Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Use your time wisely and cook while doing other things.

Not so Hot Chili

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Sometimes I wonder what happened to my children. how could I have given birth to people who don’t like a hot chili? I have learned to adapt, otherwise the leftovers were more than I could eat. The following recipe has a smokey flavor but not hot. Chili is such an easy dish and really nice for this time of year. You can eat it with cornbread or even with polenta at the bottom of the bowl. Leftovers are great on chili dogs or a potato buffet.

INGREDIENTS:
2 c Dried Kidney Beans
3 c Cooked Ground Beef
2 c Tomato Sauce
2 cans Diced Tomatoes
2 c Water
1 c Chopped Onion
2 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Cumin
1 1/2 tsp Perfect Pinch Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper spice
1/2 tsp Salt

Sort through the dried beans to look for pebbles. I have found a stone more than once so it is a very important step every time you use dried beans.

I think there is no reason to take advantage of flavors that have already been built up in your diced tomatoes. The 2 that I like to use are fire roasted tomatoes or a garlic and oregano variety.

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This is what to look for in the spice aisle. If you cannot find it you may use 1/2 of a bell pepper finely diced.

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Place all ingredients except the salt in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

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Adding salt now could prevent the beans from becoming sauce. Place the temperature on high and cook for 8 hours.

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Add the salt about 30 minutes before you serve with cheese or sour cream.

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Happy cooking!

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Chicken Cacciatore

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In Italian, alla cacciatora means the meal has been prepared “hunter-style”. Traditionally the dish is prepared with either white or red wine. My recipe does not include either of those, however it can be added at the cook’s discretion. This version can be cooked in a slow cooker or a skillet. As I am using my own marinara sauce that I put in the freezer, I can skip the process of developing a tomato sauce.

INGREDIENTS:
6 to 8 pieces boneless, skinless chicken
2 c Marinara Sauce
2 c sliced Bell Peppers
1 small Onion sliced
pinch Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper
Oil

Coat a frying pan with your favorite cooking oil and heat over medium to medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place in the hot pan until brown on both sides.

Transfer to the slow cooker and cover with marinara sauce, bell peppers and onions. I often use frozen peppers for this, but fresh can also be used. It takes 2 peppers to make about 2 cups when sliced, but it does not need to be exact. Add the pinch of pepper flakes. This adds just a tiny bit of heat to the dish. Add half a cup of wine at this time if you prefer. When cooking with wine the rule of thumb is, if you won’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Cook on low for 6 hours, high for 4 hours.

Serve over noodles such as angle hair or linguine.

If you prefer to cook in the skillet, leave the chicken in the pan after it has browned. Pour in the sauce, peppers and onions and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes. The thicker the chicken breasts, the longer it will take so a good way to cut time is to pound them a little bit.

I hope you give this simple dish a try, let me know how you like it.

Mustard Crusted Corn Beef

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I stock up on corn beef when it is on sale around St. Patty’s Day. Most recipes I have found are pretty much the same with only a little variance here and there. I wanted something different and came up with this.

INGREDIENTS:
Corn-Beef
1/4 c yellow or Brown Mustard
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Small Onion chopped

Remove the corn-beef from its package and rinse in warm water. The meat tends to feel a bit slimy and the warm water removes it quickly. Pat dry. Sprinkle with the pepper. Rub the mustard all over the corn-beef and place into a slow cooker with no liquid. Sprinkle the onion around the meat.

Now before you panic, it is okay. There are enough juices that will come out of the meat to keep it from getting dry. Not adding liquid right away allows the mustard to stay on the meat and to impart more of its flavor. Check on the dish in 4 hours and again at 6 to make sure you don’t need to add some. Water works, but a chicken or vegetable broth has more flavor. Only add 1 cup if the pot appears to be nearly dry.

Cook on low for 8 hours.

This recipe is especially good if you intend to make Reuben Sandwiches with it. I hope you give this a try!

Chili

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INGREDIENTS:
2 c dried Kidney Beans 3 cans of beans
28 oz Tomato sauce
16 oz diced Tomatoes
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef/turkey cooked and drained.
1 Tbs Chili Powder
4 oz / 1 c frozen Bell Peppers

Lets talk about chili powder for a moment. The measurement I use is because I know the chili powder. All brands are different and will have varying degrees of heat and ingredients. Common herbs and spices include cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper. Other ingredients could be coriander seeds, black pepper, ginger, celery seeds, basil and even salt. If you are trying a new brand of chili powder it is always wise to err on the side of caution. Taste a little bit before you add it to the pot. Then, only add half of the amount called for and see how it tastes once it has had time to blend into the sauce.

Homemade chili powder

Beans are the other important factor in a good bowl of chili. The cook can choose convenience with beans that have been canned. Or they can choose dried beans which are cheaper, but require more effort to make soft. Canned beans will contain salt, but they also are available with some flavors already added. Dried beans need to be soaked and salt must be avoided as it can prevent the beans from becoming as soft as the cook might prefer. You cannot use old beans as they will never become soft.

Before cooking with dried beans, you must always look through them to ensure there are no pebbles in the bag. To soak beans, place them in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Let it boil for ten minutes then remove from the heat and let it set overnight.

In the morning, drain and rinse the beans before placing into the slow cooker. Pour on the tomato sauce, onions, diced tomatoes 9with the juice) and the cooked ground beef. I will usually prepare the meat the night before as I set the beans to soak so that in the morning all the prep is done. If you are sure your chili seasoning has no salt, add it now and cover. Cook on high 6 hours, or low 10 hours.

An hour before serving, chop the peppers into 1/2 inch lengths and add to the pot. You can certainly used fresh peppers but I use frozen because I need very little and they are easier to toss in this kind of dish. With peppers being $1 apiece (or more) in the store, frozen peppers are often much more economical.

Try the chili with leftover polenta instead of cornbread.

You can freeze leftovers! It must be completely cooled before placing in a bag or container. I use it within a month, but if it is well sealed and air has been removed it can keep longer.

MEALS IN ADVANCE: Marinara Sauce

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It has been cookie week in my house. Girl Scout cookies were delivered and I have to get them to parents, do booths and get my own child’s delivered. Weeks like this are when I am so glad I have things in the freezer that are ready to go for a quick meal.

A basic marinara sauce is simple to make and has a wide range of possibilities. Once you thaw the sauce, you can add cheese, pepper flakes and vegetables to change it up from one meal to another. Making your own also allows the a cook to adjust it according to their own tastes. Preparing it in the slow cooker is simple and it will simmer as you do a hard day’s work. At the end of the day you have several quarts to freeze and dinner for tonight nearly done.

INGREDIENTS:
2 28 oz cans Diced Tomatoes
2 28 oz cans Tomatoes sauce
Oil
8 Garlic Cloves smashed and chopped
1 medium Yellow Onion diced
1/8 tsp Salt
2 Tb dried Parsley
2 Tb dried Oregano
2 Tb dried Basil
2 tsp Salt
Salt to taste

TOOLS: 4 qt Slow Cooker

Drizzle oil in a pan, when hot add the onions, garlic and 1/8 tsp salt. Saute until the onions are clear.

In the slow cooker, mix the onions and all the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Depending on the sauce and tomatoes that you use, season with salt according to taste. Some brand have more sodium than others and you want the sauce to absorb all the other flavors before you add more.

Allow the sauce to cool completely! This takes a little time so stir it occasionally. I like to freeze my sauce in jars, it makes it easy to measure, however you can also use bags. Keep stirring it every few minutes to speed up the process. I find that the sauce will thicken more as it cools. Keep in mind, if you are placing the sauce into canning jars it WILL expand so give yourself at least 1 inch of headroom.

This batch produced 4 1/2 quarts of sauce for the freezer.

uses:
Classic Pizza
Bubblin Pizza Casserole
Pasta dishes
Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Cacciatore
Dipping Sauces

Meatball Soup

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Doesn’t a hot bowl of soup sound great on a cold day? How about a recipe that can simmer for a couple of hours but requires very little effort on your part? This meatball soup is a breeze to make, especially if you have meatballs in the freezer. Don’t let the simplicity of it fool you, it makes a hearty meal, especially if served with a little toasted bread on the side.

INGREDIENTS:
48 oz Beef broth
20 Meatballs
6 c slice Potatoes
2 c Sliced Carrots
1/3 c diced Yellow Onions
4 diced cloves Garlic
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 Tb Parsley
1/2 Tb Oregano

Generally I don’t peel the potatoes because there is so much flavor and nutrition in the peel. However, the cook’s prerogative is to change things to suit their own taste, right? This time I used russets, but red potatoes and fingerlings hold up very well. Someday I may even try purple potatoes, if they are a\ever available in Smallville. 4 green onions can be substituted for the yellow onions if you prefer a more mild flavor. I also like mushrooms in mine, but the rest of the family frowns on that, so I only put them in leftovers I take to work.

In a pot place everything except the meatballs. Cook on medium till the vegetables are fork tender. Add the meatballs and continue cooking until they are heated through, about 10 minutes.

If you like, you can finish with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. This soup also works well in the slow cooker for 4 hours on low.

With mushrooms

Rich Mashed Potatoes

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Somehow the basic side dish of mashed potatoes has become relegated to that of a processed food. Instant potatoes from a can or box are so much faster to make than peeling, cutting and boiling. Yet on special days, wouldn’t you really prefer to have some creamy, buttery potatoes mashed by hand? I have been making them this way for about 10 years now. I learned it from a lady whose mom taught her over 50 years ago, so it has been around for some time.

INGREDIENTS:
10 cups Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup Cream
1 stick Butter
3 Egg Yolk
Salt and Pepper

Wait, I know what you are thinking, what is an egg yolk doing in there? Patience my friend, all will be revealed.

Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove set to high. Do not add the salt until the water is boiling as salt does make it take longer. Once it has reached a rolling boil, add enough salt to make it taste like sea water.

Peel the potatoes and cut into about 1 1/2 inch cubes. If they are too small they will break apart in the water. The key is consistency sp that they all cook at the same rate. Gently slide them into the boiling water and cover. Reduce the heat down to medium. Keep an eye on the pot for a while to make sure it does not boil over, you may have to lower the temperature. They are ready when a sharp knife can slide gently through the potato. Do not overcook or they will soak up too much water. You want them to be on the dry side so they will soak up al the flavors you are going to add. Immediately drain and return to the hot pot which is off the burner.

While the potatoes are cooking, pour cream into a sauce pot on medium-low heat. Add the butter and heat till the butter is melted.

Whip the egg yolks in a separate cup.

Begin mashing the potatoes till they are the consistency you prefer. Here is where you have to work quickly. Pour the egg yolks into the potatoes and quickly whip them in. If you go too slow they WILL cook and you will have scrambled eggs. If you are a bit nervous about this, go ahead and add a little cream to the eggs first. This is where I lose some people. They worry about eating raw eggs, but you don’t have to. The fact that the potatoes are so hot as to create scrambled eggs proves they are hot enough to keep you safe. Slowly add half of the cream/butter mixture. Thoroughly mix the liquid and determine how much more you will need. Add it a little at a time (you may not need all of it) as you can always add more, you cannot however take it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you like garlic potatoes, finely mince a few cloves and add to the cream as you heat it. This draws out the flavor into the cream and gives a giant boost to the potatoes. Of course, roasted garlic is even better.

The science of this is pretty simple. The yolks add a richness to the mashed potatoes. Heating the cream and butter allows you to control the thickness of the potatoes and prevents the food from cooling down before you get it on the table.

If you intend to keep the potatoes warm in a crock pot for a few hours, add a little extra cream then you normally would. Use leftovers for shepherd’s pie later in the week.

Let me know how it goes!