Sunday, January 25, 2015

A month of slow-cooking

So, one of my new year's resolutions was to cook something "hard" each month. This month I made a quiche for Ryan (one of his top ten favorite foods) but I've also been using my Christmas Crock-Pot quite a bit. Usually, I prep the food before I leave his house for the night, and Ryan just has to plug it in before he leaves for work in the morning. Then, when we both get back to his house, it smells great and is hot for us to eat!

Here are the things that I've done so far, and some of the things I've learned about slow-cooking:

1. Sesame Chicken. This one was good, except that slow cooking relies on a long, simmering process. If you don't have enough sauce to simmer, then the bottom layer of chicken will burn and stick. The top layer was really good though. Also, I learned not to add broccoli to a crock pot all day - it got WAY soft. But the sesame sauce was really good, and I'd definitely make this again, just save the veggies for after I get home, and put more water in the bottom of the pan to keep it from burning.

2. Chicken Tortilla Soup. This one was absolutely amazing. No complaints. I plan to make it for the chili cook-off at work (even though it's not really chili). It's a Six Sister's recipe and can be found here:

3. Applesauce glazed Pork Tenderloin. This one is when I learned that just because a recipe in a magazine says slow-cook, it does not always mean crock-pot! So one night Ryan and I waited 2 hours and ate dinner really late, but it was delicious and I would definitely eat it again. I think it can be done in the crockpot, but it would have involved figuring out how to alter the recipe so that the glaze would be more simmer-y to prevent the meat from burning (see above).

4. Pea Soup. Ryan's second favorite meal (after the chicken tortilla). It's literally peas, onions, and broth, but it makes the house smell amazing and is really cheap and filling. I'd call it a hit.

5. Carrot Soup. After the successful pea soup, we thought a carrot recipe couldn't be that bad. We were wrong. It was primarily ginger-based, which Ryan didn't like, and since he doesn't have a blender, I used a food processor. They are not the same - food processor leads to a weird grainy texture where blender (I assume) should have been creamy and smooth.

6. Imtation Crab Chowder. This one turned into more of a gumbo, since I left the cream out of the soup and kicked up the cajun flavor with Tony Chachere's seasoning. Very hot, which made it a hit for Ryan. The recipe called for real crab but the imitation stuff held up better in the slow cooker.

7. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. I've made this one for a while now. The slow cooker let me leave out the water and just stew the tomatoes until they were mushy. I don't use tomato paste, just fresh tomatoes, so the texture sometimes comes out too thin, but with the slow cooker, it was a lot better.

Stay tuned to see how I try to get fancy on Valentine's day, my next month of "hard' cooking.

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