Jun 11, 2013

Menu - 6/10 - 6/16

Well...best laid plans and all.  I was so proud of myself to actually get not one, but three weeks of meals planned out.  Posted it to my blog and to Meal Plan Monday early on Monday morning so was at least in the top half of the list of postings.  Every thing was going swimmingly along, the family loved the tamale casserole.  Although, since I had a meeting on that night, I had the meal all ready to just plate up. Got home from meeting only to find that hubby had just eaten left over pizza. The Frito salad didn't quite turn out as well as it could have because I went cheap and quick on the dressing, buying the Great Value or Walmart brand.  It is just not the same as Catalina.  However, it was all eaten.  Day one a success.

Then it all went south. LOL

After cleaning all the dishes up, was putting away the crock pot, looked like some food had stuck to the liner - even though I use disposal liners (thank you to Reynold's company for coming out with those babies) - so grabbed my little scrubber sponge to see if I could get it off.  It wasn't food, it was a crack all the way down the side in to the middle of the ceramic liner.  Once they get a crack it is very difficult for the unit to regulate the temperature properly while in use.  I know this from years of experience.  This is one of those cases that considering the cost of shipping, it would cost more to purchase a replacement liner than to just purchase a new unit.  Off to Walmart I went, of course they did not have the same unit any longer as I had.  OH WHY won't these companies just leave well enough alone, wouldn't it be easier to just make the same unit instead of changing out the manufacturing plant for a little different look?  My unit was not that old either, only a couple of years. 

I carefully considered my type of cooking with the crockpot.  I knew that I wanted automatic shut off, programmable time and temperature settings and a warm function.  In the aisle of small appliances, I was carefully looking over each unit.  Is that one big enough, too big?  How are the controls? How much is that one?   You get the idea.  I find the one I think I want, naturally it is on the top shelf.  Pulling the unit down, it falls on me, leaving a nasty bruise from the box.  I bring it home, pull it out of the box, put a liner in, then forged ahead with the Tamale Casserole for Monday's meal. 
After it was already cooking, I figured out that according to this manufacturer, programmable equates digital display.  It has preset settings for 4 hour 6 hour, both on high temperature and 8 hour 10 hour, both on low.  No way to adjust either for time or temperature setting.  The recipe I was using called for 4 1/2 hours on low setting, which I couldn't make the unit perform.   The unit worked well, for what it cooked.  All I had to do was set it for 8 hours so it would cook on low, then set a kitchen timer for 4 hours at which time changed the crockpot setting to warm.  I knew that I would not be keeping this unit, but, even though I had used a liner and could not tell it have ever been cooked in, I could NOT in good conscience return it for a refund or exchange. 

I have donated it to our church for the children's ministry to use as they were in need of one and the settings and such are fine for their use.

Things got busy and it was few days before I was able to go back to the store...even though the menu for the week was pretty much all recipes for the crock pot.  Finally, I was able to get to the store and after looking over all the available models, decided on a Faberware brand.
It doesn't quite work the same, as far as the settings, as my old unit, but it truly is programmable.  When you turn it on, it automatically defaults to 4 hours and high.  With the touch of a couple of buttons you can then choose between low, high and warm settings and the timer from a little as 30 minutes up to 12 hours.  After it has cooked for the designated time, during the last minute of cooking the unit gives a long beep and then switches to warm function.  The maximum amount of time that unit will function on warm setting is 4 hours.  It really is a great little unit.  I am disappointed however that the liner is metal and there is a thick rubber seal around the lid that feels a little awkward to use.  The metal attachment on the back (reminds me of old time TV antennae) is a lid holder.  I have however removed it as it takes up a lot a space that I don't really have.  It also has sliding locks on the either handle to lock the lid in place while transporting.  With that seal the way it is, not sure I would trust it, but will be giving it a try before making a final conclusion.  I did use it yesterday, for a very quick throw together main dish.  I just made it on the fly, but it was so tasty so am sharing the recipe.

Meatball Goulash

24 mini Italian meatballs (about, I figured 8 per person and it was really two many, 6 would be fine)
1 jar savory beef gravy (in the glass jar, not a can - there is a difference)
1 can roasted diced tomatoes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can mushroom pieces

I used prepared frozen Italian meatballs, they are already cooked.  If you make your own, at least brown them first, especially if you don't have time for them to cook a long time and browning them makes them hold their shape better.

Load all the ingredients in to a crockpot, cook on high for 4 hours (best if you cook on low for about 6 hours, I had forgot about dinner and didn't have time for low).  Mix a few times while cooking.  That's all there is too it.  Easy and tasty.  I served it over rice with a salad.  Not much left overs, but enough for my lunch tomorrow.

Use a disposable liner for super easy clean up.

For the rest of the week, the meal plan will look pretty much the same as last week, since I didn't get around to cooking most of those dinners. 

Mon: pan grilled fish, new potatoes mix, salad
Tue: pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans
Wed: bacon wrapped chicken, carrots, green beans
Thu: Cajun sausage and rice, buttermilk biscuits
Fri: cowboy casserole, rice,
Sat: have grandson's birthday party and youngest daughter's ice skating completion
Sun: Father's Day - may cook some ribs.

The great thing about my menu plans, they are totally flexible.  So thankfully, I have all the ingredients I need on hand since some of the dinners were not cooked.  Fish wasn't planned for tonight, but was a great mark down price at the store today and it won't keep long so am using it first.

That's all for now, thank you for stopping in and feel free to leave a comment.  Visit again soon.

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