Brazilian Feijoada

Brazilian FeijoadaFeijoada is the National Dish of Brazil and has a rich urban legend associated with its history which is a slightly romanticized notion of the legends surrounding the creation and ancestry of Feijoada. The myth is linked to the slave days in Brazil where the slaves would be fed only rice and beans.

The legend has it that on holidays the slaves would be given the left-over, and mostly undesirable, parts of the pig, these being the skin, snout, ears, feet and belly. Supposedly the slaves combined these parts with their normally plain beans and feijoada was created. Legend has it that the dish then made its way into the plantation kitchens with an upgrade of pig parts, and later it found its way into restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and was finally adopted as the national dish.

In reality, the dish began in Europe, primarily Portugal, as pork and beans stews making use of the less desirable pork protein to flavor thick bean stews. Once the feijoada made its way to Brazil the usual kidney beans or white beans were switched out for black beans not traditionally used in Europe.

Feijoada makes a great winter stew, thick and flavorful while it’s cold and snowy outside.

Brazilian Feijoada

Put 2 cups of dried black beans in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the pan to a boil for 2 minutes and remove from the burner. Cover the pot and set aside for 1 hour while you prepare the other ingredients. Cook 4 pieces of applewood bacon until crisp. Once the bacon is cool, crumble and set aside.

Trim 1 lb of boneless pork shoulder and cut the shoulder into 1/2-inch cubes and place on a separate platter, and sprinkle a mixture of 1/8 tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Add the pork to the skillet with bacon drippings and sauté 8 minutes over medium-high heat, making sure to brown the meat on all sides.

Place the browned pork in your crock pot  and sprinkle again with 1/8 tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Next add 3 trimmed bone-in beef short ribs to the skillet and brown for 3 minutes on each side and add to the crock pot .

Next add 3 cups of finely chopped onion, ½ tsp of salt, 1 1/4 cups of fat-free, chicken broth, 4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 (9-ounce) smoked ham hock and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

After 8 hours remove the ribs from the cooker and set aside for 15 minutes, remove the meat from the bone, and shred with 2 forks. Then return to the crock pot . Remove and dispose of the ham hock and rib bones. Stir in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and crumbled bacon until mixed and warmed through and serve with 8 orange wedges.

While this does take a lot of prep for a crock pot  meal, it is well worth the time. This is not necessarily a traditional crock pot  dinner from the perspective of preparing a quick easy meal. It just happens to cook in the slow cooker. Prepare on a weekend and serve on Monday if you like this for a fast meal. This is great for a dinner party. The flavors are spectacular. This is sure to become a family favorite.

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Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Noodle SoupDoes chicken soup really help a cold? Or is that just an old wives tale? According to a study done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties which can negate some of the miseries of a cold.

Going back hundreds of years, chicken soup was regularly used for its medicinal properties leading to its moniker of “Jewish Penicillin.”While testing shows chicken soup does have an effect on colds, no one is quite sure how it works or why. If it helps allay some of the misery of a cold, who cares how or why?

Fall is upon us and it’s time for our beloved soups and stews. Try one of these awesome Crockpot soups for the cold season. Imagine how this will smell when you walk in the door from work and your whole house smells delicious! And you don’t have to have a cold to enjoy them.

Lazy Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep time on this is 15 minutes and cook time depends on your Crockpot setting - 3 to 4 hours on high or 8 to 9 hours on low, and serves 8.

This recipe will work perfectly with store-bought rotisserie chicken, frozen skinless boneless chicken filets, or a whole roasted home cooked chicken.

This recipe calls for 4 cups of chopped chicken. If using a whole chicken, remove the skin and chop the meat.

Place the chopped chicken in the bottom of the Crockpot; then add 1cup of diced onion, 1cup of diced celery, 1cup of diced carrots, and 1?2 cup of frozen peas.

Stir in 4 (14 ounce) cans of low sodium chicken broth, 2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic, 2 teaspoons of fines herbs (chervil, chives, parsley, and tarragon), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on high 3 to 4 hours or low for 8 to 9 hours. Stir in 2 cups of cooked egg noodles before serving.

Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This one is seriously simple. You could easily put this together before work; cook on low for 6 to 8 hours and come home to an amazing dinner.

Add to your Crockpot 1 pound of uncooked boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1 (8oz) can of drained mushrooms, 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook 6 to 8 hours on low (cut cooking time in half if cooking on high).

Remove the chicken from the cooker and shred with two forks or chop, then return the chicken back to the Crockpot and add 1 cup of heavy cream and 4 oz of home-style Amish egg noodles and cook on high for 15 minutes or until noodles are cooked.

Both of these soups can be put together and frozen. For the Lazy Crockpot Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, add all but the egg noodles to a gallon zipper bag and freeze. In the morning run the bag under warm water for 30 seconds to loosen up the ingredients, plop in your Crockpot and cook per the directions. Add the cooked noodles at the end as per the recipe.  For the creamy soup, do the same – add all ingredients to the freezer bag except noodles and cream, run under warm water for 30 seconds and place all in your pot and add noodles and cream after cooking.

These are both so easy, especially if you make and freeze for later, that they can easily put into monthly dinner rotation once, or even twice.

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Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast

Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork RoastServing the same dinners week after week can get very monotonous, but what if you don’t have a lot of time to put something together after work. I don’t even want to think about how many frozen dinners I have served for that very reason. But if you’ve got a crock pot, there are dozens of recipes that can be put in the crock pot the evening before or first thing in the morning, ready to plug in and go. So, how about some Chinese barbeque tonight? Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

Let’s Get to It!

In a medium bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, 3tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of peeled and grated gingerroot, 1teaspoon of dark sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of five-spice powder (which can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store).

Place the marinade in a large zipper-seal bag with 2lbs of pork shoulder and marinate for two hours. To speed up the marinating process, place the pork and other ingredients in a vacuum-seal container, vacuum out the air which will pull the marinade thought the meat, and set aside for 30 minutes. Cook in your slow cooker for 8 hours on low; then remove the meat and shred with 2 forks.

Thicken the sauce by heating the liquid to boiling in a saucepan; then adding some cornstarch or flour, stir until thickened. Return the sauce and meat to your crock pot and switching the heat to warm. This makes a great dinner when paired up with sticky rice and stir fry veggies.

An Alternative Char Siu

This is a great weekend dish when you can spend a bit more time in the kitchen, or cook and refrigerate or freeze so that it’s ready to heat and eat.

Spray the crock pot with cooking spray or use a crock pot liner. In a medium pan over low heat combine 4 tbsp of honey, 4 tbsp of maltose, 4 tbsp of hoisin sauce, 4 tbsp of soy sauce, 3 tbsp Chinese of rose wine, 1 tsp of sesame oil, 1 tsp of freshly minced ginger or ground ginger powder, 1 tsp of five-spice powder, and 1 tsp of white pepper powder. This is your sauce.

Set aside and season 2 ½ to 3 lbs of pork butt/shoulder with 2 tsp of salt and 2 tsp of black pepper and sear the pork in a skillet on the stove with a little oil over medium-high heat until the sides are brown.

Add ½ of the sauce to the skillet and coat the roast. Layer the rings of one medium onion in the bottom of the crock pot and place the meat on top; then pour the rest of the sauce plus the sauce left in the skillet over the top of the meat.

Cook on high for four hours, turning once. Spoon more sauce over the top of the meat and allow the meat to finish cooking. After four hours, remove the meat and either chop or shred, then return to the cooker and mix with the sauce left in the pot. You can serve this with or without toasted buns and pickles. This is guaranteed to be a family favorite.

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Crock Pot Lasagna Recipe

Though each one of us has their very own unique ways of preparing lasagna, the one thing we all share in common is our love for crock pot lasagna. Basically, this is because crock pot lasagna requires minimal effort, no manual attendance and most importantly, brings out the best flavors. Here's a good example of an easy to adopt crock pot lasagna recipe:

Ingredients:

  1.  18 ruffle edged lasagna noodles
  2.  Two pounds of Italian sausages - with their casings removed
  3.  Two cups of water
  4.  Two jars of tomato sauce
  5.  Two tablespoons of flat fresh leaf parsley that've been chopped
  6.  Two ounces of finely grated Parmesan cheese
  7.  One and a half pounds of grated mozzarella cheese
  8.  One pound of whole milk ricotta cheese
  9.  A tablespoon of olive oil
  10.  Thinly sliced fresh basil
  11.  Kosher salt
  12.  Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Start by heating a skillet over medium heat, warming olive oil and adding Italian sausages. As they continue cooking, use a wooden spoon to break up any large chunks into smaller ones. Then, wait for them to turn brown or, let them cook for 10-12 minutes. Proceed to add in two cups of water and tomato sauce and, give them a few more minutes to simmer. When ready, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Take another bowl and add ricotta cheese followed by parsley and then salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

On the bottom of the slow cooker's insert, spread a thin layer of sauce mixture and cover it with one layer of uncooked lasagna. To make it easier for them to fit, break accordingly. Then, spread a thin layer of your ricotta mixture over these noodles. Repeat this procedure as you go about adding the remaining lasagna noodles. When done, top with the remaining sauce mixture and sprinkle a quarter and one cup of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese respectfully.

Next, transfer the insert into the base of a slow-cooker and cover it. Adjust to low setting and leave it to cook till all noodles become cooked through and tender. On average, this takes 5-6 hours.

Final Preparation:

Once your lasagna is ready, sprinkle a little of the mozzarella cheese on top and let it stand for 10 minutes or till all cheese melts.

Alternatively, you may transfer the crock pot's insert to the oven and let it broil for seven minutes or till the cheese turns golden brown and bubbly.

Lasagna

Serving:

Let the lasagna sit for 20 minutes before it gets served. You should also take time to cut it into pieces as well as garnish it with herbs, preferably basil.

Summary:

This crock pot lasagna recipe is highly praised for it saves on time (one doesn't have to be physically present to monitor the cooking) and, it always gives you lasagna that's full of flavor and nutrients.

 

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Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Judging from the many chicken pot pie photos we normally come across on the internet, cookbooks and magazines; this may seem as one of the most complicated dishes to prepare. Thankfully, that isn't the case. As a matter of fact, you can make this amazingly tasty delicacy in less than 90 minutes and, at the comfort of your own kitchen. To get it all ready, here are the key steps and guidelines involved:

Ingredients:

Though you can choose to use ingredients that you currently have on hand, these are the most important:

For the fillings, you'll need:

  1. a) Two and a half cups of shredded cooked chicken
  2. b) Two cups of thawed and frozen mixed vegetables
  3. c) One and three quarter cups of chicken broth
  4. d) Half a cup of milk
  5. e) Half a teaspoon of salt
  6. f) A third cup of margarine or butter
  7. g) A third cup of chopped onions
  8. h) A third cup of all purpose flour
  9. i) A quarter teaspoon of pepper

For the crust, you'll need:

  1. a) A box of refrigerated and softened pie crusts

- These ingredients are meant to cater for a meal of six.

Directions:

Step 1 - Cooking the pie:

First, heat the oven to 425 degrees. While the oven heats, be making the pie crusts as directed on the box.

Then, over medium heat, place a non-stick saucepan and melt the butter. Once the butter has fully melted, add in the onions and let them cook for two minutes or till they become tender. Next, stir in the flour and continue stirring till fully blended. Then, gently and gradually stir in the chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper and let them cook until thickened and bubbly. All the while, you should keep on stirring.

Lastly, stir in the shredded cooked chicken and mixed vegetables for just a few minutes and, remove from heat.

Step 2 - Baking the pie:

First, transfer your chicken mixture into a greased nine inch deep pie plate and top it with the second crust - softened pie crusts. Then, other than trimming, sealing and fluting the edges, make sure that you cut several slits on the top crust before putting the plate into the oven.

You should leave the pie to bake until it starts turning golden brown or for approximately 30-40 minutes. It's highly advised that during the last 15-20 minutes, you cover the crust's edges with a foil strips. Doing so prevents the pie from browning excessively.

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Serving homemade chicken pot pie

To enjoy the full flavors of the chicken pot pie, you should serve it five minutes after it has been removed from the oven. Wondering what side dish you should serve it with? Well, any type of vegetable salad or soup will surely complement your chicken pot pie.

However, in case you'd like to save it for later, you should leave it to cool for a couple of minutes before putting it in the freezer.

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