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Archive for the ‘crockpot’ Category

As I have said before, I rarely use a crockpot. When I find a crockpot recipe that works for me, I am always surprised. Sometimes one can pitch all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on, leave it alone for 8, 9 or 10 hours. No worries, mate. Of course, your meal may be less than gourmet, but, it’s a meal. The obvious benefits of crockpot cookery aside, the results are usually less than stellar. 

This recipe was a pleasant surprise. It does require some packaged food items, but they are some that might be found in many homes. However, it is not one that can be ignored for 8 hours or more. It’s ready to eat in 5 to 6 hours, tops. So, it’s not one you can fix in the morning and have that evening for dinner. For working folks, it would be a good one for a weekend meal. Start it after lunch, run errands, take a nap, watch the big game, work in the yard. Then you’ll have a good pork chop dinner waiting for you. 

FRUITY PORK CHOPS AND STUFFING

1 c. diced dried fruit, apples, apricots, raisins, cranberries (I use a mixture)

1 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. apple juice (1 small box)

3 T. butter

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg

1 – 6 oz. package Stovetop Stuffing mix (pork or chicken flavor)

4 pork chops, 1/2 to 3/4″ thick

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

 

1. Combine in a small saucepan: 1/4 c. apple juice, dried fruit, broth, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. Bring to a boil. Stir in the stuffing mix. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside.

3. Arrange pork chops in the bottom of a crockpot. Pour the rest of the apple juice over the pork. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Top with stuffing.

4. Cover and cook on low setting for 5 to 6 hours.


 



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I wanted to use beef cubes bought earlier in the week and found a recipe for Beef Stroganoff adapted for the crockpot.  It’s one of the “dreaded” recipes that calls for browning the meat before putting it in the crockpot.  I had the time for that step and I had all the ingredients necessary.

I made a few additions to the ingredients which made it especially good.  I’m sorry I only made enough for one meal with just a little leftover. It was very good. I served it with mashed potatoes instead of the usual noodles.

This recipe is from The Slow Cooker Ready & Waiting Cookbook.

Beef Stroganoff  – 4-6 servings

2 T. oil, more if needed

2 1/2 lbs. beef cubes, 2″ pieces, well trimmed of fat

1 t. Sweet Hungarian paprika

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper, or to taste

1 lb. fresh mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced thickly

2 medium onions, sliced

1/2 c. beef broth

1/4 c. water

1 T. cornstarch

1 c. sour cream

2 T. fesh dill or 1 t. dried dill (I used dried)

Hot cooked noodles

——————————————–

(My additions: 1 clove garlic, 1 t. tomato paste*, 1 t. “Glace de Viande Gold”**)

1.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the beef, in batches without crowding and cook, turning often until browned on all sides.  Transfer to a 3 1/2 Qt. slow cooker.  Season with the paprika, salt and pepper and stir well.

2. Add the mushrooms and onions to the skillet and add more oil if necessary. Add the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms exude their liquid and begin to brown.  Add the beef broth and water and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.  (At this point, I added the tomato paste and Glace de Viande.)  Transfer sauce to the slow cooker. 

3. Cover and cook 7-8 hours on low heat.

4. With a slotted spoon, remove the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl and cover to keep warm.

5. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream with the cornstarch and dill.  Stir into the slow cooker and cookk until the sauce has thickened somewhat, about 5 minutes.  Pour the sauce over the meat and serve.

* I love the tomato paste in tubes so much that I bought a whole case of it since I can’t always find it in my neighborhood grocery.  I know all about dividing the remaining paste in the can into tablespoon-sized dollops and freezing them, then wrapping them individually in plastic and bagging them up for use later.  I’ve tried it and then can’t find the small bag of paste lost in the far reaches of the freezer.  Trust me, the tubes are better. I keep the opened one in a quart plastic container along with tubes of pesto and anchovy paste.

** Glace de Viande Gold – It’s a small container (1.5oz) of reduced brown stock. The addition of a teaspoon of the thick gelatinous substance is enough to add richness to any  beef-based sauce  you are  making.  For a larger amount of liquid, such as for a soup base, the entire container could be used. Available at this website or through Amazon and gourmet shops.

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Good morning, all.

Plans for the day include bill-paying, and other paper work, tidying up the house before Amy, our wonderful housecleaner, comes tomorrow, and starting to sew up a “Princess Dress” for my nearly three-year-old granddaughter, Annabelle.  Sometime in there I need to fix dinner. 

I’m not a great fan of crockpots, slow cookers, whatever you want to call them.  A few years ago I did buy one, falling for all the hype that it would save me so much time and provide great meals.  I was working a lot at the library at the time and thought that I should try it.  At the library we have hundred of cookbooks, some of which are about crock-pot cookery.  I tried a few recipes with less than stellar results.  I soon relegated the appliance to the back of the cupboard and later to the basement where it was retrieved for very occasional uses – cocktail meatballs for parties, mainly.

About 2 years ago, I saw a recipe that was promoted somewhere in a magazine or on-line recipe site and decided to give it a try.  It was a winner.  The beauty of the recipe is its versatility as well as its simplicity.  I have prepared it with a variety of ingredients and accompaniments and never have been disappointed.  It cooks solely in the crock-pot, no browning of the meat before plopping it in the crock-pot. Hence, no greasy skillet or Dutch oven to clean out, always a detriment to many recipes provided in slow cooker cookbooks. Who wants to save time by adding another time consuming step or two or three (heating the skillet, cooking in it, and cleaning it up) to what is supposed to be a one-pot meal? So, for tonight, it will be my crock-pot stew meal.  The recipe follows at the end of today’s post.

Annabelle has been enjoying dressing up in costumes lately.  Her brother Alexander has, also.  He’s into Super Heroes; I made him a Batman cape last fall out of the skirt to a black cotton knit dress I had in my closet and hadn’t worn for years.  Anna wanted a “Princess Dress”.   I looked around in my stash of fabric leftovers for suitable fabric to use.  I came up with enough of a large floral chintz, leftover from a window treatment for my mom’s apartment, pinkish plumflowers on a cream background.  I had nothing for the bodice so a trip to the fabric store was in order for more fabric and a pattern.  I bought plum polished cotton for the bodice and a yard of plum sheer fabric for an overskirt which I will bustle up on the sides like dresses in the Cinderella movie.  It should be cute, and striking with the dark bodice and bold floral skirt.  Best of all, it cost very little.  I cut it out yesterday and read the pattern so I’m ready to start sewing.  I must reintroduce myself to my Bernini.  I have neglected it in favor of knitting the past 2 years or so.  I tend to jump around in my avocations. (More on that later, I’m sure.) I should be able to get a lot done on it this afternoon.

Before anything, however, I will get the recipe started.

Crock-pot Beef Stew (Not a good title for it – sounds too ordinary)

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 lb. beef stew meat in 1″ cubes

1/2 t. pepper

24 oz. tomato-based sauce (spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, plain tomato sauce, whatever you have on hand)*

——————

  1. Use a 4-6 qt. crock-pot. 
  2. Layer ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook, low, 8 hours.
  4. Serve with pasta, noodles, rice, sliced polenta, rice, etc.

*I have played around with the types of sauce added and with the kinds and amounts of vegetables.  I have added chopped  celery, lots more onions, garlic, canned diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, beef gravy instead of tomato sauce (altho’ I use a tablespoon of tomato paste with the beef gravy).  One of my favorite combinations is with enchilada sauce, more onions, about half of the green pepper, and serve it with yellow or Spanish rice.

Try it if you have a crock-pot but make it your own recipe by adapting it to fit your likes.

I don’t have a source noted for this recipe, sorry.

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