Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Lifestyles

January 7, 2014

Lee Ward: Crock-Pot memories; delicious, rich carrot cake: 1/7/14

ASHLAND — I recall when the Crock-Pot was a brand-new kitchen appliance on the market. Many of them were gold, avocado or rust in color, reflecting the pervasive earth tones of the decade.

My mother rarely used hers, so when I went to college, she gave me her round, gold-colored one and I used it until it quit working, which was about 10 years ago. I still would prefer it to my new oval one, but I’m learning to cope.

One thing an elongated slow cooker does better than a round one: cook roasts. This recipe makes use of a lesser cut of meat by slow cooking it to tenderness. The recipe comes from justapinch.com.

FAMILY FAVORITE SLOW COOKED POT ROAST

Teresa Jacobson,

Jacksonville, Fla.

1 chuck roast (2-4 pounds)

2 can(s) cream of chicken soup (10.75 ounces each)

3 to 6 ounces baby carrots

4 ounces sliced mushrooms

2 russet potatoes, cut into spears (optional)

Place all ingredients into crock pot. Do not add water.

Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or on low for 8 hours.

If desired, skim off any fat.

If necessary, after removing meat and veggies, whisk in a tablespoon of flour to gravy to thicken it.

SLOW COOKER CREAMY CHICKEN

From food. com

11⁄2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

101⁄2 ounces Healthy Request cream of chicken soup

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese or 8 ounces fat free cream cheese

1 (2⁄3 ounce) package Good Seasonings Italian salad dressing mix

6 ounces mushrooms (optional)

Add all ingredients to crockpot.

Cook on low all day.

Serve over pasta or brown rice.

STUPID EASY CROCK POT SAUSAGE 

AND POTATOES

From Food.com, by Heather Reynolds, Virginia

3 pounds red potatoes

2 pounds smoked sausage

8 ounces cream cheese (softened)

101⁄2 ounces cream of celery soup

1 ounce dry ranch dressing mix

Spray slow cooker with Pam.

Cut potatoes into wedges or whatever size pieces your family likes. You can leave the skins off or on (we like them on) throw them in the pot.

Cut sausage into 1⁄4 inch slices and throw them into the pot.

In a bowl blend softened cream cheese, cream of celery soup and envelope of dry ranch dressing mix. Pour over Potatoes and sausage. Give it a little stir.

Cook low 6 to 8 hours.

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This recipe isn’t the most simple you’ll find for carrot cake, but writer Daniel Neman claims it’s worth all the effort.

COMMISSARY CARROT CAKE

from The Frog/

Commissary Cookbook

Pecan Cream Filling:

11⁄2 cups sugar

1⁄4 cup flour

3⁄4 teaspoon salt

11⁄2 cups heavy cream

6 ounces (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter

11⁄4 cups chopped pecans

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Carrot Cake:

11⁄4 cups corn oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces (2 sticks) soft, unsalted butter

8 ounces soft cream cheese

1 pound powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut (11⁄2 cups)

NOTE: This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, since the filling is best left to chill overnight. In fact, the different components can all be made even several days in advance and stored separately until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Pecan Cream Filling:

In a heavy saucepan, blend well the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20-30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally (do not allow to burn).

Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.

Carrot Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350. Have ready a greased and floured 10-inch tube cake pan. In a large bowl (it is easiest to use the bowl of a stand mixer), whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, pecans, and raisins. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for exactly 70 minutes.

Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack. If you are not using the cake that day, it can be removed from the pan, wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Refrigerate if not using immediately, but bring to a spreadable temperature before using.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency.

Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long, serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers (keep the cake flat while doing this). Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake.

If desired, reserve 1⁄2 cup of the frosting and color half with green food coloring and half with orange. Then decorate the top of the cake with green and orange icing piped through a 1⁄16 inch wide, plain pastry tube to resemble little carrots.

Serve the cake at room temperature.

TIP: The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. It also freezes very well. You can substitute 4 cups of unpeeled, grated apples or zucchini for the carrots. The batter can also be baked as cupcakes, loaves, sheet cake, or petits fours. Any leftover filling makes a wonderful ice cream topping if you warm it slightly first.

t

You can improve on mashed potatoes with this baked mashed potato puff from Aimee Blume of The Evansville Courier.

CHEESY POTATO PUFF

Serves 10-12 generously

10-12 medium russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled

2-3 cups mixed shredded cheese, any kind that melts

1 cup half and half

2 large eggs

3⁄4 stick butter

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper

Cut the potatoes into 4 pieces and place into a large pot of cold water. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer until the pieces are cooked through but not falling apart.

Drain the pieces well and return to pot. Smash with a hand masher over medium heat, stirring often, until the potatoes have steamed out a lot of their moisture and are dry and fluffy.

Combine the potatoes with the cheese and stir well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well with a blender. If the mixture seems gluey, that’s OK. The starch will settle down during refrigeration and baking. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or nutmeg if necessary.

Place into a well-buttered, straight-sided casserole and refrigerate until completely cool. These can be done a couple days ahead.

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400. Brush the top of the potatoes with butter and bake for 45 minutes until puffed hot and brown on top.

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