Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ode to Crockpots! Linky party

Can I just tell you how in love I am with my Crockpot? Or slow cooker, if you want to be non-brand specific. This handy little appliance has saved me on more than one occasion, let me tell you!

One of my most recent successes was making apple butter. Apple butter at the store is expensive! Oh my goodness, it's out of control. I got my recipe here. All together, I spent about $3 to make the whole recipe. I purchased apples for 67 cents per pound and used approximately 3 lbs. From this, I made about 2.5 cups of apple butter. My kids love it! The house smelled so yummy while I was making it, too.

This picture doesn't really do it justice.

I have two entire cookbooks devoted to slow-cooker cooking. I've been making good use of them. Crockpots use less energy than the oven or stove, so they're great for the environment. Not only that, but they are great for my sanity too. 

Tonight, I'm making Green Chili Stew, which I've modified from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. Jeanne Allen from Rye, CO submitted the original recipe. The changes I've made were purely for convenience and/or to cut costs.

Green Chili Stew
 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 lb ground pork (recipe called for 1 lb ground sirloin and 1/2 lb ground pork)
4 cups chicken broth (the amount in my box of chicken broth.)
1 cup water (recipe called for 3 cups stock, 2 cups water)
7 oz can green chilies
4 large potatoes, diced
1 can corn 
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt

Brown garlic and onion with pork. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Combine all ingredients in to the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on Low for 4-6 hours, until potatoes are tender.
How easy is that?
Another favorite is Sloppy Joes. My husband loves Sloppy Joes. As in, if he could request his last meal, it would probably be Sloppy Joes.  In fact, when I offered to make him something fresh for lunch, he whined and said, "I thought we were having leftover Sloppy Joes." Yep, I'm married (thank God!) to that guy. 

This recipe comes from the same cookbook, and was submitted by Jean Shaner and Tammey Smoker.

Jean & Tammy's Sloppy Joes (makes 12 servings)

2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained (Recipe calls for 3)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup (Recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 3-4 hours. 
Such an easy recipe!

Now, don't mock my lame linky party thumbnail, icon thingie. It's my first time. I'll be better at it next time, I promise. Link up your favorite post with a Crockpot recipe! 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

What to do with buttermilk?

I know, what a silly question. The kids and I recently made butter as part of our homeschooling. We'd been reading Little House on the Prairie and learning about the Revolutionary War. It just seemed like the right thing to do.



When you make butter, you actually do get buttermilk. So we made butter twice, and enjoyed this recipe from Food.com.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
melted butter, to brush on top

Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 Mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
3 Slice cold butter into cubes and use a pastry knife or potato masher to cut butter into dry mixture until no large chunks of butter remain.
4 Add buttermilk and milk and stir with a spoon until dough forms.
5 Roll out to 1/2-inch thick on a floured surface.
6 Cut biscuits with a 3-inch biscuit cutter and arrange on a lightly-greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
7 Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until tops begin to turn light brown.
8 Remove biscuits from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes, then brush each biscuit top with melted butter.

I actually used the food processor for the first time to make these biscuits, and I will never cut in butter by hand again. It's SO much easier to use the processor. 




 Are you like me at all? I ALWAYS roll the biscuits too thin. I think I have a fear that all my effort will be wasted because there won't be enough biscuits. So they get rolled too thin.



 Despite their small size, and the mutant biscuit on the left, they were delicious! I really recommend this recipe.