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.

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.

Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

So the Cook90 Challenge continues and I ate up all my taco bowls, so it was time for something new. I needed to shop for the new week, so it was time to break out the Slow Cooker. If you have read my blog, you know I am a big fan. Yes, I own the Instant Pot, but my Slow Cooker is my jam.

This was super easy, but the original recipe was pretty poorly written as execution was a mess. I had to add water a couple of times to the recipe and was thankful I didn’t just leave my house with it running – and it was on LOW! I’ve fixed the recipe and made adjustments where needed. This recipe turned out great and frankly I felt it could use a big more vege for my tastes. So feel free to add a couple of bell peppers instead of just the one, or even throw in a couple of rainbow carrots sliced on the bias.

I went with regular jasmine rice for this one, but brown jasmine is also a favorite of mine.I also had both black and white sesame seeds, so I tossed them both in for color.

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Yields 6 servings
From the unknown interwebs, but edited to make it work

Ingredients:
2/3 Cups cornstarch
1/4 tsp pepper, black, ground
1 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut into bite sized chunks
2 to 4 Tbls oil, olive
4 Each pepper, ancho, dried asian peppers
2/3 Cups peanuts, roasted
1 Large bell pepper, red bite sized pieces
1 Large squash, zucchini sliced in half moons
1/2 Cup soy sauce, low sodium
1/3 Cup water
3 Tbls honey
3 Tbls hoisin sauce
3 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 tsp ginger root grated
1/4 tsp pepper, crushed red
2 Tbls cornstarch
3 Tbls water
2 Cups rice, jasmine (cooked)
2 tsp sesame seeds, white
2 Each onion, green chopped

Directions:

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
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In a large zip-top bag, toss in chicken, cornstarch and black pepper. Shake until well-coated.
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Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Make sure to cook the chicken in at least two batches depending on the size of your skillet. Cooking too much of the protein at once will cool down the pan and cause the meat to steam. You want the meat to get a great crust on it.
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Transfer chicken into the slow cooker.
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In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, honey, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper chili flakes. Combine well.
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Pour soy mixture over chicken in the slow cooker. Add 2 cups water. Stir well.
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Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 4 hours or HIGH for 1 1/2 to 3 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir into the slow cooker if the mixture in the slow cooker is very liquidy – if not, then skip this step altogether.

Toss in the dried red chili peppers (if you cannot find these, just add another 1/8 tsp of crushed red pepper), red bell peppers, zucchini and peanuts, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened up.
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Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over zoodles, cauliflower rice, quinoa or your favorite rice.
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For meal prep
Divide rice evenly into lunch containers. Add chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover and store in fridge for up to 4 days.
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Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos

Remember that time I agreed to cook ALL my meals. Yeah, about that…

So breakfast is the biggest challenge as I tend to skip it. So I needed make ahead meals that were super easy to heat up and would keep a few days in the fridge. Also, that I would not tire of. This really hit the spot and I love them. Tater tots are the perfect way to get the carb and make you think this has hashbrowns in it. The eggs I cooked lightly and did not over scramble. I opted for sage sausage (maple would have been great in here too) and the tomato gives it that bit of freshness.

Once I rolled them up – I think a 10- or 12-inch tortilla would have been better as these were bursting out of their shells a bit. But they still managed to roll up and were delicious each morning. Frankly, I’m a little sad to have polished them off and know I will have to make them again.

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Yields 8 servings
From somewhere out there (thru Pinterest)

Ingredients:
2 Cups Tater Tots
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Pound sausage, I use Jimmy Dean’s Sage
8 Large egg, whole lightly beaten
1/3 Cup half and half
1 to taste salt and pepper
16 Ounce(wt)s beans, refried
8 Each tortilla, flour, 8 inch
2 Cups cheese, Mexican blend
2 Each tomato, plum diced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

Cook tater tots according to package instructions; set aside.
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Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks.
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Drain excess fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in the skillet. I use a colander in the sink and leave a little fat behind in the skillet.
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Whisk half and half, salt and pepper into eggs. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, whisking, until they just begin to set.
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Continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3 to 5 minutes; set aside.

Spread beans down centers of tortillas; top with tater tots, sausage, eggs, cheeses, and tomatoes.
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Fold in opposite sides of each tortilla, then roll up, burrito-style. Place, seam-sides down, onto preparing baking sheet; cover.

Place into oven and bake until heated through, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

TO FREEZE: Cover each burrito tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Freeze up to 1 month. To reheat, (1) microwave for 4 to 6 minutes, turning halfway, or (2) bake at 400 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until completely cooked through.

If simply making ahead and reheating each day (storing in the fridge), store in an airtight container. Each day, nuke one on high for 30 seconds. Then heat in a skillet with non-stick spray about 30 seconds per side. You’ll get the tortilla crispy and brown and we all know brown food tastes good!

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