Archive for the ‘crockpot cooking’ Category

Writing Books and Recipe Writing!

April 26, 2013
This is the cover to the Kindle Edition of my Coffee Pot Cook Book.

This is the cover to the Kindle Edition of my Coffee Pot Cook Book.

 

Over the past few years, I have started to focus more on writing and publishing books than I have on writing about cooking. My first is a narcissistic story of Coffee Pot Cooking and how I lost 100 pounds by walking and cooking portion controlled meals in my coffeepot.

Caribs:The Original Caribbean Pirates & Founding Fathers of American Democracy

Caribs:The Original Caribbean Pirates & Founding Fathers of American Democracy

During my walks I became fascinated by all the beautiful plants that I was seeing and found out many were medicinals of the Amerindians, Africans and Asians that came to occupy St. Croix and call it home. When I tried to learn about the Caribs of St. Croix, I found little published so this led indirectly to my second books entitled,  “Caribs:The Original Caribbean Pirates & Founding Fathers of American Democracy” which is available in a (Kindle Edition) and (Paperback Edition).

I have not given up on writing about cooking, it’s just when I start to write a book on any topic, nothing elses seems important.  Before I start my next book in mid May, I hope to publish a few more recipes because I still eat, have favorite foods and want to have all my recipes in the same place. .

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

April 25, 2013
Stuffed Peppers and Broccoli Side

Stuffed Peppers and Broccoli Side

In January last year, I published two posts about stuffed peppers on my blog as this is one of the foods from my youth that I really liked. I am glad that I was publishing recipes while I dropped my 100 pounds, because it allows me to see how much my tastes have changed over time. In the post fifteen months ago, I was still favoring ground beef and in transition over white rice.

When I decided to make the stuffed peppers in my new Crockpot, there were several changes. First, it is much easier to get the stuffed pepper out of a Crockpot rather than a coffeepot because of the wider lid. But the really big change has been my evolution of ingredients. I no longer cook with salt. Yes, I have it on hand and use it occasionally but it is no longer a mindlessly included ingredient. I make up the lack of salt by using more spices.

I now use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Also, I no longer have any white rice in the house but favor brown rice or barley. Except for the cutting back on salt, the rest were not really conscious decisions and I don’t make a big deal out of them when my family is doing the cooking. I pretty much eat what is served and enjoy it. Without salt, I prefer the richer flavors of brown rice and barley over white rice. The original recipe which used ground beef, white rice and salt is here and my latest effort is below:

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
Stuffing Ingredients:
5 oz. (1/3 pound) ground turkey
1 small onion diced
½ cup cooked barley or brown rice
4 oz. Tomato sauce (canned or Italian)
1 tsp garlic
¼ tsp pepper
1 egg

Additional Ingredients:
2 medium bell peppers (Red or Green Look Best when cooked)
4-8 oz. Tomato sauce

Directions:
1.Combine all the stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until uniform.
2.Cut tops off of peppers, remove seeds and stuff with mixture.
3.Place in Crockpot
4.Add additional sauce until just completely covered.


Stuffed Pepper in Crockpot

Stuffed Peppers in the Crockpot

5.Cook covered 4-6 hours.
6.Serve with coleslaw or Broccoli

Best part no leftovers to tempt me!

My Christmas Crockpot

April 20, 2013
My Christmas Crockpot

My Christmas Crockpot

My daughter says that she and I both have minds like steel traps. According to her, there still is a huge difference between the two of us. Her trap is set to capture new concepts and ideas and my trap is sprung so it locks out everything new to me.

This discussion started a few years ago when she first tasted my coffeepot cooking including, Caribbean, Indian and Thai cooking. Her comment then was, “You could pick-up woman by cooking for them if you get rid of the weird factor of cooking in your coffeepot.” Of course my granddaughters reinforced the weird factor because all their friends at school told them that I was weird for cooking in my coffeepot.

Well of course I told my daughter and granddaughters, that crackpots were all the wrong size; I couldn’t find one that would safely work for my needs, and I was not going back to cooking monster meals.

Naturally, my daughter Dagny just ignored me and found a proper size (2 to 2 1/2 quart) Crockpot for Christmas. By proper size, I mean it holds pretty much the same amount of fluid as my 12 cup coffeepot so there is no temptation to super-size a meal. Over the past few months I have been checking it out and there are good and bad features compared to coffeepot cooking.

On the negative side, it has poorer temperature control than my coffeepot. When cooking a meal all day, the coffeepot will pretty much hold 165 degrees Fahrenheit and not change. With an aluminum foil cover it gets to 190. When set on low temperature, the crockpot varies considerably and will boil liquid after several hours. On high, it will actually scorch some foods. You have to pay closer attention to cooking times, When the food is done in the Crockpot, turn it off. The coffeepot is an excellent slow cooker and it is still at low enough temperature to act as a warmer. I used a Kill-A-Watt to measure the cost of electricity for cooking a meal and the Crackpot costs about twice as much to do the job compared to the coffeepot.

On the positive side it is much easier to get a pot roasted chicken out of the Crockpot because of the wider opening than the coffeepot. If you get stupid and stir the pot with a heavy metal spoon, you are less likely to break the ceramic pot than a glass coffeepot. Of course it is still easier to see when the glass pot is clean than it is to see when your black ceramic pot is clean.

Still my friends and family, male and female, are glad to see that I am conforming with societies values and using a standard tool of the kitchen rather than “abusing” my coffeepot. All things considered, I believe this is the best possible Crockpot when cooking portion controlled meals for one or two people. However, when warming things that probably don’t need to be cooked yet might scorch (Kielbasa and Baked Beans), I will use my coffeepot to warm them up especially if I don’t have time to watch the pot.

Coffeepot Lasagna: Oxymoron or Good Eating?

June 23, 2012

Rolled Lasagna: Coffeepot Style

When my parents started getting older, it seemed that all they wanted to talk about was the weather and their grandchildren. Now the first topic is boring and there is not much I can do about it, but I must admit that I spend a lot of time talking to my children about their wonderful and sometimes not quite so wonderful children. I also spend a significant amount of time talking to my children about business, exercise (their’s and mine) and cooking.

My daughter discovered a recipe for rolled lasagna in early April and was concerned that it was not quite perfect. We talked about it and it sounded like something that could be done in my coffeepot but I didn’t get around to it until just before Memorial Day and have been too busy since then with my anti-inflammatory diet to worry about publishing new recipes.

However, I get two of my three Granddaughters for the first three weeks in August and this is another one of those fun meals that shouldn’t be possible to make. Even the name Coffeepot Lasagna sounds like an oxymoron. One of the most important things I learned with his meal is that you can cook the whole box of lasagna noodles and the ones that you don’t use can be frozen between layers of wax-paper and are perfectly fine for another day.

Naturally, my daughter and I never cook anything exactly the same way. She tends to be aware and adapt to the contemporary interpretations of old recipes and I tend to do it the old-fashioned way. It’s all good. When I cook, she loves it. When she cooks, I love it. The biggest difference in this recipe is that she included crumbled cooked sausage in her cheese mix for the filling, I sliced cooked meatballs and made it a layer on top of the filling. If I were including sausage, which I have in the past, I slice it and include it with the meatball slices or in a separate layer. Oh well, to each their own.

Rolled Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 egg
4 oz shredded Mozzarella
handful fresh parsley minced

3 Lasagna noodles cooked as per box directions.

Method:

1. Cook all the noodles and freeze the ones you don’t use between sheets of wax paper.

2. Microwave one portion of frozen meatballs for the appropriate amount of time.

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Spread the Cheese Mix on the Lasagna Noodles

4. Spread the cheese mix on the noodles.

5. Place the sliced cooked meatballs on top of the noodles and dab a little sauce on top of everything.

6. Roll and spike with toothpick to hold.

7. Put a little sauce in bottom of coffeepot so nothing sticks.

Cooked Rolled Lasagna

8. Place meatballs inside and cook for two to four hours.

9. Enjoy

I haven’t made this in the three years since Dolores died but I am definite I will make it when my granddaughters are here. Truth be told, I forgot to dab the sauce on top of the cheese and meatball layer before rolling because it’s been too long, but that is the traditional way to do it.

Ah, I remember it well!

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew!

May 30, 2012

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew

When my brother, Walt and sister-in-law, Marge, come to visit, almost anything can happen in my kitchen. The pantry may be rearranged so it takes me six months of using up hurricane supplies to find everything again or all my cabinets are rearranged and glasses put directly above the sink even though I never use glasses and drink the water from a bottle and coffee and tea from my mug. The reason of course is that “everybody does it their way” and this would make it easier for guests. Now the only frequent visitors are my daughter’s family and their daughter (my niece) and the last time everyone came, they complained they couldn’t find anything because it had all been moved.

Oh well, none of this is important and worth worrying about so I just ignore it. Besides, sometimes I even learn something new. Like Marge does, I usually buy chicken thighs on sale and skin and bone them myself and the same with chicken breasts. Marge likes to cook and Walter prefers food cooked exactly her way with exactly the ingredients they use at home. This means at the end of a visit I end up with weird stuff I never use full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors which end up getting dumped. Every now and then a good idea sneaks up on me by surprise.

One year, after they were gone, I pulled some frosted over chicken parts out of the freezer for my next days dinner and when I started preparing my evening meal, I found a bag full of skin and bones with almost no meat. Naturally, I avoided confrontation and called my niece to find out what the heck I was looking at and it seems she knew the answer and this time it was logical. This was how her mom stored all the chicken parts from deboned chicken thighs and breasts and also the carcase from a roasted chicken after it was finished carving. She uses it as a base for chicken soup.

I liked the idea but decided to carry it to the next level. Since many recipes that call for a quarter teaspoon of a pinch of some spice are difficult to scale down, I hold the sauce constant and cut back on the meat and vegetables to four to six ounces of meat instead of a pound. Some times I will use the sauce and turn a vegan meal into a chicken meal, other times I will just save the sauce and add it to the skin and bones container and freeze it.

If the sauce is really good, it is likely to be rebuilt into a second meal. If I don’t think it was perfect, I will add it to the container of skin and bones and freeze it. The container could be quite eclectic with Pot Liquor from Collard greens and smoked turkey, sauce leftover from vegan or chicken curry, standard giblet gravy or pan drippings from a roast turkey or chicken. Everything vegan, chicken or turkey goes into the container. I don’t include any vegetables as the get mushy – just the sauce gets added to the container.

I don’t worry too much about the mixture of flavors. I also add the liquid from canned beans when the liquid is not added to the recipe. It seems that our local stores pack 5 pieces of chicken to a tray in the meat counter. Recently as I tightened up on my portion control, I add the odd pieces of chicken to the pot as I know I only need two small legs or thighs and cooking that extra piece in a pack serves no useful purpose as leftovers but does help build the pot of soup.

Pretty much the stew featured above was made from various sauces, skin and bones with one thigh and one leg. After defrosting and cooking for a couple of hours I removed the skin and bones and discarded them leaving just the thigh and leg. I added a handful of parsley and celery from my garden and a can of garbanzos with the liquid and a half cup of barley and let it cook a couple more hours. Next, I added the potato and carrot and 12 ounces of water as the barley had adsorbed all of the stock and it needed to be thinned out to cook the carrots and potato.

Sometimes, I add dumplings and leave out the potato. If I have leftover peas or corn, it gets added to the pot. Depending on my mood and what I have, I could also substitute brown rice for barley.

There can be no  recipe for this chicken stew because;

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew is a lifestyle.

 

Just for Fun: Soft Boiled Eggs and Coffee

March 22, 2012

Soft Boiled Egg on Toast with Coffee

I haven’t written very many recipes in my blog in the last couple of weeks as I have been busy working on my book entitled: “An Introduction to Coffeepot Cooking: How I Lost 101 pounds with Portioned Controlled Meals.” However, as I am preparing a chapter of a dozen sample recipes, I noticed that most of my meals focused on portion controlled dinners and also, I had never made coffee in my coffeepot in the 2 ½ years I have been cooking in it. For a broader presentation, I decided to include a simple breakfast of soft boiled eggs and coffee in the chapter of sample recipes.

Most of the meals published in the sample chapter require very little attention with regard to cooking time and once everything is in the pot, the meal can pretty much be ignored until it is done and you are ready to eat. Soft boiled eggs present a unique challenge whether you are doing it on the stove pot or in the coffeepot. My wife liked 3-4 minute eggs and made them perfect every time. When she ordered soft boiled eggs at a restaurant, it was hit or miss meal, and even worse in Virginia, it was illegal to make it her way. Seems, the egg white must be thoroughly cooked above 140 degrees which means the white is rubbery, and the yoke starting to solidify. That is hardly a soft boiled egg.

Because of the need to pay careful attention to the critical timing, I never really cooked soft boiled eggs in my coffeepot. There are also a couple of other reasons including the fact that I rarely eat a structured breakfast but settle for a piece of fruit and some tea to start my day. I am far more likely to build a meal around eggs for dinner. Soft boiled eggs turned out to be remarkably simple based on the experiments with meals I had made involving hard boiled eggs and how long that took.

I verified by cooking some eggs and at twenty minutes, both the egg white and yoke are runny or about the same as a two minute egg. At thirty minutes, the white is mostly solidified and the yoke is still runny, just like a 3 minute egg. At forty minutes, the white is all solid and the yoke has the texture of cold butter which can be spread but breaks apart. Above an hour you have a fully cooked hard boiled egg.

Ingredients:

Eggs

Coffee

Water

Dairy and sugar to taste

Method:

Eggs in Coffeepot, Coffee in Filter, Water in Tank
All Ready to Go!

  1. Place two eggs in the coffeepot. (The pot will actually hold about six eggs without changing cooking times too much.)
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon of ground coffee per 5 oz cup of water. (Check the coffee label to be sure)
  3. Add the appropriate amount of water. (about 5-6 cups to cover 2 eggs. Less for more eggs.)
  4. Cook the appropriate amount of time for the type eggs you want. (go take a shower or read)
  5. If you like, take off a cup of coffee while the eggs continue to cook.
  6. Make toast in a toaster of serve with fresh bread or roll.

    Soft Boiled Egg, Ready to Eat

  7. Enjoy.

I’m sorry the pictures are a little on the dark side, but I am really not at my best early in the morning but the eggs and coffee were good.

Stewed Fish and Beans – Puerto Rican Style

February 22, 2012

Puerto Rican Style Stewed Fish and Red Beans

The Fish and Tomato recipe previously presented is just begging for more creativity and the standard ingredients in Puerto Rican or Caribbean Kitchens and personal preference would help you make choices. I don’t always have fresh bell peppers but there is usually a bottle of Sofrito in the refrigerator. Sofrito is just a flavoring blend with various ingredients usually bell pepper, onions, cilantro, and tomatoes.

Of course, you could use Sazon which is a spice blend which adds a lovely natural red color to the pot and another option would be to add a can (8 oz.) of Spanish Style Tomato Sauce. In the two variations presented today, I chose to add beans. Using Red beans would be a typical Puerto Rican Style recipe whereas my using black beans was just a personal adaptation for my own personal preference.

Ingredients:

1 T. Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium onion rough cut

1 slice 1/8 inch of hot pepper (Optional)

1-2 oz. Dark Rum

2 T Safrito with tomato paste

1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 can Red Beans with liquid

½ tsp Adobo

1 packet of Sazon

4-6 oz Piece of Fish with or without bones

Method:

1. Place oil, rum, hot pepper, onion, and garlic in Coffeepot, place on warmer and heat for 1 hour.

2. Add seasoned salt, beans and tomatoes heat for about 2 hours or other convenient amount of time.

3. When pot is hot, add fish and cook for an additional 2 hours.

Stewed Fish and Black Beans

The meal made above uses the more strongly flavored black beans and the biggest difference was I drained the dark liquid from the beans and rinsed them and drained them again before adding the beans to the pot. I didn’t want the dark liquid to alter the color of the red sauce.

When it comes to cooking Puerto Rican and Caribbean Foods, “To each, his own.”

Basic Puerto Rican Fish in Red Sauce, Coffeepot Style

February 1, 2012

Puerto Rican Tomato, Fish and Brown Rice

Over the past couple of years, I find I am eating a lot more fish mostly sashimi grade tuna because I love the flavor and talipia, because it is very inexpensive and fresh from the farm. I have tried the frozen whole taliapa from China which was even cheaper than our fresh local product, but it was so nasty and “off Flavor” that I threw the whole meal out. I’ll stick with fresh, local and still inexpensive Talipia and know I eat the best.

I love tomatoes, garlic, peppers, onions, rice and beans and have taken several pictures of the different combinations I cooked with fish and the best way to eat it is the way you like it. I will start with the absolute simplest ways I have prepared the fish in my coffeepot and later publish slight modifications I have documented over the past couple of years. I am sure I have cooked many more different variations and all are more or less favorable but they are all good. When just starting to cook, you should always start with the most basic ingredients and add more to see if you like it better.

Simple Basic Fish Recipe

Ingredients:

1 T. Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 medium onion rough cut

½ Green Bell Pepper

1 can diced tomatoes

½ Tsp Adobo or other seasoned salt

1 slice 1/8 inch of hot pepper (Optional)

4-6 oz Piece of Fish with or without bones

Method:

  1. Place oil and raw ingredients in Coffeepot, place on warmer and heat for 1 hour.
  2. Add seasoned salt and tomatoes heat for about 2 hours or other convenient amount of time.
  3. When pot is hot, add fish and cook for an additional 2 hours.

Extremely flexible cooking times if you have a thermometer. Just heat sauce above 140 and add the fish. Heat the fish between above 160 and serve. I served it with brown rice as shown above. However, since I sometimes want a change, I have also served it with Barley which is also a healthy alternative.

Stuffed Peppers Coffeepot Style!

January 17, 2012

Stuffed peppers and coleslaw.

When it comes to food, I simply can’t resist a bargain especially when I think about low bulk prices paid to farmers and the much higher price in the store. I am really not sure how much a farmer gets paid for red bell peppers but in our local stores they are generally around $5.00 per pound. So when I saw big beautiful Red Bell Peppers on sale for $1.69, I compulsively brought 2 having no idea what I was going to do with them.

My mother would have had no problem. She used to make fantastic stuffed bell peppers using raw rice. Whenever I tried to duplicate her recipe, I failed so I asked to watch her do it and finally understood. Her secret was essentially moisture control which is far easier when you are cooking for six instead of one or two and have the time to do it in an oven in a big roasting pan. I adapted her recipe and they came out perfect as I alson solved the problem of how to make great stuffed peppers in the coffeepot or crockpot. The secrete of my success is to start with cooked rice.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures. I have cooked this a few times since and because I was too lazy to post the recipe on line, I had to search for the recipe each time among the stacks of paper on my desk. While I have not been searching for new recipes as much as I should, I returned to coffeepotcooking to post this recipe and found my friend Monica from London has started publishing new recipes which I now want to try. It must be karma.

Also I have another new fish recipes that I want to post so I no longer have to search through scraps of paper plus the new ones from Monica that I will try, so will probably post them also. It really is easier at my age to search on line then to remember them or even hunt for scraps of paper. Besides in a sick sort of way, I get to haunt my children, niece, and grandchildren as the keep searching my site for recipes after I am long gone which I figure is about 30 years from now.

Mom’s Stuffed Peppers Coffeepot Style

Ingredients:

Stuffing Ingredients:

1/3 to ½ pound ground beef

1 small onion diced

½ cup cooked rice (either white or brown)

4 oz. Tomato sauce (canned or Italian)

½ -1 tsp garlic salt

¼ tsp pepper

Additional Ingredients:

2 medium bell peppers (red or Green Look Best when cooked)

4-8 oz. Tomato sauce

Directions:

1.Combine all the stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until uniform.

Mixed ingredients

2.Cut tops off of peppers and stuff with mixture.

SWtuff the Peppers

3.Place in coffeepot

Stuffed Peppers in the Pot

4.Add additional sauce until just completely covered.

Cover with sauce

5.Cook covered with foil 4-8 hours until top is cooked.

Cook covered with Foil

6.Serve with rice or coleslaw.

Served with rice

This is one of those nostalgia meals that my Mom did quite well. In those days hamburger was actually cheap and peppers were free in summer. A can of Goya Tomato Sauce is still only 35 cents so I call that a real bargain for a good product.

End note: if you are really foolish enough to want to start wit uncooked rice, I would use 1/4 cup brown rice and 1/2 cup of water plus 1 T of water and cook 8-12 hours or essentially all day  I simply dont believe white rice will work unless it’s microwave rice or minute rice both of which are expensive.

Paneer Masala

January 10, 2011

Paneer Masala

There is that old saying about what do you do when God gives you lemons and of course the answer is make Lemonade which was covered in a previous post. Now the next question is what do you do when your Grandchildren come to visit and leave you with a full gallon of milk. The answer is not quite so obvious but it is”Make paneer” and once again thanks to Monica, there is a good recipe online that works well.

I refer you to her site because while I made it slightly differently, I ended up without pictures but the paneer which is not locally available tasted great so I decided on a simple Paneer Masala, once again from Monica. Now probably the biggest change I made to the recipe was to cut the amount of paneer used in half because four ounces was all that came out of the half gallon of low fat milk. So what I had is what I used.

The other change was partially logical and partially pragmatic. Since I cut the amount of paneer in half, I cut the turmeric used to season it in half. Locally, turmeric is $6.99 for less than an ounce and that provided another incentive to the logical reduction. I also cut the salt to season the paneer in half because overall there is still a lot of salt in the rest of the recipe.

From a pragmatic perspective, I used a full tin of drained diced tomatoes instead of half and the final change was to substitute a dried red chili for the unavailable green one. Well the meal was fantastic and my friends loved it. Perhaps this is true because none of us had ever eaten very much Indian food in general or Monica’s in particular. However I really can’t imagine a meal much more flavorful than this one was.

If I had thought of it at all, I would have made an additional change and that was to use all of the peas in the recipe. It’s about a week since I made this meal and all the paneer, sauce and tomatoes are gone but the other half of the can of peas still lingers in my refrigerator. Oh well, I am still learning to think beforehand about preparing meals for one or two and I hate wasting a thing or building a meal around one minor ingredient that I rarely use. Next time I will add it all. And this is good enough that there will be a next time.

Ingredient:

To season the paneer:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 block of paneer (1/4 pound), cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

To make the Marsala:

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp grated ginger

3 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 green chilli

handful of fresh chopped coriander

1 tin plum tomatoes drained but retain liquid

1/2 to 1 can peas drained

1 small can mushroom pieces

Directions:

1.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds. Once they begin to sizzle, add the paneer cubes. Now add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder.

2.  Stir occasionally until paneer turns golden on all sides. Remove from heat and hold for later.

Spiced and Cooked Paneer

3. In a blender, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. If done in a blender you will have to add the olive oil to the blender instead of the pan. Also add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala and the coriandor. Process until finely ground.

Blend the Masala and Oil Paste

4.  In a pan, heat the masala containing the oil. Cook on medium heat until golden brown, about 1/2 hour.

5.  Add 1 tin drained plum tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Once the oil begins to separate from the masala, add the peas. Then add the mushrooms and the previously prepared paneer. Stir

6.  Add the saved tomato juice so it is just covering the vegetables and paneer and bring to temperature.

7.  Serve with rice.

This is another full flavored Vegetarian meal from the kitchen of Monica as adapted for my coffeepot or your crockpot.