It’s January of a new year, and there’s no escaping the inevitable blather about what’s “in or out for 2013,” or “what’s hot, what’s not for the new year.”
Color, for example. Every year, fashionistas insist there will be a new, hot color, and every clothing maker from St. Laurent to Banana Republic will almost certainly come up with clothes in various shades of that color. You can only hope it’s a color you look good wearing. This year, the hot color for 2013 is green, not an easy color for many to wear. But for we who live surrounded by green in all its variations, how can we not love the fashion color of 2013.
Speaking of green, the hot vegetable for 2013 is also green; kale tops the list of preferred green leafy veggies this year. Loaded with all the current healthy components you could possibly wish for, and easy to incorporate into salads. The Cheesecake Factory (have you ever gone there for a salad?), is already advertising their green salad with kale. Perhaps it makes you feel less guilty when you follow the kale salad with that slab of cheesecake.
Regular readers know of my fondness (addiction to) of Greek yogurt. Well, it came as no surprise to learn that it’s one of the hottest food trends for 2013. When I first began consuming Greek yogurt a few years ago, I often couldn’t find it at some food stores, and when I did, only one brand and perhaps a half dozen containers of that. Now it’s everywhere, and the food pundits say that there will be Greek yogurt dips, sauces, smoothies, dressings and even cheesecakes available in the months to come. When I find a Greek yogurt cheesecake recipe, you’ll be the first to know.
There are many others on the “what’s new, what’s hot for 2013” list, but I have to mention another of the items I found amusing and interesting, namely, Crock-Pots. Yes, I said Crock-Pots, now better known as “slow cookers,” and yes, what goes ‘round comes ‘round.
I don’t know what I’d have done without my Crock-Pot back in the ’60s and into the early ’70s, when I was a working mother trying to feed a family at the end of the working day. If I got up early, put ingredients into the Crock-Pot and set it on low while I was getting breakfast on, before we all went off to school/work, the primary part of our dinner would be ready when I got home. Fix a salad and/or a quick steamed vegetable and there it was, dinner on in less than half an hour. Thanks, Crock-Pots.
I still have my original Crock-Pot, as well as another smaller version, better for only two. I’ve used them both frequently over the years, and never considered getting rid of them. And now, here I am, owner of two of the hottest “new” kitchen must-haves for 2013, a “slow cooker.”
You want proof? Two of my granddaughters, each of whom flew the nest and moved into her own apartment during this past year, asked for a “slow cooker” for Christmas.
How does that old song go? “Everything old is new again.” Hope you didn’t get rid of your old-but-new-again slow cooker.
RECIPES: If you say “Crock-Pot” to people over 50 today, they’ll almost always say “stews, Beef Burgundy, chili, baked beans, etc. etc., but there are so many things beyond that possible with a slow cooker, which is what I told my granddaughters when I sent them each one, along with some recipes. Everything from appetizers to dessert is possible in your slow cooker. Let’s begin with a family pleaser main dish, one my granddaughters can cut in half for their best use, and they’ll love it because it’s a spaghetti-style dish.
SLOW & EASY ITALIAN CHICKEN
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini (small to med.), chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jar (26 oz.) pasta sauce of choice
Hot cooked linguini or spaghetti
Combine all ingredients except pasta in the slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Serve chicken over pasta, with a tossed green salad. Serves 4.
But, dessert from a slow cooker? This one is for chocolate lovers; not for dessert purists, but remember, we’re talking about a beautiful dessert with little effort. Remember when pudding cakes were all the rage? Well, they’re back for 2013.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT PUDDING CAKE
1 box golden yellow cake mix
1 cup water
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup semisweet dark chocolate mini-morsels
½ cup chopped hazelnuts
Whipped cream or ice cream, for topping
Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil until smooth. Pour into slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 2 hrs. or until batter is nearly set.
Sprinkle on chocolate morsels and hazelnuts, cover and cook 30 min. longer, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or cake begins to pull away from side of cooker. Spoon out while warm and top with whipped cream or ice cream (or let stand until cool then slice and top.)
Can you eat anywhere these days without hearing about or seeing on the menu “pulled pork?” Well, there’s nothing easier than using your slow cooker to make that pulled pork for the slider, sandwich, tortilla wrap, or whatever else you plan to do with it.
BARBECUED PULLED PORK
1 pork shoulder roast (2-3 lbs.)
1 bottle (14 oz.) of your preferred barbecue sauce
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. packed brown sugar
1 med. onion, chopped
Hamburger buns, rolls, tortillas, your choice of “container” for the pork
Place roast in slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 10-12 hrs, or on high for 5-6 hrs. Remove roast from cooker; discard cooking liquid. Shred pork with two forks and return to slow cooker. Add barbecue sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar and onion. Cover and cook on low 2 hrs., or on high 1 hr. Serve shredded pork on buns, rolls, tortillas, whatever you’d like to wrap it in. Add red onion coleslaw as a garnish or serve on the side, along with small dill pickles, if desired. Serves 8.