Monday, December 15, 2014

**originally posted on WGLR.com on 12-8-14**

Holiday baking season is here! Did you know that your crock pot can help you with that? Here is a delicious treat that can be made quickly and easily in your crock pot, and it will be loved and devoured quickly by all! In October, I did a Crock of the Week for Autumn Harvest Chex Mix. This is a similar recipe, except it's full of chocolate and Christmas joy! It's Peppermint Muddy Buddies! Muddy Buddies are the chocolate cousin of Chex Mix :) I made a double batch of this recipe, and there was plenty of room to mix it in my crock pot. You could use a double boiler for a single batch if you wanted, but if you are doing a double batch, you won't have enough room in a double boiler. It only took about 10 minutes for the chocolate to melt completely for a double batch in my crock pot. And I only got the crock dirty which made clean up a snap! Loved it! I brought it along to the WGLR Holiday Auction this past weekend for the crew and volunteers to enjoy, and got many compliments! So add this easy treat to your holiday baking list. It would be a nice thing to package up in ziplocs and ribbon to hand out to co-workers, neighbors, or wherever you need a bunch of small gifts this holiday season.

muddy peppermint
 

CROCK POT PEPPERMINT MUDDY BUDDIES

  • 3 squares white chocolate bark
  • 3 squares chocolate bark
  • 3 cups rice (or corn) Chex cereal
  • 3 cups chocolate Chex cereal
  • 10 crushed up mini candy canes
Crush up the candy canes and set aside. Then start with the white chocolate bark, and place that in your crock. Cover and turn the crock on high until it melts. Add in the rice or corn chex, and stir until the cereal is completely coated with the white chocolate. Then pour the mixture out onto a piece or wax paper or foil, and spread it out. Immediately sprinkle the crushed peppermints all over the mixture, before the chocolate starts to harden up, because you want the peppermints to stick!
Then add the chocolate bark to your crock (no need to clean it from the white chocolate that was just in there). Cover and melt. Then add the chocolate Chex until well coated, and pour the mixture onto wax paper or foil, just as you did with the white chocolate mixture. Let it harden up.
When both mixtures are set, break up and mix together in a lidded bowl or big ziploc bag. And watch it quickly disappear!! Yum!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken

**originally posted on WGLR.com on 12-1-14**

This week's recipe is so so sooooooo simple! And so so sooooooo delicious! I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy, but it is so versatile that it could be served in many different ways, like with pasta, veggies, tacos, gyros or even on a salad. It is Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken, and you probably have all the ingredients needed already in your kitchen. I did! It smells delicious while cooking too :)
balsamic chix

CROCK POT BALSAMIC CHICKEN

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs, bone-in or out, your choice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch fresh chopped parsley (if desired)
Combine the garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper & minced onion in a bowl. Spread it over the chicken pieces, on both sides.  pour olive oil and the garlic on the bottom of your crock pot, and add chicken on top. Pour the balsamic vinegar over the chicken. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Crock Pot Green Bean Casserole

**originally posted on www.WGLR.com on 11-24-14**

Thanksgiving week is upon us! I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope you enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends this year. If you are hosting the big meal, or need to bring a dish to contribute to a gathering, I am helping you out! This recipe is a traditional holiday dish at my family celebration, and likely at yours, too. Using your crock pot to help with meal prep is a great idea, especially if your turkey is hogging the oven. So, put your GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE in your crock pot! This is easy and delicious. I tweaked the original recipe I found for this online by adding a few dashes of soy sauce, but the grated parmesan cheese in this recipe really stepped this dish up a notch, so I was happy I found it! Sometimes we never revisit recipes we have been making for years, but this one proves that it doesn’t hurt to do that now and then.
green bean cass

CROCK POT GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

  • 3 cans (14.5oz) green beans (I prefer french cut. You can also use fresh or frozen beans)
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • a few dashes soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-6oz can french fried onions
Drain the beans and pour into crock. Stir in soup, milk, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and HALF (3oz) of the container of french fried onions. Stir until well combined. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining french fried onions on top.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Crock Pot Cranberry Applesauce

This week's recipe is a nice treat that uses ingredients of the season, Crock Pot Cranberry Applesauce! I always use my crock pot now for making applesauce, it is so easy, and not as labor intensive when cooking, in my opinion. I'm also a lover of all things cranberry, so I thought I'd give this recipe a whirl this year. I had a bunch of orchard apples in my pantry that were starting to go soft, so that means applesauce time in my house! With this recipe, you add the brown sugar to taste, as it really depends on your preference and the type of apples you use. Cranberries are naturally tart, so some sweetener is likely needed. My apples were a mix of Macintosh and honey crisp, and I used a half cup of packed light brown sugar, and it was perfect. My 2 year old gobbled some up at breakfast this morning, so if she likes it, it's a good recipe, LOL!
cranapplesauce
 

Crock Pot Cranberry Applesauce

  • About 5 lbs apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (12 oz)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • brown sugar, to taste (add a quarter cup at a time until you get the sweetness you want)
Peel, core & slice apples, and place in your slow cooker. Pour in the bag of fresh cranberries and throw in the cinnamon sticks. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
When done, remove the cinnamon sticks and mash the applesauce in the crock, or use an immersion blender, depending on whether you want a chunky or smooth sauce. Add some brown sugar, 1/4 cup at a time and taste it until you get the desired sweetness you want.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze or can this. I canned it, and got 6 pint jars out of the recipe.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Crock Pot Ham in Cider Gravy

**originally posted on WGLR.com on 11-10-14**

Oh do I have a good one for you this week! Are you like me, and still have some apple cider sitting in your fridge from a trip to an orchard this fall? I came across this recipe a few weeks ago and thought it would be a good one to try to use up the cider. Can’t get much easier than a 3 ingredient recipe! I admit I was a big skeptical, because generally, I am not a fan of fruit and meat together, but let me tell you…the gravy that this dish creates is AMAZING! For real. It’s worth making just to get the gravy. I was expecting sweet, and it wasn’t. It’s a super delicious combination of flavors. I’m so glad I decided to whip up some mashed potatoes to enjoy the gravy even more!
Putting a ham in a crock pot for your holiday celebrations is so easy, and it really helps to juggle other entrees because your oven is free for many other delicious Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes. I used a boneless hickory smoked ham, mainly because I could cut it in half to help it fit into my crock pot! So keep that in mind when choosing a ham, you want it to fit in your pot! Try this recipe this year, you won’t regret it!

crock pot cider ham

Slow-Cooked Ham in Cider Gravy

  • One ham, 1-4 lbs
  • 2 cups unsweetened apple cider
  • 3/4 cup REAL maple syrup (not the fake stuff!)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
Place ham in the slow cooker and pour cider and syrup over it. Cook on Low for about 6 hours.
Then, remove the ham to a plate. Put liquid into a large 4 cup measuring cup or bowl.
Now, make the gravy. Whisk the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of the cider on the stove-top over low heat until smooth. Turn the heat up to medium, and continue to add the cider a bit at a time, whisking constantly, until all the cider is in the gravy.  Serve with the ham.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup

**originally posted on WGLR.com on 11-3-14**

This week's recipe is one of those that will "stick to your gut!" This one is for the beef lovers out there...it's Crock Pot Beef Barley soup! This is a really easy way to make a barley soup. On the stovetop, it takes a long time for barley to cook, and you have to keep an eye on it. For this recipe, the uncooked barley goes in with all the other ingredients at the start, and cooks to perfection, with no babysitting required! Good one to throw in your slow cooker before work, so you can come home to a perfectly cooked soup. It's more like a stew though, as it's quite hearty. Similar to an Irish Stew, but without potatoes.
beefbarleysoup

Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup

2.5 lb. chuck roast - cut into bite size pieces (or just buy stew meat)
1 cup pearl barley
2 medium onions - chopped
1 green pepper - chopped
6 carrots - chopped
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
48oz. beef stock - more if needed
5 sprigs of fresh thyme - leaves pulled off stem (or 5 teaspoons dried)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Add all ingredients to a 6-qt crock pot. Stir it all up and cook on low for 6-8 hours. You may want to check for liquid level and add more stock or water if needed, as the barley will absorb a lot of liquid as it cooks.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Harvest Chex Mix

**originally posted on www.WGLR.com on 11-27-14**
Happy Halloween Week! As I have mentioned often, I use my slow cooker year round. But, I do try to do seasonal dishes when called for. This time of year, I love to experiment with fun recipes that involve what I love about fall! One thing I definitely love is the spices in autumn dishes, from pumpkin spice to cinnamon and all that goes with it. I stumbled upon this recipe over the summer, and couldn’t wait for Fall to get here so I could try it. My son is a September baby, so this year, I finally had his birthday party (5th!) at a pumpkin patch, like I had always wanted to do! I made this recipe for guests to snack on at the party, and wow, is it delicious! My husband and I were snitching more of it than we should have when I first made it, because it is quite addicting (especially when warm out of the crock pot!). I almost had to make a second batch for the party, haha! This is a great one to do with your kids or grandkids, because they can help you measure and add all the ingredients easily. With Halloween parties/school events this week, this would be a perfect treat to make and throw in some decorated up small ziploc baggies to give to kids or co-workers. It would also make a really nice thing to set out at your Thanksgiving celebrations, so people can snack on something while waiting for the big meal to hit the table! PLUS, it makes your house smell DELICIOUS when you make it!!!!!
*note: The original recipe calls for mini graham crackers. I don’t think these are made anymore, i couldn’t even find them online. You can just break up larger grahams or omit them from the mix. If you don’t mind shapes in your mix, use Teddy Grahams, or I used Annie’s little graham cracker bunnies in mine!
pumpkin chex mix

SLOW COOKER PUMPKIN HARVEST CHEX MIX
  • 2 cups cinnamon Chex cereal
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
  • 3 cups Vanilla Chex cereal
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup mini graham crackers* (see note above)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup salted & roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
In a 5-6 quart oval crock pot, stir in cereals, pecans, graham crackers, cranberries & pumpkin seeds. Stir gently so you don’t break up the cereal too much.
In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice & vanilla. Pour over mixture in the crock pot, and gently stir until the mixture is evenly coated.
Cook UNCOVERED on HIGH for 2 hours, gently stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. When done, spread mix onto ungreased baking sheet or waxed paper. Let cool for 3-5 minutes (yeah right, I was eating it right out of the crock, YUM!).
Store in an air-tight container!