Top Slow Cooker Recipes

Who doesn’t love their slow cooker?  If you don’t have one, I would highly suggest you get one ASAP.  You can just throw all of your ingredients in, turn it on, and when you get home from work or just a day out having fun with friends or family, dinner is ready!  And as an added bonus, your home smells amazing.

The Nesco 6 qt Porcelain Roaster with Non-Stick Cookwell and Glass Lid is perfect for any size meal.  You can slow cook, cook, roast, bake and steam in this guy.

Non-Stick Cookwell Roaster

Nesco Porcelain Roaster

 

The Hamilton Beach Portable Slow Cooker is perfect for the holidays or anytime you are making something to take to a party or potluck.

 

Portable Slow Cooker

Portable Slow Cooker 

 

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite slow cooker recipes.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles

1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth

1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tb dried cilantro

2 cups water

1 Tsp cumin

½ Tsp chili powder

1 Tsp salt

¼ Tsp pepper

1 bay leaf

Dump all ingredients into the crock pot and cook on high 4-5 hours.  Remove bay leaf and discard.  Lift out the chicken pieces and shred.  Put shredded chicken back into soup.  Serve with tortilla chips and grated cheese, or your own favorite toppings!

 

One Pot Bean Dinner

1 lb ground beef

12 oz package of bacon, fried and chopped

1 chopped onion

2 cans pork & beans

1 can kidney beans

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tb white vinegar

1 Tsp salt

Dash of pepper

 

Brown beef in skillet and drain fat.  Put in crockpot.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Stir together well.  Cover and cook on low in crockpot for 4 hours, or high for a shorter time.

 

Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 (16.5 oz) can crushed pineapple

1 (16.5 oz) bottle archer farms Hawaiian style barbeque sauce (found at Target)

 

Place breasts in crock pot, pour pineapple on top of chicken and then pour sauce over all.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

 

Mexican Crock Pot Tacos

2 frozen chicken breasts

2 cans black beans, rinsed

2 bottles salsa

 

Throw above ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours.  Shred chicken and stir together.  Serve in hard or soft shells with taco toppings (lettuce, sour cream, etc).

 

Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese

4-5 boneless chicken breasts

1 (15.5 oz) can black beans

1 (15 oz) can corn

1 (15 oz) jar salsa, any kind

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese

 

Well, writing this made me hungry.  Good thing it’s almost lunchtime.

I hope you’ll give these recipes a try.  And if you do, please let me know what you think!  I’d also love it if you’d share your favorite crock pot recipes.  Just leave a comment below!

 

 

Slow Cooker Recipe: Whole Chicken & Vegetables

slow cooker chicken

If there is one thing that I love when I want to prepare a no hassle meal, it is having a slow cooker.  Many people I know just use their slow cooker for making queso or other dips for parties and never realize the full potential of what you can prepare with them.  Slow cookers can cook just about anything from soups, stews and chilis to whole chickens, braised lamb and roast duck.  More often than not, you are able to just throw in your ingredients and let your slow cooker do all the work.  It’s definitely a way to impress your family and/or guests and let them think that you spent hours in the kitchen cooking, when really the only thing that was cooking for hours was your slow cooker.

My go-to meal in my slow cooker is chicken and vegetables.  I use a whole chicken and whatever vegetables I have on hand at the time.  It’s so simple and the chicken is so tender when it’s done it falls right off the bone.

Whole Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

2 cups broth or stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 8 oz package of mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika

Directions

1. Add a layer of vegetables to the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. Combine all spices.
3. Rinse the whole chicken and rub with spice mixture.
4. Place chicken in slow cooker on top of the layer of vegetables.
5. Add the remaining vegetables and garlic into the slow cooker.
6. Pour the broth into the slow cooker. As the chicken cooks it will add more liquid as well.
7. Cook on low setting for 5-8 hours.
8. Use a kitchen thermometer to check if chicken is done before serving. (The internal temperature should be 180 degrees in the thickest part.)

What’s your favorite recipe to make in a slow cooker?

Top Commercial Products: EdgeStar Mini Fridge Freezer

EdgeStar Compact Fridge Freezer

We have exciting news about our compact refrigerator / freezer! The restaurant corporation, OSI, that owns Outback, Carrabbas, Bone Fish Grill and Flemmings is currently testing our compact refrigerator in the Houston, TX, market. So far, the results are overwhelmingly positive!

OSI has developed a new frozen cocktail that is being introduced in their Carrabbas stores. They have chosen the sleek, compact look of our CRF150SS as the storage unit for this new drink. Over the next month, we will be rolling out our unit to the national chain of Carrabbas. This is sure to be followed by Outback, Bone Fish Grill and Flemmings. So if you are at one of these fine, popular restaurants, be sure to order one of their new cocktails and take a look behind the bar – chances are you’ll see the EdgeStar CRF150SS keeping the libations frozen!

Ice Cream Maker Recipe: Peach Frozen Yogurt

peach frozen yogurt

The Cuisinart frozen yogurt, ice cream & sorbet maker was rated by Consumer Search as one of the best ice cream makers available. This unit allows you to make ice cream in a speedy 15 to 20 minutes, and even watch the entire process through the transparent lid. According to reviews, consumers say that they enjoy the model’s ease of use, and consider it to be an excellent value. This isn’t a one trick pony though! In addition to making frozen desserts, this ice cream maker also lets you create your favorite frozen beverages, including  strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas.

Here in Texas, the summers mean two things: hot weather and peach season. Fresh peaches are hard to beat, but peach ice cream is without question the best thing about summer. Here’s a lightened version to share with friends and family:

Summertime Peach Frozen Yogurt*

Ingredients

2 cups fresh diced peaches
2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
⅓ cup sugar

Directions

  1. Mix the peaches, yogurt and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Turn on your ice cream maker and pour in the ice cream mixture.
  3. Let your ice cream maker run for about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Serve with peach slices.

Makes eight ½-cup servings.

*Recipe adapted from the Cuisinart ice cream maker owner’s manual.

Is it Better to Make Baby Food from Scratch?

Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker

With celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian, Tori Spelling and others touting the benefits of making their own baby food, baby food makers are creating a huge buzz in the press lately. Most fads surrounding the Hollywood scene don’t have staying power, but this time they are definitely onto something.

Making your own baby food is great for your baby, because it allows you to know exactly what your little one is eating. You can maximize the nutrition count while avoiding the preservatives, additives and other potentially detrimental ingredients. In fact, the benefits of making your own baby food span beyond just health. In doing so, you are eliminating the use of all of the packaging, which ultimately reduces your family’s environmental footprint. And, possibly the best benefit of making your own baby food, you will end up with extra cash in your pocket! Recent studies show that you can save 50% or more on your baby food costs if you make it yourself at home.

The Baby Brezza baby food maker is an all-in-one solution, perfect for busy moms. Simply add your ingredients in the bowl, set your steam time and let the baby food make take care of the rest! The simple automated process steams and blends the food for you. Worried about creating a mess? Don’t be. Both the bowl and blade are dishwasher safe. Furthermore, the BPA and phthalate-free construction ensures that this product is safe for your kids.

Here is a great recipe from Baby Brezza for children 6 months & up:

Homemade Baby Food Recipe: Sweet Potato & Banana Puree

Ingredients

1 Medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (2 cups, 10 ounces)
1/2 Small banana, peeled and sliced (1/3 cup, 1-1/2 ounces)
Optional: cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Directions

1. Steam sweet potato for 20 minutes
2. Add banana and puree to smooth
3. Remove from bowl and add water, breast milk or formula to desired consistency
4. Optional: Stir in cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

Yields: 13 oz.

Top 5 Mother’s Day Gifts

Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner, but let’s skip the Hallmark card this year and give a gift that Mom deserves. Well, on second though, don’t skip the card — we know how sentimental they can be. But card or not, we have picked out five of our best-selling items, all perfect for Mother’s Day gifting.

Koldfront TWR4BL Wine Cooler1. Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler

Once considered to be a luxury item, the wine cooler is quickly becoming a staple in the home kitchen. For those with limited kitchen space, or those that just don’t want to take up a lot of space, the Koldfront 4 bottle wine fridge is the perfect wine cooler with its sleek, compact design. This wine fridge utilizes thermoelectric cooling technology so there’s no need for a compressor, allowing for super quiet operation.

 

Margaritaville Margarita Maker2. Margaritaville Fiji Frozen Concoction Maker

Get ready for BBQ season with the Margaritaville margarita machine. The ultimate drink maker, this machine can help you conjure up the tastiest of concoctions, including margaritas and daiquiris for the adults or healthy fruit smoothies for the kids. Perfect for a party or tailgating, this frozen drink maker holds enough ice to make 2.5 pitchers worth of your favorite drink with each use. It is the perfect gift for a mom that loves to entertain!

 

Cuisinart Espresso Maker3. Cuisinart Espresso Maker

Try out a double espresso, luscious cappuccino or spiced latte cafe style in the comfort and convenience of your own home. The Cuisinart espresso maker features a classic stainless steel design, cup-warming plate on top and a removable drip tray and cover for easy cleanup. This is one luxury that will make any mom feel special on Mother’s Day and everyday after that they get to wake up and enjoy this great gift.

 

Hugs for Mom Gift Basket4. Hugs for Mom Gift Basket

Made with moms in mind, this adorable, white picket fence planter is filled with wildflower honey, Ernest Hemingway Highland Select tea, lemon cookies, a bath sachet with salts, a votive candle, body glistening spray, a ceramic picture frame and more! This gourmet gift basket will bring a smile to any mother’s face by letting her know that she is being thought of, and the included picture frame will let her show off her gift (and who gave it to her) to others.

 

KitchenAid Stand Mixer5. KitchenAid Artisan Series Stand Mixer

The iconic KitchenAir stand mixer is something a mom’s kitchen should never be without. Renowned the world over for its quality and versatility, KitchenAid stand mixers have been and continue to remain a favorite of bakers, cooks, chefs and most important culinary artists of all — moms! The beautiful red colors of this specific stand mixer will serve as a great reminder of the love shared between her and gift giver.

 

What will you be getting your mom for Mother’s Day?

 

Top Commercial Products: EdgeStar Medical Freezer

EdgeStar Medical Freezer

Our #1 selling EdgeStar medical freezer is being used all over the country at leading pharmacies.  This 1.5 cu/ft vaccine freezer has the ability to hold temperatures at -20°C and -5°F.  This is important because a lot of vaccines, including the new Zostavax vaccine for shingles, need to be constantly monitored and stored at these very low temperatures.

The convenient countertop design makes this mini freezer space efficient, which is important in a pharmacy setting.  We offer this unit in white, with stainless steel handle and built-in lock.

If you are looking for a solid, dependable and space efficient medical freezer for your pharmacy, please contact us!  We would love to add your pharmacy or medical center to the list of leading facilities using our EdgeStar CMF151L medical freezer!

Ryan is the head of Business Sales for Living Direct. If you are interested in learning more about any of our commercial products or wish to make a bulk purchase from our site, you can reach Ryan at 1-800-297-6076 or contact him through this form.


Save Time & Eat Healthier with a Pressure Cooker

Spring has officially begun and for many of us that means more free time outside of work – whether spent at baseball and soccer games,  or even perusing the farmers markets on the weekends. It is a time when we want to spend less time slaving over a hot stove and instead take advantage of spring’s bounty of fresh produce.

One surprising way to save time in the kitchen, using fresh ingredients and keeping the kitchen cooler, is by integrating pressure cooking into your weekly meal planning routine.  I know what many of you are thinking, aren’t those contraptions known for being dangerous?  Like many things, technological advancements have significantly improved the standards of current pressure cookers. What has changed? Current models include locking lids, back-up vents, and most importantly, features to prevent you from opening the pot before the pressure has been released. Even with all of the improvements made to pressure cookers, you still reap all of the benefits:

  • Time Saver: Food can cook up to 70% faster.
  • Multi-Tasking Friendly: This is my favorite benefit; once you turn on the pressure cooker you can walk away and focus your time on other important tasks.
  • Vitamin Bonus: More vitamins and essential minerals are retained by the faster cook time.
  • Energy Efficient: With the heat of summer approaching, nobody wants to stand over the stove for hours in a hot kitchen. Pressure cooking allows you to save energy by cooking in less time and from having to turn on the oven.

Here is a great recipe from Peggy Under Pressure to get you started with your pressure cooker.

Spring Risotto

Spring Risottophoto credit: Peggy Under Pressure

Spring Risotto is an awesome recipe to highlight the benefits of using a pressure cooker. When traditionally cooked on the stove, making risotto is tedious and time consuming. Many people think of using pressure cookers for cooking meat but they are just as excellent at cooking vegetables.

INGREDIENTS:

3 large shallots, chopped
3 cups Aborio rice
4-5 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup white wine + 2 tbsp white wine for shallots
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups asparagus chopped
2 cups baby spinach leaves

GARNISH:

Chopped chives
Shredded Parmesan cheese

COOKING DIRECTIONS:

Press the START button on the pressure cooker and turn the setting to the browning function. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Place the chopped shallots into the pot and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste, pour in 2 tablespoons of dry white wine, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Press the CANCEL button on the pressure cooker turning it off.

Place 3 cups of Aborio rice into the pressure cooking pot followed by 1 cup of dry white wine and 4 cups of low sodium chicken stock. Stir everything together. Close the lid and lock the pressure cooker into position. Set the pressure valve to Airtight. Depending on your model, you can select the Rice & Risotto button on your machine or manually select the time for 10 minutes.

Once cooking is complete, release the pressure by turning the pressure valve to exhaust. Unlock and open the lid. Allow the KEEP WARM function to stay on for this part just for a few minutes. Check the consistency of the risotto. If it’s too sticky and dry, add more stock or wine and give it a good mix. The rice should be tender but retain its shape. Throw in the asparagus, frozen or fresh peas and spinach leaves. Fold them into the rice. Shut the lid and using the warm function to heat and cook all of the vegetables. It will take around 3-5 minutes to cook through. Open the lid and check on the veggies.  Once veggies are cooked, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped chives and serve immediately.

Product Recommendation: If you are in the market to purchase a pressure cooker, I would recommend the Fagor 6 Qt. Electric Pressure Cooker Plus. The control panel features “brown” and “warm” functions, and there is a delay time feature, allowing you to come home from the office to a perfectly cooked dinner.

 

Bread Machine Cranberry Wheat Recipe

Cranberry Wheat Bread

I got a bread machine a few weeks ago and have been on a bread-making craze ever since.  With everyone trying to eat healthier these days, it is great because I can control the ingredients that I put in the bread. Now I don’t have to worry about preservatives and I can modify recipes to make them lower carb or higher in fiber, etc.  There is just no end to what you can do and let’s face it, homemade bread just tastes better!

I tend to make several loaves over the weekend, one to start eating off of immediately and the rest I freeze so that I have them on hand as needed and don’t have to worry about running out and having to get store bought bread. The latest, and by far my favorite recipe so far, is a Cranberry Wheat Bread.  I use honey or agave nectar instead of sugar and apple sauce instead of butter.

Bread Machine Cranberry Wheat Bread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons apple sauce
2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients (except cranberries) in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select “Sweet Bread” cycly; press Start.
  2. Add the cranberries about 5 minutes before the kneading cycle has finished.

If you don’t have a bread maker, my favorite would have to be the CBK-200 Cuisinart 2-pound Convection Bread Maker. It has a mix-in option that tells you when it’s time to add in the cranberries (or whatever mix in you want), so you don’t have to guess. Makes it super easy!

Photo credit goes to Kathy.

Portable Dishwasher Basics

Portable Dishwasher

Ah, the portable dishwasher…that lowly box that resides on your countertop. Daily, it does it’s job without complaint, swallowing whole dirty dishes, and returns them sparkling clean in just an hour’s time. Over time though, your machine might start to seem sluggish, so here are some tips to help you get the most out of your dishwasher.

 

How to Help Your Portable Dishwasher:

Pre-wash those dishes! I know it’s easier to rinse it off a little bit, and shove it in the washer, but if you can get just about all of the food particles off the plate, it’ll clean much easier.

Use a good quality detergent. Cheap detergents contain lots of filler, mostly silicates, which scrub the dishes, but do nothing to disinfect. I’m not partial when it comes to brands, but Cascade ™ is a proven detergent, and tough to beat among liquids and powders.

Make sure the incoming water is sufficiently heated. 118 degrees F-125 degrees F is a good range. Low temp water will not sanitize during the rinse cycle, and detergents don’t work well in cold water. They tend to clump up and leave residue on dishes.

Run an empty cycle once a month with a 50% solution of vinegar and water through the washer. Hard water clogs spray arms and filters, and coats the inside of the wash chamber, making it tough to properly clean those dishes. By the way, most dishwashers today have stainless steel interiors and will easily discolor, so don’t use harsh chemicals as they can permanently damage the finish.

 

That’s all for this week, follow these tips, and let your dishwasher work harder, so you don’t have to!

Dave’s Tip of The Week: Clean your appliance’s air and water filters on a regular basis; your appliance will thank you for it.