Sunday, January 26, 2014

Holiday Wild Rice

For the second week in a row, I did try a new recipe but won't blog about it this week.  I made this White Bean Dip posted at Frugal Living NW.  We loved the dip, but want to tweak it a bit.  I also found versions of it in "The Daniel Plan" and in a pressure cooker cookbook.  So look forward to this in coming weeks.

I will post a recipe I used at Christmas.  To make holiday cooking a little easier, I like to use my triple Crockpot for the sides.  I adapted this one from "Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook," just making a few minor changes so it's vegan.

Holiday Wild Rice

1 1/2 cups wild rice, uncooked
3 cups vegetable stock (original calls for chicken)
3 tbsp. orange zest
2 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 cup golden raisin or other dried fruit
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. margarine or olive oil (original calls for butter)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, snipped with scissors
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Mix rice, stock, orange zest, orange juice, raisins, curry powder and margarine/oil in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid but is not dry.

Stir in parsley, pecans and green onions just before serving.

Recipe says it serves 4, but as a side it definitely serves more.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Overnight oatmeal

Even though I was sick this weekend, I did try a new recipe.  BUT, it didn't turn out the best, so I'm not going to post it.  So here is one I tried over the holidays and made several time since then.  It's from one of my new favorite cookbooks, "Fix it and Forget it Christmas Cookbook."  It's son-in-law approved.

Oatmeal Morning

1 cup uncooked steel cut oats
1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 cup walnuts (pecans are great in this, too)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
4 cups liquid - milk, water or combination of the two

Combine all dry ingredients in slow cooiker.  Stir well.

Our in liquid ingredient(s).  Mix together well.

Cover. Cook on high 2 1/2 hours or on low 5-6 hours.

Recommended slow cooker: 3 qt.  Serves 6.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Football Chili - Not my Mother's Recipe

One thing I like about football season is I always know what's for dinner on Sunday: Chili.  Last year, I experimented with different recipes, until my husband said in polite exasperation, "I just want your regular chili.  It's great!"

My "regular" chili is the family recipe, which is the one found on the back of the McCormick-Schillings package of chili mix.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great chili, but I needed to be creative as a cook.  So sometimes I'd make a double batch, using the mix for half the seasoning and getting a little creative with the other half.  (He never knew the difference.)

About a month ago, I realized if I bought very lean meat, I wouldn't have to brown it before making in the slow cooker.  Much easier and quicker.  First batch was made with very lean ground beef.  Turned out great.  The second batch, I used lean ground turkey.  This was a step too far for my somewhat traditional husband.  He wanted to have real meat, and he wanted it more spicy.  I took this as permission to experiment.

Instead of the slow cooker, I used my Enamel-Coated Cast-Iron Dutch Oven.  While watching the Packers-49ers Wild Card game, I put it together.  (OK, it wasn't really "fast," but who counts the hours when you're watching football?)

Pushing the Envelope Chili

Olive Oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
1-2 chili peppers (I used one red and 1/2 green left over from Christmas)
1 Jalapeno chili, carefully and finely chopped with seeds and white membranes removed
1 lb pork or beef stew meet, cut into smaller pieces
2 (1 lb) cans tomatoes, whole or minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 (1 lb) kidney beans, including liquid
1 tsp (more or less to taste) Cayenne pepper powder

Over medium heat, cook garlic in small amount of olive oil while chopping the other vegetables.  Be extremely careful with the Jalapeno. It can burn through scratches in the hand.  Definitely do not touch your eyes, and wash your hands thoroughly when you're done.  Wear gloves if need be.  Add vegetables to the pot as you chop.

Add the meat and brown.  Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt and cocoa powder. Cook over low heat for 1-2 hours (you can't really overcook it).

Add the beans, and taste the chili, adding the cayenne pepper in 1/2 tsp. increments.  We settled on 1 tsp., which we considered to be a "medium" chili.

Cook for another hour and serve.  We top with fat-free sour cream (which is useful if it's too hot) and shredded cheese.  Our son likes chopped onions.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Brunch Dilemma

We love it when our daughter and her husband visit from Portland, about a 21/2-hour drive from us.  They love to eat, and I love to cook, so it's always a happy weekend.  My dilemma is how to make a breakfast that lives up to the dinner I served the night before?

I have heard of slow-cooker recipes for egg dishes that are perfect; load the crock up the night before, and in morning everyone is happy.  But the recipes are so good that no one will share them.  So I found one on the internet this Christmas.  I layered the eggs, cheese, hash browns and Christmas ham (keeping it on one side of the slow cooker so that the vegetarian daughter didn't have to pick it out) and went to bed.  Unfortunately, by morning the delicious ham had been leeched of all its salt and the dish was, well, inedible.  I suggested to my husband that he might sneak it into the dog's food, but he had more mercy on our black lab than I had on them.

I turned to a trusted source, the Fix-it-and-Forget-it series of cookbooks. I made this recipe, with minor adaptations from "Fit It and Forget It: 5-Ingredient Favorites."  While this is not an overnight dish, it takes less than three hours from prep to finish.  I put it on before I got on the exercise bike, then turned it down while I got ready for church - driving my husband crazy while he sniffed it cooking. 

Easy Egg and Sausage Puff

1 lb loose sausage (I used chicken)
Olive oil
6 eggs
1 cup all-purpose baking mix (I used gluten-free Bisquick)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups non-fat milk
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Sprig of parsley, snipped with scissors

 Brown sausage in a a small amount of olive oil.  Break up chunks of meat as it cooks.  Drain.

Spray inside of slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix all the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on high for one hour, then lower heat to low and cook for 11/2 hour or until the dish is fully cooked in the center.  

The recipe says it serves six, but it's closer to eight (allowing for my husband to take a double portion!).  For those of you on Weight Watchers, that is 7 Points Plus per serving.  If you use the heart-smart Bisquick, reduced-fat cheese and substitute whites for half the eggs, the points come down to 6.  To get it down to 4, substitute mushrooms, cooked in a tablespoon of olive oil, for the sausage.

I'm still looking for that elusive overnight egg dish, but this will do for now as long as I get before everyone else.  Meanwhile, I'm thinking I'll substitute mushrooms for the sausage for my daughter.  Good thing I have a triple Crockpot - one for the recipe as written, one for the gluten-free version, and one for the vegetarian!

My 2014 Food Resolution

My food-related resolution for 2014 is to try a new recipe, technique and/or piece of equipment every week.  To keep me honest, I'll blog about it here.

Full disclosure:  This is the same resolution I had in 2013, but that got derailed by knee replacement in February.  But I'm optimistic of some cooking adventures ahead.

One of my friends asked if a can-opener counted.  Why yes, my husband bought me a new one for Christmas.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to work the one he bought a couple years ago which eliminates sharp edges.  I just could never figure out how to get it started.  So I used the new one on New Years Day to make chili, but I won't really count that here.
New can opener on left, confounded one in the back.

For Mother's Day, I got a pressure cooker.  This has cut down the cooking time for roast, beans, soup and a number of other dishes.  My mom and husband gave me several cookbooks for Christmas, so look for more recipes.

Second, we rearranged our kitchen.  Now my triple Crock-pot and Foodsaver are readily accessible.  Look for recipes and techniques based on these invaluable appliances.

And finally, I'm learning to adapt to a variety of food needs and preferences.  I've eaten gluten-free most of the year.  My oldest son and his wife are vegan.  (Did I brag about Stephanie's blog, Trans-planted?)  Although they live in Asia, I keep thinking about how I can adapt recipes for them when they visit.  Another daughter has gone vegetarian, but isn't so strict that I can't use eggs, cheese, and chicken stock.

Here's to a good 2014, and at least 52 new recipes!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Waste not, want not - Coffee Bread

You'll hear me gush about my bread maker, but I love it! It's one of my favorite appliances, even though I could probably replace it by using the dough hook on my Kitchenaid. But I just love the "fix it and forget it" convenience of the bread maker. Here's a favorite recipe for using up leftover coffee:

Coffee Spice Bread

1 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 tsp yeast

Put all ingredients in machine in order listed and set on regular cycle.

(This is from one of the Bread Machine Cookbook series from Nitty Gritty Cookbooks. Highly recommended.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Freezer to crockpot meals!

Many thanks to the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Facebook Feed for linking to a blog, Freezer Cooking - Slow Cooker Meals! by Melissa Fallis.  She shows how she makes eight meals all at once, prepping the vegetables then combining ingredients in freezer bags.  She picks out one the night before, lets it thaw in the refrigerator, then puts it in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  Brilliant!  I will post when I've tried her meals.

Note the blogger updated this after she found her recipes a little bland.  See new recipes here: