Monday, February 22, 2010

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

I tried this one after Rae and a bunch of other board girls were buzzing about it... it comes from the Year of Slow Cooking blog and it's wonderful! It really has a kick to it-I think I might back off a little on the Frank's next time because it was a little too spicy for Maya to eat.

Uncooked Lasagna noodles, 1 box
4 already cooked chicken breasts (I just used a package, as usual)
Jar of prepared pasta sauce
1 C buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank's)
3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers
15oz tub of ricotta cheese
2 C shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
1/2 C bleu cheese crumbles
1/4 C water

Use at least a 5qt crockpot, or else cut back on the ingredients. In a large glass bowl, combine cooked and chopped chicken breast, the pasta sauce, and 1 cup of buffalo wing sauce. Ladle a big spoonful of the sauce into the bottom of your crock pot. Cover with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. You'll have to break them to get a proper fit. Add a smear of ricotta cheese to the top of the noodles. Add a layer of chopped bell pepper. Sprinkle on a handful of shredded cheese. Repeat layers until you run out of ingredients. Add the bleu cheese crumbles, if desired. Put the 1/4 cup of water into your empty pasta sauce jar and shake. Pour the liquid over the top of the entire lasagna. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on high for 4-5. When cooking time is complete, unplug and take off the lid of the crock. Let it sit for 20 minutes before cutting into, or it will fall apart.

Turkey and Bean Chili

Courtesy Real Simple Magazine!

Serves 4

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped (I omitted)
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used red because somehow between the store and my refrigerator I lost the green peppers...)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper or 2 tsp chili powder
28 oz. diced tomatoes
30oz kidney beans, rinsed
kosher salt & black pepper
1/2 C sour cream (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4-6 minutes. Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3-5 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and chili pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), beans, 1/2 C water, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12-15 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cilantro.

We loved it (it was SUPER yummy today for lunch!) and so did Maya! She's in her eat one day, don't eat for three days phase.... and she wolfed this down with some french bread Patrick picked up!

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Yummy birthday dinner for me! These were so good that I only got a picture of them in the pan... all of us snatched them up and ate them so quick I didn't get any more. Oops!

1/4 C butter/margarine
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 C flour
1 C chicken broth
4 oz cream cheese
2 C shredded Mexican cheese, divided
1 C shredded cooked chicken
1 can (7oz, but I only use the 4oz can) chopped green chilies, drained
6 8-in flour tortillas (I used the regular 10 in and it was fine)
1/4 C chopped green cilantro (optional)
sour cream/salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, cook & stir. Add flour, cook & stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth, cook & stir 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add cream cheese, stir until melted. Stir in 1/2 C shredded cheese, chicken, & chilies. Spoon about 1/3 C mixture into each tortilla. Roll up, place seam side down, in prepared baking dish. Pour remaining mixture over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chili Cranberry Chicken

This actually has more sauce to it when you make it... but I forgot to take a picture till the very end. This is actually our leftovers (which were DE-licious for lunch today!)

1/2 C Heinz Chili Sauce
1/2 C whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tbsp orange marmalade
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2tsp vegetable oil

Combine first 4 ingredients, set aside. In large skillet, slowly brown chicken on both sides in oil. Pour chili sauce mixture over chicken. Simmer uncovered, 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked & sauce is of desired consistency-turning and basting occasionally.

I personally like making this with rice-the sauce is delicious mixed with it!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Super easy, and a favorite!

-However many potatoes you want... 2 is MORE than enough for Patrick, Maya and I. It ends up essentially doubling the potatoes!
-Cheese, shredded, around 1 cup
-Bacon (I cheat and get the "real" bacon bits in the salad aisle... not the crunchy ones, the soft ones in the yellow package)
-Sour Cream (16oz)
-Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Bake or microwave the potatoes. After they've cooled, cut them in half and carefully scoop out the innards. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix with above ingredients, however much you want, really... sometimes I use all the sour cream and sometimes I don't-depends on how dry the potatoes are. Place the potato skins on a baking sheet, carefully scoop the potato mixture inside, and bake around 15 minutes or until you can tell the cheese is melting and it's getting a little golden brown on top. Put chives on top if you would like, or play around with some of the ingredients! We always have this with steak and green beans... a "classic" dinner for us.
Just as a flashback... this is the first time we made it, back at Spring Arbor :)

Cake Balls

This is courtesy of Bakerella... who has the prettiest and most creative treats I've ever seen! I highly suggest visiting her site and drooling over all her delicious ideas. This was the third time I've made them. First was Christmas, and it was the most heavenly thing... I had to eat them all so you know, they wouldn't go to waste. The second time they were a disappointment, which is too bad because they were for a baby shower... I learned from my mistakes though (too little frosting and too much chocolate on the outside... and not enough crunchy sugar sprinkles) and this time they were delicious once again.

Here is the how-to on her site, but this one on the Martha Stewart site was a little more helpful. I just used half of the recipe, since I didn't make them into little cupcakes. Watch the video how-to as a helper... I didn't make these ones but the first half of the video was really helpful.

This is how I do it, edited 7/9 after I've had a few more trial and errors:

Supplies list:

-about a pound and a half of white chocolate (the GOOD kind... the kind you can buy at cake/candy supply stores (or our chocolate store has them too). They sell them by the pound and they are little white circles. If not-Walmart has a kind that is called Plymouth Pantry Almond Bark that will do. If you are able to get the circles-the safest is to get plain white or milk chocolate. The colors are pretty but because of the oil in them they drip oil sometimes and I have BAD luck with it setting, ruining some of the balls, etc. I've also NEVER burned a batch of chocolate and did so last week with some blue chocolate and there was a pound in the garbage.

-Sprinkles if you want-I get the big jar of clear Wilton ones at Walmart, the one with the huge grains-I think it gives it a tasty little crunch! You can, however, decorate them however (I mean look at Bakerella's site... I'm just not that brave yet)

-Cake and buttercream icing: if you want to go with chocolate, which is our faaavorite, get Devil's Food cake and a jar of chocolate buttercream icing. If you want red, get Red Velvet cake and vanilla buttercream, I've never tried white but I'm sure you could use an angel food mix and white buttercream.

-Sucker sticks and, if you need, baggies to go over them, and ribbon

-Styrofoam floral block to stick them in (4 or 5 long blocks should do), and wrapping paper to put over it and make it prettier than the green

That's all for one batch, makes around 30-40... so it'll depend on how many you need to make!

How to:

-Bake the cake the day before you need to make the cake pops. Cool it overnight.

-Cut about 1/2 inch off the edges of the cake (where it's a little dry) and bit by bit, put the cake in a food processor to crumble. ONLY do it long enough to crumble it-too long and you'll turn it into a glob (I know this).

-Mix the crumbs with 1/2-3/4 of the can (NO more) of icing (mashing it with clean hands is easiest) until at a nice moist consistency.

-Line a cookie sheet with foil, clear out a big spot in your refrigerator, and roll the cake mixture into balls that are about 1/2 inch big. Place those on the cookie sheet-doesn't need to be in a nice order or anything-and refrigerate them for a couple of hours (if you are in a time crunch you CAN freeze them for about 10 minutes-but I've found that the refrigerator method greatly reduces the risk of the shells cracking later on!)

-When you are ready to start and have all of your supplies out-glass bowl to melt chocolate in, sprinkles in a bowl, styrofoam blocks prepared, sucker sticks out-start melting the chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. Too much and you will burn it and it's not save-able.

-Take your tray of cake balls out-dip the end of a sucker stick in the chocolate and push it in the cake pop. When you are finished put them back in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes, just for the chocolate to harden.

-Now it's time to dip. I used to bring the whole tray out but now I go one by one to reduce cracking. Take one of the cake pops out, dip it, and then holding it over the bowl, twist it and tap it until the excess chocolate has dripped off, or as much as you can get anyway. Be careful-the balls can fall in the chocolate! Immediately dip in the sprinkles and then stick in the styrofoam block (which should be in the refrigerator as well if you can). Repeat repeat repeat!

-They dry and set relatively quick. Cracks happen, but I don't really pay attention because they are so good I don't care. You CAN put a little more chocolate on with a paintbrush or something I'm sure if you are concerned about it though. Carefully put plastic bags over them if you want to.

Once they have set for awhile-I like to make them set overnight-they can be gently stored on their side in a container in the refrigerator. If I'm taking them somewhere I just keep them in the styrofoam though.

Good luck!

Stuffed Zucchini Boats & Seasoned Grilled Chicken

Ok this right here... absolutely delicious. I've had the recipe for a couple of years now, but never tried it... and for the sake of trying new things lately we thought we'd give it a try since all three of us LOVE zucchini.

First of all, the chicken-super easy. I cut the chicken breasts in half, seasoned both sides with McCormick's Cinnamon Chipotle Rub, and cooked it on the stovetop with a little olive oil. When it was done we microwaved some cheese on top till it melted. We love cheese.
And then for the Zucchini Boats:

4 medium zucchini (I used 3 and it still made a ton)
2 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1/4C cottage cheese
salt and pepper
1/4C grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff)
2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs

Scrub Zucchini. cook in large saucepan with boiling water to cover for almost 15 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and cool. Preheat oven to 350F. Slice off top of zucchini 1/3 lengthwise and discard tops. Scoop out pulp to form boats. Place pulp in strainer; drain and press dry (I soaked up the excess water with a few paper towels because we don't have a strainer... oh wait we do, I just forgot about it!). Combine pulp with sour cream, butter, cottage cheese, salt, and pepper in bowl, mix well (I threw in some additional parmesan cheese as well because I love cheese). Spoon into zucchini boats. Place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through and filling is golden brown. (Note: you can pre-cook the zucchini and refrigerate for 8 hours or until ready to use. Also, substitute shredded Cheddar cheese for the Parmesan for a "cheesier taste and a colorful presentation".)

One thing about this is you have to eat the zucchini all together. As in-you can't just scoop out the innards and just eat them. I tried one bite like that, Patrick looked at me like I was nuts, and I cut the next piece with the shell and it was soooo good. Give this one a try for sure!

Not Boring Chicken!

One night I had to make dinner in a pinch... I was tired and annoyed and didn't know what in the world I was going to do with plain chicken breast and only plain chicken breast and having to make it kind of quick. So... we tried out a new seasoning we had picked up with a coupon awhile back. Super yummy!
I just cut my chicken breasts in half (I always do that because I have a "thing" with chicken ever since I was pregnant), seasoned both sides lightly with the seasoning, and cooked them in a little olive oil on the stove. Super easy and fast and delicious!

Crock Pot Chicken Stroganoff

Wow, I have so much catching up to do that I forgot what recipe this was! This is one from Leah!

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, frozen (I just always use a package. Whatever.)
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
16 ounces sour cream
1 (1 ounce) package onion soup mix

Place frozen chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot (mine were thawed, it was fine). Mix the other ingredients together and pour over chicken breasts. Cook on Low for about 7-8 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Stir sauce before cooking and if you would like to thicken sauce, add flour or cornstarch. (I didn't do this but I would next time!) Serve over rice or noodles.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Toasted Garlic Soup

I got this recipe from Vanessa, who swore I needed to try it after reading about it on this blog and trying it herself. It was good-I think I'll sans an egg next time, because it had an odd texture to it... but it was good and between four of us there was none left at the end! Much thanks to Kristin who helped make it and who brought over the cute little oven bowls, as I am having a hard time finding ones I like! Just as a warning-the next day the apartment still smelled (deliciously) like garlic, so if anyone isn't a fan you might not want to try this!

2 tbsp butter
10 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp flour
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp finely minced parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
6 slices slightly stale crusty bread
1 cup crumbled chive-and-onion Gloucester cheese (I used slices of swiss cheese and that was good!)

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic and flour, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in stock and wine. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Slowly whisk in the beaten eggs, stirring briskly to ensure the eggs break up into small threads. Add parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Distribute the soup between 6 ovenproof soup bowls arranged on a baking sheet. Lay a slice of bread on each bowl, then top with a generous sprinkling of cheese. Place under a hot broiler and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Serve bubbling hot with some extra bread for dunking (and plenty of breath mints for dessert).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

My dear sister in law, Kristin, mentioned something about a pot roast the other night... and my mouth was watering constantly after that. Growing up I ate it pretty often I think, but I've never actually made one myself. So now that I'm in a crock pot kick I decided to do a little searchy search and found a high rated recipe. It was SO delicious!

Now. As for the directions-this is where it got interesting. I got the recipe here, and I didn't notice until I got home and had everything I needed for it that this recipe makes 12 servings-and so basically I bought double of everything, no big deal. (There's no way the original recipe would have even fit in my crock pot and I have a big one!)

So-this is the recipe scaled down to 6 servings (but was a perfect amount for the three of us with a teeny bit of leftovers).

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons water
2-3/4 pounds pot roast

In a bowl, mix cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix and water. Place pot roast in slow cooker and coat with soup mixture.
Cook on High setting for 3 to 4 hours, or on low setting for 8 to 9 hours.