Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cornbread on the Grill

Part of emergency preparedness is having a plan for cooking your meals when the traditional methods are unavailable. There are multiple "alternative cooking" options. One is the back yard grill - it can be used for many more items than hamburgers and hot dogs. Our kitchen remodel has dragged on long enough and definitely made my traditional ways of cooking unavailable. We were in the mood for something besides a crock pot meal so I got a little creative. I used my cornbread mix recipe and baked up something simple yet scrumptious. 

Preheat the grill to 350 degrees. Mix up the cornbread. It took 1 1/2 times the batch to fill a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Spray the skillet with vegetable oil and pour the batter in. Adjust the burners on the grill to create indirect heat and maintain the 350-375 degree range. I turned off the center burners and turned the upper and lower burners to low. Place the skillet in the center of the grill and close the lid.

Resist the urge to open the grill and check on it until at least 15 minutes has passed. It took me about 25 minutes to have it pass the toothpick test and be golden brown on top. Depending on the size batch you are baking and how warm you keep the temperature, it can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

It was perfectly done with a slightly thicker crust than when I bake it in the oven. We loved it with a crock pot full of chili and enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast the following morning.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Mexican Sweet Pork with Beans

It is difficult to photograph the filling in a tortilla - that said, this is so tasty! I cooked up a large pork roast and shredded it as the recipe below describes. I wanted to stretch it and use it for a few meals so I decided to throw some beans in the mix. I am so glad I did. The beans added a nice texture and everyone loved it. 

To prepare this for the freezer, place the pulled pork in a ziplock freezer bag. You need about 4 cups of pork. Add the salsa and brown sugar. Throw in 2 cans of kidney, pinto, or white beans, drained. (You could also cook dry beans and use them. You need about 3 cups.) Label and freeze. To eat, thaw and heat through in the crockpot or microwave. Wrap in a tortilla and add cheese and lettuce. (You can see some purple cabbage and a carrot in the photo because we just used a lettuce salad mix to make it easy.) This recipe was enough for two meals. You can choose to divide it into additional freezer bags before freezing or just know you'll have leftovers or enough to share with company.

Mexican Sweet Pork
This becomes a speedy dinner if you already have pulled pork cooked and frozen in the freezer.
1 pork picnic roast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup medium salsa
½ cup chicken broth, optional

Place pork roast in a crockpot and cook on low for 12–15 hours. I usually put the roast in just before going to bed. Test the pork by stabbing it with a fork and twisting. If the meat shreds easily, it is ready. Remove from the crockpot and place on a baking sheet. Using two forks, pull the pork apart and separate out all the visible fat and bone pieces. It pulls apart more easily when it is still warm. Combine 4 cups of the shredded pork with the salsa, and brown sugar. Add a small amount of pork juices or chicken broth if the mixture seems too dry. Return this all to the crockpot. Heat through and serve wrapped in tortillas or top a taco salad with it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Taco Soup

A warm bowl of taco soup is a hit at our house from the cool, Fall days of October through the chilly, windy, Spring days in April. It is a great meal to prepare ahead and have ready to throw in the crockpot for an easy weeknight meal.

I made a couple of these meals before the remodel began. To cook, just allow to thaw or defrost in the microwave.

Throw in the crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3. It really just needs to be heated through so if you are in a real big hurry, just throw it in the microwave. The flavors have had a good time to blend during the time it was in the freezer so the slow cooking process is not really needed.

Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese as toppers. 

We love to sprinkle in a few Fritos as a final step. Delicious!

As a freezer meal, I combine all the ingredients below in a ziplock bag. Once it has thawed, I add the water. It couldn't be easier on a hectic weeknight and all the family loves it!

Taco Soup

2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, rinsed
1–2 tsp taco seasoning
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 Ranch seasoning packet, optional
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
¼ cup dry onions
1 lb hamburger

Combine all ingredients in a pan or crockpot. Add water depending on how much liquid you like. Heat through. You can use 3 cups precooked dry beans—kidney, pinto, or red beans work equally as well. The leftovers freeze very well.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Griddle Biscuits

I got creative the other day and attempted biscuits without an oven. We were ready for something different for breakfast than what I had pre-baked and had in the freezer. I used my biscuit mix which I had all put together. You can find the recipe for this mix here.

I heated up the electric griddle to between 325-350 degrees. You don't want it too hot or the biscuits will burn. (I learned that with my first batch.) I spooned biscuit batter onto the griddle just like you do for drop biscuits on a baking sheet. (You could go to the work of rolling the dough out and using a biscuit cutter to give you perfectly round shapes, but I didn't want to deal with the added mess since I was baking in a makeshift kitchen in the basement.) Allow them to cook for 8-10 minutes before flipping to allow the bottoms to brown nicely. Flip over and mash slightly with the back of the spatula to make then all about an even thickness. Allow to cook anther 8-10 minutes to brown the other side and to allow the centers to be done.

We served them up with sausage gravy cooked on a hotplate. Delicious!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Freezer to Crockpot Cranberry Lemon Pork Roast

Another successful freezer to crockpot recipe. This method is quickly becoming something to love. You don't always have 5-6 weeks without a kitchen like we are living through right now with our remodel, but everyone always has at least one day each week with some reason why preparing dinner just won't work into the schedule. This method of preparing quite a few meals all at once and then freezing them for later can help us eat healthier and stay within our food budget since we wont' be feeling the need to run out for take-out or fast food. I've decided I will probably keep a few of these meals in my freezer all the time even after the new kitchen is done.

  • Freezer to Crockpot Cranberry Lemon Pork Roast

  • 2-3 lb pork roast
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 16oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp cornstach (added later)

  • Place all ingredients into a gallon ziplock freezer bag except for the cornstarch. Label bag with instructions to add 2 Tbsp cornstarch just before cooking. Thaw before cooking. Dump everything into the crockpot. Mix cornstarch with a little cold water and add to crockpot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice.