Archives- How Do I Get This Out of the Crockpot?

Original post- June 25, 2013

Sunday night I made crock-pot ribs for supper. I’ve made them several times before and my family always raves about it and then forgets about them. I’m actually not sure if this is a good thing or not…

I was running a little behind Sunday morning. I had a family gathering I had to get to, and I had forgotten to get the ribs started in the crock-pot until we were about to walk out the door. Most of the time this takes about 20-30 minutes to prep. I had 10 minutes, tops.  I took the ribs from the fridge and grabbed the crock-pot. I had put the ribs in the fridge to thaw either the night before or two nights before. I’m not really sure, actually. Either way, they were still basically frozen solid. I didn’t really have time to do anything else and this was what I had planned for dinner. I peeled the foil off of them and threw them into a frying pan with some oil to brown the sides. Like I mentioned, I was short on time so I cranked the burner up to high. This was probably not the best idea, but I didn’t care in the least. Once they got going, there was smoke all over my kitchen and they were somewhat “well done” on the sides, but I figured no one would notice after they sat in the crock-pot covered in BBQ sauce all day. I had achieved getting them “browned” and that was all that I needed to do. I ran my finger quickly down the ingredient list and dumped everything into the crock-pot. I didn’t measure the barbecue sauce. I just poured until it looked good, tossed on the crock-pot top, and ran out the door. Luckily, I remembered to turn it off of warm setting and onto low so it would actually cook (I’ve been known to forget the knob a few times, but have always caught it, luckily.)

When we got back home later in the day, I forgot about making anything to go with the ribs. Somewhere around dinnertime, my kids and my stomach started nudging me toward the kitchen. I whipped up some buttered potatoes and brown-sugar glazed carrots as quickly as possible and got the plates ready for the ribs. When I stuck the tongs in the crock-pot to grab the ribs, I grabbed and nothing came out. I tried it again with the same result. I peered into the crock-pot and started wondering if I was crazy or not. I kept thinking, “I did put the ribs in, right??!”. I realized the ribs were so tender, I couldn’t grab them. I finally scooped them up and got them separated onto plates. When I cut the kids’ ribs up, I never needed any pressure. The fork slid right through them. I would love to claim credit for this, but I think the crock-pot probably should get the credit. Even with all the rushing we managed to have a fantastic dinner and my kids decided the food was acceptable for consumption. Since the kids have done so well complaining…um I mean trying new food…over the past week, we are taking a few nights off from the freezer. Last night we had spaghetti and tonight we are having hot dogs. I will still be posting blogs however, so make sure you check back. I have one already lined up for tomorrow (with pictures) and I have one planned for Thursday as well.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I was too hungry to remember!

As always, Happy Cooking!

Crock-Pot Ribs

From: ThePeacefulMom.com

 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs. country style ribs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt to taste
  • 1 and 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (Jack Daniels Sauce is delicious!)
  • 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke

Instructions

  1. Coat crock pot with olive oil. Brown ribs in a heavy skillet in about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle ribs with Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and place in crock pot. Cover with barbecue sauce (we like Jack Daniels Sauce) and Liquid Smoke. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Notes

Alternate Directions

Brown ribs in a stainless steel or iron skillet with enough olive oil to coat the pan. Sprinkle ribs with Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and place in a 9×11 glass baking dish. Cover ribs with BBQ sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until ribs are cooked in center. Baste with BBQ sauce every 30 minutes if desired.

The crock pot ribs are more tender. The baked ribs are firmer

Brown Sugar-Glazed Carrots
From: my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook- 14th Edition.

1 lb peeled baby carrots or medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar (I always add a little more)
dash of salt
black pepper

In a medium saucepan cook carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; remove carrots from pan.
In the same saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, and salt. Cook and stir over mdm heat until combined. Add carrots. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until glazed. Season to taste with pepper.

Archives- It’s Beef…I Promise!

Original post- June 19, 2013

Last night we had our first freezer meal from the shopping trip and the weekend from Hades that it took to prepare it all. It was so nice to let something thaw overnight and the next morning just throw it into the crock-pot and let it cook all day. The hardest thing I did was prepare rice and steam a few cups of sweet green peas for a side. I also made drop biscuits on the side. Actually, I just measured the ingredients and my six year old made drop biscuits. Not surprisingly, her biscuits were much prettier than mine and she managed to make 12 large biscuits from a recipe that claimed to only make nine. My child obviously has cooking skills! (She DID NOT get that from me!)

This recipe was called Pork & Veggies and I got it from a website for freezer cooking. I included the link with the recipe below. This is one of the several websites I used and I LOVE some of the website owner’s recipes. I altered this one a bit to match our tastes, but I can’t go without giving credit where it is due!

I honestly was expecting this one to turn out with a soup type consistency. I’m not sure why I assumed this as there is not much liquid in it to begin with. The consistency reminded me of a stir-fry once it was finished. When paired with the rice, it pretty much resembles a stir-fry in consistency. The taste is not like a stir-fry, but it is very good.

I thought this was going to be an absolute “Family Favorite”, but my kids proved me wrong. Here is a sample of last night’s dinner conversation:

Andrea: Mommy, was is this?
Me: It’s beef.
Andrea: It doesn’t look like beef! (frowns disapprovingly and pokes her food with a fork)
Jake: It’s CHICKEN! (He’s two so everything is chicken for him!)
Andrea: It’s not good. I’m not hungry. It’s something nasty.
Me: It’s beef! I promise!

Andrea finally tried her food about thirty minutes later and said it was okay. The kids did, however, eat their rice. I guess starch rules supreme in our house! Even though the kids disapproved, Russ and I really enjoyed the meal and he took leftovers today for work. I even split this recipe into two separate freezer bags and had leftovers from just one bag so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m very happy we get to try this recipe again over the next month. I’m sure my kids will be thrilled as well!

In the recipe below, I will write the original recipe ingredients I left out in parentheses. That way, if you want the stuff we took out included, you will have the instructions for it! Also, I’m fully aware the recipe says pork roast below. I accidently grabbed a rump roast at the store so that’s the reason for the mix-up!

Happy cooking!

Pork & Veggies
(from http://www.lovingmynest.com/learning-activities/cooking/freezer-crock-pot-recipes/)
1 lb Pork Roast, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, slicked
4 carrots, sliced
(1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1.5 T apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
2 t Worcestershire Sauce

Combine ingredients in a large zip top bag, freeze. Thaw contents of bag and place in a slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over hot rice. Serves approximately 5-6 people.

Archives- Day 11- A Little Mistake Made it Perfect

Original Post- 3-14-2011

*Wondering why these posts are coming every few days instead of every night? I cooked spaghetti Wednesday because Andrea had asked if we could have her favorite and, since she has been great at trying everything I cooked, I let her have her way. Friday night, Russ took me on a date and then Saturday, he asked if we could eat out because he would rather I take the hour it takes to cook and spend it with him and the kids. *

Moo Shu Pork was on the menu Thursday night.  I had to run to the grocery store again (I failed to get around to going just once this week because…well I’m not sure why to be honest) and get all the ingredients that I don’t keep around the kitchen. For example: soy sauce and sesame oil. After the last fiasco with the cream-of-chicken soup, I also picked up some chicken broth just to be safe. I dragged Russ and the kids along on this excursion as well since he wanted to spend some time with us. He was not too happy about going, but forgot about it once I finished supper.

I’m not sure why, but everyone was in the kitchen that night. They were all watching and giving advice. I love them, but I ignored them. I was trying to read the recipe card about how to make the “pancakes”. This “pancake” is this funky little tortilla thing that you put the pork on. I made the dough for them, and after fighting with the sticky stuff for 5 minutes I managed to get it wrapped in plastic wrap in some sort of disk shape. Actually, it was more of a ball, but who cares?Then I threw it into the freezer and started working on the main part of the dish.

I cut up the pepper, onion, and pork tenderloin, and got the food into the skillet and cooking in less than 10 minutes. This is definitely a record for me. Plus, the onion didn’t make me cry. I’m not really sure what was going on, but I was getting really excited that everything was going well! There was absolutely no discouragement about the meal! Then my timer went off to get the dough for the “pancakes”.

I took my “disk/ball” out of the freezer and opened it up. At least, I tried to open it. I sprinkled flour on my hands and the dough that was exposed so I could roll out the dough to cut out disks. Um…yeah. The dough mixture was stuck to my hand. It wasn’t coming off either. I carried the thing to the garbage can and started waving my hand around like I was swatting at a bee until it flung into the garbage. Russ said, “You know you could have just put it in the freezer for another few minutes and it would have been easier to work with.” I told him to shut-up which began a lecture from Andrea about how shut-up is a bad word…. At least I know she listens occasionally.

At this point, I grabbed some tortillas out of the pantry. (Which makes me wonder why I didn’t just do this in the first place…) I threw four of them onto the counter and cut them in half with my pizza cutter. I placed them onto two separate cookie sheets and let Andrea “paint” them with sesame oil. Then I put them into the oven at 350 degrees. I was just winging it at this point. There were no cooking directions on the back of the tortilla package so I have no idea how long they should be in the oven. The pork mixture was cooking fine and Russ asked if I could help him with some laundry. I followed him to the laundry room and was in there for probably seven or eight minutes when I remembered the tortillas!

I ran back to the kitchen and pulled them out and they had this weird, pita bread consistency. You could snap them, but they weren’t hard to eat. They were….I guess crunchy is the best way to describe it. And with the sesame oil on top, so, so good. Russ and Andrea (and Jake too because he was attached to Russ’ hip) mysteriously disappeared from the kitchen along with a crispy tortilla. At least I know how to get rid of the “advisors” next time.

I got finished with the pork and we ate every last bit of it. Russ and Andrea both asked if we could make it again before the 30 days is up so I’m pretty sure we have another “Family Approved Meal”.

Moo Shu Pork- By: Healthy Meals in Minutes
Serves 4
1 mdm yellow onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 mdm red bell pepper, sliced (about 1 cup)
1 pork tenderloin (about 3/4 lb), cut into 1-inch strips
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
FOR THE PANCAKES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup boiling water
1 tsp sesame oil

1. To prepare pancakes, in a mdm bowl, combine flour, water, and oil; stir until a dough forms. Shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 10 minutes.
2. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each dough piece into a 6-inch round.
3. Spray a large skillet with veggie cooking spray. Heat skillet over mdm heat. Place 1 pancake in skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden, 2 minutes. Place on a plate. Cover with foil and keep warm. Repeat with more cooking spray and remaining pancakes.
4. Spray same skillet with more cooking spray. Heat skillet over mdm heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Stir-fry until softened, about 5 minutes. Add pork, broth, green onions, and soy sauce. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Place pork mixture on a serving dish. Serve immediately with pancakes.
** Sorry, no picture of the tortillas.**

Archives- Day 6- Queen of the Grill

Original Post- March 3, 2011

I used the grill. HUGE accomplishment. Let me back track a little and tell you why I was banned from the grill for a while:

Before I bought the current “ultimate man grill” for Russ last Father’s Day, we had this rinky-dink little thing that was way overused. I am aware that when you turn on the gas and then add fire, it can go “poof” if you aren’t careful. I turned on the grill on our back porch (important side note- it is a screened-in porch) and Andrea began crying about something so I ran inside and tended to her for a little bit. Afterwards, I go back out onto the porch and like an idiot I am playing with the lighter. I just keep flipping the little switch over and over. Suddenly, I am about 10 foot away from the grill when this fireball erupts from my hand all the way to the grill. The neighbor’s children were looking at me like I had just blown up a bomb on the back porch. I immediately felt for my eyebrows. Andrea had come to the back door still crying. She immediately stopped and started laughing hysterically and asking eight million questions. After Russ cried from laughing upon hearing of it later (as usual, he was at school) he told me it would be a good idea if I stayed away from the grill for a while. Once he got the current grill, he said no one was allowed to use it because it was his baby. Since he spends most of his time at school nowadays, he never uses his new grill. I took it upon myself to use it…

Okay, so back to day six. We had honey grilled pork chops. After I properly lit the grill, which in itself was a triumph, I scraped it off and ran inside to finish up the marinade. I forgot to take one pack of meat out of the freezer to thaw and only had two pork chops so I ended up thawing two in the microwave (which, by the way, I had to call my grandmother for instructions on how to do this. I’m telling you, I am completely clueless when it comes to cooking.) I finally got the marinade done and it was barely enough to cover the bottom of my “shallow dish” and was so thick. I went rogue and add a little more pineapple juice. The juice made it thin enough to cover two of the pork chops and the pineapple slices. I stuck it into the fridge to marinate.

I still had the other two pork chops that I had spent time thawing out in the microwave. I admitted defeat and put store bought honey barbecue sauce on them. I didn’t have enough of the homemade marinade to cover all four pork chops, so I wasn’t too worried with it.

After the pork chops were finished marinating, I tossed them on the grill that was set at medium heat and closed the lid. I went back and checked the recipe. It said I had six to eight minutes to spare while the pork chops were grilling. I went back out a few minutes later and the stupid things were burnt on one side. My husband said that they are supposed to burn on the bone, but I needed to check on them periodically while they’re cooking. I can’t just leave them for a six to eight minutes and expect them to be beautiful. Aggravated, I yelled “Well they should write that on the stupid card.” and vow not to ask him any more questions when I’m cooking because he may end up divorcing me.

A few minutes later, I checked on the flipped pork chops again. I ended up cooking the pineapple eventually as well. I ended up only charring one pork chop and the rest turned out edible and surprisingly good. Andrea tried the pork chops with the homemade marinade and the ones covered in store bought sauce. She really enjoyed both options. Once again, this meal is “Family Approved”!

So much for only knowing how to cook five or six meals!

Honey-Grilled Pork Chops- By: Healthy Meals in Minutes
Serves 4
4 center-cut loin pork chops with bone (about 4 oz each), inch thick, trimmed
For the marinade:
1 can (8 oz) sliced pineapple in unsweetened juice
1/3 cup honey
1 T. prepared mustard
1 t. curry powder
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1/8 t. hot pepper sauce
green onion strips for garnish (optional)

1. To prepare marinade, drain pineapple, reserving 1 tablespoon of juice. In a shallow glass dish, combine honey, mustard, reserved juice, curry powder, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Mix well. Set aside 2 tablespoons of marinade.
2. Add pork chops and pineapple to remaining marinade in dish, turning to coat. Cover dish with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Heat a charcoal grill until coals form white ash or preheat a gas grill to medium. Place pork chops on grill rack. Discard marinade in dish. Baste with reserved marinade. Grill 4 inches from heat until cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
4. Add pineapple slices to grill during the last 5 minutes of pork grilling. Grill, turning once, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Garnish with green onion strips. Serve immediately.
**Picture of my finished product.**

Per Serving:
Calories- 414 (34% from fat)
Carbs- 33 g
Protein– 36 g
Sodium- 397 mg
Fat- 16 g
Cholesterol– 112 mg

Archives- Day 1- What Was I Thinking?!

Original Post- February 25, 2011

Oh the motivation of a new journey. To prepare, I pulled out seven recipe cards, made an awesome grocery list with so many fresh ingredients on it (which half of them, I have no idea how to cut, cook, etc.), and I took off for the local Publix.

Problem #1– I have never heard of some of the spices I needed so looking for some of them was a nightmare. My buggy has arms from my three year old and it was spitting up and whining as well from my little acid-reflux machine. When I finally found what I needed it was off to the produce section. Did you know that preschoolers are enthralled with the scales? There are just some things that I would rather not fight with my child over in a public setting. It’s called “preventing a scene”. It just so happens that every vegetable that I needed was next to one of those stupid scales. We weighed onions, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, well…you get the point.

Problem #2– I recently discovered these nifty little things called coupons. Of course I knew they existed, I just didn’t see a point in cutting one out to save 30 cents on a can of soup. Once I learned the proper method of couponing and saved $60 on a shopping trip and cut our grocery bill down to about $250 a month, I was hooked! The problem is, when you are using fresh ingredients, there are little to no coupons. I did pretty good considering I got eight meals worth of ingredients for $112 (meat included), but I’m not pleased at the moment. I am going to have to learn to coordinate recipes with sales. My poor brain can only do one thing at a time so that may come after the 30 day challenge.

I finally finished at the grocery store and brought all of my ingredients home. It was a Wednesday night so we had a quick supper and headed to church. Thursday night would begin my challenge. You may be asking why don’t I just wait until March 1, to start this to have a “start date”. I was not blessed with the gift of patience. I get bored very easily. I think I may actually have a slight case of ADD. Either way, if I don’t start on a goal immediately IT WILL get pushed aside. It’s an annoying trait, but I prefer the term endearing.

So Thursday night rolls around. I like to eat around 6:30 if possible. We had a very busy day so I didn’t even start supper until 6:30. After reading the prep and cooking times I discovered I should be done around 7:15. Not too bad, so I set off to cooking. My first lesson was that the prep times they put on recipes are ridiculous. I’m not the Iron Chef! How in the world do they expect me to cut up that much food, while corralling a preschooler, rocking a baby in a bouncer with my foot because he’s screaming, and trying to figure out a new recipe. Supper was ready around 8 PM. Better late than never though, right? I got very discouraged about halfway through when I realized I had a complete airhead moment and was making a recipe that required broiling and preparing a side that needed to be cooked at 350 degrees. I found a skillet recipe for the baked macaroni-and-cheese though so I diverted that crisis fairly easily.

Here’s a brief view of tonight’s kitchen activities:

I pulled out the recipe that I had chosen for night one. It says I need to broil the food in a broiling pan.
Me: Honey, what in the world does it mean to broil something?
Russ: You cook it close to heat. You know we don’t have a broiling pan though, right?
Me: It requires a special pan? What the crap kind of recipe is this?!
Russ googles the pan. We fashion something out of a 9 X13 cake pan and a cookie cooling rack.
A few minutes later…
Me: Russ, the garlic came in this little bulb thingy (I hold up the garlic). Is this a clove or are the little things inside cloves?
Russ: (He thinks for about 30 seconds or so) I don’t know. Google it…

I finally figured out how to mince that stupid clove of garlic after 15 minutes or so of reading up on it. I’m telling you….I am not good at this kind of thing.

Anyway, after a lot of scrambling around, reading, fussing at the stove and/or oven, getting irritated at the recipe and it’s ingredients, and talking myself out of trashing it and eating out tonight, I finished the recipe. Stuffed boneless pork chops and homemade macaroni-and-cheese. (I would have preferred one more side, but Russ and Andrea were close to gnawing their arms off.)

The verdict? Good, but a little bland. The macaroni-and-cheese was pretty good though. Kraft is definitely easier, but Andrea was so funny that I will cook it again just to listen to her laugh at me and talk about the “crazy cheese and bubbly milk”.

What I learned? Garlic is sticky when minced. I should always cut the fat off of the meat before cooking it. Prep times are NOT accurate so I need to start early. My family loves me regardless if I suck at cooking.

Not a bad first day in my opinion.

Easy Stuffed Pork Chops- From Healthy Meals in Minutes
4 boneless, center-cut loin pork chops (4 oz each) trimmed
For the stuffing
1 mdm yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth (reduced sodium)
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 slices of white bread cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
2 T grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat broiler and line the broiler pan with foil.
2. To prepare stuffing, spray a large nonstick skillet with veg. cooking spray. Heat skillet over Med. heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 mins. Stir in broth and vinegar. Add bread, parsley, oregano, and basil. Cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed, about 5 mins. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan.

3.Using a sharp knife, cut a deep horizontal pocket in each pork chop. Spoon stuffing evenly into each pocket. Secure openings with toothpicks

4.Place pork chops on prepared pan. Broil 4 inches from heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove toothpicks. Serve immediately..

-Here’s my finished product(s) below…and that’s not a giant size portion of mac and cheese. It just looks like it from the angle of the picture!

Per serving:
Calories –259
Carbs -12 g
Protein -30 g
Sodium -148 mg
Fat -10 g
Cholesterol- 79 mg