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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!)