Wednesday, October 23, 2013

White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies


Without a doubt, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are my favorite. Believe when I say I've searched high and low for recipes, and none of them have been as good as the ones from (the now defunct) The Original Cookie Company. They had the warm, chewy, soft cookies, and I always looked to getting one at the mall.

Using the medium OXO cookie scoop (can't live without this scoop)


Added a sprinkling of sea salt to the tops of these cookies before baking

Of all the recipes I have tried, these have been blog-worthy. They were solid. While I still feel like these aren't "the one", they've made it to the blog and I won't confirm nor deny that I may have eaten 6 of them the first night in one sitting.

Some notes:
  • Nut chopper- I love this thing! It chops nuts to a coarse of fine grind, and it also measures your nuts too
  • OXO cookie scoop- I have all 3 sizes, but the one I reach for the most is the medium size (which is the one I used in this recipe)
  • Butter- make sure it is melted and cooled to room temperature (this is an important step!)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped macadamia nuts (6.5-oz jar was perfect)
  • 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips (11-oz bag was perfect)
  • Sea salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. 
  4. Beat in the egg, then beat in the egg yolk, and then beat in the vanilla.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just moistened
  6. Stir in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips by hand with a rubber spatula.
  7. Roll into balls or drop by heaping tablespoonfuls (we love this OXO medium cookie scoop) onto baking sheets, and press down on the cookies with your palm a bit to flatten (but not too much!).
  8. Sprinkle some sea salt on top of cookies, and then bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges look brown and the middles don't look quite set. Allow to finish cooling on the baking sheet. (We baked for 12 minutes, which was perfect because the cookies hardened/cooked further while it finished cooling on the cookie sheet.)
Yield: 37 cookies

Source: Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker, who adapted from Crepes of Wrath 

Cabbage & Kielbasa


I had made an unsuccessful crockpot cabbage rolls recipe, and had a huge head of cabbage still leftover from it. Darin loves boiled cabbage, but I wanted to make an entree (not a side) from it, as well as try something new. I saw this recipe on All Recipe's website and gave it a try.


It was easy, and totally delicious! Darin and I both loved it! The original recipe had 2 Tbsp of sugar, but we both felt it was a little too sweet for our tastes, so I edited the recipe to only include 1/2 of what was called for (down to 1 Tbsp, edited below). Darin liked it so much, he actually asked for leftovers the next day. That is a win in my book!

Updated 9/3/14- I've doubled this recipe to make leftovers for lunches. I used 1.5# kilebasa (3 long links), 2 small heads of cabbage, and 8 slices of bacon. Otherwise, I doubled all the other ingredients except the sugar (don't want it to be too sweet). Cooking time will be longer, but as long as the cabbage is soft, you're good to go!

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound kielbasa. sliced on the diagonal (we love and use this turkey sausage)
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 large head of cabbage, sliced

Directions:
  1. In a large skillet, fry the kielbasa until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, fry bacon over medium heat until browned, turning once. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings, and place on paper towels. (We removed all bacon drippings but left about 1 Tbsp in the skillet.)
  3. Stir water, sugar, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and seasoned salt into drippings. Add cabbage, and gently stir. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. (We cooked it for 15 minutes.)
  4. Add kielbasa to pan. Cook, covered, for an additional 10-15 minutes. Crumble bacon over top, and serve hot.
Source: Adapted from All Recipes

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Pasta


Darin loves Mexican food, and this recipe fit the bill! This dish tastes exactly what it says- a chicken enchilada in a pasta form.

The recipe calls for shredded chicken- for me, I like pre-making my chicken using my slow cooker. I take about 4 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, add some chicken broth and some seasoning, and let the slow cooker do all the cooking. Then, I package them up in my Foodsaver bags and throw them in the freezer. It's so easy, and it's literally a "set it and forget it" kind of recipe. Then, I can make enchiladas, quesadillas, or any recipe that calls for pre-cooked chicken. Or, if you're in a pinch, a rotisserie chicken works great here too.


For this recipe, you saute some veggies, throw in the chicken, seasonings, and sauces, then let it simmer while the pasta cooks. Add in the sour cream and cheese, and voila- meal is done! Easy enough for a weeknight meal, and this makes a ton!

It's a warm, comforting meal that is easy and tasty- perfect for a cold rainy day like today.

Ingredients:
  • 16-20oz penne pasta (we used 16-oz of 100% whole what penne, and it was the perfect amount)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (plan ahead recipe here)
  • 4-oz can diced green chiles, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • (2) 10-oz cans green enchilada sauce
  • 2/3 cup red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream (we use reduced-fat)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (we used Costco's Mexican Cheese blend)
  • Toppings- green onions, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, diced avocado

Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make pasta according to box instructions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, grab a large sauce pan or Dutch oven, add the oil and onion. Saute on medium heat until semi-soft, roughly 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bell pepper and garlic, and saute until semi-soft, roughly another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked chicken, green chiles, salt, chili powder, cumin, and green and red enchilada sauces. Let the sauce simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through until the cheese is melted. Don't let it boil!
  6. Pour the sauce over the hot pasta.
  7. Garnish with toppings of your choice.

Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crockpot Creamy Italian Cheese Chicken


Darin loves this creamy chicken dish- it's super easy to put together, but it takes 45 minutes in the oven to cook. Sometimes, we don't have the time to wait for it, especially if it is during the weeknight.

I have seen various slow cooker versions on the internet but have always been skeptical. It won't taste the same! 

Well, I am here to tell you that it does taste just as good, and it's cooking while you're hard at work!

First, season the chicken breasts and add it into the slow cooker. Melt the butter, stir in the zesty seasoning mix, and then pour it over the chicken. Let it cook on low (while you're at work, running errands, what have you...) for 8 hours. Then, when you're about 20 minutes from eating, add the cream cheese and soups, give it a good stir, and let it cook on HIGH for 20 minutes. This allows the cream cheese and soup mixture to warm up and mix well. (Don't do what I did, and let it sit on high for 45 minutes- it just turned soupy then, and I like my sauces thick and creamy!)

Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts`
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 (0.7 ounce) package Zesty Italian Salad Dressing mix (we use Kroger's brand)
  • 4-oz cream cheese (we use reduced-fat)
  • (2) 10-oz cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 12-oz fettuccine noodles, cooked

Directions:
  1. Place chicken breasts into your slow cooker. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a dash (or two) of cayenne pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a measuring cup until melted. Stir in the salad dressing mix right into the measuring cup, and stir well. Pour onto the top of your chicken.
  3. Place the cover, and cook on LOW 8 hours.
  4. About 20 minutes before you're ready to eat, take out the cream cheese to soften it for a few minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker.
  6. Add the softened cream cheese and soup into the crockpot (there will be liquid in the crockpot), Give it a good stir, add the chicken back into the crockpot (it's ok if the chicken starts shredding/falling apart), and cook it on HIGH covered for 20 minutes. Don't let it sit too long or the sauce will become thin and soupy. This step is just to get the cream cheese and soup heated through.
  7. Place the chicken and sauce over your cooked noodles, and enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole


Casseroles are some of my favorite comfort foods. They're creamy, warm, and I love that it makes a lot of food! These pack well as leftovers too.

Prep ahead note- We buy chicken in bulk, and I always toss 2 packages (roughly 4-5 lbs of chicken breasts) into the slow cooker with some seasoning and chicken stock. I cook it on low for 8 hours, and then I have shredded chicken ready for salads, enchiladas, quesadillas, and other recipes. (See how I make my chicken!)


Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup (we use 98% fat-free)
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup mild shredded cheddar cheese (we use Kirkland/Costco Mexican cheese)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets OR 2 cups fresh steamed, chopped broccoli
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • Egg noodles, cooked

Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the cooked shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Then add in all the remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine mixture. 
  4. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 
  5. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve with cooked rice or egg noodles! (we prefer the rice) Enjoy 

Baked Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops


This recipe was a winner from Giada- so simple too! You essentially bread the pork chops with a Parmesan breadcrumb mixture,and then pop them into the oven. Couldn't get any easier!

Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dry Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • (4) 1/2" to 3/4" thick center-cut pork chops (each about 10-12 oz)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Misto cooking spray (optional)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. 
  3. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. 
  4. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere.
  5. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
  6. Spray the pork chops with Misto spray.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. (I baked mine for 21 minutes.)
Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Healthy and Easy Ranch Parmesan Chicken


Since this recipe contains just a few ingredients, it's really imperative to use quality ingredients. I didn't have time (nor the energy) to make homemade ranch dressing, so I asked a few friends, and it was a unanimous vote between Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch and Marzetti's Simple Dressed Ranch dressings (both located in the refrigerated section by the produce). I checked out both at the grocery store, and both had more natural ingredients and were around the same nutritional value. I ended up picking Bolthouse because I was intrigued that they used yogurt to make their Ranch. Oh boy, this ranch was delicious! It didn't taste artificial, and I started using ranch on everything!

I edited this recipe by having my chicken breasts marinate in the ranch dressing all day while we were at work. Not sure if this was the key, but my chicken baked up so moist and flavorful. Definitely encourage this step. Also, the original recipe said to pour melted butter on top, but to make it a little healthier, I sprayed my chicken breasts with Misto cooking spray, and it made it nice and crispy on top.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx 4 lbs)
  • 1-1.5 cups prepared Ranch dressing (we love Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch dressing)
  • Misto olive oil cooking spray or 1/2 cup melted butter 

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set oven rack to lowest position. Line a baking sheet with foil, and lightly grease it with cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Dip the chicken into the Ranch dressing, then coat it in the breadcrumb mixture; Press the breading onto the chicken.
  4. Place the chicken in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with other chicken breasts.
  5. Spray your chicken breasts with the Misto cooking spray, or add melted butter on top.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, until chicken is done and the breading has turned golden brown. 

Prep ahead: Marinate your chicken in the Ranch dressing. I let mine marinate all day while I was at work, and then coated them when I got home.

Source: Food

Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake


I was craving something sweet, and this Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake hit the spot. It is easy, only has a handful of ingredients, and serves a lot (12 people!).

The original recipes calls for (2) boxes of Oreo (or cookies & cream pudding mix), but our local Kroger didn't carry it. No worries! I adapted this by buying vanilla instead (Darin's favorite), but if you wanted to up the chocolate factor,you could purchase the chocolate pudding mix instead.


The cake base has a rich devil's food cake with crushed Oreos within, then topped with a vanilla pudding that permeates into the cake, making it nice and moist and delicious. The cake is then topped with more crushed Oreos, Cool Whip, and then sprinkled with (more) crushed Oreos. So simple, so easy, and SO delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
  • (ingredients for the cake mix- mine were 3 eggs, 1 cup water, and 1/3 cup oil)
  • 1.5-oz (large box) instant vanilla pudding mix (we used the sugar-free, fat-free version)
  • 3 cups milk (we used 2% milk, but will try skim milk next time)
  • 1 package (15.5-oz) chopped Oreo cookies, divided
  • 8-oz (small tub) Cool Whip, thawed (we used Cool White Lite)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or according to your cake mix box instructions.)
  2. Make cake mix according to box instructions; stir in a handful (I used 13 cookies) of crushed Oreo cookies. 
  3. Pour batter into a greased 13x9 pan, and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Once it is done baking, use a chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon, and begin making holes in the cake while it is still warm, making sure to push down all the way to the bottom.
  5. After poking the holes, make the pudding, and immediately pour it over the warm cake. (It is important to not make the pudding while the cake bakes, as it will begin to thicken and won't pour into the poked holes properly.)
  6. Top with more crushed Oreos (13 or so cookies).
  7. Allow the cake to completely cool.
  8. Spread the Cool Whip over the top of the cake, and sprinkle the remaining crushed Oreos. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Yield: Serves 12 people

Source: Adapted from Sing For Your Supper

Pesto Marinara Sauce

This pesto marinara sauce was out of this world!

I love trying new recipes- most times, I can eyeball a recipe and determine whether it would be something D and I would like. When I came across Shay's post about adding pesto to regular jarred spaghetti sauce, I was intrigued. I loved how Shay took jarred marinara sauce up an ante by mixing it with some pesto- what a genius idea! And OMG, was it ever good!

I did try her meatballs,  but it just wasn't for us. Next time, I need to go with our tried and true favorite meatballs, but we'll definitely use her unique twist on pesto marinara sauce! I feel silly to even make this a post, but I like to document everything :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 jar (24-oz) marinara sauce
  • 1 jar (8-oz) pesto (we used homemade pesto, but Classico makes a jarred version)

Directions:
  1. Combine spaghetti sauce and pesto sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Once the sauce starts to bubble, lower the heat to low, cover, and stir occasionally.

Use our favorite meatballs to complement this dish!

Source: Mix and Match Mama

Cook's Country Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan-Dijon Cream sauce


There are many variations of chicken cordon bleu- it's essentially baked chicken stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. I turned to my trusty Cook's Illustrated (or, in this case, Cook's Country) for their version.


When I've made this in the past, it's always lacking a creamy sauce. Well look no further, I think I've found the one. The sauce is creamy and comforting- a mild Parmesan cheese sauce with a hint of Dijon mustard.

Notes:
  1. Homemade bread crumbs made all the difference! I think this is another aspect where this dish lacked for me before- using store-bought breadcrumbs in a canister (or even Panko) never made the "oh, this dish is amazing!" cut. I always keep the heels of bread loaves in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for occasions like this. 
  2. Pick a good quality ham and Swiss cheese you can find- For us, we love Kroger's Private Selection or Boar's Head brands
Ingredients:
  • 25 Ritz crackers (I used Roasted Vegetable flavor)
  • 5 slices of hearty sandwich bread (we keep 100% whole wheat in the house)
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 thin slices of deli ham (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, or 6-oz package of sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3-4 thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), patted dry 
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toothpicks (for securing)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Misto cooking spray (optional)
For the Parmesan-Dijon sauce
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (use at least 2%; skim won't work here)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube/granule, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. Make the homemade breadcrumbs
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
    2. Pulse the crackers and bread in a food processor until they are coarsely ground. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to incorporate together.
    3. Transfer the breadcrumb mixture onto the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes until the crumbs are lightly browned. (They brown quickly so keep a close eye!)
    4. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow baking dish (ex: pie plate). Leave the oven on.
  2. Begin making the ham/cheese rolls- Top each ham slice with 1/4 cup of shredded Swiss cheese (or 1 slice of Swiss cheese), and roll it tightly. Set aside. Complete with the remaining ham slices. (We used 2 ham/cheese rolls per chicken breast.)
  3. Stuff the chicken breasts
    1. Cut a pocket into the thickest part of the chicken breast, and stuff each pocket with 2 ham/cheese rolls. 
    2. Pull the top flap of chicken over the rolls, and press to seal. 
    3. Season the chicken breast with some salt and pepper, and gently secure the breast with toothpicks (we used 2 toothpicks per breast). Make sure the rolls are completely stuffed in the chicken.
  4. Refrigerate stuffed chicken- Complete this for the remaining chicken breasts, and refrigerate the stuffed chicken, covered, for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the "dipping station"
    1. While the chicken is sitting pretty in the fridge, begin making the 3-plate "dipping station"- place the eggs and Dijon mustard and mix together well. 
    2. In another plate, add the flour. 
    3. The 3rd plate is the breadcrumb mixture from Step #4 above.
    4. Line the "dipping station" in this order: Flour--> Egg--> Breadcrumbs.
    5. Prepare the same baking sheet with foil (the same one you used for the breadcrumbs), and lightly grease it with cooking spray.
  6. Coat the chicken
    1. Once the chicken has been in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, remove it from the fridge and begin dipping! 
    2. Coat the chicken lightly with flour, then dip it in the egg mixture- covering both sides, and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing lightly to help the crumbs stick to the chicken. 
    3. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. 
    4. Spray the chicken breasts with Misto cooking spray (this helps to crisp up the breadcrumbs.)
  7. Bake the chicken
    1. Transfer the chicken to the lightly greased baking sheet, and bake on the lowest rack of the oven until the bottom of the chicken is browned, about 10 minutes.
    2. Move the chicken to a middle rack in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees (you don't have to leave the chicken out of the oven while the temperature adjusts, just put it back in the oven and then reduce the temperature), and bake until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (160 degrees on a meat thermometer), about 25-30 minutes. 
  8. Make the Parmesan-Dijon sauce
    1. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter. 
    2. Once the butter has melted, add the flour, and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.
    3. Slowly stir in the milk, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. 
    4. Stir in the bouillon and salt, and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
    5. Remove from heat, and add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted. Keep the sauce warm while the chicken finishes cooking.
  9. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving, then top it with the sauce.
Source: Sauce, Chicken adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Chicken Suiza Enchilada


Another easy and tasty winner!



I was initially thinking- Swiss cheese? In an enchilada recipe? Granted, I can only assume this isn't 
"authentic", but who cares when it tastes so good and warms up your belly? I would definitely recommend using Swiss cheese in this recipe- it lended great flavor to this enchilada dish. Next time, I would alter this recipe by sauteing the veggies first, as D and I didn't like the "crunch" but loved the flavors that the veggies provided.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded (see this post on how to cook chicken for this dish)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 2 cups either Green Chile Salsa or Tomatillo Salsa, divided (I used Kroger's jarred Private Selection hot New Mexico green chile salsa)
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 6-8 tortillas 
  • sour cream to garnish


Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a medium-sized Pyrex baking dish.
  2. In a medium saute pan on medium-low heat, add olive oil. Once warmed, add green onions, garlic, and chopped jalapeno peppers. Saute until soft- 5-7 minutes.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, combine chicken, onions, garlic and jalapenos with 1-1/2 cups salsa.
  4. Spread 1/2 of your chicken mixture across the bottom of your Pyres baking dish.  
  5. Top with 1/3 of your cheeses (use both kinds) and top with a layer of tortillas.  
  6. Repeat. 
  7. Finish off by pouring remaining 1/2 cup of salsa over the top and topping with the remainder of your cheeses.  
  8. Bake about 30 minutes or until bubbly and brown around the edges.  
  9. Garnish with sour cream.
Source: Adapted from Mix and Match Mama

Slow Cooker Meatloaf


Take 10 minutes out of your morning to make this dish before leaving work. I was skeptical on this recipe, but it turned out really well and flavorful! It definitely doesn't take place of our favorite meatloaf recipe, but this one is easy and requires minimal prepwork. Perfect for a weeknight, and what's not to love about having it cook for you while you're gone all day?

Ingredients:
  • 8-10 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 lb Bob Evans sausage roll
  • 1 lb ground beef*
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1 packet dry onion soup mix (1.25 oz)
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:
  1. Place cut carrots onto the bottom of your slow cooker. (This is important as vegetables take longer to cook down than meat. Thus, having the carrots towards the bottom of the heating unit ensures it will cook the veggies.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine sausage, beef, 1/2 cup ketchup, dry onion soup mix, breadcrumbs, and eggs. 
  3. When well combined, shape your loaf to fit into your slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours (I let mine cook for 12 hours).
  5. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup ketchup on top of meatloaf for 30 minutes before serving. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for 30 additional minutes.
*Note: I would recommend using a lean cut of beef (preferably ground sirloin). I didn't want fat to render and just sit around in my slow cooker with my carrots.

Source: Adapted from Bob Evans

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore


This was a delicious, easy, and comforting meal to come home to.This is the first time I used boned-in chicken in the crockpot, and it worked beautifully. The chicken was moist, tender, and full of flavor, and I loved the sauce too. The original recipe stated that this dish had a lot more flavor if you browned the chicken prior to adding it to the crockpot, and I followed her exact instructions- I'm so glad I did. I also upped the amount of vegetables- if the sauce is that good, might as well make it as healthy as can be,

Ingredients:
  • 8-10 chicken thighs, with the bone, skin removed
  • Salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • Splash of chicken broth or stock
  • 2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 green bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs such as basil or parsley for topping

Directions:
  1. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high, lightly spray with oil (I use my Misto) and brown chicken on both sides a few minutes. Add to the slow cooker. 
  3. To the skillet, spray with a little more oil and add onions and peppers. Sauté until juices release and the vegetables become golden, a few minutes. Add to the slow cooker. 
  4. Pour tomatoes over the chicken and vegetables, add oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and the crushed red pepper; Give it a quick stir and coverSet crock pot to LOW 8 hours or HIGH 4 hours.
  5. Remove bay leaf, adjust salt and pepper and enjoy! 
Adapted from Skinnytaste

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili Soup


This soup was color, flavorful, comforting, and oh so good. Despite the 85* and high humidity days, I was already pinning soup recipes for the upcoming fall season. The recipe is straightforward, and even with my substitutions (omitted corn, increased chicken, used canned jalapeños), the soup turned out delicious. 


It definitely has some heat (feel free to include the seeds from fresh jalapeños if you're feeling adventurous), and has a good rich flavor. This soup ups its ante with an entire brick of cream cheese, but I used the reduced-fat kind so I wouldn't feel as guilty eating one two bowls in 1 sitting.

Original recipe calls for 1.25# chicken breasts and omitting the chicken broth for a thicker consistency, but since we always feel like there isn't enough meat in soups, we increased the chicken to 1.75#. We also normally like thicker soups so we had planned to omit the chicken broth, but there was hardly anything to simmer for 30 minutes, so we did include the full 1.5 cups of broth.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, diced, seeds removed (used 4-oz canned diced jalapeno peppers)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (used 1.75#)
  • 2 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed between fingertips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 Knorr Chipotle seasoning cube
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth*
  • 15-oz can kidney beans 
  • 1 cup corn (omitted)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, reduced fat
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled, for serving (used crumbled bacon from Costco)
  • Monterey-Jack cheese, shredded, for serving (we use this cheese from Costco)

Directions:
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat and saute onion, both types of peppers and garlic until soft and tender. (This took about 15-20 minutes, and instead of adding more oil, I added some splashed of chicken broth- no added oil and helped cook the veggies along!)
  2. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan with the chicken and lightly brown chicken on all sides. Season with chile powder, cumin and oregano.
  3. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, chipotle cube, beans and corn. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Taste and season as needed.
  4. Add cream cheese and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve with crumbled bacon and both types of cheese sprinkled over top.
Source: Adapted from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

Product Rave: CorningWare 20-oz Mugs

With the cooler temperatures rolling in, nothing is more comforting than something warm to eat for lunch. We use a lot of Pyrex dishes to store and reheat food, but we've been burned one too many times in this household. The microwave warms up your food, but really heats up those baking dishes too, making it too hot to touch right out of the microwave.

CorningWare 20-oz mugs

I had these in my Amazon cart for months, and I am so glad I finally sprung for these. It's large enough (20-oz) to hold soups, stews, and chili, and I love that I can grab the handle without burning my fingers when I reach for it in the microwave. It has a large handle, so it works for both me and D (who has large hands).

This handy mug also has a tight-sealing lid (though not airtight) that has a vent hole to release steam. It is also great for when you want to bring the mug back to your desk- since the lid contains the food inside, there is less likelihood for your food to"slosh" around as you walk back to your desk. It keeps all messes to a bare minimum when you have this lid on.

Love the easy clean up too!

Note- While it is a tight-sealing lid, definitely don't place the mug on its side. Leak attack for sure.
I can get approximately 19-oz of food in me!

Tight-seaing lid....

... with an air-vent that will "pop" when necessary

Quick & Easy Low-Carb High-Fiber (Turkey) Pepperoni Pizza

If there was one thing I could eat just about every day, it would be pizza. What's not to love about carbs + melted cheese? Oh right, that would tons of carbs and fat, and with a metabolism that is slowing down year after year, I'm no longer a spring chicken.



Kalyn's Kitchen uses Flatout flat bread as her base, tops it off with some pizza sauce, and then adds some mozzarella cheese and turkey pepperoni. A lower fat and carb alternative without sacrificing the flavor? Count me in! These are easy, quick, and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Or, we like to have them no Friday nights and pop in a movie.



Ingredients:
  • 1 piece Flatout Multigrain flatbread (they sell these in the bakery section of my grocery store)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Muir Glen Pizza Sauce (or any low-sugar pizza sauce; sometimes we use spaghetti sauce)
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup low-fat pizza cheese (we use Kroger brand)
  • 12-15 pieces turkey pepperoni

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F. 
  2. While oven heats, put flat cookie sheet into oven to heat for 5 minutes. (If you have a pizza stone, that would work great here.) 
  3. After about 5 minutes, remove cookie sheet, drizzle on about 1 tsp. olive oil, and spread around with paper towel. (Be careful not to burn yourself on the hot pan.) 
  4. Put flatbread on pan, put in oven and cook 2-3 minutes, just until bottom of the flatbread is slightly toasted.
  5. Remove cookie sheet from oven and turn flatbread over, then spread 2 Tbsp pizza sauce on the toasted side, spreading around with your fingers or a pastry brush so there is a very thin layer of pizza sauce on the entire surface of flatbread. 
  6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over sauce, and spread around so it covers sauce.
  7. Layer pepperoni, then mushrooms, over the cheese, finishing with 1/4 cup more cheese.
  8. Put cookie sheet back into hot oven and cook pizza 7-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned and pizza is done. Watch it carefully the last couple of minutes. Serve hot.


Nutritional info (1 flatout pizza, 15 turkey pepperoni slices): 423 calories, 20g carbs, 25g fat, 9g protein
 
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