Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summertime Cooking Tip (Don't Sweat the Small Stuff)

Audio Tip



Using Your Crock Pot to Beat the Summer Heat

The kitchen can become an uncomfortable place to be when the weather outside warms up. But, don't sweat the small stuff. Use a crockpot. It doesn't require traditional stove top or oven cooking methods and it will keep your kitchen cooler while preparing a nice hot meal for family and friends.

So, how does crock pot cooking really help beat the heat? Simply put, the crock pot in and of itself puts off far less heat when cooking than an oven or stove top. This is the first and possibly the best reason to utilize the crock pot in your summer meal planning. You should also consider the fact that by not heating the house by using your stove top or oven you are also preventing your air conditioning (or other cooling methods) from working overtime in order to compensate for the additional heat that other cooking methods introduce.

This makes crock pot cooking a win-win situation as the costs involved in operating a crock pot are far less than the costs involved in operating a stove or oven in general. Whether electric or gas, your stove and oven are often serious energy hogs. Add to that the fact that you are not raising the temperature in your home by traditional means of cooking and you are using even less electricity.

Unfortunately for most, the general consensus has been that crock pots were meant for comfort foods and hearty winter meals. The truth is that the crock pot should be one of your best loved and most often utilized cooking methods if you can manage it. When it comes to cooking with a crock pot, the options are almost limitless. Almost anything that can be baked can be made in the crock pot and many, many more wonderful and enticing meals and treats as well.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

In addition to the cost benefits mentioned above when it comes to crock pot cooking there are many other benefits that are well worth mentioning. First of all, the bulk of the work involved in crock pot cooking takes place early in the day when you are refreshed rather than at the end of a hectic work or play day. This means that you are less likely to forget an ingredient or make other mistakes that often occur as we hurriedly prepare a dinner when we are exhausted from the activities of our day.

Second, many great crock pot recipes include the vegetables that insure we are getting the nutrients we need. So often, when preparing a meal at the last minute, vegetables and other side dishes are left out in favor of expedience. Crock pot cooking in many instances is a meal in one dish.

Another great reason to use a crock pot for your summertime cooking is the ease of clean up. Unlike pots and pans, most crock pot meals are made in one dish. This means that there will not be mountains of dishes to be either hand washed or loaded into the dishwasher (or if you are like me—both) afterwards. You can spend less time cleaning just as you spent less time slaving over a hot stove. Oh wait! Make that no time slaving over a hot stove. Once clean up is complete you can get back to enjoying the sun set, chasing the lightening bugs with your little ones, or waiting for the first star.

While there will never be a one size fits all best cooking method, crock pot cooking comes very close. If you have a crock pot collecting dust somewhere in the back of your pantry it is time to get it out, dust if off, and dig up some great summertime crock pot cooking recipes which you can find right here on RealCajunCooking.com Signature Icon

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Turkey Gravy

Ingredients
  • Turkey pan drippings (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp Easy Microwave Gumbo Roux
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 ribs celery split, and cut in half
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. cold water


Instructions 
  1. bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer
  2. mix powdered roux with a couple tablespoons of the broth, then whisk it in
  3. add pan drippings, celery, carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper
  4. simmer mixture until reduced by one third
  5. mix corn starch with a couple teaspoons cold water, then whisk it in
  6. when gravy thickens, strain it into a serving dish

This gravy is so easy to make, and it tastes great with turkey and mashed potatoes.  Add a little rubbed sage to the gravy and it works great with pork chops or pork tenderloin, too.

Bon Appetit!
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