Saturday, December 7, 2013

CrockPot Honey Bourbon Chicken

Instagram has become my saving grace for getting food photos in the early darkness of winter!

We are so over holiday food. After Thanksgiving, we ate leftovers for a week, so if I don't see another turkey again until next year, I'd be really happy. Hubs and I have been craving Asian food for the last few weeks, so I thought I'd try something new to satisfy the craving. I am always a bit hesitant when it comes to teriyaki-style chicken in the CrockPot with honey in the recipe. I have tried a few of these recipes and it always comes out too sweet. So, when I saw this particular recipe, I was really nervous. But it sounded good and I had all the ingredients, so I committed. I cut back on the honey a bit, which made it just about perfect. This wound up being a huge hit! It's in my permanent recipe file, as per Hubby's request. Please don't leave out the toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions; they really made the dish.

HUGE bonus: The two-year-old was a big fan, too! Lately, she's been all about oranges, carrots, and bananas, so it was great to see her scarfing down the chicken. The toasted sesame seeds were a big selling point, of course!

One more note: Despite the name, this dish does not have any bourbon in it. You could add some if you like, but it's not in the original recipe-and I didn't have any, so it worked out!

CrockPot Honey Bourbon Chicken
*Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

4 chicken breasts (I used frozen, because that's what I had on hand)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons water
Cooked rice
Chopped green onions
Toasted sesame seeds

Place chicken in CrockPot and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped onion on top of chicken. Mix garlic, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, canola oil, and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. (My chicken was frozen, so I cooked it on high for about 4 hours.)

When the chicken is cooked and comes apart easily with a fork, remove from CrockPot and shred. Set aside. In a cup, combine one tablespoon cornstarch with one tablespoon water. Pour into sauce and stir. If it's not thick enough, repeat with an additional tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water.

Place the shredded chicken back in the sauce and stir to coat. Serve over rice with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Potato, Caramelized Shallot, and Goat Cheese Tart

Oh, so good. So, so good!
 Hubby and I are on a healthy, whole foods kick. We purchased a quarter of a cow from one of his co-workers, who has a beef farm, which resulted in 175 pounds of organic, grass-fed beef filling our freezer. We are splitting it with my parents, but I can't tell you how excited I am to see all that wonderful meat! It was really cost-effective too, when you broke it all down.

In addition to our beautiful quarter beef, we have started using Full Circle produce. They deliver a box of certified organic produce to our front door once a week. Now, I am NOT one of those it-must-be-organic-or-I'm-going-to-freak-out types, but it is really exciting to get such good, local produce (I am a big proponent of eating local!) at such a great price. And delivered to our door, no less! The best thing about it is that we are being forced to cook outside the box, figuratively speaking. Just this week, we got a pie pumpkin, a bunch of kale, yams, an avocado, shallots, valencia oranges, persimmons, and fuji apples. We found out that persimmons are yummy! And I sautéed some kale with red pepper flakes, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. It was delicious!

The best thing I've made with some of this amazing produce was a sweet potato, caramelized shallot, and goat cheese tart. I actually cheated and made it the day before we got the box of produce because I had a bunch of sweet potatoes, but I'm sure it will be just as good when I make it again with the yams! This is my favorite thing I've made in a long time. Hubs enjoyed it, but he's a meat lover, so this vegetarian dish wasn't in his top 5. It was definitely in mine though! I can't even begin to describe how yummy it was, and although a bit labor intensive, the results are SO worth it. Thank you to Full Circle for posting this recipe, which I will be using for the rest of my life. I swear. The only change I MIGHT make would be to sprinkle some crumbled bacon on top. Because everything is better with bacon. Maybe.

Oh, and I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. It was 7:30 when I started it, so it didn't get done until around 9. 9pm in the fall=crummy light!

Sweet Potato, Caramelized Shallot, and Goat Cheese Tart
*From Full Circle

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/4 pounds (2 medium) sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled and thinly sliced (we used a mandolin)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 400º.  In a medium saucepan, heat oil oer medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Spray a 10-inch tart pan with non-stick spray (we used our Misto) and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Place sweet potatoes or yams in overlapping layers, starting at the outer edge and spiraling inward to make one layer. Sprinkle some shallots, thyme, Parm, goat cheese, salt and pepper, and repeat the process to create 3 layers.

Cover the top of the tart with crumbled bacon, if you're using it (I'm still on the fence about the bacon), and any remaining cheese (I set aside some Parm so I had plenty to sprinkle on top), then very lightly salt.

Bake until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Remove and cut into wedges to serve. It also reheats really well the next day. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup


I used to hate broccoli. Like I had a true, honest, complete HATRED for broccoli. It's nasty, I can't stand the taste, I don't want to eat mini trees . . . and on and on and on. It was pretty dramatic-and ridiculous. I have since seen the error of my ways and now I LOVE broccoli. We buy the giant bags of florets from Costco and use it up within two weeks. Broccoli in everything! This soup, in particular, is a family favorite. I wrote down the recipe and have reworked it over and over again until it is perfect-at least in our opinion. The notebook page it's on is covered with mashed broccoli bits, dried cheese, and splashes of milk-all signs of a well-used recipe! My husband is a huge fan and claims that it is just as good as Chili's, which is really, really high praise coming from a self-proclaimed broccoli cheese soup aficionado.

I have doubled this recipe and we've eaten it for days, but I'm still working on exact times and amounts for doubling-such as the amount of broccoli and cheese since doubling it calls for about 10 cups of broccoli florets and 6 cups of cheese! I've done it and it works fine, but Hubs likes the quality of a single batch more. Eh, I'd rather do a little more work and eat the leftovers for days, but whatever. Regardless, this is an amazing soup recipe! (Yes, I'm tooting my own horn, but it is REALLY, REALLY good, and it ought to be since I've made it 8 times in the last few months!)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 shallots, finely diced (or one small yellow onion)
5 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
5 cups chopped broccoli florets
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add flour and cook 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in half and half, milk, and chicken stock. Simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes (to shorten this step, I've simmered it on medium to medium high heat-about a 6 on my stove-for 10 minutes).

Add broccoli and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes (again, to shorten, just up the temp to medium high heat and cook for 10 minutes) or until broccoli is fork tender.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for a few minutes to your desired consistency, or, alternately, use a blender and purée half the soup, then add it back to the pot. Bring the soup back up to temp and add the cheese. Once the cheese is melted, it's ready to serve with some extra cheddar sprinkled on top. Let's face it, this is not a healthy recipe, so go nuts with the cheese! Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CrockPot Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Spicy, Buffalo-wingy goodness right there!
My husband loves all things Buffalo. As in the wings, not the city. I've seen him put Buffalo sauce on just about anything, sometimes to the point of making me gag. So, I thought he would be really excited about these tacos when I pitched him the idea last night while he was at work.
"Eh, okay," he says.
"REALLY? That's all the excitement I get for BUFFALO chicken tacos?"
"It's just that we have tacos all the time . . . "
Hmm, he does have a point. Tacos are my go-to meal when I can't come up with anything more creative. "But these have BUFFALO sauce!"
"Okay, we can try them," his final answer.
GRRR.

I made them anyway because, let's face it, I can't come up with elaborate, time-consuming meals every stinkin' day, so Buffalo chicken tacos were happening. Well, his immediate response after the first bite solidified my genius:
"You were SO right! I will never doubt you again. Oh my gosh, so good!" Yes, that is what he actually said. I'm right. Of course, haha! Never doubt the wife!

Now I'm going to bask in the glory of my husband telling me I'm right (I am almost always right, but he rarely admits it) while I attempt to clean the Buffalo sauce off of every surface in my kitchen.

Oh, and if you like Buffalo sauce, try this one. It's definitely a keeper in our house!
Being right sure looks good.


CrockPot Buffalo Chicken Tacos

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used frozen and it worked great!)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4-1 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce (I used 1 cup with 3 breasts, 3/4 cup would have been plenty)
3 tablespoons melted butter
Corn tortillas
Oil for frying
Chunky blue cheese dressing
Coleslaw mix
Green onions, chopped
LOTS of napkins!

Spray your crock with oil-I use a Misto with olive oil, but Pam would work fine. Place chicken breasts in the crock and sprinkle with black pepper. Mix Frank's RedHot and melted butter together and pour over the breasts. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.

Remove chicken from the CrockPot and shred with two forks. Put the chicken back into the hot sauce mixture and stir. Turn to high and leave the lid off for 10 minutes. The chicken will be very juicy and doesn't thicken much, hence the need for lots of napkins!

Meanwhile, heat the oil in skillet and quick fry your tortillas. We use a cast-iron skillet on medium heat and do about 30 seconds a side. You could also use flour tortillas, if you don't want the mess and hassle of frying.

Serve tacos with coleslaw, chunky blue cheese dressing, and chopped green onions. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Buffalo Ranch Roasted Chickpeas

Mmm, buffalo ranch roasted chickpeas!
Some days you just need buffalo sauce. Seriously. Your taste buds just cry out for that spicy, vinegary heat. However, cooking chicken wings and coating them in butter and buffalo sauce isn't always an option (hello, unhealthy MESS!), despite what Hubby might say. (One of his all-time favorite dishes is buffalo wings.) This particular snack is fun, easy, and yummy. I think it's perfect for football season, as long as you don't make more than you're sure you will need. While these come out of the oven nice and crispy, they don't stay that way, and don't make good leftovers-at least if the crispiness is something you need. However, I like them the next day, since they are still spicy and yummy.

Happy, happy, happy!


Buffalo Ranch Roasted Chickpeas
*From Kid Tested Firefighter Approved

2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, drained, rinsed, and patted dry)
3 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (I omitted-I didn't have any)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
2 tablespoons dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400º. Combine chickpeas, hot sauce, and lemon juice in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the spices together. Add spice mixture to the chickpeas and stir to combine.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Pour chickpeas onto it and spread out in a single layer. Bake for 35-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry cobbler and ice cream are the perfect combination!

I have a confession to make. I used to hate blackberries. My mom would make blackberry pie and I would turn up my nose. Too many seeds! Not sweet enough! I don't like pie! (To be completely honest, I still don't like pie very much. Crust is just really not my thing.) Maybe it was the seeds. Maybe it was the child labor involved to harvest the berries. Maybe it was the scratches from the thorns and the bee stings. I really don't know where the dislike started, but I have since changed my mind about blackberries. They are plump, juicy, and delicious, especially in this cobbler.

Hello, Delicious!

The cobbler topping on this was so good. We sprinkled some raw sugar (turbinado sugar) on top before baking, so the topping ended up soft and pillowy in the middle with a slightly crunchy top layer from the sugar. Perfection. The first time I made this, we used too many blackberries (7-8 cups instead of 6) and it didn't thicken up well. We made it again, and were careful to use only 6 cups of berries, and it turned out perfectly. This is a great summertime dessert-and a perfect Pacific Northwest treat!

Blackberry Cobbler
*Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/3 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
6 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained
1-2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400º. In a large bowl, mix flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter in pieces and use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut it into the flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the boiling water until the mixture is just evenly moist. Set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water.  Add the berries, remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Transfer to a skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Allow to boil for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Transfer to a baking dish (I used a 9x11 oval baking dish and it worked perfectly). Drop the dough on top by spoonful and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.

Bake 25 minutes, until dough is golden brown. Enjoy with a generous scoop of ice cream!
Yes, this smells as good as it looks!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Our Favorite Salsa

Best salsa EVER!
This is far and away the best salsa I've ever had and I don't have to go anywhere special to get it, which I love! You could easily use fresh tomatoes, when in season, but Hunt's canned tomatoes are delicious and very, very fresh tasting. This might be one of the easiest recipes I make, but it is always a crowd pleaser!

I have blogged this salsa before here, but I felt like it merited another post. I make this at least once a month and even more frequently in the summer. Hubby's co-workers request it and so do our friends any time we're going to a potluck or BBQ. I've had quite a few requests for the recipe lately, so I though that this would be a good chance to write about it again and (hopefully) get a better photo of it. So, here it is again. Enjoy!

Our Favorite Salsa
*Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 28-oz. can Hunt's whole tomatoes, drained (or 2 14.5-oz. cans)
2 cans RoTel tomatoes and peppers, drained (you can use any combination of mild, medium, or hot)
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 whole jalapeños, quartered and thinly sliced (remove ribs and seeds to lower the level of spiciness)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
1/2 lime, juiced or 1 1/2 teaspoons of lime juice

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency. Taste to test for seasoning. Add more sugar or salt, as necessary-I usually add a small pinch more of each.

Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to marry. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Steak and Mushroom Pot Pie

Hubs has been working a lot of overtime lately, so he decided to take a few days off last week. We had 6 glorious days in which I didn't have to worry about him or do the mostly-single parent thing; it was amazing. We spent lots of family time together, which was great. We went hiking, garage sale-ing, and checked out a few of the local street fairs. Our area also boasts the largest Scottish Highland Games this side of the Mississippi, which just happened to be on the weekend Hubs took off.

If you've never gone to a Highland Games event, you should. It was so much fun! There were bagpipers, dancers, dogs, clan booths, and yummy food. I mean REALLY yummy food. Hubs tried haggis (here's an explanation of what haggis is). Em tried it too, and really liked it. Because all 21-month-old toddlers like haggis. She's an odd little duck! I tried it too, but I was much more excited about my steak and mushroom pot pie. Fall-apart meat and mushrooms in a rich, hearty gravy topped with a puff pastry crust. Yep, doesn't get much better than that! I promised Hubs that I would try to replicate it as soon as possible. It was that good. Well, today I found a recipe that seemed very promising and with just a couple of very small tweaks, I made something that we absolutely loved. This one goes in the permanent recipe file, for sure. And, all in all, it was pretty darn easy too!

Steak and Mushroom Pot Pie
*Very slightly adapted from Simply Delicious

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 pounds stew beef (or cut chuck steak into chunks, bone removed)
2 shallots, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup milk
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

Melt butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the beef in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot; season each batch with salt and pepper. This takes between 3-5 minutes total, per batch.

In the same pot, sauté the carrots, celery, and onion until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes, making sure to scrape up all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Add in the garlic and mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes. Then add the paprika, thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir well.

Add the beef back into the pot, juice and all. Pour in the stock and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and allow it to simmer gently for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 355º. 

When the meat is very tender (it falls apart easily with a fork), add worcestershire sauce and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Whisk together the cornstarch and milk, and pour this mixture into the pot. Simmer rapidly to thicken, about 10 minutes.

Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking dish. Press one sheet of puff pastry into the bottom of the dish and up the sides. Pour in the beef mixture. Top with the second sheet of puff pastry and pinch the edges together with the bottom sheet. Brush with beaten egg and cut two slits in the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is browned. Enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Honey Curry Chicken (2 Ways!)

Thank goodness for Instagram! One quick photo and then this was devoured!

I've made this dish a few times (and blogged it here) and we enjoy it every time, but it wasn't exactly right. Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone, but this recipe was one that I wanted to perfect. So, I made a few changes and it was a huge hit! There are now a few more steps, but I'm also going to include instructions for the slow cooker, which is incredibly easy-and a good way to go when you get busy and don't have any thawed chicken breasts on hand. Like me, most of the time.

Even if you haven't tried curry, this is a dish that anyone will like. It's flavorful, it's savory, it's a little sweet, and it's delicious. Definitely a permanent recipe file dish for us!

Honey Curry Chicken (2 Ways!)
*Adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook

4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4-5 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
Cilantro

Preheat oven to 350º. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet. Add cubed chicken, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, mix honey, mustard, salt, and curry powder together in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, melt butter and add honey mixture, stirring to combine. Keep warm while chicken is cooking.

Once the chicken has begun to brown, pour honey curry mixture on top and stir to coat. Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over jasmine rice and top with cilantro.

CrockPot Directions:

Spray your crock and add 4 frozen chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper. In a small saucepan, melt butter and coconut oil. Add mustard, honey, salt, and curry powder. Stir to combine and warm through. You're not cooking this sauce, just warming it a bit so it all combines smoothly.

Pour sauce over chicken, cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or low for 4. I usually turn the chicken once during the cooking process, but it probably isn't necessary. The chicken is done when it shreds easily with a fork-in other words, it will basically fall apart in delicious ways!

Shred the chicken. If your sauce mixture is thin, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk into the sauce and repeat if necessary (one time has always made it the perfect consistency for me). Add your shredded chicken back in and stir to coat. Serve over jasmine rice and top with cilantro.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Savory Skillet Lamb Chops and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Savory Skillet Lamb Chops
*From Cooks.com

2 tsp. olive oil
5 lamb loin shanks
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup water

Slowly heat olive oil in skillet with a lid. Add chops and brown for 2 1/2 minutes on each side. Add the rest of the ingredients to 1/3 cup water. Mix well and pour it over the chops. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 40 minutes, or until chops are tender. Remove chops and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Increase heat to thicken the liquid to a make a gravy, which should take 2-3 minutes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
*From Paula Deen

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup butter
3 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Add a dash of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and return potatoes to the pot. Add butter, salt, cinnamon, and honey. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Serve hot. Enjoy!