SLOW COOKERS MADE FOR SUMMER FOOD PREP
About the time I was married in 1951, some electric stoves included a deep well cooker. Mother had a stove with this feature and my first range did as well. Although I have no way of knowing for sure, it could have been the inspiration for slow cookers that came later. Although Rival made the first slow cooker, mine was made by West Bend. I preferred this brand at the time because the cooker and base were separate while the first Rival crockpot was in one piece. But it didn't take Rival too long to introduce a crock insert that could be washed separately. Like many small appliances, crockpots were popular for several years until something else came along to grab consumers' attention such as crepe makers and fondue pots. I had one of each but eventually gave the crepe maker to our local thrift shop (it's easier to make crepes in a small skillet) but I still use the fondue pot occasionally. Then, like fashions repeat themselves, the crockpot emerged bigger and better with variable heat options and more sophisticated recipes to make.
Today's slow cookers fit our busy lifestyle. The 6-quart crockpots are great for families but I also use this size, dividing the finished dish into single portions to freeze. Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff from Allrecipes.com is an example. I did replace chicken breast halves with boneless, skinless thighs, butter for margarine, reduced fat cream cheese and Healthy Request cream of chicken soup for regular kind.
SLOW COOKER CHICKEN STROGANOFF
8 boneless, uncooked skinless thighs, cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style dressing mix
1 (8 ounce) package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 10.75-ounce can Healthy Request cream of chicken soup
Angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
Put chicken, butter and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. Blend cream cheese and soup together. Add to chicken mixture and cook on HIGH for another 1/2 hour or until heated through. Serve on angel hair pasta. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from recipe provided by www.Allrecipes.com, the world's favorite recipe web site.
You can also make meat loaves in the slow cooker like Glazed Pork Loaf from TheOtherWhiteMeat.com
GLAZED PORK LOAF
1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
1/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In large bowl blend together all ingredients well. Form into loaf. Fold two 24-inch-long pieces of aluminum foil in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again. Place strips across each other, forming a cross in the bottom of 3 1/2 quart slow cooker. Press strips against the inside of slow cooker, letting ends hang over the outside. Place pork loaf in cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW 8 to 10 hours, until a thermometer inserted in center reads 160 degrees. Carefully remove pork loaf from cooker using foil strips to lift out of cooker; cool 10 minutes before slicing to serve. Recipe makes 8 servings.
EAT LIKE A GREEK
Diets are often doomed to fail because they focus more of what you can't eat than what you can. That's what is so appealing about the Mediterranean diet, which really isn't a diet at all but a style of eating that focuses on an abundance of nutritious foods including lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and you needn't go farther than your local supermarket to get the makings for Mediterranean meals. Think about a plate where a good half of it is taken up with vegetables. Another one quarter is healthy grains such as whole grain pasta, rice, couscous and quinoa and the remaining quarter is lean protein. The Mediterranean lifestyle is also built around daily activity. Go for a walk after dinner and choose leisure activities that keep you moving.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, August 2009.
NY NUTRITIONISTS PICK 5 FAVORITE FOODS
Rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, salmon swam into first place in a new survey of New York nutritionists who were asked to name foods they'd recommend as not only nutritious but offering distinct health benefits and good value. The poll members in the New York State Dietetics Association ranked oats number two because of high fiber and coming in third were blueberries, rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Rounding out the top five foods were two dairy products: low-fat milk for its calcium and vitamin D content and low fat yogurt with added probiotics, which aid digestion. The group advised, "Look for yogurt brands that say, 'live and active cultures' on the label."
QUICK RECIPE IDEA FOR PREPARING SALMON
Daughter Mary Ann slathers a pesto mayonnaise topping on broiled salmon shortly before its ready to eat. She adapted the topping from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe in their red plaid cookbook. Broil 4 half-inch thick salmon fillets 4 to 6 minutes or until fish flakes, tucking under any thin edges. Meantime, mix together 1/4 cup mayonnaise (we use Hellmann's Light) and 3 tablespoons commercial or homemade pesto. Slather pesto mayonnaise on fillets shortly before done. Top with a mixture of 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Continue broiling 1 to 2 minutes more or until crumbs are lightly brown. To make 1 serving, "eyeball" ingredients accordingly.
Source: Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens recipe via Mary Ann Thaman.
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