5 Minute Prep – Crock Pot Christmas Day Bread

Merry Christmas all!!!

Quite some time ago I shared a post about the ‘Crusty No -Knead’ bread that I have baked several times. It’s a great recipe (found here) and you can create many variations. Hands down, the best crusty bread EVER. So when time permits, I mix up a batch in the evening, let it rise over night and bake it in my dutch oven the next morning.

Today, I was wanting some homemade bread to go along with our fettuccine Alfredo that I am making tonight. Time, however, is not on my side. I have read many recipes about baking break in your crockpot. So after scrolling Pinterest for a bit, I landed upon this recipe (found here). No kneading, no rising, mix it up and plop it into your crockpot for 2 1/2 hrs.

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I must admit that I did not exactly measure the herbs and spices…..a few shakes of each and I called it good. I also read a few posts that used parchment paper on the bottom of the crockpot, instead of oiling the entire thing. This makes clean up a breeze……because there is no clean up.

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So, if you’re wanting bread on the fly…..this is a great go to. I heated up the crockpot while mixing up the ingredients, dumped the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, set it inside the crockpot, prepared the lid/paper towels as recommended and 2 1/2 hrs later……I had warm, yummy bread. And the house smells wonderful.

May you all enjoy a blessed day!

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Re-Dunk-u-Lus Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Cookies………OMG!!!

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My 13 yr. old daughter, lives to be in the kitchen. Seriously, she has become my little sous chef and quite the baker. I love to cook, so having her in the kitchen with me is such a wonderful bonus. (That, plus the fact that she is our only girl…..and we have 5 kids). So it’s always special time chatting with her. Any who……she found a recipe for these ridiculously delicious chocolate cookies. I wish I could credit the inventor, but I have no idea where it came from.

I must also comment that no one in my household has a gluten intolerance. We made these because it was very few ingredients and we had a Sams Club sized bag of Ghirardelli chocolates in the pantry. Last week we made a batch for my sister in law who is HIGHLY gluten intolerant. This was the first time that we have made them using half chocolate and half white chocolate. Bomb-diggity!!!!! And can you believe how pretty and full they are????? WITH ZERO FLOUR!!!!!!

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We have tweeked the recipe a bit and here is how we make them.

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix together-
1/2 cup white sugar & 1/2 cup brown sugar w/ 1/2 cup coconut oil. (Or you can use butter, we prefer coconut oil and we melt it a bit in the microwave). To this add 1 egg, 1tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and a small drizzle dizzle (sorry, it must be said) of canola oil. Mix it well. After this add 1 cup of cocoa powder and 3/4 cup chocolate chips (any flavor you prefer). Mix well again. The consistency will seem odd, just keep mixing. It will look like a large chocolate blob…….and that’s how it should look.

Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten just slightly when u place them on the pan. One batch makes about 17-20 cookies. Bake them for 8-9 minutes and enjoy. Seriously…….My favorite cookies ever!!!! Also, my neighbor shared a fun tip with me last yr (and I had never heard of this), if you place homemade cookies in a Tupperware container and place a slice of bread on top of them…..the cookies stay soft and moist). Totally works, I do this every time now. The bread helps to maintain the moisture. However, if you truly are gluten intolerant, clearly you would not want the slice of bread in there.

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I’ll have to wait several more weeks before enjoying some of these again. I have given up sweets for lent. But I refuse to give up my small squirt of Agave Nectar in my single cup of coffee in the morning.

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I can smell them now!!!!!!

Easy No-Knead Crusty Bread

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I LOVE to cook, but I don’t bake much. However, I might need to make this lovely bread every week!!!! My daughter found this recipe on Pinterest and has been begging me to buy some rapid rise yeast so that we can try out this fabulous and easy recipe. You can find the recipe here http://www.simplysogood.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html. She has some wonderful and creative ideas for delicious additions to the bread as well.

The dough, which you make the night before, couldn’t be easier. It rises overnight in a bowl and then you bake it in the morning. Since this was our first go round with the bread the only thing we added was flax seed……..love the crunchiness of it in the bread.

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Panera, watch out………! We’ve got our own crusty round loaf rockin’!!!! People, this is a MUST try! Want to impress some dinner guests, bake this jewel in the morning and serve it up that night with dinner! Think I’ll try adding some Asiago cheese and rosemary to the next loaf.

10 Bean Soup with Ham (using that big ole’ ham bone)

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What to do with that left over ham bone from Christmas or New Years????? Soups on! I am a soup girl, and I love all types of soups and I love beans. So whenever my wonderful sister brings the ham for a holiday meal, she leaves the bone with me. What a gal! Soup is one of the easiest things to make for meal time. Most often because it allows you to use up leftovers and just sling them into the pot. In this case, I purchased a pound of dried mixed beans from Sprouts (our local farmers market store). Typically, you want to soak dried beans overnight, but time was not on my side. It was noon and I wanted soup and salad for dinner. So, when I got home, I rinsed the beans well and then boiled them in water for 5 min, turned the heat off and let them sit for an hour. After that hour, I cleaned/rinsed the beans multiple times, until the water is clear.

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With the beans in a large stock pot, I filled it half way with water and added half of a carton of Organic Vegetable Broth. In went that beautiful ham bone, a few shakes of Bragg sauce (my fav’, liquid aminos, that tastes better than soy sauce…..a must try), 1 tsp of garlic, plenty of pepper and 2 bay leaves. I brought this to a low boil ad let is cook for an hour, reduced the heat and let it simmer for another hour and a half/2 hrs.

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Then, my wonderful, most beautiful 13 yr old sous chef (my awesome daughter who LOVES to be in the kitchen with me), lovingly peeled and chopped 2 large potatoes, 1/2 of an onion and 1 carrot. We added the onions to the pot right away.

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Let those simmer for about 30 minutes and then added the potatoes and carrots, as I do not want them to turn to mush.

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Once those are cooked to your liking, it’s ready to be devoured. My sous chef, also created an amazing salad to go with the soup and we had some delicious whole wheat french bread. So good on a chilly, snowy day. PS, we love to sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top of the soup. Total comfort food, so yummy!!!!

Southwestern Pork Chili

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So, my family loves chili and Mexican food…..and anytime I can change things up a bit I’m all in. Typically, I make our chili with organic ground turkey or chicken. However, I found some great looking organic pork ‘stew’ meat. So, I thought I would cut the pieces much smaller and make a hearty chili. This turned out fantastic and can certainly be made using whatever meat your family prefers……or go totally vegetarian with it and add a bunch of multi colored prefers to it at the end. Here is what I did, and so you know, I don’t really measure anything unless I’m baking. I believe majority of people cook this way……..who knows?

Chop one medium onion and sauté in a bit of olive oil. Once the onions are transparent, add 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Add the stew meat and brown lightly. To this mixture, I added a few shakes of pepper, red pepper chipotle flakes, chili powder, cumin, taco seasoning (MSG free), probably 2 tsp of sugar and dried cilantro. (I prefer fresh but was all out). After all of those flavors combined I transferred everything to my crockpot. I wanted to cook the pork for quite a while so the meat would get super tender.

Once in the crockpot, I added 2 cans of low sodium, petite diced tomatoes in their own juices, 1 cup of medium heat picante sauce and about a cup of organic vegetable broth. (beans go in much later so they do not become mush). Set my crockpot on high and let the magic happen. After about 3 hrs I turned the crockpot to low. An hour after that I added 1 can of kidney beans, drained, and 2 cans of black beans, drained. I let everything warm and come together for an additional hour and then it was good to go.

We enjoyed this delicious Tex Mex Pork Chili over a bit of quinoa. Topped it off with some cheese, a dollup of sour cream and sliced avocados. Nice big salad on the side and it’s ‘dinner done’. So yummy. Let me know what you think, or what you come up with.