I cleaned out my refrigerator yesterday because I was certain there were a couple meals left to cook before I needed to go grocery shopping again. I realized that I had two lbs of strawberries that were ripe and ready… and starting to get a little soft.
I’ve been dabbling with the idea of learning to do canning, but either didn’t have the supplies on hand or just wasn’t ready to make the mess, so I haven’t done jam yet.
I figured out, it’s much easier just to cook it down into jam in the crock pot and then eat it up instead of going through the hassle of canning! My recipe was quick, easy and I bet you even have all the ingredients on hand.
Apples contain a natural pectin which works to thicken up the jam a bit, but this recipe will not give you a solid product. It’s a great consistency to spread on toast, dribble on waffles or use to top ice cream or angel food cake.
2 lbs strawberries, cut the tops off first
3 cups white sugar
1 medium apple, cored, peeled and sliced
2 lemons, just the juice
Put all ingredients in the crock pot on high for three hours. Turn off; use a hand blender to puree the jam. Carefully, put into glass mason jars or plastic containers and let cool for one hour. Then, put lids on and store in refrigerator. Enjoy!
Filed under: Breakfast, Dinner, Recipes, Side dishes, vegetarian
Happy New Year, friends and fans!
So to be perfectly honest, I haven’t done a lot of cooking since January 1. We’ve relished in some easy dinner like grilled cheese and tomato soup, grilled chicken with steamed veggies and even ordering in Chinese food. But yesterday I tried a little baking and the result turned out so funny, I thought I would share.
I recently bought some organic veggies, including purple sweet potatoes. These potatoes are the same size and shape as regular sweet potatoes, but the insides are a vibrant purple (think the color of Barney or pansies!!) When I roasted the purple sweet potatoes, they were beautiful, but when I used them in this biscuit recipe, they turned out to be a purplish/blueish/greenish color instead! We were all entertained and they were really funny to see. But the taste and light, fluffy texture was great.
So here’s the recipe for you to try. This is NOT my recipe. It’s from www.foodnetwork.com with the original recipe provided by “Mama Dip”, whoever that is. You can use regular sweet potatoes if that is what you can find, but I assure you that the purple variety is much more entertaining. Enjoy!
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (skins removed)
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/4 c. milk
4 cups self-rising flour
3 T. sugar
pinch of baking soda
Mix together the sweet potatoes, butter and milk until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking soda and sugar. Shape the dough into a ball and knead about 10 times on a well-floured board. Roll the dough out 1-inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Bake in a greased baking pan in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown on top.
((if you don’t have self-rising flour you can substitute with all purpose flour and a few more ingredients and the result will be the same. 1 c. self-rising flour= 1 c. all-purpose flour+ 1 1/2 t. baking powder+ 1/2 t. salt))
Yields: 15 biscuits
Filed under: Appetizer, Breakfast, Dinner, Recipes, Side dishes
This is one of my favorite foods from my experience with Jewish holidays. This casserole is sweet and dense with a wonderful warmth of cinnamon and vanilla. The noodles are soft and bound with the creamy egg filling. But my favorite taste is the plump raisins that swell with flavor and are a great contrast to the texture of the noodles.
I’ve made this dish many times in the oven, so it seemed like an easy transition to do it in the crock pot. Plus, it was so much easier to serve this dish hot as a buffet item when guests could just scoop it up still steaming. Plus– no one had to be embarrassed to have seconds when they could just go back to the crock pot for more!
1 lb. yolk-free broad egg noodles, cooked
5 eggs, beaten Read more
Filed under: Appetizer, Breakfast, Dinner, Recipes, Side dishes, vegetarian
Lately, I’ve been more interested in making crock pot desserts. I think it’s the farthest thing from what grandma used to make– this amazing kitchen appliance is meant for more than just soup and meat! I have a couple pounds of fresh seckel pears. They are still firm and their skins are colorful and fragrant with just a few blemishes. Since we’ll be cooking these down, I think it’s best to use fruit when it’s just a day or two ahead of being ripe.
Some of the recipes I’ve seen for seckel pears require the cook to peel the pear, but that’s it. I have issues with this prep. First off– it’s rediculously difficult to stand pears up on the crock pot. Have you ever seen a flat-bottomed pear?! Plus, it might make a nice presentation in it’s orginal form, but then you have to worry about cutting around the tough middle and not eating any of the seeded parts. Why not just half it and use a melon baller to remove the part you don’t want to eat?? Or you can be even lazier, like I am, and just slice the halves off just outside of the core so you don’t even have to scoop it out. So there you go, that’s my suggestion. Either way, it’s a couple minutes more prep work, but it’s just as good to eat with less hassle at the dinner table.
Marsala wine is great for cooking. It’s full flavored and a little sweet. I opened a bottle to make chicken marsala one night and now it’s been sitting on my shelf. It’s not a wine I would drink from a glass, but it’s great for cooking. So I think the combination with fresh fruit really makes mouth water. Plus, it’s really sad to let the bottle gather dust between chicken marsala nights. If you don’t have marsala, try another red wine and maybe add some raisins or craisins to the recipe to add a little sweetness.
Try these pears for pretty much any meal. They would be amazing next to some cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast, a nice snack with a side of vanilla greek yogurt or serve it for dessert after a steak dinner and top it with some dark chocolate shavings. However you discover it, I hope you like experimenting with this fresh fruit. Enjoy!
12 seckel pears, halved and scooped (see above note)
1/2 c. marsala wine
1 T. sugar
Place pears in the crock pot, pour wine in and sprinkle sugar. Stir it all around and cook on low for 2-3 hours. The pears should be soft enough to cut with the edge of a fork, but not mushy like apple sauce.
My family has requested perogies for dinner tonight and as much as I’d like to try to make them homemade, that just isn’t going to happen. So I figured if our main dish at dinner is from a frozen blue box, then our side dishes should be fresh and flavorful.
Perogies are an amazing Polish entree that can have a variety of fillings inside. I remember a booth at the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio, that offered dozens of options– meat-filled, cheese, fruit, dessert, the list just kept on going. I’m making a sauteed cabbage and onion recipe in the crock pot today and the taste will really go nicely with my smooth, simple potato and noodle pockets. But someday, I’d love to go back to that booth in Cleveland and stock up on some crazy combinations instead.
This side dish would go great with almost any meat. The salt helps the cabbage break down and the wine and sugar really add to the natural sweetness of the onion. If you’d like a different color for presentation, try swapping julienned carrots for the red cabbage instead. I like the red cabbage because it gives the onions a really nice translucent purple color. Enjoy!
1 small head cabbage, sliced thin
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
1 c. shredded red cabbage
1/2 c. white wine
1 t. salt
1 t. celery seed
1 T. sugar
Put everything in the crock pot and stir together. Cook on low for 4 hours.
Your crock pot isn’t just for cooking main dishes, I’m on a kick cooking desserts too! If you are a fan of baked apples or even just apple sauce, you’ll love this take on what I call “apple brown betty”. If you look up the meaning, it’s still unclear who this “betty” is and why her apples were so brown. Most sources date the dish back to colonial times and confirm that the dessert is truly as American as… well, apple pie.
The flavor and composition of my apple brown betty is similar to a cobbler, so if you’d like to try this with peaches, berries or any combination of fresh fruit, give it a try and please post a comment and let us all know how it turns out. Enjoy!
6-8 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 T. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
For the crumbles– Read more
I would like to begin this post with an argument. The title of carrot cake is really a misnomer. This shouldn’t be considered a dessert. It is based foremost on a VEGETABLE for goodness sake! It is a carbohydrate next and then a treat after that. It is vegetarian, kosher, can be low fat and I’d almost put the gold sticker of “healthy” on it!
Based on these clear and evident facts, I would like to share with you my recipe for crock pot carrot cake. Serve it for breakfast, after lunch, for an afternoon or evening snack or just about any point of the day. Chalk it up as doing a good deed for yourself. And trust me, this tastes soooo much better than drinking v8!
1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. applesauce Read more
This weekend, I visited an amazing little organic grocery store, that seriously had two aisles, a delicious bakery and an old man with four teeth. I was tickled to browse the spices and produce, all of local variety. My search for local honey was finally complete and I bought “summer glory” that was harvested just last week. This time of year also produces one of my seasonal favorites, rhubarb, which was readily available and very affordable at this little corner store.
It doesn’t surprise me anymore how many of my friends can only list about five different kinds of vegetables that they will eat, usually: lettuce, carrots, celery, corn and some sort of a bean. Come on, people, there is a rainbow of colorful delights growing in and on our earth! It’s time to broaden your horizons and try something new… maybe grill a zucchini or steam an artichoke with dinner. Indulge in fresh mushrooms for a stir-fry or bake some beets to a sweet crisp. But today, I am going to introduce you to rhubarb, an unfamiliar stalk that cooks down into a mouth-twisting tartness that is best complemented by spring fruits or pastry sugariness.
There are very few ingredients in this dish and it takes almost no prep time. Serve it warm with angel food cake and vanilla ice cream or freeze the sauce and scoop it up as sorbet. It’s non-dairy, can be sugar free, full of vitamins and a real treat. Enjoy!
5 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 3 inch sections (leaves and end removed, washed well)
1 lb. strawberries (tops removed)
3 ripe bananas
1/4 c. sugar (OPTIONAL)
Put all ingredients in crock pot, cook on high for 2-3 hours. Puree with immersion hand blender until consistency is smooth. Serve warm, cold or frozen.
I understand that the red label of canned tomato soup is probably very patriotic and that eating grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of our commandments or laws or requirements as Americans. I support that, I do. But– I don’t think my grilled cheese sandwich deserves to bathe in a mixture of weird canned goop and water. It needs more than that. So today I made homemade creamy tomato soup.
I think the key difference here is the spices and the heavy cream, you just can’t get those flavors in a can. Another detail that is critical to this recipe is the use of an immersion hand blender. Thirty seconds of power will take this soup from delicious to heavenly. If you don’t have an immersion hand blender, then you can cool your soup off and then put it into a blender to puree, then return it to the crock pot, add the heavy cream and heat it back up. That way is more work but will deliver the same smooth result.
Your soup should have an equal counterpart– a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. But you have to define that for yourself. For me, it’s swirled pumpernickel/rye bread with swiss and havarti cheeses. For my kids, it’s American cheese on whole wheat. For my husband, it’s italian bread with sharp cheddar and colby jack. I am willing to entertain everyone’s favorites, since the soup is so easy to make. Another trick for your sandwich is to change up from using butter or margarine on the outside of your bread– try using a light smear of mayonnaise instead and get a sweeter, crisper result. Or you can quickly dip the sandwich in a couple beaten eggs and turn your grilled cheese into a monte cristo instead. Discover whatever combination tickles your taste buds and then let it swell with the sweetness of the soup. Enjoy!
2 14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 t. of each seasoning: salt, black pepper, rosemary, oregano and celery seed
1 T. sugar
8 oz. heavy cream
Combine all ingredients except heavy cream in the crock pot. Cook on low for 4 hours. Remove bay leaf. Use immersion hand blender and puree until smooth. Add heavy cream, stir and heat for one more hour. Serve with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich, of course!
Forget dinner– let’s skip straight to dessert. What could possibly be better than dumping everything in the crock pot and having your entire house filled with the glorious, sweet, satisfying smell of freshly baked dessert?! Cooking dessert in the crock pot requires a little more attention to detail than the normal dump-and-go meal prep, but I think you’ll really like this recipe. In all honesty, it still only took me 6 minutes from start to finish to get everything into the crock pot. Since this is a slow cooking method, you won’t dry out or burn the edges of your tasty treat like you might in the regular oven. Plus, it is way better to use the crock pot for a few hours than to heat up the entire house with conventional baking.
This cobbler recipe can also be made using a variety of other fruits. Go for what is in season, grown locally or on sale in the freezer section; I would suggest trying cherries, peaches, apples, mixed berries or maybe Read more