Saturday, March 19, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 lb. smoked bacon, chopped
1 qt. water
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
2 to 4 russet potatoes, cubed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 med. onion, chopped
2 C. chopped kale or swiss chard
1 C. heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper

1. In a skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it into pieces; set aside.
2. In a skillet, brown the bacon and crumble it into pieces; set aside.
3. Place water, broth, potatoes, garlic, and onion in pot; simmer over medium heat until potatoes are done.  Add sausage and bacon to pot and simmer 10 more minutes.
4. Add kale and cream at last minute.  Let sit for a while but don't boil it.

Notes: This recipe came from Brittany's sister, Stephanie.  Very tasty!

Creamy Potato Soup

6 c. diced and peeled potatoes
5 c. water
2 c. diced onions
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/4 c. butter
4 tsp. bouillon cubes (may want to start with 2 and add to taste)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
12 oz. can evaporated milk
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for milk, parsley, and cheese. Cook on high for 7-8 hours  until veggies are tender. Stir in milk and parsley. Stir in cheese until it melts, or serve it on top of individual servings.

Notes: Feeds 8-10 people. We got this recipe from Brittany's mom.

Rice-Sausage Bake

1 lb. ground sausage
1 C. celery, chopped
1 1/2 C. rice, uncooked
1 pkg. Lipton noodle soup mix
1 C. water

1. Cook rice until almost done.  Brown sausage with celery.
2. Add rice, Lipton noodle soup mix, and water.
3. Put in a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until rice is cooked and casserole is warmed all the way through, about 20 minutes.

Notes: This recipe came from Brittany's sister, Melanie.  When I first saw it after Brittany made it I thought the flavor was going to be a bit bland, but I actually ended up really liking it.  We will definitely have this again in the future.

Pulled Pork with Root Beer Sauce

1 (2 1/2 to 3 lb) pork sirloin roast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 med. onions, cut into thin wedges
1 cup root beer*
2 Tbsp minced garlic
3 cups root beer (2 12-oz cans or bottles)*
1 cup bottled chili sauce
1/4 tsp root beer concentrate (optional)
Several dashes bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)
8 to 10 hamburger buns, split (toasted, if desired)
Lettuce leaves (optional)
Tomato slices (optional)
*Do not use diet root beer

1. Trim fat from meat.  If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3.5- to 5-quart crockery cooker.  Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in hot oil.  Drain off fat.  Transfer meat to cooker.  Add onions, the 1 cup root beer, and garlic.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
3. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan combine the 3 cups root beer and the chili sauce.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 2 cups.  If desired, add root beer concentrate and hot pepper sauce.
4. Transfer meat to a cutting board or serving platter.  Using a slotted spoon, remove onions from cooking juices and place on a serving platter.  Discard juices.  Using 2 forks, pull meat apart into shreds.  To serve, if desired, line buns with lettuce leaves and tomato slices.  Add meat and onions; spoon on sauce.

Notes: This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens 12th Edition Cook Book, and is one of their "Best Loved" recipes.  I have only had root beer pulled pork a few times in my life, but I have enjoyed it every time.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken

1 whole chicken (ours was about 5 pounds)
Non-stick cooking spray
Salt and pepper

Spray a large crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Take chicken out of its packaging and remove the innards from the inside of the chicken (these are usually conveniently packaged in a bag, but my chicken today just had them floating around inside the cavity...). Rinse the chicken well, both inside and out. Place the chicken in the crock pot and season with any combination of spices/herbs you want. I used paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can also use the herb combination from this roasted chicken recipe. Put the lid on the crock pot, turn it on low, and leave it in there for about 7 hours. Make sure your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F to ensure that it is fully cooked. Once the chicken is done, remove it from the crock pot, cut up, and serve.

Notes from Brittany: I loved how easy and practically effortless this meal was. As I removed the chicken from the crock pot, the drumsticks and wings just fell off and the meat was really tender. The skin doesn't get crispy like it does in the oven, but I liked cooking the chicken this way, since I don't have a roasting pan and like to have all the drippings and liquid leftover for my own chicken stock. I got the idea for this meal from my visiting teacher and did a little research online. I followed the Happy Housewife's directions. I suggest reading her post and the comments for some great tips and ideas. After dinner tonight, I removed all the meat from the bones and place the bones back in the crock pot with all the juices that were left from cooking the chicken. I added some carrots, celery, and onions and enough water to cover the bones and veggies, then turned the crock pot on low and will leave it overnight to cook my own chicken stock. The Happy Housewife goes into more details about this on her blog.