Crockpot, plastic bags inspire new recipes

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I have a new friend, Brenda Hargrave, and I knew we were going to hit it off when she immediately shared a recipe with me, after knowing her for only a very short time.

If you have not used this recipe before, you must give it a try and have fun with it. The first time I used it we had a good time too.

Plastic zip-top bags have certainly changed the way we cook today. I find myself using them in the kitchen for everything from marinating meats to storing items and now making omelets.

This fun way of making omelets using zip-top bags is a great idea for parties, family get-togethers and church youth group activities, to mention only a few. No one has to wait for their special personal omelet and everyone gets to eat at the same time.

Be sure to use good quality, brand name, plastic zip-top freezer, quart-size bags. Be sure they are the freezer bags for added strength.

Plastic Bag Omelets

Put a large pot of water on to boil before staring to make omelets.

Have each guest write their name in their bag in permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs. Large or extra-large, into each plastic bag, using no more than 2 eggs each. Shake well to combine.

Put out a variety of ingredients such as a variety of cheeses, ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hashbrowns, salsa, cooked sausage, green onions, mushrooms, etc. Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shakes well to combine. Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it closed.

Place the bags into rolling boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6 to 8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.

Remove bags carefully from the water. Open the bag carefully and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be excited, surprised and amazed.

This is nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffeecake. It is fun because each guest gets involved in the process and it is a great conversation starter.

Crockpot Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

Cook for 5 to 6 hours.

1 cup sliced celery

1 large onion, chopped

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes, cut up

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning or 1 recipe Homemade Cajun Seasoning (see recipe below)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1-1/2 cup instant rice

8 ounces cooked, peeled, deveined shrimp

3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper or (hot peppers)

In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart crock, combine celery, onion, undrained tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and Cajun seasoning. Stir in chicken. Cover and cook on low setting for 5 to 6 hours, or on high setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in rice, shrimp and sweet pepper. Cover and let stand 10 to 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Homemade Cajun Seasoning:

1/4 teaspoon each white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and black pepper

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Crock Pot Meatloaf

2 1/2 pounds ground beef, extra lean

1 onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup mushrooms, minced

1 cup summer squash, shredded

1 cup carrots, shredded

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 can tomato, or cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs

1 1/2 cup milk

Soak bread or cracker crumbs in milk. Mix meat, seasonings and soaked crumbs thoroughly. Make meat mixture into loaf and pour the soup over top. Bake in crock pot 10 to 12 hours on low. If using oven, bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Note: If you have a food processor, make the cracker or bread crumbs with the metal blade first, add them to the milk, then use the shredding blade to shred the vegetables.

I am out of room already, so will wind this up for this week.

I am also out of mail. OK cooks, get to work and send me some of your favorite recipe. Maybe some supper dishes that you make when the children are back in school and time is limited. I hope to hear from many of you this week.

One request for you to work on as well. A long time ago my sister asked me to make a plea for a recipe for a girl at her work. She is looking for the recipe for Old Fashioned Butterscotch Pie. She remembered that the sugar was browned in a skillet, but that is about all she knows about the recipe. Surely some of our good cooks in the Altenburg area can come up with this recipe for her. I look forward to seeing what you all can find.

Until next time, have a wonderful week and happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

I received this recipe from a friend that loves to swap recipes. I have not made this particular recipe, but they sure sound good. I have included the recipe exactly as she sent it in her own words. So, I smiled as I read it.

Potato Dumplings with Meat Filling

These are strange to look at and even stranger to imagine, but they are fantastic. You can make them smaller, but traditional Polish dinners serve one to two per person and they are the size of a small softball.

Meat Filling:

1 pound cooked meat, chicken, pork or beef

1/2 pound polish sausage, sliced

1 medium green pepper, sliced

2 medium onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced; salt and pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise (not salad dressing).

SautZ onions, garlic and peppers for a few minutes; add sausage and season with salt and pepper and sautZ until sausage has is golden brown.

Cool. When cooled, put mixture in food processor and pulse until it makes a paste. Add mayonnaise a little at a time. Sometimes it will take more and sometimes less. You want a dry mixture. If it looks like a spread, it is too much. It will work, but it is better with less. To make a spread just add more mayonnaise.

Season and set aside while you make the potato dumpling dough. You want this room temperature and not cold or the water will cool down too much when you boil them.

Potato Dumplings:

These are not hard to do. Don't be afraid of them.

First, boil the potatoes or bake them 8 hours to a day ahead of time and let them sit out to dry. You don't want them with all the moisture in them, so let them dry out so you don't need more flour than necessary.

Second, you are going to use a 2/3 potato starch to 1/3 flour ratio. If you need to add more flour add the ratio of 2/3 flour to 1/3 potato starch. More flour makes the dumplings fluffier but more chewy, so you need the potato starch or corn starch if you don't have that, (you can find it in the corn starch section of the grocery store).

Third, make sure water is boiling and salted before dropping these in.

Now the recipe:

6 medium sized potatoes, boiled in their skins and then peeled and riced or mashed (can bake)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup sifted flour

2/3 cup potato starch or corn starch

2 teaspoons salt.

Add ingredients to riced or mashed potatoes. Mix in remaining ingredients and mix until it forms a dough. It will be slightly sticky, but not much. If you need more starch add more potato starch than flour.

Now, take a handful of dough the size of a baseball and flatten with hands and form a bowl. Fill with filling and form dough over it. You can work it and stretch it and pinch it together so don't worry if you need to do that. I was surprising at how much filling you can put in and I didn't think it would stretch over but it did. Roll in hands and make sure all holes are pinched together and nothing can seep in. Continue with the rest of dough and filling.

Drop several into boiling water, and when they come to the top, boil gently for 7 to 10 minutes. Drain. Do the rest and set aside.

While these are boiling, you can sautZ some onions and bacon and pour over the dumplings. Or you can sautZ butter and bread crumbs with crisp bacon and pour over. Serve.

If you have left over mashed potatoes you can use those, but you need to boil a few fresh ones and add the dry ones to it to take out some of the other ingredients such as milk or butter or sour cream. It will work, though.

Remember to salt the water. As you boil them they will season more, so you need the salt so they are not bland.

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