Monday, February 23, 2015

Crock Pot Cranberry Chicken

I found this recipe in the cookbook 365 Days of Slow Cooking. So far I have loved every recipe I've tried from this cookbook and this is no exception. The chicken turns out moist and flavorful and it was perfect over brown rice (I use short grain brown rice). The taste reminded me a little of sweet and sour chicken. My whole family loved it. Also, it uses chicken thighs instead of breasts, so the chicken has more flavor and it's cheaper. Nice.

Crock Pot Cranberry Chicken

8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1/2 cup flour
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
16 oz can jellied cranberry sauce
1 cup Russian salad dressing

Dredge the chicken in the flour, tapping off excess flour, and place in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine soup mix, cranberries, and Russian dressing and pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Using 2 forks, break up chicken into large chunks. Stir chicken chunks into the sauce in slow cooker. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Crock Pot Beef and Barley Soup

I love this beef and barley soup! It is so yummy! It is beefy and rich and wonderful. You know, I think I like this soup better than beef stew, which it reminds me of, because I love the barley and the flavor from the mushrooms. I myself love mushrooms, but I have a family full of mushroom haters and they all loved this soup anyway. The mushrooms cook down and just add a great depth of beefy flavor to the soup. The mushroom haters in your family won't even know they're in there. I got this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and changed it just slightly. I served it with my 60 Minute French Bread and it was a delicious dinner for a cold February night.

Crock Pot Beef and Barley Soup

2 tablespoons oil
2 lbs beef stew meat, or a chuck roast cubed
salt and pepper
4 medium carrots, chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1, 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
4 cups low sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2/3 cup pearled barley (not quick cooking)

In a large skillet heat oil until hot. Add beef and season with salt and pepper, cooking for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Scoop meat, using a slotted spoon, into the slow cooker, leaving as much liquid as possible in the skillet. Add the carrots, onions, and mushrooms to the skillet with the liquid in it. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker. Add beef broth, soy sauce, and barley. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 5 1/2 - 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed before serving.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

This spaghetti casserole is simply delicious!! It is just darn good comfort food. It's like a lasagna, but with spaghetti noodles and it's a kid pleaser. All my kids raved about this one and my littlest, who's 2, had seconds, which speaks highly of it's kid-appeal. Not to say adults won't like this, because I love it, but spaghetti is always a great family meal. This will also feed a crowd, or you can have it 2 days in a row like we did. I got the recipe from the blog Your Home Based Mom, which I get so many good recipes from.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

1 lb spaghetti noodles
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1, 32 oz jar of your favorite meatless spaghetti sauce (I used Prego traditional)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan.

Cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente.

In a large pan brown sausage and onion until cooked through and onion is soft. Drain off fat. Add spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt. Add in basil, oregano, and parsley.

In a large bowl mix together eggs, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter. Mix in cooked spaghetti noodles and stir to coat.

Place half of the noodles in the bottom of baking dish. Top with all of the cottage cheese and half of the other 2 cheeses. Top that with half of the meat sauce. Place remaining noodles on top. Top with remaining meat sauce. Top meat sauce with remaining cheeses. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 20 more minutes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Raspberry (or Whatever) Pie with All-Butter Double Crust

This recipe is really all about the crust. You can use any pie filling you like, but what makes this pie crust so decadent, tender, and flaky is the butter. And only butter. Well and a little bit of sour cream too. It is just a great crust. So I totally made this pie with canned pie filling (gasp!), but it was what I had on hand one Sunday afternoon when I felt like making some pie. My family was very grateful for this whim and fought over who got the last piece (I think it was my husband that claimed it). This recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Cookbook - a simply wonderful cookbook with outstanding recipes that always turn out.

Also this recipe is perfect for Valentine's Day!! Nothing says "I love you" like a homemade pie. Your sweetheart will thank me.:)

Raspberry (or Whatever) Pie with All-Butter Double Crust

1/3 cup ice water, + more as needed
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (leave out for savory pies)
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks or 16 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen for 15 minutes
2 cans raspberry (or any flavor) pie filling, or homemade pie filling

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
sugar for sprinkling on top

For Pie Crust:
In a food processor, process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Mix together 1/3 cup ice water and sour cream in a small bowl; set aside. Scatter butter pieces over the top of the flour mixture and pulse about 10 times until mixture resembles small peas. Pour half of the sour cream/water mixture over the flour mixture and pulse 3 times. Add remaining sour cream/water mixture and pulse 3 times. Pinch dough together with your fingers; if it feels too loose and dry add another 1-2 tablespoons of ice water. Pulse until the dough forms large clumps - about 3-5 pulses.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a 4-6 inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for half an hour. (Tightly wrapped dough can be frozen for up to 3 months, just thaw completely before rolling out.)

Pie Assembly:
Preheat oven to 375.

After dough has chilled for 1/2 hour, lay dough on a floured surface and roll dough outward from center into a 12 inch circle, flip dough over and reflour surface one time during rolling and turn dough frequently to avoid sticking. Loosely roll dough over rolling pin, then gently unroll over pie plate. Lift dough and gently press into pie plate, letting excess hang over the pie plate.

Fill dough with filling (2 cans of pie filling is usually the right amount). Repeat rolling out process with other half of the pie dough. If desired, and I always do this, use a small cookie cutter to cut out vents - using a small star cutter I cut out 5 stars in the dough. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and place on top of filling, letting excess dough hand off pie plate. Use scissors and trim all but 1/2 inch of dough over the hanging edge of the pie plate. Press top and bottom crusts together, then tuck edges underneath and around inside edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around the edge of pie, using you fingers to form a zig-zagging crimp. If you did not cut vents with a cookie cutter, cut vents now with a paring knife - about 8 vents since raspberry pies are juicier, use 4 vents if you're making a drier pie like apple.

In a small bowl mix egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Brush on top of pie and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of sugar. Place pie on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 375 fro about 1 hour or until shiny and golden brown on top and golden on bottom (you'll only be about to see this if you use a glass pie plate). Place on a wire rack and cool for 2 hours. Whew, you're done, but wasn't it worth it!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Crock Pot Potato Soup

This Crock Pot soup is rich, creamy, and silky smooth. SO good. My family really loved this one and my kids especially appreciated how smooth and creamy it was. This is super fast to throw into the crock pot and then around dinner time you have a rich warm soup for a cold winter night. And it's a cheap dinner too. Pluses all around. Oh and by the way, don't use fat free cream cheese. It just doesn't melt like full fat cream cheese. I got this recipe from somewhere on Pinterest and adapted it to my family's tastes.

Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup

1, 30 oz bag frozen shredded hash browns
3, 14 oz cans of low sodium chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1, 8 oz package of cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon, plus more for topping

In the crock pot combine hash browns, chicken broth, cream of chicken soups, chopped onion, and pepper. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before serving add cream cheese and heat until it is fully melted. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth (or you can blend in batches in a blender). Add shredded sharp cheddar and crumbled bacon. Serve individual servings with cheese and bacon on top.