Monday, April 2, 2012

Crockpot Confession and a Great Use-It-Up Night

I have a confession for you.  My crockpot scares me.  Okay - it's not just my crockpot, and it's really not like "Ooh I'm so scared I'm going to sleep with the lights on!" That would be really weird. It's more like I'm intimidated by the idea of using a crockpot.  I know the whole point is that you leave them plugged in all day, and tada when you get home supper is ready.  But you know what, they get really, really hot.  I'm not sure how I feel about leaving something  that hot on my counter all day while I'm gone.  And I feel like the idea of slow-cooking is unpredictable to me.  When I put something in the oven at 350 I know how long it will take to cook depending on what it is that I'm baking.  When I cook in the skillet, same thing.  But the crockpot I have to trust...

All of that to say, that I used my crockpot today.  I put my qualms about it aside, plugged it in and left for eight hours (you see it sounds really weird when you see it in print, very unnatural.)  But the results, I will admit were very good.  I had one final package of pork chops to use-up, so I put those in the pot with half of a chopped yellow onion, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and equal parts water to reduce the gravy a bit.  Even though I loath having to use cream of something soup (see Use-It-Up Post 25) in this case it worked.  The chops fell apart and had a really great dense meaty flavor, and they stayed very tender, which can be a tricky thing for pork chops to accomplish.

The whole meal was a great example of a Use-It-Up night.  In the morning before I left for work I also made a batch of bread dough and put it in the refrigerator.  I'm learning the tricks of baking as I go, and today was a really good lesson; while it may seem convenient to make a batch of dough ahead of time, you must give ample thawing and rising time if you intend to make bread.  I did not, and tried to hurry it along with no luck.  So when life hands you cold dough, make breadsticks.  I buttered a 9x13 pan and pressed the dough along the side, as if I was making a pizza crust.  I then drizzled a tablespoon of butter on top and sprinkled garlic and oregano.  The breadsticks then went into a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  About half way through I used-up some Parmesan cheese and sprinkled that on top while they finished baking. 
The results. Yumm!

On the side we had coleslaw and snow peas.  Dessert was an extra special treat because I also had apples to use-up.  Apple crisp on a Monday does not usually happen in this house, but it must have been fate because it did.  Here is the recipe:

Apple Crisp

6 peeled and sliced apples
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick of butter (or 8 tablespoons)

Coat apples in granulated sugar and put into a 9x13 pan.  For topping, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Using a fork or knife cut cold butter into small chunks and combine with topping mixture until you have small granules of butter incorporated into mixture.  Pour topping over apples and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

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