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January 16, 2014  | Everyday Recipes
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Getting the Most from Your Crockpot

Whether it's a busy day or wanting to have a meal ready when we return from church, crockpots are often the answer. Today, we would like to help you get the most from your crockpot. We'll give you a few tips and a handy time chart that will help you convert your conventional recipes to the crockpot.

Crockpot Tips

1. Soak beans overnight before cooking in the crockpot. Do not add salt, sugar, or tomatoes until the beans are cooked. (Salt and acidic foods tend to toughen beans and make them hard to cook.)
2. For extra flavor and less fat, brown meats before adding them to the crockpot. Always brown hamburger first.
3. Root vegetables like potatoes and carrots take longer to cook. Cut them into smaller pieces and place them on the bottom of the pot where it is hottest.
4. Herbs and spices tend to weaken in flavor over long cooking times. Add them at the end. Taste and adjust the amount as needed.
5. At the lower temperatures of the crockpot, it takes less liquid. Try cutting the liquid in half.
6. Try cooking the pasta or rice separately and add to the crockpot just before serving.
7. Dairy products tend to break down over long cooking times. Add them at the end. Consider using dried milk when you can.

A Time Guide for Converting Conventional Recipes to the Crockpot

If the conventional recipe calls for 30 minutes on medium heat:
• Cook in the crockpot for four to six hours at low heat
• Cook in the crockpot for 1-1/2 to two hours at high heat

If the conventional recipe calls for 45 minutes on medium heat:
• Cook in the crockpot for six to ten hours at low heat
• Cook in the crockpot for three to four hours at high heat

If the conventional recipe calls for 60 minutes on medium heat:
• Cook in the crockpot for eight to ten hours at low heat
• Cook in the crockpot for four to six hours at high heat
Dennis, the Prepared Pantry

For Terry in NY:
I would suggest for the leftover wonton wrappers placing a square in a small muffin cups than has been prepped with cooking spray, such as Pam, leaving the four corners pointed upwards. This will form a small "basket" . Bake at 350º for 7-10 minutes or until browned. Cool and fill with a filling. This can be cold style dips, salads such as chicken or ham, tuna, egg etc. You can also fill with hot fillings but don't let these stand before serving as they will make the wrapper soggy. Some ideas for that are taco/sloppy joe cups, creamed chicken, creamed vegetables. You can make dessert bites too by filling the cups with puddings, pie fillings, fruits mixed with cool whip. The ideas are endless.
Nana in SE Ohio


The last few days I have spent a lot of time surfing the net for free downloadable recipe booklets. Today most of my time was spent looking for crock pot recipes. The manuals for slow cookers and crock pots provide not only recipes but great hints and tips.

Dennis, my friend at Prepared Pantry has some of the best recipe books out there. They are colorful and contain great tried and tested recipes. Many of his books are downloadable to not only your computer but Ipad, Nook, Kindle and more. Dennis requires only your email address so the link can be sent to your inbox.

If you need an idea for a wedding gift, Dennis has recipes that could be printed out and bound at some place like Kinko's.
Nancy Rogers

Pear Preserves Cake Recipe

1 c. margarine, softened
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour, divided
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. raisins
1 c. pear preserves

Cream margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour, soda, salt and spices; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Dredge pecans and raisins in 1/2 cup flour. Stir pecan mixture and pear preserves into batter. Bake in 13x9 pan at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Karen TX
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HoneyBaked Ham 

Ice Cream Tacos Recipe

6 wonton wrappers
2 cups vanilla ice cream, lightly softened
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400. Using a deep, high-sided baking dish (or taco rack), lay the wonton wrappers on the diagonal over the sides of the pan. It's ok if they overlap a little bit. Spray the wrappers with cooking spray. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
Using a small spoon, scoop the softened ice cream carefully into the taco shells. It's best to do this while they are still warm, because they crisp up more as they cool which makes them more fragile. Drizzle with chocolate syrup, if using, and serve promptly.
bill, Alb.
Source: http://alaskafromscratch.com    
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Pauline requested easy recipes in the 1/14 newsletter. The first two recipes is from a 11/12 newsletter, and I believe the second recipe was a winner in the Pillsbury bake off contest a few years ago. I hope these help.
Robbie IN

Baklava Recipe

Baklava is the aristocrat of pastry desserts. It is of Byzantine origin, made in all Middle Eastern countries, and each one claims it for its own. This fabulous pastry is recognized by its layers of nut filling and many sheets of phyllo. It is usually bathed in syrup flavored with rose water or brandy. I am including two separate recipes for this tasty dessert!

3 c. water
3 c. sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon and rind
1 cinnamon stick
Boil until it comes to the soft ball stage using a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Add 2 TBS. honey and let cool.

4 c. shelled walnuts, chopped coarsely
1 box Zweiback (Holland Rusk Toast)
2 TBS. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. phyllo dough
1 lb. butter, melted

Combine nuts, sugar, cinnamon and finely ground Zweiback. Brush bottom of 11x16" pan with melted butter. Cover with 5 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with melted butter. Sprinkle with nut mixture. Continue this procedure every 2 phyllo sheets until nut mixture is used up, ending with 5 top phyllo sheets. Brush top with butter; cut into diamond shapes. Bake about 1-1/2 hours at 350 degrees until golden brown. Pour cool syrup over pastry when removed from oven. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan to serve.

NOTE; Use an electric knife to score baklava or other pastry before cooking. Also excellent for slicing sponge cakes.
Artemis in NYC

Variation #2 for Baklava:
1 lb. phyllo dough sheets

3 c. or more chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios or a combination) (I use walnuts and pistachios mixed)
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 lemon rind, grated
1/2 lb. melted sweet butter
whole cloves

3 c. sugar
2 c. water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. rose water or brandy flavoring or 1/4 c. honey

Defrost frozen phyllo to room temperature. Mix ingredients for filling in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter and keep it in pan to reheat if it cools. Use a pastry brush to butter generously the bottom and edges of an 11x16 baking pan. Using scissors, cut phyllo 1" larger than your pan. Place a sheet of phyllo in pan and sprinkle lightly with warm butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first sheet, and sprinkle lightly with butter. Continue until you have spread 6 or more sheets. Spread half oaf the filling, including the corners. Cover with 6 or more sheets of phyllo sprinkling with butter between. Add remaining filling. Cover with remaining sheets, buttering between each one. Roll edges and tuck inside of pan. Do not trim as you would for a pie. Butter the top with the remaining butter. Before baking, cut through the to layers only, into the traditional diamond shapes. Use a small sharp knife with a ruler to guide you.

Make vertical cuts 2" apart. Turn pan horizontally and make cuts at an angle, 2" apart. Stick a whole clove in the center of each diamond. Besides adding flavor, it keeps the layers together. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Check it during the last 20 minutes to see if it is browning evenly. Begin boiling the syrup 20 minutes before taking baklava out of the oven. Pour hot syrup over hot baklava immediately after remaining it from the oven. Use a ladle or large spoon to distribute syrup evenly over all of it. Set aside to cool, at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. Keep in pan overnight or at least 4 hours before cutting and serving.
Artemis in NYC

Quick Crescent Baklava

2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
3 to 4 cups walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll 1 can of dough into 2 long rectangles. Place in ungreased 13 x 9-inch pan; press over bottom and l/2 inch up sides to form crust. Firmly press perforations to seal. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. In large bowl, combine walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Spoon walnut mixture evenly over partially baked crust.

Separate remaining can of dough into 2 long rectangles. Place over walnut mixture; press out to edges of pan. With tip of sharp knife, score dough with 5 lengthwise and 7 diagonal markings to form 28 diamond-shaped pieces, using dough edges and perforations as a guide.

In small saucepan, combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Spoon half of glaze evenly over dough. Bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon remaining glaze evenly over hot baklava. Cool completely. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Cut into diamond-shaped pieces.
28 bars
Robbie IN
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One of our favorite "comfort" meals all in one.

One Dish Meal Casserole Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
2-1/2 cups hot water
2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can (15 oz.) cream-style corn

Brown ground beef with onion; Drain, if necessary, and add tomato sauce, hot water, noodles, chili powder, salt & pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cheese and corn. Spoon into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake, covered at 350 50 minutes, or until noodles are tender.
Makes 12 servings.

NOTE: I find this to be be a bit "soupy", so I always add a little more of the uncooked noodles to it.
Judy (in Alaska)
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Nancy Rogers
5540 2nd St.
Lubbock, Texas 79416

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