Friday, November 28, 2014

Asparagus Casserole

I was so excited to learn that Hamilton Beach decided to be a sponsor for us. We have all grown up with their great array of products, some of which I have had in my kitchen for years. If you haven't checked them out lately you really should. They are on the cutting edge of everything you need to make some great recipes from 37 Cooks and your own collection.

I am not sure how long my Dad had been making this for us, but I do know I fell in love with it in my 13th year. That's when I started doing more in the kitchen and was actually encouraged to do so. Dad would only make this at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember having a spoonful and realizing that I really liked the whole she-bang. I was kinda picky back then and would only eat certain things out of casseroles. I was really impressed with MY Dad cooking this!

When I left home and joined the US Air Force, I was initially stationed in the Philippines. That's a long way from Texas, y'all. We were able to use a community kitchen while in the dorms and my first Thanksgiving I wanted to make this for everyone. I called Dad for the recipe. Overseas phone calls aren't any fun when you have delays and start talking at the same time. I missed a lot! I heard canned cheese soup, canned asparagus, boiled eggs, and crackers. I ended up using the wrong crackers and didn't drain the asparagus. It was horrible. All of us ate it, because we cooked our own Thanksgiving feast, but oh my, it WAS horrible.

Years later, I decided I wanted to try this again. After much fiddling around, I decided that you could start with a béchamel, par-boiled asparagus and boiled eggs. But, don't tell my Dad. He thinks I still make it his way! Do not forget the RITZ crackers! That is the only thing I cannot and will not make from scratch!

To save some time, boil your eggs ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until you need them. You can also par-boil the asparagus and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Asparagus Casserole
by Traci

8 large eggs boiled, peeled and chopped
3 pounds asparagus, dead ends cut off and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers, crushed

Boil water in a large stock pot. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes and then remove the stalks to the ice water. Once cooled, place in a colander, drain well, and set aside.

Cheddar Béchamel
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria Bechamel Sauce

makes 2 cups of sauce

3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar
*lemon zest (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over a low-medium heat. Add your flour, whisking gently. Add the milk, a little at a time, to avoid getting lumps.
When all of the milk is added, season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest (if using). Add half the cheese while whisking the whole time. Add the rest of your cheese, stir,  and turn off the heat. Set aside to cool.

Butter the bottom of the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. Create layers and add some cracker crumbs, then some asparagus, then egg and top with béchamel. Continue this until you get to end of the béchamel. And add some more cracker crumbs to top it off.

Cook on the low setting for about 4 hours and then the warm setting until you serve. The warm setting is a wonderful feature on this slow cooker. I hope you try this out and all of our recipes at 37 Cooks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Slow Cooker Sourdough Savory French Toast Bites with Caviar

I love fancy hors d’oeuvres for the holidays. The thing about these is they are beautiful, delicious and very easy to make. I had a sit-down dinner for my daughter's 16th birthday and she requested that we pass these before dinner. They were a hit. I hope you enjoy them as well.  

Slow Cooker Sourdough Savory French Toast Bites with Caviar 
by Tracy
Adapted from Savory French Toast in Martha Stewart's Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook
Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres

Hamilton Beach Set and Forget  6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker 
Parchment paper
Clean kitchen towel 
1.5 inch round cutter

1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups whole milk
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
16 ounce round loaf sourdough bread
½ red bell pepper, diced
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
3 Tablespoons black caviar
2 Tablespoons chives, minced

Butter the bottom and sides of  the slow cooker. Line the cooker with a large piece of parchment paper and butter the paper. Cut the excess, you do not want parchment hanging out of the slow cooker.  

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the cheese. Slice the ends off of the sourdough and save for another use. Slice the rest of the loaf into four even thick slices. Dip the slices into the batter and place into the bottom of the crock lined with parchment paper. They should fit snugly together and you may have to push them in. There should not be any space left.  

Stir the red pepper into the remaining batter and pour evenly over the bread slices. Place the clean kitchen towel over the top of the crock and place the lid on. Cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let cool in the crock for about 10 minutes and gently lift out the French Toast using the parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature.  With a 1.5 inch round cutter cut out 24 circles. Top each bite with a teaspoon of  yogurt and ½ teaspoon caviar. Sprinkle with chives. Serve.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Liquid Gold, My First Christmas Gift to Myself

Every year we are bombarded with magazine articles, television segments and blog posts about how to consume Thanksgiving leftovers in the days following Thanksgiving. I love those recipes! Look forward to them every year! This is not one of those recipes. This is a recipe of what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers on Thanksgiving Day itself! Too full? Can't imagine it?

How many times have you read about the wonders of homemade stock? Have you ever made it? I do and regularly. I save chicken carcasses and put them in ziplocs in the freezer and I also do the same with my veggie scraps. Until this year, it never occurred to me to use my turkey carcass. And even if you've never saved a veggie scrap in your life, on the days leading up to Thanksgiving the perfect ones are in abundance. Celery, carrots, parsley, and onions are just what you need for good stock.

Even though I normally save my carcasses and scraps and freeze them, why wait? Why bag? Why not just put my turkey carcass directly in my Hamilton BeachSet & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker and let the stock cook overnight? The carcass is just sitting there on Thanksgiving! My friend, Matt Baird, says the best stock comes from bones that have never been frozen, so there ya go! Wisdom right from the mouth of my favorite butcher.

Post-Thanksgiving Dinner Overnight Turkey Stock
by Sandra

1 turkey carcass, in pieces, including leftover skin, meat scraps, pan drippings
Veggie scraps including celery, onion, carrots or other non-starchy scraps
A few springs of parsley
1 Tablespoon peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients, besides the water, in the slow cooker.  Add as much water as you can. Set the slow cooker on low. Sleep off the L-tryptophan! You can cook the stock for as little as 10 hours and I've cooked it as long as nearly 24, so cook it for as long as fits in your schedule and until it is a rich, golden color and tastes delicious. Cool the broth down in an ice bath in your kitchen sink (another tip from Matt the Butcher) and then strain the solids and freeze in ziplocs with 2 cups of stock per bag. Lay the bags flat in the freezer to maximize space. Remember to label the bags with the date. If you want to make fat-free broth, after straining away the solids, put the broth in the refrigerator to cool completely. The fat becomes a solid layer on the top. Simply break it up and discard it.

P.S. Are you going away for Thanksgiving dinner this year? You might check in advance with your host, but I know if I had a guest who offered to set up my slow cooker for overnight stock, I'd invite that guest back every year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are You Afraid of Cooking Lamb?

A lot of people are. Sit down and have a cup of coffee with me and let's bite into a leg of lamb! I have been experimenting with it recently and I'm in love. Some of the best dishes I’ve had have been cooked over long periods of time, so I decided to try it in my new Hamilton Beach Set & Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker which has a temperature probe. This is a really easy recipe that will result in beautiful slices of mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.

Roasted Lamb
by Willie

Boneless leg of lamb

Salt and pepper
1 pot of strong brewed coffee, cooled

Olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons fresh Turkish oregano or 1 Tablespoon dried oregano

Poke holes in the lamb with a skewer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a bowl and cover with cooled coffee. Cover. Marinate overnight.

Pat the lamb dry and brown it in olive oil in a hot skillet. Place the lamb in the slow cooker, insert the temperature probe, and set the slow cooker to 145°F
. Set it and forget it! Let rest 5-10 minutes, slice, and serve.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Dressing

Like so many of us, I am gone for many hours each day. With our lovely Houston drive time, I am gone about 11 hours, door to door. When I get home, I am not in the mood to cook dinner. This Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable-Slow Cooker from Hamilton Beach is making my life so much easier! I do the prep work the night before and put it in the slow cooker before I leave for work. We also have a single oven. I have fond memories of my double oven at another house. This slow cooker is going be invaluable to me during the holidays. I will be able to make desserts (bread pudding which Mark loves), sides, hot drinks and, of course, more dressing and leave the oven for the big turkey. For this challenge, I roasted a whole fresh chicken and it accompanied the dressing, which was incredible.

Slow Cooker Dressing
by Sharyl
Adapted from this recipe for slow cooker stuffing

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12 cups dry bread cubes (I used white bread and dried mine on trays in the oven – 170 degrees, for about an hour)
2 cups chicken broth (or as needed)
2 beaten eggs

Over medium heat, melt butter in a large pot. Add onion and celery and cook until onions are translucent. Stir occasionally. Add the parsley and cook for a few more minutes. Add the poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper and stir. Add 1/2 the bread cubes and 2 cups of chicken broth and the beaten eggs and mix to combine. Add rest of bread cubes and mix. Depending on what kind of bread you use and how dry it is, more chicken broth may be required to moisten the dressing. Transfer dressing to slow cooker and cook on high for 45 minutes and low for an additional 4 to 8 hours. Do not clamp the lid in place. The clamps are for transport only. Stir occasionally and add more chicken broth if needed. Heat the chicken broth before adding more. I did not need to add more broth. I wanted the dressing to be moist, but not wet. Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hungry Man's Chicken and Vegetables

Hungry Man's Chicken and Vegetables
by Lesia

1 whole young hen
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Caribbean seasoning
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 pound red potatoes, quartered
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound green beans with ends broken off
3 medium onions, quartered
1 stick salted butter, melted

Mix together broth, vinegar, salt, pepper, Caribbean seasoning, lemon juice, garlic and thyme in a large bowl. Place hen in marinade and coat well, then place hen in a Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. Layer vegetables around hen beginning with potatoes on the bottom, carrots, green beans and finish with onions on top. Pour butter over top of chicken and vegetables then pour remaining marinade mixture over chicken and vegetables. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 6 hours.