Sunday, May 30, 2010

My first crock pot meal!!! Yay!

I am hooked! Today I did my second meal. This was my first one with the crock pot. I have 'loosely' decided (unless life happens and it doesn't work out this way) (((smile))) that I am going to try to do my Company's Coming meals on Wednesdays, and my Crock Pot recipes on Sunday. This week at least it has worked wonderfully.

I didn't tell my family ahead of time what the ingredients were for this meal, as NONE of us are real big cranberry fans, in fact I think my teens probably wouldn't have even given it a try! The only reason I dared to give it a go were the reviews that came along with the recipe.

I threw this together before I left for my church meetings Sunday morning. My darling son and daughter-in-law and my grandson had stopped by this morning so that my son could program the itouch my kids (and hubby) had given me at a surprise b-day party they threw for me yesterday (it was a REAL surprise, as my birthday isn't til next week! Want to really surprise someone...that will do it!) So with that in mind, I hadn't read through the instructions and wasn't sure I would have time to get this started before I had to leave. I LIE NOT...this took me maybe five minutes to have all the ingredients in the crockpot and ready to go! I have never made a meal from scratch that was so easy!!!

When we got home the smell was intoxicating, and it still had about 2 hours left to cook! It doesn't taste at all like it has whole cranberry sauce in it, but it is YUMMY! I think it will be an 'I wish you made Sunday Dinner like my mom' kinda meal! I served it with mashed potatoes, some of the family had the potatoes on the side, (I put mine on top because it has a kinda gravy sauce) and then a tossed spring salad with tomatoes, avocados and cucumbers.

This will be a family favorite! And the best thing was there are leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Which is also amazing cause we all had seconds...! ( I won't lie, I had thirds) But I really can't stress enough how flipping easy this meal is to do! The taste doesn't tell the story, so my husband thought since I had worked so hard on the meal he would do all the clean-up! Anyway....once again forgot about the pictures until after we had eaten, so the picture is in the tupperware container about to go in the fridge instead of the serving platter I used for dinner.
Okay...get ready for one of the easiest recipes you could find! Here it comes!

I used stew meat, but the originator of the recipe says she used frozen beef chuck, but that it would be fantastic with any hunk of meat you've got lying around----beef, pork, or venison.
2-3 pounds beef or pork roast or stew chunks
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes, or 1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 (16-ounce) whole berry cranberry sauce

Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Plop in the meat (frozen is fine), and add the onion and soy sauce. Pour in the entire can of cranberry sauce over the top. Do not add water. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 5-6. If you are cooking on high, you may need to "help" the meat break apart by taking it out an hour or so before serving by cutting it into chunks, then returning to the sauce. I like it when the meat is tender and the juice has fully soaked in.

Serve over mashed potatoes, and with a green salad.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

In the Beginning!!

So this is my first time at having a blog....thanks to my daughter, Tiffany for helping me set it up! (and yes, Jasmine, thanks to you as well!)

Tiffany has been doing a cooking blog for a while now, and my two children still at home keep talking about all the wonderful recipes she has been making. Jasmine, my youngest, even asked if she could go and spend the summer at Tiff's house...I guess she is tired of fast food??

Anyway, due to family circumstances...taking care of my invalid mother-in-law (who has now left us for greener pastures) and one of my daughters getting cancer during pregnancy (which required my traveling from Louisiana to Utah every two weeks to take care of her and my beautiful grand daughter, born 2 months early--due to the cancer) our family completely quit having meals together as a family...and yes, fast food became the food of "choice".

As Tiffany has been talking about her experience with her 'cooking blog groups' and how it is more 'inspiring', ie peer pressure of having to report somewhere, I decided to take the plunge and actually start cooking for my family and trying to have family meals again. I mean, what is my future daughter-in-law going to have to feel pressure for if my son NEVER makes the statement "This doesn't taste as good as MOM made it". So to the pleasure of my family I am cooking, and blogging! (not sure they care as much about the whole blogging bit!)

I have some wonderful cookbooks that I believe are only available in Canada called "Company's Coming" which have been my favorite for years. I have only made a handful of recipes from them, but every one I have made has been a winner. After we moved from Canada, Tiffany continued to buy me more of these favorite cookbooks, so I have quite a selection. Sooo, once a week I am going to make a recipe from these books (I was going to just skip around in the books as the mood hit, but Jasmine suggested I take one book at a time, and go straight thru it...yes as most mothers who ADORE their kids, I am also ruled by them...why fight it or deny it! I love them too much!)

And then I am going to do a second meal, or recipe as the case may be for the crock pot. I happen to love the thought of crock pots, but have found that most meals made in the crock pot taste the same, so I am really hoping to find that these wonderful cooks who are doing crock pot recipes will give me a love for my crock pot and the freedom it suggests!

AND as I said above, since my two children left with me at home are always lusting after Tiffany's recipes, I have promised to add the ones she suggests as time permits...

I already did my first meal with my Company's Coming cookbook this week, but as I was waiting for Tiffany's arrival to show me just how to 'blog' my recipes, I didn't take any pictures. The recipe I did was One-Dish Eggs as well as the cherry almond muffins that were pictured with it. Some might think this sounds like a breakfast meal, but I served it for dinner. Hey my family is just thrilled to eat something homemade...they have had days where cereal was for dinner (sad, but true) so they aren't real picky if it's a breakfast sounding meal or not.

My son called on his way home that night and let me know he had already eaten at his friend's house (apparently the mom 'cooks' and he couldn't resist the opportunity of REAL home cooked food) I was a bit disappointed, but after reminding him I was trying to do family dinner time again, he promised to at least sit with us for the meal.

When he walked in the door, his first comment was what smells so good? It smells like cookies or something, and when we sat down to eat, he ate along with us without anymore encouragement. The family loved both recipes, and Tristan (my son) had to ask if I had anymore of the boxes that made the muffins? When I explained that I actually made them from scratch, he ask if I wrote down what I had done, so I could make them again! lol. Hey---I already admitted it's been awhile since we had regular meals! He was thrilled to find it was an actual recipe that could be repeated! So, my start has been encouraging.

I will include the recipes, and when I make them again I promise pictures!

One-Dish Eggs
6 Bacon Slices, diced (I actually used my kitchen shears, knife wasn't doing as well)
1/3 cup Chopped Onion
1 1/2 cups Frozen hash brown potatoes
1 Tbsp finely diced green pepper
1 Tbsp finely diced red pepper
1/2 tsp Dill weed
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Pepper

6 Large eggs
1/2 cup Milk

Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish (I forgot about these, oops)

Fry bacon and onion in large frying pan on medium-high for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is golden. Transfer to small bowl using slotted spoon. Drain fat, reserving 1 tbsp in frying pan.

Add hash brown potatoes, both peppers, dill weed, salt and pepper to same frying pan. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bacon mixture. Stir.

Beat eggs and milk together in small bowl. Add to bacon mixture. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly using wide spatula, until eggs are cooked but not dry.
Garnish with dill sprigs. Makes 3 1/2 cups and serves 4.

Cherry Almond Muffins
For even faster preparation, combine and cover dry ingredients in the morning, or even the night before, until ready to add wet ingredients just before baking. Toast almonds ahead of time too.

2 cups All-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Dried cherries

1/4 cup hard margarine (or butter) softened
1/3 Granulated sugar
1 Large egg
3/4 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Almond flavouring

1 Tbsp Granulated sugar
1/4 cup Ground almonds, toasted

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cherries in large bowl. Make a well in centre.

Cream margarine and sugar together in medium bowl. Beat in egg. Add milk and flavouring. Stir. Pour into well. Stir until just moistened. Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.

Combine sugar and almonds in small bowl. Sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 18 to 20 minutes until wooden pick inserted in centre of muffin comes out clean. Let stand in pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool. Makes 12 muffins.