Crockpot On Vacation

An oldie, but a goodie.  This is a blog post that I wrote after our anniversary trip in October 2011.  Enjoy!!

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My husband and I went on a weekend-long trip to Alpena, Michigan for our anniversary last weekend.  We tend to go for less expensive vacation activities, and this trip was no exception.  We found a motel right on Thunder Bay and only paid $55 per night, which included a king size bed, full bathroom, full size fridge, stove, microwave, kitchen sink, dishes & silverware!  (Water’s Edge Motel)

We went to the Alpena Health & Racquet Club to try out their climbing wall for only $6 per person (no membership required!).  For a Saturday, this place was not busy so we had the whole climbing wall to ourselves, and it’s set up so you don’t need a spotter (special reels catch you when you let go).

Next, we visited the Besser Museum which had two stories of very interesting exhibits.  Admission was only $3 per person.  Our next stop was Stoney Acres Winery for some wine tasting and wine truffles.  Mmmmmm!  The expense here depends on what you want to buy, but sampling the wine is free (plus tip).

What better way to follow wine and truffles than with a hike at the Wildlife Sanctuary, located right in town.  It was so peaceful and beautiful — great photo opportunity!  (and it was FREE)  Our last stop was the Alpena Civic Theatre to watch the musical Barnum.  It was such a fun show, and tickets were only $14 per person!

Now for the good part — the food.  Our plan was to only eat out once.  We dropped the kids off at Grandma & Grandpa’s house on Friday and we ate our supper in the car.  Saturday morning, we had cinnamon bread pudding in the crockpot, which I started the night before.  After breakfast, I cleaned out the crockpot and threw in the ingredients for cheesy kielbasa casserole, which we ate after our visit to the museum.  That evening we went to Chee Peng Chinese & Thai restaurant and chose the buffet ($9.50 per person).  It was delicious!  Sunday morning, we decided to eat at Big Boy instead of having leftovers, and then on the way home we stopped at a friend’s house for lunch.  Ya can’t beat that!!

 

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

8 slices cinnamon swirl bread, cubed

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup melted butter

Maple syrup (optional)

 

1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

2.  Put the bread cubes in a bowl (or zip lock bag) and stir in melted butter until cubes are coated.  Put cubes into crockpot.

3.  Mix together milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over bread.

4.  Cook on Low for about 6 hours.  (I put it all in the crockpot late Friday night and set my alarm for 1am to get up and turn the crockpot on.  It was ready to eat at 7am).   We’ve found that topping the bread pudding with maple syrup makes it taste like french toast.  Yumm!

Before our trip, I did all the cubing, chopping, and measuring; and then put the ingredients into smaller, easy to handle containers and zip lock bags.  This makes it easier to pack the cooler!

Cheesy Kielbasa Casserole

1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 handful shredded cheese (about 1/2 cup if you must measure)

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

2 cups broth

 

1.  Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.

2.  Put kielbasa, pepper, onion, cheese, and rice in the crockpot and gently stir to distribute evenly.  Pour broth over mixture.

3.  Cook on low for at least 6 hours.  I cooked ours for 4 hours and some of the rice hadn’t fully cooked.  It was definitley edible and very tasty, but I prefer the rice to be softer and not ‘al dente’.

The next time you’re planning a road trip, consider bringing your crockpot along for home-cooked goodness at a price you won’t choke on!