Years ago a friend of mine was selling little potpourri pots that filled the house with the scent of apples and cinnamon. She assured me the family would love it and be thrilled that I’d bought one. I told her if my family came home to such wonderful scents only to discover there wasn’t any apple cider to be found, both I and the little pot would be in big trouble.
Before you read any further, let me assure you this recipe does not start with fresh apples. You will buy your own cider or apple juice. Both have great health advantages; cider goes one better in that it contains the pulp. Either way, there is no need for strainers, juice filters or cheesecloths. You only have to decide which of these recipes you want to enjoy first.
A nice pot of hot cider really fits the bill. With your Rice Cooker you can fix it and forget it…until you need to make another batch that is. With family and friends around, a second pot is very likely, especially if they know you have two recipes. Yes, I’m including another favorite one that is almost like dessert for me, as well as a calming effect!
So relax and remember the adage: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Here’s to your health!
SPICED CARAMEL APPLE CIDER
32 oz apple cider
½ cup caramel flavored syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tblsp lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
Combine and heat all the ingredients in the Rice Cooker. Cook for two hours or until heated through. Discard cinnamon sticks before serving. Pour into cups or mugs and garnish with whipped cream.
SPICED MANGO CIDER
22 oz mango nectar
2 cups water
4 tblsp lemon juice
4 tblsp brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
Combine all the ingredients in the Rice Cooker and cook until heated through. Discard cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving.
If desired, place fresh cinnamon sticks in cups or mugs.
There are peanut clusters, and then there are peanut clusters. But this is one recipe you will want to use for many occasions. Years ago when our Dad put this one together, he wasn’t sharing the secret ingredient but we soon pried it from him….butterscotch chips! All we knew for sure was we couldn’t eat just one.
With just three ingredients, they can be made up in no time at all. Packaging is up to you depending on your occasion. Be sure to keep your pantry shelf well stocked with these ingredients. Then when a spur of the moment solution for a gift giving opportunity or a special treat for your family arises, you are prepared.
So enjoy, but don’t torture yourself with just one!
DAD’S PEANUT CLUSTERS
12 oz package chocolate chips
12 oz package butterscotch chips
16 oz jar dry roasted salted peanuts (I find Planters gives the best result)
Place the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the inner pot of the Rice Cooker. Set to Steam and stir every few minutes until they begin to melt, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove pot and continue to stir another 5 minutes until smooth and satiny. Add peanuts and stir until well combined.
Place chocolate mixture into small baking cups or drop by tablespoonsful onto parchment paper. Allow a few hours for them to firm up. Store covered in a cool place or keep in refrigerator.
Usually when one first hears of this spread there are a lot of questions, namely in the line of “You’re kidding aren’t you?” or “Why?” and “What would you do with it?” As you would imagine, all these comments come with matching facial expressions.
Well, if you’ve not experienced Bacon Jam, do yourself a favor and give this recipe some serious consideration. I first heard of it while living on Vancouver Island; seems it was a big hit in both Canada as well as the Seattle area. But the word “jam” made me think of all that work, sterilization, etc. and I just didn’t have the time. But as it turns out, my Rice Cooker makes it really simple. Plus, it is the kind of jam that doesn’t need all the canning steps I’d thought.
At this time of year it makes a really great, and perhaps different, kind of gift for the host or hostess, but be sure to make some for yourself. Once you start using it you’ll find there is little with which it can’t be paired.
The very first time I made it I stuffed beef patties and grilled them. They were fabulous, regardless of what other condiments were added. Great for your parties too. As a spread it joins both crackers and crudités. It is simply heavenly as a topping for baked brie, or an accompaniment with most cheeses. Stir it in your soups or sauces, add a dollop alongside your breakfast or tuck it into an omelet…so tasty, so many ways. Here’s one more way I like to serve this jam: shave a bit off the top of mushroom caps so they won’t roll, remove stems and steam in the Rice Cooker/Steamer. After steaming, drain caps immediately on paper towels. When cool, fill with the Bacon Jam, cover with plastic wrap and they are ready to go when the party starts!
If you are not ready to try this out soon, then either you are a vegetarian, not a bacon fan or something is seriously wrong with my writing!
1 lb thick smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium onion, sliced thin
4 tblsp dark brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tblsp balsamic vinegar
¾ cup strong coffee
¼ cup maple syrup
Set your Rice Cooker to Sauté-Then-Simmer, cooking the bacon until cooked but still limp, not crispy. Remove bacon and all but 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat.
Add onions to the pan and saute until they become translucent. Add the brown sugar and continue sautéing until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook for an additional minute. Add the vinegar to help deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom. Add the coffee, maple syrup and bacon. Let cooked uncovered for three hours or until it is thick like jam.
In a food processor or blender, pulse the bacon jam until it is coarsely chopped.
Keep covered in the refrigerator.
Most of you remember my posts about my produce box I receive from my local farmer, and how much I love this weekly surprise.
Well last week my box had an abundance of heirloom beets in different shades of purple, red and orange, and I couldn’t wait to eat them…so I prepared them in the fastest way possible. I steamed them in my rice cooker in 15 minutes flat and enjoyed an amazing flavor explosion along with tons of health benefits as well.
5-6 raw beets of your choice, washed and quartered.
salt and pepper
Add 2 cups of water to the inner pot of your Rice Cooker. Put the beets in the Steam Tray and place inside the rice cooker. Set on Steam for 15 minutes. After the time has elapsed, test for doneness, they should be a little resistant when pierced with a knife.
Remove from steamer and let cool so you can touch them and rub off the skin with a paper towel.
Drizzle with olive oil , salt and pepper.
You can also add goat cheese for extra flavor.
Instead of making a classic pizza, one with traditional toppings, why not go gourmet? When I was living in Germany back in the ‘70s I had friends who spent all of their leisure time exploring gourmet restaurants to refine their tastes. Our family was out exploring neighboring countries. Not that we didn’t eat well, but “gourmet” at that time meant high sophistication and elite tastes. Gourmands were a distinct, select group who were equated with wealth. But times have changed. Today, the demand for good quality and a variety of foods from around the world has dramatically changed the way we cook. Many of those unheard of or unattainable food items of the past are now both available and affordable.
This recipe, however, does not include any exotic food items. No need to go to a specialty store. Everything is as near as your market. You might have most of the ingredients at home now! So get out your Grillet, get yourself out of the “classic” pizza mind set and try this gourmet version. Because be it labeled “classic” or “gourmet,” the best recipe is one that celebrates the love of good food!
Have all ingredients ready before you begin:
1 ready-made pizza dough, at room temperature
1 tblsp olive oil
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
2 tblsp butter
2 tblsp water
2 tblsp dark brown sugar
1 firm pear, diced
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 oz prosciutto, torn into bite size pieces
Mixed salad greens with bleu cheese dressing.
In the Grillet, combine the butter, water, brown sugar, pear and walnuts and saute for 3-4 minutes or until mixture begins to caramelize. Set aside to cool. Wipe pan clean.
Spread the olive oil in the pan and preheat to 350 degrees. Gently turn and stretch the pizza dough until it is the correct size and carefully place in the bottom of the Grillet (I used about ¾ of the dough).
Cover and cook for 8 minutes; remove lid and flip the crust to the other side. Place shredded or sliced mozzarella on crust followed by the apple and walnut mixture. Sprinkle the crumbled Gorgonzola lightly on top. Cover and cook for an additional 9-11 minutes.
With a couple of spatulas, remove pizza from pan and add prosciutto.
Top with the mixed greens or if you prefer, place salad on the side.
As I mentioned in a previous post, this year I’ve been really trying to exercise regularly and eat right. But every once in a while I think we all get those cravings that we’ve just got to give in to. And that’s ok. In my opinion, the best way to stay healthy is to limit the amount of unhealthy foods we eat, not to abstain from eating them completely.
And this is where Rice Cooker cooking really comes in handy. Not only do the meals I make in my rice cooker come together faster and more easily than if I were to use an oven, but they allow me to cook in smaller, personal sized batches. And that is exactly what I needed when I desperately wanted some warm and creamy, cheesy pasta on a cold weekend day. keep in mind, this recipe is perfect for one person as a main meal or for two as a side dish but it can easily be doubled for a bigger crowd (or for a bigger craving).
PASTA WITH GARLIC AND SUN DRIED TOMATO SAUCE
1 rice cooker cup of chicken, cut into one inch thick pieces
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 rice cooker cups penne pasta
1 1/2 rice cooker cup chicken stock
1/4 rice cooker cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 rice cooker cup cream cheese
1 rice cooker cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
olive oil for sauteing
Set the Rice Cooker to Sauté-Then-Simmer™ and brown the chicken. Add in the garlic and heat until softened and fragrant.
Add the pasta, chicken stock, sun dried tomatoes, and cream cheese. Mix until cream cheese is evenly distributed and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Once time has elapsed, stir in the cheese and spices and continue cooking until cheese has melted.
While most Farmer’s Markets are closing up shop, some of you are lucky enough to either have a garden or know someone who does. Fortunately for me, I’m in the latter group. Indeed, I just finished a myriad of ways to prepare tomatoes, all kinds.
But now being in the month of November, we are in squash mode. Many are available throughout the year but the best are from early fall through winter. Consider the Acorn, Banana Squash, Hubbard, Butternut, Spaghetti Squash, Winter Squash,…and that is just to get you started. There are others, but don’t leave out the obvious big one either…Pumpkin!
Now, with your Grillet you can highlight any and all of them in your winter menus with ease.
Keep in mind when you are cooking you want to go with what tastes great to you. Allspice, ginger and nutmeg – aka the pie spices – will balance the sweetness of a squash. For a more savory dish consider sage, cumin , curry or thyme. Think about add ins such as chopped apples, roasted pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates or even chilies for a sweet and spicy combo . In addition to broths think of incorporating wine, orange juice, coconut milk or honey.
Planning for those special dinner gatherings, Thanksgiving being both obvious and almost upon us, I’ve decided on a pair of soups, one of which will be from a squash and the other from red peppers. And, if you are thinking ahead to other gatherings, these two soups not only taste great individually but as you’ll see, they present well together!
When making up this Roasted Red Pepper soup, consider such herbs and spices as thyme, bay leaves, garlic, onion. Go spicy and add a jalapeno, hot sauce or some pepper flakes. Go smooth and add a bit of heavy cream, yogurt or stir in a bit of cream cheese.
Above all remember: recipes are good guides; good cooks make it their own!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp each salt and white pepper
1/2 cup Greek style yogurt
In the inner pot of your Grillet, lightly sauté the squash and onion. Add chicken broth and nutmeg and simmer for 20 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, food processor or blender, puree until smooth. Ladle into soup bowls adding a dollop of yogurt if desired.
RED PEPPER SOUP
4 red bell peppers, diced (or two 15 oz jars roasted sweet red peppers, drained)
1 onion, diced 1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf ½ tsp each salt and pepper
In the Grillet, saute the red bell peppers, onion and carrot until tender. Add garlic and continue sautéing for an additional minute. Add the broth and bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you choose to place both soups in one bowl, measure the same amount of each soup in two containers with pouring spouts and gently pour into bowls simultaneously.