Monday, September 28, 2009

Peppery Beef Sandwiches

I found this recipe in BHG's "Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes," which we received as a wedding present. My doctor was telling me about a dish very similar to this that she and her husband make, it sounded delicious and so I wanted to try it.
  • 2.5- to 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast (or venison) cut into 1" cubes 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon granules 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 Tablespoons A-1 steak sauce (I added this, so it could be optional) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini (Italian pickled peppers) or other pickled peppers 
  • 8 hoagie buns or any sandwich rolls, split and toasted 
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese 
Directions
  1. In a 3.5- to 4-quart Crockpot combine meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. 
  2. Cover; cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Stir to break up meat cubes. Stir in chopped pepperoncini. If using low-heat setting, turn to high. Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes more, stirring often to break up meat. 
  3. Using a slotted spoon, place meat mixture on the bottom half of buns. Top each sandwich with cheese. Broil sandwiches 4" from heat about 1 minute or until cheese melts. Add top half of buns. (I usually skip the broiling step as it just takes more time when you've got 4 hungry kids.) 

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is a favorite in our family, and I usually make it at least once every 3 weeks when the weather begins to turn chilly. I have made this dish for company and church functions, and have had so many people request copies of the recipe that I keep it as a draft in my email account. Just had a friend ask me if I had a recipe for White Chicken Chili and figured that it was time to post it here. It's the perfect cold weather dish and works great ahead of time in the Crockpot!
  • 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2" cubes
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) great northern beans (white), undrained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  1. Over med-high heat, cook chicken in a well-oiled skillet. Add onion and garlic after chicken has cooked for 2 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Or once the chicken and onions are cooked you can throw everything in the Crockpot and let it sit on low for a few of hours.
  3. May be served with bread bowls, Chili Cheese Frito's, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Yields 4 servings.

Week 24 Menu (September 27-October 3)

I'm trying to implement more crockpot/slow cooker recipes into my menus with the discovery that it makes dinner preparation a whole lot less stressful than making everything starting an hour before we are suppose to eat. So here is my menu:
  • Peppery Beef Sandwiches
  • Chicken Soup & Dumplings - I'm making a normal chicken soup but substituting dumplings for the noodles.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu, au gratin potatoes, and broccoli
  • Brats, hot dogs and potatoes on the grill with a side of corn
  • Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

Tip 5: Chocolate Cake

I (like most women I know) love chocolate, especially good chocolate cake. The first year that I was married, I experimented with adding coffee instead of water to a chocolate cake mix. I discovered that it really added an extra level of moisture and richness to the cake.
Then, while watching Throwdown on Food Network a couple of weeks ago, one of Bobby Flay's assistants did the same thing (substituting coffee for water in a cake). I was very excited to see that something I came up with on my own was something that professional chefs have been doing for year:)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crockpot Supper

I decided to make an "All Crockpot" meal last night (except dessert, but only because I ran out of crockpots). It only took me 30 minutes to prepare and then was done when the hubby came home. It made getting supper ready (which usually happens just when the kiddos are waking up from naps) much less stressful. Here are the dishes that I made:
  • Pot Roast - I followed the recipe almost completely, just added some cornstarch at the end to thicken up the gravy a bit more (1.5 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water).

  • Crock Pot Glazed Carrots - These are the changes that I made:
    1 lb baby carrots, whole
    1/4 c packed brown sugar
    2 Tbsp butter
    3 Tbsp water
    pinch of salt
    dash of pepper

    Pour all ingredients into your crockpot and stir. Add lid and cook on high for 4 hours. Turn down to low and cook 1 hour. Stir carrots once every hour and cook for a total time of 5 hours.

  • Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes - The only change that I made to this recipe was adding a couple more tablespoons of water.
    Hints:
    -Cut potatoes into smaller chunks (no more than 1/2" cubes) so more of them rest in the water/butter mix.
    -Stir the potatoes once every 45-60 minutes.

  • Slow Cooker Apple Crisp - This is the recipe that I was going to make for dessert, but I only have 3 crockpots (I know that you can add the veggies/potatoes to the roast, but I prefer the flavor of my veggies separately). Instead, I made Pear Crisp in 6 oz. ramekins. Here is the recipe:
    4 pears, peeled and chopped (about 2 3/4 cups)
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    4 tablespoons quick cooking oats
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
    3 tablespoons cold butter

    Toss pears with white sugar, lemon juice, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Divide the fruit between four 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups coated with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm topped with one scoop vanilla ice cream.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homemade Pizza

I love homemade pizza and make it frequently. I have made up a couple recipes of my own and have adapted a few favorites from allrecipes.com. We made pizzas (sausage, mushroom, and black olives) for supper last night so I thought that I should share these recipes:

Pizza Sauce - I made a few changes to this recipe, but not because I didn't like the flavor. I used 10 medium tomatoes (pureed in the blender) instead of the tomato paste and water because I had fresh tomatoes thanks to my in laws' garden. I also used fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, and left out the marjoram and anchovy paste because I didn't have either on hand. I also cooked the sauce (because of using the fresh tomatoes), letting it simmer and thicken like you would for a spaghetti-type sauce. The sauce tasted quite spicy in the pot but is just perfect once you get it on the pizza with all the other toppings.

Homemade Pizza Dough - I have tried several different pizza dough recipes and come up with one of my own. The crust has a crunchier exterior with a chewier interior and it's pretty fast for from-scratch. Also, it is a hand-tossed style crust recipe. You can also make mini pizzas using English muffins or even Biscuit Dough.

Chicken Alfredo Supreme Pizza - This is a pizza recipe that I created. Our family loves it and most people who have made or eaten it tell me that it's really good.

Pizza on the Grill - I would suggest reading the review of this recipe by MrsZerb77 on Aug. 19, 2005. Also, I skipped the tomato sauce and made a pesto sauce (just fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and salt). Then we topped it with chicken, bacon, sliced black olives, and chopped green onions.

Veggie Pizza - Fresh pesto is used instead of pizza sauce, fresh garden veggies instead of meat, and topped off with feta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Tortilla Pizza - a perfect use for leftover pizza sauce and tortillas. It's a perfect snack or meal to make with the help of your kids.

BBQ Chicken (top) and
Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Crust (bottom) pizzas
BBQ Chicken Pizza - I cook up some spice-rubbed chicken breast (I use my BBQ Pork spice rub) and shred it. Then I mix some prepared BBQ and pizza sauces together (about a 2:1 ratio). I top the pizza with the sauce, chicken, onion, peppers, black olives and pizza blend cheese.

Stuffed Crust Pizza - roll out your pizza dough about 4" wider than you normally would. Then cut 8-10 string cheese sticks in half and place them around the outside of the pizza (about 2" from the edge). Last, fold the dough over the string cheese and press it into itself till the cheese is fully enclosed.Top with sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. Bake as usual.

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza - this is not authentic "cheesesteak" but it is delicious!

Caprese Pizza - a combination of ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese, sweet tomatoes, and fresh basil. This is definitely an example of gourmet pizza at it's finest (and simplest).

Biscuit Dough Personal Pizza - An easy and interactive idea for personal pizzas with the kids.

Homemade Frozen Pizzas - These are really handy to keep on hand extra busy nights. I use my dough and sauce recipes (above) but follow the instructions for freezing the pizzas from the Skinny Mom's Kitchen.

Pepperoni and Sausage Flatbread Pizza - a delicious, grilled, crispy thin crust pizza reminiscent of a stone-fired pizza.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 22 Menu (September 13-19)

I'm slowly getting better/faster at posting menus and recipes, but life is still a bit chaotic at our house right now! We ended up having leftovers yesterday (it was the fastest thing to deal with after getting home from church a little later than we usually do).
  • Eggplant Parmesan and French Bread
  • Crunchy Chicken Salad (Chicken tenders, olives, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, and shredded cheese over lettuce)
  • Crockpot Venison Steaks, mashed potatoes, and corn
  • Tacos
  • Roast Beef Sandwiches

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Sauce

With it being canning season and all, I thought it was about time that I posted a tomato sauce recipe. This recipe was passed down to my mom by her mother-in-law, and now my sisters and I use it. I love this recipe because it is so versatile, i.e. you can use it as a base for spaghetti sauce, chili, any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce, etc. I have added my own twist on it by adding a few more veggies to the mix.

[Crockpot] Chicken Taco Soup

We love our Tex-Mex and really enjoy this crockpot soup. It's easy and delicious!
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained 
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn or 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained 
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained 
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning or you can make your own (1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon sea/kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper) 
  • 3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 2 cups rotisserie chicken
  • shredded Cheddar cheese (optional) 
  • sour cream (optional) 
  • crushed tortilla chips (optional) 
  • green onions, chopped (optional)
Directions
  1. Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.
Original Source: Allrecipes.com Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Tip 4: Dressing up a boxed Pasta Salad Mix

I got a really good deal on boxed pasta salad mixes a couple of months ago and stocked up. They are fast and easy to make, but definitely taste "boxed." Here is a tip to spice them up a bit.

I used a Bacon Ranch Pasta mix (cooked by the box directions) and then added the following:
  • 1/3 cup Miracle Whip
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch dressing
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
The hubby and one of our guests (who helped me in the kitchen) both mentioned that they would have never guessed it was a box mix unless they had already known!

Here are a couple other things you can add to box mix pasta salads -
Olives, cheese (grated, shredded, crumbled, etc.), crumbled croutons, pickled peppers, red onions, cooked chicken, ham chunks...and the list could go on and on. Bottom line - don't be afraid to experiment with changes and additions to a box mix, make it your own!

Week 21 Menu (September 6-12)

I know this post is well past due. I'm finding it a bit difficult to post while managing two toddlers and a newborn on little sleep. I also had to spent a few hours at the office this week and will be back to normal hours at work next week. The hubby started classes on Tuesday night so we'll be starting the 5 planned meals and 2 nights of leftovers routine again. (Big sigh) Oh well, tis reality. Only two more semesters and he's done with his Associates degree, then only a class here and there as time (and money) permit.g
  • Grilled out on Labor Day - Steaks, Baby Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parsley, sliced tomatoes (sprinkle just a dash of either salt or sugar on them), and Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

  • Went out for pizza (had a coupon for free 1 topping medium pizza). We also ordered a Chicken Fajita pan-style pizza, which was really good. It had chicken, peppers, onions, chopped tortilla chips, lettuce, and tomatoes with a side of sour cream and a side of salsa. I may attempt this one here at home.

  • Spaghetti, French Bread, and side salad.

  • Tater Tot Casserole

  • Chicken Taco Soup