What is a women's best friend? Her Crock-Pot!
I hope many of you dusted off those Crock-Pots and revived that great kitchen helper and tried a couple of new dishes to answer the daily "what's for dinner" dilemma. Crock-Pots are actually based on the old idea of slow cooking on a back burner in a heavy pot or baking in a warm oven all day. I reported last week that some recipes (except soup) may need to have a little less liquid. In updating my high-altitude cooking skills, I recently took a class and was reminded that my earlier statement was a general Crock-Pot term, whereas at this altitude a little more liquid may be necessary (probably about 1/4 cup). As with most high-altitude cooking, experimenting (and I make notes) is the name of the game.
• GREAT CHICKEN 6 servings
1/2 c. tomato juice – 1/2 c. soy sauce – 1/2 c. brown sugar – 1/2 c. vegetable oil – 3 cloves garlic, minced – 1 whole chicken cut in pieces or favorite chicken parts (serving size pieces).
Combine all ingredients, except chicken, in a bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in mixture. Place chicken in Crock-Pot and pour remaining sauce over top. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. The sauce can also be used as a marinade for flank steak. Make as directed for above and marinate steak 2 hours or overnight, then barbecue. This is from "Crock-It" by Barbara Nelson of Sylva, N.C. This sauce is good over rice or mashed potatoes or noodles along with the chicken.
•TANGY PORK CHOPS 4 servings
Fancy enough for company or a great family meal, says Karol Hines of Kitty Hawk, N.C.
4 pork chops – salt and pepper – 2 med. onions, chopped – 2 ribs celery, chopped – 1 large green pepper, sliced – 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes –1/2 c. ketchup – 2 T. each cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce – 1 T. lemon juice – 2 T. each cornstarch and water – 1 beef boullion cube – Hot cooked rice or mashed potatoes (opt.)
Place chops in Crock-Pot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add onions, celery, green pepper and tomatoes. Combine ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and boullion; pour over vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into liquid in Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on high 30 minutes or until thick. Serve over rice or potatoes, as desired. NOTE: For the technical types, the low setting heats to about 200 degrees and the high to about 300 degrees, using only about as much energy as a light bulb due to the stoneware's insulation, making it a cost-effective cooking method.
•STUFFED GREEN PEPPERS 4 servings
1 package (10 oz.) frozen corn – 1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed – 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes – 1/4 c. chopped onion – 1-1/2 c. cooked rice – 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce – 1/4 tsp. salt – 1/2 tsp. pepper – 4 small green bell peppers, tops removed and seeded – 2 cups shredded, reduced fat Cheddar cheese (reserve 1/4 cup).
Combine all ingredients except green peppers and 1/4 cup reserved cheese. Use mixture to stuff peppers. Place 3 stuffed peppers on bottom and 1 on top of three. Cover; cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. cheese last 30 minutes.
Now, one last Crock-Pot recipe until we revisit this subject, probably when it gets cold again!
Of course, these days recipes are available for a few mouse clicks, but it's still fun to look through those collections (you have started one, haven't you?) and pull out the tried and true!
• ITALIAN CHICKEN STEW 8 servings
12 fresh, boneless, skinless (or do it yourself) chicken thighs – 2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with Italian herbs – 2 cups cubed zucchini squash – 1 c. fresh pearl onions, peeled – 1 c. fresh baby carrots – 2 T. tomato paste (freeze what is not used for another recipe) – 2 cloves garlic, minced – 1 T. sugar – 1/2 tsp. each crushed red pepper flakes and salt – 8 cups cooked pasta (if not saving half of stew for another meal).
Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Combine all ingredients in large Crock-Pot and mix well. Cook on low about 6 hours. I prefer starting on high at least one hour and then turn on low. Internal juices of chicken should run clear or insert an instant-read thermometer in thickest piece and it should read 180 degrees. Serve half of stew (about 4-1/2 cups) over 4 cups cooked pasta. One-half of stew may be frozen for another meal. Serve with a green salad and soft breadsticks, and though it may not be as much fun, you can imagine you are right in Tuscany!
Correcton: In the Feb. 19th, Snow Muffins recipe, the following ingredient should be included: 1/2 c. orange juice, which is to be added with mik, orange zest and butter.