Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coq Au Vin.

As soon as I saw a recipe for coq au vin in the crock pot, I knew I had to try it. Especially since this is the kind of recipe where you just put everything in the crock pot and 8 hours later you have something wonderful. Right up my alley.

All the ingredients are in the crock pot and ready to go.

Doesn’t this look fantastic?

I served this with mashed potatoes but it would also be good with pasta.

I think this would be a great meal idea for dinner guests. Elegant yet easy.


Coq au vin.
Adapted from Crock pot 365 blog

6 to 8 frozen chicken thighs
8 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 cup baby carrots
1 c. frozen pearl onions
3 cloves chopped or minced garlic
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t kosher salt
1 bottle red wine (I used a pinot noir)
2 large fresh thyme sprigs

Put the frozen chicken into your crock pot and start layering in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies.

I never really enjoyed lemon desserts and would usually turn my nose up at them. Until I got pregnant with my son. All of a sudden I was craving lemons and lemon flavored things. For the first time in my life, I found myself eating lemon meringue pie and loving it. I couldn’t get enough lemons. Funny how that works.
I don’t crave lemons like I did when I was pregnant but I still really enjoy lemon desserts. So when I saw a recipe for cake mix cookies on Pinterest, I immediately thought of the lemon cake mix I had in the pantry.
After putting the first batch of cookies in the oven, I started daydreaming about other lemon desserts (yes, this really is the sort of thing that I daydream about) and remembered a recipe I saw for lemon white chocolate truffles. Then I remembered that I also had some white chocolate chips in the pantry. So I added white chocolate chips to the remaining cookie batter.
The lemon cookies are good, but the lemon cookies with the white chocolate chips are out of this world good. The cookies were perfectly moist with just the right amount of sweetness and lemon flavor. Plus, they are a gorgeous shade of yellow.
Don’t they look beautiful on my cake stand?
My husband said that these cookies reminded him of cookies his mom used to buy when he was a kid. He was instantly hooked.
I actually had intentions of taking these to work to share with some of my lemon dessert loving colleagues but the cookies never made it out of the house. Maybe next time.

Lemon White Chocolate Cookies

1 lemon cake mix
½ c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips

Mix the oil and eggs until well blended. Add in cake mix and white chocolate chips and mix until combined. Drop cookies by spoonful onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-12 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chicken Florentine Pasta

Sometimes it’s nice to make a big pan of something and eat on it for a few days. This pasta recipe is perfect for that. The original recipe served 10, which is way too much for us, even if we want leftovers. So I cut the recipe in half and added in some onion. I also opted to use some leftover cooked chicken that I already had, rather than cooking more just for this recipe.

We really enjoyed this pasta. It’s light and still hearty. And we were able to get 6 servings out of it. Hard to beat that!


Chicken Florentine Pasta
Slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman

1/2 pound Penne
2 cooked Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite size pieces
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 cups Dry White Wine
1/4 cups Low-sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 bag Baby Spinach
1 cups Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
2 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Shaved With Vegetable Peeler

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water. Drain and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. When the onions begin to turn translucent, add chicken. Once the onions begin to turn a little brown, remove onions and chicken from the skillet.

Add garlic and quickly stir to avoid burning. After about 30 seconds, pour in wine and stock, stirring to deglaze the pan. Allow the liquid to bubble up, then continue cooking until it's reduced by at least half.

Turn off the heat. Add spinach, tomatoes, onions, chicken, and cooked pasta to the skillet. Toss to combine; the spinach will wilt as you toss everything. Add plenty of Parmesan shavings and toss to combine.

Serve with extra Parmesan shavings.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Minute Chocolate Nutella Cake.

I never would have guessed that I could make a homemade chocolate cake in two minutes. And that a cake cooked in the microwave would be good. But after seeing numerous recipes for two minute cakes, I decided that I needed to give it a try.

I was blown away. This cake is so good that my first thought after trying it was what have I done?! Now that I know that I can have chocolate cake in two minutes I’ll make chocolate cake every day.
This cake is the perfect size for sharing, if you are so inclined. It is perfectly moist and delicious on its own but also wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Surprisingly, I have only made it twice since I first tried it. It seems that sometimes I am even too tired and lazy at the end of the day to make a two minute chocolate cake. Maybe I shouldn't admit things like that, but it's the truth.
Tonight, I will be having chocolate cake, as I curl up on the couch to watch the Bachelorette.
Chocolate Nutella Mug Cake
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon nutella
Dash of vanilla and salt

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large coffee mug until smooth. Microwave the cake on high until puffed, about 2 minutes, watching carefully as microwaves can vary in strength.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crock pot Carnitas Tostadas.

This crock pot recipe is definitely a keeper. My husband told me that this is one of the best meals that I’ve ever made for him. He then quickly clarified that he didn’t mean that any of the other meals that I’ve made for him have been bad just that this one was the best. Aren’t husbands funny?
This is what it looked like when I took it out of the crock pot.
I went light on the taco seasoning because I wanted Slade to be able to eat this. So for our tostadas, I melted about a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and sautéed the meat with additional seasoning until the seasoning was evenly distributed.
I added our favorite toppings: refried black beans, cheese and avocados.
This recipe makes a lot. We had tostadas for two meals and I still ended up freezing half of what I made. The meat could be used for something other than tostadas too. I made Slade a quesadilla with some of the leftover meat, refried beans and cheese. This would also be great for tacos, burritos or nachos.
Crock pot Carnitas Tostadas.
Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is
5-6 pounds pork roast
1 cup light lime beer
3-4 tbsp. taco seasoning
Tostada shells
Toppings: cheese, avocado, refried black beans or anything you like
Place roast in crock pot. Pour in the beer and sprinkle in taco seasoning. Cook on low 10-12 hours. You should be able to easily remove the bone at this point if your roast had one. Then shred the meat, using two forks. Then put the lid back on and let cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
After that, you are ready to assemble your tostada with the toppings of your choice.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all spices together until well combined. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in your spice cabinet and use as needed.

I prefer to make this in big batches (quadrupled) and store in an airtight contained so I don’t have to mix it up each time I need it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ode to Joy- A Drink Recipe.

While I was cooking dinner the other night, my husband decided he was going to try a new drink recipe he saw in one of my magazines. I was a little skeptical of this recipe because the drink has an avocado in it. But you never know until you try, right?
Our glass was a little bit too big. But the drink was good and I especially liked the spice combination on the rim of the glass.

Ode to Joy
From Rachael Ray Magazine, May 2012
Combine 1 tbsp each cumin, salt and paprika in a dish. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a coupe glass; turn the glass over and twist into the spices. Muddle 2 slices ripe avocado into a cocktail shaker. Combine 1/2oz fresh lime juice, 1 1/2oz blanco tequila, 1/2oz orange liqueur (such as Cointreau), and 1/4oz agave syrup; shake with ice, then strain into the prepared glass.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Simple Side: Roasted Broccoli

As I have confessed before, I have an obsession with roasted broccoli. Honestly, I would eat it every day. And the only reason that I don’t is because of my husband. He likes it but he doesn’t have the same passion for it that I do. Plus, he prefers a bit of variety in side dishes.
So any time he’s working late or out of town I make roasted broccoli. Sometimes, my entire dinner is roasted broccoli and a roll. Yes, I like it that much.
I like it so much that I find myself promoting it to others. Just the other day, a co-worker was talking about how her teenage son wouldn’t eat cooked vegetables. My response was to immediately start talking about roasted broccoli and how awesome it is.
I might need an intervention.
On the bright side, broccoli is good for you. It’s loaded with vitamins and is a good source of fiber. So if I have to be completely obsessed with a food, as least I’ve managed to become obsessed with something healthy.
Unlike when I was pregnant and was obsessed with flaming hot cheetos. Thank goodness that's over.
So here is how I make roasted broccoli. In the photos below, I am actually making roasted broccoli and cauliflower because my grocery store didn’t have any packages of just broccoli florets when I went shopping. But it’s the same either way.
Only three ingredients: broccoli, salt and olive oil.
Put the broccoli into a zip top bag and add desired amount of salt. I like mine salty so I added about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.
Next, add the olive oil to the bag. Zip the bag and shake everything around until all of the broccoli is coated with olive oil and salt. Then pour the broccoli out of the bag onto a foil lined cookie sheet.
Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the broccoli begins to turn the desired shade of golden brown.
Roasted Broccoli
1 package broccoli florets
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
Put the broccoli into a zip top bag with salt and olive oil. Zip the bag and shake everything around until all of the broccoli is coated with olive oil and salt. Then pour the broccoli out onto a foil lined cookie sheet. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the broccoli begins to brown.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Simple side: Sautéed Zucchini

I can tell summer is approaching because my grocery store now has an abundance of zucchini and yellow squash. Because zucchini is so readily available in the summer time at the farmers’ market, we tend to eat it a lot. Luckily, zucchini can be prepared so many different ways- grilled, with pasta, baked with parmesan cheese, and there is even zucchini bread. But my favorite is sautéed zucchini.
It’s a quick and easy side that would be great with almost anything.
After washing the zucchini, cut it into the desired size. I cut mine into smaller pieces than I would normally so it would be easier for Slade to eat. But you could easily do these in bigger pieces.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add the zucchini and sprinkle on the seasoned salt.

Sauté the zucchini, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until the zucchini starts to turn that wonderful shade of brown. The amount of cooking time will depend on the size of the pieces of zucchini.

We enjoyed this zucchini with turkey tetrazzini I took from the freezer.

Slade's plate.

My plate.
After Christmas, I made two pans of turkey tetrazzini with the leftover turkey and penne using the Pioneer Woman's recipe. We ate one then and I froze the other one. I love being able to get dinner out of the freezer!  
Sautéed Zucchini
2 zucchini
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp seasoned salt
Cut the zucchini it into the desired size. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add the zucchini and sprinkle on the seasoned salt. Sauté the zucchini, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until the zucchini starts to brown. The amount of cooking time will depend on the size of the pieces of zucchini.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken.

So I either forgot to set my alarm clock last night or turned it off this morning in a sleepy daze. Either way, I woke up at 6:45 instead of 5:30. Not a great way to start the day. In the crazy rush of the morning, I didn’t have time to make coffee but I still found time to put dinner in the crock pot. And fortunately for me, and my co-workers, there is a Starbucks on my way to the office.
I’m still on my crock pot kick. And honestly, the crock pot is so easy to use, the food is so delicious and our lives are so crazy busy that I’m thinking this kick isn’t going to end any time soon. It’s hard to not love a cooking method that has dinner ready when you get home.
In my quest for new crock pot recipes, I’ve found a lot of recipes using whole chickens. We eat a lot of chicken in my house but I’m just not a fan of cooking whole chickens. I never mind eating it but if am the one cooking I don’t like dealing with a whole chicken. I guess it’s laziness on my part but I would much rather cook with boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. So that’s what I do.
Earlier this week, I adapted a recipe from Crock Pot 365 for lemon herb whole chicken and used chicken breasts instead. This would also be great with chicken thighs.
Here is what it looked like when I took off the lid.
I love the combination of garlic, lemon and rosemary! The only thing I might do different next time would be to add more garlic.
I served this meal with mashed potatoes (using a combination of gold and purple potatoes), roasted broccoli and a roll.

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken
Adapted from Crock Pot 365
3-4 chicken breasts or thighs
2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
2 lemons, sliced
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Salt and pepper
Place chicken in crock pot. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Cover each piece of chicken with lemon slices and place desired amounts of rosemary sprigs on top. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken.

I have become a bit obsessed with the crock pot lately. I usually try to include at least one crock pot meal in my menu plan for each week. This week, 3 of the 4 meals I have planned for dinner (we will be eating leftovers or out the remaining nights) will be prepared in the crock pot. Craziness!

In a recent phone conversation with my mom, I was proclaiming my love for all things crock pot and she told me about a new recipe that was a huge hit with my step-dad and step-brothers: buffalo chicken cooked in the crock pot. In fact they like it so much (and it’s so easy) that she has been making it once a week since they first tried it.

I decided to give it a try. My mom typically serves her buffalo chicken as sandwiches. I followed her example and turned the buffalo chicken into sandwiches with blue cheese dressing. I served them with sweet potato fries. But you could use this chicken in so many different ways. I’m thinking nachos for next time. Or maybe a buffalo chicken pizza.

Here is how I did it.

I like to use liners for the crock pot when I know I’m making something saucy, just to help reduce the mess. What a great invention!

Once lined, put the chicken, buffalo sauce and ranch mix into the crock pot. The beauty of this recipe is that you start out with frozen chicken, so there’s no advanced planning required. Well, other than buying the ingredients. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Then shred the chicken. I like to take it out of the crock pot to shred it to be sure that I don’t tear the liner. Once shredded, put the chicken back into the crock pot along with 1 tbsp butter. Cook for an additional hour on low.

Then make the blue cheese dressing. I like to make it before dinner and let it sit in the refrigerator for a little bit. This will help intensify the flavor.

Doesn’t that look good?! I love blue cheese in any form.

Then assemble your sandwich and enjoy!

Crock pot Buffalo Chicken
Adapted from My Kitchen Apron

3-4 chicken breasts (frozen)
½  bottle buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s)
1/2 packet Ranch Dip Mix
1 tbsp butter

Place slow cooker liner in crock pot. Put frozen chicken, wing sauce, and ranch dip mix into crock pot. Then cook on low at least 7-8 hours. Then take the chicken out of the crock pot and shred the chicken, using two forks. It should be so tender that it just falls apart. Once the chicken is shredded, return to crock pot. Add the butter and cook on low for an additional hour.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Slightly adapted from the Rachel Ray's cookbook 365: No Repeats

½ cup sour cream
½ cup ranch dressing
½ blue cheese crumbles
Salt and pepper

Mix the sour cream, ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.