Sunday, February 24, 2008

Great gardening food...

I am tilling this weekend to plant a garden. I have great dreams of making my own salsa with tomatoes grown from my garden, harvesting enough strawberries to make jam for the next year, not to mention being able to go out into the yard whenever I need fresh basil or parsley.

I probably will not plant for a few weeks, but I am getting ready.

As fuel for the fire or a great reward at the end of the day...what better tool to use than my slow cooker? I actually have two now...I bought a smaller four-quart size for side dishes.

Barbeque Chicken

2 lbs bone-in skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 lbs bone-in skinless chicken thighs
18 oz bottle of barbeque sauce
3/4 c Coca Cola
one large lemon, sliced thin
one medium onion, sliced thin

Place chicken in 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Top with sliced onion and lemon slices. Whisk together barbeque sauce and soda in a small bowl and pour over chicken. Cook in slow cooker on low for six to eight hours.

What I liked about this recipe: Simple and easy.
What I disliked about this recipe: Nothing. It was easy.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: My large mixing bowl from Williams Sonoma with a pouring spout was especially helpful for this dish.
Tastiness factor: I'm sure this dish would be different depending on the barbeque sauce you used. I used Sweet Baby Ray's. It was pretty good although a tad dry (probably an hour less in the slow cooker would have done it) and a little strong on the lemon taste.

Grandma's Corn

8 oz package of cream cheese
1/4 c of unsalted butter
32 oz. package of frozen corn
1/3 c sugar

Place cream cheese and butter on low in slow cooker and let sit for 10 minutes until softened. Add sugar and corn and mix until the corn is coated with the cream cheese mixture. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

What I liked about this recipe: Very easy and only four ingredients.
What I disliked about this recipe: I let the cream cheese and butter sit in the Crock Pot for 20 minutes and it never got soft. Next time I make this, I'm using the microwave to soften it a tad more so it will be easier to coat the corn.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: This was my 4-quart cooker's debut! I bought it specifically for side dishes!
Tastiness factor: Great, great taste although it cooked for the full four hours and the corn was not very soft. I would probably go five hours next time. Great flavor though...very sweet and lovely creamed corn taste.

Johnny Appleseed Bread

5/8 c unsweetened apple juice
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 c bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 c cored, peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple
1/4 c raisins
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread pan in order listed. Select 1.5 lb loaf, standard baking cycle and light crust. Remove bread from pan at end of the baking cycle and let cool one hour before slicing.

What I liked about this bread: Lots and lots of apple stuff in it.
What I disliked about this bread: Too wet and the dough was stickier than anything when I went to remove the blade from the machine.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I have a nutmeg shaker full of whole nutmeg that I used to "grate" the nutmeg. I don't even know where you would get whole nutmeg, but I wouldn't buy it just for a pinch for this recipe. I would use a pinch of ground if I didn't have my shaker. My mezzaluna was very, very useful for chopping up the apple very finely.
Tastiness factor: Great flavor but a little too chewy...kind of doughy. I would cut the liquid amount next time.

Erica's Tips: Even though the recipe didn't say, I held the apples and raisins out and added them in when the machine beeped for the mix-ins. I also rehydrated the raisins by soaking them in boiling water for about twenty minutes and tossed the apples with a bit of lemon juice to help prevent browning.

Fudge Brownie Pie

1 c sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c unsweetened baking cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in flour, cocoa and salt. Mix in vanilla and pecans. Pour into a greased and floured 9" pie plate. (No crust.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

What I liked about this recipe: I had everything on hand and it took less than ten minutes to mix up and put in the oven.
What I disliked about this recipe: Not a thing.
Cool kitchen gadgets used: I love my Pyrex pie plates and used a pink one for this dessert.
Tastiness factor: Good. Nice basic brownie recipe and great with ice cream.


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