Warm up your kitchen with a crockpot


Sheryl Sollars - Welcome To My Kitchen



Hi everyone. I am writing this from Florida, and although we don’t have several inches of snow and temperatures in the teens, we are not far from it. We have had only a few sunny days and our nighttime temperatures have been hovering the low 30s with a good deal of rain and wind.

I have to admit that the cold weather is starting to get to me. At first, I thought this isn’t so bad and I thought I rather enjoyed the chill in the air. But it is now mid-January and the weather is getting colder instead of the 70s and sun we usually see.

I have a confession to make, and one that many of you may find surprising. I am very hard on myself, and most of the time I have great difficulty completing projects or tasks.

I am a very critical person, especially when it comes to anything I personally do. I tend to beat myself up and have a hard time accepting the end result, constantly thinking I could do better. That is why it takes me a half a day to complete a column. Sometimes I can not get the words on paper that I have in my head.

This is also the case when I am sewing, decorating or being creative. My mind works at high speed but my body just can’t catch up.

Have you ever started one project and before it was completed found yourself in the midst of two other projects? This is me. I have found in talking with other creative people that this is a common characteristic.

Personally, when I get a creative inspiration or idea or think of something I must do, I need to stop what I am doing and move to that new idea and at least get it started or documented in some way.

If not, the thought leaves my mind and I won’t be able to retain the whole idea. Before you know it, I am in the midst of the new project and now have two or more irons in the fire. The problem with this is that I don’t move like I used to and have a problem completing both of these tasks with the end result being what I demand from myself.

Sometimes I wonder how I can have so many projects started and none of them complete.

I found it very easy, how about you? All kidding aside, it is something I have to work on each day and as I get older I find it overwhelming at times. But it sure is hard to teach an old dog new tricks and I am not sure I want to be any different.

I mentioned at the beginning of today’s column that we are all trying to survive the terrible winter weather we have experienced the last week. As for me, cold, snowy days just shout out for soup and crockpot foods.

There is nothing more comforting to me that to sit down to a meal from the slow cooker, a salad and a warm loaf of fresh bread.

Today, I am going to give you a couple of crockpot ideas that fit the bill.

The first is for a beef hash which I really enjoy. It reminds me of a dish my mother used to prepare because it was cheap and went a long way. It is also a great way to use up leftover roast beef. For you readers who prefer chicken, I have a wonderful chicken casserole.

The final recipe is for a dessert cooked in the crockpot. I printed this recipe in my column a few years ago and have had a lot of rave reviews from my readers, so in case you missed it, here it is again.

Preparing deserts in a slow cooker is not something I do often, but I find that it is a great way to get a wonderful “warm” dessert in a “make it and forget about it” fashion.

This one is similar to the traditional chocolate pudding cake but is made with a cake mix and sour cream.

I think once you make a crockpot dessert, you will be hooked.

BEEF HASH

2-3 cups cut-up cooked beef (I use small cubes)

2 Pkg. (10 oz.) frozen hash browns, thawed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup butter, melted

1 cup of rich beef gravy or full strength beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 2-3 hours). You may have to add extra broth or gravy if the has becomes too dry. Serves 4-5

SCALLOPED CHICKEN

I love the potato/pea combination in this dish.

5 oz pkg. scalloped potatoes

4 boneless chicken breast halves (or thighs)

10 oz pkg. peas

2 cups chicken broth

Place potatoes and peas in the crockpot. Add the chicken and package of seasoning from the box of potatoes. Pour chicken broth over the chicken and vegetables. Cover and cook thighs on low for 6-8 hours or breasts for 8-10 hours. For a speedy dish, you can cook on high for 5-6 hours, but I recommend it cooked on low for a more even cooking.

NOTE: If you are using frozen chicken you need to thaw it before cooking.

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE SURPRISE

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix (18 oz. pkg.)

1 – 8 oz. carton sour cream

1 – 3 oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup chocolate chips

¾ cup oil

4 eggs (beaten)

1 cup water

¾ – 1 cup chopped pecans

Spray inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray or lightly grease. In a large mixing bowl, mix cake mix along with the remaining ingredients by hand until well blended (making sure there is no dry ingredients left behind, but do not over mix). Pour into greased crockpot container. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 on high. Serve hot or warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and that they will help warm you day. Until next week..Stay warm..Sheryl

Have I enticed you to buy a bread maker? If so, happy bread baking — Sheryl.

Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at kitchenlady44@yahoo.com.

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Sheryl Sollars

Welcome To My Kitchen