Maple Coated Nuts in the Crock Pot Recipe

I have a habit of talking to my friends about cooking.  I am not a cook, nor a baker, just an enthusiast.  I do it sometimes when I have made a new recipe that I particularly enjoyed, or one that challenged me and gave me a feeling of accomplishment.

I was in a conversation with a lady I knew when I lived Up North where the tundra thaws out from time to time, Philadelphia.  We segued into what to make for dinner and desserts.  I commented that I had made this recipe below that is nothing more than Maple Syrup coated salted nuts.  It was beyond simple, and I made it in the crock pot.

This will turn your house into one of my favorite memories of Summer at the Jersey Shore, going into Planters Peanuts, and the smell in there.  My house smelled of gently roasting salted nuts for the rest of the day.

She immediately got interested since she loves slightly salty sweets, and nuts.  If it is as easy as I say it was then she wants the recipe and a narrative so she could do it herself.

The thing is that the picture showing a piddling quarter of a container tells you just how good these were.  They were amazing!

So here you go:  Here is the Process:

  • Mix together the wet ingredients – Maple Syrup, Vanilla Extract, and Salt in a large mixing bowl.  A two quart mixing bowl works perfectly for that.
  • Fold in two cups of mixed nuts and mix the entire mass well until all are coated.
  • Prepare the crock pot out.  Coat the bottom of a large crock pot with coconut oil.  Wipe off the excess with a paper towel.
  • Add the nut mixture to the crock pot and smooth out to one layer of nuts.
  • Turn on the crock pot at high heat, and cover it.
  • Every 30 minutes, stir the nut mixture and level it back off.
  • After 1 hour 30 minutes, you should be done, however it is a judgment call as to whether the coating is “dry enough.  Mine was a little bit sticky but I would not say it was “wet”.
  • Spread out onto a sheet of parchment paper or similar, and allow to cool and dry.
  • I ate mine within a week but you could go longer.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of Maple Syrup.  I used “real” but that fake pancake Pole Syrup or Honey SHOULD work.
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt – or to taste if you are watching your salt intake
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups of unsalted mixed nutsyour preference, I used 1 1/4 cup Walnut halves, 3/4 Peanuts.
  • Coconut Oil to coat the crock pot
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Rack Does Not Want His Food. He Wants Mine.

Up at 5AM, we go through our normal routine.

Rack has been getting more excited about exploring Wilton Manors lately.  He’s been dragging me on a mile and a quarter and then some, almost two full KM walk each morning.

I could use the exercise, he could use the exercise, and it’s great mental stimulation for him

Great, it’s a win-win.  He is showing that he’s less afraid of that monster five lane highway that is Wilton Drive since I specifically take him through there every morning to get him less afraid.

We get on the last block to the house and he’s tugging to go home just like he’s expressing his opinion by selecting longer routes to extend our pre-dawn march around town.

I got back and got delayed.  I had to make coffee, get some things running, a couple downloads, and other odds and ends.  His breakfast got delayed a bit as a result.

That grey brown stuff in a purple bowl is one of the highest quality foods we could find on the No China and No Grain Food List that I keep to religiously.  It’s the color it is because it is soaked in water to soften it.  Rack is missing a “Pre-Molar” and without that tooth, dry food can be difficult.  Soft food is just a major headache and expensive as well.

But he doesn’t like it.  Or rather, he doesn’t seem to.  I was used to Lettie, my departed dog.  If I tossed a bit

of food in the air, she’d get it before it hit the ground.  To feed her by hand, I had to tell her to “Take Nice” or I’d feel teeth hit my skin.  That’s more normal.  To give a “normal” feeder a pill, wrap it in a piece of cold cut and toss it over your shoulder.  It wouldn’t hit the ground either.  In fact, the act of going into the kitchen meant you would have a dog on your heels before your hand touched the fridge door!

Rack, well, he’s a ultra-beta dog.  I have to go out of my way to remember to praise him until his tail is wagging that he’s done something right.  That includes eating.  His bowl is on a stack of bowls as a stand to put them at the right height.  The food is the right temperature, not too hot, not cold.  It has to be softened but not too soft. 

Yes, he is picky.  If I just toss it in a bowl and walk away, he starves himself.  A normally 50 pound dog, he hovers in the mid to lower 40s and when I tried that “take the bowl away” trick, he skipped three meals and went down to the high 30s in an eye blink.

No.  That’s cruel.  I have to be involved.  Tapping the bowl, spinning it around, drawing his attention to his food, holding it under his nose.

That’s the trick.  Eventually he eats it.  Grain free, all meat, no poultry. 

Then the praise, then he wandered off and hid.

I swear, he’s part cat.

But I wanted Pork for lunch.  Specifically, Char Siu Pork, cooked in the crock pot.  Chinese Barbecue Pork.  Savory and slightly sweet.  It’s the same recipe as the little bits of sweet pork you get in Pork Fried Rice.  The sauces take a little time to make but they can be made ahead of time, and the pork should really marinade overnight, but it isn’t required.

I started out to the kitchen.  I heard the thump of a tail hitting the plastic of the crate.  Four feed padded almost silently into the kitchen and stopped.   I had company.  I was having twin brown eyes staring at me, turning into lasers to burn holes through my resolve not to feed, and my heart.

I’m a soft touch.  I admit it.

I started to make the first sauce.  Hoisin sauce.  It’s a sweet garlic sauce.  Dark and deep brown, it’s used in a lot of Asian Cuisine.  It is also quite expensive at the stores, so I found a killer recipe to make the stuff

Reaching into the fridge for the Soy Sauce, even Oscar the Parrot got involved.  “HELLO!”.

No, you silly bird, you don’t want any of that!

I did wander back, stepping around the speed bump that is Rack, and opened up Oscar’s cage.  In reality, Oscar just wanted some Out Time.

Coming back into the kitchen, I stepped around the black and white cookie that was my dog, the canine Speed Bump, and got the honey out of the cupboard.

See a trend?  This repeated for each of the ingredients for the Hoisin sauce.  While the hoisin sauce is excellent on its own for recipes, I wanted Char Siu.  The spices were different. 

Rack was still staring.  I went to put the peanut butter away.  Rack’s ears perked. 

“Show me what you want, boy?”

Rack stared at the peanut butter jar. 

“Oh here you go” I gave him a little peanut butter on the tip of the butter knife and went back to making sauces.

Tossing the Hoisin into the crock pot, I added the other spices to the mix to change it to Char Siu. 

Normally, this step of making the sauces and marinades takes about 10 minutes to complete.  20 with help from my Rack.

All that stepping around the furry speed bump would slow me down.

I got my sauce done with the addition of the last bit of honey and sesame oil and stirred it in the crock pot with a whisk. 

Rack was still staring.

I grabbed the pork that was on the counter and slid it into the crock pot.

At this point, Rack went into overdrive. 

“No, Rack, it has onions, you can’t have any”.

A McNab Dog, like my Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is an amazing creature.  If you have never experienced it, you have to take my word for it.  You speak in English, he learns abstract concepts.  I told him before that “Onions will kill you, you can’t have any” and any time he hears onions, he stops begging.  Like a light switch. 

Yeah, that smart.  Freaky smart.  I am waiting for him to pick up on the Spanish I am trying to learn.

Donde esta los calcitines?  Los Calcitines es aqui, en sus pies.

(or something like that.)

He left the kitchen at this point.  Went out to the front room, sniffing around clearing the floor of Oscar’s food, wandering around the house in a Perimeter Search, and made himself scarce.

He understands Onions.  Smart boy.

I still had another bit of work to do clearing out all the spices and wiping up the counter.  He decided it was no longer time to beg.

So, being a soft touch has its benefits.  I get company of the best sort in the Kitchen.  Rack doesn’t demand much, although he does beg for food.  I don’t get told that I put too much onion in the sauce, or I’m overcooking something, or I need to add something to thicken the barbecue sauce instead of reducing it. 

I’ve heard all that before.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and get growled at by the Chef anyway.

But Dog, go eat your own food without any back talk first, OK? 

It’s almost as hard as getting me to eat Olives. 

No.  I won’t do it.  I’ll call out for Pizza first!  Even crappy frozen pizza before olives.

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe

I wanted Chinese Food.
I didn’t want salty fried food.
I wanted it to be relatively healthy.

Two out of three isn’t bad, trust me.

Why not completely healthy?  It turned out to be a bit high in sugar since the recipe calls for a cup of honey.

Yes, a full cup of honey.  You’ll want to get the stuff at the wholesale store where it is cheaper.

But, it’s easy.  I’m good with a wok.  We buy chicken in 10 pound packs for the restaurant trade, so I repack it in thirds.  Two pounds or so go into the first meal.  The second was a simple stir fry with the leftovers.  I’ve been using one since the 80s when a good friend gave me one for my birthday, and I still use it to this day.

The idea is to trim your meats down into bite sized chunks and toss it in the sauce that you already made up in the crock pot.  You allow it to cook until done, which according to the USDA is 165F internal temperature.  Then separate out the chicken and pour the sauce into a sauce pan.  Put the sauce on medium heat and cook until thickened.  Add Cornstarch if you find that the sauce is too thin.  I did.

The other helpful hint I can give you is that you need some good kitchen shears.  Scissors to the rest of the world.  Something that you can take a chicken breast and snip the chunks off to the right size.  Much quicker than using a knife or cleaver.

The trick is that chunks cook faster than a large piece of meat.  So watch the temperature closely starting at 3 hours in the crock pot.  Over cooked chicken is tough and unappetizing.

This recipe can be made with chicken, pork, turkey, tofu or any other mild meats.  I have had it with Beef and thought it was a bit of an odd choice for sauces.

Since it served six, and I’m generous on serving sizes, it was well worth the honey that I poured into it. 

Oh and it tasted better than what you’ll find out in the restaurants because you aren’t hit by a wall of salt!

Ingredients:

  •     2½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken parts, turkey, tofu, or other meats could be substituted.
  •     1 cup honey
  •     ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  •     ½ tsp dark sesame oil
  •     2 Tbsp olive oil
  •     1½ tsp minced garlic
  •     2 Tbsp dry onion flakes
  •     ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  •     ¼ tsp crushed red peppers
  •     Up to 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  •     Sesame seeds
  •     Green onions, sliced

Process

  • Add to the crock pot and mix together: honey, low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, garlic, onion, barbecue sauce and crushed red peppers.
  • Cut up the chicken parts and add to the crock pot with the sauce.  Mix well.
  • Cook on low for about 3 1/2 hours to 4 hours or until chicken reaches 165F.
  • Remove chicken from crock pot setting it aside in a separate bowl.
  • Add sauce from crock pot to a sauce pan and cook on medium heat until it reduces and thickens.  If needed, add cornstarch slowly to help the thickening.
  • When sauce is thick, add the chicken back to the sauce and coat the chicken.
  • Serve on rice with sesame seeds and green onions, to taste.

This was adapted from Six Sisters Stuff and the original recipe is right here.

Crock Pot Curried Chicken Recipe

I was getting static about the chicken I had thawed.  Someone had had quite enough chicken lately and wanted nothing to do with my usual recipes.

No Caribbean Jerked Chicken?
No Barbecue Chicken?
No Grilled Chicken?

*Sigh* Ok, I’ll figure something out.

With the food that came into the house from all angles, plus the Manwich we made, the Chicken sat in the refrigerator one too many days.

I had to cook it, this was too much to waste and it was from a really good supplier.

I woke up that morning thinking I should just get the crock pot.  Rack, my dog, was hovering around his bowl and the crock pot caught my eye, just two shelves above it.

I threw this together in about 10 minutes, everything but the chicken took me all of about 3 minutes.   I was able to get my coffee done in the interim.

If you’re not into Chicken and are one of my Vegetarian friends, and you know who you are, this can easily be made with Tofu, Smoked Tofu, Quorn, or a suitable substitute.

I will say that when I had it for lunch instead of dinner, it was excellent.  So much so that I brought a bowl over to the neighbors and I don’t think it lasted past the time it took me to walk across the street!  Seeing that this was a “Mild Curry”, the next time I do make this, I will double the curry powder to two tablespoons – personal preference.  One Tablespoon is a good first try for most.

Now, while it looks like “ABC Food”, you know Already Been Chewed?, it tasted great!

The ingredients are:

For the first step

  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Curry Powder – or to taste.  1 Tablespoon is mild or just “Savory”.
  • A dusting or pinch of garlic powder to taste.
  • A dusting or pinch of “Chicken Seasoning” to taste.
  • Dehydrated Onion Flakes to taste (Optional)
  • 2 to 3 Pounds Chicken chunks 

For the Second Step:

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1 Can Kernel Corn

For when you unplug your crock pot and are just about ready to serve:

  • 1 Can String Beans

Why do I make it complicated by breaking it into three steps?   Simple, I like crunchy vegetables.  String beans in the can turn into mush if you cook them too long, and every veg I have ever found in a can was precooked.

Yes, you can eat kernel corn uncooked out of the can in an emergency.   Or so I have been told.   Same with Green Beans… and of course your mileage may vary so read your can first.

The Process:

To your Crock Pot, add the following ingredients in order:

  • Cream of Chicken Soup, Water, Curry Powder, Garlic Powder, Chicken Seasoning, Onion Flakes.
  • Stir the ingredients up until you get a good even mix.
  • Add the chicken chunks and mix again to coat everything.

Plug in your crock pot and turn it on for low at the short time setting.  Mine has a setting for 8 hours and I was finished early.

Chicken is cooked at 165F according to the USDA.  I found that my chunks were cooked after 4 hours to 180F, but your time will vary depending on the wattage of your crock pot.   Check the temperature of your chunks with an instant read thermometer at 3 1/2 hours and every 15 to 30 minutes or so after.  Or if you trust your crock pot… don’t!  Personally I hate overcooked chicken so I’m glad I did check!  Chunked chicken cooks faster than a whole breast or parts.

At 1 hour short of when you intend to pull the plug on this, add the following ingredients:

  • Can of Kernel Corn
  • 1 Cup uncooked Basmati Rice

Stir everything in to the mix.  The rice will soak up the extra moisture in the crock pot.

When everything is done and ready to serve an hour later, unplug the crock pot and add the Can of String Beans.  Stir well and serve.

Rack Approves of this Recipe For Pot Roast!

When you set up a crock pot and get no reaction, that is normal.

When you start to put the food together and get this reaction, you know it’s going to pass muster!

The recipe was good, I’ve had better.   The idea was to come close to the old school “Broil In Bag” experience with a Roast Beef – with as little effort as possible.

Our usual recipe is Carrots, Onions, Potatoes in the bag with the spices.  Add in a cup or two of Port Wine, and then the beef.  Roast in the oven.

This is a crock pot recipe which means your outside temperature of the beef will never get hot enough to caramelize the sugars in the outside.   It also means that the outside of the beef roast will not get tough as leather.

It was a trade off.  The prep took me under 15 minutes.   Press low for 10 hours on the crock pot and watch this reaction from Rack.

All…
Day…
Long…

Simple recipe, if you really would need one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup of strong tasting wine.   I strongly recommend Port Wine, but I used Pinot Noir because that was on hand.
  • 2 to 3 pounds of Beef.  Mine was an Bottom Round, and it was on sale.  Doesn’t have to be an extra spendy cut since it will cook Low and Slow for extra tenderness.
  • 4 Carrots cut into Bite Sized Pieces
  • 4 Medium Baking Potatoes cut into Bite Sized Pieces.
  • 1 Large Onion or 2 Medium Onions cut into Bite Sized Pieces.
  • 1 Clove of Garlic minced or roughly chopped.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter

Process

Ideally, marinade the beef in the wine overnight.  It will give it the flavor you’re looking for, however I did not marinade and missed the extra flavor.

Place Beef and Wine in the pot making sure that the beef at least gets covered by the wine.  Since the crock pot will drive the temperature well above 165F for hours, you can cook in your marinade.

Add all your vegetables.  Place Garlic and butter on the very top.

Start your crock pot and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. 

Beef is done by the charts, 165F internally is Well Done.  When I pulled my beef out for serving, it was close to 200F but it was also tender because of how it was cooked.  I would certainly not roast a beef to 200F because it would be a sad dinner, now, wouldn’t it?  Nobody wants shoe leather for dinner!

Your Veg are done when they are tender.   I didn’t make it to 10 hours since I was hungry.  Maybe the recipe cooked 8 1/2 hours, could be a little more.  Everything turned out great.  I saved the Juice for later cooking.  My plan is to cook egg noodles in that, and perhaps serve some more beef on top.  Easy Beef Stroganoff.

Who knew a roast could be this simpe!