Thursday, April 26, 2012

RIP Old Crock Pot... Welcome New (and Improved) Crock Pot!

I love Crock Pots.  I have several of them in different sizes and it's a rare week that I don't cook at least one meal in them.  My favorite for the last several years has been this fella. 

He won my heart because he was a Smart Pot, meaning that I could set a timer, rather than just turning him on High or Low.  I had a choice of High for for either 4 or 6 hours, or Low for 8 or 10 hours.  At the end of that time he would automatically kick over to Warm, where he would stay until we turned him off.  He has spoiled me.  If I wanted to use one of my smaller pots for something, I would really debate over it, because it would require that I pay more attention.  (Such first world problems I have!)

Not one to simply be satisfied with how I am being spoiled, I often wished that I had more options.  For example, when I make baked potatoes, they need to cook for 6 hours on Low.  That was not one of the setting options, so it would require me to actually pay attention and turn it off at the 6 hour mark.  It was grueling!

Time marches on though; he served me well, but finally cooked his last meal and bit the dust last week.  Whatever was I going to do now?  Amazon to the rescue!  (Yay for free shipping with Amazon Prime!)

She's so shiny it's hard to get her picture because of the glare.

This lovely lady arrived a few days ago.  Isn't she beautiful?  So shiny!  She's full of gumbo right now, cooking her inaugural meal. 

She's not just a looker though; she has several features her dearly departed predecessor didn't have.  Most importantly, she's programmable for anything from 30 minutes to 20 hours.  Her digital timer also counts down showing how much time is left, so if I don't happen to remember what time I started the pot, no worries!

She also has this nifty locking lid, so if I want to take her somewhere, I can do so without worrying about spills.

The only thing that would make her any more perfect is if I could program her to cook for a few hours on High, then kick over to Low for a few more hours before going to Warm.  I guess we can't have everything though.  At least not for under $50.

P.S.  I have no idea why the new Crock Pot is a girl and the old one a boy.  I don't even know why I am anthropomorphizing the kitchen appliances today.  ;D

Monday, April 23, 2012

Light and Easy Crock Pot "Hot Links"

When I started this post I took lots of pretty pictures to go with it, but somewhere in the process of dumping them from my camera to my computer, one or the other ate them.  : /  Maybe I can get some pics to add next time I make it, but I won't make you wait for that, so here goes:

One of our favorite meals is barbeque "hot links."  It couldn't be any easier to make.  It has just three ingredients, turkey sausage, barbeque sauce, and water.  I like to make a bunch when I make it, so I use:

4 packages of Oscar Meyer Turkey Sausage (12 ounces each)
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque Sauce (or whatever brand you prefer)
Enough water to cover the sausage

I cut each piece of sausage in half.  Each package makes four "links," so I made a total of 16 "links."  I put them all in the Crock Pot, then pour in the entire bottle of barbeque sauce.  I also add enough water to cover the sausage.  I turn the Crock Pot on low and let it cook all day.

These are much lower fat than "real" hot links, although the Sweet Baby Ray's is certainly not the lowest cal sauce around.  We think it is the best though.  :)  If you want to cut the calories more, just pick a lighter sauce.  My mom actually makes a really good barbeque sauce just using equal parts of Diet Coke and catsup.  It's no Sweet Baby Ray's though.

When it is done, we just pop a link in a hot dog bun or wrap a piece of bread around it, then enjoy!