Archive for the ‘crockpot’ Category

I’m Back with Redneck Calamari and More

February 7, 2014
Redneck Calamari

Redneck Calamari

Half the reason I’m back to coffeepot cooking is that I love to cook with my Granddaughters; especially totally ridiculous meals like the one shown above. Of course this meal pretty much comes without a recipe but most people will figure it out. For those fathers who never cook and occasionally get stuck making a meal for children, the recipe is below with a little warning. Perhaps I should have left a link to my grandfathers and hotdog post.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Water, Enough

Hotdogs, Enough

Gold Fish Crackers, Enough

Garnish to make it look like seaweed, Optional, I used Cilantro

Method:P1000502a

Cut bottom 2/3 of hotdog into six legs so it looks like a squid.

Hotdogs in Pot

Hotdogs in Pot

Place in coffeepot

Run water throw the coffeemaker.

Let cook on hotplate for an hour.

Arrange on plates and serve.

Warning!

I used good all beef Hebrew National Hotdogs and “Frankly” they were too dry. If I ever do this again, I will intentionally buy the Brand X greasy cheap hotdogs made from pork and chicken so they have flavor at the end of the cooking process.

The other reason, I am returning to portion controlled coffeepot cooking is because I am becoming a “fat slob”. My daughter and niece were the bearers of the negative assessment this time. I first heard this as a medical assessment in Florida after I suffered a stroke in 2010. I was complaining to the doctor that it didn’t make sense as I had already lost 57 pounds which was morbid obesity at my height.

At the time of the stroke, I was at 210 and still medically classified as obese. Frustrated the doctor explained that he really didn’t care how much I had lost in the past, I was still officially obese and a fat slob.

Over the past 18 months, I have written two books, I never stopped exercising. But as I slid out of my comfort zone of 172 to 178, I never really noticed that there was a dramatic change in my cooking, eating and drinking.

Because  I was researching and writing about history, I stopped my passion for reading and writing about food. I quit cooking in my coffeepot and started grilling double portions on the grill and eating it all or cooking the food in my cute small crockpot which is still bigger than my coffeepot. When I am researching and writing about anything other than food and dieting, I sort of pace around the house and mindlessly eat. At night, I have a few extra glasses of wine so I can kill my brain activity and go to sleep.

Big Belly Man

Big Belly Man

So in 2014 just 2 pounds short of where I had my stroke, I have come to accept that I must split my time between doing what I want and doing what I need to do. I will start becoming food and diet focused again spending some time finding recipes and preparing meals based on quality not quantity. The next time I post a picture, I am sure it will be better than the one above or I must begin to accept that their may not be a next time if I don’t take care of myself.

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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!

Coffeepot Meatloaf!

June 7, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf and Coleslaw

I love meatloaf. It is one of the all-time great comfort food and every family makes it good and every institutions gets it wrong. I made meatloaf, my wife made meatloaf, my mother-in-law made meatloaf and my mother made meatloaf. It was all different and all good. When I was still eating a lot of beef and pork, I kept ground pork and ground beef around because the mixture makes a pleasant meatloaf. I tried making meatloaf in my coffeepot several times and was not satisfied with the results. It was either messy, stuck to the mold or just didn’t work out correctly. It seems you are never too old to learn from your children and this meal was made possible by learning from both my son and my daughter.

While visiting my son, He and my Granddaughter were making cupcakes and I was just amazed to see how well Silicon Cupcake molds worked. You use them as standalone molds on top of a cookie pan and the cupcakes cook and nothing sticks to the mold. I just knew that they would be perfect for coffeepot meatloaf and I got some. After cooking each mold holds a 4 ounce piece of meat loaf so this meal is for two portions. I must admit I ate two of them for dinner because it came out so well and snacked on the third. Oh well!

None of my previous recipes came out particularly well as they are all too moist and there is no way to cook off the extra moisture in a coffeepot. For this success, I turned to my daughter who is an excellent cook and for more traditional cooking methods, you might want to visit Dinner By Dagny. The key to my success was her recipe for turkey burgers which I adapted into turkey meatloaf. She is a big fan of ground turkey and there are two secretes to her success. First, purchase quality ground turkey not the cheapest house brand and also start with a good recipe.

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients:

Meatloaf:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 T crushed garlic
1 handful of fresh Herbs (I used basil and parsley and minced the blend))
1/2 tsp Adobo or other seasoned salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper (I put peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and cracked them)
1 Tomato diced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I grated the amount off a piece of frozen whole wheat bread)

4 oz tomato sauce to cover the meat. (I used leftover sauce)

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

2. Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

3. Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

4. Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

5. Take out of the molds and serve.

This was excellent meatloaf and a double success. The turkey meatloaf was excellent and the molds did their job.

Thank You Andy and Dagny!

Any Thoughts on Bok Choy or Pok Choi

April 3, 2012

Bok Choy and Smoked Turkey

My friend Chino from St. Croix had a standard answer when asked about anything substandard. If you asked about a questionable person, his answer would always be He or She “is alright.” If you asked about a poorly cooked or tasteless meal, his answer would be, “It’s alright”. He was a positive person who had programmed all negative responses out of his system. If he couldn’t say anything good, he would always say, “It’s alright”.

Now what brought this story to mind is my love-hate relationship with Bok Choy or Pok Choi. I love having this vegetable growing in the garden because it loves my soil and grows healthy and disease free without any special attention. A very special addition is that when I put a plant among my tomato plants and arugula plants, I can tell by looking from my gallery which is 100 feet away if my garden needs water. If the bok choy is wilted, everything needs water but is not quite as visible.

My only wish is that I could cook it so I could safely eat it. Most web recipes call for fish sauce, oyster sauce or soy sauce and when you stir fry it with any of them, the stuff tastes great and one little helping gives you all the salt you need for the whole day even if you don’t add salt to anything else.

I tried my collard green recipe using  Bok Choy (pictured above) instead of collard greens and ate it. All I can really say is, “It’s alright!”

If anybody has any suggestions for a tasty meal that is low in sodium, feel free to share them. And I don’t consider low salt soy sauce a substitute, because it still has a lot of salt and most cooks just add more.

The one thing I keep in mind is that about 80% of the world population considers this a staple so I am sure someone knows how to cook it without too much salt.

Pollo en Escabeche – Puerto Rican Pulled Chicken

February 16, 2012

Pollo en Escabeche - Puerto Rican Pulled Chicken

There are 8 million Puerto Ricans in the US with about half living on the mainland and the other half on their home island. Since both men and woman in the islands cook, I would guess there are 4 million people who cook Puerto Rican Style food. What makes this interesting is I not sure any two cook everything the same way. While pretty much everybody uses the same ingredients, some are not seasonally available and and also, personal preference changes which ingredients go into the pot.

Finding a good recipe for something you were served in Puerto Rico is compounded by the fact that Cuba and the Dominican Republic have a different set of preferred ingredients for the same meal and many Latin American countries use the same name for entirely different meals. Even worse, some words can have different meanings for different meals.

According to Wikipedia which interprets the word “Escabeche” pretty much the way I know it to be:

“Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean cuisine which refers to both a dish of poached or fried fish (escabeche of chicken, rabbit or pork is common in Spain) that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving, and to the marinade itself. The dish is common in Spanish, Salvadoran, Panamanian, Peruvian, Philippine, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine, and popular in Catalonia, Portugal and Provence. Influences of the dish appear as far as Asia-Pacific with adjustments to local food staples. It is usually served cold after marinating in a refrigerator overnight or longer. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar but can also include citrus juice. Escabeche is a popular presentation of canned or potted preserved fish, such as tuna, bonito or sardines. In the New World, versions of the basic marinade are often used with other foods than fish and meats, for example green bananas and chicken gizzards (Puerto Rico), jalapeño peppers (Mexico), etc. The origin of the word escabeche is Persian, and was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Moorish conquests. The word derives from al-sikbaj, the name of a popular meat dish that was cooked in a sweet and sour sauce, usually vinegar and honey or date molasses.”

The chicken in todays post was served pulled (shredded) and hot but that is not always the case. This is the appetizer version served with crackers, traditionally saltine type. If served for dinner, it could be a cut-up whole chicken made with carrots and other vegetables or refrigerated and sliced on a sandwich. Of course all of the meals carry the same name.

Pollo en Escabeche

Ingredients:

1 Piece skinless and Boneless Chicken Breast 4-6 oz.

4T cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium-sized sweet or regular onions (cut off ends, remove outer skin, then chunk)

1 T. minced garlic

1 oz rum or white wine

1 bay leaf

1 T. Lime Juice

1/8” piece Scotch Bonnet or Jalapeño Pepper

1/4 tsp salt

2-3 T. Balsamic or Red Wine vinegar

Preparation:

  1. Add olive oil to a large coffeepot.
  2. Add onions, garlic, and rum and saute until onions are soft (1 hour).
  3. Add in chicken, lime juice, hot pepper, salt, bay leaves), cover with aluminum foil and cook for about 2 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken meat and shred the chicken.
  5. Stir in shredded chicken, add vinegar and continue to simmer until chicken is warm (30 minutes).
  6. Of course I served it with my favorite Stoned Wheat Crackers.

While refreshing my memory, I saw many good recipes and one that attracted my attention was from Goya which was with carrots and is served as a dinner. Of course I must give it a try for another slightly different dinner.

Italian Pumpkin Soup – Coffeepot Style

February 12, 2012

Pumpkin Soup with Chicken

When I first wrote about Acorn Squash Soup, pumpkin and acorn were about the same price. I like the flavor of roasted acorn squash so I could buy a couple of small ones and make one into soup and the other eat roasted. Well in the past year, one market has dropped the price of pumpkin down as low as fifty cents a pound and started selling one pound pieces. So naturally I decided to try pumpkin soup using my Acorn Squash Soup recipe.

Actually, Italian Pumpkin Soup is richer and bolder than Acorn Squash Soup and just as versatile. I made a vegan version with coined carrots where you have to blanch the carrots until tender and add them back after the pumpkin soup is pureed. The version pictured above is with chicken and when I cooked it on the stove top, I included carrots, dumplings and chicken. When rereading the acorn squash recipe, I see that I no longer add Pasta to soup. If you choose to do this in your coffeepot, you have to cook the pasta for twice as long as called for and avoid leftovers as the pasta has a tendency to turn mushy. So in effect, this really is an entirely different soup and deserves it’s own recipe.

Italian Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

2 can vegetable broth or Chicken Broth

¾ to I pound pumpkin

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 small onion diced

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Optional – Piece of chicken with or without the bone

Optional – Coined Carrots, precooked

Optional -Tablespoon grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Method:

  1. Peal and cube the pumpkin and get rid of the skin and seeds.
  2. Add cubed pumpkin and garlic to the pot and cook with broth for 2 hours
  3. Puree in blender or remove pumpkin from broth and mash by hand.
  4. Add onion and chicken or cooked carrots if desired. Cook additional 2 hours.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with Parmesan at the table

This is one of those soups that loves to be played with. Aside from pasta or dumplings as mentioned above, there are a few obvious spices I might try adding like ginger matchsticks, cumin and parsley. Come to think about it, I don’t believe either my daughter or I have ever made soup exactly the same or followed an exact recipe. It depends on what we feel like and what ingredients we have on hand.

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.

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.