December 11, 2014
Simple suppers, I love them on wintery week nights. I continue my love / hate relationship with my crock pot this evening.
Chicken breasts and Yukon gold potatoes cooked all day in the crock pot. A thick slice of homemade bread slathered with butter. Some SWAD hot and sweet sauce. Sour cream on the potatoes. A delicious meal on the table in ten minutes after walking in the door.
December 11, 2014
Dropping temperatures and dropping leaves mean that warming, filling suppers are on the agenda. I enjoy changing my family's dinners to match the weather.
It's pot roast. Delicious and there are always leftovers to make some BBQ beef sandwiches on homemade rolls. It is also one of the easiest meals on the planet. OK, maybe not the planet. One of the easiest meals for an American Midwestern mom who spends the bulk of her day in a cubicle.
I always buy a chuck roast, the marbling (read that as a decent layer of fat) is what makes a crock pot cooked roast tender and succulent. Add some carrots, well scrubbed potatoes, 1/4 cup of water, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkling of salt and a grind or two of pepper. Leave it to cook on low for 8-10 hours.
That is it.
(As an aside, yes, I am lagging behind like the baby tomato. When reaching a goal, there is often a plateau - I am on that plateau, looking at the horizon and enjoying the view. I am girding my loins before rising up to finish the hike to the finish line. In this case my finish line will be a wonderful dinner with Handsome Chris on New Years Eve. That is something worth working towards.)
November 11, 2014
I really needed to go to the grocery store last evening. But I still managed to put supper in the crock pot on this rainy Tuesday morning. I had a pot roast in the freezer, which I pulled out to thaw last night. With some pantry staples like potatoes and carrots, I was all set to feed the family despite the mothballs in my refrigerator.
I originally purchased this roast to make BBQ beef for homemade rolls. The crew at all the rolls, so I am left with a roast. Undeterred, I put the roast in the crock pot with 1/4 cup of water. I seasoned the meat with freshly ground black pepper, then poured about 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce over the roast. Next I added whole, unpeeled potatoes and whole carrots cut into thirds. That was it. No need for gravy, the BBQ sauce made the meat tender and flavorful.
Whew - now I really, really need to go to the grocery store.
October 14, 2014
I am ready to throw in the metaphorical crock-pot towel. This evening's pot roast ended up as a traditional English Boiled Supper. This crock pot disapointment, combined with my refusal to accept that I am becoming an empty nester, made for a dismal night.
The supper was my usual layering of savories (onions and mushrooms) topped with carrots and potatoes, then the seasoned beef roast. I only added one half cup of water to the crock pot. How I ended up with about three cups of liquid and the entire contents submerged is a mystery that is beyond me.
I will keep my crock pot to warm chili on cold winter weekends. Never again will I use it to cook a family meal. In my opinion, the crock pot rates with the microwave in the catagory of kitchen tools that need not ever be invented. A gas stove and a good skillet will create any meal I can dream up.
Next time, I will pop home on lunch and put the roast in the oven, where all good roasts should be cooked.
The supper was bland, but filling. The evening was redeemed by the youngest and I burrying under a blanket on the couch with mugs of tea and books to read. Like most evenings, it isn't about the food as much as it is about the company.
September 16, 2014
Huge cloves of garlic are the secret to any great meal. Seriously. Whenever people walk into my house and say "What are you cooking? That smells amazing!" I always reply "Garlic in butter." There are few other things that are more perfect on this earth than fresh garlic cooked with butter.
OK, my children are more perfect. Kisses from Handsome Chris are more perfect.
I mean food wise - there isn't much that surpasses garlic cooked with butter.
My favorite way to cook a pork roast is to cut deep slits into the meat, then stuff those slits with half cloves of garlic. I then slather the surface of the roast with softened butter, sprinkle on some salt and pepper and a generous teaspoon of rosemary. When the roast cooks, the garlic melts with the butter to become edible sweetness.
I layered into the crock pot one onion, peeled and quartered. Next some whole, unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes. Finally the entire carrot harvest from our garden. (The carrots didn't produce as much as I would have liked; I really need to be more agressive in the thinning of the seedlings next season). One half cup of water is then poured into the crock pot. Finally, I top the layered vegetables with the prepared garlic stuffed, butter slathered, rosemary seasoned roast. I leave it to cook all day.
The flavors are amazing, complimentary between the pungant onions and garlic and the sweet carrots. There is no need for gravy or other sauces. Simply spoon the cooking broth over the meat and vegetables on the serving plate.
I am still a crock pot skeptic, but when dinner is this delicious, I may come over to the dark side.
Happy, happy Tuesday.
September 9, 2014
I always think that beef stroganoff in the crock pot will be a delicious, time-saving way to have one of my favorite meals. I am always wrong. This is one of those meals that makes me want to donate my crock pot to Goodwill.
For some recipes, there is no substitute for browning the beef, sauteing the vegetables and seasoning the meal well by tasting it throughout the cooking process.
My family was hungry, this meal was fine. Not great, not repeatable, just fine. We ate it.
Happy - meh - Wednesday.
September 3, 2014
The sage roast beef from Monday was so very good, I used the same basic method to make sage roast chicken tonight. Unfortunately the results were not as delicious.
I layered the mushrooms and onions, followed by potatoes, then the chicken topped with garden fresh sage and some salt and pepper. I used bone in chicken - natural with no added salt solution from the factory. A full work day in the crock pot on low. I anticipated the same deliciousness as Monday.
It was just OK. Very little flavor to the chicken. Nothing some BBQ or SWAD sauce couldn't fix. I was disappointed but we were fed. Plenty of left over chicken to make curried chicken salad for the week.
August 27, 2014
It is so hot outside, my air conditioning is broken, the heat and humidity are trapped in the house and no number of window fans on high seem to alleviate the problem. Alas, my children are not fans of supping on cold salad greens and fresh fruit; the logical choice on a sweltering day like today.
A crock pot supper not only utilizes less energy than an oven cooked meal, it generates considerably less heat to amplify the late summer weather. A chuck roast, some potatoes, mushrooms and onions (and one scant cup of water). Top it all with minced fresh sage from the kitchen garden. A perfectly cooked meal ready when we get home.
Technically ready, except for the gravy. Fortunately, I now have gravy making down to a science. Five minutes of whisking in a sauce pan and we are ready to eat. I never considered sage with beef, but it was delicious. I highly recommend it.
August 25, 2014
Pot roast slow cooked all day in the crock pot; there may be nothing better than this for supper on this chilly fall day (Yes, I know it is only August 12, but today the temps never rose above a breezy, cloudy 70). I like to buy a bone in roast so that some lucky dog can enjoy a suppertime treat. That is the cooked marrow in that bone, a true delicacy. I saved the bone for Frankenstein Broccoli, Handsome Chris' dog.
When selecting a roast, the meat department tempts you with beautiful cuts, lean and rolled, often tied for your convenience. I prefer a lowly chuck roast. Craggy with pockets of well-marbled fat and often with a succulent bone in the middle. This is the type of roast that is full of flavor and can withstand a day in the crock pot (or four hours in the oven).
In the early morning hours I layered onions and mushrooms in the bottom of the crock pot. I then added five small yukon gold potatoes and finally the roast. I poured about 3/4 cup water into the pot and sprinkled the roast with salt and pepper. I turned the appliance on low, put on the lid and left it to cook undisturbed until 6:30pm.
When it was time to eat, I moved the meat and potatoes to a serving platter and covered with foil so I could make the gravy. In a small saucepan I melted 2 tablespoons butter. I then added 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, whisking well and cooking for about 2 minutes until I had a golden brown roux. I then added the strained liquid from the crock pot - the flavor rich cooking broth. I whisked and cooked over low heat to incorporate the broth and the roux until I had the perfect gravy. Always taste your gravy before serving and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.
Tonight's dinner was easy, filling, and reminiscent of Sunday suppers at Grandma's.
August 12, 2014
After a whirlwind week of meeting and greeting and traveling and feasting, I needed an easy supper night. Chicken in the crock pot. Brilliant.
Two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. One cup of tomato sauce. One tablespoon of dried oregano. Eight hours in the crock pot. That's it. Supper. Everyone could serve themselves when they were hungry. Pictured is my helping, simply chicken topped with cheddar cheese. Is it the weekend yet?
July 31, 2014