Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Crock Pot Festival

The first ever food festival at Bless Us O Lord commences.

Though I've chosen the hottest week of the year in most of the country to schedule this Slow Cookin' Food Festival, I guarantee that pretty soon the winds will take a turn and we'll be feeling fresh, cool breezes instead of hot, muggy blasts. And when those cool winds blow, I know that I'll be grabbing my cookbooks to find those warm, homey recipes that make my family feel so good.

If you been by here before, you may know that I just recently discovered the joy of slow cooking. I've been married for almost 22 years and apparently I never got a Crock Pot as a wedding gift. And though it took 22 years (and a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law) to get with the program, it was worth the wait. Slow cookers (Crock Pot is really the Rival brand name) allow you to get a meal together early in the day and provide hands-off cooking all day (not to mention the smells!). And one of the greatest advantages, in my opinion, is the energy savings. This past Sunday, I prepared a pork shoulder roast for BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches. Normally this cut of meat would need to roast in a 300 degree oven for four hours. That's a lot of heat, and a lot of natural gas for my gas oven. But after seven hours in the slow cooker I had the identical roast and a cool kitchen.

There are a few things you should know about a slow cooker, though, especially if you're a newbie. Apparently slow cookers today cook hotter then their mothers. That means adjusting many recipes for less cooking time. If you overcook a piece of meat in a slow cooker (or anywhere for that matter), you'll be left with something less than satisfactory. And the hotter temperatures of today's Crock Pots can definitely overcook a piece of meat. You can play with your recipes, but I have found that six hours is plenty long for almost every recipe, as compared to the eight hours that most recipes call for (that's if you have a new-ish slow cooker).

There are also a few food safety precautions. You should never put frozen meat in a Crock Pot. Most likely some of you already have (I have once as well), but I recently read that you could be playing with fire. Bacteria may multiply while the food is heating but has not yet attained a safe temperature to inhibit growth. Some bacteria produce toxins that remain in the food after the bacteria themselves are killed.

Another safety precaution: According to Whole Foods, "Red kidney beans contain a toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin) that causes severe gastric distress, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Under-cooked beans can be more toxic than raw and it only takes 4 to 6 beans to bring on symptoms. They are perfectly safe, though, if properly prepared. First, soak red kidney beans for a minimum of 5 hours and then drain and discard the soaking water. Add fresh water or broth to a level about 2" higher than the beans, bring beans to a boil and boil briskly for at least 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until thoroughly cooked, about 2 hours." They are then safe to add to a Crock Pot recipe. You can also safely used canned kidney beans.

O.k., rules aside. Let's eat.

Matilda at Waltzing Matilda offers a super yummy looking Spicy Shredded Chicken recipe that can be used for tacos, burritos, salad, or I imagine eating just about any way -- with some Mexican rice or even a pile of garlic mashed potatoes. Thanks Matilda!

Liz presents her recipe for Crock Pot Hungarian Goulash

2 lbs. stewing beef, cut in 1" cubes
1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika

1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups fresh tomato wedges (or 15 oz. can tomatoes, including juice)

1 cup sour cream

Put beef cubes, onion and garlic in crockpot. Stir in flour and mix to coat meat. Add all remaining ingredients except the sour cream. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 10 hours (or on high for 5 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally).
Add sour cream 30 minutes before serving, and stir in thoroughly. Serve over hot buttered noodles.

Yum! There's a cool fall night in my future just waiting for this recipe. Thanks Liz.

Barb at Mom's Fridge presents two recipes from her collection. First her Chicken Chili Blanco which has many flavors my family loves. This is basically a White Chili and I'm thinking it would be a great recipe for trick-or-treat night -- just perfect for dipping with Fritos! She also shares her Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs. These would be wonderful to serve over pasta or tucked inside a crusty roll for a great Meatball Sandwich. My family will be testing these on Sunday, but I know it will also be a great recipe for the fall and winter -- maybe to serve after an afternoon of apple picking. Barb says she'll be making these during cross-country season. I can imagine some hungry kids diving into them! Thank you, Barb.

Michelle at Dei Gratia, By The Grace Of God makes this suggestion: take two thawed turkey breasts, add a family-size can of cream of chicken soup and poultry seasoning to taste. Cook on low all day.When the turkey is cooked, remove. To the broth/cream of chicken soup mixture add cooked minute rice and poultry seasoning. Serve with green beans or salad. She says her kids love the rice! Now, Michelle has a large family, but I imagine you can easily size this recipe down with one turkey breast and a regular can of soup. This sounds like a great Sunday afternoon supper -- maybe in front of a football game on TV. Thanks for sharing, Michelle.

Denise at Ordinary Grace offers her recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, a Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, and Slow Cooker BBQ Beef. She says her kids eat all of these recipes, which is a big selling point at my house. We'll be trying every one of these, Denise. Thanks for sharing!

Julia at Blue Apple Farm shares her recipe for Chicken Lickin' Good Pork Chops. This recipe looks really tasty, Julia, and I need a good pork chop recipe for my slow cooker. These would be rib-stickin' with some smashed potatoes and country green beans. Julia also has some other good recipes in her "kitchen," so be sure to scroll down. Thanks.

Jane at Building the Ark shares her recipe for BBQ Beef. This recipe calls for a boneless chuck roast, a cut of pot roast which you can frequently find on sale. This is a great recipe to hang on to when you're entertaining big crowds -- maybe the weekend after Thanksgiving or for a Buckeye football game (or your favorite team's contest). Thanks, Jane!

Marye at Apron Strings and Simmering Things has a recipe for Enchiladas Verde. She recommends serving this savory casserole with fried rice, refried beans or salad and a chocolate cake. Sounds like the perfect meal following an afternoon in the pumpkin patch. Thanks so much, Mayre. Be sure to check out some of the other great recipes on her blog.

at Come for Coffee and Cake shares a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Indonesian. With fresh gingeroot, garlic and cayenne pepper, this looks like a real belly-warming meal, but with those exotic flavors it would be nice enough to serve company. Thanks so much, Margaret. And be sure to scroll down and take note of some of her other recipes. That Southwestern Corn, Black Bean Tomato Salsa is yummy. Trust me.

Lana at Knit and Pray shares quite a few of her favorite Crock Pot recipes. She has a
Hamburger Lentil Soup, which sounds yummy and healthy, a Soul Satisfying Beef Stew, which contains nutrient-packed pumpkin -- very interesting, Crock Pot Pasta, which is sort of a combination of spaghetti and stroganoff, Salmon Cheese Casserole and Tuna Noodle Casserole -- both of which would be great on a fall Friday, and Spiced Wassail, for warm holiday comfort. Thanks for sharing, Lana. You're filling in my fall weekday dinners very nicely!

And Anne at The Cookin' Sisters & Friends shares her Crock Pot Potato Soup
recipe. This favorite recipe from Anne's childhood sounds like just the thing for a cool fall supper. Thanks for sharing, Anne.

Sincere thanks to the great women who shared these super recipes. I really appreciate a good friend that shares her good food.

Thanks all for visiting today. I hope this line-up helps make your fall meals considerably simpler.


Margaret in Minnesota said...

What a beautiful festival, Barbara!

I confess that I am falling in love with your food blog--and it's not just because I'm a foodie! I'm a bit of a disorganized foodie, you see, and you are inspiring me to plan, prepare and count the blessings of my vocation!

So thank you, Sweetie! And thanks to all the other moms, too; these recipes look great.

Matilda said...

I can't wait to visit each and every one of these links and gather up all the yummy recipes but most importantly, as Margaret said, the inspiration to do better for my family!

Thanks Barbara!

marye said...

You are doing an awesome job!
Unlike you, here in Texas we have at least 2-3 more months of blistering heat. :( but the crockpot is good for NOT heating up the kitchen, so it is great for summer too!
I love the pictures, and the way you posted them. :)

Barb, sfo said...

Thanks so much for this great collection! I love adding new recipes to our family favorites.
As Marye mentioned, crockpots are great on hot summer days too, since the kitchen stays cool.

patjrsmom said...

Simply lovely, Barbara!

I can't wait to try some of these new recipes. We have friends coming from out of state this weekend and I think some of these dishes might work well and allow us more time for visiting and less prep-work in the kitchen.


Deborah said...

I've got to get me a crockpot! These look great!

Lana said...

My mouth is watering just looking at those yummy recipes! Thank you for hosting such a wonderful event. I look forward to many more. We got our crock pot about 15 years ago and it has definitely served us well:~D

Melissa said...

Thanks for the FYI on the kidney beans - never knew that!

Any advice? Some recipes specify what size slow cooker to use. If it's not specified, what size should one use? 3, 4, or 5 quart (I think it's quart...)

scmom said...

I use a really big one. I'm not sure what the box says, but I'm guessing 5 or 6 quarts. I really don't think it matters much though in terms of cooking, but a lot of these recipes are large quantities for large families. I know my Cabbage Roll recipe fills the whole Crock Pot.

If you are buying one, and have a growing family, I would get a big one. They are great for parties, as well as regular everyday cooking.

Thanks for stopping by.