Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crockpot Wednesday: Soda Shortcuts

This week I was asked to do a guest post for my friend Kimberly over at Poor Girl Eats Well. She’s in the middle of moving and needed a bit of a break from blogging duties during the move. Welcome to her readers. If you want to see past Crockpot Wednesday posts, do a search for crockpot in the search bar (left column).

I wanted to keep consistent with Kimberly’s theme of easy meals on a budget. I decided that I would share with you a few quick, even desperate, recipes that I learned from my 13+ years selling Pampered Chef. After all, PC says that homemade doesn’t have to mean made from scratch, it just means it is made at home! PC is known for doing what that Sandra Lee chick does way before she showed up on TV. They take shortcuts cooking by using grocery products.

For instance, this week’s recipe comes from my friends, Scott and Michelle.  I was over for poker night (I’m the only woman cleaning out the guys) and they had made pulled pork sandwiches. Thing is, all they did was put the pork butt into the slow cooker with a bottle of good quality root beer.  Then when you served it you poured on some BBQ sauce. So simple and yet delicious!

That was when I remembered all the other PC shortcut recipes. Sodas are great to have on hand for desperation cooking. Colas, in particular and like the root beer, have the acidity and carbonation to tenderize the meat but also the caramel/molasses flavor used in so many recipes. The key to making the recipes great is adding the veggies and extra spices you want.

Here are some examples:

Pot roast = can of cola + can of cream of mushroom soup (even better, add a package of onion soup mix)
BBQ = can of cola + 2 cups of ketchup
Baked ham = ½ liter of coke

I don’t have children but know it often happens that a child tells their parent at the last minute, “Mom, it’s my turn to bring cupcakes to class tomorrow.” No problem if you have a box of cake mix and a can of soda lying around. You don’t need to do anything else but mix those two things together. The carbonation gives the batter extra lift for a nice fluffy, moist cake. Think about the combos:

Chocolate cake + cola
Chocolate cake + cherry cola
White or yellow cake + lemon lime, grapefruit, or orange soda
Spice cake + Dr. Pepper

For the frosting you can blend together 4 cups of powdered sugar + 6 T butter + 3 T soda

So those were brief descriptions of what is possible when you are either low on cash, ingredients, time or all of the above.  Having staples in your pantry including some cans of soda can really come in handy.  For those who want a little extra information with doctoring up the above mentioned combos, here are more detailed versions:

6-8 lbs pork butt
1 can/bottle of root beer

Place ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on low. Remove pork and set aside. Save 1/3 cup of juices and toss the rest. Using two forks, carefully shred the pork. Return to slow cooker to keep warm on warm setting.  Serve on buns with BBQ sauce and cole slaw.

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. vegetable oil
2 c. catsup
1 can cola
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. Mustard
2 T. Vinegar
Saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent. Add remaining ingredients.
Simmer 30 minutes until thick.

3-4 lb. roast, cheap cut
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cola
1 pkg. onion soup

Put on low for 8 hours. If you want it thicker, when done stir in a tablespoon of flour.

1 ham
1 can cola or cherry cola
Cloves (not powdered)

Put ham in deep pan on aluminum foil. Pour Coke over. Pierce the entire ham with clove spikes about ¼ inch apart. Bake at low temperature (300 degrees) for 2-2 1/2 hours. Baste occasionally with pan juices. Coke will turn into syrup.

P.S. I wanted to add that I found these great new Earth Gains Thin Buns. They are only 100 calories each and reduces all that bread. I really liked them.
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