Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Help for the Weary

This morning I had a few quiet minutes to myself while adding some fresh smelling greenery to the kitchen. The smell of a Cinnamon Stick candle from Yankee Candle mingled with the delicious smelling pine branches and rosemary stems. While I love the idea of a quiet Christmas without the busyness and commercialism that it seems to bring, no matter how large or small, we are always so busy during this season!

To help, time savers such as the slow cooker, quick recipes and even the freezer can help us lessen the time in the kitchen. Well at least the time in the kitchen preparing the everyday meals our family seems to expect. : ) This leaves us time to give attention to our traditions such as baking for us and others and all of the wonderful things that this season brings.

Here to help are some recipes that we love. Some are re-posts, and others are new.

From Victoria and her mother in law, comes
Crock Pot Mac-n-cheese

2 cups sharp cheese
1 cup med cheese
1 12 oz evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup whole or 2 % milk
4 tsp butter melted
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp salt
8 oz box macaroni noodles

Cook noodles according to package directions. Grease crock pot and combine all ingredients. Cook on low 3 to 4 hours.

From my mom's kitchen comes this easy to make, top of the stove soup that is delish, and ready in a flash.
Sausage Bean Soup

3/4 pound Italian Sausage or kielbasa cut in small pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove minced
15 oz. can butter beans rinsed and drained
15 oz. can black beans (don't rinse and drain)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth or beef bullion to 15 oz.
1T. fresh of 1 tsp. dried basil
2 T. parmesan cheese

cook sausage, onion and garlic. Drain. Add all ingredients except cheese. Cover and simmer 10 min. sprinkle with cheese before serving

My note: I usually double everything in the recipe and but only use 1 pound of meat.

From my kitchen please enjoy, Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew, Crockpot Steak Soup and last but not least,

Slow Cooker Chili Con Carne

* Cooking spray
* 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 pound sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
* 2 1/2 cups diced plum tomato (about 6)
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
* 1/4 teaspoon salt


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, and beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring occasionally. Combine beef mixture, tomato, and next 6 ingredients (through broth) in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Uncover; cook 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in salt.

My notes: I always double this recipe as it only serves four.
Use whatever cut of meat you have or even lean ground beef.
We always add three cans of beans so we have more leftovers.
Add four or five cans for vegetarian.
Use 2 cans diced tomatoes if you do not have fresh.
Recently I added 2 or 3 cups of shredded zucchini and you could not tell *at* all.

And since we need something to keep us busy in the kitchen while our Slow Cookers are cooking away, try my hubby's favorite cookie.

Berry Sage Thumbprints

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow corn meal
1 1/2 tsp. dried sage, crushed (mine is a powder)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup blackberry preserves

preheat oven to 350 degrees

combine flour, cornmeal, sage and baking powder. Set aside.

Beat butter for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat until combined, scraping sides occasionally. Beat in egg yolks, lemon peel, and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Lightly press the tip of your thumb into the center of each ball. Fill the centers with about 1/4 tsp. of the blackberry preserves. bake about 10 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely. Makes about 60.
From Better Homes and Garden's December 2001

I hope these recipes will help to lessen the stress of all the going here and there and help you to have time for enjoying this beautiful season. To follow later this week, more Christmas, our family tradition of a Jesus tree and a cookie/bar recipe that will put you in the category of best cook ever--I promise.



Carrie said...

crockpots are the best thanks for the recipes!

Shannon said...

That mac and cheese receipe sounds great!

Empty Nest Full Life said...

Yummy recipes! and the Christmas greenery is beautiful!

Julianna said...

The mac n cheese and berry sage thumbprints sound great! Can't wait to try them. =)

Darlene said...

I LOVE your Christmas greenery and I LOVE using my crockpot!

Meg said...

I envy your quiet peaceful time at home. That mac n cheese was soo good if it's the same one we had for thanksgiving!!! I love slow cooker recipes so thank you for posting them! Mmmm now I'm hungry... seems to be all I am lately though!

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