Friday Recipe Exchange: Slow-Cooker Meals By Request

What’s this? Recipes? On a Friday night? Crazy, right? So, anything interesting go on today?

I received a request from The Mighty Trowel, friend of blog from Down Under, for some slow-cooker recipes as they move into fall.  I think Slow-cookers are one of the most versatile appliances in the kitchen – you can make a nice pot roast dinner, or recipes as simple as soups and stews. The best part is coming home from work or long hike and know dinner is ready to go and the house smells wonderful.

For recipes, let’s start with JeffreyW’s Italian Beef, pictured above and the recipe here.

A surprisingly easy and tasty Spinach Lasagna recipe is here.

Pulled Pork two ways, click here for both, makes great sandwiches or wraps, .

Then something different, and a childhood favorite meal, Brunswick Stew, recipe here. (Posting this makes me smile, because the last time I posted the recipe, commenters informed me that REAL Brunswick Stew is made with squirrel. You’re welcome to substitute as needed).

And finally, a Turkey Bean Soup,  recipe found here.

For all our slow-cooker recipes, click here and here.

I also posted my updated recipe for Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken today, you can find it here.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Have any slow-cooker recipes to share with The Mighty Trowel – I’m sure they would be appreciated. Vegetarian recipes would be great, we like to do at least one a week here, so new ideas are always welcome.

I really like tonight’s featured recipe because it is very simple, but so very tasty. I often make it when I have a crowd visiting. The recipe below serves 4 and I always double it.  It’s a great recipe for letting everyone help themselves when they are hungry. I toss the pasta with olive oil and put it in the refrigerator and leave the beef simmering in the slow-cooker on low for the entire day. They can mix the two when they are hungry. The longer the beef cooks, the better it gets. It’s always a hit with everyone.

Portuguese Beef & Pasta

  • 1 lb round steak, cut into thin strips, remove excess fat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (reserve ¼ for beans)
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz dry macaroni**

Slow-Cooker and saucepan

Add beef, salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, garlic, paste, diced tomatoes, water, bay leaf & red pepper to Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low) until beef tears easily with a fork. In saucepan, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well (you don’t want any water in your beef mixture) and mix beef and pasta in serving bowl.

A lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls men

I don’t like to defend Trump, but it seems to me that the ACHA AHCA debacle is almost entirely Paul Ryan’s fault. Yes, the bill is such a shit sandwich that Trump never should have tried to serve it to the country, but Ryan’s the one that made the sandwich.

I realize this is probably some kind of agism or lookism or something like that, but Ryan has always seemed like a punk to me. I’d be willing to part with that decision if he wasn’t such a fraud policy-wise.

If Trump was smart, he’d try to get rid of Ryan as speaker. I hope he doesn’t though.

Gun Idiot Of The Day: Sean Hannity Edition

If you are into shooting sports, hunting, carry a firearm for professional reasons, and/or have one for self defense: DO NOT DO THIS!!!!

I would like to take a moment and, in the name of Colonel Jeff Cooper, highlight this part of CNN’s reporting (emphasis mine):

Sean Hannity has been trained in firearm safety since he was 11 years old and has a license to carry a gun in five states, including New York,” Fox News said in a statement to CNNMoney. “The situation was thoroughly investigated and it was found that no one was put in any danger.” (The spokesperson said the incident took place in October 2016.)

I just checked, but our resident legal eagles should feel free to check in and correct me, but NY State does not have a brandishing statute. Instead it is covered under menacing.

New York Penal Law § 120.14 Menacing in the second degree

A person is guilty of menacing in the second degree when:

1. He or she intentionally places or attempts to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death by displaying a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or what appears to be a pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or other firearm;  or

2. He or she repeatedly follows a person or engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts over a period of time intentionally placing or attempting to place another person in reasonable fear of physical injury, serious physical injury or death;  or

3. He or she commits the crime of menacing in the third degree in violation of that part of a duly served order of protection, or such order which the defendant has actual knowledge of because he or she was present in court when such order was issued, pursuant to article eight of the family court act, section 530.12 of the criminal procedure law, or an order of protection issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, territorial or tribal jurisdiction, which directed the respondent or defendant to stay away from the person or persons on whose behalf the order was issued.

Menacing in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

What Hannity did is one of the stupidest, most irresponsible, and down right dangerous things you can do with a firearm. There is a reason that to intentionally draw and aim a firearm at someone outside of an actual self defense situation/defensive use is a crime of some type in every jurisdiction in the US. It is to keep utter, absolute, complete morons like Sean Hannity from doing something this stupid and being so utterly dumb as to think it was a joke.

This is not an anti-gun issue, this is an anti-stupidity issue! There is a reason that every firearms instructor I know, and have heard of, will not let new students even touch a firearm until they learn Colonel Cooper’s four rules:

Rule One: All guns are always loaded.
Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything which you are not willing to destroy.
Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
Rule Four: Always be sure of your target.

Here’s an instructor at the firearms academy founded by Colonel Cooper explaining firearm safety:

Sean Hannity is an idiot. He committed a crime. That crime has now been made public. He needs to be prosecuted to the fully extent of the law. Moreover, getting a conceal carry permit for New York City is almost impossible for anyone who is not well connected. It is not just may issue, it is very, very selectively may issue. Hannity’s careless actions towards Williams demonstrates that he does not deserve the special consideration that it takes to get a conceal carry permit for NY City.


Hi Everyone,

The Romanovs abdicated today, and so shall I. As you might have predicted from my recent sparse posting, I’ve decided to give up my front page status. That’s for a lot of reasons, including that I’ve got a bunch of other writing projects going on, and there’s a limit to how much time I can spend at a keyboard.

I’m really grateful to John for the opportunity, and also to the other Front Pagers (esp. Betty and TaMara and Alain) for their help and support at various times.

The best part of the gig was the Juicers I met in person during the Meetups. You were all wonderful!

And getting to support my favored candidate–by whom I mean, of course, Baud. :-)

Best to everyone here – I’ll be lurking!

Writers Chatting: Urgent Advice Needed

Really pretty sundog yesterday when I was out gardening.

Had a request from Mnemosyne this week:

Right after I get back from Disneyworld (have you heard I’m going to Disneyworld?😉) I’m going to a writing conference where I will be pitching my novel, and I need advice!

So let’s help her out…

Off Exchange and lifestyle insurers

I spent a decent chunk of last night going through Oscar’s financials as there was an interesting article in Bloomberg on their 2016 results. I’m waiting for the full results to post at either the New York state regulator’s website or at NAIC.

Oscar Insurance Corp., the startup trying to reinvent medical insurance with its Obamacare-focused plans, lost more than $200 million on the products in 2016 as it heads into a year that may see the undoing of the health law.

The company offered plans in four states in 2016 and lost about $204.9 million on premium revenue of $425.9 million, according to filings. The loss widened from $121.7 million in 2015.

This is actually an improvement in terms of percent of expenses covered by premiums. In 2015, about 56% of expenses were covered by premiums. In 2016, about 67% of expenses are covered by premiums. But they also lost a lot more money as they were making up their smaller percentage losses by increasing the volume. I’ve only ever worked at a profitable dinosaur of insurer that is not a VC darling, so I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not.

As I was finishing my first brown ale of the evening and thinking that I need to find a new hobby as I looked for the 3rd Quarter 2015 and 2016 YTD financials, I noticed something very interesting. The mixture of membership was changing. In 2015, 53% ofthe 3rd quarter membership was on-Exchange and the rest was off-Exchange paying full premium. In 2016, 60% of the membership was off-Exchange paying full price. Average premium had increased by 20%.

I found this interesting as it reminded me of this post I wrote last May on the fate of “lifestyle” insurers when they faced low price on-Exchange competition:

< blockquote>if Centene is attracting healthy people, Harken is attracting healthy people and both are paying large risk adjustment transfers, why is Centene making money and Harken probably losing money in Chicago? Assuming a hypothetical individual could be covered by both insurers for the same treatment, Centene is paying significantly less per service than Harken because Centene’s basing its provider contracts on Medicaid rates instead of commercial or Medicare rates.

Centene and other Medicaid like Exchange providers are targeting roughly the same type of population but since they are much cheaper post subsidy, they are probably getting a far larger population to amortize their fixed costs over plus any service that they do need to pay for, they are paying for at a lower rate.

From here, I am having a hard time seeing how plans that have a “lifestyle” component can compete against Medicaid like Exchange providers. Maybe it is different off-Exchange where everyone is paying full premium and “cheapness” is not a strong selling point.

That seems to be what Oscar is doing, shifting towards a full premium model where the hipness/coolness plus enhanced customer service allows them to offer a fairly expensive product to an affluent but healthy market. My big question is what happens in 2017 after another large premium increase that their off-Exchange base absorbs the entire increment even as the Oscar network shrinks dramatically? There are two opposing forces here. Healthy people don’t care too much about networks but care a lot about prices so they could leave. Sick people who get most of their care at now out of network hospitals will leave but those who get their care at still in-network hospitals will stay. This is a tough empirical question as to what Oscar’s risk profile will look like.

Late Night Open Thread: In the Room Where It Happened