Friday, September 28, 2012

Meat and Pasta Casserole

This has always been a dish that lands on our dinner table on a regular basis. When my oldest son was little he absolutely loved this so that was one reason (we all actually have loved this one from the first time I made it) Another reason I have always made it a lot is that it is just so versatile, it really is what you want it to be each time. Feel like Mexican food this casserole can give you that. What if you want Italian, no problem, this casserole will go there too. The reason is this is really just a basic road map, you fill in the blanks and make it just the way you want it.

First you choose what ground meat you want to use this time. I have made this with all of the following: ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork, bulk Italian sausage, bulk pork sausage and Chirizo. All of them worked wonderfully! So whatever you have on hand or in the mood to use.

The canned soup: any of the condensed cream of whatever soups, cheddar cheese soup, nacho cheese soup, or tomato soup. Just so it is a condensed soup (you know the ones you would add water or milk to) and it has a creamy base.

Seasonings: dried herbs, (whatever goes with what you have in mind) some ideas: basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, Italian seasonings, etc
Spices: chilli powder, cumin, caraway seed, etc

Pasta: whatever shape you have on hand elbows, ziti, egg noodles just about any shape.

Crumb topping: dry bread crumbs (mix with a bit of melted butter), Parmesan cheese (mixed with bread crumbs), fresh bread crumbs (mix with a bit of melted butter) crushed tortilla chips, crushed potato chips, chow mien noodles (crushed)

So you see you really can go anywhere with this. I love to do the following combinations:

Ground beef, chilli powder, cumin, cheddar cheese soup and top with crushed tortilla chips.

Any ground meat, Italian seasonings, tomato soup and topped with a mixture of dry bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter

Meat and Pasta Casserole

4 oz pasta
1 pound of ground meat
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
(1 clove garlic, chopped optional)
1 (10 to 11 oz) can condensed soup, cream based
½ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ to 1 teaspoon seasonings of your choice

Crumb topping, about ¾ cup total or to cover your casserole dish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Cook pasta according to directions on package, drain when cooked

Brown meat until cooked through and set aside. In the same skillet sweat the vegetables until slightly tender.

Combine canned soup, sour cream and milk until mixed well. Add seasonings, cooked meat. Cooked pasta and vegetables.

Pour mixture into an 8” x 8” casserole dish

Top with topping

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until heated through and top is browned.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is yet another of my recipes for chicken in the slow cooker. I know a lot of us are always on the look out for new ideas for both chicken and slow cooker recipes. I will say that for my taste this is really too sweet but I know other family members that absolutely love it. I have a feeling a lot of the sweetness level also depends on the brand of sweet and sour sauce you use. My grocery store only carries one brand and it is very sweet. Also you can always add some heat to this too.

Since this recipe requires you to pay a bit of attention at the end of the day plan it for a day when you have some time before dinner. Also it gives the perfect opportunity to out some brown rice in the rice cooker while dinner finishes up.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 ½ to 2 cups carrot sticks
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion sliced
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 jar (about 9 oz) sweet and sour sauce
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks

Place the carrots, bell pepper and onion in the slow cooker. Top with the chicken and sprinkle with the pepper flakes.

Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours until cooked through.

Drain off and discard the liquid that has accumilated in the slow cooker.
Add the sweet and sour sauce and the pineapple chunks to the chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker and heat on low for an additional hour.

Serve over rice

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Salmon Chowder

There is nothing like a warm bowl of soup for dinner on a cool fall evening. This one is so wonderfully creamy and tasty that I know you will love adding it to your meals this fall.

I am starting with a salmon fillet but if you want to use a couple of cans of salmon feel free to do so, just skip the first part of the recipe. It will be just as good and a bit quicker too.

Salmon Chowder

(poached salmon)
½ cup water
¼ cup dry white wine
1 carrot, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 sprig parsley
salt and pepper to taste
½ pound salmon fillet (cut to fit pan)

In a medium size skillet combine the water, wine, and veggies bring to a simmer and add the salmon fillet pieces. Cook at a low simmer until fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove fish from pan and allow to cool. Strain liquid and reserve for chowder.

salmon and its cooking liquid (or a large can of salmon)

4 slices bacon, chopped
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
reserved salmon cooking liquid
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups finely diced potato

2 cups half and half

Cook bacon until crisp and remove from pan. Sweat the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings until softened. Add the salmon cooking liquid, water, chicken broth and potatoes bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are cooked through and very tender.

Meanwhile flake cooked salmon (I like to use my finger for this to be extra sure I don't miss any bones)

When the potatoes are cooked add the half and half and the cooked salmon.
Heat through
Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies

Okay, I have to admit these are one of my favorite things to make in the fall!! I love these and they are pretty easy to make. They have all the wonderful spices you would normally find in a pumpkin pie. So good and since I only make them in the fall they remain special. I usually make a batch sometime in the month of September or October and that is it. If you missed them you have to wait for next year (well, if you asked really nice I might make another batch)

These also freeze really well so some years I divide the dough up and use fall cookie cutters for part of it and Halloween for the rest and then freeze the Halloween ones for a few weeks.

Because there are no eggs or dairy products in these they are vegan so if you need to come up with a good cookie that is either vegan or dairy free these are wonderful. The combination of the pumpkin and the shortening along with the brown sugar and molasses gives these cookies a wonderfully chewy (almost cake like) texture.

You will want to roll the dough out to be ¼” thick before cutting with your favorite fall cookie cutters. Have you ever been unsure about how thick you are rolling the dough? I have a little trick that will help with that. Just go to the craft store and buy a basswood strip that is ¼” x ¼” and cut it into 2 pieces and you can lay them on each side of your dough. When your rolling pin reaches the level of the strips of wood it won't go any further and your dough is the perfect thickness. I have several sizes so I can easily roll dough to any thickness I want. I store them with my wooden spoons so they are easy to find when I need them. Just as easy and much cheaper than those rubber rings they make to put on your rolling pin.

Pumpkin Cookies

¼ cup vegetable shortening (I only use Crisco for this)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup mashed cooked pumpkin
¾ cup molasses
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice

Colored decorating sugars and/or fall sprinkles if desired.

Cream the sugar and shortening in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the pumpkin and molasses and stir to combine well.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices and blend into the cookie mixture.

Wrap in plastic and chill for 3 or 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a well floured board roll dough to ¼” thick and cut with a well floured cookie cutter

Carefully transfer to a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with decorator sugar and/or sprinkles if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

You should get around 2 dozen cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cajun Chicken

It always seems like once the month of September rolls around I get way busier. After all school has started which translates to lots more driving and planning. And then all the late summer produce it getting ready and begging me to do something with it. With all that going on some days I just don't feel like making a big dinner. Unfortunately, my son still thinks he needs to eat (didn't I just feed him yesterday?? just kidding) Days like this need quick and easy dinners from the slow cooker.

And this brings us to today's recipe. Yes it is yet another chicken in the slow cooker recipe. I love these because I can put them on to cook and then get other stuff done. Also like a lot of my favorites this goes over some rice at the end of the day. That means all I have to do is get my rice cooker to cook the rice portion of the dish and I am done. If I choose to make a salad or cut up some raw veggies great if not, what the heck this has some veggies in it and we tend to snack on fruits and veggies a lot anyway. Some days you just need to have a one dish meal that you don't have to fuss over.

This is called Cajun Chicken for a couple of reasons, first off you start off the dish with the Cajun tradition of the holy trinity (bell pepper, onion and celery) and secondly the dish utilizes one of the commercial brands of Cajun Seasoning available in the grocery store. Use whatever brand your store carries (there are probably a ton of recipes online for a dyi version too)

This dish does require a few minutes of prep time to cut up the veggies, cook the bacon, sweat the veggies and brown the chicken, it took me about 15 minutes to get all that done. Once the dish cooks all day in the slow cooker (at least 8 hours) it really needs nothing else done to it so other than getting the rice cooked you are set to sit down and eat.

Cajun Chicken

3 slices bacon, chopped
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped celery
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning blend
1 (14 ½ oz) can diced tomatoes (with the liquid)

Cook bacon in skillet until crispy. Add the bell pepper, onion and celery and cook just to soften.

Place bacon and veggies in the bottom of a 3 ½ to 4 quart slow cooker.

Sprinkle chicken on both sides with about ½ the Cajun seasoning. Brown the chicken in the remaining bacon fat in skillet.

When chicken is nicely browned (not cooked just browned on the outside) add it and any drippings in pan to slow cooker.

Stir the remaining teaspoon of Cajun seasoning into the canned tomatoes and pour over chicken in slow cooker

Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Serve over a bed of rice

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

I know that some of my friends planted both tomatoes and bell peppers so this recipe is especially for you! When September rolls around I start trying to use up the tomatoes that are ripening and this is a fantastic year for tomatoes. The plants I planted are absolutely loaded with them. If you didn't plant any that's okay make a trip to your favorite produce department or better yet to the farmer's market and buy some while they are so wonderful. This is the best time of year for both the peppers and the tomatoes.

Now for a little confession I don't even like tomato soup and I love this one,. It's that good. The roasted red peppers go a long way in the flavor and they are so easy to make.

You are in control of how smooth or chunky your soup is, I like mine to have some texture so I simply run the ingredients through the blender and then back to the soup pot. If you want it to be smoother feel free to use a strainer to get some of the texture out. For a truly smooth soup you would probably have to peel the tomatoes but I don't. Like I said I like a bit of texture and they do add a lot of nutrients to the soup.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

2 large red peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ pounds tomatoes, chopped (about 10 to 15 tomatoes depending on the variety)
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I always use a mixed one)
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
Optional garnish: sprig of fresh oregano or basil

Preheat oven to 450.  Line a small baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray and arrange red pepper strips on it in a single layer. Roast the pepper strips for about 15 minutes until they are tender and start to brown.

Meanwhile in a dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until soft (just sweat them don't brown) about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook until tender. 

Process the tomato mixture with the chicken broth and the peppers in batches in the blender until smooth.

Return to soup pot and add the salt, pepper and dry herbs. Be sure to taste for seasoning levels. Stir in balsamic vinegar and serve.

Garnish with a sprig of fresh herb if desired.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Creamy Scallops with Angel Hair Pasta

OK, first let's get the fact that this is really rich and loaded with calories out on the table. Oh yeah, this one is definitely not an everyday dish but it is so good, so luscious and so worth being in your recipe file for special occasions. So save this recipe for a special occasion and enjoy it then go back to healthier fare the rest of the week.

One thing I have noticed about cooking with scallops is that sometimes they seem to give off a lot more liquid into the pan than other times. I am not going to try to figure out why and explain it to you. Instead I will tell you how to deal with it. If you do find that your scallops are really wet and you end up with a lot of sauce use a slotted spoon and remove the scallops from the pan and let them join the pasta in the serving bowl while you cook the sauce down a bit. One of the worst things you could do to this dish is over cook the scallops. They are very delicate but will turn to little wads of rubber if you overcook them.
Don't be concerned about them getting cold sitting there waiting the sauce will warm them up just fine when you pour it over them and toss them and the pasta in it.

I do use a white wine in this sauce my preference for this dish is a nice chardonnay. It doesn't have to be very expensive to be good either. If you are going to serve wine with the dish I would recommend the same bottle of chardonnay to with it. It will stand up to the richness of the dish just fine. If you don't want to add the wine just leave it out no problem I just add it because I like the added layer of flavor it gives.


Creamy Scallops with Angel Hair Pasta

8 oz angel hair pasta
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¾ pound small scallops (fresh or thawed)
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Cook the pasta as directed on the package. When cooked drain well and reserve in a large bowl.

While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a large skillet then add scallops, tomatoes and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the scallops just begin to turn opaque. Add the wine and cook to reduce. (If the scallops cook before the sauce reduces to about half remove the scallops and add them to the pasta in the bowl)

When the sauce has reduced to about half add the cream and oregano and heat through (just to bubbling)

Pour sauce over pasta and toss. Add the feta cheese and toss again

Monday, September 17, 2012

Creamy Ranch Dip/ Spread

I think we probably all have a favorite go to recipe for a quick dip for veggies, pretzels or chips. I thought today I would share my favorite one and tell you a bit about how you can change it up a bit.

First off I almost always have some kind of fresh herb either growing or in the fridge and I think that makes a huge difference in how this dip tastes. If you must use dry go ahead (use about a 1/3 as much dry as fresh) but you will be missing the wonders of the fresh flavor.

One of the things I really love about this dip is that is equally good made with fat free or full fat products. So use whichever version fits your lifestyle best. I have also used Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and it is just as good. So definitely use what you have in this.

In addition to being a fantastic (and quick) dip I love this recipe as a spread on sandwiches. Just use it like you would the mayo, the added flavor will really perk up that simple sandwich. The version I give here is really great with either chicken or fish.

Depending on what I am going to serve this with I do change up the herbs from time to time. For example if I know we will be making some roast beef sandwiches this week I would use thyme and rosemary in place of the basil and dill. So good, the perfect match for beef and still every bit as good with some pretzels and veggies for a quick snack.

You will notice that I use grated onion in this. I use whatever type of onion I have on hand (usually yellow or white) and the medium size holes on my box grater. Do this over the bowl you will be mixing in you want to catch all those juices too.

This is by the way one of those recipes that is really better if it sits for a few hours in the fridge so the flavors can blend together a bit.

Creamy Ranch Dip/ Spread

½ cup sour cream (any fat level)
¼ cup mayonnaise (any fat level)
1 teaspoon each: chopped fresh dill
chopped fresh basil
chopped fresh parsely
chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon grated onion

Mix all the ingredients. Store covered in the fridge.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pesto Tomato Bread

This has quickly become a favorite bread to go with some of the wonderful soups I that we all tend to eat more of this time of year. And the fact that the bread machine does all the work of mixing and kneading and getting it ready for you shape and bake it makes it fairly easy too.

The touch of sun dried tomatoes and pesto give the bread just a hint of those flavors making it go so well with soups. The sun dried tomatoes also lend it a beautiful color that would make it stand out in a bread basket.

Besides going wonderfully with soup this makes some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches too!

Pesto Tomato Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ Tablespoons dry yeast
1 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup pesto
1/3 cup coarsely chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 egg beaten with a small amount of water
shredded Parmesan cheese

Add all ingredients except the egg and Parmesan cheese to your bread machine in the order directed by your owner's manual.

Set the bread machine for a Dough setting.

When the cycle is complete roll dough out to a 16” x 12” rectangle and cut in half crosswise. Roll up each half of the dough into 12” long loaves.

Using a sharp knife make 3 diagonal slices across the tops of each loaf.

Place on a well greased baking sheet and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled.

Brush the loaves of bread with the egg/ water mixture and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 2 loaves

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Curry Chicken

This is definitely one of the recipes that falls under the heading “torture by slow cooker” because it just smells wonderful as it cooks. The house will be filled with the wonderful warm aromas of curry by day's end.

This is a fairly quick cook as slow cooker recipes go, about 6 or 7 hours so it is more for one of those days when you are busy running some errands or such rather than a day off at work. If left much beyond the 7 hours the chicken will dry out. You might give it a try with chicken thighs in place of the chicken breast if you want to let it sit longer.

Be sure to pair this with a nice bed of rice, you don't want to loose any of the wonderful sauce this cooks in.

And speaking of that wonderful sauce, the base of it is a jar of mango chutney. I usually find it in jars that hold about a cup and that is perfect for this recipe.

Curry Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds total)
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion sliced
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas
1 jar mango chutney (about 1 cup)
¾ cup water
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Layer the chicken, beans, onions, bell pepper, and sugar snap peas in the bottom of your 3 ½ to 4 quart slow cooker. I usually do 2 layers of each

Combine remaining ingredients stirring to combine and pour over chicken mixture in slow cooker.

Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over a bed of rice.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pumpkin Soup 2.0

If you hang around my house for very long you will soon discover that I can never leave a recipe alone. Even after we have declared that a recipe can't get any better I am still adding this or that or taking out something or just adjusting it in general. This Pumpkin Soup is a prime example. We love this soup and have ever since the first time I made it. It is fantastic but I had to play with it this week to make it just a bit better and that is what I am sharing today.

One of the small changes I made was to subsitute some fresh sage for the dry sage in the original recipe. You see the sage plant on my back porch is threatening to take over the pot from the other herbs. I love to use fresh herbs whenever I can and the flavor of the fresh combines so nicely with the other flavors in this soup. If you don't have fresh simply use a teaspoon of dry and it will still taste fantastic.

The other minor change I made on this version was that I had just purchased some nice fresh ginger. I love the bite of fresh ginger in soups so I added a Tablespoon to the pot. Oh my, it is so delicious in there! On this on dry just won't cut it so if you don't have any fresh ginger I would say leave it out. However, it is so worth having that you really should pick up some ginger next time you go through the produce department. (it freezes really well and is actually easier to grate frozen than not)

Pumpkin Soup (2.0)

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 (15 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz) can vegetable broth
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ Tablespoon soy sauce
dash hot sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Lime wedges (1 per person)

Combine everything except the lime wedges in a medium to large saucepan. Heat through over medium heat.

Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze into the soup at the table.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ranch Pretzels

I love to have this handy snack on hand it's great to grab to go when you are on the run or just sitting around and need something to nibble on. With only 4 ingredients and such a short prep time it is easy to throw together last minute too. Just be sure to allow time for the mixture to cool before you package it up.

As for the shape of pretzels you use the sourdough nuggets make up the majority of the mixture. For the smaller pretzels my preference is the checkerboard shape (they hold onto more of the coating because of the shape) but feel free to use whatever smaller pretzel shape you prefer.

The pretzels will keep for up to a month as long as they are stored in an airtight container. My mom used to make this and freeze it so it would keep longer.

Ranch Pretzels

1 (14 oz) bag sourdough pretzel nuggets (about 5 cups)
3 cups checkerboard shaped pretzels (or other small shape)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 envelope ranch dressing mix (¾ oz to 1 oz depending on brand)

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

In a 13” x 9” baking pan combine the pretzels and mix well.

In a small jar with a lid combine the oil and dressing mix and shake to thoroughly combine.

Pour the oil mixture over the pretzels and mix to coat all the pretzels evenly

Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes, stir thoroughly

Bake another 5 minutes, stir again

Allow to cool to room temperature

Store in an airtight container for up to a month or freeze for longer storage.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Pasta

If you ask my youngest son what his very favorite meal is he will tell you he actually has three very favorite meals. One of them is Peanut Butte Pasta which I suspect is actually his favorite because he requests it the most. I think he loves it because he loves peanut butter. I love it because it is so quick and easy to make. It really takes more time to cook the pasta than to make the sauce. How is that for a quick meal.

I usually serve this sauce over something like a a ziti or corkscrew pasta, I love how those shapes hold onto the sauce. It is equally good with a long noodle shape or a spaghetti. I do try to serve this (and most of my pasta recipes) with whole wheat pasta but again it goes with everything.

Peanut Butter Pasta

2/3 cup apple juice (I have also used chicken broth and it works well too)
½ cup peanut butter (creamy is best but crunchy will be fine, use what you have on hand)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
Tabasco sauce to taste (start with a tiny bit and work up to what you like)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
chopped peanuts to garnish

Combine juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and Tabasco in a small saucepan and stir together. Heat over medium heat stirring frequently until mixture melts and becomes smooth.

Stir in cilantro.

Toss with hot pasta and garnish with chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spiced Peanut Chicken

We love this recipe and it is so fun to use things we have in the kitchen in a new combination. I have been told by a friend that this is inspired by North African cooking but I am not sure. All I know it is fantastic.

Also I am always on the lookout for wonderful dishes that can be cooked in my slow cooker. There is nothing like walking into the kitchen at the end of the day to find dinner practically ready. This one does need a bit of finishing at the end and you will need to cook the rice or couscous.

I have served this over rice and couscous and both are really good. We had brown rice the time I made this to take the photo, but if you want to serve it over white rice or couscous go for it. It is wonderful over any of these.

All the ingredients really are things I always have on hand. I mean who doesn't keep some canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, honey , cumin, cinnamon and peanut butter on hand. I also usually have some chicken thighs in my freezer since they are one of the things I stock up on whenever they come on sale.

I almost always leave the skin on the thighs, you can remove it before browning if you wish. I love the extra richness it gives the dish but if you want to cut the calories down leave it off. Just be sure to leave the bone in the thighs, it imparts so much flavor when the meat is cooked on the bone that it would be a shame to loose that.

The only caution I can give is to make sure that your slow cooker is big enough. You will need at least a 4 qt to get everything in. I usually cook this in my 6 qt just to be safe.

Spiced Peanut Chicken

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
8 chicken thighs (about 3 lbs)
1 large onion chopped
2 (14 ½ oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup creamy peanut butter

In a large skillet heat oil and add chicken, cook turning over once until well browned on both sides. You aren't cooking them through just getting the outside nice and brown and crispy. (it is better to do this in 2 batches than to over crowd your pan)

Meanwhile in your slow cooker combine the onion, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey, cumin and cinnamon. Mix well. Add the chicken and spoon the sauce over to coat.

Cover and cook over low heat for at least 8 hours.

Just before serving remove chicken, cover and keep warm. Add peanut butter to sauce in slow cooker. Stir to combine and cover to heat through.

Serve chicken and sauce over either rice or couscous.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Strawberry Cracker Snack

I absolutely love strawberries with fresh basil the two flavors are really made to go together. If you haven't tried the combination be sure to give it a try. I even sometimes add basil to my strawberries in strawberry shortcake too.

The spread for this snack can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a few days. Just spread as many crackers as you need at a time and top with the fresh strawberry halves.

These make a great little snack for adults or kids or would go wonderfully on an appetizer tray too. They are savory but slightly sweet at the same time because of the fresh berry. And they are so pretty too, as you can see from the photo.

I usually get about enough spread for 18 crackers but that will vary depending on how generous you are when you spread the crackers.

Although I have only tried this with strawberries, I am thinking it would be really good with blue berries too. I'll have try that next time. 


Strawberry Cracker Snack

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
pinch of salt

Fresh strawberries, cut cleaned and cut in half (About 9)
Crackers of your choice (about 18)

Beat the cream cheese and honey together with an electric mixer until well combined and there are no more lumps. Carefully fold in the fresh basil and salt.

When ready to eat, spread about a Tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture on a cracker and top with a half strawberry.