Monday, June 05, 2006

Deadline Extended!

Because of construction in the Marmot household, we're extending the deadline for recipes. So you now have until June 30 to think up something brilliant. Or, at least steal something from your grandmother.

E-mail entries to me at amcsholtyATgmail.com.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

CONTEST!

Yes, yes, I know. I've been way too quiet here lately. I promise I've been doing REALLY important stuff like holding down a paying job and volunteer work. No, I'm not making that up.

But I decided it's your turn. I'm challenging all my local blogger friends to turn in their best Slow Cooker recipe. At a later date we'll have a party to taste all the entries. The winner will get a big fat blue ribbon and our undying admiration.

But hey, we'll get to have a party: The First Annual Blogger Crock Pot Competition.

All entries will be posted here on the site so our out of town visitors can try them out.

Please have your entries emailed to me by May 31, at which point I'll announce the party date.

Email your recipes to me at amcsholtyATgmail.com

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spaghetti Sauce

We're all about ease and versatility here at What A Crock and Spaghetti Sauce is all about both of those things too. Not just for spaghetti noodles, the sauce can be used for ziti and lasagna as well. And, of course, the best way to make your sauce is right in the ol' slow cooker.

Amy's Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
1 large can of tomato paste
1 pound ground beef, or Italian sausage browned
1 teaspoons freeze dried basil
1 teaspoon freeze dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Add tomato sauce, tomato paste and diced tomatoes to your slow cooker. Brown ground beef or sausage and add to the pot. If desired, you can also dice an onion and sautee to add to the mix. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or HIGH 3 to 4 hours. Add the basil and oregano during the last 15 minutes of cooking for peak flavor.

Serve with spaghetti noodles, crusty bread and a salad. This recipe will make a lot of sauce so you'll have enough to freeze for future use.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Backyard Brats and Easy Chicken

Spring time means grill time, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's time to put the slow cooker away. Nothing is better than a slow cooked brat that is then grilled to carmelize its outside.

Backyard Brats

Ingredients:
1 package of five, uncooked bratwurst
1 15 oz can of sauerkraut (I use Bush's Bavarian variety)
1 onion, sliced
1 bottle of light colored ale (I use Boulevard Brewing Pale Ale)

Instructions:
Put all the ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH 3 to 4 hours. When finished, remove brats and brown them on your grill or in a hot skillet. Serve on hot dog buns with spicy mustard and the kraut, onion mixture.

For those days when you're just too bloody busy to think, nothing is better than a dish with ingredients that can just be tossed in and forgotten until dinnertime. We found the following recipe on About.com and dressed it up a bit.

Easy Crockpot Chicken With Noodles

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, boneless breasts or thighs
1/4 cup white wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
A couple of sprigs fresh rosemary
Dash thyme
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour
12 oz. cooked noodles, prepared according to package directions
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:
Place chicken in crock pot. Mix wine and soup, add garlic and onion powder. Pour mixture over chicken and sprinkle with rosemary and thyme. Cover and cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH 3 to 4 hours. Before serving, mix sour cream with flour, stir mixture into chicken and juices. Heat for 30 minutes on LOW. Serve chicken and gravy with hot cooked noodles.

TIP: Use fresh herbs and fresh ground pepper for brightest flavor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More Chicken in a Pot and Sweet and Sour Pork

Sorry for the silence gang, we've been a bit under the weather.

Chicken in a Pot

John inspired us to mess around with the Chicken in a Pot dish as well. Again, this is one of those dishes that's great to throw together when you need to feed a crowd, want leftovers or are just feeling plain lazy. It's truly one you can just throw together.

The Marmot's Chicken in a Pot

Ingredients:
  • 1 3 to 4 lb. whole chicken (preferably the kind that isn't full of yicky solution)
  • 1 onion halved and sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 ribs of celery sliced
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons (roughly) fresh rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Arrange onions, garlic, celery and carrots in bottom of pot. Clean off chicken, making sure there aren't any pesky giblets lurking in the body cavity and place on top of vegetables. Pour white wine over chicken. Pluck rosemary leaves and drop over chicken, salt and pepper liberally. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Granny sent us a Food Network recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork to try out and boy was it yummy. Not to mention, it was a great way to renew my tastebuds after my cold.

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork
Copyright, 2005, Robin Miller, All rights reserved

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
3 cups cubed peeled potatoes (Idaho or Yukon gold)
1 cup chopped onion
3 pound pork roast, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water 1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt

Directions:
Arrange potatoes and onion in bottom of slow cooker. Place pork on top of potatoes and onion. Spread garlic all over pork. In a medium bowl, whisk together water, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, black pepper and salt. Pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Slice pork crosswise into thin slices and serve 12 ounces for this meal. Serve with all of potatoes, onions, and sauce.

Episode#: RM0102 Copyright © 2003 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved



Saturday, March 25, 2006

Tips, Review and Experiment

Update!

We tried the Macaroni and Cheese experiment out and it turned out great. We'd love to hear if y'all try it and have similar results .

Tips


We can all agree that clean up is the worst part of any meal. You work hard to prepare an excellent meal, enjoy it and then face the dish carnage. As Alton Brown says, organization will set you free.

Do all of your prep work prior to starting any dish. Line your slow cooker with Reynolds handy liners. Once you've finished loading everything up into the pot, wash all of your prep dishes and any pans you've used to cook any ingredients that needed cooking.

All of those clean dishes mean much less work for you after dinner is over. Just toss that liner in the trash and wait for the slow cooker to cool down enough to put it away. Life is good.

Review

We tried a pasta and chickpea dish from CD Kitchen this week. The recipe is as follows:

Pasta Shells With Chickpeas

Ingredients:
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 19 oz. canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, finely snipped
  • 12 oz. medium pasta shells, prepared according to package directions
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, sugar, seasoning, vinegar in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours to make the sauce. During the last hour, cook the shells separately, and drain them; keep warm. Stir the basil into the sauce and serve it over the pasta. Top each serving with the grated parmesan.
The dish was quite tasty and very easy. This is a great meal for those of you needing a meatless main dish for Fridays. My one quibble with it was the use of 19 oz. of chickpeas. Chickpeas are sold in cans of 15 or 28 oz, which means you wind up wasting some of your chickpeas. We aren't big on waste here. We suggest a salad with chickpeas as the garnish.

Experiment

Springfield Public Schools used to serve Macaroni and Cheese with Smokey Joes. There was something utterly comforting about that dish, even for school food. Rachel Ray makes a version of the dish with beer, mustard and ketchup involved that is also quite tasty.

The problem is, both are dishes that involve a lot of sauteeing, chopping and dirty dishes. Not only that, but they also tie up the oven. The rub there is we want to make a pie for dessert and need the oven.

What to do? Get creative and pull out the slow cooker. There are a number of good recipes for Macaroni and Cheese for the slow cooker, however most of them are very basic. The following is our version, dressed up with those extra goodies.

Amy's Mac -n- Cheese for the Crock Pot

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz. package of macaroni prepared according to package directions(we use cavatapi because it holds onto the sauce best)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 12 oz. of regular milk
  • 16 oz. of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Splash of Pale Ale (or regular beer)
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 small onion, diced and sauteed in 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 14 oz. Lil Smokies

Directions:
Let noodles cool slightly and then combine all ingredients in your slow cooker. Stir well. Cook 3 to 3 1/2 hours on LOW.

We'll let you know how this little experiment turns out!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Necessity and/or Boredom Are the Mother of Invention

Just a note on the chicko dish ... since I am a chemist at heart, and lived in New Orleans for awhile ... I tend to add lots of other spices to my stuff... I did the chicken to a deep brown stir fry to caramalize it ... along with black pepper and cajun pepper to season .... and then in the pot I added a bunch of garlic (because I like garlic) the basil, some rosemary, thyme and some poultry seasoning (because I like sage too) ... it turned out great .... -John Stone

These are the comments I love to see...even if John did make fun of the grits. A recipe is only a guide, it isn’t some set in stone code for how food gets prepared. Many of the recipes I find I tinker with heavily. I’ll find an ingredient in the recipe either myself, or one of my family, doesn’t like and look to substitute something else.

Take, for example, the following recipe I found on AllRecipes.com:

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Stew Submitted by: Lisa Bromfield
"A nice hearty stew that is wicked easy."

Original recipe yield: 10 servings.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Hours
Ready In: 10 Hours 30 Minutes

Servings: 10


INGREDIENTS:
1 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cubed 2 cups cubed eggplant, with peel 2 cups cubed zucchini 1 (10 ounce) package frozen okra, thawed 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 1 cup chopped onion 1 ripe tomato, chopped 1 carrot, sliced thin 1/2 cup vegetable broth 1/3 cup raisins 1 clove garlic, chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon paprika

DIRECTIONS:
In a slow cooker, combine butternut squash, eggplant, zucchini, okra, tomato sauce, onion, tomato, carrot, broth, raisins, and garlic. Season with cumin, turmeric, red pepper, cinnamon, and paprika. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, or until vegetables are tender.

Here's how I tinkered with this dish:
  • The spice ingredients at the end of the ingredients list put together make basic curry, and I love curry. I can add up those amounts and simply add in the equitable amount of curry and save myself a lot of measuring.
  • Further, in my opinion, that’s not NEARLY enough curry. I’ve changed the amount to a full tablespoon. Curry is a spice that goes stale within two months of purchase. When you purchase a jar, figure on making several curry dishes over that period of time so you get your money’s worth.
I also read the reviews of this recipe on AllRecipes.com. One of the biggest complaints was the dish got soggy and wasn't flavorful enough. I solved the flavor issue by adding a tablespoon of curry, but there was just no getting around the sogginess issue. The dish tasted fine, but the texture did leave something to be desired and this is likely one I'll not use again.

I was truly disappointed about this dish in that I was hoping to post a meatless main dish as I know some of you are in the midst of Lent and are looking for Friday meals. But fear not, I have a chick pea dish up my sleeve for later in the week and will post a review of that recipe. In the meantime, if any of you have some great meatless main dishes please share them, I love hearing from y'all.