Loose Meat / Maid Rites

Loose Meat in crock
Loose Meat in crock

So I was bound & determined to recreate the loose meat sandwiches that I remembered from my childhood. Had to reach out to my people from old hometown & looked around the web quite a bit (wow, the recipes I found were vastly different & midwest folks get damn serious about their loose meat talk).

By the way, this was my main dish for the Seahawks going into the Super Bowl – do feel that I had some sort of hand in helping them handily schooling the Broncos. I could be putting more weight on my cooking mojo than should be…

Needless to say, kinda took from each recipe & made them my own – that is the way it goes when experimenting. You’ll need to try this one out & let me know if this lives up to Dairy Den loose meats from Missouri Valley, IA – that is if you’ve ever been to MV in the 70’s – 80’s.

Ingredients:

3 lbs ground beef (85%/15% fat mix)
3 tblsp dry mustard
3 tblsp vinegar
1 14oz can beef broth (reduced sodium)
1 tblsp salt
1 tblsp pepper
1 med onion diced
sliced dill pickles

Loose Meat on Bun
Loose Meat on Bun

Let us cook:

  • Brown the beef in skillet (beef can be a bit pink as will cook in crock) – breaking up the beef.
  • Drain beef mostly – you can keep a bit of the fat/water (about 1/4 cup) & then put beef in crock pot.
  • Add dry mustard, vinegar, broth, salt & pepper – stir up.
  • Set crock on LOW for 6hrs. If possible, turn on HI the last hour to cook off liquid. If there is a bunch of liquid left in crock, pour out.

Serve:

There is a certain way to serve this. Do not stray from what I tell you here dammit! Was blessed with fantastic Super Bowl guests that were very interested in eating dish as I remembered.
Plain hamburger bun, add loose meat, top with raw diced onions & sliced pickles. Add as much mustard as needed – that is it. Enjoy.

Side Dishes
Side Dishes

Lastly, I made 2 other items for Super Bowl – Potato Skin Jalapeño Poppers & Mushroom/Spinach Pockets. The potato skins were gone immediately, freaking great appetizer – none will be left. The pockets were a chore & I learned how to fold fillo sheets under pressure – am always down for a challenge. (Sorry for horrible picture, but was too enthralled with game to worry about photo lighting)

I stand behind my loose meat recipe & will fight to the death (or at least heated discussion) that this is the best loose meat next to the real thing!

P.

Buffalo Meatball Subs

Buffalo Meatball Subs
Buffalo Meatball Subs

A day late & dollar short, that kinda sums up this here blog. Made this concoction for the playoffs & it turned out way better than expected (I’m not one for the buffalo sauce).

Surprised that I really couldn’t find a meatball recipe that didn’t involve frozen Italian meatballs from the store, so just somewhat had to wing it on that end. Really try to do mostly whole foods when making these crocks – sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Stuffs:

  • 2 lb ground chicken/turkey
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs
  • 2 carrots – finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks – finely diced
  • 2 egg – beaten lightly
  • 2 cups buffalo sauce (Franks, is what I used)
  • 4 oz blue chess crumbles
  • 1 small container greek yogurt (4-6 oz?)
  • 6-8 hogie buns (from bakery not crappy off the shelf – you have more self respect than that, right?)

Make it happen:

  • Heat oven @ 450 degrees (sadly, you need to oven)
  • In large bowl combine chic/turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, carrots, celery
  • Form into 2 in. balls – yes, I said balls
  • Cook in baking dish for 15 mins (might need to do a couple batches)
  • Move the meatballs to crock pot & pour the buffalo sauce over
  • Crock on low for 6-8 hrs.
  • When ready to serve, put meatballs on hogie buns & broil for 1 min (for crisp buns, be careful!)
  • Top with yogurt/blue cheese mixture

Yep, this is one of those amazing sportball slow cooker dishes. Just enough bad crap with some good mixed in there for good measure. Not scientific, but I believe taking out the frozen meatballs helps somewhat.

These were amazing – you could eat w/o the buns – so that is something. Great tasting main dish with the yogurt/blue cheese topping – you can eliminate if need be, but I wouldn’t suggest doing so.

P.S. swear I’m going to learn how to take good photos of food – there is an art to it & obviously I don’t possess that skill.

Chicken Pepperoni Rolls

Drinkin' & Crockin' on NYE
Drinkin’ & Crockin’ on NYE

Welcome to the new year & I am on spot this time around – not posting recipe right away. But, some of this had to do with the first picture & drinking throughout cooking time… best drink name ever!

Was doing some reminiscing about childhood & thought of my mom making these chicken pepperoni rolls that were freaking amazing. In line with the old days, her’s were dunked in bread crumbs & cooked in deeply oiled skillet. Delicious of course, yet was wondering if I could find a way to do this in the slow cooker & cut down the greasiness.

Really didn’t find any other recipes out there for the crock so decided to just wing it & if dish didn’t turn out – hit up a restaurant.

Chic Pep Roll in Crock
Chic Pep Roll in Crock

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 chicken breast thin cuts (easier than pounding / butterflying – you can buy in store pre cut)
  • 30-40 slices turkey pepperoni
  • 6-8 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar/can traditional pizza sauce
  • 6-8oz white mushroom sliced
  • toothpicks (yum!)

Let us make them:

Spread 1/3 of the jar of pizza sauce in bottom of crock.
Lay all chic breasts out on cutting board for prep.
Put about 5+ slices of pepperoni on top of each breast.
Cut the cheese slices in half & lay on top of chicken/pepperoni.
Roll each of breasts up – rolling away from you is the easiest. This is a tad tricky, you’ll have to take time to keep it all together. Put a couple toothpicks in each roll to keep together & place in the crock.
Spread the white mushrooms over the top of the rolls.
Pour rest of jar of pizza sauce over everything.
Cook on Low for 6-8hrs, check to make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Chic Pep Roll Plate
Chic Pep Roll Plate

How did this turn out? Before we move on, remove toothpicks before consuming, but you knew that already… right?

This turned out superb with tons of flavor. Glad that I went with the turkey pepperoni – I love pepperoni as much as the next person, but this definitely cut out the grease.  The only thing that happened is that the cheese kinda leaked out of the roll into sauce which wasn’t a bad thing.

Served with some crusty french bread to dip in sauce.

Lastly, while writing this post I realized there are tons of add-on pizza toppings you could go for – depending how wilty/soft they would get, you’d add at different time during cooking: black olives, onions, green bell peppers (blech, go home you SOB), spinach, roasted garlic, anchovies (just on my side if you’re not down with these), clams or pineapple (nope, don’t even want you eating near me). Endless options.

Thanks to all who have checked out the blog, my annual report said that this blog got over 3,500 hits this year with the Slow Pho Soup getting the most hits & most surprising – Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs was in top 5.

Heres to a new year & I’ll keep on crocking out & I encourage you to do so also.

Spicy Pork Shoulder, Potato & Eggs

Pork, Potatoes & Eggs
Pork, Potatoes & Eggs

For football season I love to make some breakfast dishes – east coast games are sooooo early dammit.

Breakfast dishes are difficult, so am always looking around for another way to make some eggs & whatnot – sorry, I’m just not an oatmeal or cinnamon roll person – I go savory all the way. If you want sugar, check Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest has up-voted one of my crocks quite a bit (thanks Sonja!).

I digress, ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 cup salsa (suggest, medium or hot…)
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lg russet potatoes – peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 green or yellow chile peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican 4 cheese
  • avocado slices for serving

Make it happen:

Pork, Potatoes & Eggs
Pork, Potatoes & Eggs

Cut the pork into 1 inch pieces (I used 4 lb shoulder & used rest for another crock), place in sealable bowl, add salsa & diced jalapeno – marinate in fridge overnight.
Lightly grease crock with olive oil or use spray.
Mix onion, potatoes, chile peppers, garlic & salt/pepper.
Place pork marinade (from overnight) in bottom of crock & add in onion, potatoes, chile peppers, garlic & salt/pepper.
Cook on HIGH for 3.5 hrs.
15 mins before serving – make 6 indentions in crock mixture & crack eggs into each indention (closer to edge cooks faster).
Lightly shake the cheese over mixture, cover & cook.
Make sure egg whites are solid or you can serve sooner if you like over easy… Serve with avocado slices on top & a crumpet!

Wow, this dish was pretty amazing. Potato mixture came out just soft enough, but not too mushy (with crocks it is tough cause you can get a lot of moisture that might ruin the veggies). The eggs cooked way faster than I was expecting, but were eggcellent (see what I did there). Lastly, the pork was so incredibly tender & had just the right amount of kick – I could use more kick, added some hot sauce. Avocado on top – great for a bit of cool & color.

Done & done. If you cook one of my breakfast crocks – try this one.

One final note: get everything ready the night before & that way you can just throw in the slow cooker early & go back to bed  for a bit (unless you have kids, you’re on your own at that point).

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry
Chickpea & Vegetable Curry

Ok,  veggie folks who may have asked for at least one more crock – that I’m not being a complete carnivorous biped, here you go. Had a head of cauliflower & some other veggies that needed to be used up. So, thought I would look around a bit & see what could be made with the items that I had on hand.

Haven’t been too successful with the veggie dishes so I was a bit worried that this one would go down the same. I was super happy with the end result.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 peeled & 1/4” sliced carrots
  • 2 tblsp curry powder
  • 1 tblsp peeled & grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and diced
  • 2 14oz cans chickpeas
  • 1 cup frozen cut green beans
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper flakes
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 14oz can vegetable broth
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
  • 6 lemon wedges for serving

Lets get it going:

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot – cover and cook until tender. Add curry powder, ginger, garlic, and chile (add 1 tblsp of water – mixing curry powder) – cook for a minute or so.
Dump onion mixture into slow cooker.
Stir in chickpeas, salt/pepper, pepper flakes, tomatoes, broth & put the frozen green beans on top.
Cook on HIGH 6 hrs or LOW 3 hrs. (I did the 3 hr method & think this works best so the veggies don’t get too soggy).
Add spinach, basil & coconut milk about 15/30 mins before serving or until spinach wilts.
Serve over couscous & garnish with lemon wedges.

Side dish:

Baked some sweet potato french fries (as you can see in photo – keep an eye on your fries or they’ll turn out a tad crispy!).

As mentioned, this crock turned out pretty darn great – tons of flavor & the cauliflower came out fantastic & wasn’t mushy.

There you have it – a veggie dish done right. I think for veggie crock I’m going to attempt Eggplant Lasagna…

Split Pea Soup

Ham Knuckles
Ham Knuckles (sorry for bad photo)

Yay, split pea soup. I had bought a bag of dried split peas & some ham hocks – the weather has been turning colder & thought that this would be a nice hot soup to curl up with on a chilly nite.

Ham hocks remind me of growing up – mom or dad used them every once in a while in different kinds of stews & soups. My grandpa was a butcher, so we only had the best pork knuckle – if there is such a thing. I can take just about anything (I’ll gut a kangaroo as needed), but cutting thru all that fat/bone stuff is difficult. Hungry?

Ingredients:

  • 16oz dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled & cut
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 64 oz chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (thin as possible)
  • 2 md garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 2 ham hocks
  • 64oz low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tblsp ground black pepper
Pea Soup Bowl
Pea Soup Bowl w/ steamed Parsnips

Cook it:

  • Put ham hocks in crock
  • Add all other ingredients
  • Cook on LOW for 8hrs (ham hocks should fall apart when done)

Wow, this one smelled fantastic & somewhat let me down. As mentioned before, you win some & you lose some –  will still post the losers (the difference between me & Alton Brown). If we were in communist Russian during Stalin’s reign, this would have been a god send, but my refined palette wants more. (After reflection – I did come to conclusion – I didn’t add a bunch of salt. Most canned beans are packed in some juice & a bunch of salt. When you cook with dried beans – keep in mind there is no sodium added.)

Upside – had a nice consistency & the hocks provided a bit of salt/fat. Sadly, as mentioned, needed tons of salt – if you are on a low sodium or whatnot diet, this would be great.

There you go – did kinda like the soup, but was expecting a lot more from the smell.

Done & done.

Spicy Kimchi Stew

Kimchi Crock
Kimchi Crock

Have no idea what I am doing sometimes with these crocks & that is totally ok. I bought some kimchi at the aforementioned frightening farmers market & it is one of those food items that you peck at (similar to my other fav – pickled herring), but don’t make a meal out of… until now!

I was determined to make this happen & so I kinda tweaked the other recipes that I found online to make it my own w/o going to a specialty store.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb cooked pork cut into 2″ cubes (used left over beef – thin sliced petite steak – should be seared pork belly, but I’m all about leftovers)
  • 8oz kimchi (the kind made with Napa cabbage, can find @ any major store or TJ or Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 onion (thin sliced & halved)
  • 4 cloves garlic, (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno (diced)
  • 2 tblsp thai chili paste (can find @ any major store or TJ or Whole Foods)
  • 5 cups of broth (use vegetable, but I only had chicken broth)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu (I wish I would have had this – something solid)

Cook it:

  • Throw everything into crock pot, except leftover beef (or cooked pork) – put that in at the last hour of cooking
  • Cook on High for 4 hours

Can you handle hot stuff? If not, this is definitely not your thing. As you can guess, hot stuff is my thing & was dabbing my forehead at the 1/2 way point into bowl & enjoying it throughout.

This was a good alternative to the seriously sodium heavy asian soups that I’ve had (if you buy/consume any asian soups/dishes, there is so much sodium it’ll make your head spin, just saying / no preaching) & had the heat I enjoy.

End result:

KimChi Bowl
KimChi Bowl

At first thought it was lacking, but realized that simple is fantastic. Not everything needs to be Cracker Barrel served w/ Jack Daniel sauce anal probe, full baked potato facial & velvet cake sadness.

A great complement to this dish would be some cool soba noodles to take the heat/edge off.

This is where I drop the mic & walk away all indifferent to your feelings… but I have to say, good day. I said GOOD DAY.

P.

Pork Loin with Pablanos

Pork Loin Pablano in Crock
Pork Loin Pablano in Crock

Got a 1.5lb pork loin – of course it was a manager special @ $3.50 (that is the way I roll). Couple days later went to the most intense farmers market ever – they shut it down because of natural disaster – wind bringing the tarp things down. Anyway, got the idea of crocking something with the fantastic peppers that I gathered at my peril.

I hadn’t tried an actual pork loin in the crock & so was wondering how this was going to turn out. Crossed my hooves & hoped for the best.

Ingredients:

1.5lb Pork Loin
2 pablano peppers (cut into long strips)
2 jalapeño peppers (diced)
2 white sweet potatoes quartered
4 scallions (diced)
1/2 onion (diced)
handful of cilantro
1 tblsp pepper

Make it happen:

Pork Loin Pablano Plate
Pork Loin Pablano Plate

Put just a bit of olive oil on the bottom to lube it up. Add the pork loin in then surround with the potatoes & cover all of this with the peppers, cilantro & throw the pepper on top.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

This was damn good. The peppers added so much flavor to the pork & calmed down the sweetness of the sweet potatoes (which I mashed up in a bowl before serving). Not the prettiest looking dish, but so damn simple.

Served with Romanesco broccoli steamed with lemon – I’d never had this type of broccoli. Liked the fact that it was more hearty than normal broccoli & so doesn’t get mushy.

Breakfast Frittata

frittata
Frittata Cooking

Have done some other breakfast crocks, but wanted to do a bit lighter one – a nice frittata like substance. Somewhat similar to an omelette, so I thought it would be a good change from the ones I’ve made before that have a bag of hash browns.

This is a fantastic breakfast dish that can feed 4 people & only takes about 3 to 4 hrs to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs beaten (1/2 just the egg whites)
  • 3 to 4 cooked bacon slices (diced up) – used pre-cooked, much easier
  • 1/2 head broccoli chopped
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 1/2 cup leeks sliced (Trader Joes has frozen sliced)
  • 1/2 bag of spinach (2.5 oz)
  • 10 cherub tomatoes sliced in 1/2 or 1 diced roma tomato
  • 8 oz mushrooms fresh sliced
  • 1/2 tblsp pepper
  • 1 tblsp parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
Frittata Dish
Frittata Dish

Make it happen:

  • Sauté the onions & garlic & throw the leeks in at just the last minute of sautéing.
  • Spray the inside of crock with some cooking spray.
  • Beat the eggs up real good, pour into the crock.
  • Dump the rest of the ingredients in spreading out evenly.

Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours – check to make sure the the eggs have cooked thoroughly.

Verdict: was quite surprised with this one, cooked up very light & with great flavor.  Didn’t use the cheese, but you can & I’m sure that it will up the taste. Great for an early game day or lazy Sunday.

P.S. – R.I.P my old crock pot that died 10/26/2013 – you will be missed. Now I have a brand new 7 qt cook & carry – invite me now, NOW, to your holiday party: dishes & dips will be brought!

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

Squash Meatballs
Squash Meatballs

Lets turn the last post on its head, spaghetti – decided to go with an ingredient I hadn’t yet tried, spaghetti squash. It is my mission to go outside my comfort zone when making these crocks.

Need to lose a tad bit of this gut that I’ve acquired from copious amounts of fermented hops via excellent Northwest beers. Enter the somewhat paleo diet.

For the most part, just trying to eat whole foods with limited packaged foods.

Enough with the preachy, more with the crocky.

Ingredients:

  • 1 med/lg spaghetti squash
  • 1 can 14oz tomatoe sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 green onions / diced
  • 4 cloves garlic / minced
  • 1/2 leek / diced
  • 1 stalk celery / diced
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp each | basil / thyme / oregano (be liberal with these)
  • 2 tsp of homemade chili garlic sauce*

Do it:

Squash Meatballs
Squash Meatballs Plate

Mix onions, garlic, leek, celery, egg whites, herbs & turkey meat together – form into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.

Cut squash in half – use a big knife, cutting is kind of difficult.

Mix tomato sauce & chili garlic sauce together*. (see sauce below)

Put a small layer of tomato sauce in crock bottom (just enough to cover bottom), put squash cut side down. Layer the meatballs as best you can & then pour remaining tomato sauce over meatballs.

Set on LOW for 5/6 hrs.

Other:

  • Pull the squash out w/ fork or other implement – scoop out the innards of squash & separate to plates.
  • Put a few of the meatballs on top of spaghetti squash & then pour some of the sauce over all of that.

Dang, that dish was amazing. Had no idea that spaghetti squash was so good & my homemade hot sauce would push it forward. Low fat, meaty & just enough hot (its a steady hot).

.* Homemade Chili Garlic Sauce

  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 red jalapenos
  • 2 serranos
  • 6 habaneros
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tblsp apple cider vinegar
  • Put in food processor – processor it up to a viscous paste.
  • Simmer on Med for 10 mins
  • Done with that

Last tip: I would make a whole crock of the meatballs & minus the squash – they are amazing.

Peace out.