Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole

As you have probably figured out by now, I love to be able to throw something in the slow cooker and forget about it… I also love Mexican (or really Tex-Mex) type foods. A friend posted this one (one of those 30-second videos) on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I have been salivating about it ever since.

When I finally sat down and looked at the recipe, really it was all kinds of wrong. It had no building blocks of flavor. No onions (WHAT?)… chicken, cans of sauce, cheese and olives. Also, it had the chicken cooking for an insane amount of time. Unnecessary.

So when I went to the store to buy the ingredients, I stood in the Ethnic aisle and pondered. I decided to stick with the cans of enchilada sauce and I also picked up cans of green chiles (I opted for mild for the first go-round). I also grabbed an onion and went for 2 kinds of cheese. I nabbed some green onions and sour cream for garnish and decided that this would jazz this dish up to a whole other level.

Trust me, my friends (one in particular) will tell you that I am a suck for these videos but that even I will break my rule of following the recipe the first time when I know it is all wrong. Every great chef will tell you that you need the basics in any dish – and wether it is the French, the Spanish, the Mexican or even the Russians (okay maybe a bad example), pretty much everyone uses onions as a starting point. Take the time and give that dish some depth. This dish was still incredibly simple.

9servedYields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted From somewhere on the interwebs

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless
38 Ounce(wt)s enchilada sauce
1 Medium onion, white chopped
9 Ounce(wt)s chiles, green canned drained
11 Ounce(wt)s tortilla, corn, small cut into thick strips
1 Cup cheese, cheddar sharp grated divided
4 1/2 Ounce(wt)s olives, black sliced, drained, divided
2 Cups cheese, Mexican, grated
1/2 Cup sour cream for garnish
1 Bunch onion, green diced

Tools Needed:
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Directions:
Put the chicken breasts, onion, green chiles and the enchilada sauce in your slow cooker.
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2withsauce

Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks and put the shredded meat back into the sauce.
3shredded

Cut the tortillas into strips and then cut the strips in half.
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Add the tortillas to chicken and sauce.
5addedcheese

Stir.  Add cheddar cheese and half the olives into the sauce and chicken mixture. Stir again until well combined.
6stirred

Flatten the mixture slightly. Add the Mexican cheese (2 cups) and the other half of the olives on top.
7topped

Cook on low for about 40 to 60 minutes longer.
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Scoop into bowls and serve with sour cream and diced green onions on top.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

IMG_2544Yields 4 to 5 servings
From Tasty.com

Ingredients:
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large onion, white sliced
2 Pounds chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut in half
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Each lime
10 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, with green chiles drained (Rotel)
12 Each tortilla, flour, 8 inch
1 Cup cheese, Mexican blend
1/2 Cup sour cream

Directions:
Add half of the sliced peppers and onions to your slow cooker.

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Next, layer the chicken and coat all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, tomatoes (be sure to drain) and the juice from one lime.
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Add the remaining peppers and onions, cover, and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
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Remove chicken and cut/shred into slices (chicken left longer will tend to shred more – cook to your preference).
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Return the sliced chicken to the slow cooker to marinate in the juices for about 10 more minutes (on LOW) until ready to serve.
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If you find that there is too much liquid, you can remove till there is a desired amount before serving. Assemble Fajitas to your liking – we recommend topping with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole! Enjoy!
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Brown Butter and Spinach Shrimp Pasta

I love shrimp, actually adore it. But I cannot cook it or handle it raw myself. So whenever I am really craving it, I go out to eat. Alas, that is not an option this month because of this Cook 90 Challenge. So I called my Mom and asked if she didn’t mind helping me by assisting on this dinner prep.

I went to the store and bought all the stuff (this Delish video had been taunting me). I went to her house and I did all (well almost all) the prep work and she handled the cleaning and seasoning of the shrimp. I did as many of the steps I could, and, from a distance, took photos of her doing the rest.

This was actually a quick and easy dish (except for the peeling and deveining of the shrimp). This would be a super simply weeknight meal. Some of you may look at the photo and think the shrimp is overcooked – alas, required for me. You can cook the shrimp according to the recipe directions and it will be perfect.

IMG_9773Yields 4 to 5 servings
From Delish

Ingredients:
4 Tbls butter
1 Pound shrimp, 26-30 (large) peeled and deveined
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Large lemon juiced and zested
2 Cups spinach, baby
2 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped
3/4 Pounds pasta, angel hair cooked

Tools Needed:
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-Quart Round Braiser
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL Fine Edge Pro 2-pc Asian Knife Set
Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

Directions:
In a bowl, season shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a large sauté pan add butter and heat over medium-low heat. Warm until color begins to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. It will start to smell nutty and begin foam.
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Turn heat up to medium-high. Add shrimp.
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Cook until pink, 2 minutes per side.
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Scrape the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
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Add baby spinach, and toss until spinach begins to wilt.

Add the pasta, lemon juice and lemon zest and toss with tongs until everything is evenly combined.

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Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve immediately.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I have fond memories of summer time spent in Kentucky with my maternal grandparents. Waking up insanely early to wafting smells from the kitchen and coming downstairs to the small round table with my Gramps on one side with his iced coffee (really, back then that was so weird) and my Granny with her hot steaming cup of coffee and watching her put in her Coffeemate (which was powder) and how different they were.

Gramps was usually eating leftover dinner from the night before, Granny would be eating a square of this coffee cake. Well, okay, not this exact recipe, but something damn near close. Alas, that recipe is lost. It was my FaFa’s (pronounced FAH-fee) and who knows where it has disappeared to. But I digress.

I remember wondering (at age 8)… “Why is this delight called coffee cake? It tastes nothing like gross coffee. It tastes like cinnamon toast meets birthday cake!” I loved it and would forego my usual leftover dinner with Gramps and enjoy it along with my grandmother. Fast forward a couple of decades and I am a coffee snob and finally found a recipe that is pretty killer. And tastes as good as FaFa’s (who was my Great-Grandmother, by the way).

The recipe I got from KAF was well written, but needed a little tweaking. But god love them, not too much. I prefer to use shortening in my cakes as it is A) better for me and B) turns out a better product. But good lord, gotta have butter in the streusel topping! I’m not a madwoman.

Please enjoy – this cake is huge, so share it with someone!IMG_7832Yields 24 servings
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:
1 Cup sugar, white
1/4 tsp salt, table*
1 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 Tbls cinnamon, ground
6 Tbls butter, unsalted melted
1 Cup sugar, light brown, unpacked
1 1/2 Tbls cinnamon, ground
1 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened), optional (this is just for color)
3/4 Cups vegetable shortening
1 1/4 tsp salt, table
1 1/2 Cup sugar, white
1/3 Cup sugar, light brown, packed
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp extract, vanilla
3 Large egg, whole
3/4 Cups sour cream
1 1/4 Cup milk, skim (this can be whatever milk you keep in your fridge)
3 3/4 Cups flour, all-purpose

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Easy Grab 3-Quart Oblong Baking Dish
OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set
KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield
KitchenArt 22101 Mini Adjust-A-Cup

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch pan, or two 9-inch round cake pans.

Make the filling by mixing together the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you want to. Set it aside.
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To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the shortening (you can use unsalted butter if you prefer), salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
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Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk until well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.

Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.
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Pour half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you’re using two 9″ round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups batter in each pan.
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Sprinkle the filling evenly on the batter.
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Spread the remaining batter on top of the filling.
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Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. You don’t have to get fancy – make a single pass through the entire cake and be done or you will really over do it.
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Now, make the topping by whisking together the 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt (skip this if your butter is salted), 1 cup flour, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Add the 6 tablespoons melted butter, stirring until well combined.

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Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.
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Bake the cake until it is a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9- x 13-inch pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9-inch round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.
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Chef’s Note: If you use a convection oven, make sure to reduce the cooking time by about 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. This is a delicate cake! Serve cake right from the pan.

Bob’s Basil Pesto

My dad and I shared a love of food and spending time together in the kitchen. One of his favorite and most famous recipes was his pesto. Loved by all and often requested, this is now his grandson’s (age 11) favorite dish and he makes it on his own. Incidentally, he has been making it on his own since about age 8 and will eat this fresh from the ‘nart with a spoon.

You can whisk this into warm cream for a pesto cream sauce, or reserve a little pasta cooking liquid and just toss it with hot, freshly cooked pasta. Personally, that is my favorite application.

Most people ruin pesto with all kinds of tree nuts (I’m not just saying that because I am allergic). The point of pesto is to taste the fresh herbs with a hint of “nuttiness” from the pine nuts (which are seeds, by the way). And while some pour unfortunate souls are also allergic to pine nuts, luckily, I am not. So stop mucking around with true pesto and let it sing.

Chef’s Note: If you have a dairy allergy, you can stop and not add the cheeses. It will just be somewhat runny, but will still have all that yummy basil flavor. I do it for my friend, Heather upon request.

IMG_9234Yields 3 cups
From Robert Davis Frank aka my dad

Ingredients:
2 Cups basil, fresh firmly packed
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Cup pine nuts
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
1 Cup oil, extra virgin olive
1 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated
1/4 Cup cheese, Romano grated

Tools Needed:
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless Steel

Directions:
Process the basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until finely chopped.
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With the machine still running, pour in the oil in a thin steady stream.

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Add the cheeses, and the pepper. Process briefly to combine.
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Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slow Cooker Corn and Potato Chowder

When it’s cold, I just want to break out the slow cooker and make soups, stews, chilis, or all of the above. This one seemed easy enough and combined all the starchy goodness of potatoes and sweet corn and had smokey bacon for good measure.

Originally, it only wanted a quart of stock, but alas, that was not enough for the amount of vege in the cooker. The cooker kept shutting off, actually. So I added in more and found it worked out well. I decided to blend all of the soup and left it only a smidge lumpy as I felt it needed to have a bit of texture. If you really wanted it smooth, I would put it through a strainer before you add the half and half, but be prepared to be patient.

The flavor is spot on, but due to the starch level, you will need to add salt. It does absorb a lot. I’d also suggest rinsing the potatoes before cooking them – that will help a great deal.

Note: You can opt for vegetable stock, bypass the bacon and make this vegetarian very easily!

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Yields 3 to 4 Quarts
From Pinterest

Ingredients:
8 Ounce(wt)s bacon, cooked, drained & crumbled
2 1/2 Pounds potatoes, Russet not peeled, 1/4-in cubes
8 Cups corn, frozen (I used half white and half yellow)
1 Large onion, white finely chopped
1 Cup celery chopped (about 5 stalks)
8 Cloves garlic, fresh crushed
1/2 tsp salt, seasoning
48 Ounce(fl)s broth, low-sodium chicken
16 Ounce(fl)s half and half
1 to taste salt and pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients EXCEPT half & half in the slow cooker.
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Cook on LOW for 10 hours or HIGH for 6 hours.

Blend the soup using an immersion blender (or just scoop it into your upright blender or food processor in batches then return to slow cooker).

Add half and half or heavy cream and continue cooking, uncovered, for about another 15 to 30 minutes, until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

Multi-Pan Lemon Parmesan Chicken and Asparagus

I’m always fascinated and intrigued by one-pot and one-pan meals and pin them every.single.time when I see them on Pinterest. I’m a sucker. Inevitably, I end up dirtying more pans and more implements trying to do these things than I would if I followed my chef instincts.

This recipe had so many flaws. For instance, 1 1/2 pounds of chicken and a pound of asparagus is never going to fit on a single pan. Ever. Second – it calls for you to mix up this butter mixture, then only use 1 tablespoon of it to coat said 24 ounces of chicken and then get the panko mixture to stick to it. Now if I were a beginner in the kitchen, I would have wondered what to do when that liquid bowl was empty after 4 tenders went through it. Luckily, I didn’t take any butter out of it and instead, made up my own sauce of the asparagus… I’ve saved you those headaches with my rewrite below.

Now I will say that this was delicious, and the original recipe is mostly in tact. I made 3 or 4 major changes, but the flavors are still there. You just cannot accomplish this on any sized cookie sheet. But you and your family will love this dish if you love lemon, honey and parmesan… and really, who doesn’t?

And me, I’ll continue to get sucked into the one-pan-wonders.

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Yields 4 servings
From Pinterest

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound chicken breast tenders, boneless, skinless
1/3 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 Cup breadcrumbs, panko
1 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated, divided
1 tsp parsley, dried
1/2 tsp garlic powder
5 Large lemons, divided (1 reserved for slicing)
8 cloves garlic, fresh minced, divided
8 Tbls butter, unsalted, divided
1/2 Tbls pepper, lemon
1 Pound asparagus
5 Tbls oil, olive, divided
3 Tbls honey

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Then line a small baking sheet, a 1/4 sheet pan, if you have one, and set aside.

Grab three bowls. Add the flour to one bowl.

Combine panko, 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, dried parsley, garlic powder, about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir.

In the final bowl, add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 5 tablespoons melted butter. Stir. Set aside.
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If you would rather use chicken breasts for this, you can. Just slice chicken breasts to the size of tenders (about 1 and 1/4-inch strips).
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For this, use the left-hand-dry, right-hand-wet method. This way, you don’t end up coating your fingers at the same time you coat your chicken. To be successful, have everything prepped and ready to go!  Coat each tender in flour, then heavily dredge in garlic lemon mixture, and then coat in the Parmesan-panko mixture.

Place on prepared sheet pan. Use any remaining Parmesan panko mixture and sprinkle over tenders. Sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning over the tenders.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes and remove. Flip the tenders to the other side. If desired place lemon slices over the chicken (optional).
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Mix together 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons olive oil,4 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 cloves minced garlic and toss with asparagus. Place the asparagus onto the small baking sheet and place it in the oven.
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Return chicken to the oven and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.

Meanwhile, whisk remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 tablespoons honey in a small bowl. Add some pepper and parsley if desired.

Remove from the oven and top chicken with the honey lemon mixture and fresh parsley if desired and enjoy immediately. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the asparagus and toss with tongs; serve.

Chef’s Note: Do not top chicken breasts with the honey lemon mixture unless eating immediately and aren’t planning on having leftovers since it will make it soggy.