But, I can attest now that it works either way.
I guess this is more a technique than a recipe. I chop up whatever hearty vegetables I have around (here carrots and potatoes) throw them in the slow cooker with a couple cans of diced tomatoes, lots of spices, some beef and cook! This is great for when you won't have much time to cook in the evening, but you still want something new.
The reason I forgot the beef this time is that I prepped everything the night before because I knew I wanted to sleep in. I cut the beef, but kept it separate from the veggies in the fridge overnight for food safety reasons. I slept in more than I expected the next morning and in my rush I only remembered the chopped veggies and cans of diced tomatoes in the morning. Halfway to school I remembered the beef, but I couldn't turn back or I'd be late.
Luckily, the beef was defrosted that night and we sauteed it in the skillet and tossed it in. It wasn't quite as tender as it would have been otherwise, but it still tasted good! Also, this makes great leftovers which are perfect to stick in the freezer for later days when you don't want to make dinner.
Here's an approximate recipe:
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Serves 6 (or 2 for 3 days!)
1 pound cut stewing beef
2-3 pounds cut hearty vegetables (ie potatoes, carrots, onions, some mushrooms, leeks, etc.)
2 cans diced tomatoes
2ish cups water or beef broth (enough to almost cover everything)
Spices (ex: salt, pepper, bay leaf, paprika, garlic powder, dehydrated onions, fennel seed, oregano)
The night before: cut the hearty vegetables and combine them with the spices. Refrigerate. If your slow cooker has a removable insert you can put them in there. Cut the beef and refrigerate in a separate container. Maybe put it on top of the vegetables so you don't forget it.
The morning of: put everything you prepped into the slow cooker along with the diced tomatoes and water. Set on low for 8ish hours. Luckily this is pretty flexible and forgiving depending on your schedule. Come back and enjoy! Or come back and realize you forgot the beef. Then cook that real quick and enjoy!