Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More adventures with the Crock Pot

So I have been trying to learn how to use my corck pot for things other than stews and big hunks 'o meat. While some of the things don't so much save me time in the sense that they aren't done faster - what they are is done EASIER. As in, put the stuff in, turn it on, walk away and don;t worry about the oven buzzer going off while you are bathing the kiddos or in the basement doing clothes and then come back to fine your food ruined.

A week or so ago I adapted an old recipe I have for a Mexican chicken that required making a yogurt sauce, marinating the meat in said sauce, removing from marinade, baking in oven, then topping with more marinade to work in the crock. Basically I threw in frozen solid chicken breasts and the dry spices, turned on the pot, and walked away. Four hours later, the chicken was cooked through so I turned down the pot then mixed in the yogurt sauce and let it heat/marinate for about 30 minutes (I decided to dice up the cooked chicken). Worked perfectly.

So it seemed only appropriate to move on to new I tried this:

Slow Cooker Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Yep, you read it right. A peanut butter and chocolate sauce cake that bakes happily away in your crock pot whilst you go about your business. Who knew this was even possible??

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar (divided. this is important, don't just start dumping, read on!)

1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water


  • Use a 4-quart slow cooker coated well with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In the microwave, melt peanut butter for about 30 seconds, and then add to the mix along with milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir really well to combine.
  • Spread this mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 cup boiling water (be careful!) Pour this evenly over the peanut butter batter in your cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours, or until the top has set and an inserted toothpick (into the cake--underneath the cake is molten chocolate) comes out clean. Let the cake sit uncovered in an unplugged crock pot for about 20 minutes, then serve warm in dessert bowls. (Mine took right at 2 hours.)
Verdict: Oh yummy. Since this was my first attempt at baking in the crock I followed the directions exactly. It makes 4-5 nice bowls of cake/sauce. It was super easy and didn't require any special ingredients - just a bowl and a spoon! This is my kind of baking.

Now that I have, and it was very tasty (not all that pretty, but tasty) I am planning on doing it again but tweaking it to make it even better. I am thinking of adding a little cinnamon to the cake batter and then - and this is what I am excited about - replacing about half the water in sauce with a very strong coffee. (Because what is better than a chocolate sauce with coffee????)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pasta with Raw Sauce

It is so hot ridiculously hot. We knew we needed to eat something - but the idea of cooking and eating something even a degree above room temperature was less than thrilling. So we decided to look around the kitchen and see what we had that could count as dinner that would fast and require minimal effort and cooking. We decided to do a pasta (OK, we did have to cook the pasta) with a raw sauce. It was literally thrown together while the pasta cooked.

Pasta with Raw Sauce

Start your pasta (we used linguine because we had an open box, but use what ever you like).

Make the sauce: Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1/2-1 cup finely diced onion (I would use a nice sweet or red onion)
1/2-1 cup diced olives (we had a container of mixed greek olives in the fridge - so we used some of those)
a healthy scoop of capers, drained
a couple of basil leaves, chopped at the last minute
drizzle of olive oil
kosher salt

Optional (we had it, so we used it) : a big spoon (1/2 c maybe?) of ricotta cheese goes in the bottom of each serving bowl.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce and toss well. Put the tossed pasta in each bowl on top of the ricotta cheese. Stir in the bowl or as you eat it.

Verdict: VERY tasty and very easy and fast. The measurements don't matter - just do what looks good to you. It hard to go wrong if you use good tomatoes and olives.