Tag Archives: slow cooker

Preparing for the New Year

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I forgot how precious the holidays are when you teach school!  I have really enjoyed my time off and we were so blessed to be near our family and able to see them multiple times throughout the holidays.  As this first day of 2015 wraps up, I have begun to think about work again (I might have to start a summer countdown calendar though).  One thing that I will be doing before school starts back up and I am busy-busy again is that I will freeze some meals for those days that I just can’t spend time cooking.  I am planning to put two different “main entrees” into the freezer before Sunday night.  One of them, Porcupine Meatballs, I’ve blogged before.  This new one is a recipe my Aunt Gwen shared with me.  Neither of us have made it after it was frozen, yet we have made it fresh.  However, I’m going to try freezing it and bought gallon-sized freezer zip bags at the store this week for that very purpose!

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Place into a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast (if they are crazy big chicken breasts, cut them to make thinner)
  • 4 Tablespoons of lime juice (about 2 limes if using fresh)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped (this was about 3 cups prior to chopping it)
  • 1, 16 oz, bag of frozen corn
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Once all the ingredients are in the bag, mix it all together and zip the bag closed.

Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.  When you are ready to prepare the dish, remove it from the freezer and thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Cooking times:

Slow Cooker: This recipe works great in the slow cooker.

  • Low for 8 hours
  • High for 4 hours

Stove:  I found this site that helps convert recipes from stove to slow cooker.  I may try this when I cook this for my family as the slow cooker and my teaching hours don’t mesh well.  According to this on stovetop it would take about 45 minutes to cook this meal.  I will most likely pull the chicken out and brown it on both sides and then pour the rest in on top to finish cooking it all together.  I will update this post after I try it to let you know how it works!

 

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Family time is priceless!

 

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Ratatouille—Vegetables after the Carb Fest!

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We have had a wonderful Thanksgiving here in Texas.  It was wonderful to drive to be with our Giese family.  Thanksgiving is the only time of year that the entire clan (close to 40 of us) plan to get together.  This year we were just outside of San Antonio and next year I get to host!!! (And yes, the spreadsheet is already forming in my head and I’ve determined where furniture will be placed too!)  Then on Friday we drove over to see Brad’s parents and had another wonderful feast.  Needless to say, we need some vegetables without butter and brown sugar all over them!

I just finished prepping this Ratatouille recipe that I found last winter in “Slow Cooker Revolution”.  I served our dish with some Rigatoni Pasta to help my kids be a bit more receptive to this vegetable focused meal.  It does take a bit of time to prepare (30 minutes) but then you have 4 to 6 hours to clean up the kitchen and know that later your family will have a warm, healthy meal without any butter 🙂

Ratatouille

Cut into 1-inch chunks:

  • 2 eggplants (2 pounds)
  • 3 zucchini (1 1/2 pounds)

Heat in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat:

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Brown in the heated oil for about 5-7 minutes:

  • 1/2 of the eggplant; turning it to brown on all sides.  (I pepper mine a bit)

Transfer browned eggplant to your slow cooker.

Repeat process with 1 Tablespoon more of oil and remaining eggplant.

Then, work in two batches again, to brown the zucchini (adding 1 Tablespoon of oil before each batch.)

Put the browned zucchini in the slow cooker.

Heat 2 more Tablespoons of oil in the skillet.  Add to the shimmering oil:

  • 2 onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme (could use 2 teaspoons of fresh if you have some)

Cook the vegetables for 8 to 10  minutes until softened and lightly browned.

While the vegetables brown, drain but reserve the drained juice

  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes

Once the vegetables are browned, Stir into them and cook for 1 minute:

  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour

Slowly whisk into the skillet, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out lumps:

  • the reserved tomato juice

Transfer everything to the slow cooker.

Stir  into the slow cooker:

  • The drained, diced tomatoes

Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low until the vegetables are tender.

Prepare your desired pasta just before the vegetables are finished

Stir into the vegetables:

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
Ready to cook for 4-6 hours!

Ready to cook for 4-6 hours!

Enjoy!

Enchilada Casserole- Slow Cooker

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Here is another “near” magic pot recipe that we tried tonight.  It is a vegetarian dish that also earned 4 smiley faces from our family of four.  It is intended to be prepared in a smaller slow cooker ( 3 1/2 quart) but it worked fine in my big slow cooker.  If I have more than four mouths at my table it would be easy to double this one.  I made this exactly like the recipe out of the Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook except that I used a 15 oz can of corn rather than an 11 oz can of mexi-corn.  I just hate to pay more for that!

Enchilada Casserole

Stir together in your slow cooker:

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 cup chunky salsa (I used Pace’s mild version)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can yellow corn
  • 1 10 oz can of enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso’s Green Enchilada sauce)

Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours

Stir together in a bowl:

  • 1 Tablespoon green chiles
  • 1 package corn muffin mix (8.5 oz box version)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped roasted red bell peppers

Spoon the batter evenly over the bean mixture in the slow cooker (well, mine was more like glop it on top of the enchilada mix)

Cover and cook on Low for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until cornbread is done.

Sprinkle over the cornbread:

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or mexican blend as I did….hmmmm….maybe I didn’t follow the recipe exactly)

Cover and allow the cheese to melt

Serve with sour cream if desired.

Obviously the spicier your salsa the spicier the dish.  I was cooking for mild-mouths so we made it more tame.  I served it with Ranch Style Beans, a green salad and apple slices.

Enjoy!

Chicken Lasagna Florentine- Slow Cooker

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Magic Pot Alert!  Yep, this one is a dump and go kind of recipe….my kind of slow cooker meal.  It gets four smiley faces from my family of four.  The only thing you have to plan for is to be home for the first hour of cooking as you cook on high for one hour and then reduce it to low for the next 5 hours. *  I found the base for this recipe in a Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook that I checked out from a local library.

Chicken Lasagna Florentine

Combine in a large bowl and stir well:

  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry (I used frozen from Trader Joe’s and didn’t need to drain and squeeze)
  • 2-3 cups of diced, cooked chicken (I used some shredded chicken that I had in the freezer, you could also use the Tyson’s diced cooked chicken)
  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of Penzey’s Mural of Flavor (a mix of spices, dried shallots, onion, garlic, lemon peel, citric acid, chives, orange peel)  If you don’t have this, one variation I found online has 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place in a larger slow cooker, coated with cooking spray (or maybe one of those liners would be good)

  • 3 uncooked lasagna noodles, breaking the noodles in half, to fit in the slow cooker. (will need 9 noodles in all for the layers)

Spread one third of the spinach mixture over the noodles.

Sprinkle over the mixture

  • 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese

Layer

  • 3 more noodles (breaking as needed)
  • half of the remaining spinach mixture
  • 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese

Top with the remaining noodles, mixture, and cheese.

Cover and cook on High for 1 hour

Reduce to Low and cook for 5 hours or until the pasta is done (mine was fine after 5 hours)

* Note: I did search around before posting this and see that someone did this same base recipe on Low for 8 hours and said it was fine—that way you don’t have to worry about the High/Low switch.

 

Mamma Mia Italian Stew- Slow Cooker Alert!

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This was so easy to throw together late in the morning on Saturday and then dinner was ready just before we sat down to watch some College football.  I love recipes like this.  It is not quite a “magic pot” recipe as you do have to cook the Italian sausage prior to putting it in the slow cooker, but other than that —easy!

I found this recipe via some link to myrecipes.com back in August.  Everyone was happy with it and I think my girls tried some vegetables that they normally would never try (I didn’t reveal the contents until everyone had eaten!).  This made just enough to feed four….but it was our only thing besides some bread.  So you could stretch it if you had not only bread but also a big salad.  I think when we have some holiday company I may try to have this again but I will put in twice as much sausage and a tad more vegetables.

Mamma Mia Italian Stew

Brown in a non-stick pan:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (I used sweet as my girls don’t go for the hot version.  Also I browned it in the links and then chopped it into bite-sized pieces after it was cooked through)

Combine in a large slow cooker:

  • the cooked sausage- sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced green beans (I used frozen Trader Joe’s green beans)
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 1 potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 yellow squash, cubed (next time I will peel the squash or at least take off some of the peel…it wasn’t very good)
  • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can Italian-style tomato sauce (yes they actually do have this…I had never purchased any prior to this but basically it is tomato sauce with Italian seasonings all in it.  So you could use plain tomato sauce and add seasonings yourself if you needed to)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt

That is what the recipe says then I added, all to my taste:

  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • dried thyme
  • white pepper

Stir everything well.

Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
It was so easy.  Definitely one you could prep the night before and then dump into the slow cooker just before you walk out the door for work or a busy day running errands.

I also made a Slab Apple Pie for dessert.

Squash Casserole

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I am terrible about the side dishes for meals.  I am trying to do better by at least using frozen vegetables rather than canned but I want to do even more.  It is a bit frustrating though to spend time working on a side dish and have only 50% of the people at the table eat it.  I think this is why a plate of raw carrot sticks and a bowl of fruit have become my side dish go-to choices.  In the spirit of continuous improvement, I have been looking for easy and tasty side items.

I found this one on the Crockin’ Girls website.

Today my girls had off from school and I decided that we would have a family dinner together for our noontime meal since Brad will be at work this evening.  I had some frozen chicken cordon bleu packs in the freezer and thought I would prep the squash casserole the night before and then plug it in while I left for my Moms4Moms meeting up at our church.  This would let me come home, get the chicken in the oven and other items going and we could eat a little after noon.

Well, at 7:30 this morning I bolt out of bed realizing that last night I had not made the cornbread or prepped anything for our lunch.  Family meals are very important to me and while it isn’t what you eat but that you make an effort to eat all together and visit with each other….I like to eat more than just sandwiches and wanted a nice meal.  So I quickly ran to the kitchen to get things going.  Since no one else had to be anywhere it was amazing how much I could get done since I didn’t have to check up on the progress of others!

The casserole was prepped and I was ready to walk out the door by 8:30.

So this recipe is very easy to throw together and yummy to eat too!  I did use the crockpot but you could just as easily throw it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes until it is warmed through.

Squash Casserole

Prepare cornbread (I used one box of Jiffy Cornbread because I needed to make it in a jiffy!!!)

While cornbread is baking combine in a mixing bowl:

  • 2 cups of chopped yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced onion
  • 1/3 of a stick of butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 10.4 oz of vegetable broth (you can also use 1 can of cream of chicken but I was out so I made vegetable broth from bullion cubes.  I used two cubes)
  • sugar (this was my addition and I just shook a bit in…it was probably about 1 tsp)

When cornbread is finished baking, crumble

  • 2 cups of cornbread

Add crumbled cornbread to the mixing bowl and mix well.

Spray the crock with non stick cooking spray

Pour the mix into the slow cooker, cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours.  (or you can throw it in a casserole dish and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350 until warmed through)

This got 3 smiley faces at our table today so I’m keeping it around.  Next time I might throw some shredded chicken in with it and then it could be a main dish!  (but then I’m back to needing more side dish recipes…it never ends)

I also whipped up some gingerbread for dessert.  It was a great family meal—glad we were able to do it.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker- Chicken Enchilada Tacos

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I’m always up for a “magic pot” recipe….you know what I mean, throw it all in, turn it on and come back later ready to eat.  This is one that I found on imom.com in a recipe file on their site.  It says that they are for tacos, which we did indeed eat them as with hard shells and also some flour tortillas.  I thought they were great on the tortillas, not so great in the hard shells.  BUT I think this is actually wonderful as a soup.  We crumbled up tortilla chips in it and really liked it that way.

So here is the recipe and then after that I will tell you how you could make your own tortilla strips if you don’t have any chips on hand.

Chicken Enchilada Tacos

Combine into the slow cooker:

  • 1 lb diced or shredded cooked chicken (I had 4 cups frozen in the freezer and just defrosted that—made this recipe even easier!)
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce (we used green sauce)
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen Mexican corn blend (well, I couldn’t find this and wasn’t running to Trader Joes to get some so I used a can of corn that I drained of the juice)
  • 1  medium onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Turn on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4.

Garnish with your favorite garnish: sour cream, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro, avocado, crisp lettuce…

You could also serve this over white rice.

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Make your own tortilla strips:

Cut tortillas into 1/2 inch wide strips.

Cut those then  in half crosswise.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet

Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes or until crisp and slightly browned.