A couple of recipes for your slow cooker

Have you ever heard the expression “It’s the dog days of summer”? The meaning is not real clear, but the way I understand it, it means that the days are so hot the dogs look not only for shade, but creep under the house where it might be cooler. Of course, today’s homes are built on concrete slabs and there’s no getting under them, however, I remember my Grandmother’s home here in Yoakum when I was a child and it was two feet or more above the ground and the dogs truly did crawl under there. Of course as children, a couple of cousins and I tried it also. Since no sun shone under there, the ground truly was cooler than the ground outside, even under a tree! So maybe the days are aptly named. It seems to be a name that applies from during the month of August until the first day of fall, which is always in September.
With all the hot weather we’re having, everyone needs to have a few one-dish recipes to rely on. So, dig out the recipe book that came with your slow-cooker, find a recipe that sounds good, follow the directions, put it on to cook, while you take the kids out for some play time or school shopping before they have to go back to school, and by the time you get home, the house will not be hot, it will smell wonderful and your supper will be ready! All you will need to serve with it will probably be a salad and maybe dessert. Easy as can be!
Almost any type of casserole that is to be baked in the oven can be baked in the microwave in much less time. This is another trick to keep the kitchen time to a minimum and keep it cool. If you are making a dish using chicken, which calls for it to be cooked, consider cooking it in the microwave, or even easier, purchase one of the rotisserie chickens available at your grocery store. They are good tasting, and you just remove the skin and bones, chop up the meat and you are good to go.
Slow-cooked Pepper Steak
1½ to 2 pounds round steak cut into 3×1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons cooking oil
¼ cup soy sauce (can use reduced-sodium)
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
4 fresh tomatoes cut into 8 wedges each (or use 1 can, 16-oz size undrained, tomatoes, chopped)
2 large green bell peppers cut into julienne strips
½ cup cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch
Brown meat strips in oil, place in slow cooker. Add next 7 ingredients. Cook 5 to 6 hours on low or until meat is tender. Add tomatoes and peppers and cook one hour longer. Mix water and cornstarch, add to liquid in cooker and cook on high until thickened. Serve with noodles or rice.
Carne Guisada
2 pounds boneless stew meat, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-size pieces, or 2 pounds round steak or same amount of venison ham steaks trimmed and cut into cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes, chopped or crushed
1½ to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the meat in a small amount of oil, add the onions peppers and garlic, and cook one to two minutes more. Pour into slow cooker and add the tomatoes; stir, cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Add the seasonings and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour or until the meat is very tender. Serve in or with heated flour tortillas with picante sauce or pico de gallo on the side.
This is an awesomely quick bar cookie type of dessert, I’ve had the recipe for years ad have probably published it before, but, just in case, your children are in school and you’re packing lunches, or just want an afternoon snack, this is one to try!
Quickie Bars
1 pound box light brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups baking mix (i.e. Bisquick or Pioneer baking mix)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can coconut (optional)
Beat eggs and sugar together, stir in vanilla and baking mix, add pecans and coconut. Pour into 9×12 pan and bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.