Thursday, March 17, 2011

crock pots can be torture

Staying in the house with the crock pot slowly cooking away.  Smells wafting through the rooms.  Mouth watering.  Tummy growling.  Anticipation growing.

Sound familiar?  That was my day yesterday.  I tried this new recipe for Meatball Stew.  Sounded like a simple, tasty meal = veggies, meatballs, soups all mixed together and set to cook on low all day - and it was.  A loaf of homemade wheat bread topped off the meal nicely.

The kiddos loved it.  The hubby raved.  The veggies were tender and tasty.  Even though the bread didn't raise very well, it was still tasty and delicious.  It was pretty humid yesterday, I mean, it rained, and my bread didn't like that one bit.  We'll definitely have to make this one again.

Dinner Menu:
Meatball Stew
Homemade Wheat Bread

Meatball Stew
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pkg (16 oz) baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced
12 oz frozen meatballs
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can beef gravy
1 c water
1 envelope onion soup mix
2 tsp beef bouillon granules

(1)  Place potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and meatballs in your slow cooker.  I used 4 potatoes because the carrots seemed to be overpowering the dish.  I also used 4 celery stalks because my celery was tiny and 4 seemed to be the size of 3 regular stalks.  I used about 26 meatballs, but we decided we would like a few more meatballs next time.

(2)  Mix soup, gravy, water, onion soup mix and bouillon in a bowl and pour over the veggie-meatball mixture.  The recipe called for a 10.5 oz can of gravy, but the one I bought was 14 oz.  I didn't particularly need 3.5 oz of gravy hanging around, so I added the whole thing.

(3)  Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or until the veggies are crisp tender.  My current crock pot cooks pretty quickly, so I never need to cook things for the entire time suggested in recipes.  However, I always give myself that much time just in case.  I started the stew cooking at 10-ish and turned it off around 5:00.

Wheat Bread
5 c hot water (115-120 degrees)
2 Tb Saf yeast
1/2 c honey
1/3 c oil
2 Tb salt
1 Tb liquid lecithin
1 tsp vitamin C powder
12 c whole wheat flour (more or less as needed)

(1)  Mix together everything except flour.  Liquid lecithin and vitamin C powder can be found at health food stores. The liquid lecithin is very sticky and doesn't wash out of your measuring spoon very well.  My advice is to measure it once to see what 1 Tb should look like, then eyeball it from then on.  Measure the oil and then pour it into the measuring cup you'll use for the honey; then pour it into the mixer. That way your honey cup is oiled and you won't have to mess with trying to scrape the honey out.

(2)  With your mixer set to medium speed, add flour one cup at a time. Mix 10 minutes; don't add more flour after the first 2 minutes. The feel of the dough matters more than exact measurements, so you may need more or less flour depending on the day. After you've made it a few times, you'll know what you like and what your dough should look and feel like. You don't need to knead the dough because the mixer did that for you.

(3)  Let dough rise until doubled. I have a big red bowl that was $1.50 at Walmart and is one of my favorite kitchen tools.  I set the dough in that bowl and let it rise until it's peeking up over the top. 

(4)  Smash the down down (great stress reliever) and divide into 4-5 equal parts. Shape into loaves and let rise in pans. When dough has risen 1-2 inches above the loaf pans, it's ready to bake. 

(5)  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

(6)  Use a pastry brush to brush butter over the tops of the loaves when they come out of the oven to make your loaves look shiny and pretty.  Let them rest in the pans for a few minutes before moving them to wire cooling racks.  If you put them in plastic bags while they're still warm, the condensation on the inside of the bag will make your loaves soggy.
stew photo courtesy of tasteofhome

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