Posted in Baked goods, Baking, Bread, breakfast, Brunch, Crock pot, slow cooking

Slow Cooker Apple & Cinnamon French Toast

A cold snap bringing a dose of freezing rain and light snow showers has made for an icy, Midwest spring morning. Last evening, before heading to bed, I loaded the slow cooker with a mixture of bread, eggs, milk, cinnamon and spices. I had looked at the forecast earlier in the evening and the weather sure didn’t look pretty for the early morning hours. I thought it might be nice to have a warm and toasty slice of French toast casserole ready for the family upon waking. A fresh pot of coffee and a few fruit & yogurt parfaits would round out the meal.

As the “baking” takes place in the crockpot, the house smells heavenly. The aroma alone acts as a warm hug wafting through the house. A tip that works great; cover the slow cooker with a clean, dry towel before placing the lid on the vessel. This helps to reduce excess moisture making the French toast less soggy. If you so desire, add a handful of chopped walnuts before sprinkling the final product with maple syrup and powdered sugar. Delicious.

Slow Cooker Apple & Cinnamon French Toast

15-20 slices of day old bread

10 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoons salt

pinch ground nutmeg

2 small apples, diced

Maple syrup, for serving

Powdered sugar, for serving

Grease a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Slice bread into 1” cubes; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla, salt and nutmeg and beat until well combined. Gently fold bread and diced apples into egg mixture making sure each piece is well coated. Place mixture into prepared slow cooker. Place a clean, dry dish towel over the slow cooker before covering with lid. (This helps to reduce moisture build up and prevents a soggy French toast.)

Cook on low for 2 ½ to 4 hours, until the French toast is warm and cooked through. Carefully lift the entire round out of the slow cooker with a spatula.

Serve warm with chopped walnuts, maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Canning, Crock pot, Gifts, holiday, slow cooking, Toppings

Slow-Cooker Bacon and Onion Jam

Every year, I try to identify a unique recipe to give to friends and relatives for the gift-giving season. I’m always looking for a recipe that highlights the deep rich flavor of our own homemade maple syrup. This year was no different… I found a great, sweet and savory recipe that sautés delicious ingredients that are eventually added to the slow-cooker, then left to reduce for several hours. Mix this delicious jam with a bit of cream cheese and spread on hearty crackers. Or, warm the jam to top a protein like a chicken breast or a beef burger for an extra boost of flavor. The bacon, grilled onions, maple syrup, and coffee combined together in the slow-cooker add a depth of delicious flavor. This is so good!

You can find this exceptional recipe here:

https://www.marthastewart.com/326881/slow-cooker-bacon-jam

Slow Cooker Bacon and Onion Jam

Adapted from the above recipe…

1 ½ pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

2 medium yellow onions, diced small

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 heaping tablespoon pure maple syrup

3/4 cup brewed coffee

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet (reserve for another use); add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet with a wooden spoon, about 2 minutes. Add bacon and stir to combine.

Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks.

Posted in Beef, Bread, Crock pot, Instant Pot

Instant Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

I recently bought an Instant Pot as I had been hearing so many wonderful things about its quick cooking ability. I am a huge fan of the slow cooker so it’s taken me a while to accept this new appliance. I had a chuck roast in the freezer and felt trying my Italian Beef recipe using this new method. I usually cook the roast in the crock pot for several hours. The Instant Pot would allow me to have a meal on the table within 1 1/2 hours. I especially liked that I could sear the outside of the roast before adding the remaining ingredients to the same pot. This brings added flavor to the dish and is a step that can’t be accomplished in the slow cooker.

The sandwiches tasted great! I’ll be using this pressure cooker much more as I continue to experiment and discover new recipes.

Instant Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 chuck roast (approximately 3 lb.)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup beef broth

8 oz. sliced pepperoncini peppers with juice

6 sandwich rolls

Slices provolone cheese

Season roast with salt and pepper. Drizzle one tablespoon canola oil in the Instant Pot. On sauté setting, sear roast on all sides. Remove roast, add beef broth. With a wooden spatula, scrape bits of beef from the bottom of the pot. Return beef roast to pot and top with pepperoncini peppers with juice.

Place lid on Instant Pot, turn vent to SEALING position, and hit PRESSURE COOK for 70 minutes. Pot will take a few minutes to come to pressure, then cook for 70 minutes; listening for final beep. Allow 10 to 15 minutes natural release, then do quick release to release remaining pressure

When pin drops, open lid, and shred or slice beef. Return meat to pot to soak up more juice, or spoon over sandwiches. Top beef with provolone cheese and mild Italian giardiniera mix.

Posted in Chicken, Crock pot, Food, Instant Pot, One Pot Meal, slow cooking, Soup

Seven Can Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

When planning an informal work lunch this week, I reached out to several catering companies to provide the meal. This became tricky because the luncheon was being held off-site, roughly three hours from my home, and my budget was tight. When I quickly added up costs related to preparing and delivering food for the group, I realized that ordering from a local caterer was going to be a far too expensive option. As I searched my mind for an alternative, I was reminded of this recipe for a hearty soup that would hit the spot as the weather forecast predicted rain and 45 degree temperatures for the day. Adding a few other lunch items to the menu would round out the meal.

I ended up ordering a 4-ft. long sub sandwich from the deli department of the area grocery store. I picked up a large vegetable tray and a case of bottled water. Finally, I headed to the store bakery and purchased a box of freshly made oatmeal cookies for the group. I paired this soup with all of the other items that I had purchased and covered the tables with seasonal table clothes. Returning to our meeting room, I quickly popped all of my purchased items in the fridge and plugged in my trusty, 6-quart crockpot. I opened all seven cans and popped them into the slow cooker. Lunch would be served in three hours, so I had plenty of time to warm the soup and meld the flavors. Last, but not least, I crumbled up a bag of Frito’s Corn Chips and opened a package of sharp cheddar cheese to sprinkle over the top of the individual bowls of soup. This step is the game changer; bringing this ridiculously simple soup over the top. The warm hearty soup, paired with a topping of slightly melted cheese and crunchy corn chips really makes for a mighty good, super quick and easy lunch idea.

Seven Can Spicy Chicken Taco Soup

1 can black beans, drained and well rinsed(15.5 oz)

1 can pinto beans, drained and well rinsed (15.25 oz)

1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15 oz)

1 can diced tomatoes, do not drain (15 oz)

1 can mild enchilada sauce (10 oz)

1 can chicken broth (15 oz)

1 can chicken breast, drained and flaked with a fork (12.5oz)

1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Directions

Combine all ingredients and cook using preferred method below:

Crockpot – Cook on medium temperature for 3-5 hours

Stockpot – Cook on medium-high heat for 25-35 minutes

Instant Pot – Cook on “Manual” for 4 minutes with quick venting method

Serve topped with crushed Frito or Dorito Corn Chips and shredded cheese.

Note: Can sizes listed above are approximate; this is a very forgiving soup recipe. Add water or extra broth, if needed. Also, use lower sodium versions of the canned products, if your concerned about salt. If you’d prefer to use fresh chicken breasts for this recipe, use about 1 1/2 cups of cooked, diced chicken.