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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recipe 53 : Zesty Black Bean Soup

16 ou. dried black beans
2 cartons (32 ou. each) vegetable broth
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
sour cream, optional
shredded cheese, optional

In a large pot, bring 10 cups of water to a boil.  Reduce heat and add beans; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain.  Add all remaining ingredients, except sour cream and cheese, to Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.  Top with sour cream, cheese, or additional cilantro.  Serve with warm tortillas.

I was going to take this week off from the Crock Pot in remembrance for my old Crock Pot that cracked a few weeks ago.  But, I decided that it was most respectful to just continue the cause and keep going!  (Also, I wanted soup this week and the recipe I found happened to be a Crock Pot recipe!)  I thought I would be tired of the appliance that has graced my counter top for the past year, but somehow, a brand new one found its way up there in no time!  Special thanks to my dad who braved a trip to Costco for me 2 days before Christmas.  I found a 7 quart pot with a digital timer and a free Little Dipper (a tiny Crock Pot that I haven't quite figured out what fits in there except a can of soup).  Since the sale only lasted until the end of the week, and I was working, he generously offered to quick pick one up for me.  So, thanks to him for providing me a new one!

Now, onto this recipe.  I wouldn't change a thing about it!  It is a soup, so be prepared for it to be thin.  It is also pretty spicy.  I doubled the cayenne and the pepper to make this recipe.  Since it is a couple days after Christmas, and I still have leftover turkey, I heated and shredded some of the turkey and added it to the finished product.  You could also add shredded cooked chicken at the end.  However, it is also delicious as is.

Special thanks goes out to Laura M. who provided me a Christmas gift of a slow cooker recipe book, in which I found this recipe.  Pillsbury Best Slow Cooker Recipes.  (Look for more upcoming recipes from this book!)

(Maybe keep a bottle of this on hand too!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 52 : Chicken a la Maria

6 chicken breasts
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 ou. deli ham, chopped
1 cup milk
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

Place bread crumbs and cheese in a Ziploc bag.  Shake chicken breasts in bag until well coated.  Place in Crock Pot.  Mix onions, ham, milk and spinach together and spoon over chicken.  Cook on HIGH 4 hours or LOW 6 hours.

This recipe has been a family recipe since before I can remember!  Usually it is cooked in the oven (and then served to company).  I thought for Week 52 I would do something special.  I was hoping this recipe would turn out as good as it does when Mom makes it in the oven.  And it did.  And it's very easy to make.  I use my handy kitchen shears to chop up the ham easier.  I also drain the spinach and then squeeze the remaining juice from it to prevent the dish from getting too soggy.  The rest is pretty self explanatory.  I usually don't cook in the Crock Pot on HIGH, but given time constraints, I decided to try it this time.  I think that is the way to go with this recipe.  It even got a little crisp around the edges, but the chicken was still moist.  I served this with some pasta and rolls.  (On a side note I found excellent new frozen rolls- Sister Schubert pretzel rolls!).  This meal is definitely tasty enough and pretty enough to serve to company!!

 Now let's address what's on every one's mind.  Week 52!!!!!  This concludes my challenge!  I can't believe I actually stuck with this, didn't miss a week and didn't grow to the size and shape of a Crock Pot in the process (although I might have sprouted some handles)!  I have been viewed in so many countries across the globe and every state in my own country.  I am overwhelmed at the amount of support that my friends and followers have shown me throughout this year.  Thank you to all of you who contributed recipes and comments.  And most of all, thank you for reading and cooking with me every week!  Just to ease your anxiety about the end of the year, I would like to take this time to announce that The Crock Pot Challenge will still continue.  I will still be posting new recipes but they will not be every week- I have some recipes that I have missed this year that require an oven!  So, still keep following and checking up on me.  And feel free to keep contributing new recipes.  I hope you all have enjoyed this year as much as I have.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 51 : Mediterranean G.O.A.T. Recipe

1 beef brisket
1 cup beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 can stewed tomatoes, Italian style
1 small jar capers
2 anise bulbs, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients into Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.  Slice thinly and serve over egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.

So, this recipe doesn't really call for goat meat.  "G.O.A.T.?"  I will explain.  This recipe is inspired by Dan H.  Dan saved me this week by replacing my garbage disposal for me, so I thought of 3 ways to pay him, beer, or making him immortal by posting one of his recipes online.  Thinking everyone would want immortality, of course, I chose the latter.  Naturally, with this great honor comes the responsibility of naming the recipe.  Dan chose the name G.O.A.T.- Greatest Of All Time.  Seeing as how he saved my kitchen, I couldn't bring myself to change the name.  So, G.O.A.T. it is!

This is a very flavorful dish.  I have never cooked with anise bulbs before and was pleasantly surprised.  I was a little perplexed at how to cut them up at first.  (I will admit- I looked online to figure it out!)  Simply cut the top off and slice the remaining bulb as you would an onion.  About 15-20 minutes prior to eating this, I assumed it was done and sliced it up.  It was a little tough.  I had only cooked it for 8 hours, so I am assuming that cooking it for closer to 10 was the way to go.  However, my Crock Pot that has brought me all the way to Week 50 cracked this week and I had to use a different pot.  I am wondering if it cooks a little differently and 8 hours in my old pot would've worked.  After slicing it up though, I replaced the meat back in the pot for a while longer and it came out just fine.  I think a rump roast might be a little more tender than the brisket- will probably use that next time.  I served this over egg noodles and it was a fulfilling, hearty meal perfect for a chilly night.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 50 : Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar 
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
1 cup hot coffee or hot water
2 t. cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup water

Mix together butter and sugar.  Add egg and mix well.  Add molasses.  Next, add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.  Stir until well mixed.  Add coffee or water (I used coffee).  Pour into a Crock Pot that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Leave the lid ajar.  Cook on LOW about 3-4 hours.  Invert Crock Pot and let cake fall onto a cooling rack.  In a saucepan, whisk cornstarch, powdered sugar, salt, lemon juice and water until thick and bubbly.  Pour over slices of cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I will have to admit with this one...I made it twice.  The first time I made it, I cooked it on HIGH for 2 hours and the entire top and most of the sides were burned.  So, I slowed it down a smidge and cooked it on LOW.  Still think I cooked it a bit too long- however, only one little corner of the cake was burned.  It's kind of tricky to tell when this cake is done.  The condensation that drips off the lid and onto the cake give the cake the illusion that it is not finished baking.  However, a knife slipped down the center will tell you if the cake is cooked throughout.  The lemon sauce was a delightful addition to this cake.  Keep in mind though that with this sauce, a little goes a long way.  The tart sauce with the gingerbread is a great combo I have never tried before.  This was a yummy late night treat!  (Just keep an eye on it as it cooks!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Week 49 : Homemade Candles

Crock Pot liners
candle making wax
decorative jars
candle dye
essential oils

LINE CROCK POT WITH LINER PRIOR TO THIS ACTIVITY!!!  Fill the jars with wax and set in Crock Pot, careful not to overcrowd.  Turn pot on HIGH and let sit until wax is completely melted.  If there is not enough wax to your liking, add more.  Add dye and fragrance of your choice.  Carefully remove from Crock Pot and set on cooling racks.  About 10-20 minutes after wax has started to cool, insert wicks.  Let sit for many hours.  Hope they don't catch on fire when you light the wick.

This looked like such a fun project.  "Easy as pie!" one website said!  Well, I've made many pies in my day and trust me...they are a whole lot easier to make!  I was so excited as I placed the jars in the pot and watched the wax begin to melt.  Easy.  I went to do something else and heard a "pop" from the Crock Pot- never a good sound.  Two of the jars had cracked down the side.  I immediately removed them and checked the other two.  They were just fine.  Lesson #1- don't overcrowd the pot, as I think this is why that happened. 

I was a bit impatient and began stirring the hot wax in an effort to get it to melt faster.  What was it my grandmother always used to say?  Oh yea- a watched pot never boils.  Lesson #2- patience is a virtue.  I believe this is the reason why my first round of candles looked like an experiment from the hills of Yellowstone!  No worries right?  Just throw them back in the Crock Pot, remelt them, and let them shape themselves. 

 Next, the wick.  Lesson #3- they don't have to be perfectly centered.  After putting the wick in and letting the candles cool further, I realized that they weren't perfectly I pulled them in an effort to fix that.  Well, in short, this resulted in me having to put the candles back in for round 3!  Somewhere between these rounds, a funny smell came from my kitchen that didn't smell like the lovely lavender I had chosen to scent my candles with.  I went into my kitchen and the Crock Pot was smoking.  Lesson #4- use a Crock Pot liner.  Wax apparently starts to smoke if it gets too hot.  I had simply lined my Crock Pot with just aluminum foil and some of the wax was spilled and leaked underneath, coming in contact with the actual pot itself.  And what a pain that was to clean up.  Thankfully, I put all these lessons together and went for another round.  Ahhhh, success.  This is why I have this blog- much like the jam fiasco, I had a Candle Catastrophe.  But, now you know the simple tips to help you avoid the same.  This is a perfect holiday gift giving craft!  (By the way, if you receive one of my creations this holiday season 1) count yourself lucky as there will only be a few ever made 2) give me a hug and know that there was a lot of effort put into it and 3) feel free to comment on the "unique-ness" of the product- I won't be offended!) 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 48 : Tortellini and Meatball Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 Tbs water
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tea salt
1/8 tea pepper

32 ou beef broth
1 can Cannellini Bean, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style, undrained
1 can stewed tomatoes, Italian style, undrained
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 Tbs. Italian seasoning
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and roll into bite sized balls.  Add broth, beans, tomatoes, onion, Italian seasoning and raw meatballs to Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW about 6-8 hours.  About 30 minutes prior to serving, add tortellini, spinach, salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Let's start by talking about the meatballs.  The original recipe I found for this soup called for a bag of frozen meatballs.  Now, if you want to use those, I will not judge you.  I have used them before and in a quick pinch, they work great.  However, I am partial to homemade meatballs.  I have been rolling meatballs since before I could speak and even have grown up with the nickname "Meatball", given to me by my grandfather, so I know a bit about them!  If I was to provide the family recipe, I might be disowned, so I found this simple recipe online and think it is pretty tasty.  It also doesn't have the Italian seasonings in it, so they are pretty versatile if you want to use them for a different recipe.  A few tips for meatball success.  Patience is the key.  Know when you start making them that you are in for a long haul.  Good meatballs take time.  Take your time rolling them.  You want meatballs that are all the same size.  Towards the end of your rolling efforts, it is very easy to lose focus and make the meatballs bigger in an effort to finish faster.  Also make sure to apply enough pressure while you roll to make sure the meatballs are packed tight.  If they aren't rolled tight enough they will fall apart while cooking.  Never cook your meatballs in the oven.  They may dry out.  It takes a little longer, but drop the raw meatballs in your sauce, or in this case, soup and let them cook that way.  Next, leave the garlic out.  Garlic in the meat becomes a little too overpowering.  There are plenty of other seasonings, including garlic, in the sauce/soup that will flavor the meatballs as they cook.

The rest of this recipe is pretty self explanatory!  After stirring in the tortellini, add the bag of spinach and let it just sit on top for a little bit.  Stir before serving.  The recipe I found did not call for spinach, but I thought it sounded like a good addition to this soup, so, feel free to leave it out if you don't want it.  I used the frozen tortellini, but I'm sure you can use fresh as well.  Probably just won't need as much time to cook them at the end.  I suppose you could also leave the meatballs out and use meat and cheese ravioli, but that takes away the fun of making meatballs!  I am a bean lover, so I think next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be adding another can of the Cannellini beans.  This is a warm, hearty meal in a bowl that is sure to be a new favorite in your kitchen!  (I know it is now one of my favorites!!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week 47 : Turkey Breast

1 turkey breast
white cooking wine
3-4 stalks of celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
1 onion, cut into large chunks
poultry seasoning
2 Tbs melted butter

Pour enough cooking wine to cover the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Place celery and onion on the bottom of the pot.  Place turkey breast on top and rub with seasonings.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!  I thought it appropriate to post this the week before Thanksgiving just in case someone wanted to use it for the big day.  This turned out really good.  It is a perfect idea for those who aren't having an entire crew for dinner, but still want to enjoy all the fixin's.

The turkey breast I used was about a 7 lb bone in breast.  It was a tight squeeze into the pot, so, I wouldn't go much bigger than that.  I also had to put the celery and onions inside the cavity of the breast to make it fit.  Don't forget to wash the breast prior to putting it in the pot.  Depending on what brand you choose, you might still receive the present of the insides of the turkey with the breast, so just check for that little package that contains all those gnarly little organs.  Feel free to use whatever spices you want.  I was sifting through all of mine and came across the poultry seasoning.  Feeling a little unimaginative, I chose that one.  The flavor was delicious and it actually made my house smell like Thanksgiving!  The breast carved right up like a usual turkey would and the skin peeled right off.  As an after thought, I wish I would've remembered the Crock Pot liners for this recipe.  The carcass would be really easy to clean up if you could just tie up the bag and lift it out.  I ate this with just broccoli and wild rice, and of course, cranberries.  However, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and green bean casserole would've gone nicely with this one!

So, if you aren't having an army big enough to eat a 24 lb turkey or if your oven is already full of other goodies, give this recipe a try.  I'm off to have a turkey sandwich now!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 46 : Sticky Pigs

1 pkg hot dogs
1 lb bacon
1 small bag of brown sugar 

Wrap each hot dog with bacon and place 3 toothpicks to hold together.  Cut hot dog into 3 pieces.  Layer hot dogs and brown sugar in slow cooker.  Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or until bacon is crispy.

Warning: THIS RECIPE IS NOT LOW FAT!!!  But these tasty little nuggets are worth the extra few minutes on the treadmill!  What an excellent appetizer.  The original recipe called for slicing the hot dogs and bacon and then wrapping them, but I found wrapping the whole hot dog and then just cutting them with a scissors was pretty easy!  Now don't hold back- the WHOLE bag of brown sugar goes in here.  It looks like a ton when you first turn the Crock Pot on, but it eventually cooks down.  I served these to just a small crowd and there was an alarming amount missing by the end of the night!  I give credit to Julie Z. for passing this little bit of happiness on to me, but I have to give Laura M. credit for the name (named the morning after when she was cleaning her kitchen).  These are sure to please everyone.  In fact, Laura's daughter woke the next morning and asked if she could have some for breakfast.  Why not?  It's bacon!  And, really, who doesn't love bacon!?!? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 45: Kayte's Kickin' Chicken

4 large chicken breasts
1 bottle of buffalo wing sauce
1 ou package ranch dressing mix
2 Tbs butter

Put all ingredients together in Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW for about 4-6 hours.  Remove chicken and shred.  Return to pot.  Serve on a bun with ranch dressing, celery sticks and potato chips!  Yum!

It is a rare thing for me to reach the bottom of the Crock Pot without giving away leftovers or freezing a Tupperware or two for later consumption.  Not with this...reached the bottom in a couple days!  This is a mixture of tangy and spicy that I just couldn't stop eating!  I originally made it with some pasta salad, but that turned out to be a little bit too heavy for me.  I think just some plain ol' potato chips would do the trick nicely.  Thank you so much to Kayte Q. for letting me share this recipe.  She was right- it's a winner!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 44 : Caramel Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider
2 whole nutmegs
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, cut into 4 wedges
1/2 apple, cut into wedges
20-25 whole cloves
3-4 pieces crystallized ginger
caramel syrup
whipped cream

Using your smaller (4 quart) Crock Pot, pour enough cider in to fill up 3/4 of the pot.  Push the whole cloves into the apple wedges.  Wrap all ingredients (except syrup) in a cheese cloth and tie tight with string.  Drop bundle into the cider.  Cook on HIGH for about 2-2 1/2 hours until boiling.  Turn to LOW and continue simmering.  Drizzle as much caramel as you want into the bottom of a mug.  Ladle cider over the top.  Top with whipped cream and drizzles of caramel syrup.

With Halloween coming up this next week, I thought I would give you a recipe to keep you warm as you either escort your own goblins around or you stand with the door open and the chilly air blowing while you treat other goblins.  This not only warms you to the very core, but it makes your house smell delicious.  Of course, add as much caramel or whipped cream as you please- don't forget to treat yourself!  And another idea...after your witches, fairies and superheros are off to bed, add a splash or two of spiced rum!  This is now an essential autumn recipe!  (And not to brag, but this might be a smidge better than the Caramel Apple Cider that a popular coffee establishment serves!)  Happy, Safe and Warm Haunting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Week 43 : Pea Soup

10 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 lbs split dried peas
1 medium onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
 1 red bed pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tea dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
2 small ham hocks

Boil chicken broth over stove top.  Add chicken broth and remaining ingredients to Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW for about 6 hours, or until peas are tender.  Remove bay leaves and ham bones from soup, cut meat from bone and dice.  Stir soup with a wooden spoon or potato masher in order to further mash peas.  Return ham to pot.

There are two things you might be thinking here.  One- that pic does not look good!  Well folks, it's pea soup.  Remember they used it in a horror movie as demon vomit once?  It's not gonna look pretty.  Two- we already did pea soup.  Yes, we did.  But, it was a vegan recipe and this tastes much better.  Plus, I had a ton of ham left over from last week's recipe and I had to do something with it quick.  So, there you go.

I really have no complaints or tips for this recipe.  I cut most of the ham off the bone prior to cooking this and just placed a near empty bone in the pot.  Then I just diced up the leftovers I had and put in what I felt was enough.  I also used the big, real whole carrots.  It would be fine to use the baby carrots (obviously more than four) but I like carrots to be big and chunky in soup. 

Growing up, pea soup was always one of my favorites that Mom made.  Not quite sure why I chose this recipe instead of hers (even though it still tasted really good), but the red bell pepper sounded like it would give an extra kick.  I think in the future I might try a mix of the two recipes.  Mom's recipe calls for water instead of broth.  1/2 tea marjoram and 2 T parsley instead of garlic, thyme and bay leaves.  And leave out the bell pepper.  I was thinking keeping the broth, use marjoram and parsley, and add the red bell pepper.  Cook the same on LOW or over the stove for about an hour.  (Just be sure that if you cook over the stove  you soak the dried peas overnight to soften them up.) 

This recipe was found in the Oct 2011 issue of Everyday Food: Emeril's Slow-Cooker Split-Pea Soup

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week 42 : Honey Mustard Ham

1 whole ham
1/3 cup apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs mustard
pinch of whole cloves
pepper to taste

Place ham in slow cooker.  Pour apple juice into cooker.  Combine remaining ingredients and baste the ham.  Cook on LOW 8 hours.

I need to start by apologizing for not having a photo of this recipe.  I cooked the ham fat side up and it was not very photogenic in the pot.  This ham is "fall apart" tender, so it didn't exactly come out of the pot very easily either!  However, the taste of this ham is wonderful.  Tastes almost like a Honey Baked Ham.  I used a whole ham that was not a pre-sliced ham but it sliced up very easily.  Served with good ol' mac n' cheese and green beans.  Mmmmmm.  After enjoying the ham for a couple of meals, there are plenty of leftovers.  Sandwiches, soups, casseroles.  Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 41: Aunt Pat's Tomato and Mushroom Round Steak

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 lbs boneless beef round steak, cut into 6 pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tea marjoram
1/2 tea pepper
1/8 tea garlic powder
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cold water

Slice onions thinly and place rings along the bottom of the Crock Pot.  Heat olive oil in skillet and brown steak on each side, about 3-5 minutes.  Place meat on top of onions.  Mix tomatoes, soup, marjoram, pepper and garlic powder together in a small bowl and pour over meat.  Cook on LOW for about 8 hours.  About 30 minutes prior to end of cooking, mix flour and water together and mix onto sauce to thicken.  Turn heat to HIGH and cook for 30 minutes.  Serve over egg noodles.

This recipe is pretty cut and dry- no changes to be made.  The only tip I suggest is actually a tip provided by the gal in the meat department of King Soopers.  (I swear they all run and hide muttering "Here comes that Crock Pot girl again" when I walk into the store!)  When I asked for round steaks, she showed me a package that contains already sliced steaks.  She suggested, however, that I buy the round roast and cut it myself into thicker pieces.  I actually liked this.  I came out with 7 steaks and was able to cut all the fat off before placing it in the pot.  The longer you cook this meat, the more tender it becomes.  8 hours was perfect for me- the meat fell apart.  But, the recipe says up to 10 hours.  The 30 minutes at the end is also variable.  Cook until the sauce is thickened, adding more time or flour if necessary.
Thank you to Aunt Pat for suggesting this recipe! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 40 : Felicia's Fiesta Chicken

1 pkg chicken breasts
1 jar salsa, any kind
1 small bag frozen corn
1 can sliced black olives, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 pkg taco seasoning
8 ou cream cheese

Layer the following ingredients in Crock Pot: start with half the jar of salsa, add bag of corn, chicken breasts, black beans, olives, taco seasoning and remaining salsa.  Cook on LOW for 8 hours.  Pull out breasts and shred.  Return to slow cooker and stir.  During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add cream cheese.  Stir and enjoy!

Thanks so much to Felicia for providing me with this recipe!  It is so quick, easy and delicious.  It is one of those recipes that after you are given the shell of the recipe, you can make it into anything you want.  Feel free to add whatever- green chilies, bell peppers, jalapenos, etc...  I pulled out the good ol' George Foreman grill and made Cheesy Fiesta Chicken Quesadillas!  Top with sour cream, more salsa, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, whatever!!!!  Serve with tortillas, chips, fritos, George Foreman!  Serve over rice, noodles....  An appetizer or a main dish!  The possibilities for this simple little recipe are endless!  And the best part about it is the prep time is virtually nothing!  The hardest part was opening the cans of beans and olives!  Perfect for Week 40 when things are a little hectic!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 39 : Corn Chowder

10-12 slices bacon
4 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cans creamed corn
32 ou frozen corn
2 tea pepper
2 tea salt
2 tea Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs sugar
2 cups water

Cut slices of bacon into small pieces and place in skillet.  Fry until crispy.  Add potatoes and onions.  Saute for about 5-10 minutes.  Add all ingredients to the Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW 6-8 hours.

That chilly nip in the evening Colorado air means only one thing- soup and stew season has arrived!!  Ok, so I might be stretching it a little.  A high temperature in the 60's is still a respectable number.  In a couple months it will feel down right balmy!  But for right now, it is shocking to leave the house in the morning without a jacket, so I officially declare the Crock Pot back in season.  Thanks for following throughout the sweltering summer months.  I know it is hard to think of pulling out your slow cooker in mid-August.  Hopefully if you thought it was too warm, you will now look back at some of the recipes and give them a try!

This was a good way to start the season!  Someone was talking about corn chowder and it sounded good to me, even though I have never seen or heard of corn chowder.  So, off to the Internet I go to research some recipes.  I am not always the biggest fan of creamy soups, so I was a little wary about using this recipe, but it didn't call for any milk or cream or butter.  Simple ingredients, simple recipe.  How could the recipe be bad when the first ingredient is bacon!?!?  I don't have much patience when it comes to dicing up potatoes, so my potato chunks were a little bigger than I would've liked.  Small chunks might have been a better choice.  After the chowder was cooking for awhile, it was not very "soupy", so I added another 1 cup of water.  This seemed to be perfect.  This tasted wonderful.  I'm not sure what corn chowder is supposed to look or taste like, but this recipe is a keeper!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 38 : Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 large cans of chicken, drained
2, 8 ou pkgs cream cheese 
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup buffalo sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese

Place all ingredients in the Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW, stirring frequently, until cheese is completely melted.

In honor of football season coming back around again, I decided to use a recipe appropriate for a fun football gathering.  Once again, this recipe went somewhere without my camera, so I used the picture from where the original recipe is found.  Thanks to Bree N. for bringing this one to my attention.  I didn't have measuring cups with me, so I used approximate amounts of all the ingredients- a whole bottle of Ranch dressing and about 3/4 bottle of buffalo sauce.  If I would have had the time, I think I would have used fresh chicken instead of the canned.  The canned tasted fine, but I think a rotisserie chicken or a couple pre-cooked and shredded breasts would be better.  As this is cooking, or when it cools down, it gets a strange orange "glow" to it- an oily film across the top.  Just keep stirring and this goes away!  I served this with Wheat Thins and celery sticks, but I'm sure there is lots of things you could find to dip in it.  I also thought about substituting half Ranch dressing and half Bleu cheese dressing and leaving out the cheddar, but decided to keep it as is for the first time I made it.  So, next time you are donning your favorite jersey and cheering for your home team, take a second to throw these few ingredients into your slow cooker!  Your fellow fanatics won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 37 : Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

6 cups milk
1 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
1 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 tea salt
1 vanilla bean, split
1 large egg
1/2 tea cinnamon
8 ou sour cream

Combine milk, rice, sugar, raisins, butter and salt in slow cooker.  Stir well.  Scrape inside of vanilla bean and add to the mixture.  Add empty bean as well.  Cook on HIGH 2 1/2- 4 hours or until the rice is tender.  Place egg in small bowl; whisk together with 1/2 cup warm rice.  Return to cooker and stir.  Mix in cinnamon and sour cream.  Discard vanilla bean.  Enjoy warm or cold.

Let me first admit that I forgot to take a pic of this recipe, so the picture above is not from this batch...however, rice pudding looks like rice with some vanilla and cinnamon in it!  The cooking time on this is a bit long I think, or the amount of milk is too little.  After 3 hours, all the milk was absorbed.  This made for a wonderful first serving right out of the pot.  However, after the leftovers cooled and absorbed the rest of the milk, this became a little thick.  To fix this problem, I just scooped a serving into a bowl and poured a little extra milk over the top, microwaved until warm and then stirred it back to its original consistency.  I even chose to eat this for breakfast...why not?  I don't eat oatmeal, so this seemed a good substitute!  I love how the raisins get nice and plump in here and was later thinking that adding golden raisins as well might add a little something.  Definitely use the whole vanilla bean.  I used half of one and I wish that I had more of a vanilla taste.  This recipe came from the Fix-It and Forget-It recipe book.  Use this for dessert or breakfast!!