Thursday, September 3, 2009

365 Days of Slow Cooking

I'm very excited about this week's guest blogger. Who doesn't love a good meal from the slow cooker? Mmmm, that comfort food taste that you just can't quite find anywhere else that takes you right back to Sunday dinners as a child.
Well, slow cookers aren't just for Sundays anymore! Karen Petersen has been doing an experiment for the last 219 days (and will continue until she hits 365): eat a meal from her sl0w cooker - every. single. day. I've asked her to share with us a couple of tips she's learned along the way - and a few of her favorite recipes (hurray!), which she also has available on her blog,

Here's what she had to say:

I have been using my slow cooker everyday for 219 days! Before I started this little “project” I had one recipe that I made in my slow cooker. ONE! Now I have over 219. Some good and some I will never make again. I didn’t really know anything about slow cookers before I started. I just kind of experimented with things and have learned a lot along the way. I just want to say that I love my slow cooker now and it has so many benefits! It’s great for busy families and serving in shifts, it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, it’s economical, and inexpensive, tough meats become tender…I could go on and on!

I’d love to share 3 things that have helped me and hope that you will find that they help you too. Check out my blog for more tips, recipes, and reviews.

Tip #1: Use the right size of slow cooker! It is important to fill the slow cooker about 2/3 to ¾ full. If it is not filled enough it will overcook and burn. I started out at the beginning of my experiment with solely a 6-quart slow cooker. Keep in mind that I am cooking for my husband, my 2 kids, and myself. This size was way too big and things would not turn out that great. Then I purchased a 3-quart slow cooker and it seems to be the perfect size for us on a daily basis. Every now and then I use my 6-quart for big cuts of meat or if I’m cooking for company.

Tip #2: As a general rule, lifting the lid off the slow cooker lengthens the cooking time by 30 minutes to an hour. The steam builds up inside the slow cooker and creates a vacuum seal. Each time the lid is lifted the steam and heat escape, extending the cooking time. Again, I’ve learned this little tip along the way. I used to always lift the lid…several times over the course of its cooking time. Now that I know this little tidbit, meals turn out a lot better and don’t take near as long.

Tip #3: Tenderness of the meat is directly correlated to the cooking time. Tough cuts of meat can become tender in one extra hour of cooking time. When you check your meat for doneness, if it isn't tender, let it cook for another hour and check again.

Interestingly, some of my favorite recipes have been desserts. One of my favorite desserts is the caramel chocolate cake. I also did an applesauce that my kids and I loved. My husband loved the garlic lime chicken and my mouth watered over the Garlic Caesar Chicken with Spinach Fettuccine. Because I want you to succeed in your slow cooking adventures (by succeed, I mean your family will eat your meal without complaining), I’ve ranked all of my recipes with a star rating. The ratings are as follows:
5 stars: I love this dish, I would make it once a week if I could!
4 stars: This is a tasty dish; it will go in our rotation of meals.
3 stars: I liked it okay, I probably won't make it more than once every several months.
2 stars: I ate it, but I won't make it again.
1 star: It was gross and I didn't even finish it.

Good luck in your slow cooking and email me if you have any questions or comments…I’d love to hear from you!

And here are some questions answered about Karen:
EAAM: Where are you from?
KP: I grew up in Montana and moved to Utah when I was 18 for college. I now live in Utah, just north of Salt Lake.

EAAM: What got you into cooking?
KP: The reason I cook is because I have to! I have a husband and two kids...I was always more of a baker until this year. Now I cook everyday. It saves money too...which is always nice.

EAAM: What is your go-to; that meal/food/dessert/snack that you find yourself eating over and over and over again?
KP: Peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter plain, peanut butter and chocolate! Love them all!!

EAAM: What is your favorite food?
KP: I love most all food! The only thing I don't like is watermelon and cantaloupe. Everything else is wonderful!

EAAM: What is the one kitchen appliance/accessory/utensil you just can't live without?
KP: The slow cooker, of course!!

EAAM: You're going to live on the moon for 1 year and can only bring 1 kind of dessert, what do you bring?
KP: Only one? I'm such a dessert fan. I would have to say brownies, or cookies that were kind of brownie-like.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I LOVE Karen! She's in my ward (I even have a guest post on her 365 blog!) She's the best and her website has been SO awesome and helpful many times as I plan out meals. I love your site too, ladies! It's been fun to read! Thanks!! :)