Friday, October 30, 2009

Crock Pot Cooking: General Information

I have always enjoyed using a crock pot. On those days when I have to work, or when I have a hectic day, the crock pot always comes to the rescue. This past week I was able to attend a "Gourmet Crock Pot" class, given by the USU Extension in Provo, UT. The presenter was Ginger Hack who is a fabulous cook. After the class I asked her if I could post her recipes on this blog, and she enthusiastically said Yes! So, all the upcoming posts on crock pot recipes are used with permission by Ginger.

How do I convert cook times between High and Low?



3 hours

7 hours











It is not recommended to convert recipes with cook times less than 7-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.

To time an adapted recipe for the slow cooker, edtimate 3-4 hours on low for every hour of conventional cooking. Estimate about 2-2.5 hours on high for each hour of conventional cooking.

Great foods to cook in slow cooker:
  • tough cuts of beef (rump, chuck, stew meat)
  • stews
  • soups
  • chili
  • braised foods
  • steamed puddings
  • pork roasts, or loin
  • poultry
Foods that don't work particularly well:
  • fish
  • duck
  • prime rib
  • cheese & dairy dishes (although if you keep it on low, use evap. milk or heavy cream, it will work better. Heavy cream and evap milk are both more stable than regular milk in the cooker)
Using a slow cooker for 10 hours costs approximately 8-10 cents. You can't beat that!!

Upcoming slow cooker recipes: Artichoke Cheese Dip, Classic Swiss Fondue, Mexican Style Pot Roast, Chicken Cacciatore, Beef Bourguignonne, Steak Diane, Chicken Casablanca, Slow Cooker French Cassoulet, Jambalaya, Chicken Seville, Potatoes Euphoria, Herbed Rice Pilaf, Roasted Summer Squash with Pine Nuts & Romano Cheese, Cinnamon Ginger Pears, Stuffed Apples with Maple-Rum Butterscotch (my favorite!), and more!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

72 Hour Kit: Week #6: Equipment Part 2 of 3

This week we are continuing to gather equipment and supplies for our tote (or duffel bag).

  • Fire extinguisher, small canister, ABC type
  • Tube tent and nylon cord (if you already have a tent that could be used, put a note on your tote to remind you to grab it! Store tent by 72 hour kits)
  • Pliers
  • Whistle
  • Compass (I purchased a combo whistle/compass at Walmart for $2.88)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small sewing kit (I have seen these at the dollar store)

To do this week at home:
Secure water heater and other appliances
Secure furniture against movement

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gourmet Caramel Apples

This past Sunday we had a family birthday party at my house. Instead of giving out "treat bags", we decided to give out caramel apples. I really think these taste as good or better than the ones you buy at specialty stores. The caramel turns out perfect each time, and makes a delicious, beautiful apple.

Caramel Apples
Items that you will need: Heavy pan, candy thermometer, styrofoam circle (sold in floral department at craft store or Walmart), buttered foil or Silpat mat, caramel apple sticks

12 crisp apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honey Crisp work well)
2 cubes (1 cup) salted butter
1 pound dark brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated!)
2/3 cup dark Karo syrup
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients (except apples!) in wide heavy pan that is at least 3 inches deep. Turn on low heat until all sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. If you rub the mixture between your fingers, it should not be gritty. This step takes about 15 minutes.

Prepare apples: Wash (I scrub mine to get the waxy coating off), dry, and insert sticks.

Turn heat up to medium high heat. Insert candy thermometer onto side of pan. (Note: it is VERY important to have an accurate candy thermometer for perfect caramel. One way to check, is to put your candy thermometer in boiling water for 3 minutes. It should read 212 degrees F. If your thermometer reads any different than that, adjust accordingly. For instance, mine read 205 degrees. So, when the recipe calls for the caramel to be 236 degrees, mine was done at 229 degrees.) Stirring frequently, boil until caramel reaches 236 degrees F. This takes about 12 minutes.

Pour caramel into smaller, deeper pan or bowl. Do not scrape pan!

Immediately start dipping apples. Shake each apple, letting caramel drip back into pan.

Place apples upside down into the styrofoam (this prevents pooling on the pan). When caramel sets up a bit, you can mold the caramel if any drooping occurs. If bubbles occur, take a pin and pop, then mold back to the apple.

At this point, you can either leave the apples as is, or dip in white chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or drizzle with white and dark chocolate. We like them dipped in white chocolate, then rolled in mini m&ms, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, Heath bits, etc. Be creative!

When apple is completely cooled, package in cellophane bag, or caramel apple box.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Butter Spread

This is a great recipe that allows you to make your butter last a bit longer! This can be kept at room temperature, if you want it super spreadable, or in the fridge. We prefer to keep ours in the fridge, since it is still spreadable, and softens (or melts) quickly on warm items. It spreads easily on pancakes, bagels, toast etc. I think it tastes pretty much like butter, and it is way better than the spreads you buy in the store (in my opinion :) It also is fantastic for grilled sandwiches (cheese, tuna, etc) because it gives the bread a bit more crispiness.

Butter Spread
2 cubes of butter (1 cup), at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil (can use olive oil for a stronger flavor)
1/2 cup water

Using an electric mixer on "HI", whip the butter until it is really light and fluffy. While mixer is still going, slowly add oil. When all of oil is incorporated, slowly add water. Mixture will be white (not the usual yellow color of spread!) and fluffy. Put in fridge until set up. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Apple Crisp

Whenever I take dinner to someone, or when we want a fast, delicious treat, I make Apple Crisp. If you have bottled Apple Pie Filling, this is a snap. Just put the quart of Pie Filling into a greased casserole dish. Top with the following:

3/4 cup oats
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter

Combine oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Note: If you don't have bottled Apple Pie Filling, simply slice 10-12 apples into the greased baking dish, and cover with topping.

We really like the topping, and have been known to double it so it is really thick. If you do that, you may want to place 3/4 of it on the apples, and bake for the recommended time, then add the rest and put under the broiler until brown.

Serve warm. If you want even more calories, and yumminess, serve with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Homemade Applesauce

I think homemade applesauce is one of the fastest, easiest, and delicious ways to preserve apples. A few things are helpful here: a pressure cooker, and a food mill. It can be done without these, but well worth it if you have them or can borrow them.


Use any type of apples. The sweeter the better! If you want to blend apple varieties that works well too. Some great types of apples for sauce are: Cinnagold, Golden Delicious, Honey-Crisp, Jonagold, or whatever you have.

Set up food mill.

Rinse apples. I cut the big ones in half, and leave the small ones whole. No need to peel or seed them.

Put apples in pressure cooker. Once you reach high pressure (usually 15 pounds), cook for 4 minutes. Quick release the pressure under cold water. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can stew the apples in a heavy pan with a small amount of water until soft. Dump the apples in a big bowl and start the next panful cooking.

Put cooked apples through the food mill. The applesauce goes into the bowl, and the "guts" (that's what my kids call them), go in a separate bowl.

Next, put the applesauce in a large pot. Add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (about 1/8 cup sugar per quart). I have also used Splenda to sweeten as well. Bring to a boil. Fill quart jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in water bath canner for 30 minutes (for altitudes 3001-6000 ft). Other altitudes are as follows: 0-1000 ft: 20 minutes; 1001-3000 ft: 25 minutes; above 6000: 35 minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

72 Hour Kit: Week #5: Equipment Part 1 of 3

This week we are gathering equipment for our 72 hour kits. I have broken this into 3 weekly sections to make it more manageable. Here is Part 1:
  • Duct tape
  • Paper, pen/pencil (sharp)
  • Sharpie
  • Make sure you have packed a can opener (this should have been done on week 1)
  • Make sure you have any plastic bowls, plates or utensils that you need (could have been done in week 1)
  • Saucepan (to heat up soup, chili, water, spaghettio’s etc)
  • Small propane or butane stove (these are at Walmart for $25, or Macey's has them on sale right now for $14.99, and Amazon has them for $15.50). Click here to see picture.
  • Canister of propane or butane
  • Battery operated radio & extra batteries
  • Folding shovel

Some of the items listed can be a little extra money. If finances prohibit purchasing these items, maybe make a goal that every time you rotate your food and clothing (6 months) you purchase one of these pricier items.

To do at home this week:
Finish gathering important documents and copying them
Place family photos in a secure place

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Pie Filling

Mmmmm. Cinnamon drifting through the kitchen... Apple scents filling my nose.... YUMMY! It is time for Apple Pie Filling!! My dear friend supplies me with apples from her tree. I am not sure what variety they are- they are green, but not golden delicious, and I don't think they are granny smiths either. Whatever they are, the end product was delicious. This is a fantastic way to preserve apples. In the past, I have used cinnagold, honey-crisp, and anything else I can get my hands on. You want to use a crisper apple for the filling.

There is nothing like homemade apple pie, or yummy apple crisp when the weather turns cold! And, it makes your house smell really good while it is being made (who needs a candle burning when you can have the real thing?) Tip: Use a slicer/peeler/corer. It makes the job go a lot faster!

Apple Pie Filling
18 cups sliced, peeled, cored apples (let apples sit in Fruit Fresh water)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup flour

Combine dry ingredients and add to drained apples. Stir. Let sit until natural juices flow, about 30 minutes. Add 2 TB lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until juices thicken. Place mixture in quart jars leaving 1 inch headspace, and process for 30 minutes (at altitudes 3001-6000 ft). Other altitudes are as follows: 0-1000 ft: 20 minutes; 1001-3000 ft: 25 minutes; above 6000: 35 minutes.Each batch makes about 3.5-4 quarts.

Rinsed apples ready for peeling

Using the peeler/corer/slicer. This is a must for this job!

When the apple is sliced horizontally, just slice once vertically to separate the pieces.

Cook in heavy pan (I learned from experience not to use cheap pans for this step- they scortch too easily).

The finished product.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Try these cookies using whole wheat pastry flour. They are DELICIOUS!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(I make a double batch- they freeze well)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pkg (about 6 oz) chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (opt)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream sugars and butter. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix in whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt. Carefully mix in chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoonful about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Tip: When making cookies it is always a good idea to make a test cookie. Bake one cookie. If it spreads too much, add 1-2 TB all-purpose flour to the dough. If it is too dry, add 1-2 TB of milk to the dough. Liquid proportions are affected by egg size and dryness of the flour.

Recipe from Rosemary Markham

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

At a recent class on wheat & bread making, I learned more about whole wheat pastry flour (so exciting, I know). I have always used regular whole wheat flour ground from either hard white or hard red wheat in my recipes. Not any more!! Whole wheat pastry flour is made from ground SOFT white wheat. I hurried and bought a 50 pound bag and started grinding away. This type of wheat is a little harder to find. It is not carried at the LDS Canneries, nor is it in grocery stores. I special ordered mine from Leland Mills in Spanish Fork, UT (801) 798-2090. It was $13.00 for a 50 pound bag. Ordered from Blue Chip Group, it is $23.40 for a 50 pound bag. It can also be ordered from Honeyville, and Pleasant Hill Grains (however, it was about $50.00 for a 45 pound bucket!!).

Whole wheat pastry flour is ideal for cookies, cakes, pastries, crackers, pancakes and other non-bread applications. It has a lower protein content (8-10%), so it is NOT good for making bread.

The taste test: The first thing we made was chocolate chip cookies. I did not tell my family that they were made with 100% whole wheat pastry flour. My husband thought they were better than normal (and he LOVES the normal recipe- made with white flour), and my kids kept wanting more. Now, tomorrow will be buttermilk pancakes.....

Monday, October 12, 2009

72 Hour Kit: Week #4: Fuel and Light

72 Hour Kit: Week 4: Fuel & Light

This week we are gathering everything needed for fuel and light for our kits. If you haven’t purchased a container (tote) to put the rest of the items in, you may want to do so now. Or, just gather the items, and when everything is gathered, purchase a tote depending on the size that you need. I purchased a rolling large duffel bag from Sam's Club for $40. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but it was a great size, rolled, was heavy duty, and seemed to be what I wanted. However, a Rubbermaid Tote would work as well.

Fuel & Light supplies:
  • Emergency candles (Macey's Grocery Store had these 100 hour candles for $3.99. They were distributed by Emergency Essentials. Their website is
  • Signal Flares
  • Fire Starter (available at Walmart in camping section for <$3.00)
  • Lighter
  • Flashlight & Batteries (every person should have their own- if room, put in personal backpack)
  • Extra batteries
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • 12 hour emergency light stick
I found a small battery lantern with LED lights that I am including as well. It was $4.88 at Walmart.

To do at home this week:
Start gathering and photocopying important documents
Be familiar with your childs school or daycare disaster plan

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lara's Tomato Soup

This delicious recipe came from my friend Nicole's Mother, Lara. It is a personal favorite. I have always said to my family, that if ever I opened a restaurant, I would serve this.

2-3 quarts tomatoes
1 cube butter
1 cup flour
1 medium onion, finely minced
1 jar pesto (or homemade pesto)
3-4 cups milk or cream
Season to taste with: garlic powder, lemon pepper, seasoned salt, and Tabasco sauce

Work tomatoes through a strainer or food mill to produce a nice thick tomato juice. Meanwhile, saute onion in butter until onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook the roux long enough to cook the flour (so you don't get a pasty taste). Do not brown. To the warm tomato juice, add the roux and mix well. Add enough milk or cream to make the soup as light or dark as you prefer. Add pesto and seasonings to please your tastes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homemade Pesto

This week in our area, the temperatures have been hovering just above freezing each night. I figured that I better pull out my basil before I go out and it is black from being frozen! This is a wonderful recipe to use up the extra basil in your garden.


1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shelled pinenuts
1 clove garlic
2 TB olive oil
Large handful of basil
Kosher salt
1/4-1/2 tsp lemon juice (to preserve color)

Wash and remove basil leaves from stems.

Put Parmesan, pinenuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and basil in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. While food processor is running, slowly add olive oil to incorporate.

Put in containers to freeze.

Put plastic wrap over pesto, pressing wrap into it. This helps prevent ice crystals in the freezer.

Label and Freeze!

This is wonderful on pasta, fish or chicken dishes. Yummy on chicken-artichoke panini's, in tomato soups, and anything that calls for basil. Freezes well.

  1. If you wash your basil and cannot use it right away, pat dry with towel. Then, wrap in paper towels and place in ziplok bag. Get as much air out as possible. Will keep for a couple of days this way in the fridge.
  2. Flash freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, place pesto cubes in double ziplok bag (or even better, use a food saver to get all air out). Just remove however many cubes you need.
  3. If using frozen pesto, the consistency will be slightly thicker. Thin with pasta water to desired consistency.
  4. You can substitute spinach and flat leaf parsley for some of the basil. You can also use any type of nut instead of pinenuts. I think the pinenuts add the best flavor however.

Monday, October 5, 2009

72 Hour Kit: Week #3: First Aid Kit

This week we are assembling a First Aid Kit for our 72 hour kit. While you are assembling, you may want to do one for each vehicle and your home as well. These would also make fantastic Christmas gifts! Any container could work. However, I wanted mine to be sturdy, have compartments, and be waterproof. While researching containers, I found some containers that could work:

  • Tackle boxes. They run about $7-9 (or more) and are found in the fishing section of Walmart or sporting goods stores.

  • Craft boxes with plastic separators. They run about $6 and up (Craft stores or Walmart).

  • Plastic tackle boxes just like the craft boxes (but found by the fishing gear) were the cheapest, running about $4 and up.

  • If you don’t care about separators, a clear Rubbermaid shoe box would work fine, and it only costs $1.00.

I actually purchased a ready made kit that had the container with separators and 170 items. It is a Johnson & Johnson brand found in the first aid supplies at Walmart for $9.88. There was also a slightly larger one found in the sporting goods section for $13.88. It had more items. I figured if I was going to have to spend at least $7 for the container I wanted, I may as well spend a few extra dollars and get lots of supplies. I still added to this kit, but it gave me a good start. Items marked with * were included in kit I purchased. Click here for printer friendly .pdf.

The first aid kit should include:

  • *Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes (Band-Aids)
  • *2-inch sterile guaze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • *hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roll bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roll bandages (3 rolls)
  • scissors
  • *tweezers
  • needle
  • *moistened towelettes
  • antiseptic
  • oral thermometer (rectal for infants)
  • tongue blades/depressors (2)
  • elastic bandage
  • *triple antibiotic ointment
  • tube of petroleum jelly (or other lubricant)
  • assorted sizes of safety pins
  • cleansing agent/soap
  • latex gloves (2 pair)
  • sunscreen (unless you packed this in your backpack with personal items)
  • *aspirin or ibuprofen pain reliever
  • *anti-diarrhea medication
  • antacid
  • syrup of ipecac (used to induce vomiting if indicated by poison control
  • laxative
  • activated charcoal (use if advised by Poison Control)
  • sanitary napkins (pressure dressing for wounds)
  • Q-tips (5)
  • Cotton balls
  • *First Aid guide
  • *Instant cold pack
  • *Emergency contact list

Good luck!

To do this week at home:

Locate utility shut offs and show the family

Place extra shoes and flashlight under bed for emergency use at night. These should be right by where you step out of bed, near the frame of the bed.

Friday, October 2, 2009

72 Hour Kits: Reminders and Suggestions

72 Hour Kit: Suggestions and Reminders
  • Most items can be purchased at Wal-mart, camping supply stores, emergency preparedness stores, etc.
  • Store your kits in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of your kit in each vehicle.
  • Keep items in waterproof , airtight containers if possible.
  • Change your stored water, food, and clothing every six months. At that time, re-think your kit and family needs. Replace batteries, etc. Many people like to rotate at General Conference time.
  • Plastic bags can serve as trash bags, ground cloths, tents, broken window covers or rain coats.
  • Disinfectants like bleach, Lysol, and betadine can be used to treat sewage, waste water, and refuse to minimize infection.
  • In case you are separated from family when a disaster strikes, establish several different meeting places depending on the circumstances.
  • Place a sign on your kit reminding you to wear sturdy walking shoes, and to grab anything that is not located in kit (tent, etc).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Now is the time of year to be harvesting all those tomatoes before it freezes. This is a wonderful recipe to use some of those tomatoes.

Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, mined
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, cut up (you could also use 1 quart bottled tomatoes, or 2 (1 lb) cans of tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 TB minced parsley
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (optional)
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
Brown meat with onion and garlic. Drain off fat. Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 1 hour before serving you can add any or all (or none!) of the following:
  • 1 can black olives, sliced
  • 1 can drained mushrooms
  • 1 can artichokes, diced
  • 1 can hearts of palm sliced
Serve over spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan. Enjoy!