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Sending a Kid Off to College – Does He Know How to Cook?

Our oldest child is headed off to his second year of college this month. He and several buddies are sharing a house which means most meals are eaten at home rather than in the college cafeteria. Over this past summer, that meant at least one 19-year old guy, my son Tony, needed to learn how to set up a kitchen and gain a few skills. It was that, or suffer a constant diet of frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and low-cost take out!

Fortunately, growing up with both a mom and dad who enjoy cooking, Tony had a head start. In fact, as a freshman, he and his inventive friends were known to whip up occasional wild game feeds with their classmates in the dorm kitchen. Duck, grouse, and fish are plentiful from their off-hours adventures hunting and ice fishing near their northern Minnesota school. But while he can prepare a few foods, there is always more to learn!

While a high school student, Tony completed a wonderful project putting together "family favorite" recipes. Assembling the special book of recipes gave us a perfect opportunity to share family memories and talk about preparing favorite foods. One of the favorite dishes included in his book was Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff. It’s an inexpensive meal and easy for a new cook to tackle. Most importantly, it tastes great. It has a creamy sauce with tender chunks of meat and sliced mushrooms. Served over noodles, it’s comfort food at its finest!

Before Tony headed back to school, I explained the importance of reading through the recipe and being sure to have all the ingredients. Here’s what we assembled.

I buy beef stew meat already cut up in the meat department at my local grocery store. Although sometimes pre-cut meats are more expensive, stew meat is usually pretty low-priced. If you can’t find it, just cut up two pounds of round steak for the same results. I often buy 1-pound packages of stew meat and keep them in the freezer so I have it on hand for making stroganoff, slow-cooked beef sandwiches, or homemade beef soup.

For quick prep of this recipe, we chopped the onion and garlic the night before and stored it in the refrigerator in a covered dish. But, even if I wait and chop the ingredients in the morning, this dish is assembled in just a few minutes.

The French Dip Concentrated Au Jus Sauce is the one "unusual" item I will send "north" to school with Tony.

It gives great flavor to this dish, and, while I’m sure he’d find it at the store, being a mom, I tried to make his life a little easier! The sauce is an ingredient I use when making hot roast beef sandwich dip, so it’s not just a one recipe ingredient. Substituting 2 teaspoons of beef bouillon granules works great too, if you don’t have the sauce available, or don’t want to purchase it.

Slow cooker recipes are easy. We add canned soup…

and the mushrooms…

Stir everything together and turn on the slow cooker.

One thing I was SURE I told Tony - double check that the slow cooker is on the right setting, either Low or High, before you walk away. I once forgot to check this setting and returned home to an uncooked roast that had to be discarded – highly disappointing!

Just before serving, we stirred in the sour cream and let it warm thoroughly.

Noodles are part of this recipe, too. For my family I usually only make part of a 16-ounce package of noodles since we don’t usually eat all 8 servings for dinner. I suspect 5 hungry boys will devour the whole package!

The fresh parsley on the noodles adds a nice flavor, but it is optional. Right now I have fresh parsley in my garden. We will use it this time.

Though a slow cooker recipe like this one cooks for several hours, the preparation of it is easy and quick. The flavors are warm and make for a comfort dinner!

By the way, the leftovers for this dish reheat beautifully. I usually cook up fresh noodles, but sometimes I also make up containers with the cooked noodles and stroganoff for lunches, too.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. My guess is that Tony’s roommates will be happy!

What slow cooker recipes do you like to make? I’d love to hear about recipes you make in the slow cooker. Do you have tips you use when using a slow cooker? Leave a comment here or rate and review this recipe, Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff.

Come back in a few days when Bridget makes Cinnamon Mini Cupcakes.

Vicky is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.

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