The winter holidays are a lovely time of year, and personally, when the weather turns frightful, I turn to my crock pot slow cooker. I love it for everything. It’s simply the best and easiest way to make a chili or soup (try my awesome smoked chicken posole) or to slow-cook a nice piece of meat (try this yummy Korean BBQ pork). But don’t stop there.
This year, with a few tiny exceptions, my holiday gifts to friends and family will be homemade, and I will be gifting many of the same dishes I plan to trade at the San Diego Food Swap this weekend.
However, I do not plan to be standing over a hot stove.
Once again, my crock pot saves the day. Check out these two easy recipes for making delicious and easily gift-able homemade goodies.
Bourbon Bacon Jam
(I adapted this recipe from Evil Shenanigans … by adding more bourbon, doubling the volume of the recipe, omitting the coffee and making it less hot. Not to be confused with this amazing, smoky and spicy Bacon Chipotle Jam.)
- 3 lbs. chopped bacon
- 2 large sweet onions, diced
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup good quality bourbon
- 1/8 cup maple syrup
Render the bacon in a large stockpot and add chopped onions and garlic. Cook on medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes, until bacon is rendered and vegetables are a little tender.
Transfer everything to your crock pot (including all the bacon grease at the bottom of the pot) and add the remaining ingredients. Cook on high for about an hour, then take the lid off and let it cook on high for about another 2-3 hours, until the mixture is thick and syrupy. Taste often and add more or less spice according to your preference.
When it’s ready, transfer to a food processor or use an immersion blender in the crock pot to break the mixture down to a chunky spread. Pour into sterilized jars and keep refrigerated (this is not safe for canning).
Spiced Apple Butter
(This is a super-simple and extremely delicious recipe. You can also vary this recipe by adding pumpkin and making pumpkin-apple butter, or pears or plums.)
- about 3 lbs. apples, mixed types, chopped
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. ground ginger
- 1 tbsp. allspice
Chop apples and add to your crock pot with brown sugar and spices, and place on high setting. Cook for about 2-2 1/2 hours, until the apples are tender. Mash up the apples with a potato masher or immersion blender.
This has a lovely seasonal flavor, but you can make it easily all year round. It’s delicious on toast, biscuits, pancakes and more. It’s also safe for water bath canning. Enjoy!