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The Blonde Cucina: Celebrate Slow Cooking in January

by and on January 09, 2017 5:00 AM

Happy 2017! I’m sure you are all expecting a “new year, new you” article based on fitness and food, but that’s dull, boring and played out, not to mention, expected. Instead, let's focus on two foodie days that are celebrated in January: National Slow Cooking Month and National Soup Month.

I’m going to give you some great recipes based on these two celebrations. After all, it’s winter, and when you come home from work one of the last things you want to do is cook. What's better than walking in the door from a long day and finding your house permeated with the delicious smell of the slow cooker meal you started in the morning?   

SLOW COOKER SOUP  

Start to finish: approximately 6 hours 

1 pound frozen mini meatballs 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped 

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic 

2 small sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes 

8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms 

Salt and pepper, to taste 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

4 cups fat-free chicken broth

1 cup kale, rinsed and chopped (I always remove the center stalks.)

2 cups heavy cream 

Add all ingredients, except heavy cream and kale, to slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 6 1/2 hours. 

Just before serving, mix 2 cups heavy cream with 1/2 cup of the hot soup. Add the mixture into the slow cooker along with the kale. Mix and let cook a few minutes until kale wilts.

As it turns out, Jan. 17 is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Why not give this slow cooker recipe a try? It will make a great dessert and ending to your cold January night.

SLOW COOKER HOT BUTTERED RUM AND HAND-WHIPPED CINNAMON CREAM  

Start to finish: Approximately 6 hours 

  2 cups brown sugar 

  2/3 cup butter 

  1 pinch salt 

  2 quarts hot water 

  3 cinnamon sticks 

  2 cups rum

  Combine the brown sugar, butter, salt and hot water in a slow cooker. Add cinnamon, cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  

Stir in rum and cook for an additional hour. 

Ladle from the slow cooker into mugs, and top with Hand-Whipped Cinnamon Cream (see recipe below). 

HAND-WHIPPED CINNAMON CREAM

Start to finish: 5 minutes 

3/4 cup heavy cream 

  1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar 

  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

  1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

  1 tablespoon brown sugar 

Beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.

I know most houses do not have two crockpots, but I suggest you invest in a second one. They are usually only about $20, and so worth it. I have three and, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Soup, hot-buttered run, homemade whipped cream — oh my, what a nice menu to come home to during this cold January!



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.


Ciara Semack is the owner of The Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte. She is the mother of one and a lifelong resident of Centre County. Her column appears every other week in the Gazette. Questions, suggestions and comments can be directed to ciara@semack.net.
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