Jay Brewer's Crockpot Beef Stew Recipe

Jay Brewer's Crockpot Beef Stew Recipe


Large Skillet - stainless steel
Kitchen Knife
Cutting Board


Stew Beef - About 3lbs or two Packages
Red Wine
Shallots (2)
Onion Not Sweet
Russet Potatoes or White Equiv
Flour (for thickness on beef and in crock)
Beef Broth / Stock
Peas (frozen)
Carrots (1-3)
Red Wine
Olive Oil

One thing to note - I do this recipe below with the skillet or I can do the entire thing in my crockpot as it will sear and be able to brown the beef. The skillet method does produce more flavor and it’s my preferred non-vacation method.

Initial Cook in Skillet: 

15-20 Minutes or less
5-6 hours Slow Cooker or Less


Cut up 2 to 4 shallots and mince
Cut up 1 large onion
Cut up potatoes.

How to:

In the large skillet I use a generous smattering of olive oil to coat the pan.
On high heat I then combine the chopped onion and shallots into the pan and start to get it hot.
I then add in 2-3 teaspoons of minced garlic into the mixture and get that mixed in.
Next I add the stew beef in and season it with the Bosari sprinkled over the top generously.
Next I crush two beef bouillon cubes and add them into the mixture.
Moving the stew beef and mixture around I then sprinkle flour as the juices and onions cook down and move around to coat. 
I would say I do 1-2 teaspoons of flour and then make sure everything is browned and seared.

With the crock pot on high I pour over everything from the skillet into it. 
I then put the skillet back onto the stove top and deglaze it with red wine. While deglazing I get all the bits off the pan and then pour them into the crockpot.

I then add the beef broth into the crock pot. I use 3/4 of a 32oz carton. 
Next I add up the cut potatoes, peas, & carrots.
Next I add in more flower sprinkling over the top and mixing in again. 
I usually cook it in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours or so.
I add flower and sprinkle another 2-3 times over the cook time depending on thickness. The longer the slow cook the thicker the mixture.
I leave it on high for my crockpot but it may be different for a porcelain one.

Serving is usually with it over some rice that I cook separately and steam. Depends on if we are skiing or at home etc.


Fluid Motion Robot from Disney Research

There's just something really special about this robot and how it moves. Imagine this robot dealing cards - etc. Crazy good movement.


Another Year - This Blog Continues

How many years has it been? 12? 14? 20? I need to post more but I'm glad this blog is always here for me to come back to. Much has changed since it started - perhaps some long form posts soon and maybe some actual news or funny moments.


What You Need to Know Before You Visit Disney Magic Kingdom and Other Disney Parks - Itinerary Included

Key to any Disney Park for success:
  • Get there 30-45 minutes ahead of time. If the park opens at 9 be there at 8:15 and include travel and park time. Seems brutal but worth it.
  • You need to plan to do the 2-3 rides without Fast Passes in the early 2-3 hours of the park being open. Then you eat an early lunch and ride the rides during lunch when others are eating. You can also do this at Dinner time.
  • Try and relax during the afternoon and make that more treat and snack driven
  • Plan where you are going to do dinner - park? Or after Park - if so realize old people eat early and large in Florida - so getting anything from 5-8 pm at most places is impossible.
  • This isn't about going for a Multi-Day stay on the park. It's about picking a park or two and doing them one day after the next. If you do 3-4 days the Magic Bands available are useful and fun for everyone to use.
  • Don't waste your money on Park Hopper options for your tickets - just not worth it - stay in the park and enjoy it. They are only useful if you are trying to see things in the evenings or meeting people around the parks and not optimizing your day to day things to do.
Tickets can be purchased here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/tickets/

Also there are no DISCOUNTS on DISNEY TICKETS. None. If you live in Florida or California etc. you can get discounts but don't be a sucker and buy any tickets from anywhere other than Disney.

Typical Disney Day any Park with 9am open (DISNEYWORLD):
  1. Get there at least 45 minutes before open
  2. 9am - Watch park open show at Gates - then prepare to head to rides
  3. Rides to hit early - TOMORROWLAND
    1. Space Mountain
    2. Mining Cart Roller Coaster
    3. Buzz Lightyear
  4. 10am - 11am - pick a few rides and get there like Pirates and Thunder Mountain Railroad
  5. 12pm - eat something - Turkey Leg etc.
  6. 12:30-1:30 - go to Peter Pan etc. 
  7. 2-5pm - Wander around - do Tom Sawyer - it should be plenty full of people
  8. 5pm - Eat
  9. 6pm - close - do what you want and ride the People Mover etc.
  10. Go home - get sleep - repeat
You Should also have booked Fast Passes - a  total of 3. Spread these out through out the day to get you to different areas of the park

Spend your Fast Passes only on things hard to get into line later in the day.
  1. A New Ride?
  2. Space Mountain? Maybe or maybe not - the ride breaks often later in the day - use wisely
  3. Something you don't want to miss - Star Tours update?
Older rides might not make great Fast passes:
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Splash Mountain
Fast Pass Info:
  1. Make sure and have app and get Fast Passes ahead after purchasing your tickets online.
    1. App available here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/mobile-apps/
  2. If you purchase at the parks each day - you can link tickets to app and get Fast Passes.
  3. The only way we found to activate the tickets was using them in the Park and linking them at the gate then using a KIOSK in the Park. Then after that the passes showed up in the APP.
  4. Each Ticket = a person and is tied to that person. It's confusing but really simple.
  5. Maybe if you buy tickets ahead and link them it will be easier and work perfectly.
You should check these for height requirements:

Also - never go to a park that has extended hours at Disney. They are the fullest on those days.

What You Need to Know Before You Visit Harry Potter World - Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios - Itinerary Included

Getting to the park early applies here big time. It's a hike to get in and the parking entrance can be really nightmarish.
Get there 30-45 minutes ahead of time. If the park opens at 9 be there at 8:15 and include travel and park time. Seems brutal but worth it.
Tickets can be printed at home and you need to bring them to the park every day. Each ticket is tied to a person with a fingerprint. Get this correct or wait in line a long time.

If you bring a backpack - you can't bring it on any ride. You need to make sure the backpack is modest in size and fits in a square locker. Every ride that requires this has a locker you can use for a window of time before paying. All the lockers require you remember the locker number and use a fingerprint. Make sure and wipe the lens clean before making a print and wipe it clean to get your stuff out.

Universal is going to be all about seeing Harry Potter stuff and perhaps a few of the Superhero and other rides. It's more laid back but the lines can be long etc. All of the Universal Rides are a little more teen to tween.

There are two parks and you can buy a 2 day 3rd day free ticket:
  1. Universal Islands of Adventure
  2. Universal Studios Florida

The HOGWARTS Express train near the Dragon Challenge Coaster or Near San Francisco takes you between the two parks and is also a ride. I will put a schedule of when to do it below.

Hogsmeade and Hogwarts is located in the Universal Studio Islands of Adventure park:
  • Features the wand shop Olivanders do this early. Why? The entire set of Harry Potter worlds have interactive windows you use the wands for and the kids love it
  • Features the Hogwarts Ride - kinda awesome and scary
  • Dragon Challenge Roller Coaster
  • Butter Beer - delish - DJ Delish actually
  • Lots of shops and things to see
  • Smaller Coaster
Diagon Alley is located in the Universal Studios park:
  • Features Gringotts Ride - my favorite
  • Features more wand stuff
  • Amazing to just walk around and enjoy - it's hidden so you don't see the rest of the park
So DAY 1 since you have a 2 day park ticket:
  1. Go to Islands of Adventure first - it's the more Harry Potter of the two
  2. Ride the Hogwarts Ride
  3. Get a Wand at the Wand shop
  4. Do some stuff
  5. Maybe ride the smaller roller coaster
  6. Take the Hogwarts Express to the other Park
  7. Check out Diagon Alley
  8. Maybe ride Gringotts ride if you can
  9. Wander around and get some lunch at Universal Studios in Simpsons area - has lots of food options
  10. Head back to Islands of Adventure to use the Hogwarts Train again and see a different ride on the train (you'll understand after you do it)
  11. Do Jurassic Park Ride
  12. Do King Kong Skull Island (I hear good things - Updated 2017)
  13. Do the Spider Man Ride
  14. Do Hulk Coaster if you can
  15. Doctor Seus ride is a trip - do it
    1. There's a ride that goes above all of Seus Land - it's fun do it too.
  16. There is some water ride too - it's cool
  17. Doom Drop is meh - but if no wait - good
  18. Go back to Harry potter area - enjoy it
  19. Maybe ride the larger Dragon Coaster
Day 2:
  1. Head to Universal Studios
  2. Go to Gringotts Ride right away
  3. Enjoy diagon Alley
  4. Get some lunch and do some rides
  5. ET is a trip
  6. Simpsons ride is fun
  7. Men in Black is okay
  8. Rip Ride Rocket Music Coaster thing - AMAZING
  9. Transformers is cool
  10. The Mummy Ride was excellent
  11. Wander around - maybe go over to other park
  12. Maybe just hang out.
  13. Wander around Diagon Alley and check out Nocturne Alley
  14. Hang out and watch shows in the evening
  15. Maybe do Jimmy Fallon? Haven't done it yet (Updated 2017)
You should check these for height requirements:

Crowd Calendar is helpful for Universal Studios: https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/crowd-calendar/


Ewan and the Lego Club Magazine - AKA Semi Monthly Lego Catalog

I remember as a kid being so into the Sears Christmas Catalog and Star Wars mini-catalogs that came with larger toys from Kenner. These entertained me for hours and hours of dreaming not just about getting the toys but they were the only source of memories about the movies they were tied to.

Now Ewan gets this Lego Club Catalog and on day 3 he's still going strong. I love how he eats his breakfast and then hits the couch for more Lego Catalog time.


Tripods - A Series of Novels - Comic Strip in Boys Life

Finally found the series of books I read as both a comic strip and novels as a kid. The Tripods was in the back of Boys Life and also came out in novel form. I'm hoping to pick these up and read them with Ewan and Anya. Check out the strip here


Pebble Smartwatch with Runkeeper Support Review

I Kickstarted the Pebble Smartwatch with Runkeeper support over a year ago and until recently giving up my Nike Fuelband (500 day streak), decided to finally give my Pebble Smartwatch in black a real try. Early on when I received it the app for iPhone and the watch apps were pretty lacking. Also the Runkeeper support was also missing.

Last week I switched to the Pebble Smartwatch as my main watch and on Thursday was impressed with the setup and the iPhone app integration. The Pebble Smartwatch will communicate over Bluetooth wirelessly to display text messages and other notifications and now even has email support.

Setting it up and pairing with the iPhone was easy, and I was even able to try out using the email notifications. I shut email off within the hour I turned it on, but left the SMS messages and in the end that's the main feature I really enjoyed along with the Runkeeper support.

On Thursday and Friday I didn't find the SMS message that helpful until I got a few in the car and also in meetings where I really don't want to be the guy grabbing his phone to read messages. Also on the Friday night Saturday at a BBQ, having the ability to view the message on my wrist was more discreet.

Another thing I enjoyed during the weekend was being able to view messages sent to my phone when my phone was docked for playing music or just charging. I could walk around the house and see messages without running my phone.

Okay - now onto using the Pebble Smartphone with Runkeeper support during a run. The Pebble Smartwatch once you start the run will pair via bluetooth to display total distance, elapsed time, and average mph for your run. You can also use the middle button to pause and resume your run.

I thought this wouldn't be that useful but it was great. We kept a nice average pace and like a running watch I was able to keep the pace I wanted. I also like that I didn't have to then sync my run like I do with my Garmin Forerunner 10, and could at the end of the run just save it on my iPhone using Runkeeper and I was done.

So in the end the two things that I really love have to be the display for running and then not being tethered to my phone while I'm at home or at work and my phone is at my desk or charging to see that I'm getting messages.

It's disappointing there are not real apps (you can control music as well to start and stop via Bluetooth), but I'm the push notion of getting information is pretty killer.

Oh and the watch? It works and displays the date and time - really all very solid.

I'm a very happy Pebble Smartwatch customer, and it's nice to have a Smartwatch before they go mainstream.


Infinite Crisis

The game I've been working on - Infinite Crisis has been announced. Infinite Crisis is a new entrant into the wildly popular MOBA genre that delivers a heart-pounding competitive player vs. player battle experience set in the legendary DC Multiverse - a world in which familiar DC Comics characters have been re imagined in startling ways. Featuring a wide variety of DC Comics heroes and villains, Infinite Crisis puts players in control of twisted incarnations of their favorite characters throughout the Multiverse such as Nightmare Batman and Gaslight Catwoman, playing in league with well-known characters including Green Lantern and The Flash.


SWTOR - The End of an Era (For Now)

The end of an era which lasted for about 3 months. Picture above is The False Emperor in SWTOR with Theorimus, Keth, Thraken (my Jedi Sentinel), and W'jam. We had a blast in the time we played but the game needs a raid and group finder. Also - the balancing and difficulty for questing needs some love.

Overall - the game though is gorgeous and if you plan on playing it through to 50 you'll enjoy yourself. I've got a few more months of time to enjoy the 1.2 patch and then take a break as Diablo 3 and MOP expansion in WOW comes out.


40 Years and Counting

Yep - today is my 40th birthday and I have to say - 40 isn't so bad. I'm pretty excited to open my presents later today, and just chill out and play some SWTOR. Thanks again to all of my birthday wishes over the past week - and I'm ready to join the 40+ club.