Posts Tagged ‘crockpot cooking’

Giambotta, Italian Stewed Chicken

April 28, 2012

Giambotta, Italian Stew?

I am indebted to Maria Pitella for reminding me of this meal and I never knew that Giambotta meant Italian Stew. My Mother-in-Law and her Brother were both born in Italy and my wife was a great Italian cook as were her Mother and Aunt. Now the family all favored every type of pasta with red sauce or very good meat as her Grandfather and Uncle had run a Butcher Shop. The red sauce would have seafood or three types of meat, veal, pork (or sausage) and beef (usually meatballs or Braciole).

My wife never made this stew and for good reason. She liked her chicken barbequed and beef, in any recipe including stew. On rainy days, you could almost count on beef stew and on the very rare occasions that she made this, I am not sure if she made it in an Italian style or an Irish style and she simply called it chicken stew. But this is the way Dolores made it with the principle difference being the inclusion of carrots and thickening the gravy with a rue.

Chicken Stew:


1 potatoes peeled and diced
2 carrots coined
1 1 piece mild Italian sausage sliced into chunks
1 boneless chicken breasts sliced into strips
2 T cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 oz rum
1 small red bell peppers sliced
1 medium onions sliced
1 stalk celery cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp of oregano
1 Bay leaf

1 bullion and 12 oz. Water
cold rue (1 T butter 1 T flour )
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix a tablespoon of room temperature butter with a tablespoon of white flower until smooth set aside.
  2. Precook the carrots for an hour in a foil covered coffeepot using about 1 tsp of salt with the cut up carrots and potatoes to the coffeepot and passing 8 cups water through the coffeemaker portion prior to covering with foil. Save and set aside.
  3. Put everything else into the empty coffeepot and cook covered for about 2 hours.
  4. Add the potatoes and carrots and run 12 oz of water through the coffeemaker.
  5. Give the pot about 1 hour for the carrots and potatoes to get hot.
  6. Decant the broth a little at a time into the rue until all the liquid is mixed with the rue. Return it to the pot. Serve when ready.

This was very good but more than a meal for one person but not quite enough for two unless I used more potatoes. That means I had leftovers because I didn’t plan ahead which I definitely try to avoid having around. The only way I am winning “The Battle of the Bulge” is by waging my constant “War Against Leftovers.” In this case I got rid of them by eating them as a snack the next day. They were quite good.


Stuffed Shells, the Drag Queen of Coffeepot Mac and Cheese

January 23, 2012

Stuffed Shells, the Drag Queen of Coffeepot Mac and Cheese

My niece Cait loves to visit St. Croix and loves to cook with me. Our sharing the kitchen has been written about before when she did a guest post on making Enchiladas and when we had our Christmas Flat Bread Pizza Contest for the most artistic Pizza Pie. This trip we decided to do Stuffed Shells as a big step up from traditional Mac and Cheese that I made with my grandchildren and Great Nephew. Of course the step up is in sophisticated flavors and not complexity, but just like Mach and Cheese it is a very hardy addition to any meal and in our case it was dinner with nothing else except the salad.

Since Cait had just been to see Priscilla on stage in New York and loved it and I have a copy of the movie and love it, the name just naturally evolved. The most popular definition for “Drag Queen” at Urban Dictionary is “a man who dresses as a flamboyant woman in order to entertain others.” As Mac and Cheese goes, this hearty rendition is flamboyant and entertaining so I guess it qualifies.

Stuffed Shells Recipe


2 cups shells

1 tsp salt


8 oz Ricotta

4 oz mozzarella

2 oz Parmesan

Tomato Sauce


  1. Place two cup of shells in the coffeepot with a teaspoon of salt. Add ten cups to the water reserve and let perk on the shells. Cook for 15 minutes on the warming plate. Do not over cook,
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in the bowl. The amount of tomatoe sause is flexible and to taste but ½ cup is a good place to start.

    All ingredients mixed until uniform

  3. Drain the pasta after it’s cooked and rinse with cold water.
  4. Add pasta to cheese mixture and mix until uniform.
  5. Return Mixture to pot and cook 2-3 hours more.

This was so delicious, that when I made it yesterday, I ate the whole pot which is really not the purpose of portion controlled coffeepot cooking. It just gets difficult scaling down below these levels so I made the same amount, I made the first time with Cait. At least when Cait was here, we shared the pot, made a salad and both had enough to eat.

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


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


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.

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.


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


  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.


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


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.


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


  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.


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


  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.


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


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.

Sausage and Lentils and More!

December 30, 2010

A Whole New Meal!

This recipe came to me by way of my Daughter who knows I like old fashioned foods like lentils and so does she and my Granddaughters. As received by email, she had a list of ingredients and when I asked how much, she essentially answered, “You figure it out, I never cook for one person.” I got out my bag of Goya lentils and merged the recipe on the back with my daughters to come up with the following.


½ T olive oil

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper or ¼ tsp red pepper

1 piece of Italian sausage 3oz

1 onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 stalk celery

1 bay leaf

1 sweet bell pepper

2 medium carrots

1 bullion package

2 cups water

Can Tomatoes with juice

1 packet Goya Sazon

¼ cup lentils


  1. Saute sausages slices, hot pepper and oil for about 30 minutes until cooked.

    Cooked Sausage

  1. Add onion, garlic celery and bay leaf to the pot and cook covered with aluminum foil for an hour.

    Add onions, garlic, bay and celery

  2. Add carrots, bell pepper and bullion to the pot.

    Cut Carrots and Peppers

  3. Pass 2 cups of water through the coffee maker and cook for an hour.
  4. Add tomatoes and Sazon and cook another hour.
  5. Add lentils and cook til done about 1 hour.

Unfortunately, I took a very bad picture of this meal which was really quite good and the only one that looked like anything was the small amount that I tasted to test the meal prior to serving. Oh well, I ate all the sausage and enough of the rest to fill me so the only way to get a picture was to add more sausage and eat real leftovers which I never do.

A Bad Picture of a Good Meal.

I rebuilt the sauce and leftover meatless lentil stew with:


4 ounces of turkey ham

¼ cup of brown rice

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp crushed garlic

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp oregano

This was an all in the pot addition, mixed and heated on the coffeemaker hot plate for three hours covered with foil. The introductory picture was the leftovers which were quite different than the original meal but equally good.