Saturday, November 27, 2010

November 17 Wordless Wednesday

November 16 Moo Shu Pork

Audrey's daddy loves Asian food and his favorite is Moo Shu Pork. When I came across this recipe in an old Family Circle magazine I decided to give this slow cooker version a try.

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp dark Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 bag (16-oz) shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 bag (10-oz) shredded carrots
  • 3/4 lb boneless pork loin chops
  • 12 flour tortillas
  • Scallion strips, if desired
Stir together hoisin, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and corn starch; set aside. Place coleslaw mix and carrots into slow cooker. Cut the pork into 1/8-inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half lengthwise; sprinkle on top of cabbage mixture in slow cooker. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce mixture. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Remove cover; stir in remaining 1/2 cup hoisin sauce mixture. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Place 1/2 cup pork mixture in center of each tortilla, top with scallion strips, if desired, and roll up.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Make sauce
  2. Place coleslaw, carrots, and pork into cooker
  3. Pour sauce on top
  4. Turn on cooker
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Cut pork
This was a great recipe and the texture came out perfect. I am not giving up on the recipe as I feel it could be great if adjusted properly. With a little plum sauce on the side it tasted pretty good. I think it needs something sweet to make it taste right. If you have a good recipe to share we would love to have it.

November 15 Muffin Tin Monday

Audrey has almost become independent of me. Today's meal was prepped for and prepared almost completely by her. She told me what she wanted to eat on the way home and then she gathered most of the ingredients herself. I pulled out the frozen blueberries by instruction and passed her the raisins, which were already on the counter. She did the rest herself. This is really starting to come together for us. Hopefully she will be ready to take on an apprentice soon, Maurene will be ready to step up in a few months.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Slow Baked Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I am not usually true to a recipe just because an ingredient is called for. There is no reason I needed to be with this recipe. And yet I spent $10 on the fancy cheese only to hear from Audrey's daddy that there is nothing wrong with Kraft. I found the meal tasty but, do yourself a favor and use regular cheese. I found this recipe in my fabulous Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two. It serves our small family nicely.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups (12-oz) shredded Italian fontina cheese
  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni, parcooked and drained
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Spray the bottom and sides of the slow cooker with nonstick spray. Combine milk, evaporated milk, eggs, butter, and salt in crock and whisk until smooth. Add the fontina cheese and macaroni, then grind plenty of black pepper over all; gently stir with a rubber spatula to coat evenly. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on the top. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce the tempurature to low and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the custard is set in the center and the pasta is tender.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Crack the eggs
  3. Stir and cover
  4. Turn the slow cooker on
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Parcook the pasta
  2. Grate the cheese (it was soft and difficult to grate)
  3. Gather ingredients
  4. Assist Audrey
I liked it and so did the children. Use an inexpensive cheese and you can enjoy this easy comfort food any time. It will be great for when the summer makes oven baking unbearable.

Stirring ingredients.

Adding milk.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rainbow Kit Giveaway!

To celebrate Audrey reaching 200 Facebook Fans I have a Rainbow Kit to give to a lucky follower. No rules to enter, just leave a comment letting me know about your favorite family recipe. Please include an email address so I can notify the winner.
The contest will run through December 3rd, Audrey's birthday, at midnight. Please check out the Today I Ate a Rainbow website to learn about this wonderful kit. It has changed the way we eat. Audrey loves to shop for and eat her rainbows. We now think about meals in full color. And the book that comes with the kit is so cute.

November 13 Applesauce Cake

Most of the slow cooking we have been doing is of the traditional  type. Other than Crock Pot yogurt we have tried nothing other than dinner. I decided to change this. Audrey and Maurene love applesauce so I thought this recipe from Family Circle would be a good bet.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
Coat slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 long sheet of nonstick foil in bottom of slow cooker bowl, with ends hanging over handles. Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and brown sugar on high speed for 1 minute. Beat in egg. Scrape down sides of bowl and, on low speed, beat in buttermilk (mixture will look curdled). Beat in applesauce. Add flour mixture to bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Spread batter into slow cooker. Place a clean dish towel over slow cooker then put cover on top. Cook on high for 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Use foil handles to lift cake out of slow cooker. Cut into slices and serve with caramel sauce, whipped cream and pecans.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Crack egg
  2. Help measure and add ingredients
  3. Operate stand mixer
  4. Help pour batter into slow cooker
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Help measure and add ingredients
  3. Hold bowl so Audrey can pour ingredients
The problem with this recipe was the towel that did not allow you to see the progress of the cake. We burned it in 2 hours. Burned it pretty bad. Once you cut the edges off and added caramel sauce it was not bad. 

November 12 Chops and Beans

During this month we have learned a lot about slow cooker meals. Audrey's dad has been a tough critic and he really liked this one. I found it in the Fix it and Forget it Big Cookbook.

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1/3 cups chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 28-oz can baked beans
  • 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 13 1/2-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce
Brown pork chops in skillet five minutes per side. Place in slow cooker. Saute onion in skillet in meat juices. Spread over pork chops. Sprinkle with salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Combine beans and hot sauce. Pour over chops. Combine pineapple and chili sauce. Spread evenly over beans. Cover. Cook on low 7-8 hours.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Place chops in cooker
  2. Measure and add ingredients
  3. Cover and turn on cooker
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Brown chops
The chops I purchased were thin cut so they just fell apart in the bean and pineapple juice. We ate this meal with rice and it was tasty. Unlike the last sweet pork dish, this meal has no added sugar so it is just the right amount of sweet and savory. This goes on the regular menu.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 11 Crock Pot Yogurt

That is right, yogurt made the easy way. I love feeding my girls homemade yogurt but found the traditional process a little time consuming. Once I found this Crock Pot Yogurt recipe from the fabulous Crock Pot 365 website I was sold. In her book, Make It Fast Cook It Slow, Stephanie adds flavors so I believe we will try that next.
This recipe is so easy to prepare and never fails. The old way was always fraught with failed yogurt that we tried to use up in baking. Audrey and I have made yogurt in the crock pot countless times and have yet to have a failure. I recommend you try it and see what you think. They girls love it and I love knowing exactly what they are eating.

November 10 Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 9 Pesto, Tomato & Rice Soup

This is a fabulous recipe that not only tastes great but makes the house smell wonderful. When we originally made it we used homemade basil pesto. Even the girls, who do not eat much soup, loved Pesto, Tomato & Rice Soup. We shared the recipe with my friend Jenn and her family also loves the soup. Even made with a store bought pesto it is a warm, tasty soup that is best served with a crusty bread. I am getting hungry just thinking about this meal.

November 8 Muffin Tin Monday

Audrey really looks forward to Mondays now. She knows that not only will she have a fun lunch but that she will get to fix it. I think in a few years I will no longer be needed in the kitchen. This is a good investment of my time.

November 7 Pasta and Meat Sauce

This was a recipe I came across in an old Family Circle magazine when I was cleaning out the basement. I try to tear out the recipes I think I might use and get the magazine out of the house before it can become part of a pile. Usually I am not that lucky. Recently I cleared out several piles and found some great slow cooker recipes. It was a good time to clear out the overstock.

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (we used some pre-shredded from a bag)
  • 1 large rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth (we used chicken)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste (I did not have so we omitted)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (we omitted)
  • 1 1/4 lbs beef chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks (we used chicken)
  • 8 ounces fettuccine
Put carrot, celery, onion, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped; place in the slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, and sugar to cooker. Add 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, and the red pepper flakes. Stir in beef and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 6 hours. Using a slotted spoon remove the beef chunks and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred beef and stir back into slow cooker. Add remaining 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions and serve with meat sauce.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Operate food processor
  3. Stir
  4. Turn on cooker
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Assist Audrey
This was an easy recipe and great to come home to the house smelling like hearty pasta. Italian is one of my favorite foods and I could eat it every day. 

November 6 So Easy Pot Roast

This recipe was called So Easy Roast Beef in the Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook but since we used pork I thought I should change it. I found a pork roast on sale and stuck it in the freezer. It was there for several weeks while I hunted for the right recipe for our first roast. We hit big on the first try. Audrey's dad talked about this meal for many days. And I was able to use the bone for another meal. Double hit.

  • 3-4 lb roast
  • 10 1/4 oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • half or all of an envelope dry onion soup mix
Place roast in crock. Pour soup on top and sprinkle mix over that. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Pour mushroom soup on top
  2. Sprinkle onion mix over all
  3. Turn on slow cooker
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Place roast in crock
I would recommend only a half package of onion soup mix. It is very salty. We had this over rice with some reheated vegetables. It could not have been a simpler meal to come home to.

November 5 Tomato Vegetable Soup

This is subtitled Clean the Fridge Monday Night Soup. That is exactly what I did. We had some tomato juice leftover from another dinner and a few vegetables not consumed the night before. I added a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables and we were good. My wonderful friend Becky lent me the Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook where I found this recipe.

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 or 16 oz pkg frozen peppers and onions
  • 3 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 32 oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables or leftover vegetables
  • 46 oz can vegetable juice or beef broth
Place garlic, green peppers, and onions in the bottom of your crock. Add seasonings and vegetables. Pour juice over, cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Add ingredients to crock
  2. Stir
  3. Turn slow cooker on
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
I loved this dish for two reasons: 1) Audrey ate some of it and 2) I was able to use some vegetables with slight freezer burn. After cooking in juice all day they came out tasting great. We will definitely keep this recipe around from when we need to use up vegetables. I highly recommend it.


November 4 Orange-Apricot Chops

This slow cooker cooking is not as easy as it initially appeared. We had a few frozen pizza nights after I left dinner cooking for too long. I have quickly learned that stews and soups can be left for many hours but anything else must be cooked for a very specific time. And that time is always less than the recipe calls for. It must be that recipes are created using slow cookers that are older than mine and the newer ones cook hotter. This is my idea and I am sticking with it. This meal was edible, but just barely. Next time I will cook it for a shorter time. Another wonderful recipe from Make it Fast Cook it Slow.
  • 6 pork chops
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (I would omit this next time)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges (and their juice)
Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put the pork chops into the stoneware. In a small bowl, combine the jam, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Spoon over the pork chops. Pour the entire can of mandarin oranges evenly over the top. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours. Serve with rice.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Place pork chops in stoneware
  2. Help measure and add ingredients
  3. Pour mandarin oranges on top
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Assist Audrey
I let this one cook all day and it was a little tough around the edges. It was also very sweet. While I still enjoyed it I will definitely cut the sugar next time. The jam and orange juice provide plenty of sweetness.
Oh, and if you look at the pictures close you will see we used pineapple instead of mandarin orange. It was what we had in the house.

November 3 Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 2 Apple Oatmeal

The month of November we will be focusing on crock pot cooking. This is for selfish reasons. I am trying to make sure the family eats healthy on the days I am working until 6pm. The girl's father has been picking them up from the day care center while I finish up at the office. Now we can all eat together when I get home and it will still be homemade meals. We are also all getting up and hurrying out the door so I can make it to work on time. To that end we made crock pot oatmeal from the Queen of crock pot cooking, Stephanie O'Dea and her Make it Fast Cook it Slow.
  • 1 cup rolled oats (we actually used steel cut)
  • 1 green apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 cups milk (we used 1 cup evaporated and 1 cup sweetened condensed)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (we did not need this)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • ground cinnamon
Use a 2-quart slow cooker. Put the oats, chopped apple, and milk into the stoneware. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix to combine. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, or on high for 1 to 2 hours. Garnish with cinnamon. I used a timer and had the oats cook for 4 hours because they were steel cut.

Audrey's Tasks:
  1. Help measure and add ingredients
  2. Stir
  3. Turn slow cooker on
Mom's Tasks:
  1. Gather ingredients
  2. Assist Audrey
  3. Set timer
These tasted so good I took the leftovers to work and had a second bowl. I think next time we make these we will mix it all together the night before and use the cook on high feature when we wake up. The reason I used evaporated milk is because I left the ingredients out on the counter all night waiting to cook.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    November 1 Muffin Tin Monday

    Audrey just loves it when I announce that it is Muffin Tin Monday. We have been laying low a bit but still enjoy our Monday meals. Audrey has been in charge of them for a while and this one was no different.

    October 31 Cheese Scones

    Everyone on our gift list loves cheese. We are going to shop for some great cheeses and make several batches of these fabulous Cheese Scones. Audrey loves cutting them out in different shapes and she recently found my stash of holiday cookie cutters. These would look really great with a little dill or sage cut out with tree cutters. I am getting hungry just thinking about them. We may need to make an extra batch just to make sure we have enough to save for gifts.

    October 30 Wheat Zucchini Bread

    There are more people on our holiday gift list this year in need of a few healthy meals. Audrey's parents and grandparents are all hoping for clothing that fits better this year. To that end we are planning to bake several loaves of this tasty yet healthy Wheat Zucchini Bread. Not only is it good for you but it is easy to make. Audrey loves that it is made using her favorite kitchen utensil, the food processor. We may ask for a more powerful one for Christmas. The shredding disk broke on ours shortly after we started using it. It would be great to have that feature back.

    October 29 Cottage Cheese Rolls

     Audrey and I have made so many dishes and have baked so many new items this past year. Most recipes have been a challenge. It is tough teaching a toddler to cook when I am not a great cook myself! One of the easiest recipes I have come across is Cottage Cheese Rolls. Only three ingredients are required to make this delightful dish! Audrey loves making them so I think we will soon be cooking up another batch for inclusion in our holiday baskets. They will need a holiday edge of sorts. Maybe a little canned pumpkin or some applesauce.

    October 28 Lemon Curd

    A new found love of mine is lemon curd. I found an old family recipe and adapted it for toddler cooking.

    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
    • zest of 3 lemons
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    In a microwave safe bowl mix the sugar and eggs. Add lemon juice, zest, and butter. Mix and heat in the microwave in one minute intervals until the curd coats the back of a spoon.

    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. Measure and add ingredients
    2. Crack eggs
    3. Help zest lemon
    4. Juice lemons
    5. Mix
    6. Pour curd into jars
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Assist Audrey
    The girls had a great time playing with the lemon carcasses. Audrey loved pouring the curd into the jars via a strainer to keep the lemon pulp out. I cannot wait to give these as gifts. 

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday October 27

    October 26 Homemade Jam

    There is no easier yet rewarding gift to make with young children. Set the child up cutting the fruit while you gather ingredients. You can cook the jam and can it or make freezer jam and place in freezer jars. We have done both:

    Strawberry Freezer Jam
    Berry Jam
    Pear Preserves

    We have also recently made pomegranate jelly. I had no idea how easy it was to make homemade spreads. All store well, even if you elect to simply keep them in the refrigerator. As soon as we have some  more free time we are going to make some orange marmalade. I love a good marmalade. And maybe some lemon curd...

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Muffin Tin Monday October 25

    The point of this blog has always been to show how to cook with toddlers and young children. I have been posting a number of things that I have been making for the girls recently. That may still happen but I am going to try to focus on what Audrey can do. Here is a Muffin Tin Meal Audrey made:

    As you can see she enjoyed every drop. I plan to let her make more Muffin Tin Meals.

    October 24 Raspberry Chocolate Bars

    We are in the process of getting the house cleaned up so grocery shopping is low on the list. I found a great recipe that uses things we have on hand and includes the food processor. Can't go wrong with that!

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup cold butter
    • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
    • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
    Preheat oven to 350°F. For crust, place flour, brown sugar, salt, and cold butter in a food processor. Cover and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake for 14 minutes. Meanwhile, for filling, in a small saucepan, heat condensed milk and 1 cup of the chocolate pieces over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring constantly. Pour chocolate mixture over baked crust, using spatula to spread evenly. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping. Drop teaspoons of the raspberry jam 1 1/2 inches apart over top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate pieces. Return pan to oven and bake for 30 more minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars.

    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. Cut butter
    2. Make crumb mixture
    3. Press crust into pan
    4. Heat chocolate mixture
    5. Help pour chocolate into pan
    6. Spread crumb on top
    7. Drop raspberry jam onto pan
    8. Sprinkle chocolate pieces on top
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Assist Audrey
    I would not recommend giving cold butter to a two-year-old to cut up. The butter is not so cold after that. Add that to the fact that I let Audrey play with the food processor and we ended up with dough instead of crumbs. I made it work. Also, spreading is not necessary with warm chocolate. It will do just fine on its own. These taste really good as you can image from the ingredient list. We elected to eat half of this batch and save the rest for gifts.

    October 23 Honey Butter

    With all of the baked goods stacking up in the freezer I thought it  might be nice to add a little flavored butter. We have some cute little heart candy molds that make cute mini butter pats. I helped Audrey melt and mix the butter and honey and she helped me pour it into the molds.

    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 tbsp flavoring (we used honey)
    Melt butter and stir in flavoring. Pour into molds and freeze.

    Audrey's Tasks:
    1. Melt butter
    2. Add honey and stir
    3. Help pour into molds
    Mom's Tasks:
    1. Gather ingredients
    2. Help mix and pour
    3. Freeze
    These could be  made with any number of flavors and poured into ice cube trays if you do not have candy molds. We will add these to bread and muffin gifts along with our homemade jam.