Archive for the ‘Crockpot recipes’ Category

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!

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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.

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.

Beautiful Stuffed Peppers

January 19, 2012

Beautiful Stuffed Red Peppers!

While getting my computer organized which is just another way of wasting time, I actually found a copy of the Stuffed Red Pepper served with mashed potatoes and sauce. It really was a beautiful meal fit for a king or at least this old man. There is no need to post a recipe as the following post is for Stuffed Green Peppers.

Meanwhile, I don’t know if Ill get back to writing more about food but I certainly enjoy the visitors to coffeepotcooking.wordpress.com. There were about 13,000 visitors last year and it seems that the most popular reason why visitors come is to learn about coffeepot cooking in general but there are many who come to find recipes for Puerto Rican food which I learned to cook from my friend Chino. Of course the disasters are all mine as Chino is no longer alive to give constructive criticism. (It might be better if you used cilantro instead of parsley.)

Chino was a very positive human being and the most negative thing he ever told me was “It”s alright.” Of course, I figured out that that was a very negative assessment and I should try again. However, when he said something was good or great he meant it and we used to trade foods we cooked on almost a daily basis.

Of course some of the recipes I intend to post in the future have Puerto Rican influences inspired by Chino and some have Italian Influences inspired by Dolores. Others come from my daughter who is an excellent cook with Caribbean roots. Oh and I would be rude to ignore Monica who has taught me to love Indian food which has a tremendous influence on all Caribbean foods.

Well, I will try to remain committed, at least until I publish the best of what I have been eating so that I don’t have to keep wasting time rooting through piles of paper recipes. I am not quite so manic about what I eat as I have learned to control my input to reasonable amounts and yes I achieved one goal last December of losing 100 pounds from my peak weight (265). I am now contented holding 172 plus or minus 4 pounds. As to exercise I like walking and do about 25 miles in a normal week and last Saturday walked a 26.4 mile Marathon in 10 hours and 15 minutes.

Acorn Squash and Pasta – A work in Progress

January 12, 2011

Acorn Squash And Pasta

I love everything about acorn squash. I love it baked in a half shell with butter and brown sugar, I love it as a base for a vegan or vegetarian soup. I even love the way it looks and and because of the affordable price I usually forget I have one and buy an another one before I use the one I have. Because I love to have a variety in my diet, I started searching for new ways to cook it and stumbled upon a Rachael Ray recipe for Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta.

Seem that this was not a crowd favorite as most people called it bland and the only ones who gave it high enough ratings to bring the average up to 3 stars out of 5 had altered the recipe and added meat to the meal because it wasn’t vegetarian to start with. Still it was an interesting concept and it got me to thinking?

What if I used Italian spices instead of pumpkin pie spices? What if I used a acorn squash instead of pumpkin? What if I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth? What if I used ricotta instead of milk and Hot pepper instead of Pepper sauce? The only way to find out was give it a try.

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil

3 shallots diced (optional)

3 coves garlic minced

1 thin slice Scotch Bonnet Pepper

1 onion diced

2 tsp Parsley

6-8 fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dry

½ tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 acorn squash

1 Can Vegetable Broth

1 cup ricotta

½ tsp salt

Grated Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Cook the acorn squash until soft, and remove pulp from shell and set aside.
  2. In olive oil, simmer shallots, garlic, hot pepper, onion, parsley, basil, time and bay until onion glazes over.
  3. Add broth and acorn squash and let simmer for an hour.
  4. Remove Bay and hot pepper and blend in blender.
  5. Add ricotta, bring to temperature and serve over pasta. (I used a bowl with extra sauce).

Well the jury is out on this recipe. Believe it or not I found it bland while my vegetarian friend loved it. I tried it before I added the ricotta, and the flavors were actually bolder. I do believe this will have a better chance of me cooking it again as a vegan meal with the addition of diced tomatoes and am actually looking forward to the challenge of getting a bold flavor out an acorn squash and pasta meal. I love my acorn squash and would like to eat it more often if I can find different ways.

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.

What do you do with Broccoli Stems?

January 8, 2011

Broccoli Stems Pealed and Cubed

Over a lifetime of enjoying Broccoli, I knew I had to be doing something wrong. After all who in their right mind would buy a head of Broccoli cut off the flowers and throw the rest away. Finally, after making a pot of Broccoli Soup from the Carla Capalbo’s “Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking”. I started to get the big picture but now had the opposite problem. I was taking perfectly good flowers and throwing them into a pot of soup just to puree the whole thing and cook a few more flowers in it for garnish. What a waste of perfectly good broccoli flowers which are a delight to eat either raw or gently steamed.

Pealed and Cubed Butternut Squash

Then I got an idea! After using the perfectly good flowers as a vegetable, why not use the leftover stems in a different pot of soup without any flowers. I pealed the stems and cubed them and combined it with an equal amount of butternut squash and followed the recipe for the my Vegan Acorn Squash Soup . Now just to let my sense of humor kick in I served it to my children and their friends who all hail from DC, New York and Princeton and are moderately affluent. After all why not make a soup for the well off out of what was formerly considered garbage.

Cooking the Soup

My daughter knows my sense off humor and loved the soup as did all who ate it. She now buys a butternut squash every time she purchases broccoli and makes the soup as a follow up dinner with a completely different character.

The recipe is recipe is similar to the Vegan Acorn Squash Soup with an equal amount of squash and broccoli stems and it makes enough for 4 people. Oops, because I forgot to take a picture and because I used Gimelli, the soup looks more like this.

Crucian Fusion Pasta Sauce – An Original Recipe

January 8, 2011

Crusion Frusion Sauce Served with Gimelli and Parmesan

As regular visitors are aware, our local cuisine in St. Croix is a fusion of American, Caribbean and Hispanic and yes, I am aware of Vodka Sauce which has good and bad taste elements in my mind so I have never tried it. I almost never use milk in cooking with the exception of thickened white sauces. However, my Uncle Allie by marriage always had a side dish of Ricotta Cheese at his red sauce meals and taught me to use it and blend it with the tomato sauce on your own plate. I don’t dislike red peppers but I like our local scotch bonnet peppers even more. Finally, I generally neither buy Vodka or have it in the house but there is always a bottle of Rum available even though I only drink red wine.

I made this for myself and some friends and then on another occasion served it to my daughter’s family and some of their friends. Everybody loved it and nobody cared it was made in my coffeepot as we all went to the beach and let the meal cook itself. Of course this recipe is perfect for a bottom heated newer crockpot.

Ingredients:

½ cup Cruzan Rum

1 thin slice Scotch Bonnet Pepper or ½ tsp crushed red pepper

1 T. Olive Oil

¼ pound prosciutto chopped up

2 Cloves of Garlic minced

1 T. chopped Parsley

1 T chopped Basil

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice

1 8 oz can of Tomato Sauce

½ cup of Ricotta

Directions:

  1. In a closed container put the half cup of rum and the hot pepper and let sit overnight
  2. Put oil, garlic, prosciutto, and parsley in pot and put on hot plate for one hour.

    Prosciuto and Parsley Ready to be Cooked.

  3. Add tomatoes, basil and tomato sauce and let cook covered for 2-4 hours or what ever is convenient.

    Ready for the Ricotta

  4. ½ hour before serving add the ricotta
  5. Serve with your choice of pasta (Gimelli) and Parmesan.

A very special meal from the Island of St. Croix. Take note, people from the island of St. Croix are Crucians, where as our best rum from the island is Cruzan.

Rich and Bold West Indian Vegan Curry

January 5, 2011

Vegan Curry

I am now cooking vegetarian or vegan 3-4 times a week out of respect for my friend Vanice who prefers meatless meals. When she comes to help me out I make sure there is something she will enjoy eating in my refrigerator and therefor make a little more of the vegetarian combinations. Friends have learned to trust my cooking because I cater to their desires and never lie about the ingredients no matter how minor the uses of a non vegetable ingredient. Locally vegetarian meals are fairly bland and depend more on the freshness of the vegetables than the creativity of the cook and range from good to just plain awful.

Vanise has developed a taste for the rich flavors of Indian curry, West Indian curry and Italian Vegetarian meals. My rule of thumb when making a vegetarian meals is if it contains a dairy product, I will make it vegetarian. However, if the meal is 90% vegetarian and has no dairy products as necessary ingredients, I will make it Vegan. Usually this can be accomplished by using olive oil instead of butter or vegetable broth instead of chicken stock.

My daughter’s husband loves curry and learns to cook those things he likes. As a family they made curry and it was a disappointment. My daughter called to ask about the missing spice flavor and lack of rich color and we started talking.  Of course, the color could be built using turmeric, and the flavor could be built using cumin, cilantro and garlic, but then the obvious answer to what went wrong is you are are actually building your own curry powder so throw out the garbage you though was curry powder and find Chief Curry Powder which is a product of Trinidad and Tobago which has a higher percentage of Asian Indians than any other Caribbean Island.

It takes a good curry powder to make good West Indian curry and life is that simple. Well she drove across DC and found a nice little West Indian Market and purchased her Chief Curry Powder and had no other problems making good Curry. The following recipe shows that I still spice the pot but essentially, I am trying to make an already good meal slightly better. The package recipe also recommends Chives, Onion, Garlic, Pepper and Salt. Chives are not usually available, I like the flavor of hot pepper and I try to run from too much salt. Too each his own.

Ingredients:

Rue made from 2 T. Olive Oil and 3 T. Flower

2 carrots

1 potato

1T olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 onion chunked

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper or ¼ tsp flaked red pepper

1 inch piece shredded ginger

1 oz white wine

1 heaping T Chief Curry Powder

¼ tsp thyme

1 can vegetable broth

1 can garbanzo beans with liquid

1 can peas no liquid

Directions:

  1. Make a rue by blending 3 tablespoons of flower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside until needed.

    Cold Rue

  2. If making this in a coffeepot or crockpot, pre-cook the carrots and potatoes. This can be done by blanching them in the coffeepot and holding for 1 hour or cooking them in the crockpot on high for about 20 minutes. You want them cooked but firm. Set aside the firm cooked carrots and potatoes until needed.

    Blanch potatoes & carrots

  3. Put the oil into the pot or crockpot if bottom heated and saute the garlic, onion, hot pepper, ginger and wine in the pot.

    Shredded Ginger

  4. Add the curry powder, thyme, vegetable broth, garbanzo beans and liquid to the pot and bring to temperature about 2 hours.
  5. Whisk in the rue until blended.
  6. Add the potatoes and carrots and drained peas to the pot and blend
  7. Cook for about 2 more hours.

Rotini Dolores

January 1, 2011

An Absolutely Delightful Vegi - Combo!!!

When it came to Italian food, Dolores did everything to make me a fan just as she did for other friends and family. From Calabrese in the toe of the Italian Boot to the Hills of Tuscany in the north, she loved it all. It simply didn’t matter that her family was from Naples as Italian was Italian.

Other than Italian Foods, Dolores loved streak. So when the Palms offered a streak in Gorgonzola sauce over fettuccine, I had to try it out of love and remembrance for Dolores. She loved the combination of Steak and Gorgonzola cheese which first appeared on local menu’s about 10 years ago and would order it every chance she got. While I would hardly ever order steak when out, I had eaten some of Dolores’ leftovers and have to agree it was a pretty good combination.

The Palm’s Gorgonzola and Sirloin Tips was excellent, the meat was cooked to perfection, very tender and moist, and the creamy white sauce had red onion pieces and mushrooms with a rich cheesy flavor. My date for the evening suggested that she would probably like it without the beef and the flavors were so delicious, I really could see that the beef was not necessary and his would make a fantastic Vegetarian meal.

Since the only white sauce I had cooked in the past year was the Penne with Cauliflower which was excellent, I decided to use that as a starting point and leave the meat out. The red onion and sirloin tips added some color to the original meal, but I wanted more. I decided to serve it over tri-colored rotini to make it prettier when served and also because the unique shape of rotini holds more sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups low fat milk

1 bay leaf

2 T. butter

2 T. cup flower

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black or white pepper freshly ground

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola

1 small red onion rough cut and flaked

1 small can mushrooms

Method:

Obviously this will work well in one of the modern bottom heated crockpots with a low temperature setting about 170 Fahrenheit.

  1. Mix the flower and butter together with the back side of a fork until a smooth past is formed let sit at room temperature.

    Make the Cold Rue

  2. Put the milk in the coffee pot with the bay leaf and let come to temperature about 2 hours.

    Bay and Milk in Pot

  3. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the rue, the sauce will thicken right away. Be careful when stirring in the rue and the cheese. I used a fork to transfer the rue to the pot and a whisk to stir so as not to crack the glass pot.

    Mix in Rue with a Whisk

  4. Add the cheese and stir in the pot. When all is smooth, add the mushrooms and onions to the pot and gently stir until uniform. I use a plastic spoon.

    Stir in Mushrooms and Onions

Serve over pasta and don’t worry if you have to hold it a few hours, just dilute with a little more milk if it thickens too much. No burning, scalding or separating will occur even when you microwave the leftovers.

I smile as I write and cook this meal because I know that Dolores would love it and eat it as prepared the first time and after that she would add leftover steak or some pan seared tenderloin tips to her portion of this delightful vegetarian meal. And after 43 years of marriage why would I waste a second arguing. Meat or no meat, to each his/her own.