Planning Life- One Week at a Time

Posts tagged ‘slow cooker’

Candy Hangover

Snow for Halloween!?!? This is a first for the northeast in my memory. After battling power outages, sick kids, and a foot of snow we dressed the twins up for some trick or treating. The sugar high has settled and I feel some what back to normal. But I fear this we be a long, long winter. This week I am food shopping on a Wednesday so the start of the week was make do with what was around. And the end will be back to fresh produce and more thoughtful meals. It’s pretty busy, but isn’t every week busy when you are a working mom?

Monday- After a cold damp outing to Trick or Treat I threw together an dinner of ready made stuff. A slab of heat and eat ribs and broccoli cheddar pasta steam in the bag out of the freezer. Dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Tuesday- I had to go to Sam’s Club to pick up something for work. Grabbed a roasted chicken, DH made boxed mac and cheese while I was on my way home, and I threw stem in the bag green beans in the microwave. Another slap together meal.

Wednesday- Food shop and a school event. DH is on his own with the kids, he is making pasta with red sauce and garlic bread.

Thursday- Moms group at 4pm, Chicken Thighs braised in the slow cooker over apples, squash, and potato. The veg and apples will be turned into a mash with a little butter and nutmeg. The liquid will be drained off and reduced into a sauce. I’ll do salad on the side. Normally I don’t do one large tossed salad but line up the bowls next to the cutting board and make individual ones.

Friday- Nothing going on!!! Taco Night!! I don’t buy the taco kits or seasoning. I buy the shells or tortillas on their own and make up my own taco meat with chili powder, cumin, and other stuff I have around. I find the seasoning packets too salty. And I love lots of toppings, avocado, tomato, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, yum!! Spanish rice on the side.

Saturday- Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and a green veg TBA, the leftover chicken meat will go into a pot pie for the next snow storm.

Sunday- Cheese burger and oven baked sweet potato fries. And I *hope* to have some time during naps to make a big batch of soup for the freezer too.

Update: the rice on Friday was one you microwave for 90 seconds. We had asparagus on Saturday with the roast chicken. I had enough time on Saturday during nap to make a tray of stuffed shells for a friend who had a baby last week. Tomorrow I have the stuff to make Spilt Pea Bacon soup. I never made it before. I’m going to wing it.

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Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

I’ve been trying to incorporate my new slow cooker into my meal planning at least two days a week. I find it so wonderful to come home to dinner ready but I also find it takes some planning. I don’t always have time in the morning to brown something or chop something. So far some prep the night before seems to be good. From chopping some veggies to putting the whole thing together in the stoneware and refrigerating it over night.

For this soup I did some prep the night before and some in the morning.

Ingredients:

3 oz of Pancetta or bacon, rendered and crumbled (leave it out for a vegetarian)

1 white onion chopped fine

1 big handful of baby carrots chopped

1 celery rib chopped

1 bunch of greens cleaned and chopped (Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale)

3 Cloves of garlic crushed and chopped fine

1 russet potato peeled and chopped

1 14oz can of diced tomatoes with juice

1 14oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

28 oz of stock your choice (I used beef)

1 pack of flavor boost (I used a beef one)

A shake of Italian Herb Mix

black pepper

salt to taste at the end the stock and pancetta may be salty enough

Gear

Cutting board

knife

strainer

frying pan

Slow Cooker

Night before:

-Brown pancetta, chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and greens. Remove the pancetta and saute the onion briefly in the fat. Put everything in a container in the refrigerator. About 15 minutes of work.

In the morning:

-Dump everything you prepped into the stoneware of the slow cooker. Wash peel and chop the potato. Pour in the stock, tomatoes, beans, flavor pack, herbs, and pepper. Stir. Push any pieces of potatoes under the liquid. Set the slow cooker on low for 7 hours. Took about 10 minutes.

– When you get home take a quarter of the soup out and puree it in a blender or with a stick blender. Pour it back in and stir well.

-Serve with crusty bread. I froze about half of the leftovers for lunches or another meal.

Apple Cider Pork Chops

This recipe is for a 3.5 slow cooker with a timer on it.

Ingredients:

6 bone in pork chops about 1/2 inch thick
2 Granny Smith Apples peeled and sliced
1/2 large white onion sliced
12 oz of Apple Cider
garlic powder
poultry seasoning
chicken broth
flour for dredging
vegetable oil

Gear:
Cutting Board
Knife
frying pan
slow cooker

Steps:

1. Wash and prep the apples. Slice the onion. Put half of them in the bottom of the stoneware of your cooker.

2. Pour some oil in the frying pan and set it to medium heat. Coat the pork chops in the flour. Brown them on each side for about a minute.

3. Move the chop straight front he pan to the stoneware. Arrange the chops in layers. Top with the rest of the apples and onion.

4. Measure the apple cider. Add some garlic powder and the herd mix to the liquid and stir. Pour into the stoneware over chops.

5. Add chicken broth until the meat is almost covered. Place the lid on and set the cooker to low for 8 hours.

6. When you get home remove the chops and pour off the liquid into a sauce pan. Reduce it over medium high heat until you have a glossy sauce or thicken with corn starch. Season with salt and pepper. While reducing the sauce boil up some egg noodles.

Can be made the day before and reheated.

Indian Summer

Ah bliss! A week after declaring cool weather it’s going to 80 today. So tonight is a chance to use the grill. Maybe one of the last. I’ve mentioned before my DH doesn’t like fish or seafood. I’m not normally into cooking two meals but for tonight I will grill two different proteins. The effort to do so is minimal. DH will have a steak and I will have salmon or whatever looks good at the fish counter today. I’ll put the steak on a few minutes earlier and just have to watch my timing.

Last week the slower cooker was a huge success. I’m using it twice this week. First I have parent night at school on Tuesday and that will be a life saver. I’m making a beef barley soup and as an easy side frozen rolls or bread that can be baked in the oven. I’m also going to use it for a pork chop dish that has apple cider in it. So even though it’s warm today. The rest of the week I have fall food on my mind.

Monday- Grilled Steak and Fish, Fries, and Green Beans

Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup with bread

Wednesday- Orange Chicken, Rice, and Peas

Thursday- Homemade Soup (no school!)

Friday- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork Chops over Egg Noodles, Veggies and Dip

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers or Brinner

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

1lb Stew Meat cut into small cubes

1 onion diced

2 handfuls of baby carrots chopped

2 ribs of celery chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic smashed

1 bay leaf

1 cup of pearled barley

6 cups of liquid (beef or chicken stock, water, some beer)

1 beef stock concentrate or bouillon

salt and pepper

Place everything in the stoneware of your slow cooker. Stir. Set the timer to 8 hours on low.

other items you can add to this soup, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, hard squash like acorn, worcestershire sauce.

Update:This was so yummy, even better leftover, I served it with sourdough rolls. For the liquid I did 5 cups of chicken broth and one cup of beer. The beer flavor was a bit sharp so next time I’ll use only 1/2 a cup.

Cool Down

There has been a noticeable chill in the air most mornings here in the northeast. Sweat shirts for the twins every morning and pants for me for work. Summer clothes have pretty much been packed away. And with this weather cravings for soups and stews have begun. I have always wished I could have dinner waiting for me when I got home from work but my slow cooker has never worked right. It was too big (6 quarts) and too hot. Stew would burn to the sides have 4-5 hours on low! I’d have to soak the crock and scrub it with lots of force to clean. I was baffled, was I doing something wrong? After some research it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem with that brand. So I bought a new one, to replace my too large too hot slow cooker. I got a 3.5 quart, with settings, High, Low, Simmer, Keep Warm and a timer.

I bought it on Sunday cleaned it and on Monday night filled the crock with 1.5 lbs Chuck beef cubed, 3 russet potatoes peeled and cubed, about a cup of baby carrots cut in 3rds, half an onion diced. One can tomato soup, 3/4 of that can chicken broth, one Knorr beef stock pack, some black pepper and herbs. I put it in the refrigerator over night. Before leaving for work at 6:30am I put it the unit set it to low for 8 hours.

At dinner that night I portioned the stew out into bowls and the meat was falling apart tender but not dry. The sauce was bread dipping delicious. Kids and DH enjoyed it! I knew DH would, this is one of his favorite meals since I first made for him in college.

Only two cons I saw were the outside of the pot gets very hot. So I need to keep it far back from small hands. And the potatoes near the top were a bit crunchy so next time when I get home from school I’ll give it a stir and while it sits on the keep warm setting the last few hours they should be good.

Friday I’m going to try sauce with meatballs. And here is our week.

Sunday- Whole Chicken in the dutch oven (from the recipe a Bird in the Oven)

Monday- Chicken Cashew Casserole made from leftover chicken, cream of chicken soup, some veggies, bread crumb topping, raw Broccoli spears with ranch
Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Stew with bread

Wednesday- Take Out! (Modern Family premiere at home date with DH)

Thursday- Cheese Steaks, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and mozz cheese

Friday- Slow Cooker Red Sauce with Meatballs over Pasta & Salad

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers, Mini frozen quiches, and pizza bagels