SHEPHERD’S PIE IN A CROCK POT (Serves 8)
A classic, hearty casserole, great for the cold nights of winter. This is not your traditional quick and easy shepherd’s pie. This has a lot of interesting ingredients that make this crock pot version flavorful and hearty, even after cooking all day. Enjoy!
2 slices of high-quality white sandwich bread torn into quarters
¼ cup milk
2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
Salt and pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
10 ounces of white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup flour
1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups mashed potatoes
Mash bread and milk into paste in a large bowl using a fork. Using your hands, mix in ground beef, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add beef mixture and cook while breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes; transfer to crock pot.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms, onions, carrots, tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps, transfer to crock pot.
Stir heavy cream and soy sauce into crock pot. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 hours on high.
Let beef filling settle for 5 minutes and remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Stir in peas and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mashed potatoes over beef filling and smooth into an even layer using a spatula. Cover and cook on high until potatoes are heated throughout, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.
SKILLET APPLE BROWN BETTY
If your apples are especially tart, omit the lemon juice. If, on the other hand, your apples are exceptionally sweet, use the full amount. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container. Topped with vanilla yogurt, they make an excellent breakfast.
· 4 large slices (about 4 ounces) white sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
· 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
· 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
· 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
· ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
· ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
· Pinch of salt
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 1 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 4 cups)
· 1 ½ pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 3 medium), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 4 cups)
· ¾ cup apple cider
· 1-3 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon (depending on how sweet or tart the apples are)
1. For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread, sugar, and butter in a food processor until coarsely ground, about six 2-second pulses. Transfer mixture to a 12-inch skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until crumbs are deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate; wipe out skillet.
2. For the apples: Combine sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, stir in 4 cups apples and half of sugar mixture. Distribute apples in an even layer and cook, stirring two or three times, until medium brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining butter, apples, and sugar mixture, returning first batch of apples to skillet when second batch is done. Add apple cider and scrape bottom and sides of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; cook until about 1/3 cup liquid remains and apples are tender but not mushy, 2-4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, stir in lemon juice, if using, and ½ cup toasted bread crumbs. Using wooden spoon, lightly flatten apples into even layer in skillet and evenly sprinkle with remaining toasted bread crumbs. Let cool 5 minutes. Spoon warm Betty into individual bowls and serve with ice cream, if desired.
For something a little different, try Skillet Apple Brown Betty with Pecans and Dried Cranberries. Follow receipt above, adding ½ cup pecans to food processor along with bread, sugar, and butter and processing as instructed, then adding ½ cup dried cranberries to apple mixture with cider.
SNICKERDOODLE CAKE -- (Serves 16)
This cake is a take-off on the classic snickerdoodle cookie, which, according to the Dictionary of American Food & Drink, is a 19th century New England creation seasoned with cinnamon but also containing nuts and dried fruit. The name comes from a nonsense word meaning “quickly made,” implying the cookies are whipped up with ingredients at hand. This cake is a snap to pull together too – it relies on a cinnamon-scented, basic butter cake recipe and a buttercream frosting that you enliven with more aromatic cinnamon.
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cinnamon buttercream frosting
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9” round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set pans aside.
Place the cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sids of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.
Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger – 27 to 29 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and cool them on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invent each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack so the cakes are right side up. Cool for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon buttercream frosting.
Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes.
Place the cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets – about 20 minutes.
CINNAMON BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Makes 3 ½ cups, enough to frost a 2- or 3-layer cake
This is a basic and necessary frosting that will take you places and open doors! It goes with just about any cake flavor and lends itself easily to doctoring up. For example, add freshly grated lemon zest and juice and you have a lemon buttercream. Add peppermint candy and you have peppermint buttercream (delicious on a chocolate cake). And, of course, there’s cinnamon!
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar – sifted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy – about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is incorporated – about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy – about 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon of milk if the frosting seems too stiff.
Use to frost the top and sides of the cake of your choice.
SPICY GRILLED CHICKEN (SERVES 6)
This is a slightly hot lime juice based marinade that adds wonderful flavors to grilled chicken. The breasts marinate in the fridge for about an hour and then are grilled until moist and crispy brown. During the winter months, use your broiler for the grilled effect.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon grated lime zest
2 cloves crushed garlic
1.5 teaspoons fresh oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 skinless, boneless chick breast halves
Mix the oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper in a large Ziploc bag. Add chicken, turning to coat. Marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Preheat grill for medium-high heat or use your oven broiler
Lightly oil the grill grate. Drain and discard the marinade. Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.
Great served with a rice pilaf.
SPICY HEALTHY SOUP (Serves 14)
I could live on soup. So I try so many different kinds to keep my mouth singing! This one is a hit every time I make it. I’m sure your family will enjoy it as much as mine does! You can vary the “heat” by the strength of the picante sauce – mild, medium, or hot.
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup medium pearl barley
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
5 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 jar (16 ounces) picante sauce
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
8 cups chopped fresh spinach
In a Dutch oven, sauté onion and barley in oil until onion is tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the broth, chicken and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add the picante sauce, garbanzo beans, and cilantro to soup; cover and simmer 10 minutes longer or until barley and lentils are tender.
Shred chicken with two forks. Add spinach and chicken to soup. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
Got this recipe from Emily. It looked so good when she had it for lunch one day I thought we should all try it out! Great summer dish.
3 or 4 small/medium red peppers
1 or 2 large onions
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon dry hot pepper flakes
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup chopped basil, pureed
1 pound shrimp, uncooked and deveined
Chop onions and peppers into large chunks.
Heat oil and quickly cook peppers, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Add chicken broth, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes.
Blend entire mixture in a blender.
Return to saucepan and stir in basil and shrimp; cook until shrimp is pink.
Add chicken broth, reduce heat and cook 15 minutes.
Serve or pasta.
SPINACH AND MUSHROOM LASAGNA (Serves 6-8)
Another great recipe for the crock pot. Pretty easy to make with some nifty techniques that make sure the lasagna is not gummy since it is in the crock pot. When you put it in the crock pot, be sure to use a tin foil collar to prevent burning around the circumference of the pot and then use a foil “sling” (two long sheets of tin foil laid across the bottom and over the sides) which you will use when it is done to take the lasagna out of the crock and put it on a serving plate. I got this recipe from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Vegetable oil spray (PAM)
8 curly-edge lasagna noodles, broken in half
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 pounds white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped coarse
15 ounce jar of alfredo sauce
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup fresh basil, minced
1 large egg
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Line slow cooker with foil collar and then line with a foil sling and coat with PAM. Boil 4 quarts of water and add broken lasagna noodles and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook until al dente. Drain noodles, rinse under cold water until cool, then spread out in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel and let dry (don’t use paper towels as the noodles will stick to them).
Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms are softened – about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until mushrooms are dry and browned – 5-10 minutes longer. Stir in spinach and alfredo sauce, scraping up any browned bits, and season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, basil, egg, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together. Spread ½ cup mushroom mixture into prepared slow cooker.
Arrange 4 lasagna noodle pieces in slow cooker (they may over lap), then dollop 9 rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella, then spoon 1 cup more mushroom mixture over top. Repeat layering of lasagna noodles (laying them down the opposite direction from the first layer), ricotta mixture, mozzarella, and mushroom mixture twice more.
For the final layer, arrange remaining 4 noodles in slow cooker then top with remaining mushroom mixture and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheeses. Cover and cook until lasagna is heated through – about 4 hours.
Let lasagna cool for about 20 minutes. Using sling, transfer lasagna to serving platter and serve.
Lots of fresh vegetables dress up this split pea soup. Adding a bit of sherry just before serving makes the taste special and lighter.
1 pound dried split peas
5 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
2 ribs of celery, leaves included, diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf parsley)
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried tarragon leaves
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 leek (white part only), rinsed and sliced
1 cup slivered fresh spinach leaves
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Rinse the split peas in a strainer, and then combine them with the broth and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil.
Add the ham bone, celery, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, and the tarragon. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the carrots, onion, and leek. Cook until the vegetables are wilted, 10 minutes. Add them to the soup pot, along with the spinach. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat. Remove the ham bone, and shred the meat from the bone, removing any excess fat. Return the meat to the soup.
Add the sherry, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons. Parsley. Heat through and serve immediately.
Nothing tastes quite as good as a cold fruit soup during the summer. I thought I would end the summer recipes with this delicious soup which would be perfect for Labor Day. This recipe uses yogurt, not heavy cream; so it's lower in fat and calories but it is still just as good. It is a very simple and refreshing soup.
4-3/4 cups strawberries
2-1/3 cups Greek vanilla yogurt (of plain if you prefer)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger or cardamom
In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, sugar, and ginger. Puree until well mixed. Chill and serve.
FROM EMMA’S KITCHEN CUPBOARD
5 pounds of boneless chicken
1 large zip lock bag
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup white wine
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme (rinsed)
1 lemon (for juice)
1 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
1/3 cup julienne cut sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat large sauté pan medium high for 2-3 minutes.
2. Cut chicken into 1” chunks. Place in zip lock bag. Add flour; seal bag and shake to coat
3. Place oil in pan. Coat pan and add chicken. Cook 2-3 minutes. Turn once or until turning brown
4. Stir in wine. Reduce to low and cook 2-3 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced.
5. Remove stems from thyme; reserve leaves only
6. Squeeze juice from ½ lemon over chicken. Stir in remaining ingredients (except thyme and cheese). Cover and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and put in bowl.
Stir in thyme and cheese and serve immediately.
This recipe is a great alternative to the traditional sweet potatoes in syrup served for Thanksgiving and other family holidays. A great flavor, certain to please everyone. Sinfully delicious!
2 cans (18 ounces each) sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons margarine or butter; melted and divided
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/3 cup chopped pecans (or another nut of your choice)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Lightly grease a crock pot slow cooker with Pam.
Mix sweet potatoes, 1/3 cup butter, white sugar, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a large bowl.
Beat in eggs, milk, and orange juice. Transfer to crock pot..
Combine pecans, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, flour, and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Spread over sweet potato mixture.
Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours.
Not being a big fan of tomato sauce, I didn’t know if I would like this. It’s delicious! Doesn’t have the taste of tomato at all. The flavors of the meat really infuse the sauce with a hearty, deep flavor. Sure to be a hit.
2 pounds beef round steak, about 1 inch thick
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
¼ cup chopped onion
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
½ cup grated American cheese (optional)
Cut steak into 4 serving pieces. Dredge in flour mixed with salt. Place meat in Crock Pot.
Add chopped vegetables and Worcestershire sauce.
Pour tomato sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours
Just before serving, sprinkle with graded cheese if desired