Many people don’t realize they can actually bake in their slow cooker. In fact, some recipes make baking in your slow cooker easier than baking in an oven. Also on the plus side, slow cooker baking uses less energy.
Here are some recipes and ideas for baking in your slow cooker.
1. Whole Wheat Bread
Yes, you can bake bread in your slow cooker! It avoids a hot kitchen for one thing, and also uses so much less energy than heating up the large oven for just one loaf. Here’s how to make a 12-serving loaf.
First, you’ll need a deep metal bowl or even a 1-lb coffee can that fits into your slow cooker. Grease the bowl well. Then, turn your empty slow cooker on High to preheat (cover on).
In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Let it sit while you combine in a bowl:
* 1 cup warm milk or buttermilk
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup wheat germ
Mix these together, then add:
* 3 cups whole wheat flour
Knead dough until smooth and elastic – about 10 minutes. Place dough in the greased metal bowl or coffee can, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. In your preheated slow cooker, pour 1/2 cup of water and place a trivet in the bottom. If you don’t have a trivet, you can use crumbled foil. Set the bowl or can on the trivet or foil, cover the slow cooker, and bake for 3 hours. The top of your bread may or may not brown, but it will taste good!
Variation: replace 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup rolled oats; add oats into milk mixture.
2. Apple Cake
This serves 8 to 10, and you’ll need a bread or cake pan that fits in your slow cooker.
In a bowl, beat:
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
Then stir in:
* 2 cups peeled, chopped apples
* 2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add these dry ingredients to the apple mixture along with 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional). Stir well and pour into the greased and floured bread pan you chose. Grease a piece of tin foil and place over the top of the pan; place pan into slow cooker, cover, and bake on High 3 to 4 hours.
Let stand 5 minutes before you take the pan out of the slow cooker. Turn cake out onto a rack and allow to cool; then slice.
3. Chocolate Fudge Cake
Here’s a cake that you don’t need a separate bowl for – you bake it right in the crock of the slow cooker.
In a bowl, mix together:
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup flour
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup milk
* 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
Spread this mixture over the bottom of your slow cooker. Then, mix together:
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Sprinkle this over the batter in the slow cooker. Next, boil 1 3/4 cups water and pour over the batter. Don’t stir; just cover and cook on High 2 to 3 hours. A toothpick inserted will come out clean when it’s done.
“I wonder if I could cook that in the slow cooker…” Have you asked yourself this before? Many of us with slow cookers have eyeballed them and wondered if we could cook our favorite recipe(s) in them. Often, you can. But before you just throw everything into the slow cooker and hope for the best, there are some general principles you should consider as you adapt your favorite recipes for the slow cooker.
In most slow cookers, “Low” is around 200 degrees F, and “High” is about 300. Cooking takes about twice as long on Low as it does on High.
If the recipe you want to convert calls for a quick baking time, then you can probably get away with a few hours on Low or one to two hours on High. If your recipe calls for long oven baking or stove top simmering, then you can probably get away with 8-10 hours on Low (a standard cook temperature and time for roasts and red meats).
Slow cookers produce very moist heat. This means your recipe will retain more moisture than it would if it were baked in the oven. So a good rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by about half. However, if you’re cooking rice or some other grain, then you should use an amount of liquid that is just shy of the standard amount.
3. Oven versus Slow Cooker
Here is a handy guide for oven times converted to slow cooker times:
Oven: 20-30 minutes
Slow cooker: 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on High; 4 to 6 hours on Low
Oven: 35-45 minutes
Slow cooker: 2 to 3 hours on High; 6 to 8 hours on Low
Oven: 50 minutes to 3 hours
Slow cooker: 4 to 5 hours on High; 8 to 18 hours on Low
4. Know What Holds Up
Roasts, brisket, and flat steak stand up well to long cooking, usually requiring 10 to 12 hours on Low or 6 to 8 on High. But vegetables don’t usually hold up so well, especially ones like snow peas and broccoli.
If you want to adapt a meat recipe that has vegetables in it, you can add them toward the end of cooking time. However, if you combine meat and chopped vegetables that are more dense, like chunked carrots and potatoes, then you can usually cook the whole dish for 8 to 10 hours on Low.
Poultry cooks more quickly than red meat, and fish cooks faster than both.
Ready to adapt your own favorite recipe? Give it a try and let me know what you made and how it turned out.
I love Fall… the cooler temperatures, the comfort food, the pretty leaves… My good friend Tracy Roberts from Moms In a Blog has come up with a fun idea. She’s challenging us to use our slow cookers more… for 30 days in fact and has come up with a cookbook to help us do just that. It’s called “Slow Cooking Recipes For the Busy Mom” and includes menus and shopping lists. I had a few questions for Tracy and thought I’d share those along with her answers today.
Tell me about the book and the 30 day challenge.
I wrote the book because most of us aren’t home all day or if we are the day is filled with taking care of the house, homeschooling the kids or working from home making it harder to recreate Grandma’s meals but I have a secret weapon and it’s called a crockpot (or slow cooker – what do YOU call it?)
I thought the 30 day challenge would help to bring us together as a community and share wholesome, homemade dinners made easily with a crockpot and I selfishly wanted to get recipes from other creative people.
What is your favorite thing about crockpot cooking?
It’s easy to do. There’s nothing easier than throwing ingredients in a slow cooker and, a couple hours later, putting something delicious on the table that everyone in the family loves.
As a work-at-home mom and home schooler, my days are filled with lots of activity, so making dinner preparation as easy as possible is what I prefer to do.
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
I sure do… a family favorite right now is Beef Tacos.
What kind of crockpot (or crockpots) do you have?
I have several, big ones, small ones, round ones & oval ones. Some with fancy push buttons and some with dials. Alas, I have a couple that have either a broken crock or a broken heater (I don’t know it’s real name ) so I think it’s time to do some crockpot shopping.
Any tips for cooking more crockpot meals and making it part of a weekly meal plan?
When I don’t have ingredients on hand for particular recipes, I make what’s lovingly called “Stuff in a Crockpot” made from the stuff I have on hand. It doesn’t take much to make a delicious meal if you have a few staples on hand. You can make a veggie meal or a meal with meat if you have some canned tomatoes, spices and seasonings and a starch.
Slow Cooking Recipes for the Busy Mom ebook gives you 30 days of recipes for your crockpot plus shopping lists to make sure you have everything you need on hand for quick & easy stress-free meal planning.
There’s even a private Facebook group where we’ll be challenging each other to create delicious meals (and share the recipes).
Click now and order your copy of Slow Cooking Recipes for the Busy Mom: Quick & Easy, Stress-Free Meal Options today!
In last week’s newsletter, I mentioned that my friend Tracy from Moms in a Blog is working on a new kindle book on pantry cooking. She was kind enough to share a recipe from the book then and it was so well received that I asked her to come back and share another this week. I also took a few minutes last night to do a quick little interview with her.
You’re out with a new book on cooking from your pantry. Can you tell me a little bit about your process when it comes to getting dinner on the table?
I’m a pantser-I fly by the seat of my pants on most days. While I usually have a list of recipes in my head and the ingredients on hand to prepare it, I find myself thinking about dinner an hour or so before it’s time to eat. The kids are familiar with “The Menu” so I’ll ask for their input and we eat hat sounds good at the moment.
What’s typically in your pantry?
I always have things like dried beans, whole grain pasta, quinoa, canned tomatoes, canned peaches, canned pineapple, coconut milk, evaporated milk, coconut & almond flours, Hillbilly Housewife’s Biscuit Mix, potatoes & onions.
I also try to keep chicken, ground beef, pork chops, bacon and fish on hand. I round everything out with our favorite spices and condiments.
One of my favorite things about pantry cooking is that I don’t have to run to the store. Great for those busy days when I just don’t want to run to the store. What other big benefits do you see in pantry cooking?
With the pantry items I have on hand, I can make virtually anything and know it’s something my family will eat. If I decide I want something a little different I just experiments with what I have on hand.
In fact, just last night we had lettuce tacos (we’re trying some new recipes) and decided that a peanut sauce would taste great with it so my daughter and I grabbed the peanut butter, soy sauce, some thai red curry powder & rice vinegar and proceeded to create a pretty good tasting sauce to go over our beef strips.
What are some of your family’s favorite pantry meals? Maybe you could share a favorite recipe with us?
My family is happy with potato soup almost any night and my caribbean chicken recipe is a family favorite, too.
- 1-2 lbs ground beef
- 1-2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 can evaporated milk
- Hillbilly Housewife’s Homemade Biscuit Mix, to thicken
- salt, pepper or your favorite spices
- In a large pan, cook ground beef with onions until beef is browned and onions are soft. Add evaporated milk & spices. Add enough water to cover beef mixture. Add your Bisquick or corn starch – enough to thicken. Cook until warmed through and your gravy is as thick/thin as you desire.
- We eat this over mashed potatoes
Any tips for someone that’s very new to this approach to planning meals and making dinner? How do they get started?
Start with thinking about the things your family likes to eat and then notice the items that you always seem to have on your grocery list – those things that you just can’t do without.
Let your creative juices flow. I don’t think I ever make the same meal, the same way, more than once. I’m more of an experimenter so I’m not afraid to create a recipe from my heard.
In my ebook, I give you my personal grocery lists and the types of meals I create from it.
Last but on least and along the lines of the last question. What top 10 things would you recommend stocking the pantry with?
I think that must be a personal choice to some extent.
I’d say to keep
- Chicken, fish, ground beef in the freezer
- Hillbilly Housewife’s Homemade Biscuit Mix (I love this stuff! and you can do a ton of stuff with it)
- Your Favorite Canned fruits
- Your Favorite Canned Veggies
- Canned milk (evaporated & coconut)
- Canned tomatoes – you can do so many things with a tomato base
- Dried Beans
- Grains like quinoa & oats
Thanks so much for a wonderful Interview Tracy and of course for the recipe as well. I’m looking forward to trying it tonight.
Don’t forget to check out Tracy’s new Kindle book:
Tracy Roberts knows how that goes but she’s figured out a way to make delicious meals, in 30 minutes or less, that her family enjoys so much that they ask for more. She shares her strategy in her Kindle ebook, Cooking from the Pantry: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Creating Fabulous, No-Fuss Meals in 30 Minutes or Less.
Included inside are Tracy’s basic grocery list, a list of meals she creates from it and a few of her family’s favorite recipes. Click here to get your copy today www.hillbillyhousewife.com/pantrycookbook
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’m sure you remember your Mom telling you that when she was trying to get you to eat something before heading to school. The same still holds true today and there is now plenty of scientific evidence that our bodies don’t function as well without a good healthy breakfast. Stop skipping this important meal and start your day off right.
You spend six to eight hours sleeping. After that time, your body needs fuel to keep going. Without breakfast at home, your options for on the run nutrition may amount to too much fat, too much sugar and too many carbs. And, that convenient run to the fast food joint is not as convenient and time saving as you think if everyone else has the same idea. The fifteen or twenty minutes spent in line could have been used to fill your belly with something good at home.
If you are the type to skip breakfast, here is a solution to starting the day with a good breakfast which will help you keep hunger in check as well as give you the natural energy boost to start your day.
This food makes a good hot meal that contains lots of filling fiber to keep you from getting hungry later on in the morning. Depending on your taste, you can take five minutes to fix it on the stove or use the microwave for instant oatmeal. Kids tend to like the variety of flavors that come with instant oatmeal. The night before, put together a container of add-ins like blueberries, strawberries and bananas that can be tossed on top for a bit of antioxidant power.
These are good any morning but particularly on a hot day. You’ll have to blend the ingredients together in the morning, but the prep work can be done at night. Cube your fruit and place it into a container. Instead of frozen yogurt in the morning, use a cup of plain yogurt. Add ice cubes, a little water and blend.
The eggs can be cooked the night before and placed in a sealed container. In the morning, warm up the eggs in the microwave. If you want, add some chopped veggies or shredded cheese. Serve on toasted wheat bread. The night before, place two pieces of bread into a Ziploc bag for each family member. They can toast their bread as they get up and place the sandwich in the bag for easy transport in the car to work or school.
Yogurt with granola and fruit:
Some people like to eat yogurt. But, yogurt by itself won’t keep you from being hungry. Add some granola and a few blueberries to the mix. This makes a great breakfast idea for those mornings when you are running late. Keep small bags of granola and blueberries in the fridge next to the yogurt so you can grab them and run.
Are you fighting the breakfast battle? To get a filling meal you don’t have to opt for too much fat, calories or carbs. These quick and easy breakfast ideas can be made within minutes and are a much healthier alternative to skipping breakfast or grabbing a high fat alternative.
For more delicious healthy recipes that fit your budget, grab a copy of my ebook Healthy Eating On A Budget
Preparing healthy food for my family while still staying within a budget can be hard. To make things simpler, I’ve done a little bit of research to figure out which budget friendly foods are ALSO healthy. Once I had my list created, I started to gather some of my favorite recipes together so I we wouldn’t get bored eating the same old beans, rice & eggs and I’m happy to share it with you today…
Just click on Healthy Eating On a Budget to order your copy today!
Here is another example of why our Hillbilly Housewife readers are the best! This description of the term “pone” is offered by CoachTurner in answer to another reader’s request for a “pone” recipe. I am pleased to post it here so more people will find it when they search. Thank you, CoachTurner, for your detailed response. The following is the response in full:
Some confusion can be easily eliminated with some old words: A “pone” is the shape and method of cooking it. Like “loaf” goes in a particular shaped pan to bake it. The pone is traditionally cooked in a round cast iron skillet either baked in the oven or right over the fire with a lid. [but not on the stove top - that's a different critter]
Whether it’s “corn pone”, “biscuit pone”, “wheat pone”, etc… just depends on what sort of dough you’re cooking in that skillet. Some even make sweet pone by adding sugar or a pone-pone by mixing flour and cornmeal in the same bread. Which dough you use isn’t what makes it “a pone” – that it’s been baked in that cast iron skillet to that shape makes it “a pone” and not “a loaf”. If you pan fry it or griddle it, it’s “a cake” such as pancake, johnny cake, hoe cake, etc… but essentially the same (though thinner) dough. If you deep fry it, it becomes “a fritter” and they’re real good too. Same dough (though thicker) often with stuff mixed in. If you boil it (about as thick as a drop biscuit), it’s “a dumpling”.
Pone Bread can be any bread dough prepared this way. Just toss it in the greased, pre-heated cast iron into a medium oven and bake away. I usually get interested in how done it is at about 25mins.
So, if you want a Biscuit Pone (really one really big biscuit) then mix a batch of your favorite biscuit dough a little thick and don’t overwork it. Preheat a greased cast iron skillet big enough to hold that dough (I make mine small, most folks use a 10″), toss it in the medium over (abt 350F) and let it go about 25 mins before you try the toothpick test. (exact same deal for any other dough though some bake up faster or slower and some will rise a lot)
Bacon fat or lard are the traditional greasers for that pan. This is a good thing because the fat seasons the pan and the bread dries it off. Great way to care for the cast iron. You can toss all sorts of bits ‘n pieces in it too. Of course, over the years they all became about the same as each other – but that’s how it were long-long ago.
We don’t do a lot of desserts, but it’s nice to have some quick and easy ideas for those nights when the kids deserve a little something special, or when dinner is a little light and you need something else to round out the meal. It usually has to be quick and easy to throw together for it to happen during the week. One thing I do is bake a batch of muffins, cookies, brownies or even a simple cake on the weekend and use that for dessert during the week (or at least the first part of the week until they are gone).
Cookies and brownies are always a favorite here. I make a batch or two on the weekend and hide most of them in a tin on top of the fridge to be used later in the week. If they are sitting out on the counter or in the cookie jar, they’d be gone by Monday.
I’m always looking for new ideas, which is why I posted the following on FB a few days ago:
Below are some of my own family favorites along with the ideas from my wonderful Facebook friends. You can look at the full post here. I’ll link to recipes as needed. Got a great simple dessert idea? Leave a comment below and share it with us.
- Bread Pudding
- Root Beer Floats (or any other float for that matter)
- Ice Box Cakes
- Pudding Parfait (made with leftover fruit and cookie crumbs)
- Pudding Pie
- Banana Pudding
- Apple Sauce
- Rice Pudding
- Milk Shakes
- Broiled Bananas with Ice Cream
- Banana Foster
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Simple Dump Cake
For more delicious dump cake recipes, get a copy of my latest Kindle book. Inside you’ll find plenty of recipes your family will love including:
- Apple Dump Cake
- Rich Pumpkin Dump Cake
- Peach Dump Cake
- Basic Dump Cake
- Easy Dump Cake
- Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake
- Cherry Chocolate Coconut Dump Cake
- Cherry Coconut Dump Cake
- Chocolate Duncan Hines Dump Cake
- German Chocolate Dump Cake
- Chocolate Caramel Dump Cake
- Apple Caramel Dump Cake
- Apple Pecan Dump Cake
- Spiced Apple Dump Cake
- Blueberry Dump Cake
What a perfect way to make a simple dessert every one will love. Get “Dump Cake Recipes – Desserts So Easy Even Kids Can Make Them” today.
Did you know that today is National Banana Bread Day? I didn’t either until I came across a couple of Facebook posts this morning. How fun to have a special day dedicated to my favorite quick bread.
Banana breads are the perfect way to use up those over-ripe bananas laying on the kitchen counter. It’s a delicious breakfast food, freezes well and makes a great hostess gift or that little something to take to a new neighbor.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the history of Banana Bread:
Banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s, appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook, and later gained more acceptance with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book in 1950.
Ready to do some baking this weekend? Here are a few of my favorite recipes.
Let’s start with my best banana bread recipe. This is my “go-to” recipe anytime I’m ready to bake. It’s a simple, but oh-so yummy recipe that can easily be modified to include different types of nuts, dried fruits or even chocolate chips.
If a whole banana bread doesn’t work for you, bake up your favorite recipe in a muffin tin and enjoy them as muffins. These also freeze well, so you can make a batch of banana muffins, enjoy one or two today and pop the rest in the freezer to use throughout the coming weeks.
Are you planning on making some quick bread today? Do you have a family-favorite recipe to share? Leave a comment and let me know how you’re planning to celebrate today.
The Hillbilly Housewife website is up and running again. I couldn’t be happier. For a moment there I thought we had lost everything… very scary. I can not express how relieved I am that the wonderful Courtney Chowning was able to recover and fix everything.
To celebrate and to make up for the fact that I didn’t put a newsletter together for y’all, I decided to mark all Hillbilly Housewife Kindle books down to 99 cents for the next few days. Don’t have a kindle? Amazon has a variety of Kindle Apps to read these books on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
Including two brand new ones:
Breakfast casseroles are a great way to get your morning off to a good start – after all breakfast is the most important meal of the day – because they are quick and easy. There isn’t a lot of preparation time involved in mixing up a breakfast casserole and then you can simply refrigerate overnight and bake it the next morning.
Blueberries are packed with nutrients and just plain delicious. Find out how to make a variety of dishes from this superfood packed full of antioxidants.
You’ll find recipes for anything from smoothies and muffins to salads and even blueberry chicken.
You can find all of the Hillbilly Housewife Kindle books here:
I Need Your Help
Not only do you get some great recipes to try, it will also help recover some of the expenses involved in the recovery of the HBHW website. And there are a couple of ways you can help. The first is to buy one or more of the kindle books. I only make about 30 cents for each book sold, but each sale helps my books move up in the Amazon categories, which helps other people find these cookbooks that will hopefully buy as well.
What else can you do? There are a few different things I could really use your help with:
- Spread the word about this special Kindle sale. The more we can get word around the better.
- Write a short little review about any kindle book of mine that you’ve bought. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a sentence or two of what you liked (or didn’t like), would be great.
- Rate the book… when you get to the end of each kindle book you can rate it (via 5 stars).
- Even if you don’t buy a book, you can help by clicking the “like” link on each Amazon listing. Here’s what it looks like:
All these little things add up and will help me sell more Kindle books in the long run. And that’s profits that go directly back into the upkeep and maintenance of the HBHW website, paying my wonderful assistants and it allows me to stay home with my family and focus on making Hillbilly Housewife even better.
I appreciate your help with this – Susanne
I was busy reading through some old cookbooks today and found a great recipe for a very hearty chili made with dried red beans. As I was jotting down the recipe, I came across an ingredient that I needed to decypher:
1 can (No. 2-1/2) tomatoes
I did some research to find the actual “No.” size equivalent between the old measurements and today’s can size. I thought you might appreciate this resource the next time you run into an odd measurement, especially in old recipes. Here is the link:
I share more of these tips and old fashioned recipes with my friends at the Hillbilly Housewife Club. Our community is growing and we’re learning a lot from each other.
If you enjoy sharing frugal, old fashioned homemaking ideas, click on and check out what the Hillbilly Housewife Club has to offer you and your family. Thank you!
There are a lot of ways to get the most out of a chicken. I like to roast a whole chicken for dinner, then make homemade chicken broth out of the carcass, skin, bones, and drippings. All the lovely flavors are there for the stock, and you have a whole chicken to feed the family. In this way, nothing is wasted.
My friend Patti Winker of RemarkableWrinklies.com has another method she likes which produces not only a small chicken meal and the makings for stock, but also solid chicken fat, known as schmaltz. If you like the flavor chicken fat (schmaltz) provides in frying, this method may be perfect for you. One other benefit to this sort of method is how cheap it is. Take a look at the instructions and pictures Patti has provided us and see if this method appeals to you. And, be sure to leave your comments below to share your ideas.
Hi Susanne. Thank you for letting me share my ‘recipe’ here.
This little cooking experiment started when I ran to the store to get chicken thighs for dinner. I usually buy chicken thighs because I prefer the flavor and because they are cheaper than chicken breasts. Right next to the thighs in the meat department I saw packages of ‘necks and backs’ at such a low price it was like they were giving them away. I know the backs of a chicken are quite fatty so I knew they would make a nice stock. So, I bought the thighs for dinner and a package of the ‘necks and backs’ for the stock.
Before I put the thighs and backs on the baking sheet, I seasoned everything, including the backs, with salt, pepper and sage. Then I roasted them at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the thighs were totally cooked through and the skin was crispy.
What I noticed was the incredible amount of chicken fat that cooked off. I knew the backs would be fatty and full of flavor for the broth, but it only occurred to me when I saw the inch of fat in the baking sheet that I would have enough fat to save for schmaltz. (You might want to put the chicken thighs on a rack inside the baking sheet to keep them up out of the fat since you’re going to eat those.)
When the chicken was cooked, I removed the thighs to a paper towel covered rack to drain and set aside for dinner.
Now it’s time to get the stock started.
I dumped the backs and all the fat from the baking sheet into a large pot, added onion, celery, and peppercorns to the pot, then filled it with water and brought it to a boil. As soon as the pot came to a boil, I turned the heat down and slowly simmered it for a couple hours, stirring often.
Of course, the stock was very fatty because I dumped all the fat from the baking pan into the pot. This provides a lot of flavor to the stock, but the fat is going to be skimmed off from the stock and saved for the schmaltz. You can keep as much or as little fat in the stock as you want simply by skimming off more or less fat.
After the stock has simmered at least an hour or two, remove it from the stove, let it cool slightly, and pour through a strainer into a bowl or another large pot. (Discard all the strained out bones, etc.) Put the strained stock into the freezer and allow to cool (uncovered) overnight. The next day you will have a solid layer of fat on the top of the stock in the freezer.
Now you can prepare your schmaltz.
Remove the pot of chicken stock from the freezer. Carefully scrape/peel the solid fat off the top of the stock and put it in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring, and when the fat is liquid again, pour it through a fine mesh strainer or sieve into a clean bowl. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and pour the strained chicken fat into the baking pan. Put the baking pan into the freezer and allow to freeze solid, usually overnight.
Now back to the stock.
You can bring the stock that remains in the pot back up to a boil so you can strain it once more if you wish. Once your stock is as you like it, pour into freezer or refrigerator containers and store accordingly.
Time to cut up the schmaltz.
The next day, remove the baking pan from the freezer, lift the schmaltz out using the parchment paper. Lay it on a cutting board and cut into squares with a sharp knife to make it easy to use. Work quickly because the schmaltz melts fast. Put the squares in freezer containers and keep frozen. Use these schmaltz squares just like you would butter or oil to fry eggs or other foods. I’ve used it for stir-fry meals or even just to add a bit of flavor to rice, noodles, potatoes, or soups. Some folks use schmaltz as a spread on bread or bagels.
The frugal results.
In this one cooking experiment I ended up with a chicken dinner for two with leftovers, 4 quarts of stock, and a large freezer bag filled with schmaltz. This figures out to about six meals and a seemingly endless supply of chicken fat for frying and flavoring. Not a bad return on an investment of a few dollars! I hope you’ll give it a try and let us know how it worked for you and share any suggestions you have.
p.s. My husband and I are NOT on fat restrictive diets and we enjoy eating and cooking with animal fats and proteins. This type of cooking and eating is not for everyone, but if you eat like we do, close to what is known as a ‘Paleo’ diet, you might like to try this.
Note from Susanne: In the comments section, there have been a few questions about keeping the chicken stock from getting cloudy. It seems we can agree that making sure the stock simmers slowly helps keep the stock clearer and cleaner by preventing the carcass from breaking up during a harder boil. Patti Winker posted a video on YouTube to illustrate a ‘slow rolling boil’ which she suggests is the proper ‘speed’ for producing a good stock. I thought I’d share the video here so you could take a look. Be sure to leave your comments after you view the video. And while we’re talking about old fashioned cooking, be sure to check out Patti’s fun ecookbook at MemoryLaneMeals.com. Thank you.
But wouldn’t you also love to get out of the kitchen fast AND with a few extra meals in the fridge and freezer?
Squeezing the most out of every cent you spend on groceries is what Cook Once Eat Twice is all about.
Now you can learn how to cook in ways that not only put dinner on the table economically, but with plenty to spare! And, we’re not just talking leftovers here… we’re talking about planning meals with NEW CREATIVE meals to come.
In this ebook, you’ll learn about the strategies needed to get two, three, or MORE meals out of one cooking session. PLUS you’ll get over 300 recipes to help you prepare a delicious plan of attack!
Click on and buy Cook Once Eat Twice today to start getting the most out of every meal!
Because I love baking pies, I also love having a plentiful supply of fruit and berries on hand, prepared and ready to go.
I got on a freezer cooking kick recently, so decided that along with the meals I was freezing, I’d try my hand at pie fillings. There are a few things to do to prepare the fruit and berries for freezing. I thought I’d share what I learned with you here.
1) Wash and dry your canning jars, lids, and rings and set aside. I prefer to use wide-mouth jars because they’re easier to fill, but regular jars work, too. You just have to make sure you cut the fruit small enough to fit.
2) Choose and prepare your fruit. Make sure it is not underripe or overripe. Wash, peel if desired, remove pits, seeds, and cut out any blemishes.
3) Add sugar, either granulated or simple syrup, to help retain the color, flavor, and texture. You may want to add some sort of ascorbic acid, too, which will keep the fruit from turning dark. You can buy a citric acid to mix in with the dry sugar or in the syrup. If you don’t want to buy a packaged product, mix in a bit of lemon juice. It won’t hurt and it usually helps.
- Granulated sugar: Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit in a bowl. Use your own taste buds to determine how sweet you want the fruit. Gently stir the fruit and let sit until the fruit juices form. Spoon into jars or other freezer containers, allowing about 3/4 to 1 inch head room. Seal tightly and freeze.
- Simple syrup: Most people use about a 40% simple syrup. But, again, you’ll want to adjust that to fit the fruit. If the fruit is sour or very tart, make a heavier syrup. For a delicate, sweeter fruit, use a lighter syrup. To make a 40% syrup you’ll need about 3 1/4 cups of sugar to 5 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, turn to low, and let simmer until the mixture thickens. Allow the syrup to cool completely before adding to the fruit. Fill your jars with the cut fruit, then pour in the cooled syrup, leaving about 3/4 to 1 inch of head room. Take a narrow knife and slide it between the fruit and jar inside to relieve air bubbles, then add more syrup if needed. Seal the jars and freeze.
- Natural juices: If you don’t want to add sugar to the fruit, you can use the fruit’s own juice, other fruit juice, or even water with ascorbic acid added if needed. Fruit frozen without sugar will lose their color and quality faster, but they also give you the opportunity to eat fruit that is not sweetened or add the sugar when you prepare the filling for pie.
Berries are also perfect for the freezer. I’ve found that the best method for freezing berries is to leave them whole, spread them out on a baking sheet, put them in the freezer, and freeze them. Then transfer the frozen berries to containers. Berries freeze just fine without any sugar or liquid added.
In the Freezer
- You want to make sure you maintain a steady ‘deep freeze’ in your freezer. That means around a Zero degree F temperature.
- Mark the date clearly on the containers and use the fruit or berries up before a year passes. That never seems to be a problem in our house. A freezer full of fruit and berries for pie filling is picked clean by the next summer!
I hope these tips help you get some fruit and berries in the freezer. Whether you use them for pies, sauce, or just to eat right out of the jar, I know you’ll enjoy the sweet taste of summer coming right out of your freezer.
I’ve been doing a lot of meal planning lately, and that typically means a lot of frugal freezer meals, especially soups, stews, meat sauce, and other family favorites.
Recently I removed a plastic ziploc bag of my homemade spaghetti sauce from the freezer, let it thaw slightly, then pushed the contents out into a saucepan. So far, so good.
Then, as I usually do, I put the ziploc bag in the sink and proceeded to wash it out with hot soapy water. The bag split along the seam, so I threw it out.
As I stood there looking in the garbage, I wondered how frugal it really is to use plastic freezer bags or containers? I’ve thrown plenty of them out, either because they absorb the odor of the food or they eventually split open or the covers crack. (Actually, they go into recycling, but it’s still wasted money to me.)
I started wondering if there was a better, more frugal way to store these meals in the freezer.
Then I noticed my canning jars sitting in the pantry. I’ve always enjoyed ‘putting by’ jam, jelly, and vegetables over the summer and fall, so my pantry is pretty well stocked with goodies preserved in canning jars.
But, when it comes to meals, I prefer to freeze them, either in meal size portions for the whole family or single servings. Having a freezer full of spaghetti sauce, chili, soups and stews, is a real help for us, especially during the busy school year. For the freezer, I’ve always chosen plastic bags and containers, but now I was wondering how frugal that really is.
It suddenly occurred to me that the solution to my quandry was right there in my pantry…
I know what you’re thinking; that’s way too expensive. I agree that your initial expense may seem daunting. Your start-up cost to purchase the jars, lids, and rings could add up, but let’s take a look at the real expense.
When you compare the cost of canning jars to that of plastic, you may cringe a bit at first. It will add up to a pretty penny when you buy your supplies. But, when you compare the one time cost for glass and accessories to the cost of plastic purchased over the years, you’ll see a real savings.
Aside from the occasional broken canning jar and a bent lid or two, this is a one-time investment. When you take into account that you probably throw out a plastic bag a couple times a week, you are throwing out quite a bit of money. That’s your money in the trash, never to be recovered.
Glass canning jars are convenient, too. I’m making chicken noodle soup now and will freeze individual servings in small canning jars. Then to heat the soup I can simply set the jar in a pot of slowly simmering water. The soup will thaw and be warmed through without even dirtying a pot. If you use a wide mouth jar for your single servings, you’ll also have a ready-to-serve container.
Glass jars are safe to heat in and eat from. As far as heating plastic containers, the jury is still out about whether or not it is safe. Have you put a plastic freezer container in the microwave and noticed the material start to deteriorate around the edges? This doesn’t happen with glass. Have you ever tried to heat frozen food in a plastic bag or container on the stove top. It’s a worry.
And you’ll never get a better seal than with a canning jar lid. This keeps flavor in and air out, helping to prevent freezer burn.
If the price still has you worried, do a bit of research into wholesale and resale shops that offer glass canning jars at a reduced price. You may even luck out at a garage sale somewhere. In that case, an investment in the lids and rings is all you’ll need.
The next time you reach for a box of freezer bags or containers at the store, check the price. Do some comparisons and see if you wouldn’t benefit from investing in canning jars to freeze your meals. I love to keep my cash out of the trash, don’t you?
Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below. I look forward to learning what you have found to be your best tools for freezing meals.
Baking a pie isn’t hard to do once you understand the basics. Yes, there are lots and lots of little tricks that result in a flakier, lighter pie crust and a firmer, tastier filling, but even knowing a couple simple tips will give you a pie you’ll be proud to serve.
Here are the tips that I believe are the basics for baking a good pie:
The Tools of the Trade
No pie baking lesson is complete without a discussion of pie pans. Many bakers prefer glass pie pans for several reasons; they heat evenly and conduct the heat well, resulting in an nicely browned crust. The other bonus is you can actually see when the crust is browned perfectly.
Mixing the pie crust dough by hand is an admirable task, to be sure. But don’t overlook your food processor. For a fast pie dough, pulse the ingredients until crumbly, then slowly add the ice water, pulse, add, pulse, until your dough just forms. In a matter of seconds you will have the dough ready to chill.
These modern methods are great, but returning to the old days is the direction you want to go when you roll out your dough. Remember pastry cloths? You may have seen your grandmother or mother use them. Sprinkle flour on the cloth and roll out your dough. The cloth prevents the flour from getting inbedded in your dough while still keeping the dough from sticking as you roll it out. Purchase a pastry cloth and a cover for your rolling pin and you’ll have the perfect duo for perfect pastry.
The Flakiest Crust
When it comes to pie crusts, it’s not so much about the recipe as it is about the procedure. And when it comes to procedure there is one word that comes to mind – COLD!
No matter what recipe you use, make sure you have ice cold fat (butter, shortening, lard.) Put the amount you need in the freezer. Cut it into little pieces beforehand so when you take it out of the freezer it is ready to incorporate into the dough.
Prepare the cold water with ice, not just out of the tap. Cold water out of the tap is not cold enough. Take the time to put your water in a cup and add ice. Don’t skip this step.
Hurry, hurry, hurry. When making the pie dough, don’t waste time. You want the cold ingredients to stay cold. Also, when it comes time to form the balls, don’t roll them around too much in your hands. You want the fat to stay cold and not melt in the heat of your hands. After forming the dough into balls, be sure to chill it for at least 30 minutes. Again, don’t skip this step.
Now that you’re ready to roll out your pastry, grab one ball out of the refrigerator and proceed, but do so as quickly as possible. You should be able to see little flecks of unmelted fat in the dough. If you are rolling out two crusts, leave the second one in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out.
And last but not least, if you don’t want to make a pie crust, go ahead and buy one. There are many very good premade pie crusts on the market now that are flaky and delicious. Check your options and choose the one that works best for your situation.
Putting it all Together
Be sure to lay, not stretch, the pie crust into the pie pan. If you stretch it, it will bounce back, causing the crust to shrink away from the pan.
Follow the recipe directions carefully. If you need to prebake the crust, make sure you do. Most custard pies call for a prebaked crust.
For double crust pies, be sure to tuck the top crust under the bottom crust around the edges before crimping. That will keep the filling inside the crust instead of allowing it to bubble up and out.
Do cut slits into the top crust to allow the steam to escape, which allows for the top crust to get flaky and golden brown instead of soggy.
Brush the top crust with an egg wash (egg and milk whisked together) and sprinkle with a little sugar for a shiny and sparkly top.
Never, never skip preheating the oven. Be sure the oven is at the temperature called for in the recipe before you put the pie in. Use an oven thermometer if there is any doubt as to the actual temperature of the oven.
Now that your pie is baked, you need to let it cool. Don’t try to rush the cooling process by putting it in the refrigerator or freezer or you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
Let the pie sit on a cooling rack for at least the same amount of time it took to bake. This not only let’s the pie crust stay flaky and tender, but allows the filling to set up so it doesn’t run out when you slice the pie.
Slice the pie with a sharp knife, serve, and enjoy!
You’ll find even more tips, along with FAQ’s covering all sorts of reasons why a pie may have failed, in my new Kindle book: Pie Recipes from Scratch-The Only Pie Cookbook You’ll Ever Need.
Click on here and download your copy today and you’ll be baking Blue Ribbon worthy pies before you know it!
This post was shared with us from Living So Abundantly. I thought I would post it in the Articles section as well as the Frugal Tips section and the Recipe section so it would be easy to find.
Having been blessed with buckets and buckets of tomatoes this year, I embarked on a mission myself to find ways to use up tomatoes in assorted ways. What resulted was a little cookbook available on Kindle. You can click on and take a look right here: The Tomato Cookbook – Tomato Recipes From Soup To Grilled
On with the instructions for peeling tomatoes from LivingSoAbundantly.com.
First, remove the top of the tomato with a paring knife.
Slice an “x” on the bottom of the tomato.
Immerse the tomato into boiling water with a slotted spoon for 3-5 seconds; remove.
Using the slotted spoon, immediately immerse the tomato into an ice bath; remove in 3-5 seconds.
Easily peel off the skin, and this is what you get. So easy!
Why would I want peeled tomatoes? Salsa, of course! You can also make homemade spaghetti sauce, too.
There are so many uses for peeled tomatoes.
What’s your favorite use?
For pictures of the process, be sure to click on the link for the Living So Abundantly website.