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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Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings – the great controversy. Are the dumplings supposed to be rolled or dropped?

Well, I think this is based on where you were raised, honestly. Funny enough, my family is from Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee/Georgia and we are in the dropped camp. I’m sure this generated from the Ohio (Cincinnati to be precise) group originally – so that probably explains the dropped dumplings. In the true South, dumplings are typically rolled out, cut into strips or squares and then places in the boiling broth (think Cracker Barrel).

Funny enough, my niece and nephew refer to these as poof poofs. Why? Well, in their world, dumplings are neither dropped nor rolled. Dumplings are fillings wrapped in pieces of thin dough that are either steamed or pan-fried – well, they are half Chinese after all. As Maggie puts it, “they look like poofs, so they should be named that.” The brilliance of a teenager.

My grandmother originated this recipe (best I can remember) and my mother tweaked it over the years. The beauty of this dish, is the simplicity and how this is a great weeknight dinner. I know you are wondering how this is possible. It’s a lengthy process…right? Nope! Go to the store, buy a rotisserie chicken, bag of frozen veggies and you may have the rest in your pantry. Okay, maybe not, but the rest of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand for the future.

The hardest part of this dish is pulling the chicken from the bone. And if you buy good chicken stock, you easily get all day cooked flavor in just 30 minutes. I actually really like Swanson, whether salted, low sodium or unsalted. It tastes the meatiest and least manufactured.

15895779_10154813151552978_8130071898803528352_oYields 4 servings
From Eileen Fight Sparks and Nancy Sparks Frank

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cup chicken, cooked, white chopped or shredded
2 Quarts stock, chicken, low-sodium
1 Cup peas, frozen
1 Cup carrots chopped or frozen slices
1 1/2 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 Cups milk, skim

Directions:
Bring broth to a boil and add chicken and frozen veggies.

For the dumplings:
Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in center and pour in milk. Slowly incorporate milk into dry ingredients. It will look like wet biscuit dough.

Drop dumplings dough by teaspoon into boiling broth. Once you have covered the surface, use your spoon to drop the remaining dumplings below the fluffy ones on the surface.

Reduce heat so the broth is above a simmer at a low boil. Cover and stew about 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast

Cold weather means comfort food. Threats of snow storms and being shut in, means large meals that will last for days. I’m going to break out my slow cooker every time. Soups, stews, roasts.

Now, in Georgia, these threats are usually just blown out of proportion and I laugh them off. But I’ll still go to the store days ahead and buy the supplies for just such a meal. I mean, why not, right? Now, I’m a fan of my mother’s pot roast and I need no excuse to make it. But I’m always on the hunt for a new one to try. This one intrigued me for many reasons, but I was sold at the thought of balsamic vinegar and red wine.

I mostly followed the recipe – but I cheated and used baby carrots and baby gold potatoes. I work from home and am pretty busy this month. So I didn’t have the time on a Friday morning to do all the prep work on the carrots and potatoes to peel and prep. Short cuts should never make you feel ashamed, especially for a slow cooker recipe. Also, the grocery never has a 1.5 pound chuck roast. So all I did was increase the amounts of veggies to match the size of the roast… and of course doubled the garlic because I’m me.

This turned out great and will probably be stew by Sunday. Also, because I’m me.

pot-roast

Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Delish

Ingredients:
3 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive
2 1/2 Pounds beef, chuck roast trimmed
1 Tbls salt, Kosher
1 Tbls pepper, black, coarsely ground
10 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Large onion, white cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 Cup vinegar, balsamic
3 Tbls sugar, light brown, packed
1 Pound carrots, baby
24 Small potatoes, Yukon gold creamer
5 Sprigs thyme, fresh
1 Each bay leaves
2 Cups stock, chicken, low-sodium
1 Cup wine, dry red
2 Tbls cornstarch
1/2 Cup water
2 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped

Tools Needed:
KitchenAid 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid
Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk

Directions:

Mix together your salt and pepper in a small bowl – this will prevent any cross-contamination in your normal salt and pepper containers.
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Dry meat with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper all over.
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Don’t forget to season the sides as well.
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In a large sauté pan over high heat warm 1 tbsp olive oil. Sear on all sides until a deep golden crust forms, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
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Also, make sure you sear the sides because brown food tastes good!
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Transfer meat to the slow cooker bowl.

Return pan to medium heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Sauté garlic and onions for 2 minutes.
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Deglaze with balsamic vinegar. Simmer on low until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to remove all bits of meat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
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Pour mixture over meat in slow cooker. Add carrots, potatoes, thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock and red wine. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
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Remove bay leaf and thyme branches. Plate the beef and veggies on a plater.
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Pour sauce into a small saucepan.
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Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, Bring sauce to a boil and slowly whisk and pour in the slurry and cook about 2 minutes on boiling until thickened.

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Serve gravy on the side. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.

Egg in a Hole Burger

I consider myself to be a cheeseburger connoisseur – my friends and I travel all over to find the best of the best. Usually, you will find me cooking my own on the grill versus in an iron skillet. But when I saw someone combining two of my favorite things – an egg-in-a-hole (great breakfast treat) and a burger, I thought to myself “this I just have to try.”

Two important things here. You need to really season the meat. I season the meat when I mix it up and then the top and bottom before it goes in the pan. Then, you need to make sure the hold is large enough for the egg to fit into, but not so large that the egg gets lost. Tricky, I know. The egg will need to get slightly set, but not cooked so that it becomes a sauce. And if you like spicy or not, the sriracha mayo is the best compliment to this burger as it is the perfect bite. You can skip the garden and keep it plain, or dress it up completely. Go with your gut.

15369067_10154695471067978_8996892835286029534_oAdapted from Delish
Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:
3 Tbls mayonnaise
1 Tbls Sriracha
8 Slices bacon, uncooked
2 Tbls butter, salted
1 1/3 Pound beef, ground chuck
1 to taste salt, Kosher
1 to taste pepper, black, ground
4 Large egg, whole
4 Each bun, hamburger
4 Slices cheese, cheddar medium
1 Medium tomato, beefsteak sliced
1 Small onion, yellow sliced
1 Head lettuce, iceberg

Tools Needed:
Lodge 10.25-Inch Cast Iron Skillet
RSVP Endurance 4 Piece Stainless Steel Biscuit Cutter Set

Directions:
Make Sriracha mayo:
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and Sriracha.

In a large skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Mix salt and pepper into the beef. Form beef into three equal-sized patties. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out the center of each patty to create a donut-shaped burger (combine excess meat to form fourth patty). Season tops (and bottoms) generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat and melt butter. Add burgers and cook 2 minutes, then flip. Crack an egg into the center of each burger and cook, covered, until whites are set. Spoon butter over the tops of the burgers to help cook the top of the eggs. Add a slice of cheese to each with 30 seconds remaining and replace lid. Remove burgers when cheese is melted.

Toast buns on a griddle by spreading with a little butter and putting cut edges down. Watch carefully! Spread Sriracha mayo on bottom buns. Build burgers by topping with lettuce, burger, and bacon.

Chef’s Note: Bake the bacon in the oven to avoid smoking up your kitchen.

Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Bake Recipe

The perfect lunch on a rainy or cold day, turned on its head – into a casserole. What better than to bake the sammie in the soup itself? No dipping needed!

A combination of a creamy layer of cream cheese and basil, paired with mozzarella cheese along with a crusty Italian artisan bread helps this sandwich stand up to the soup while it bakes in the lusciousness. So you get the best of both worlds in every bite…even if you end up eating the sammie with a knife and fork!

15325312_10154691961332978_5754378072711718407_oAdapted from Taste of Home
Yields 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream light
1 1/2 tsp basil, dried divided
12 Slices bread, Italian
9 Slices cheese, mozzarella (part skim), sliced
6 Tbls butter softened
1, 6-oz Can tomato paste
3 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher
1/4 tsp pepper, black, ground
1 3/4 Cup milk, 2% (skim is fine)
2 Large egg, whole
4 Ounce(wt)s cheese, Italian blend, shredded

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Plastic Lid
Chef’s Choice Saucepan – 2 Quart – 18/10 Stainless Steel Handle – with Cover

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and 1 teaspoon basil until blended; spread onto six bread slices. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining bread. Spread outsides of sandwiches with butter. Arrange in a greased 13×9-in. baking dish.

In a small saucepan, combine tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper and remaining basil; cook and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl; gradually whisk in a third of the milk mixture to temper the eggs. Stir in remaining milk mixture; pour over sandwiches. Top with Italian cheese blend.

Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving

Baked Million Dollar Spaghetti

I love lasagna – but so much work. I have found that baked spaghetti can be the same flavors, but half the work. The problem has been finding a good recipe – so many versions out there and I have tried a lot of them and haven’t found any I like. This one was close.

I do my best to follow the recipe the first time – but the instructions were weird. So I tweaked it…a bit. But knowing what I know in the kitchen, the recipe below is further adjusted for you. I am torn, however. This still layers the mean and spaghetti separately…I may try mixing them all together and just putting the cream cheese mixture in between. You be the judge.

bakedspaghetti

Yields 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 Pound pasta, thin spaghetti cooked al dente
1 1/2 Pound beef, ground chuck
1 Medium onion, white chopped
4 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1/2 tsp salt, Kosher
1/2 tsp pepper, black, ground
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream regular softened
3 Cups cheese, mozzarella (part skim) shredded
1 Tbls parsley, flat-leaf chopped
6 Cups sauce, Lindy’s Marinara Sauce or jarred Marinara

Tools Needed:
Kuhn Rikon Stainless Steel Epicurean Garlic Press
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Plastic Lid
Simply Calphalon Nonstick 5-qt. Sauté Pan & Cover
Black & Decker MX1500W Lightweight Hand Mixer, White

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet saute the onions and garlic in oil until translucent. Set aside. Add the add the beef, salt and pepper into the pan and cook on high. Saute until the beef is cooked through. Drain fat from beef. Add to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add in 1 cup of marinara sauce.

Add the cooked spaghetti to the remaining 5 cups of the marinara sauce and toss to combine.

Mix the cream cheese and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese in a bowl – use a hand mixer to mix them throughly.

Add half the pasta/sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Add a layer of half of the beef mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture and top with the remaining pasta/sauce mixture. Top with the remaining the meat sauce mixture.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover, top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Chef’s Note: This would work great with ground chicken or turkey if you don’t eat beef as well. Also, if you want something a little zingier, go for Italian sausage instead of the beef.

Grilled Steak and Potato Kebabs

img_1980Adapted from Delish
Yields 3 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound beef, top sirloin, boneless trimmed, cut into 1-in cubes
2 Tbls oil, olive
1/4 tsp pepper, cayenne
1 tsp seasoning, Montreal Steak
1 Tbls soy sauce, low sodium
16 Small potatoes, Yukon gold creamer
1 Tbls mustard, dijon
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Tbls rosemary, fresh
1 tsp salt, Kosher

Tools Needed:
Skewers – either bamboo or metal suitable for the grill
Lodge Cast Iron Reversible Indoor Grill Pan

Directions:
Preheat grill to medium-high. Soak skewers for 20 minutes (if using bamboo)

Toss steak with cayenne, oil, soy and steak seasoning. Let marinate at least an hour.

Place potatoes in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on until just tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Mix together the mustard, oil, rosemary and salt. Toss well.

Thread steak and potatoes onto skewers.

Grill, turning occasionally, until steak is desired doneness, 6 minutes for medium rare; 8 minutes for medium.

Serve with steak sauce, if desired.