Since I check so many cookbooks out at the library I think I'll try a little thread of posts on my favorite ones. This week I am interested in one-dish and crock pot type meals. I brought home three cookbooks on that topic that I hadn't looked at before. The one I liked best was one from good old Betty Crocker. I like the way this cookbook is arranged by 'cookware' so you can look for a recipe that uses your crock pot or that you could do in a skillet or wok, or in the oven. The only drawback is no flashy food photos. I love to look at food pictures in cook books--but no matter-- reading recipes is good too.
Betty Crocker One-Dish Meals; Casseroles, Skillet Meals, Stir-Fries and More for Easy, Everyday Dinners- (Copyright 2005 by General Mills) is not a brand new book, you can likely buy a used copy quite cheaply online, though I recommend using your FREE public library like I do. It is always permissible to copy a few recipes from a cookbook-- but if you need more than that--buy the book.
This book has one-dish recipes suitable for the following: shallow baking dishes, casseroles, dutch oven or stock pots, sauce pans, skillet/fry pans, slow cookers, and woks. So basically, no matter what you have in your kitchen--there's something for you in this book--and the recipes really look good.
The reason I'm interested in one-dish meals right now is that the leftovers are so easy to take to work for lunches! They can be frozen in lunch sized portions and it takes almost no time to build up a nice little inventory of single serving entrees and sides to choose from. Currently my fridge top freezer has single serve portions of stuffing, 2 soups, meatloaf and a cajun rice/bean dish, and enough pre-cooked chicken to make 1 soup or other entree quickly.
I like to 'taste along' as I read cookbooks--somehow I have developed a knack for knowing what something is going to smell and taste like as I read a recipe. I don't always follow recipes 'exactly' I like to substitute with things I have on hand sometimes. For instance you can swap one type of bean for another or change spices or sauces to make a different flavor. Cooking is a creative experience I think. ;)
Anyhow I will share a couple of recipes from this book that really got my attention and that I expect to be trying soon, so you can get an idea of what's in it. I'm also including a few of my own tips under each recipe for using what you may have in your pantry or cutting costs. I've chosen 2 of the recipes in the book that use sausage because I have a few sausages in my freezer that I bought over the summer at rock bottom prices using Grocery Game and I want to use them soon, and it being fall--this is the perfect time to cook hearty meals with sausage and veggies in them. :)
For Non-Stick Skillets to cook on the stove top.
Every Day Cassoulet
Prep time 15 min; Cook 20 min; Serves 4
1/2 pound boneless,skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
1/2 pound fully cooked Polish sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices.
1 can (15-16 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained.
1 can (15-16 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
1 can (14 1/2 oz) chunky tomatoes with olive oil, garlic and spices, undrained.
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
1. Spray 12-inch non stick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook chicken 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown.
2. Stir remaining ingredients except onions into chicken. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center.
3. Stir in onions. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are crisp-tender.
* My note-- There are so many ways to adapt this recipe to what is on hand! I could use my frozen tomatoes from the garden instead of canned. I could use different beans or onions. Skip the brown sugar and use a different sweetener or a sauce or various spices. Use different poultry or sausage. :) In any case you have a good meal in 35 minutes and if there's any leftover you have a good lunch tomorrow too. :)
Another Dish featuring Sausage--this time for the Slow Cooker!Bon Apetit! Yummy sausagey dishes for fall.
Easy Bean and Kielbasa Soup
Prep time: 25 min; Cook 11 hr; Servings 8
1/2 package (20 oz size) 15 or 16 dried bean soup mix, sorted and rinsed
5 cans (14 oz each) chicken broth**
1 package (16 oz) kielbasa sausage, cut lengthwise in half, then sliced
4 medium carrots, chopped (2 cups)
3 medium stalks celery, chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Heat bean soup mix and broth to boiling in a 4-qt saucepan; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour.
2. Pour bean mixture into 5-6 quart slow cooker. Stir in remaining ingredients.
3. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.
*for easy bean soup--omit the kielbasa.
** I rarely used canned chicken broth. Tones soup base is far far less pricey, I get mine at Sam's club--it also lasts a long while and is made from real chicken--and actually has less sodium than canned broth. Of course homemade chicken stock is the best choice and I use it when I have it on hand. 5 cans of broth brings the price of this dish to nearly restaurant prices in my mind. :(
I would also substitute the herbs. I often have fresh thyme growing so I'd just use that most likely--you need a few times more fresh than you would dry.
The best feature of this recipe is dry beans--much less pricey than canned beans!