Tag Archives: Crockpot

Weekend Cooking: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Broth

vegetable-broth-crockpot-2

Autumn arrived this week, welcoming in another season of delicious soup. Starting on Labor Day weekend and continuing into the fall, winter, and early spring, I usually make a pot of soup every Sunday.  To me, nothing says fall like having football on TV (which we do, all day on Sundays from 9 a.m. until the end of the night game) with soup simmering in the kitchen — preferably in my Crock-Pot.

Soups can be hit-or-miss with the kids (The Girl is definitely not a fan), but served with some kind of sandwich/burger and perhaps a salad, it’s an easy meal with something everyone in this family likes.

(If not, they can make a bowl of cereal.)

I decided to kick off this year’s soup season by making slow-cooked vegetable broth, which I tried for the first time last winter. (Like most of us, I kept telling myself I really needed to do this.).  I keep a gallon-sized bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer. Whenever I’m chopping vegetables, I place the bag in the sink next to me and toss in the tops of bell peppers, slivers of onion, tips of garlic cloves, stems of mushrooms, stalks of broccoli, even gnawed cobs from summer corn. Same with wilted vegetables or ones nearing (or just past) their prime.  It all goes right into the bag and makes for easier clean up.

When the bag gets full, I simply dump everything into the Crock-Pot, cover with water, season with salt, pepper, a bay leaf or two, and some basil, oregano, parsley, etc.  (This is a good way to use up a bit of dried herbs lingering in the jar.)

It usually looks something like this (there’s more spinach than usual since I happened to have a decent amount in the fridge that we hadn’t used during the week):

vegetable-broth-crockpot

In addition to the spinach, this contained zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, green beans, riced cauliflower, a broccoli stalk, onions, garlic and corn on the cob.

I set the Crock-Pot on low for about 9 hours and left it alone.  Then, I lined a colander with paper towels, set it over a medium-sized bowl, and strained the broth into the bowl, discarding the vegetables. (I suppose those of you who garden could use the vegetable scraps for compost.)

The result? About 6 cups of broth, more than you get in the ready-to-use boxes found in the grocery store. Although they’re not that expensive, making your own is a simple way to save a few dollars and with less sodium, etc.

vegetable-broth-crockpot-2

I kept several cups in the fridge for a minestrone that I made the next day and the rest was frozen in ice cube trays. I’ll use a cube or two in place of oil when sauteeing vegetables or in recipes that require a small amount of broth.

Do you make — or have you tried making — your own vegetable broth?  (Also, if you’re curious about the difference between broth and stock, as I was when titling this post, the latter is usually made with bones. I guess it’s possible, then, to have vegetable stock but not vegetarian stock.) 

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.

 

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Weekend Cooking: Yes, Virginia, You Can Cook a Tofurky in a Crockpot


Seems that recently there have been quite a few hits here on the blog from folks who are, apparently, seeking some guidance on cooking that vegetarian (and vegan) Thanksgiving staple: the Tofurky

That’s completely understandable. If this is your first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian or a vegan, or if you’re expecting a vegetarian or vegan for dinner, I can see where this could cause some angst. 

It doesn’t need to. 

In the spirit of giving, allow me to try and be of some assistance by reprising part of a post I did last Thanksgiving. 

I’ve never had much of an issue with not eating meat on Thanksgiving. I’m not the Spokesperson for All Vegetarians, but its been my theory that other people experience more agita and stress over what the hell to feed us so-called strange birds than we do. Truthfully, I’ve always been much more into the side dishes, even as a child. (Really. My Pop-Pop’s mashed potatoes were so damn good that I even mentioned them in his eulogy.) 

The Husband and I have been vegetarians for something like 16 or so Thanksgiving dinners now. Over the last few years, we’ve discovered the delicacy of the Tofurky, which makes The Husband very happy and nostalgic. 

Last year, I discovered that the Tofurky can be cooked IN THE CROCKPOT – which, since I am All About the Crockpot, made ME very happy. 

It’s really a very simple process. And it WORKS. I didn’t have the packet of “dry vegetarian onion soup mix”and I didn’t want to make an emergency run to the grocery store. I decided that I would take my chances by whipping up something (anything!) as a substitute. 

I found this Substitute for 1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix recipe on Food.comand even then I had to improvise further because I only had the beef boullion granules, the onion powder, and the pepper. No matter. Toss in some frozen onions to stand in for the onion flakes and nobody is the wiser.  

Then, I put the Tofurky in the CrockPot (I used a 3 quart), basted it a little every half hour or so as per the recipe, and 3 hours on high later there was Thanksgiving dinner.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it’s not the most aesthetically-pleasing photo. BUT SO WHAT? This isn’t Martha Stewart’s blog. What this is is EASY. Simple. And so much better for you, the animals, and the planet than the traditional turkey. 
And in the end, I’ll bet this is pretty close to what your Thanksgiving plate usually looks like, no? 

StoveTop cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with butter, biscuits, corn,
cranberry sauce, and Tofurky cooked in the CrockPot. 

Hope everyone who is celebrating has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  

(And just so we’re all kosher with the folks at the FTC, Tofurky et al did NOT compensate me for any part of this post.  But, y’know, if they want to toss some cash my way in the spirit of gratitude, I’m not above saying no.) 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

photos and text copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: A Tofurky. In the Crockpot. It’s What’s For (Thanksgiving) Dinner.

I’ve never had much of an issue with being a vegetarian on Thanksgiving. Truthfully, I’ve always been much more into the side dishes, even as a child. (Really. My Pop-Pop’s mashed potatoes were so damn good that I even mentioned them in his eulogy.)

I think that’s kind of true of most vegetarians. I think other people experience more agita and stress over what the hell to feed us strange birds than we do.

The Husband and I have been vegetarians for something like 15 or so Thanksgiving dinners now.  In recent years, we’ve discovered the delicacy of the Tofurky, which makes The Husband very happy and nostalgic.

And this year, I discovered that the Tofurky can be cooked IN THE CROCKPOT – which, since I am All About the Crockpot and since I was dealing with a doozy of a migraine/sinus headache on Thanksgiving Day, made ME very happy.

It was only the four of us for Thanksgiving, so we opted to go the very low-key and simple route.  Which it was. Between this and the microwaved side dishes I proffered (Stove Top stuffing, Birds Eye steamed corn, mashed potatoes), this was one of the easiest dinners I’ve ever made.

Well, until I realized that to make the “brine” for the Tofurky, I needed a packet of  “dry vegetarian onion soup mix.”

I debated whether I wanted to go to out to the grocery store for this.  I decided that I most certainly did NOT and that I would take my chances by whipping up something (anything!) that resembled a substitute mix.

I found this Substitute for 1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix recipe on Food.com, and even then I had to improvise further because I only had the beef boullion granules, the onion powder, and the pepper. No matter. Toss in some frozen onions to stand in for the onion flakes and nobody is the wiser.  Put the Tofurky in the crockpot (I used a 3 quart), baste it a little bit and continue every half hour or so, and 3 hours on high later, you’ve got Thanksgiving dinner.

Carbohydrate heaven on a plate. Tell me this looks pretty close to what your Thanksgiving plate looked like, no? 

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(And just so we’re all kosher with the folks at the FTC, Tofurky, Stove Top, and Birds Eye did NOT compensate me for any part of this post.  But, y’know, if they want to toss some cash my way in the spirit of gratitude, I’m not above saying no.)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.



copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
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Weekend Cooking: Slow Spanish Beans and Rice (and a Cookbook Review)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related blog post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Cinco de Mayo may be over, but in celebration of the day on Thursday, I made a delicious and simple beans and rice dinner that is going to become a regular in our house many other days of the year. 

Now, I don’t know how authentic of a Cinco de Mayo recipe this was, but it doesn’t really matter.  And I know y’all are probably not that culinary-challenged to actually NEED a RECIPE for beans and rice.  All that matters is that the three of us loved it (and if The Husband had been dining with us, I’m betting he would have too.) 

It’s pretty simple – a crockpot recipe for beans and rice.  I know, doesn’t get more economical and easier than that, does it?  I’m all about fast and easy meals these days (since we’re trying to sell our house and will need to be prepared to eat quickly because of showings) and because of my impending job loss, frugality will soon become the name of the game around here.

Enter this cookbook that I checked out of the library.  Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson isn’t a new book (it was published in 2004), but it’s one I’d never seen before spotting it on the shelves. 

Slow Spanish Beans and Rice
slow cooker size: 3.5 – 4 qt
cook time: 6-8 hours
setting: low

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I omitted; did not have)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste (I had about this much leftover tomato sauce from two nights ago and used this instead)
2 tsps. chili powder
two 15.5 oz. cans pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used one of each)
one 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices 
1.5 cups water (oh, wow … as I typed, I just noticed I omitted this by mistake. Honestly?  It wasn’t missed.)
1 tbsp. tamari or other soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked long-grain brown rice

(In regards to the rice, I have almost half of a Pampered Chef rice cooker (LOVE THAT THING!!!) full of white rice left from last night’s dinner. Since I wasn’t sure how much rice the kids would want, I ladled this over the rice instead of adding it into the crockpot at the end.)

1. Heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and chili powder and stir to coat.

2. Transfer the onion misture to a 3.5 – 4 qt. slow cooker.  Add the beans, tomatoes, water, and tamari; season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.   (I cooked for slightly over 6 hours.)

3. About 10 minutes before serving time, stir in the rice. 

As I said, we loved this.  I added a few small leftover pieces of chicken to the kids’ plates. I had a generous plateful for lunch (it’s really good as leftovers) with some cheddar cheese, and for dinner tonight we had fish with this as a side. (I called it “Mexican Fish” for the kids. Y’know, ’cause I’m all creative and shit like that.)

One of the things I’ve noticed in this cookbook (and several other slow cooking cookbooks) is the requirement to brown or soften ingredients on the stove first.  When I first started encountering this in recipes, I was kind of annoyed.  I mean, doesn’t that extra step kind of defeat the whole purpose of a slow cooker?!  But in the recipes I’ve done this for (Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole and now this), I think it does make a difference.  And really, it’s not that much more time.  We’re only talking a matter of minutes. (And, as Robertson says on pg. 8, it can be done the night before.)

Even better … you can do this pre-browning nonsense in the slow cooker itself.  This I did not know. On page 9, Robertson says you can “put oil and hard vegetables in the cooker, cover, and turn on High while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The amount of time this will take depends on the size and volume of the vegetables being used. For example, a tablespoon of minced garlic may take only 15 minutes, while 1/2 cup of chopped onion can take up to 30 minutes, so this shortcut is only practical if you plan to be in the kitchen anyway doing other things.”

The Slow Spanish Beans and Rice was the only recipe I had a chance to try before this was due back at the library, but here are some other ones that I want to sample soon:

Tuscan White Bean and Escarole Soup
Split Pea and Parsnip Soup
Corn Chowder in Winter
French Onion Soup with Cheesy Bruschetta
Creamy Tomato Soup with Israeli Couscous
Two-Mushroom Barley Soup
Slow and Easy White Bean Cassoulet
Sloppy Lentils
Farmhouse Fricassee
Arroz non Pollo
Vegetarian Paella
Slow-Fashioned Potpie with Biscuit Crust
Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce for Pasta
Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing
Blueberry Cobbler
Pieless Apples a la Mode
Bourbon-Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Chocolate Fantasy Fondue (that’s going to cause a spike in the search terms to the blog, no doubt…)
Fudgy Chocolate Pudding Cake
Slow Baked Apples

Enjoy!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Crockpot Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Happy New Year!  I hope that everyone had a safe and happy night last night and that your 2011 is getting off to a great start. 

Today we have our Mummers on the TV, my mother-in-law visiting for the weekend and entertaining the kids, and my traditional Crockpot Black-Eyed Pea New Year’s soup simmering away.

Well, it’s actually not my soup … it’s from Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, which is one of my absolutely-cannot-live-without-it cookbooks.  Plus, I recently learned that Stephanie has a sequel … More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. Since I liked almost everything I’ve made from the first one (and her blog), I can’t wait to get this one.

Anyway, back to the soup.  Eating black-eyed peas on January 1 is considered to usher in good luck for the year ahead, and since we can all use all the luck we can get, this has become tradition.  I’ve made this for the past three years now.

I start soaking the black eyed peas sometime after midnight, and then sort through them in the morning.  (This is last year’s photo, but this year’s looked pretty similar.)

Ingredients:
1 pound dried black eyed peas

1 pound spicy sausage (Stephanie used Aidells chicken habanero and green chile; I threw some vegetarian meatballs in the crockpot and am hoping for the best)

6 cups chicken broth (I’m using the vegetarian chicken broth)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery (omitted this, as I don’t care for celery)

4 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Tabasco sauce to add at the end to taste (I’m not a fan of Tabasco sauce, so I’ll be omitting this too).

Soak your beans overnight. Drain and pick out the undesirables (broken, discolored beans) in the morning.

Use a 6 quart crockpot. This will serve about 8 people. Dice the veggies, and dump them into your crockpot with the pre-soaked beans. Add sliced sausage. Pour in broth, and stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 6. Before serving, use a stick blender to smash up about 1 cup of beans. If you don’t have a stick blender, scoop out 1 cup of beans, blend them in a traditional blender, and add back to the soup. Don’t blend too much—just enough to get the broth thicker and creamy-looking.

Ladle into bowls, and add Tabasco sauce to taste.

I’ll serve this for dinner with a simple green salad (greens are good luck too), cheddar and garlic biscuits, and chocolate cake for dessert. 

What’s on your menu this New Year’s Day? Do you eat anything special to welcome in the New Year and bring good luck?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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The Sunday Salon


It is a nothing-to-do, nowhere to be type of Sunday that comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual Saturday, making it completely justifiable to still be pajama-clad on the couch at 2:30 in the afternoon.

I’m catching up on blogs, The Husband is watching our Eagles, and the crockpot is cooking this week’s Sunday soup (Slow Cooked Broccoli Soup with Garlic and Olive Oil), Hopefully I’ll have a chance to read some of what will be my 60th book of the year (Come to Me, Stories by Amy Bloom).

Yes, indeed … Come to Me marks a record number of books for me.  We’re at that time of the year when we start to see our reading year start to crystallize in terms of records set and challenges met, which is always kind of fun.  I’ve finished five of my Reading Challenges so far (Women Unbound, Support Your Local Library, All Things Alcott, Essay Reading, and my own Memorable Memoir Challenge).  Considering I signed up for a ridiculous number of challenges this year, I’m pretty pleased.

This has been another great reading week.  Earlier this week I finished Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music, which I’m now recommending to EVERYONE.  I absolutely loved this. I’m not sure if it actually is a book that will appeal to everyone, but that doesn’t matter … I just think more people should read and experience the wonder that is this one. 

I also started and finished Heather O’Neill’s debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, one that I hadn’t heard of until I was browsing in the library stacks.  This is a Harper Perennial book, and while not quite as strong as some of the other HP novels I’ve read, this is very good.  It’s about a 12 year old girl named Baby (her real name) who is neglected by her 25 year old father Jules (yeah, do the math) and falls victim – despite her resistance – to the lure of street life.  Very sobering and kind of gritty. 

My audiobook is still Judith Warner’s incredibly well-researched We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication. It’s hard to say that I like this – because it isn’t the sort of book you enjoy – but I think that Ms. Warner is doing a tremendous job presenting the facts and stories of real children and parents in connection with what is such a controversial and hot-button issue for so many. 
I’ve read several of Amy Bloom’s short stories before in various anthologies, but never any of her actual books.  That’s being remedied by my being three stories into Come to Me.  “Sleepwalking” is my favorite so far.  It’s the sort of story where you can see so clearly what is going to happen, yet you’re surprised when it actually does. 
Now I’m off to catch up on some blogs and see what you’re up to today ….  

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Fish Chowder

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
It feels like I am cooking my way through Stephanie O’Dea’s wonderful cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking.  It has become one of my go-to cookbooks for whenever I’m using the crockpot, which happens at least twice a week around here.  
It’s taken awhile, but I’ve become a convert to the concept of meal-planning.  It is amazing how much smoother and less stress-filled cooking has become as a result … but that’s another post.  This particular Fish Chowder was on the docket for one of our weeknights, and Wednesday was the perfect gray and drizzly day to have this simmering in the crockpot.
Plus I had all the ingredients on hand, so that was even better. 
(You see that Squeeze Garlic in the middle there?  I could kiss the person who came up with this. That, my friends, is the best idea ever.  I’m not much of a fan of chopping and mincing garlic.  This is the same stuff that comes in the jars, but only in tube form.  Maybe this has been around forever, but I just noticed it at the farmer’s market last week.) 
Anyway … the ingredients for the Fish Chowder.
8-10 baby potatoes, diced
1 cup frozen roasted corn (I used a bag of regular ol’ yellow frozen corn)
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 handful baby carrots, chopped (didn’t have)
3 celery stalks, chopped (hate celery, so none appeared in my chowder)
3 cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped (as I was saying about the Squeeze Garlic ….)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (they were giving out packets at the Yankees-Orioles game we attended in September at Camden Yards, so I added it)
kosher salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pound white fish, cut into cubes (frozen OK) (I used tilapia)
2 cups frozen shelled fully cooked shrimp
parmesan to garnish (the book doesn’t mention this, but the website does, and since my kids will try anything if it is coated with parmesan, I added it)
Use a 4 quart slow cooker. Put the vegetables into your stoneware. Cube fish, and add – it’s okay if it’s still frozen. Plop everything else on top except the cream and shrimp.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender.  Stir in the heavy cream and shrimp 20 minutes before serving, and turn the slow cooker to high.
My notes:  We liked this one enough, but I would make some changes next time.  I didn’t have enough fish or shrimp on hand, and in hindsight, I should have halved this recipe.  But I didn’t think about that until I was in the middle of chopping potatoes and adding corn and garlic and Old Bay to the crockpot and that’s when I realized that I needed more fish.  I also think a thicker fish would have been better, or maybe the addition of scallops. 
I served this with ciabatta bread and salad. We had extra chowder, so I used it as a sauce for the following night’s dinner and served it over pasta shells. 
copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
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