Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chunky Potato Soup

Okay, finally the review of BETHANY's CHUNKY POTATO SOUP that I promised a few days ago.

Well, when she says "my crockpot cooks fast," you shouldn't necessarily assume that your crockpot is going to cook fast, therefore, not making it the best meal to plan for dinner when you've slept in late due to your 3yo having a really rough night and are fixing this to go into the crockpot at the same time as you're fixing "breakfast" that actually should count as lunch, given the time you're serving it.

It does, however, taste great the next day.

The potatoes, while cooked, were not at the "mushy" consistency typical of chowders (this would make a great option for kids with texture issues). This was perfect for serving to ZL without the liquid, because it was basically finger food (who am I kidding? what is *not* finger food with this kid?). However, next time, I might give it a couple of jabs with a stick blender to for a more chowder-esque taste/texture, because I like those kind of soups.

Oh, and if you forget how small the cans of condensed milk are in your country and only ask your husband to pick up two, thinking that will be enough, only it isn't, you can always use the tried-and-true powdered milk-with-half-the-water for the condensed milk (which is what I always do, but I was going for convenience this time; oh well). Heck, if you're going to use a stick blender, skip the water, and just put some powdered milk in (maybe 1/3-1/2 C?). That's what I usually do in my cream soups, anyway.

6 c. cubed, peeled potatoes
5 c. water
2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. thinly sliced carrots
1/4 c. butter
4 t. chicken bouillon
2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
12 oz. can evaporated milk (2 1/2 160 ml cans)
3 T. chopped parsley
snipped chives (optional)

In a large crockpot, combine the first nine ingredients. Cover and cook on high 7-8 hours or until the veggies are tender. Add milk and parsley; mix well. Cover and cook 30-60 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with chives, if desired.

BETHANY's Notes: My crockpot cooks fast, so we eat this 5 hours after it starts cooking. We only let it sit about 5 minutes after putting the milk and parsley in as it really doesn't take long for the milk to heat up.

Final notes:

We rarely have celery here and didn't this time, so I just put in more carrots.

If you do not have parsley, don't use rosemary. Use something savory. The soup was still good, but I would have preferred it with a different spice.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes

I tried a new pancake recipe today. It was raved about in a thread on SL, either one about hot breakfasts or one about not spending and making things from scratch. I can't remember. Both have been popular lately, given the economy (hot breakfasts being more economical than cold cereal, not to mention more filling :-).

Either way, the recipe is from Michelle over at No Spend Month. Yep, the same one I got the Blueberry Muffin recipe from. Stay tuned for her pizza dough recipe. :-P

We liked the pancakes. I'd like to get on the ball enough to soak the grains the night before, use applesauce for 1/2 of the fat, etc. That will come. And if I wasn't trying to make BETHANY's Chunky Potato Soup at the same time, we'd have liked them even better. I kind of let most of the pancakes get too dark. Oops. (I'll post the soup recipe after we have it tonight.)

Of course, I couldn't leave the pancake recipe alone (in case I haven't mentioned, I rarely do), as rave as the reviews may have been. Mainly I just tripled it. But I also added oats, just for a more multi-grain effect.

• 4 C flour
• 1 C oats
• 3 T baking powder
• 3 t salt
• 3 T sugar
• 4 C milk + 2 t vinegar
• 3 eggs
• 1 C butter, melted (2 sticks)

1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
2. Whisk milk, egg & melted butter in separate bowl.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the liquid mixture; mix until smooth.
4. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat (if non-stick, oil is not necessary).
5. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
6. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Chicken and Dumplings that weren't (CP)

So, I followed the Crockpot Lady's recipe to make Chicken and Dumplings...and I got Chicken Pot Pie. Don't know what chicken and dumplings were like in her family growing up, but they were not like this in mine.

Nothing wrong with the taste of the recipe at all. It was actually delicious. It was just Chicken Pot Pie, rather than Chicken and Dumplings. So, we will repeat it, just calling it the right thing. :-P

I'm still searching for a good chicken and dumplings recipe, but a friend e-mailed me one today, so I'm going to try that. It's not crockpot, but I'm hoping to adapt it.

For a great crockpot Chicken Pot Pie recipe, though...

• 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 C mushrooms, chopped
• 16 ounces frozen vegetables

• 2 cans cream-of-something soup, or combine in a saucepan:
• 4 T butter
• 6 T flour
• 1 C milk
• 1 C chicken broth
• 1/2 t salt
• 1/4 t black pepper
• 1 t poultry seasoning

• 1 can refrigerated biscuits, or one batch drop biscuits.

1. Put the chicken and vegetables into the bottom of the crockpot (anything 4 quarts and up will work).
2. Add the cream-of soups, or your homemade substitute.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5.
4. An hour before serving, shred chicken with two large forks, and drop in the biscuit dough.
5. Cover and cook on high for another hour.
6. The biscuits are done when you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. They will be spongy and will brown a bit on the sides and top.
7. Serve in bowls, with a biscuit or two per person.

Honey Granola

I've been meaning to make crockpot granola for, oh, a couple of weeks now. I was either using my crockpot for something else, had used the oats to make oatmeal, or just plain forgot to put it all in the night before (or didn't feel like it).

As I was falling asleep last night wondering what we were going to have for breakfast this morning, since we were out of flour, and I'd forgotten to ask ML to get any, and I didn't want to dig into the breakfast stash in the freezer on a morning where I had the time to actually make something, I remembered that my crockpot granola recipe was based on an oven-baked recipe that I actually preferred. Duh.

So, for breakfast this morning, we had granola. And there are leftovers for a quick breakfast another day. Hurray!

Oh, and today I added coconut and sunflower seeds as the add-ins. Meant to put in raisins after it baked, but I forgot. I'll probably put them in the rest when I store it.

• 6 C dry oatmeal (or 10 C quick-cooking oats)
• 1 C butter (2 sticks)
• 1 C honey
• 1 t cinnamon
• 1 t vanilla
• 1/2 t salt
• 1 C each nuts and dried fruit (optional)

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the honey, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. (Honey is easiest to measure in a well-oiled measuring cup, or just use a mini spatula to scrape out the measuring cup afterwards.)
3. Heat briefly with and then add the oatmeal. Stir.
4. Turn the mixture onto an ungreased cookie sheet, the kind with shallow sides; a large 9 by 13-inch pan works well, too.
5. Spread the granola out evenly and bake it at 320° for 20-25 minutes. It should be a toasty brown.
6. Now remove it from the oven and allow it to cool and crisp up right there in the pan.
7. Store it in a clean coffee can or sealed canister.
8. Add the nuts and dried fruit, if you are using them, when the granola is cool.

I use two stoneware dishes that I have, one deep dish baker and one miniature deep dish baker. A 9x12 stoneware or stoneware bar pan would probably be best.

I have found that the granola bakes best in stoneware, second best in metal and burns easily in Pyrex.

I don’t stir the granola while it is baking, and I actually pack it down into whatever I’m cooking it in. I find that it stays in “clumps” better that way, and that is how I like my granola.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Sunday nights after church (and often committee meetings) growing up when we lived in Dallas=canned soup (quick and easy, since we had school the next day and needed to get to bed), usually Campbell's Tomato Soup made with milk so that it was cream of tomato soup, served with cheese toast. Aaah, comfort food.

Living overseas, I missed cream of tomato soup. I attempted an approximation with fresh tomatoes. Just didn't cut it. Not to mention how much of a pain it is to do the whole dip 'em in boiling water, then ice water thing to get the skins off.

When we moved to our current location, I was thrilled to find Campbell's in some of the import groceries in the capital. They weren't cheap, so they were an occasional treat.

Then, someone posted the following recipe on the SL boards*, and dinner was saved! Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration, but we sure have enjoyed it.

And the other night, I even added some leftover rice I'd made with up with a bag of frozen vegetables (originally served with fish; we ate all the fish). Even yummier and added bulk to the meal (although not all of the kids appreciated the adaptation; we'll probably alternate with and without rice; at least I got the little leftover serving).

And, of course, we had cheese toast with our soup. So it was mozzarella cheese on sub bread, rather than cheddar on whole wheat loaf bread, but still...

• 4T butter
• 4T flour
• 2 c. milk
• 1 qt. tomato juice
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tsp. Italian seasonings

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
2. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper.
3. Cook and stir for a min. or two.
4. Whisk in milk.
5. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.
6. Whisk in tomato juice and Italian seasonings.

*And I've searched and searched and even posted the recipe for someone to claim, but no one has, so I can't even credit them.

A scarf and a shawl (or a sharf gone wrong)

When my mom came for a visit in October, she brought yarn and knitting needles for me to teach her how to knit. She'd learned to crochet somewhere along the way but never to knit.

Two slight problems with this plan: 1) She got sick. :-( She was able to hang with the kids and do a few fun things with us, but we didn't have nearly as much down time/visiting time as we normally do. And knitting was the least part of that that we missed. 2) She brought this really fun fuzzy yarn in two different colors. Those who know fun fuzzy yarn and have ever learned to knit know that it's not at all good for learning on. No big deal, because I had plenty of other yarn for her to learn with, but there was no way she was starting, much less completing, those projects (she wanted scarfs) while she was here.

So, I took up the projects for her.

I worked the blue yarn first (I'd link you to the type, but I kind of didn't pay attention to that, so I don't remember), intending to make her a sharf. This is a concept I'd stumbled on accidentally when I was first knitting what was supposed to be a scarf for a friend. It ended up too wide, but made the perfect convertible scarf/shawl. So I repeated that concept several times, including one which I gave my mom while she was here. And I thought I'd repeat it again with this yarn.

I still have a bit of a problem gauging how wide something's going to be, though, by my row of casting on, so it, too, ended up too wide. So I made a shawl. But I ran out of yarn, so I used some leftover from my nephew's blanket to finish out the ends.

I can't decide whether it's stylish-funky or just funky.

I was able to send packages back with a friend's parents to be mailed, and my mom got these yesterday (this was the last of the projects I'd been waiting to post until the items had been received). I assured her that, if she wants, we can buy more of the original yarn and I'll remove the ends and just knit more of the fun, fuzzy yarn. I haven't heard back yet as to her response to my offer. :-P

So, with the brown yarn she bought, I decided to play it safer. Just a scarf, thank you.

Well, I did play with some patterns, but once I discovered that the yarn was too fuzzy for the patterns to show up, I took that part out and just knit. And it still turned out fun and fuzzy. With fringe, too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mocah Fudge Sauce

What to do with a failed mocha fudge recipe? Serve it over ice cream and make sure you have it written down to enjoy over and over and over again in the future.

• 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
• 1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 5 T instant coffee dissolved in 2 T warm water
• 1 t vanilla

1. Heat sweetened condensed milk and chocolate over medium heat (or in the microwave) until chocolate is melted.
2. Stir in coffee mixture and vanilla.
3. Serve warm over ice cream, brownies, or just eat with a spoon.

Mom's Fudge

And by "Mom's Fudge," I mean the fudge that Mom's always made. Yes I'm aware that the recipe's straight off of the jar of marshmallow creme (or "marshmallow fluff," as I was reminded it's branded when I google'd it).

However, my mother shares my philosophy of cooking/baking. In case you haven't figure it out by now via my recipes it's "make good-tasting things that don't take too, too much time/preparation." If it's worth an extra step, I'll do it. If I can find an alternative that's just as yummy, you can bet I'm going to make that instead (i.e. my mother is the one who has adopted Mrs. Smith, so she can claim her pies as an old family recipe*).

So, this is our old family recipe for fudge (and, by the fact that it's been used by three, if not four, generations, I think it actually qualifies, even without adopting Mr. Fluff).

• 3 C sugar
• 3/4 C butter
• 2/3 C evaporated milk (170g/159ml)
• 1 12 oz. pkg chocolate chips
• 1 7 oz . jar marshmallow crème
• 1 t vanilla
• 1 C nuts, optional

1. Combine sugar, butter, and milk in 2 1/1 qt. saucepan.
2. Bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
3. Continue boiling 5 mins. over med. heat, still stirring.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.
6. Add marshmallow cream, vanilla and nuts, if desired.
7. Beat until well blended.
8. Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
9. Cool at room temperature.

*Just to clarify, my mom's a great cook. I love eating at their house and making her recipes. She just isn't enamored with extra steps that aren't necessary. And I whole-heartedly agree.

Blueberry (or other dried fruit) Muffins

Michelle over at No Spend Month posted a recipe on her menu thread on SL for Lemon Blueberry Muffins. I had dried blueberries, cranberries, and cherries thanks to a wonderful e-maginary friend who'd mailed me a care package (shout out to MelanieinWA!), so I chose to use Michelle's recipe as the base. We ended up not liking the "lemon" aspect, and I made a couple of other changes. Here's what I ended up with.

Blueberry Muffins

4 C all purpose flour
1 C quick-cooking oats
1 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 C skim milk (from powder is fine)
1/2 C canola oil
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz dried blueberries or cherries or other dried fruit
or 2 2/3 C frozen blueberries, unthawed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray muffin tin cups well with a non stick cooking spray.

In a small mixing bowl stir together the milk, canola oil, egg white, and vanilla extract.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just moist.
Fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into the muffin cups filling each 3/4 full.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I'm actually feeling well enough these days to re-stock my freezer with breakfast foods like this, so we can have them on busy/lazy/ill mornings!

PSA: if you're going to get unexpectedly pregnant and there's any possibility you'll have morning sickness/lack of energy, make sure not to do so when your freezer is not stocked (as it normally is) with cooked meat and pre-baked breakfast options. :-/

Edited to Add: I made these this morning as cranberry-orange muffins, and they were yummy. I used the last package of dried fruit a friend had sent me, :-( and I substituted 2 C of orange juice for the milk. Tomorrow, I think I'm going to make cinnamon raisin muffins by using raisins (I know; surprised, aren't you?) and doubling the cinnamon.