Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My crockpot love affair

Sick babies and blogging don't mix...sorry for the delayed post....

the temperatures are dropping here in in the Northeast and with a toddler (a clingy one at that!), meal prep has been challenging. Most of the year, we grill up over the weekend to minimize cooking after work.  The winter doesn't always afford us that luxury.  In fact, we currently have 4+ inches of snow on the deck and more falling from the sky - we're due a foot tonight!

its days like this where i remember that funky appliance that was all the rage years ago and I think (hope) is making a comeback. My crockpot :-)

I make lots of things even on hot summer days when I don't want to have to stand in front of the stove for hours.  We tried beef stew last week and it turned out great!  Again we got a great meal that had lots of leftovers and could control the ingredients to meet our allergy needs.  I'll share some other recipes in future posts.

Here what we did - this is modified from a slow cooker recipe that I found in a book i have

Beef Stew
1lb beef stew meat (literally this is what my grocery called it, but you can use chuck roast, etc)
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 medium carrots, peeled and cubed (i used baby carrots roughly chopped - around 12)
1 large handful (about a cup) of frozen green beans
1+ cup celery (i say plus because I like celery, so I went heavy on this measurement)
1 tbsp quick cook tapioca - sounds weird but trust me
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

put meat in the crockpot, followed by vegetables and seasoning.  top with chicken broth and tomatoes.
Cover and cook on low for 11hours.

A few notes: In theory, you could do this on high for half the time.  I've never had success with that as the flavors just don't blend as well and the beef needs that "low and slow" approach to get tender and pull apart.  Also, our "cubes" were larger than an inch but needed only the side of a fork to cut.
One of the modifications I did was to double the guide recipe - we like leftovers - so it can definitely be halved.
The first night's servings were a little "thinner" than I am used to, but the leftovers thickened up over night perfectly.
This has fed the 2 of us for about 2-3 nights.  If you're family is larger, you can adjust the recipe if you are looking for leftovers

Enjoy!!!  I'm off to find something to cook in the crockpot for our impending snow day tomorrow

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The things I miss (food wise)...

When food allergies (dairy, wheat, soy, and eggs) were diagnosed in our household (baby was 10mos at the time), many people remarked, "well, at least he won't know what he's missing"...A very true statement, which gave me some comfort, but at the same time, it made me sad....sad that he wouldn't get to try things that many take for granted - french fries as a treat at the local drive-thru, ice cream on a hot summer day - and for the selfish reasons, sad that I would have to give up everything that he was allergic to immediately so that I didn't pass them on to him through the breastmilk that hubby and I had agreed to give him until he was 1 (at the time).  Sad that we would have to radically change our eating and food shopping habits because mistakes could kill.

For me this meant, no more lattes on Sunday morning from our barista named Joe (yes his name is really Joe and he has been great trying to find ways to make drip coffee with no milk in it somehow exciting).  No more "lets just grab chinese/pizza/burgers" on nights that we both work late and have no energy to cook.  Meals take more planning, grocery shopping takes significantly longer, and God help me when my sweet tooth kicks in...

So...what do I do? Find substitutes...good ones and bad ones...but substitutes...and what are they???

Snacks and Dessert are easy...companies like Enjoy Life Foods make foods that are top 8 food allergen free: brownie bites, snickerdoodles, apple cookies...Cherrybrook Farms for pancakes and chocolate chip pancake mixes; hummus and guacamole with tortilla chips rather than chip and dip....

The entrees...those are the harder ones...I miss pizza, and grilled cheese, and eggs...boy do I miss eggs - fried, scrambled, and light fluffy omelets - there is no substitute for these...but the others...i'm starting to find substitutes

Eggs- there is no substitute...most mornings its oatmeal for breakfast...a treat would be to have sausage or bacon on the side.  We used to do this scramble type thing that was eggs, sausage, and potatoes...we skip the eggs now - the baby really likes it too so we'll have that for dinner sometimes too

Pizza - I've managed to make an allergen free crust...i found it on another website which i can't find right now...but now that Bisquick has a gluten free version, i think this might be easier... Daiya is great company that makes a "faux" cheese that is amazing... when I want a more authentic pizza experience and have time, this is what i would do;
Pizza Substitute -  for a quick fix, growing up i remember english muffin it is corn tortilla ones...throw a few on a cookie sheet with some pasta sauce and toppings and my daiya "cheese" and broil it up...

We grill a lot the rest of the year and make enough for the week.  Crock pots have become a staple for us too in the winter...we can control what gets mixed in but isn't a time killer...
We do pulled pork, mexican chicken, marinara pork, and tomorrow we're gonna try beef stew.

Pulled Pork
One pork butt
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
1 Onion

Clean and quarter the onion.  Place the pork and onion in your crock pot and pour sauce over top.  Cook low and slow - Low setting for 8 - 10 hours.
When time is up, lift pork out of crock pot and place in a dish with at least a 1 inch lip.  Use 2 forks to "pull" the meat into shreds.  Spoon remaining sauce over pork

Serve on a roll with coleslaw if you can, or for me, over rice or mashed potatoes...

Sadly, the baby hasn't taken to pulled pork like hubby and i have, but it does create lots of leftovers for us for the week.  We'll usually make something different for the baby

More next week...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hello and Welcome...

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a few months now...over the coming entries I'll explain how I got here...but since I'm here, and so are's what you'll find...
A little of this...a little of that...
I'm an attempting-to-be-green mommy of a rambunctious little boy who had me learn quickly about major food allergies, cloth diapering, baby-wearing, co-sleeping and work/life balance
This blog will focus on all these items...I'll try to balance them...but there will be times where certain issues come up more frequently...because each one gives us...Times to Laugh and Cry...

Food Allergies - You want'em? We got'em: Dairy, Wheat, Soy, and Eggs!!!  It isn't about what we eat either...but thats 95% of, recipes, and more recipes - including my failures will be here... I love to modify ones that i find online so you'll see a LOT of commentary here too

Cloth Diapering - Yup - We do it..and they aren't your mom's or grandma's diapers either...hubby and coworker can attest that I can talk for hours (ok minutes) about them...even to complete strangers at the local BRU

Attempting-to-be-Green - Mother Earth will be here longer than we we're making changes where we can to be green (see cloth diapering) as well as loving our local area (thanks to our CSA)
Work/Life Balance - its a struggle, but we do what we can...cut corners where we can and somehow survive to the weekend :-)

Baby wearing and cosleeping - ok...i really won't write about these much if ever...there is so much out there on the web...and these are personal decisions...i'll let you decide...but if you have away!

Going to back to the work/life balance thing...that means that I'll only have so much time for this blog...i promise to do an entry at least once a week...but sometimes it might be more and sometimes less...forgive me now...i'm a mom first afterall...