A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cooking Escapades: Slow cooker meatloaf and chicken soup/stew

So, this week I'm taking the easy way out and sharing something of my cooking adventures. I'm learning the joy of using a slow cooker. I've got two recipes I'm going to share with you. One is a modified version of a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. (I'll include the link so you can see the original.) The other one is something I made up myself based on reading a bunch of recipes. And I do mean a bunch of recipes. You wouldn't believe the kinds of things you can find when you're looking for interesting meals to serve a large group of people. I cook for six people, and the slow cooker makes my life so much easier.

The first recipe I'd like to share with you is a slow cooker meatloaf. Yeah, I know. Meatloaf is traditionally done in the oven, but this one rocks for being very moist and juicy. The original recipe has six servings. I double it so it fits our needs.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

5 eggs
1 ½ c milk
1 1/3 c Panko bread crumbs
2 small yellow onions, diced (or one medium)
2 T Italian herb blend
2 tsp salt
1 c chopped fresh mushrooms
2 T garlic powder
3 lbs. Ground beef

½ c ketchup
4 T brown sugar
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine eggs, milk, bread crumbs, onion, salt, herbs, garlic, and mushrooms in a large bowl. Crumble ground beef over mixture and stir well to combine. Shape into a round loaf. Place in a slow cooker. (I think ours is either a 6 quart or an 8 quart. Not sure exactly and I haven't really measured it.) Cover and cook on low until a meat thermometer reads 160 F (71 C), 5 to 6 hours.

Whisk ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Spoon over meatloaf. Return to slow cooker and cook on low until heated through, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

(I will admit that I don't actually let it stand 10 minutes before I cut into it. Usually everyone's too impatient to wait that long.)

My other recipe that was well received was a chicken soup recipe that I came up with on the fly based on a chicken soup recipe and a chicken stew recipe. Neither fit what I was looking for, so I just shoved the two together and hoped for the best. If you want a stew, all you have to do with this recipe is dissolve corn starch in cold water and mix it in near the end to thicken the broth.

Chicken Soup/Stew

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1” pieces
2 small yellow onions, chopped
5 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
5 medium russet potatoes, chopped (not a dice, but keep the pieces small for easier cooking)
2 small cans sliced mushrooms, drained
2 10.5 oz cans cream of chicken soup
3-4 c chicken broth (I used Better than Bouillon reduced salt chicken bouillon to make the broth)
Garlic powder and ground black pepper to taste

Put chicken, onions, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms in the slow cooker. Mix the cream of chicken soup with the chicken broth. Stir in the garlic powder and ground black pepper to the taste of your desired audience. (We like a lot of garlic and pepper, which is why I'm not giving you a specific amount.) Pour over the soup ingredients. Stir everything together. Set slow cooker on high for 5-6 hours.

(Again, this is made to serve the six of us. I'm not sure exactly how many the official servings is, but it was enough for all six of us to have a good sized bowl with some leftovers.)

I have other slow cooker recipes I'm experimenting with. Every now and then I'll post what I'm doing. I think, especially as the weather gets colder, slow cookers come out more often. I may even try my luck at doing desserts in the slow cooker. There are plenty of recipes for that too. I don't know yet what I'll do. But I'm having fun and we'll see what comes out of it.

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