Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sweet and Sour Chicken (slow cooker)

It is already mid-April, and so far this year, I have managed to not cook on a single Sunday evening.  There have been a day or two that things have been going on for which we were elsewhere eating, but mostly, I have accomplished that feat via my slow cooker.  I do the prep work in the morning around the same time as our typical leisurely Sunday breakfasts, which means I can clean the kitchen once for both cooking occasions.  Then I am pretty much home free for the rest of the day.  And it is heavenly.  Here is one of the recipes that has popped up on a few Sundays for us:

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce (found in Asian section - also used in this awesome recipe for Asian pork chops)
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp minced chives (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Combine broth, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic and pepper in slow cooker.  Stir well to mix.
  2. Add chicken thighs and stir well to coat.  Cover; cook on low 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours.  
  3. If thicker sauce is desired:  Remove chicken with slotted spoon and keep warm.  Combine cornstarch and 2 Tbsp cooking liquid in small bowl.  Add to slow cooker.  Turn heat to high.  Stir 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened.  
  4. Stir in chives, if desired.  Serve chicken and sauce over rice.

Time: 15 minutes prep, 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours to cook
Difficulty:  easy
Source: Crock Pot Slow Cooker Bible, copyright 2010

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baked Chicken and Mushrooms

 My family loves chicken.  I often buy frozen skinless, boneless chicken in large quantities when it is on sale, making great use of the deep freeze. Things have been crazy with the arrival of spring and spring activities; I had no chicken in my freezer for the first time in, honestly, three years. The Legendary Sale saved me so I stocked up.

Many of my chicken dishes rely on the crock pot so I was excited when my mother-in-law brought me a shared recipe.  My husband is not the world's biggest fan of mushrooms, but I quickly informed him that the recipe was from his mom, and she raved about it.  He answered, "She made this, and she ate the mushrooms?"

It was really good!  I modified this recipe a bit by using a bag for my bread crumbs, shaking to cover all the pieces  instead of rolling each piece of chicken.  Also, I didn't grate Muenster cheese; I just chopped it up quickly. I think this would be a perfect dish if you were having guests for dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast cut into 1 inch squares
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup mushrooms, drained (also could use fresh mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 8 ounces Muenster cheese, shredded
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Soak chicken squares in egg mixture one hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  3. Roll chicken in bread crumbs and lightly brown in butter on skillet.
  4. Place in single layer in casserole dish.  Cover with mushrooms and broth.  Cover casserole dish with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes; cover with cheese and bake 10 minutes more without foil.


Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1 hour or overnight prep, 30 minute bake time
Source: my mother-in-law



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Every time I have a rice crispy treat, I am taken right back to my childhood.  We don't make them often, but they are always a quick and easy (and fool-proof and yummy) treat.  It is fun to get the kids involved in measuring and stirring, and in this case, sculpting.  I remember doing the same with my mom when I was little.  Since we are coming up on Easter, we decided to change up the traditional pan for some egg-shaped treats, complete with sprinkles.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 5 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 5 1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a 3 quart saucepan.
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and fluid.  Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in rice cereal until evenly coated.
  4. Press mixture into a 9x13" pan.  Cool and cut into squares.  OR Press into plastic eggs that have been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and decorate.

Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Source: Baker's Corner Marshmallow bag (and countless other sources)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Monthly a new book display decorates our break room for a week.  The staff of Book Are Fun bring a wide selection of reading materials and other neat products.  Cookbooks are always hot sellers.  My dad picked me up this 3 in 1 cookbook by Kraft, Nabisco, and Velveeta a few years ago from his work display.  I never really had time to go through the book.  But when he brought me over 3 pounds of cooked, cut chicken breasts, I opened right up to the casserole main dish section. I found this quick and easy recipe.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14 1/2 oz)
  • 1 package stuffing mix (16 oz)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stir tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.
  2. Place chicken in 9x9 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with seasonings.  Top with stuffing mixture and cheese.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.


Difficulty: Easy
Time:10 minutes prep, 30 minute baking time
Source: Kraft Cheese Casseroles & More copyright 2009



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Overnight German Chocolate Oatmeal

I don't know why it took me over half of the school year, but I finally bought my son a insulated container so that he can take hot foods to school for breakfast.  This simple $5 purchase has opened a world of possibilities for healthy breakfasts for him.  As an oatmeal fan myself, the first morning we had the container, I made him a packet of oatmeal.  It was great, but the packets have their limitations, including cost and sugar content.  Enter steel cut oats cooked overnight.  Chocolate steel cut oats cooked overnight.  Chocolate steel cut oats with brown sugar and walnuts.  So. Good.  And even though you add brown sugar as a topping (it melts so perfectly), you control the sugar content and there is still less than in most packets of oatmeal.  This recipe makes a large quantity, so after the first day all I do is heat it up in the morning and throw on some toppings.  Who wouldn't like (healthy) German Chocolate for breakfast?

INGREDIENTS:
The only other ingredient is water (plus some optional toppings)!
  • 2 c. steel cut oats
  • 7 c. water
  • 1 (13.5 oz.) can lite coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional toppings:
  • Brown sugar
  • Chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Sweetened, shredded coconut
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Stir together oats, water, coconut milk, and cocoa powder in a slow cooker.
  2. Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. To serve, top (in order) with brown sugar, pecans, shredded coconut to taste.
My husband calls this "No Bake Cookie Oatmeal."

Difficulty: very easy
Time: 5 minutes to prep, 6-8 hours to cook in slow cooker


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lemony Tuna Toss

I generally take leftovers to work for lunch, but we have been on a toasted turkey and avocado sandwich kick lately (and we have been doing our best to squeeze out an extra evening meal using our leftovers).  Knowing that I will soon tire of that easy lunch and that avocados won't be so inexpensive for much longer ($0.49 at Aldi!), I decided to try something new.  The origins of this recipe are foggy - I remember reading an article on healthy living that I stumbled upon while I was checking my e-mail one day, seeing a variation of this recipe, copying and pasting it into a doc to check out later, and then forgetting about it for quite a while.  When I finally made my own version of it, I vowed to make it at least once a month.  It doesn't take much to throw together and then lunch is already ready to go for several days.  It is a nice change of pace and makes for a delicious, healthy, and filling mid-day meal.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cans (4-5 oz) tuna
  • 1 can artichoke hearts - chopped
  • ~20 halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
DIRECTIONS:
 Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Serve with a whole wheat roll.  (This makes about 4 nice-sized servings.)


Difficulty: Easy
Time: ~10-15 minutes
Source: sorta kinda from a recipe on Yahoo!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Oven Roasted Meatball Subs


When childcare arrangements shift for illnesses and holiday weeks, I need to have easy to prepare food on hand for my family.  Grandparents can't be expected to make anything more than a bowl of cold cereal when dealing with three young, energetic children or whiny, sick kids craving comfort.

I made these meatball subs on a Sunday afternoon so that my mother-in-law could have a hot meal before heading home Monday afternoon. I wrapped the subs in foil using Sharpie marker to identify toppings or the lack of topping.  Everyone was thrilled with the yummy, quick dinner.  Since I made the entire bag of meatballs, I saved the extra in the sauce and will use with pasta later in the week.


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 bag of precooked frozen meatballs
  • 8 pre-sliced hot sausage rolls
  • Pasta sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fire roasted peppers
  • Italian seasoning

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Throw sauce and meatballs in pot and cook through on low.
  2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.  Open roll, put 4-5 meatballs, top with sauce and cheese; sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Wrap in foil if desired. Place on baking sheet.
  3. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly.


Difficulty: Easy
Time:30 minutes prep; 10 minutes baking time
Source: Pinterest