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Any Thoughts on This?

October 25, 2010

Hey, ladies – this looks sooo yummy! I think I’m going to make this on Wednesday…wanted to share in case anyone else wanted to as well. It’s from Smitten Kitchen, and it’s called Spiced Applesauce cake: http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/10/spiced-applesauce-cake/

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Tish’s Review: Slow Cooker Lasagna

October 20, 2010

Oh, crock pot recipes!!  I have PLENTY of these.  I will only list two, though.  First, this fool proof crock pot lasagna recipe.  This recipe is from a cookbook a good friend gave me when I first bought a crock pot.  It’s…well loved at this point…there are a ton of stains in it, the pages are wrinkled, and the book opens up right to this recipe. 🙂  One great perk of this one: there are always leftovers, and they taste even better the next day!

Slow cooker lasagna from Taste of Home: The New Slow Cooker

1 pound ground beef (I use lean turkey)

1 large onion, chopped

2 minced garlic cloves

1 can tomato sauce (I usually use the jar kind)

1 cup water

1 can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 package no-cook lasagna noodles (no idea what that means, now that I look at it…I just use normal lasagna noodles)

4 cups (16 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups ricotta ( I use the low-fat kind)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

In a skillet, cook beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain (My note: with the turkey, I don’t have to do that).  Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt, and oregano.  Mix well.  Spread a fourth of the meat sauce in an ungreased slow cooker.  Arrange a third of the noodles over sauce.

Combine the cheeses.  Spoon a third of the mixture over noodles (My note: we learned that it’s easier to take the noodles in your hand and spread the cheese on the noodles directly with a spatula, and then just place them in).  Repeat layers twice.  Top with remaining meat sauce.  Cover; cook on low for four to five hours or until noodles are tender.

Yay!  Will post the short ribs one in a bit.

Laura’s Review: Slow-cookin’ (Moroccan Lentil Stew)

October 20, 2010

Well, yesterday before I went to work I spent half an hour chopping up vegetables and throwing them in the crock pot to make the Moroccan Lentil Stew, including my one and only actually edible home garden product, Mr. Junior Butternut Squash. I figured he was about a pound since the big butternut squash I bought at the store was 2.5 lbs. (Where are the scales at Wal-Mart? I only got it weighed at the checkout. 😦 Boo.)  Anyway, set it all up in the crock pot according to the recipe, left for work, and came home about 7 hours later to a house that, as Joey put it, smelled like India.

I let it sit for a bit longer, finally adding the lemon juice, extra curry powder, and green beans sometime after the 8 hour mark. Still, while the lentils and potatoes were soft enough to stick a fork in and certainly soft enough to bite, they were not as soft as I’d like. I don’t know which would solve the problem better, putting more water in to make sure everything is covered, or just to cook it for longer. But man, it really does suck to come home expecting something to be done cooking in a slow-cooker and it not being just right. It’s not like a slow cooker is going to solve your extra-firmness problems quickly, now is it?

Anyway, since it was soft enough to reasonably eat (really, everything was al dente instead of just soft soft), we went ahead and ate it. I was not impressed with the taste. It wasn’t special at all. It just tasted like curry powder. I mean, I like curry powder, but it really is kind of blah all by itself. Two stars out of five. Meh. What a disappointing use of Mr. Junior Butternut Squash.

So I ate it, but considering I had a truckload of this stuff left and couldn’t imagine choking it down in the next coming days, I decided that something had to be done. There are plenty of curries that are tasty, so I went on a mission to find some supplemental flavors to add to the concoction I already had. I found this (partial) ingredient list in the recipe for Curried Chickpeas With Cilantro:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (may substitute coconut oil, or any vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

I decided to experiment with this for lunch. I did not add any more onion or curry powder, but I did add another crushed garlic clove (too lazy to mince). I added only half the tumeric, and I didn’t have cilantro, so I just threw a few sprigs of leftover parsley on there at the end. I used my new best friend in the oil world, coconut oil. I sauteed the garlic and spices in the coconut oil for a bit over medium heat, then dumped one of the containers of leftovers into the skillet and warmed it through. The result? Something I would actually eat! Everything melds so well with the coconut oil. It was much tastier than before. Taste-wise, I’d give it 4 stars, but there was still the firmness problem. I just haven’t the heart to spend the time to cook the heck out of it, especially since the green beans which once looked so happy and bright just turn duller and duller in color. They look sad.

Anyway, food disaster averted. 🙂  Now to whip up a bit more of that spice mixture to save the remaining containers of leftovers in the fridge…

Challenge: Slow-cookin’ (aka crockpot recipes)

October 13, 2010

Nic’s challenge for October is recipes using a slow-cooker/crock pot. Those are two names for the same thing, no? 🙂  Well, once you find your recipe, post it here. (Y’all should be able to edit the post to add your recipes.)

Recipes from Laura

  • Crazy Aunt Purl’s Perfect Pot Roast Recipe This is from one of my favorite blogs, which I started reading while I was in my post-breakup devastation stage in Korea. Laurie Perry is really great at making intimidating things easy to understand and breaking them down into manageable pieces. Even if you don’t make this recipe, read her post just because she’s hilarious. But it does sound easy and delicious. 🙂
  • Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Stew – Because I have lentils leftover from last week, AND the first step is not “cook blah-blah-blah in a skillet, then transfer to crock pot.” And I don’t have to go buy a big hunk of meat right before I leave the country.
  • Pineapple Upside-down Spice Cake, from The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes, because Nic was craving pineapple upside-down cake.

Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 10 slices gresh pineapple or 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) sliced pineapple, drained (or for peach upside-down cake, use 6 peaches, sliced or 2 14 oz cans of peach slices, drained)
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground allspice
    • 1/2 tsp each ground cloves and ground nutmeg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease the slow cooker stoneware
  2. In a small bowl, combine butter and brown sugar. Spread over bottom of prepared stonewear.
  3. Arrange pineapple on top of butter and brown sugar.
  4. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
  5. In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  6. Beat in egg.
  7. Add flour mixture and milk to the mixing bowl alternately, making three additions of flour and two of milk, beating well after each addition.
  8. Blend in cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla.
  9. Pour mixture over pineapple slices.
  10. Place two tea towels, folded in half (to make 4 layers) across the top of the stoneware. The tea towels will absorb moisture generated during cooking and prevent accumulated moisture from dripping on the cake batter.
  11. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. To serve, slice and invert on plate. Top with vanilla ice cream if desired.

    Laura’s Review: Legumes

    October 11, 2010

    I made the Cypriot Sour Lentil Soup, which is sour because at the end you add some red wine vinegar. Before adding this and the salt and pepper in the last step it’s really rather bland, even with a couple crushed garlic cloves thrown in (it calls for just one), and I was a bit worried. But once it’s all in there it tastes really great, and I think it’s one of those things that tastes even better the next day after the flavors have melded.

    The only change I might make is not cooking it for so long. I set the timer for an hour, as in the recipe, and I think the lentils were probably fully cooked long before that. I don’t think the lentils themselves suffered much, but the onions and parsley were WELL done, and I think it would have looked better if the parsley hadn’t lost as much of its color. I decided to throw some more parsley in at the end for color. And maybe next time I’ll try it with a squeeze of lemon at the end. I believe I skipped that.

    Anyway, five out of five stars for me. It was delicious, easy, and healthy, and even Joey seemed to really like it. It tasted great both hot and cold. It went quickly over here, and I’d really like to make another batch.

    Greek Style Spinach Rice

    September 27, 2010

    One of my coworkers brought something like this into the teachers’ lounge the other day and it looked SO good. He said it was Greek style spinach rice (his daughter just married a bona fide Greek, so I guess he would know), with some tomatillo sauce thrown in on top. I tracked down a recipe and made it tonight for dinner.

    Spinach Rice – Spanakorizo

    I used brown rice and had to cook it for about 45-50 minutes, because that’s just how long brown rice takes. I used two 10 oz boxes of frozen spinach so I wouldn’t have to dirty another pot to cook the spinach- I just thawed in it the microwave. I also threw in a few crushed garlic cloves because I wasn’t sure it was going to be flavorful enough when I tasted it halfway through. Also, no tomatillo sauce in the house… at least none that hadn’t been opened in 2009… probably when I was still living in my apartment. Eww.

    It turned out well, and I like that there are so few ingredients in it. Definitely will make again.

    Challenge: Legumes

    September 13, 2010

    September 2010 Challenge: Legumes

    I know it’s almost the middle of the month, but I had trouble deciding
    on what to do. I thought about fish, but then I wasn’t really all that
    excited about it. And then I thought about weird vegetables, but I
    don’t want to subject you to that. So I have a category that is non-
    weird-vegetable and hopefully general enough for you to find something
    you’ll want to make.

    The category is…… LEGUMES! So get your search on for a new recipe
    using some kind of bean, pea, or lentil. Bean dips, soups, salads,
    curries, burgers, dried/fried/baked snacks… lotsa possibilities. And
    if you need more specific guidance, perhaps consider picking a new
    legume and trying it out. Here’s a list:

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/legumes/NU00260
    ————————–

    Recipes:

    Laura’s:

    • Korean Spiced Kidney Beans This recipe is similar to a dish we’d regularly get at lunchtime while I was in Korea, though the thickness and sweetness is toned down. It goes well with Asian food.
    • Cypriot Sour Lentil Soup – There are a bazillion  lentil soup recipes. I picked this because it looked simple, I had all the ingredients, and I like vinegars. 🙂

    Tish’s: