Posts Tagged ‘crockpot cooking’

Summer Squash Pasta Substitute

November 10, 2015
Squash slices in Tomato Sauce

Squash slices in Tomato Sauce

I woke up Sunday at 203 pounds, only 23 pounds more to lose in 52 days. Should be OK, if I don’t have too many failures. Todays meal takes the carbohydrates out of Italian food by substituting thin sliced zucchini or summer squash for pasta in tomato sauce.

This recipe is more visual than wordy. I always have tomato sauce in my refrigerator so it is easy to put the sauce on early in the day and let it heat up in my coffeepot.

Prepping the Squash

Prepping the Squash

The squash is pealed and both ends cut off. Then thin slices are cut from the squash.Notice the seed core is not used in this recipe. There is nothing wrong with the core. The resulting meal is just prettier if you ship it.

Summer Squash Slices

Summer Squash Slices

I use a cheese slicer but there are other tools that can do the same.  I love both Summer Squash and Zucchini and previously made this meal out of the latter. The meal is Vegan before the cheese is added and vegetarian after.

Served with Parmesan Cheese

Served with Parmesan Cheese

BTW, the two soursop’s I bought are not ripe but a friend of mine gave me a fully ripe one today and if your not familiar with the fruit, you might think it looks rotten. That is when they are at their sweetest best.

Soursop, Ripe and Green

Soursop, Ripe and Green

Notice the ripe one is bigger than both of the one pound fruits. Therefore, I am looking at a 1000 calories. When I start to eat it, I will have to program myself to make a very light dinner or soup to offset it. Of course it is a sedative so maybe I will offset some of the calories by cutting back on wine. What ever happens, will happen and I will track it.

Angle Hair Pasta with Chicken – Parmesan Sauce

February 17, 2014

 

 

Angle Hair Pasta with Chicken – Parmesan Sauce

Angle Hair Pasta with Chicken – Parmesan Sauce

Even though I own about 100 cookbooks, I always read the food section of the newspaper especially when I am food focused while dieting. I use these recipes to inspire me even though the recipes may not be low calorie, they always end up being portion controlled. I usually don’t even bother with calories if I know the portion is correct. In today’s post, I make an exception. Because I am on a 3 day plateau of 205 after a week of being careful, I am curious to see the damage this apparently rich meal caused. Still, 205 pounds is down from 208 on February 7, and 212 on January 23, my birthday which is pretty good.

This recipe attracted me precisely because it was apparently rich and fattening and I liked all of the ingredients individually. Well I cooked the meal in my coffeepot without checking calories and it was filling and delicious. I ate everything that was in the pot which is still one of my bad habits. “If I cook it I eat it all.” As we will see, this wasn’t really a diet disaster and I stayed at 205.

 

Primary Ingredients: Broth Garlic and Cooked Chicken

Primary Ingredients: Broth Garlic and Cooked Chicken

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil, 120 calories

1 head garlic, 52 calories

1 cup broth, 224 calories

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 215 calories

½ cup cubed chicken, 130 calories

1 T cornstarch (optional), 52 Calories

1 serving angle hair or fettuccine pasta, 200 calories

Total calories about 1000

Method:

I love simple recipes and nothing could be simpler than everything in the pot and let it cook for a few hours. Well, almost everything.

 

Garlic and oil in pot

Garlic and oil in pot

Put olive oil and garlic in coffeepot on warmer for about 1 hour.

Add everything else except cornstarch, stir then cook for 2 hours on warmer.

If desired add a tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken. Blend and heat for about 15 minutes. The original recipe did not have chicken and thickened the sause by blending the garlic sauce in a blender

As I said, I ate everything I cooked but by planning the meal and limiting the portion to reasonable amounts like 4 ox cheese and 4 oz chicken, without even measuring calories, the meal comes out in diet range.

If I was really looking to blame anything for my limited progress, I might look to Tuesday day when when we decided to party after our five mile hike and ended up drinking 3 beers and a couple of mixed drinks, took a nap and then had half a pizza and wine for dinner. Oh well, everyone knows that I’m more Sinner than Saint. Especially when it comes to food and drinks. 

Coffeepot Beef Liver

February 14, 2014

 

Liver and onions. Garlic Mashed potatoes and brown Gravy

Liver and onions. Garlic Mashed potatoes and brown Gravy

When it comes to liver, I prefer calves liver to beef liver. However, most people in St. Croix don’t like any liver at all and there are very few calves around so no calves liver in stores. Now calves liver properly done is a very tender richly flavored piece of meat whereas beef liver is much tougher and has a coarser heavier flavor which is hard to overcome.

All this changed when I stumbled upon a recipe for Serena’s “Lazy Liver” cooked in a crockpot. This recipe was simplicity in itself which is always a good way to start when using a new cooking method and slow cooking was definitely a new concept because with calves liver it is quickly fried and served slightly pink. Slow cooking calves liver on a stove destroys it and makes it tough. I tried Serena’s recipe a couple of times when liver was on sale and it was a lot better that beef liver cooked on a stove but not quite equal to the best of calves liver which is generally unavailable.

When I decided to return to coffeepot cooking, I found beef liver on sale for $1.25 a pound and purchased .84 pounds which I cut in half. This gave me a 7 oz portion size which is a lot better than cooking and eating a whole pound. I left the other half frozen and returned it to the freezer in a Ziploc bag for another day. The following is a simple recipe with simple directions. It is also the best beef liver I have ever cooked or eaten. While I still prefer calves liver, I will cook and eat this again because I cant always find calves liver when I am in the mood for liver.

Ingredients:

½ stick butter

1 medium onion

1 bullion cube

1 oz Cruzan white rum

5-7 oz liver

1 T room temperature soft butter

1½ T white flower

1 to 1½ cup water

Method:

Place butter and onion in coffeepot with bullion cube.

Place pot on coffee warmer and cook until glazed. About 1 hour.

Add partially frozen liver to coffeepot. (cut into chunks if desired)

Add rum, cover pot with foil and return to the coffeepot warmer.

Remove foil covering top and add the water. Recover with the foil when done.

Mix room temperature butter and flour to a smooth paste (rue) and let set.

After a couple of hours the liver will be completely cooked.

Add the rue to the pot, mix well and cook a couple more hours until a smooth gravy forms when stirred.

Serve with garlic mashed potatoes.

Notes: The meal was quite good and easy to make. All the times are flexible as long as the total is about four hours. Pretty sure that you can add the flower when the onions are glazed and make a paste, then ad the frozen liver and rum and water right away, cover with foil and leave for 4 to 6 hours and it will be fine.

Overall, portion controlled meals are starting to work, I am down to 205 today and that is slightly better than 208 where I started. I will feel better when below 200 and ecstatic for each 10 pounds dropped down to 175 where I will probably stay for a year or so before human nature kicks in and my weight starts creeping up. The biggest reasons for me to lose weight are not health or appearance. I just have more energy the lighter I am down to 175. Below that, I start feeling weak and tired. Of course all that excess energy can be put to bad use like enjoying parties and staying up too late partying and drinking.

Oh well, it’s the cycle of my life.

Pot Roasted Chicken

February 9, 2014
Coffeepot Chicken

Coffeepot Chicken; A Portion Controlled Meal

Cooking in my coffeepot is both amusing and it facilitates portion controlled meals. Sometime the amusing factor overrides the portion control especially when I pot roasted a whole chicken in my coffeepot in expectations of doing it for my granddaughters.

Well, it is definitely weird stuffing a chicken into a coffeepot and the girls and I had fun doing dinner for three in my 12 cup coffeemaker. Truth be told, it was a Cornish Hen, but the girls never noticed that it was a rather skinny chicken. The reason I violated the portion control rule the first time I did it was I had to make sure that it cooked all the way through in a reasonable amount of time. Check the link here and you will see that the chicken is falling off the bone.

Now that I have minimized my writing projects to spare the time to totally immerse myself into portion controlled meals, I decided to do a pot roasted thigh in my coffeepot using the method described in the pot roasted chicken link. Of course, none of the great cooks in my immediate family ever look at a recipe and usually never make a meal exactly the same. True to the tradition, I made the meal from memory and found I had substituted chicken bullion for the adobo I used the first time. It was great and I am using the leftover broth as part of my soup stock.

As an aside, the week before, I grilled three of the thighs with a big baked sweet potato and ate everything. My current Manta is: “If you don’t cook it, you cant eat it so start with the proper portion.”

Recipe:

Ingredients

1 potato

1 carrot cut to length that will fit in pot and quartered long ways

1 celery stalk diced

1 medium onion coarse chopped

3 garlic clove sliced or minced

1 bay leaf

Optional, piece of fresh scotch bonnet hot pepper. Size depends on your taste.

Chicken Bullion Cube

1 chicken thigh, about 5-6 oz.

1 oz Crucian Rum

12 oz water

Method:

Precook the carrots and potatoes and set aside.

Put chopped celery, garlic and onion in pot, cook with oil and cook until onion is glazed (about 1 hour).

Add half scotch bonnet and bay leaf so it can be retrieved when sufficient flavor is infused into the cooked veggies.

Wash one thigh with lime juice after skin is removed. Place in pot on top of bullion cube. Add rum to the coffeepot. Cover the pot and let chicken cook until chicken loses the pink color (about 2 hours.)

Add precooked potatoes and carrots and sufficient water through coffee maker to cover everything.

Let cook another two hours.

Serve with flowers and wine. If you are starving to death, you better make what little you eat an elegant experience.

Well, day one is a resounding success. I am down to 206 which is two pounds lighter than I was the day before and on my birthday on January 23. Guess it’s time for a glass of water and a three mile walk. The coffeepot is cooking my liver and onions, but that’s another story. 

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.

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.

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.

 

Best Ever Bok Choy

May 2, 2012

Best Ever Bok Choy and Smoked Turkey Wings

The more I learn about Bok Choy, the more amazed I am that I have never eaten this in my life until I grew it in my garden. The Chinese have been growing this amazing cabbage for 6000 years even though I find it somewhat bland and tasteless. So what’s amazing about a tasteless vegetable? A 6 ounce portion of boiled greens only has 20 calories and still supplies 144% of your daily need for vitamin A, 74% for Vitamin C, 16% of your calcium requirement and 10% of your iron needs.

I am also beginning to accept that Bok Choy is one of those tasteless food items which will take the flavor of whatever you cook with it and the recipe with balsamic vinegar and lemon was quite good. It finally dawned on me that very small changes in the ingredients make a huge difference in flavor and you can still avoid excess salt. With this in mind, it was time for me to revisit the Smoked Turkey and Bok Choy that was just OK.

The starting point for this recipe was a very simple stir fried Bok Choy recipe from food.com for Bok Choy and Garlic with butter and low sodium chicken broth. The two items that caught my attention were the use of butter for more flavor and once again longer cooking times which also worked well for the Balsamic Vinegar recipe.

Smoked Turkey and Bok Choy

Ingredients:

1/4 stick butter
2 T crushed garlic
1 onion
1 thin slice scotch bonnet
1 T fresh grated Ginger
5 oz smoked turkey wings
package bullion
1 oz rum
6 leaves large
12 oz water
sprinkle with salt

Method:

  1. Add the butter, garlic, onion and hot pepper to the coffee pot and let cook for about 1 hour until the onion glazes over.
  2. Add the grated ginger root, bullion, turkey wings and rum to the pot.
  3. Cook covered for four or more hours.
  4. Strip the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Cut the stems into bite size pieces and shred the leaves.
  5. Put the bok choy in the pot on top of everything else and pass the water through the coffee maker be sure to use enough to cover the leaves.
  6. When the water is done dripping, stir the pot and let cook for two more hours.

I was very pleased with the result and look forward to eating this again. In my mind, it is equally as good as the smoked Turkey and Collard greens I had previously made. A bonus for those who don’ like the smell of cooking collard greens, bok choy has none of that strong cabbage smell which is perhaps why it has very little cabbage flavor.

I Finished My Book!!!

April 30, 2012

I finally finished my most recent project and it is available for distribution. My Book, “An Introduction to Coffeepot Cooking: How I Lost 101 pounds with Portioned Controlled Meals”, is now available from Amazon as a Kindle e-book.

The focus is not on the food I ate, but the commitment that I made to my family to lose weight so I would avoid another premature death in the family. I would like to say that the entire process was driven by their love alone, but secondary influences included a stroke and a disc replacement surgery both caused by my being too fat for too many years. At $2.99 this little book will hopefully be a guide to others who are obese and need to shed a few pounds. It took me 65 years to recognize that there are no secrete diets, magic pills or special foods that will make you lose weight and become healthy.

My Ebook for Kindle

In writing this book, I came to understand that there were only three changes in my life that led to the loss of 101 pounds in a fairly painless manner spread over 2 years. Here’s the secrets if you want to call it that:

  1. Eat less all day and for dinner.
  2. Drink fewer calories whether it’s beer, wine, liquor, juice, soda or smoothies.
  3. Exercise more, at least 20 minutes every day and an hour or more a few times a week. (the hour can include heavy yard work or work on your home.

Now that you know the secrets, I hope you still buy the book whether for yourself or a friend. I started this process while morbidly obese and out of shape and have encouraged others who were even fatter than me and in worse shape. Fortunately, I had daily encouragement from my family and weekly assessments with positive and sometimes critical reminders of the need. I also looked positively on the help I received from my Creator who reminded me with my minor stroke and the need for a disc replacement that I had to take care of my body and the gift of life if I wanted to keep enjoying myself for as long as possible.

For those who don’t have a Kindle reader, you can get a free one for your PC, laptop, tablet or iPad. computers and still buy the book. I will post follow-ups as the book becomes available for other electronic media and in print