Monday, March 22, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Stock

I love making chicken stock in the crock pot, because you take what would otherwise be garbage and turn it into something you'd have to pay for normally. It's also absurdly easy and makes your house smell really good.

The blog Nourishing Days has some really good tips for making stock here. What was new to me was the addition of vinegar (it works, and you can't taste it) plus using cold water and letting everything sit for about an hour before turning on the slow cooker. Also, the idea of hanging onto vegetable scraps in a ziploc in your freezer and to use in your stock is inspired. I literally take a chicken carcass and veggie scraps that would otherwise just be trash and turn it into a staple I'd buy regularly anyhow. I feel like I'm making money in my crock pot!

What do I do with the chicken stock? In addition to using it as a great base for soups, I use it to make risotto, the absurdly easy cheesy chicken and rice recipe I posted a while back. It's required for my favorite chicken pot pie recipe, and for quick coq au vin. Or this fabulous lemon chicken (the last time we got lemon chicken at a restaurant both The Big Geek and I thought of this and wished we were eating it instead.)

Or sometimes I just use it to cook rice, cous cous, or quinoa to give it more flavor.

At any rate, it's easy, delicious, and free--so you may as well try it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cake Pops--first attempt

I'm sure most of you have seen bakerella's blog. If you haven't, you really should check it out. And she makes these adorable cake pops. I mean, seriously. Could they be any cuter? Well, maybe these could. Or these. Or these.
But anyway.
I was under no delusions that I'd end up making something like this. But I did think I could manage a round-ish cake pop with some green-tinted candy coating for a St. Patrick's Day party tomorrow.

I should point out that I don't generally use those candy melt things. If I did, I might have consulted someone with more knowledge in this area before trying this.

I think I did two things wrong:
1. I made the cake the "vegan" way, with a can of soda instead of eggs, oil, water, etc. I did this because someone at the party is allergic to eggs, and it's easy. But I think perhaps that changes the texture of the cake enough to make the balls too soft, even after a few hours in the freezer.

2. I had no clue what I was doing with the candy melts, so I was having to add shortening, etc. to fix the consistency. I expected to be able to dip and be done, but that is not the way this worked for me at all. It was too thick, and more than one cake pop lost it's "pop" because of it. In the end, I found that spreading on the candy coating worked best.
I got a few good ones,

and a few not-so-good ones.
They'll all taste fine. But I don't know if I'll do cake pops again. Cake balls, sure. Pops? We'll see.