Apple Chicken with Stuffing

Oops!  This post was suppose to have been published with a picture but umm… the cat ate it!  The picture I mean… not the chicken.  Well… okay so he ate some of the raw chicken but… you know what I mean!  So yeah… umm… no pics, sorry!

One of my favorite autumn/winter dishes is Apple Chicken.  Aside from it being incredibly easy to make, it’s unbelievably tasty and can be made in large batches for freezing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breast
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs
  • Apple Cider
  • 2 cups apple sauce
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • Cranberries
  • Stuffing Mix

Directions:

  1. Place chicken breasts and thighs into crockpot.
  2. Add 2 cups apple sauce.
  3. Add enough apple cider to barely cover the chicken.
  4. Stir.
  5. Set slow cooker on high and cook until chicken is done (generally 3-4 hours).
  6. Add enough stuffing mix to absorb the apple cider and allow to set.
  7. Peel and dice your apple.
  8. Incorporate apple and cranberries into chicken/stuffing.
  9. Serve.

Quiche in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 dozen eggs (this freezes wonderfully so I make a full dozen!)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 16 0z. spinach
  • Optional: Baker’s Joy or equivalent cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Whisk eggs until thoroughly beaten.
  2. While still whisking slowly add milk then Bisquick until completely incorporated.
  3. Add spinach (if it’s still frozen, break apart before adding).
  4. -Optional- This recipe tends to stick to the cooker so a release agent here is helpful.  If you use one, apply it to your cooker now.
  5. Pour entire mixture into slow cooker.
  6. Set your cooker to high for 3 hours.
  7. Your quiche is done when it starts to pull away from the sides of the cooker and/or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back dry.
  8. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with garlic powder.

This was the most moist quiche I’ve ever had and I plan on expanding on this recipe in the future.

Let them eat Crockpot Cake!

Okay, so maybe Marie Antoinette didn’t say it exactly like that but if she had a Crockpot, I bet she would have!  I’ve heard rumors that you can back a cake in the crockpot but you know me, I have to find out for myself.  Now let me say that I wasn’t going to go crazy with a super-duper-completely-from-scratch recipe only to discover that you can’t actually bake a cake in a crockpot.  So I used a boxed cake.  Devil’s Food to be exact.  And I have to say… it came out tasty, moist and just like a regular over-baked cake.  OK, not exactly like an oven-baked cake because it was the shape of my semi oval crockpot and didn’t look very pretty (but I wasn’t going for aesthetics this time).  It was an experiment and now that I know, I can expand upon this.  Here’s my notes on baking a cake in the slow cooker:

Needs:

  • Boxed cake mix – including any requirements from the back of the box such as eggs, oil and water
  • Parchment paper OR Baker’s Joy (I do NOT use Baker’s Joy personally but have heard that it is the best product for this type of baking)
  • NOTE: You can use cupcake foils if they are stiff enough to stand on their own with the batter in them.
  • Crockpot/slow cooker

Directions:

  1. Mix batter as instructed on the back of the cake mix box.
  2. Line crockpot with parchment paper (I measure out the bottom of the pan and make neat folds for more aesthetically pleasing cake) or use Baker’s Joy.
  3. Pour batter into crockpot.
  4. Cover the top of the crockpot with paper towels (to absorb the moisture and allow the cake to actually bake).
  5. Put lid over the paper towels, pulling the towels taunt across so they don’t droop into the rising cake.
  6. Set your cooker on high for an hour.
  7. Check your cake after an hour with a toothpick.  Poke the cake in the center with the toothpick as far down as it will go and pull it back.  If it has batter on it, the cake is not done; cover with paper towels & lid and continue to bake for another half hour.  If it comes back clean, it’s done.
  8. Once done, immediately remove the cake by lifting the parchment paper and placing it on a cooling rack.  If you didn’t use a liner, allow the cake to cool enough to be able to handle it and remove from crockpot.
  9. Allow cake to completely cool before frosting/icing.

Let me know how yours comes out or feel free to post any questions/comments below!  Thanks!

Honey Wheat Bread from the Slow Cooker (with vegan options)

I’ve been asked about baking bread in the slow cooker from start to finish and after seeing how wonderfully it rises in it, I knew a bit of research would give me the information I needed.  Now here’s the AWESOME part: it works with my favorite bread recipe!  *Does the kitchen happy dance!*

So here’s the recipe now made entirely in the slow cooker with vegan options of course:

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tsp granulated yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp vital wheat gluten (rising agent)
  • 1/4 honey (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 2.5 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm almond milk
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm warn
  • 3 & 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • Parchment paper
  • Bowl with water to dip your hands in
  • loaf pan smaller than your slow cooker; OR something to shape your loaf with; OR nothing of the sort if you don’t mid a dome of bread

Directions:

  1. Set the slow cooker on high with enough water to barely cover the bottom.  Cover and set aside.
  2. Fold your parchment paper into a rectangle that will fit snugly in your cooker. Set aside.
  3. Fill a bowl with some water (for dipping your hands) and set aside.
  4. If your milk and water are cold, combine them (equals 1.5 cups total) and microwave for 30 seconds.
  5. Mix all ingredients EXCEPT flour in a large bowl.
  6. Whisk briskly to incorporate the ingredients as much as possible.  This takes a bit as the vital wheat gluten likes to clump.  Doing this makes for a more evenly rising loaf so don’t skim on the whisking.
  7. With a large wooden spoon, slowly mix in the flour.
  8. Once you have a mixture too difficult to stir (roughly the second cup of flour), dip your hands in the bowl of water and begin kneading.  Continue to knead until all the flour is added and thoroughly mixed.  Keep dipping your hands as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the bowl too much.
  9. Then transfer the dough to the parchment paper and shape into a loaf.
  10. Remove the lid from the slow cooker, place the dough in the parchment within (you can use ceramic plates, shallow bowls or anything similar to help shape the dough if you don’t want it round and your loaf pan doesn’t fit in the cooker; just make sure it’s not metal or plastic.  See image below).
  11. Cover the cooker and set it for high for three hours.
  12. Go watch two movies, take a stroll around the neighborhood, pick the kids up from school, knit a sock, play online, whatever.
  13. Come back in three hours and confirm bread is done (should be fully risen and pulling away from the sides of the parchment).  If you want a loaf with a crisper exterior, you can pop it into the broiler or on the top shelf in the oven at 350 degrees till sufficiently browned/crisped.

I wedge two ceramic plates on either side of the dough to create a more oblong shaped loaf.

Slow Cooker: Roasted Potatoes

Now that I’ve introduced you to baked potatoes in the slow cooker, here’s a recipe for slow roasted potatoes.  This is a great recipe to create in bulk and freeze in meal size proportions (freezing information is below the recipe).

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (I create huge batches of 10 lbs. in my 6 quart slow cooker)
  • Neutral flavored oil (I use Safflower or grapeseed oil – olive oil is often too heavy)
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Options:
    • Minced garlic instead of garlic powder
    • Minced onion instead of onion powder
    • Rosemary
    • Dill

Directions:

  1. Peel and rinse your potatoes as normal, making sure to remove any new growth (eyes), soft spots or areas that look on the verge of spoiling.
  2. Quarter potatoes into large 1 inch chunks.
  3. Drop them in the slow cooker.
  4. Drizzle oil over potatoes while stirring to LIGHTLY coat them (keeps them from looking gray while cooking) and add any spices at this time.
  5. Set cooker on high and cover.
  6. Cooking time depends on how many potatoes you have in your cooker.  Generally, set your timer for two hours and stir the potatoes.  (If you are freezing any portions: You are looking for them to be just slightly undercooked to allow them to remain firm after thawing.  Freeze portions using a food saver or an air-tight container.)  If they aren’t ready, continue cooking on high and checking hourly (stirring each time so not to over cook the bottom ones while the top of the pile stays raw) until done.  10 lbs in my 6 quart cooker took about five hours in total.
  7. Potatoes are done when they are soft but not falling apart.
  8. Option:  You can add a bit of butter here if desired OR quickly fry them in a pan til the edges are crisp!
Freezing Information:
A great way to make meals easier during the week is to create portions of your meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer until you’re ready for them.   There are a few rules regarding freezing potatoes in general:
  • Don’t freeze whole potatoes.  They become solid bricks.
  • Always partially cook your potatoes before freezing.  Raw potatoes do not freeze well and become tasteless once thawed.
  • Using a food saver that removes any air and seals the packaging not only prolongs the amount of time you can freeze food but also helps them retain their flavor (not to mention keeps freezer burn away).
  • Package them in MEAL SIZE portions or individual portions.  Large batches thawed then refrozen leaves too much room for contamination and spoiling.
  • Potatoes that have been stored at room temperature for two weeks to a month are best for freezing (as they are thoroughly ripened and the most flavorful).
  • Thaw potatoes by microwaving or baking.  Boiling will turn them to mush.
  • If you plan on using your potatoes for fries and not mashed or chunks then simply make them into fries, allow to cool and seal.  The above method would make the potatoes too soft for creating fries.
  • If you wish to have potatoes ready for mashing in the freezer: Prepare the potatoes as normal by peelings, rinsing and cubing them.  Boil the potatoes till they are about two-thirds cooked (should still be quite firm when speared with a fork).  Drain and allow to cool.  Package potatoes in meal size portions and use a food saver to remove any air from the package and freeze.  You can also fully create the mashed potatoes as you would normally and freeze meal portions though remember, any frost on the potatoes may result it more watery potatoes.

Slow Cooked Baked Potatoes

There are very few things that I say are so much different form one form of cooking to another.  After all, the end result is the same: a baked potato.  Yet, the microwaved baked potato tastes somewhat different than an oven baked potato but not by much.  And the consistency is a tad different too.  Oven baked potatoes are dry (not in a negative sense, as in they aren’t sloppy potatoes), fluffy centers with usually crispy exteriors (if not in foil).  They are… what we assumed as the standard in baked potatoes.  And then I decided to try them in the slow cooker.  My first words regarding the taste was, “I didn’t know potatoes could taste… well… MORE like potatoes!”  Slow baked potatoes taste the way you imagine they would when you first eat one raw.  Sort of a warm, earthy taste.  Here’s what I did to create these tasty taters that ensured we will never eat them any other way again!

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes
  • Neutral flavored Oil (I used safflower)
  • Toppings (I used some butter, garlic powder, ranch dressing seasoning, cheddar cheese and sour cream)

Directions:

  1. Wash your potatoes and dry them thoroughly.  The reason for drying them so well is so there is no scorching.
  2. Slather your potatoes in your neutral oil.  Many recipes state to use olive oil but a neutral oil is lighter, doesn’t change the taste and doesn’t leave the potato tasting oily.
  3. Wrap your potatoes in foil.  No, you don’t need to puncture them as the slow cooking process doesn’t need to expel steam.  Don’t worry, they won’t explode or anything.
  4. Put them in your slow cooker.  No, don’t add water to the bottom, they will be moist enough without it and besides, the water doesn’t penetrate the foil anyhow.  And we aren’t boiling them either.
  5. Set your cooker on high.
  6. Set your timer for: 1-3 large potatoes= 4 hours, 4+ potatoes = 1 hour for every potato.
  7. Once your timer goes off, carefully open the foil but don’t remove it from the potato.
  8. Cut a slit along the exposed potato surface then scrunch the potato (while wearing oven mitts) to break it up (or use a fork to mix it up).
  9. Add your butter, herbs/spices and/or cheese at this time (see how the foil acts like a bowl!).
  10. Set potato back inside the slow cooker, put the lid on it and allow it to sit in the cooker as the cheese melts.
  11. When the cheese has melted, remove it from the slow cooker and deposit it onto the plate (or in our cases, bowls to make it easier to eat) still in the foil.  ENJOY!

 

Slow cooker whole chicken

Yet again, no image for this one but mostly because this entry is more like a quick reference.  If you want to cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker, this is a general idea of weight & time.

Meat:

  • Meat that falls off the bone = 1 hour per pound on high + 1 additional hour for every 3 lbs. ( 3 lb. bird would cook for 4 hours on high, a 6 lbs. bird would cook for 7 hours on high – though temperatures vary in slow cookers so always check your bird after 4 hours then every hour after until you have the meat as desired): This is great for chicken stock, boiled chicken, chicken soup base or deboning a cooked chicken.
  • Whole chicken intact = 45 minutes per pound on high with NO liquids except for what naturally comes from the chicken during cooking: This is for when you want more of a presentation chicken.

Liquids:

  • For boiled chicken, soup stock, or to make a broth base: Add 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup water to the crock pot before adding the chicken.  [NOTE: Chicken in the slow cooker is very moist to begin with especially if it is cooked with the skin (can be easily removed after it’s done cooking), adding any sort of liquids to the cooker is only recommended if you are making a soup/broth base or boiled chicken.]
  • For soup stock or broth WITHOUT boiling the chicken: Cook chicken as desired, remove from cooker but leave any liquid at the bottom.  Debone and/or skin the chicken, add them back to the cooker, add 2 cups chicken base (see below) and/or six cups of water.
  • Chicken Base:  Every time you make a chicken in the slow cooker, keep the drippings for a chicken base.  If you aren’t making a broth/soup right away, simply allow the drippings to cool, pour them into a container and freeze.  If you want something with less fat, allow the container to cool in the fridge first; remove the layer of fat that rises to the top and then freeze the remaining.

Making Soup:

  • Egg noodles: Cooked in the drippings plus water for twenty minutes (with base already hot)
  • Frozen veggies/potatoes: Added after base and noodles are done cooking
  • Fresh chopped veggies/potatoes: Added an half hour before the noodles are added
  • Thickening Agent: I highly recommend Bisquick as a thickening agent for your chicken soup – remove 2 cups of the base from the slow cooker and pour it into a microwavable bowl.  Slowly whisk in the Bisquick until it is MUCH thicker than desired (remember it will be added to the base again and therefore much thinner).  Keep the base hot to allow the mix to completely dissolve and not produce lumps by putting it in the microwave for 30 second intervals as needed.  Pour and stir the mixture into the slow cooker base.

Stock/Base:

  • Cook the entire chicken: skin, bones, meat, etc.  You can even cook the giblets and neck if so desired.
  • Remove the meat from the cooker once it’s fully cooked.
  • Debone and/or skin the chicken.  Set the meat aside.
  • Add the bones and skin to the chicken drippings plus 1 cup chicken broth or water.
  • Cook till bones become soft.
  • Remove bones and skin (skin can be chopped in a food processor if you wish to use it in the stock).
  • Pour into single use containers and freeze.