Posted on 29 September 2011 by noelskitchen
Slow cookers can prepare just about any type of food you can imagine. Hearty soups and stews, creative chicken dishes, pork and beef recipes, exciting party ideas and old-fashioned breads and desserts. Are all fantastic recipes to warm up your weeknights or weekends. I’ll be sharing those great tasting recipes here on Noel’s Kitchen Tips.
The Benefits of a Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)
- No need for constant attention or frequent stirring
- No worry about burning or overcooking
- No sink full of pots and pans to scrub at the end of a long day
- Great for family parties and buffets
- Keeps your kitchen cool by keeping your oven turned off during the summer.
- Save energy-cooking on the low setting uses less energy than most light bulbs
Considering the hectic pace of today’s busy lifestyle, so many busy families are learning to rediscover this time-saving kitchen helper. You just spend a few minutes preparing the ingredients, turn on the slow cooker and relax. Long cooking times without any fuss, take the stress out of meal preparation.
Someone asked me the other day, what type of slow cooker I have. My slow cooker was passed down to me from my grandmother. It was one of the best-selling slow cookers~The Rival Company’s Crock-Pot Slow Cooker. It has heat coils circling the crockery insert, allowing the heat to surrond the food and cook evenly. One of these days, I’ll upgrade to a newer and bigger slow cooker, but for now, I’m happy with mine. Some of my family’s favorite slow cooker crock pot dishes so far are:
What’s a favorite slow cooker recipe of yours?
Posted on 28 September 2011 by noelskitchen
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Home canned foods are a source of justifiable pride and satisfaction. Maybe we all have squirreling insticts as we prepare for fall. At the end of a day of canning, unlike a day of any other type of cooking, it is all still there. It’s like having a savings account of food stocked in my pantry. You work for it and put it aside, and whenever you need it, it becomes a ready reserve. Home canning not only preserves the foods you eat most often but it saves you money. Home canning is a great way to help your family be more self-sufficient.
The equipment needed for canning is very simple and inexpensive. To get started, you will need a supply of pint and quart jars. I’ve found all types on the market equally satisfactory, however, the hardware stores tend to be a little cheaper; plus they might even give lessons. Wide neck jars are particularly recommended for packing tomatoes and large fruits such as peaches.
In my personal canning adventures, I started with my Best Crock Pot Apple Butter. As a beginner, I wanted something that was easy and simple to can. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I did my processing in a water bath which worked well for this recipe.
Noel’s Kitchen Tips Best Crock Pot Apple Butter
Homemade Apple Butter easily made in the crock pot was inspired by my life growing up on an apple farm. Made with delicious Gravenstein apples!
- 6 pounds apples; peeled, cored and diced (Gravenstein are best but Granny Smith’s will do)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
- Combine all ingredients in large 6 qt or larger slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 1 hour covered. Do not stir, just keep the lid on and continue to cook.
- After 1 hour, turn down the temperature to low and cook approximately 8 hours. ***Cooking time depends on the age of your slow cooker. (Mine is an older Rival model, so I usually have the settings on high for 1 hour then turn down temp to low for remainder of cooking.)
- Stir the apple butter occasionally with a silicone spatula while cooking and scrap the sides as it cooks down.
- After 8 hours, whisk the apple butter to smooth out larger chunks with a hand mixer. Mixture will be soft and smooth. Once apple butter is smooth, remove lid to crock pot and cook an additional hour to further thicken.
There are several ways to sterilize your jars for canning. You can run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. If you plan to store the apple butter un-refrigerated, make sure to follow proper canning procedures. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. I use a hot water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.
Keep refrigerated after opening.
** I used Half Pint Jars for gift giving. Pint size jars would work too.
Posted on 25 September 2011 by noelskitchen
I like simple recipes on weeknights that get me in and out of the kitchen fast, so my family and I can spend more time together. This week’s meal plan is focused on freezer cooking meals and 10 Minutes to the Table meals. After my recent Costco trip, I mapped out a meal plan to include a few of those types of meals. Here’s some meals that I’ve come with:
10 Minutes to the Table Meals:
- Salmon Quesadillas, Salad with Simple Salad Dressing
- Broccoli, Ham ‘N’ Noodle Toss
- Zesty Tomato Soup
- Grilled Sandwiches
- Cajun Chicken Strips, Corn Bread Casserole, Homemade Banana Pudding
Freezer Cooking Meals:
- Freezer Beef Stew-one batch in crock pot for tomorrow night’s dinner, one batch for freezer
- Beef Hot Tamale Pie-one batch in refrigerator for tonight’s dinner, one batch for freezer
- Easy Meatballs and Pasta-still have to make meatballs
- Pizza Soup
- Hash Brown Beef Pie
- Beef Pasties
- Crispy Chicken, Vegetable Rice Medley, Southwestern Cheese Dip (for fresh veggies)
- Huevos Rancheros
I’ll be sharing these recipes throughout the upcoming week.
Posted on 25 September 2011 by noelskitchen
My family enjoys waking up in the morning to a hearty breakfast. They favor sitting down to oatmeal bubbling like a Crème brûlée with a carmelized brown sugar topping. To accompany this deliciousbreakfast treat, I serve bacon sizzled sizzled and popped in between thin slices of crunchy whole-grain toast, along with a fresh fruit arrangement; and for the hubby and I, a steamy cappuccino dusted with lots of cinnamon. This is a good breakfast menu on a glorious Fall morning.
Fall features some of the best comfort recipes around: oatmeal brulee, macaroni and cheese, soups, stews, chilis, hot cocoa, and flavored coffees such as cappuccino’s and lattes. There’s no end to the good recipes to be had. And when you enjoy them with friends and family, it’s so much better.
Here’s the start of what’s cooking in our house this Fall:
You don’t need a fancy espresso machine to make a delicious cappuccino. This fool-proof blender method ensures a frothy, steamy cup of cappuccino in just minutes and you no longer have to make a Starbuck’s run.
Ingredients: (4-6 servings)
- 2 cups hot strong brewed coffee
- 4 cups milk
- Heat the container of a blender by running it under hot water.
- Add the coffee and milk and blend until foamy, 1 to 2 seconds.
- Pour the cappuccino into large cappuccino cups or mugs.
- Dust with cinnamon
Ingredients: (4 servings)
4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
6 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
Preheat the broiler. In a large saucepan, combine the milk and salt. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Slowly sprinkle the oatmeal into the milk and boil over moderate heat, stirring until the oats are tender but still slightly chewy., about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and stir.
Spoon the oatmeal into 4 heatproof bowls or ramekins. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream around the edge of each bowl and sprinkle the center with 1 1/2 Tablespoons of brown sugar.
Place the bowls under the broiler and broil until the sugar melts and begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Serve hot.
What fall traditional comfort recipes does your family enjoy?
Posted on 23 September 2011 by noelskitchen
I always feel at home in the kitchen. I constantly plan ahead to make sure I can fit a wholesome homemade meal into my family’s busy lifestyle. When I walk out the door in the morning, I always know what we’ll be having for dinner that night. I’ll take out something from the freezer-a package of meat that’s quick to prepare, a casserole or pot pie I’ve made from leftovers-so it can thaw in the fridge during the day.
If I’m planning some type of stir-fry meal, I’ll often chop the veggies the night before. Little simple steps like that save time. Being a working mom outside the home, I’ve learned never to leave things to the last minute-because there might not be a last minute.
Two of the kitchen “tools” I’ve learned to rely on to get my meals on the table fast are the microwave and my freezer (see my tips for organizing a freezer below).
I microwave to reheat foods and cook vegetables. And I keep my freezer well-stocked. I’m always baking a lot on the weekends. With a big batch of cookies or cake, I can freeze some for the middle of the week. Now that I my schedule has changed at the office, it gives me a few extra minutes to get dinner started. My goal for dinner, is to have a meal on the table in 30-45 minutes, since by the time I get home from the office, my family is famished.
Noel’s Keys To Fast Meals For Working Moms:
- Keep a grocery list in a handy place like the kitchen drawer or on the fridge. As soon as you run out of anything, add that item to the list.
- Keep a freezer list in the drawer or on the freezer. Make two columns-one for uncooked foods, the other for pre-cooked ones (browned ground beef, taco meat, shredded chicked, containers of soup, etc.) That way, you can tell at a glance what you have in your freezer… and when the time’s arrived for you to restock certain items.
- Everything in my freezer is labeled and dated. Every 3 months, I take out each item, check it for freezer burn and use up any little odds and ends or small amounts of leftovers.
- I alsao keep precooked foods on the top shelf of the freezer and uncooked foods on the bottom shelf, so I know right where to reach when I’m in a hurry.
Are you a super busy cook? Do you pack more than possible into a typical day and still have time to serve a fast, delicious meal?