Kitchen Fun with Carol
Welcome to autumn, which is my absolute favorite time of the year! Autumn in Ohio is beautiful. The trees start changing color, the air is crisp and clean, football is the Saturday afternoon staple, and we are navigating mountains of homework and school projects.
Autumn is also time to savor the last of the fresh produce from the garden. There’s nothing better than the taste of a homegrown tomato. The only exception to this is when all your tomatoes decide to ripen at once! For me, that means a big canning session of pizza sauce, chili starter or salsa. It’s a lot of work but well worth the effort. In many ways it is like once a month cooking. It’s a big job but there are so many rewards and a great feeling of accomplishment when you are finished.
I don’t know what happens at your house but it seems that once September and October roll around the family activities just multiply. We enjoy bonfires (who doesn’t like s’mores, apple cider and roasted hot dogs!), hayrides to the pumpkin patch, picking apples at the orchard, and family hikes at the state or metro parks. This year we are considering taking a leisurely drive through the rolling hills of Amish country. We will visit the dairy farms and taste test all types of cheese, visit the fabric and hardware shops, and look for one of a kind bargains at the flea market.
We like to go to the fall festivals. One of our favorites is the Apple Butter Stirring Festival. They make apple butter in big black kettles over a roaring fire. The smells are wonderful! I like to make my own apple butter at home. I make mine in the slow cooker. It’s much easier than cooking it on the stove. Click here if you would like to try it yourself.
For me, autumn also means the switch from cooking most of our meals on the grill to cooking comfort foods. This means more baking and meals cooked in the slow cooker. There is nothing better than smelling a roast in the slow cooker, tasting cookies still hot after coming out of the oven or a wonderful homemade lasagna with some fresh, hot garlic bread. Here are some of the 30 Day Gourmet recipes that are family favorites:
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Lasagna
- Country Turkey Pot Pie
- Parsley Parmesan Chicken
- Round Steak Bake
- Meal-in-One Pork Chops
- Ham and Potato Casserole
- Wild Rice Quiche
- Mom-style Burger Helper
- Beef Teriyaki (from the Healthy Cooking ebook)
- Salisbury Patties
- Chicken Fried Rice
Slow Cooker Favorites:
- Cheesy Chicken and Noodles
- The Emperor’s Slow Cooked Chicken
- Delicious Pot Roast
- Taco Chili
- Beef and Noodles (from the Healthy Cooking ebook)
- Crock Pot Saucy Pork Chops
A lot of recipes can be converted to slow cooker recipes. If a recipe can be cooked on the stove or in the oven, it probably can be converted to cook in a slow cooker. There are some general rules to follow.
- You need to take the size of the slow cooker into consideration. Most manufacturers recommend the cooker be one-half to two-thirds full for best cooking results.
- Slow cookers capture moisture as they cook. You will need to reduce the amount of liquid in a recipe when converting it to a slow cooker recipe.
- Dairy products should be added at the end of the cooking time. This includes ingredients such as milk and sour cream.
- Vegetables should be thinly sliced and placed near the bottom of the cooker. Meats should be placed on top of the vegetables since they cook faster.
- Keep the lid on while cooking. Removing the lid allows a lot of heat to escape and will require a longer cooking time.
Here are some general guidelines when converting cooking times:
Cook on High
Cook on Low
30 to 45 minutes
3 to 4 hours
6 to 10 hours
50 minutes to 3 hours
4 to 6 hours
8 to 15 hours
An interesting product has come out in the last year. They are slow cooker meal kits that you can find in your grocery store freezer section. They are complete meals that you can just put directly into the slow cooker from the freezer. These meals generally contain three separate components; a vegetable and meat mixture, a sauce packet, and a starch packet that contains rice, potatoes or pasta. These recipes can go from a frozen state directly to the slow cooker because the meats are cut into small pieces and the recipe calls for warm liquid to be added to the cooker. The starch that is included with the meal is generally precooked or an item that will cook quickly. These ingredients are added during the last 25 to 45 minutes of cooking to allow them to be warmed.
This issue of “Chewin’ the News” brings you two slow cooker recipes that use some of these principles. Read more about it below in the bonus recipes section.
Chicken and Dumplings
This recipe is what I call comfort food! It is so creamy, there are lots of vegetables, and the dumplings are fun. The herb mixture in the dumplings gives them a great flavor. The secret to cooking the dumplings is leaving the lid off during the first half hour of their cooking time. This dries out the tops of the dumplings so they are not mushy. The lid is on for the rest of the cooking time to cook the bottoms and the middle.
Slow Poke Fajitas
My family loves fajitas, tacos, and burritos or just about anything that you can put in a wrap. We usually eat fajitas with all the fixings such as sliced green peppers, onions, salsa, etc. Since the green peppers and the onions can be frozen without blanching, this makes a simple meal to freeze ahead of time. It’s easy to cook it in the slow cooker when it’s one of those crazy, busy days. Just have some extra fixings on hand and dinner will be ready in a hurry. We also like to serve this with Rio Grande Rice.
Recipe of the Month Contest Winner
Our winner this month is Corie with a recipe for Potato Stuffed Meatloaf. This recipe has a wonderful flavor. My picky eater generally does not like mashed potatoes but he thought this was great. He even asked when we could have it again. It doesn’t get any better than that! My other son preferred it with ketchup on top instead of the sauce in the recipe. This works as well.
Click here to view/print the October Recipe of the Month!
Freezer Cook of the Month Contest Winner
Our winner this month is Sharyl from Verona, WI, who is starting over again and using freezer cooking to help along the way.
I used to do freezer cooking a few years ago. I got slightly away from it. My husband was tragically killed in December and my life has totally fallen apart. We have recently relocated to be closer to family. I have a 5 yr old and 3 yr old, who love broccoli, its all they want to eat. (Sounds strange, I know, but they love those little green trees!!!) If I try to eat broccoli without her she takes it off my plate (but I guess there are worse things).
So I’m starting this over, small steps. Making 2 or 3 of an item at a time. I know it costs more money for convenience of items, but on some stuff, that’s all I can handle. For the first 3 months or so after my husband died, we lived off peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza because that’s all I could handle making. A lot of people made meals and that was wonderful. I had run my freezer low and was getting ready for a cooking day after the holidays were over. So we got through it. I’m slowly coming around and just taking small steps. I have some meat frozen into smaller packages frozen in marinade and stocked up on the frozen chicken breasts when they were on sale over the 4th of July.
Look forward to trying some of your recipes.
Our hearts and prayers go out to you, Sharyl. We have a wonderful community of users through our message boards that are with you 100 percent of the way! And remember, there is no right or wrong way to freezer cook. The best thing to do is to determine what works for you! Even I don’t stick to one particular method. Sometimes I cook based on what’s on sale. Sometimes I have just a breads and breakfast cooking day. If my life is too busy or overwhelming I may just have a meat prep day where I cook and chunk chicken and brown hamburger for future meals. That’s the great thing about this system. You can make it work for you.
How to Update Your Yahoo Email
We’ve had a lot of requests lately from users who have changed their email address and who would like us to change it on their Yahoo account. The moderators are not allowed to change your email address on your account. The instructions below are from the Yahoo help center and they explain how to update the email address on your account. If you have any further questions, contact the Yahoo help center by going to www.yahoo.com and clicking on help. To update your email address you will need to login to Yahoo and change the email address associated with your account and with the groups that you belong to. Go to www.yahoo.com, login using your Yahoo ID, and follow these instructions.
Yahoo! Groups makes it easy to change the email addresses you use for subscriptions. Before you make any changes to your address, however, it’s important to understand how your account works.
Your account is identified by the Yahoo! ID you use to sign in. Your preferences, profile, and email addresses are all part of your account.
Your account can have up to 5 email addresses that can be used for group subscriptions. To view the addresses linked to your account, go to My Preferences.
To change your email address, you will first need to add your new email address to your account. Skip to the next set of instructions if the address is already linked to your Yahoo! ID.
Adding an email address to your account:
- Sign in using your Yahoo! ID and click on Account Info.
- Click on the Edit button to the right of Member Information.
- Add your new email address as an Alternate Email Address and click Finished.
- Click on the Edit button to the right of Member Information again.
- Click on the Non-verified link and follow the steps to verify the address.
- Go to groups.yahoo.com and click on My Preferences.
- The new address should be listed as “Not currently available for subscription.” Click on the Edit button to the right of Email Addresses.
- Click on the Convert link to the right of the new email address.
- An email with an authorization code will be sent to the address. (It should arrive within minutes, but may take longer. Please allow up to 12 hours to receive the email.) Follow the instructions contained in the email to complete the process.
- Go to My Groups
- Click on Edit My Groups
- Use the drop-down menus to select the appropriate email address for each group, and click on Save Changes.
- Go to My Preferences and click on the Edit button to the right of Email Addresses.
- Click on the Remove link to the right of the email address you no longer want to use.
Closing Comments from Carol
I hope you enjoy the slow cooker recipes and tips! Next month we’ll focus on family gathering recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!
Have fun in your kitchen!