Monday, October 26, 2009


Here's a few things I've learned in cooking for one month with the SLOW COOKER.

**  Arranging your meal plan in the morning and getting the work out of the way, makes for a wonderful and peaceful afternoon, just enough time to watch Oprah !!
**  It's tough to do a slow cooker meal everyday, the leftovers were at times overwhelming.  I wasn't always serving all 5 in my family so we had a good amount of leftovers.
**  My slow cooker cooks fast, I need to keep that in mind in the future.
**  Not having to clean an entire meals dishes in the evening is a God send........I was able to keep my kitchen much cleaner throughout the week.
**  The recipes other people give you almost always turn out to be GREAT.  Never turn down a suggested recipe.  Cooking out of a cookbook is such a hit or miss.  Believe me, I had 21 of them.
**  Coming in the house at 4pm and knowing dinner is almost done, is heavenly.  
**  It's fairly easy to shop for the ingredients for these recipes.  Most are either pantry items or meat that is fine in the freezer till the night before you need to use it.
**  Slow Cooking, simply put, makes a busy life MUCH less hectic and it can significantly reduce the amount of times you feel "forced" to eat out since nothing is planned nor shopped for.
**  This was FUN, fun enough where I am going to continue to slow cooker and I'll post my favorites on this blog.   Thanks for everyones encouragment, recipe sharing and enthusiasm.

I DID IT  !!  Julie & Julia would be proud, I think..........

TOP 10 from 31 days of Slow Cooking

Here is what I thought was the TOP 10 recipes that I will most certainly do again (&again)!
No particular Order

Karen's French Dip Sandwiches  (exactly as recipe is written)
Easy-Does-It Spaghetti  (the best spaghetti flavor I've tasted in a home cooked spaghetti)
Laura's Taco Soup   (just simply wonderful)
Chicken Azteca   (follow the modifications I listed)
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna   (different but very tasty)
Slow Cooker Beef Bourginon    (family LOVED it)
Mom's BBQ Beef Sandwiches   (passed down many generations)
Kim's Tortilla Soup    (wonderful !)
Soft Shredded Chicken Tacos   (taste just like the restaurants serve)
Rigatoni  (follow modifications listed)

7 out of 10 were recipes others gave to me.  THANK YOU !!

Sweet Potato Soup

Had to try this one.  Just for the nutritional content alone is what initially drew me to this recipe.  And it's soup weather.

3 sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped into cubes
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can sliced mangoes, and their juices
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 cup heavy cream.

Place potato cubes in bottom of slow cooker.  Add broth, mangoes & their juice and allspice.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.  When the potatoes are tender, blend 1/3 of mixture at a time in blender.  Add heavy cream to blender with each blending.   Serve warm.

I could not find mangoes in a can so I used used fresh, peeled & diced.  I added the 1/2 cup heavy cream but next time I'd reduce it down to 1/4 cup.   I was missing the extra liquid from the mangoes in the can so I added 1/4 cup broth.   I thought it was a little too thick but overall the taste was WONDERFUL.  So healthy.  I'd like to see how it would taste with the mangoes in the can with juice.  Will continue to be on the lookout for them.

Would be perfect alongside a warm sandwich.   Great Flavor, very sweet & tasteful.

Bon' Appetit'

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 31 Encore' Recipe

Day 31 of 30    Wait, am I going over the 30 days ???
I have been waiting for a good opportunity to try Julie's Beef Bourginon recipe she shared with me a few weeks ago.

Report:   Fabulous!!!  The entire family ate it up immediately. I love the tiny onions and the flavor was wonderful.  I served it with a spoonful of white rice on top.   Will most certainly do again.

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourgignon

1 can (14 oz) reduced sodium, fat free beef broth
1 cup burgundy or other full-bodied red wine
1/4 cup water
1 envelope (1.2 oz) plain brown gravy mix, such as Knorr
2 tsp bottled minced garlic (fresh is best)
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
5 slices already-cooked bacon
1 large onion (for about 1 cup chopped)
20-25 baby carrots
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
2 lbs. Beef cubes for stew
1 bag (16 oz) frozen small whole onions
salt to taste, if desired
3 tbsp. cornstarch

Pour the beef broth, wine and water into slow cooker.  Pour the powdered gravy from the envelope into the broth mixture and whisk until any lumps disappear.  Sprinkle the garlic, bay leaves and thyme over the broth.
Cut up the bacon into roughly 1/4" pieces.  Scatter the bacon in the slow cooker.
Peel and coarsely chop the onion.  Scatter the onion pieces, whole baby carrots and sliced mushrooms evenly in the slow cooker.  Place the beef cubes evenly over the vegetables and press down and stir as necessary to make sure most of the beef is submerged in the broth mixture.  Add the whole onions to the top.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.  (The stew can cook on low as long as 9 hours).
Before serving the stew, remove the lid and stir it well.  Remove the bay leaves, taste the broth and season with salt if desired.  Mix the cornstarch and 3 tbsp water in a jar that has a lid.  Shake well until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.  Pour the mixture evenly over the stew (the stew needs to be hot when you do this step).  Stir well.  Continue stirring until the stew reaches the desired thickness, about 5 minutes.  Serve the stew in bowls.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Recipe #30 Day 30

Day 30 of 30
Cream of Broccoli Soup

1 small onion, chopped
20 oz pkg. frozen broccoli
2 (10.75 oz) cans of cream of celery soup
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 soup can of milk

Saute onion in oil in skillet until soft.
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
Cover.  Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours.

Everyone in my family loves broccoli (good thing because it is one of the most healthy vegetables) so I thought this would be a good recipe to try.  Mid way through cooking, I took a little sample and I wasn't sure I was going to like it, the flavor seemed kinda odd.   Anyway, off to pick up the kids at school and when I came back and we were ready to eat it, the flavor was great.  I would most certainly do this again.  Super Easy.  I served this with turkey/provolone/pesto/tomato paninis.   Everyone loved them.   We had the 4 ingredient panini's I just listed at a swim meet and they were the best.  Try em'.

Bon' Appetit'

Recipe # 29 Day 29

Day 29 of 30
Creamy Chicken Italiano

In the slow cooker now, this is really easy, takes only 4 hours total.  Hope we like it.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
1/4 cup water
8 oz. pkg. cream sheese, softened
1 can (10.75) can of cream of chicken soup
1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.  Combine salad dressing mix and water, stir and pour over chicken.
Cover & cook on LOW for 3 hours.
Combine softened cream cheese and soup until blended.  Stir in mushrooms.  Pour over chicken.  Cover & cook on LOW for an additional 1 hour or until chicken juices run clear.
Serve over noodles or rice.

Bon' Appetit'

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recipe # 28 Day 28

Day 28 of 30
Potato, Corn & Clam Chowder
Perfect for a cold day !

I thought this was really good and very, very easy.  If you like corn, this is a chowder for you.  My kids love corn so this was a winner for them.

1 bag (16 oz) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed  (I used the cubed kind)
1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernal corn, undrained
1 can (14.75 oz) cream-style corn
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped celery
8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small can minced clams
1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper

Mix all ingredients in slower cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.

Notes:  I feel like the potatoes became too mushy, I may have overcooked this.  I would only cook for 5-6 hours next time.  Also, I tried using turkey bacon instead of regular bacon and I think it affected the flavor.  It needed more of that "bacon-y" flavor, I will use regular bacon next time.  I used the already cooked bacon, love that option.  Just cut it up and put it in.   I also might try using a few baking potatoes cut up into small cubes instead of the frozen hash brown potatoes.

I thought the flavor was good but could have been spiced up a bit.  I'm going to try regular bacon next time and I might even try adding some fresh broccoli to add more nutrition.  Overall, great recipe.

Bon' Appetit'