Provencal Beef Stew

1 pound lean beef (top or bottom round), trimmed and cut into 1″ chunks
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, thickly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
4 (3-inch) strips orange zest
1 t. dried thyme
3/4 t. salt
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 T. olive oil
1 pound mixed mushrooms, halved
1/2 cup pitted nicoise olives

Combine beef, onion, carrots, garlic, tomatoes, wine, orange zest, thyme, salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaves in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

About 20 minutes before cooking time is up, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet and saute mushrooms until browned and most of their liquid has evaporated.

Stir mushrooms and olives into stew and cook on high until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Remove orange strips and bay leaves and serve.

Serves 6 (each serving about 1 1/2 cups)