I love when I find other food nerds out there. It is a title I use – and embrace – lovingly. It’s very different than food snobs who want to tell you that you are using the wrong knife or look down their nose at you if your cheese isn’t aged properly. Food snobs can get away with cooking once a week and call themselves a gourmet, but a food nerd is always looking for new ways to make food better and easier – we are the ones who trade recipes at MOPS meetings and steal (with permission) each other’s freezer tips for getting dinner on the table.
Let me introduce you to fellow food nerd Kelly Rankin. Kelly and I met at an event I was speaking at, and we became friends through my blog. Kelly has taken the concept of freezer meals and slow cooking and done a mash up – freezer/slow cooking.
I am also a freezer/slow cooker, but Kelly’s ingenuity of stretching her meals and leaving no leftover left behind is admirable. I asked Kelley to share her plan for using her freezer and slow cooker for maximum savings of time, energy and stress:
Some of her favorite slow cooker to freezer recipes are things like soups, stews, and chili. You can double or – in a 6-quart slow cooker – triple a soup-like recipe and, after it cools, bag it up into gallon bags to be re-heated another time.
Here is a great recipe to make in the slow cooker and the store in the freezer for a busy night of running kids around. It makes a great dish for a potluck or to have for a family picnic while enjoying the great weather.
“Slow cooker Smoked Pulled Pork BBQ”
By Kelly Rakin
4 Simple ingredients and a day of slow cooking lead to an amazingly simple, economical, and delicious pork BBQ. No smoker needed, and the leftovers freeze beautifully for a later meal. The liquid smoke and beef bouillon are the essential keys to this simple recipe, giving the pork a great flavor with minimal BBQ sauce. Perfect for a large gathering!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7-9 hours
Yields: 10 servings
5 lb Pork Sirloin Tip Roast
2 Ts Liquid Smoke (Typically found with condiments)
2 Ts Beef Bouillon (NOT Broth)
1/3 C. Water
Serve with your favorite BBQ Sauce, to taste
Place pork roast in a large slow cooker. Pour water, liquid smoke, and bouillon on top of pork roast. Cook on High for 7-9 hours, flipping roasts once during cooking, if possible, to allow the juices to simmer all sides of the meat. Meat is finished cooking when it easily pulls apart with a fork. Remove roasts from slow cooker and pull pork apart. Return pork to slow cooker and add BBQ sauce to taste, or serve BBQ sauce on the side. Great on sandwiches or by itself.
To freeze: Place cooked BBQ in 1 quart freezer bags, removing air. Thaw, re-warm, and serve. Keeps in freezer up to 6 months.
It’s Monday morning. Staying in bed would be great, why is the weekend so short? For most of us Mondays are busy. But now that the days are longer it seems as if dinner time creeps up quickly and how many nights have you been scrambling to get dinner on the table before 8 pm? Well I have a solution for you. Get out the Crock Pot! If you don’t have one think about getting one, it will make getting dinner to the table easy and quick. You won’t have to spend much time in the kitchen and your house will smell delish.
For starters are are some Slow Cooker Tips
Let the meal equal the pot – The only time I have had poor results with a slow cooker is when I haven’t put enough food into the pot. When the pot is too big, food can tend to scorch and dry out. I actually have two slow cookers now – one for meals just for me and Roger (a 2-quart), and one for when I know all the kids will be home or I am making a meal with leftovers to be used in the following night’s dinner (a 6-quart).
You can overcook – Everyone says, “Just throw it in the pot and forget it!” Well, that’s true – to a point. You do what to make sure that to pay attentions to timing on your meal so that it doesn’t dry out.
If you are always going to be arriving home after a meal should be done cooking, you may want to consider getting a slow cooker with a probe thermometer. Our big pot has one of these handy little gadgets and can be programmed to stop cooking when the meat reaches a pre-determined temperature.
Use a non-stick cooking spray on the inside of your pot to make clean-up easier.
Meats don’t brown in the slow cooker, so if you do want your meats browned, do it before you put it on the pot.
What you should serve your troops!
Citrus-Glazed Pork Roast
I love pork roast in the slow cooker for several reasons – it doesn’t get dried out, you can cut it to size in order to have just enough to feed your troops.
1 (3lb.) boneless pork loin roast
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. pepper
1 T vegetable oil
1 c. chicken broth
2 T sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 T soy sauce
1 ½ tsp. orange zest
3 T. cornstarch
½ c. orange juice
Cut roast in half.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, thyme, ginger and pepper; rub over roast.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and brown the roast on all sides.
Place roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker.
In a small bowl, combine the broth, sugar, lemon juice, soy sauce and orange zest; pour over roast.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F.
Remove roast and keep warm.
In a saucepan, combine the cornstarch and orange juice until smooth; stir in cooking juices. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Serve with the roast.
Now you just need a side or two. Steamed veggies, mash or roasted potatoes, fruit salad and dinner is served!
The number one favorite of my all time favorite kitchen tips? Clear off your counters. Here are my tips to enlarging your kitchen by cleaning off you counters.
Reclaim some counter space. The most valuable real estate in your entire house is the space on your counter. There should be nothing on the counter that doesn’t either: 1. Work for you on a regular basis (i.e. My coffee maker sees more action than the funnel cake stand at a county fair, so it deserves a place on the counter. My food processor I only use once a week or so. It has not earned the right to be on the counter.) Or 2. Make you happy to look at.
On a regular basis I have to fight with my “stuff” to keep it off the counter. I promise you, clutter and appliance migrate there in the middle of the night. I am constantly waging a battle to keep my counters cleared.
Here is a list of things that have not earned the right to be there (but keep trying to sneak their way on):
Kid’s school projects
Dishes that just don’t want to get put away
Things that have earned the right to be on my counter:
Canisters (they are not just decorative, they hold everyday essentials like coffee filters, packets of sweetener, and dog treats.)
Toaster Oven (so we don’t need to fire up the big over very often,)
A container of frequently-used utensils
A butcher block of knives
Your use of counter space is going to be different than mine, but you get the idea – be thoughtful about what you give your permission to live on your counter.
Another great counter space saver is to see what you can have mounted under your cabinets or on your walls. For the longest time, I had a vertical paper towel rack that sat on the counter. It was a constant frustration to me that it took up so much space. Then one day it occurred to me that just because our house wasn’t built with an under-counter towel rack, didn’t mean I couldn’t do the job myself, (or bribe my cute husband to do it with a plateful of chocolate chip cookies.) I also have a microwave and CD player/radio mounted under my cabinets to save space.
And on my walls? I have a very cute set of stainless steel measuring spoons and a coffee scoop. I use them every day, they look great on the walls, and everyone in my house knows where to put them away.
I am constantly looking for those eleusive kitchen tips to make my kitchen life run smoother. Now it’s your turn: Tell me your favorite kitchen tips – whether it be for shopping, unpacking your groceries, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, meal planning calendars, anything! One of my lucky commenters will win the (yet to be released!)Creative Slow-Cooker Meals by Cheryl Moeller. You know I’m a HUGE fan of the Slow Cooker – so I know you will just LOVE this creative book!
Here are the kitchen tips you’ll get from Cheryl’s Book
Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Dinners comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.
Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:
• Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
• Salmon and Gingered Carrots
• Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
• Indian Chicken Curry
• Apricot-Pistachio Bread
• Shrimp Creole
• Rhubarb Crisp
… and many more!