Thursday, April 10, 2014

Leader Enterprise - March 26, 2014 - Crock-poting


I always enjoy cooking in my crockpot, and decided to share some thoughts, and yummy recipes, for you to try too. I really love being able to cook breakfast overnight in the crockpot. The aroma wafting into the bedroom in the morning is enough to make me want to jump out of bed and begin the day by enjoying a ready-to-enjoy breakfast. Crockpots are so handy to use during the summertime when you don't have to heat the oven, but also great when you're busy and want to have dinner ready with little fuss. Sure can't argue that idea!

There is no difference between a crockpot and a slow cooker. Unless you are talking with the manufacturers, who prefer to call their own product by one name or the other, they work on the same principle. Some slow cookers may have a range of number settings instead of simply 'low' or 'high'.

Crock pots are a good way to cook food without having to devote constant attention to a cooking appliance. People use crock pots to cook meals as pot roasts, chicken dishes, stews AND desserts! When your busy day allows you more time for preparation in the morning than in the afternoon, that's a good time to throw together a crockpot meal to enjoy later in the day with no fuss.

As oven temperatures vary, so do crockpot temps, so be sure to check before alloted time is up.

This scrumptious apple crisp will WOW everyone who gets to enjoy it! And you'll love the ease of making it! The first time I made it, I served it to company and they were impressed.The next time I took it to a potluck and was asked several times for the recipe!

CROCKPOT APPLE CRISP 

3/4 c. brown sugar
(I used 1/2 c. brown sugar + 1/4 c. xylitol) 
1 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c. (white whole wheat)flour
1/4 c. butter
3-4 c. apples, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg,optional
1/4 c. dried cranberries 
1/3. c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. sugar (or substitute)
1 tsp. cinnamon 
3/4 c. water
caramel ice cream topping, optional

In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, oats and flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixed evenly. In large bowl, combine apples, nutmeg, cranberries and pecans. Add half the crumb mixture, stirring to combine evenly. Pour into greased 3-4 qt.crockpot. In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; stir until blended. Add water and stir; then pour over apples. Top with remaining crumbs. Before placing lid on crock, place 2 paper towels across the top.(This prevents the moisture from falling onto the top of your dessert). Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 (or even longer!). Remove cover and paper towels; allow to stand at least 15 minutes before serving. It will stay warm for over 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream and caramel ice cream topping if desired. 

This mac 'n' cheese is creamy and wonderful. For best results, use freshly shredded cheese. Some store-purchased cheese is waxy and won't melt smoothly.


AMAZING CROCKPOT MAC 'N' CHEESE

1-16 ozs. pkg. of macaroni
20 ozs. (2-1/2 c.) sharp cheddar, or your choice,shredded

1-8 ozs. cream cheese,cubed
1/2 stick of butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
2 c.milk (I used a little less-you can always add more later)
salt & pepper to taste

First boil pasta until it is half done, about 7-8 minutes. Drain; pour into lightly sprayed crockpot. Add shredded cheese and cream cheese to pasta. In bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt & pepper; beat well. Add (cooled) melted margarine to egg mixture and blend well. Pour mixture over cheese and pasta. Stir until all is blended. Cook on low heat for 2 hrs. stirring occasionally.

CROCKPOT HONEY GLAZED CARROTS 

1 lb. carrots, cleaned and cut in 1" pieces
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Spray 2 or 3 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place carrots in crockpot, along with butter. Drizzle honey over top. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours.

I've been making this yummy dish since my kids were small. That's a long time ago. Your family will ask for seconds. 
EASY CROCKPOT MEATBALLS IN GRAVY
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped  
1/2 c. cracker crumbs (saltines or ritz)
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning or a dash of nutmeg
1 (10.75 ozs) can cream of chicken(or mushroom) soup 
flour
1 Tb. each: oil and margarine

In large bowl, combine beef, eggs, onion, cracker crumbs and seasonings. Shape into balls. Roll in flour; brown in oil and margarine; drain. In small bowl, combine soup with 1 soup canfull of water; pour over meatballs and simmer in the crockpot on low for 3-4 hours. (Or you can simmer on top of stove, covered, for 1 hour. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or noodles. 

This is a yummy-for-your-tummy way to begin the day. I use an electric timer for the crockpot (like one you use for lights). It can begin cooking after you've gone to bed and shut off before you wake up. Coconut is optional. This recipe is going to be in a Gooseberry Patch Cookbook later this year.


CROCKPOT (COCONUT) PECAN PIE OATMEAL 

1 c. chopped pecans, divided
1-1/2 c. rolled or 1 c. steel cut oatmeal
(not quick cooking) 
4-1/2 c. milk
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
(may substitute white sugar+1 Tb. molasses) 
2 Tb. cook n serve vanilla pudding (sugar free)
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla (or coconut) extract
1/2 c. toasted coconut, optional

Toast pecans by cooking in small skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently and watch carefully to avoid burning. Remove from skillet, then toast coconut. Reserve half the pecans and coconut for serving. Combine remaining pecans and coconut and all the remaining ingredients in the crockpot. Cook on low for 7-9 hours. Serve topped with reserved pecan pieces and toasted coconut. Yield: 4-5 servings