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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Carolina Pulled Pork – Freezer to Slow Cooker

Since I am not a huge fan of red meat, especially pork and beef (ha ha) and I have a special disliking for barbecue, it is probably completely insane that I like Carolina Pulled Pork sandwiches. Since the very first time I tried one I fell in strong favor of them. I’m not sure if it’s the vinegary sauce or the coleslaw piled on top of the meat, but I really like it.
When I was perusing for last weeks “Freezer to Slow Cooker” recipes and came across a Carolina Pulled Pork, I wanted to give it a try. It definitely lived up to all of the things I like about it.

Carolina Pork Sandwiches

• 3-pound boneless pork roast
• 1 Tablespoon paprika
• 1 Tablespoon pepper
• 1 Tablespoon salt
• 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 cup cider vinegar
• ¾ cup ketchup
• 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a zip top freezer bag. Freeze. Remove from freezer the day before you want to serve it. Place all contents in slow cooker and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours or low for about 8-9 hours, until pork is done. Remove pork and shred. Add shredded pork back into the slow cooker. Stir into the sauce / juices. Serve on sandwich buns, with coleslaw topping the meat.

I personally used a bag of slaw mix and a jar of prepared slaw dressing. I added some green onions, celery seed, and black pepper to the slaw. I served on whole grain sandwich buns with oven fried French fries as a side.

The girls and The Hubs all commented on how really tangy this recipe was. I have to admit that it really did cause quite a pucker… I’m not sure if I would cut down on the vinegar the next time or not. Everyone ate at least one sandwich!

I got this recipe from http://www.savingyoudinero.com/2012/09/17/part-3-1-hour-1-mess-5-crock-pot-meals/.

We will be having these again, for sure!

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in recipe

 

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Freezer to Crockpot – 2 meals and a dessert!

Freezer to Crockpot – 2 meals and a dessert!

One of the family’s favorite of the “Freezer to Slow Cooker” (aka Crockpot) recipes was the Philly recipe. I served ours in hoagie style rolls. The Hubs taste tested them before I got home and told me that the recipe turned out so poorly he would have to eat it all, to save us from the pain. That is always a sign that he likes something.
It was easy to put together, and although Daughter Number 3 removed the onions and peppers from hers she told me that it was her absolute favorite. “I would even eat it for my birthday”, she said. Now, that is a huge compliment. We let the girls choose their birthday dinner every year – and she usually chooses Olive Garden!
I got the Philly (or Philly Cheese Steak as we are calling it) recipe from

http://www.mamainspired.com/2013/01/mass-crock-pot-dinners.html.
I also made the French Shredded Beef Recipe from that sight. We just had that tonight. We liked it, but not as much as the Philly Cheese!
Here are the recipes for both. I will obviously be making the Philly Cheese Steak recipe again. I’m not sure about the French Shredded Beef. If I do, I will alter some of the seasonings to better suit my family.
Philly Cheese Steak

  • 2 pounds cube steak, raw cut into strips
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces beef broth
  • Salt and Pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a freezer bag. Remove from the freezer 12-24 hours before cooking. Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. Turn slow cooker to warm and top with provolone cheese for 30 minutes. Serve on sandwich rolls, hoagies, etc.
French Shredded Beef

  • 1 chuck roast (2.5-3 pounds)
  • 4 teaspoons homemade ranch seasoning (from mamainspired.com)
  • 1 teaspoon homemade Italian seasoning (from mamainspired.com)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces beef broth

Add all of the ingredients to a freezer bag. Remove from the freezer 12-24 hours before cooking. Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. Serve on bread, with sliced Swiss or Provolone, and a side of au jus.
Well, after all our dinner of delicious Shredded French Beef sandwiches I had prepared a surprise dessert for the family. (It wasn’t a surprise for Daughter Number Four. She helped.) The other day The Hubs was saying how cool this new “Freezer to Slow Cooker” cooking was going. He gave me some much deserved props, and then said. “So, when do you start making ‘Freezer to Slow Cooker’ desserts?” I scoffed at him. Really? Are you serious with that? Of course that was in my head. Not out loud.
I sat down and started looking for slow cooker dessert recipes. I have not even attempted to look for “Freezer to Slow Cooker” dessert recipes, but I did find quite a few slow cooker cakes and puddings. I knew that this evening’s meal took no extra prep time, so I used that time to whip up the batter for a slow cooker cake. It went together in no time flat and ‘baked’ in the crockpot in just about 2 hours. Once the dinner dishes were done, dessert was ready! Below is where I found the recipe. It is definitely one I will make again!

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2010/04/slow-cooker-peanut-butter-cup-cake.html

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water

Use a 4-quart slow cooker coated well with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Melt peanut butter in the microwave, for about 30 seconds, and then add to the dry ingredients along with milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Spread this mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker.
In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 cup boiling water. Pour this evenly over the peanut butter batter in your cooker.
Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours, or until the top has set and an inserted toothpick (into the cake–underneath the cake is molten chocolate) comes out clean. Let the cake sit uncovered in an unplugged crockpot for about 20 minutes, then serve warm in bowls.

Did I say we liked it? I meant to say we REALLY liked it! Everyone needed a big glass of milk to go with it (except me; I don’t drink milk) and asked for seconds. I said yes to the milk, no to the seconds!
I am so glad that I tried the Slow Cooker dessert to finish off our Slow Cooker dinner! I hope you enjoyed these morsels and tidbits. We sure did!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in recipe

 

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Asian Pork – Freezer to Slow Cooker

Asian Pork – Freezer to Slow Cooker

At the end of my second week of preparing ‘Freezer to Slow Cooker’ (aka CrockPot) meals I can honestly say this is the best thing since sliced bread! The entire process has saved me time, energy, and money. The meals that I prepared for this week were even better than the first week. I know I have only posted 2 of those recipes, but the rest of that week will have to wait. These meals are just too good to keep from you!
The Hubs and I sat down together and chose the recipes. I would have gone with more chicken or meatless dishes, but I did ask him to assist me in choosing, so we came up with these:
French shredded beef

Philly Cheese Steak

White chicken chili

Ham and Scalloped potatoes

Asian Pork

We had enough leftovers that we skipped making one on Thursday night, so I have one still in the freezer. I’ll have to report on the French shredded beef at a later date, but the other four recipes were such a huge hit that The Hubs and the girls had seconds on more than one occasion and I have already been asked to make some of them again. That is definitely a good sign!

The process of putting the meals together was again an assembly line with daughters 3 and 4 assisting me in everything from stirring to shredding and slicing. Oh, and doing the dishes! It is amazing how fast these meals come together if you have everything ready to go.

As before, I prepped the vegetables for all of the meals at once. I put Daughter Number 3 in charge of onion. I typically cut down the amount of onion recipes call for because of family preference. So I used one very large onion to cover 4 recipes. For the shredded beef, white chicken chili, and ham and scalloped potatoes I needed diced onion. I cut the onion (did I mention it was very large?) into fourths and gave 3 of the pieces to my slicer / dicer. She put them in the food processor and chopped them. I sliced the other 1/4th into thin strips for the Philly cheese steak. I also let her slice the potatoes in the food processor. That worked very well!

This week I worked from the beef dishes, to pork, ending with chicken. I like to scrub everything so thoroughly after the chicken dishes that it makes sense to do that last. I did it in reverse the previous week, and that slowed me down a bit.

Since we haven’t had one of the beef dishes yet I will start with the pork dishes for you.

The first dish I cooked out of this group was the Asian Pork. I served it with Noodles with Peanut Sauce. I found the recipe at:
http://thelemonbowl.com/2012/01/slow-cooked-asian-bbq-pork.html
Asian Pork

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon chili garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder / Boston butt
  • Fresh cilantro, garnish

Whisk together the garlic, ginger, Chinese 5 Spice, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, garlic paste, tomato paste and ½ cup of the chicken broth in a small bowl. Place pork in a large zip lock bag and cover with marinade. Place in freezer or refrigerate overnight. Place pork and marinade in a slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker and let rest for 20 minutes. Place remaining ½ c of chicken broth in the slow cooker and cook on High for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove fat cap (if it is still on pork) and shred the pork using two forks. Add shredded pork back into the sauce and serve. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

I served this on fresh sandwich rolls with sweet chili sauce and cilantro.

Easy Noodles with Peanut Sauce

  • 1 package Ramen noodles
  • 1 pack noodle flavoring (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce – low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce (or other sweet chili sauce)
  • 1/2 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)

Boil noodles with flavor pack and drain off most liquid. Toss with soy sauce, peanut butter, and chili sauce. Garnish with scallion. Eat immediately.

I found this recipe on Martha Stewart Living via Pinterest. It is a quick and easy side dish, or a great dish for college students who get tired of plain Ramen Noodles!

This worked as a great side to the pork sandwiches. I threw a few rice noodles and toasted sesame seeds in, too.

This was such an easy meal to make and very satisfying! It made enough for lunches for the whole week, too!

These are just a couple of morsels from the week. I am so excited to share more orts with you!

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in recipe

 

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40 Random Acts of Kindness

What a great idea! Everyone should do a pre-birthday RAK!

Did That Just Happen Blog

I found this pin the other day and it really spoke to me!

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The Rebel Foodie put together a list of 52 Random Acts of Kindness and helped me imagine what a difference I could make.  I’ve already started on my list, but I feel compelled to share and bring you along with me on this journey.

I spent some time on the web and gathered up some ideas and combined it with items from The Rebel Foodies list and created my own list: 40 Random Acts of Kindness.  I have a birthday coming up, and felt this was a great way to Pay It Forward and help me celebrate the time I’ve spent on Earth.  My goal is to complete these items before I turn 40; which is closer than I think!

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I visited the Random Acts of Kindness foundation website and found some great ideas, as such, my list…

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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Pi R Squared!

Pi R Squared!

I am going to take a very short break from the fantastic array of “Freezer to Slow Cooker” meals that I have been making and writing about, to bring you a recipe that was inspired by a former Math teacher. Can you really be a “former” Math teacher, or is that kind of like being a Marine. You either are, or you aren’t.
One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of a cake, baked in the shape of Pi (3.14). The comments were many and varied. My favorite comment posted was by the aforementioned Math teacher turned school administrator, now retired. He wrote, “Pi r squared and this isn’t!” I laughed so hard! Pi r squared!
I immediately decided to make a square pie. The first thing I had to do was find a square pan. I have several 8 X 8 baking dishes, but they aren’t really square. They have rounded corners. Then I remembered “The Brownie Pan” that my mother always used when we were growing up. It has sharp, square corners. I called to see if I could borrow it, and she said yes.
With that determined, I had to decide what kind of pie to make. Chocolate. Meringue. That part was easy.
I whipped up a recipe of pie crust and baked it. Then I enlisted the help of Daughter Number Four to assist me in making the filling and meringue. I love homemade cream pie. It is almost unbeatable. Except for all of the beating, whisking, stirring involved!
The two of us whisked the creamy pie filling according to the directions and then whipped up our meringue. The finished product looked good in the picture. The reality of pi squared is that the meringue pulls away from the square corners quite a bit. That didn’t keep the pie (pi) from tasting amazing. It did prevent me from feeling comfortable about taking the pie to the aforementioned former Math teacher. You can’t ‘gift’ an ugly pie, even if it is funny and tastes good. Especially when his son is a professional chef!
I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/moms-chocolate-meringue-pie/
It was one of the easiest cream pie fillings I have ever put together. That might be in part because Daughter Number 4 did most of the stirring. Eight year old arms are much better for stirring than ‘over forty’ arms!
Chocolate Meringue Pie

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar

Mix together sugar, cocoa, corn starch and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually mix in milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to medium low; cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Stir about one cup of the hot filling into the egg yolks; mix back into the custard. Return saucepan to heat, and bring to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla. Pour hot filing into crust. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, and continue to beat until stiff and glossy. Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing meringue to crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely before serving.

I will absolutely be making this recipe again – in a regular round pie plate. I may even have to take it to the former Math teacher, who inspired this crazy square pie!
I hope you enjoyed this little morsel…

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Chicken Spaghetti – Freezer to Crockpot!

Another of the awesome recipes I made to go from “Freezer to Slow Cooker” was “Chicken Spaghetti”. I found the recipe on ‘CrockinGirls’.com http://crockingirls.com/recipes/chicken-spaghetti/. It was simple and full of flavor. I made a few modifications to fit my cooking style, and my family’s eating style. We all really liked it. It made a bunch, so I would say make it for company, or split into 2 bags so you don’t have so much left over.

I served it with green beans, salad, and Italian bread.

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, in 1”-2” cubes
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pounds 2% Velveeta, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups light sour cream
  • 2/3 cup soup substitute mix (recipe follows)
  • 1 7-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked spaghetti

Label a gallon freezer bag. Combine all ingredients, except spaghetti, into bag. Remove as much of the air from the bag as possible. Lay flat and freeze. The night before you want to serve it, remove from the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning place the contents plus ½ cup water into the slow cooker (crockpot). Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Turn to low, or off. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, then add into crock pot and stir thoroughly.

The original recipe called for 2-3 cans of “Cream Of” soup. I do not like using the “Cream Of” soups because of sodium and preservatives (mostly sodium). I found a recipe for a low sodium version of dry powdered substitute that you add your own liquids or flavorings to. Below is the soup mix – made as “Cream of Chicken”. You can switch out the bouillon flavor, the broth flavor, or add other herbs and spices to change the flavor of the ‘soup’.

Healthy Cream Soup Substitute

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium instant bouillon granules (chicken, beef, or vegetable) (I use HerbOx)
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes or 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Blend ingredients. Store in airtight container at room temperature. When ready to use, combine 1/3 cup soup substitute mix with 1¼ cups water or broth to equal 1 can of soup.

I use this soup substitute in all of my recipes that call for “Cream Of” soup. Most of the time The Hubs is none the wiser! Occasionally he asks if I made a recipe “healthy”, although he doesn’t usually know what I’ve done.

Good luck with your own substituting!

Be ready for more recipes from “Freezer to Slow Cooker”! They are definitely headed your way!

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Hawaiian Chicken – Freezer to Crockpot!

Hawaiian Chicken – Freezer to Crockpot!

I was inspired by my friend Kate@didthatjusthappenblog.wordpress.com/ to try making freezer meals as a great time saver for work nights. I am a picky cook and do not like to use convenience foods or processed foods if time, money, or sanity permit. I found four recipes online that I liked and thought the family would like. I put my grocery list together for the items that I didn’t have on hand and away I went!

When I got home I organized what I needed to make the meals and started an assembly line with prepping the foods. Some of the meals had the same or similar ingredients and I was able to dice, chop, or grate those at the same time for all of the meals.

I put the vegetables and sauces in the bags first and then added the meats. I did the chicken meals first and then cleaned that up before doing the ground beef meals. The stroganoff didn’t have any meat prep, since I bought stew meat.
The first one we had was Hawaiian chicken sandwiches. Our little family of four (down from 6, then 5, now 4) all enjoyed them. We also enjoyed the side dish I served with them! Really, really enjoyed it. That recipe follows.

Hawaiian chicken sandwiches

  • 1 can crushed pineapple; reserve 2 Tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced, or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 chicken breasts butterflied and cut to fit a slider size roll
  • 3 slices provolone, quartered

Pineapple Mayonnaise

  •  2 Tablespoons crushed pineapple, reserved from earlier
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Hawaiian Rolls

Open the can of pineapple; reserve two tablespoons for the mayonnaise.
Place the pineapple, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil in a zip-top bag and mix well.
Add the chicken to the bag. Remove all of the air, seal and place in the fridge for 6-8 hours, or freeze. Remove from freezer (if necessary) and thaw overnight. Pour contents into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

In a small bowl, stir together two tablespoons pineapple, mayonnaise and vinegar. This keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Cut the rolls in half. Spread the bottom with pineapple mayonnaise. Place cooked chicken on top and add a slice of provolone to melt. If desired add a tomato slice or lettuce leaf.

I served this with Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, which I know from eating at several Hawaiian Barbecue restaurants in California, is different than what I am used to making. I found this recipe on Epicurious and it is delish!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

  •  2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated

Whisk 1 ½ cups milk, 1 cup mayonnaise, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper in bowl.
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add vinegar and toss until absorbed. This prevents the vinegar from curdling the milk. Transfer to bowl. Cool pasta 10 minutes, then stir in dressing until pasta is well coated. Cool completely.
Add scallions, carrot, ½ cup milk, and ½ mayonnaise to bowl with pasta mixture and stir to combine; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour.

We all loved this meal, but the Macaroni Salad was definitely some of the most awesome and amazing macaroni salad ever!

I will be posting the other freezer to crockpot recipes that I have made the past 2 weeks! It is so easy and they made putting dinner on the table so easy! Kate was right! I’m so glad that I took her advice!
Be on the lookout for many more orts in the days to come!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in recipe

 

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