The feeling you get coming home to the smell of stew that has been simmering all day long in the crockpot is comforting, relaxing, and reassuring. This is the feeling that Hallmark tries to recreate.
Save the cards. Make stew instead.
There are as many stew recipes out there as there are missing Barbie shoes. There are no rules in stew. Use what you have in the fridge or the pantry. I don't think I've ever created the same stew twice.
The Ingredients (that I happened to use this time. It felt really strange writing it all down...).
--2lbs beef stew meat
--handful of baby tomatoes
--2 cans beef broth
--1/4 cup red wine
--1 t kosher salt
--1/2 t black pepper (I should have used more)
--1 t seasoning blend (whatever you have on hand for bbqing, stir-frying, etc.)
--1 t worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gluten free)
--1/2 cup flour (I used Pamela's Baking Mix)
--wash and chop all of your vegetables.
--plop them into the crockpot.
--put the flour in a bowl, and toss your meat in it to fully coat.
--put the meat into the crock (throw away the rest of the flour. don't add it in.)
--add dry seasoning and worcestershire sauce.
--pour in the wine and beef broth.
--cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours.
If you would like to prepare everything the night before--go for it---but don't add the liquid until you plug it in.
Stew rocks. It tastes even better the next day.