Crockpot Christmas CONTEST!

 

unknownEvery December The Colley House has a fun contest and give-away. This year’s contest is unabashedly self-serving for me.  Perhaps it will be helpful to someone else who’s got a lot going on this Christmas, as well. Since I’ve got at least four Christmas dinners for which I’m preparing all or a significant amount of the food, I’m asking for your best and most SIMPLE holiday recipes.  Who’s in? Just send me your favorite holiday crock-pot recipe OR a simple tried and true recipe that your family loves around the Christmas table. It can be anything from appetizers to desserts or any dish in between. It can be for your football game gatherings during the holidays or even the cookies you leave for Santa. The key is simplicity! I want recipes that I can make quickly AND that will be popular with the family. (Popular food makes the cook popular, too!)  You can enter as many times as you like and the top three winners will get to choose any two Colley House products at no cost! (There are four new Colley House books published in 2016, so you might want to check those out.) I’ll publish the best of the recipes and I’ll think of you all while I’m cooking those holiday meals. (I know I could go to Pinterest, but I love sister recipes because they’re sort of a like a long distance potluck!) Deadline is December 16th at noon. You can email the recipes to byhcontest@gmail.com. So hurry and send me a taste of your holiday! Blessings and much holiday happiness to you and yours!

P.S. I’ll share first. Here’s the recipe for Caramel Popcorn Balls, the traditional tree-trimming snack at the Colley house:

1 box brown sugar–1/2 cup butter–1/2 cup light corn syrup–1 T water–1 t. salt
Mix all that up (you don’t have to melt the butter. Just throw it in there) Microwave all that for 10 minutes. But after five of those ten minutes, take it out and stir it and add 2 tsp. of baking soda.) Then finish microwaving. Then pour over or mix in 3 quarts of popped corn and 1 cup of peanuts. (We leave out the nuts and just add a little more corn, because Hannah doesn’t like nuts) Spread on foil or waxed paper to cool or form balls. (We like the balls and to do this I spread butter on a piece of wax paper and hold this in my hand while I “squish” the ball together. You need something in your hand, because it is very hot when you mold them.) We love these! (The original recipe says microwave 12 minutes, but my microwave burns the caramel at 12 minutes, so I guess you kind of have to play with that!) They are so yum. Ezra left little sticky “Ock-corns” all over the house! He went crazy over them!15250781_961064418549_1488882612686999350_o

 

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #43–Cooking Times Four

Portrait of happy mother and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I’m sure you’ve thought of doing this with your kids, but it’s been a real benefit to ministry on several occasions for this family. Every time I make a casserole, a cobbler or a soup of any kind, I multiply all ingredient amounts by four, prepare the ingredients, and then spoon them out into 4-6 casserole dishes (depending on dish sizes), cover them well with heavy-duty foil, and freeze all of them except the one we are having for supper. I usually place the wrapped dishes in individual giant zippy bags to help guard them from freezer burn. I also label the bags with the name of the dish and the instructions for cooking or re-heating the dish. The casseroles and pies are almost always placed in the freezer before the baking, so you can just grab them from the freezer, thaw them and bake according to directions. Soups only need reheating. This is great math for upper-elementary kids, as they multiply the fractions of cups and teaspoons, and it’s great hospitality and benevolence planning for kids (especially daughters) of any age.

I know I don’t need to explain the benefits of this, but here goes. It’s cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk.  It greatly reduces cooking time because it only takes a few more minutes to make four casseroles than it takes to make one. When you do four meals at the time, you have one mess to clean up instead of four. 

But the biggest plus for me is being able to take a dish to a grieving family on the spur of the moment or to enjoy time with visiting family or friends instead of spending all my time cooking and cleaning the kitchen. It’s great to be able to have food on hand for Sunday dinners or fellowship meals. It’s great to be able to take a meal to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital or to someone who has a sick child. Best of all, your kids are watching and absorbing this active freezer ministry which just becomes a part of your family’s routine. It would be worth the price of my deep freezer many times over just for the consistency of hospitality and benevolence that it afforded our family. Of course we were still not even close to thorough or perfect as we took advantage of having a deep freezer. But still, it was/is a very helpful tool. 

Here are some dishes that work particularly well in the freezer. I’ve included the most recent recipe that I prepared and froze as well. It was very good! Thanks to Diana Shafer in Collierville, TN for sharing! It has already gone to a couple of octogenarians in their home in Tennessee and  to a visiting preacher-student family around our table.

These work well: 

Any kind of soup

Chili

Lasagne

Poppy seed chicken casseroles

Chicken, broccoli and rice casseroles

Most pasta dishes (especially if they are creamy)

Ground beef and vegetable casseroles

Dumpling dishes

Cobblers of any kind 

Dump cakes

Enchilada casseroles

Casseroles with crescent roll type crusts/toppings

Homemade Bread (Wrap well in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil or plastic wrap.)

(If a casserole calls for a cracker or potato chip or corn chip topping, add this after you remove it from the freezer.) 

                                                                                  Creamy Chicken

Ingredients:

4-8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken

1 pt. sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix (may use more)… (Also, I think I used a store brand and it was yum.)

1/4 c.milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Directions:

Cook chicken (boil or cook in microwave). Cool. Remove skin and cut into bite-size pieces. Line 9×13 dish with chicken. (But you can really use any size dishes. cc) Sprinkle with salt. Combine soups, sour cream and milk. Spread this over chicken.Prepare dressing mix according to directions on package. Margarine may be omitted if you do not like rich dressing. Use broth from chicken or chicken bouillon for liquid required in dressing mix. Spread dressing on top of soup mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. May be frozen before baking.  (This is easy and so very good!)