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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!