Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#2,676: Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup

In honor of Lent starting today (Happy Valentine's Day too!), I decided to make a vegetarian meal in my Instant Pot.  Let's be real, I just wanted another excuse to try it out!  I made this recipe last night after the kids went to bed and it was done in no time.  Normally I'd throw my lentils on the stove for close to an hour or in my crockpot for 8 hours.  This way I was able to sit and watch some TV and relax while I waited for it to finish.  

This is really, really good.  Although I love lentils and tortilla soup, so combining the two makes it even better.  This is such a comforting, filling meal.  I'm a huge fan!!  And definitely add the greek yogurt or sour cream on top...that was good!  I wish I had some cilantro on hand right now too, because I'd love that added on top! 

1 cup diced onion
1 tsp avocado oil or olive oil
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2.5 cups vegetable broth 
1 can (14-15 oz) tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, extra to taste (I used petite diced)
1/2 cup salsa verde (I used picante sauce)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained + rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pinto  beans, drained + rinsed
1 cup corn (fresh, canned, or frozen)
3/4 cup dried red lentils
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream (I used a tbsp of cream cheese and a big splash of skim milk)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Toppings for Serving: 
crushed tortilla chips
shredded cheddar or mexi-blend cheese
sliced or diced jalapeños
chopped red onion
fresh pico de gallo or salsa
sliced avocado
fresh cilantro
sour cream or greek yogurt

Add the onion, olive oil, jalapeno, bell pepper, corn, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, broth, tomato sauce, tomato pate, salsa, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper into the Instant Pot. 

Set your Instant Pot to high pressure for 15 minutes. When done, manually release the pressure. 
Stir in the cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add your favorite toppings and enjoy. 

Feel free to adjust the consistency of the soup to your liking.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

#2,675: Instant Pot Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Mmmmm.....look at how good that sandwich looks!  The only thing missing from this sandwich was more cheese.  LOL  You probably should put cheese on both sides of the bread AND maybe some on top of the meat too.  But I only put cheese on half of the bread to make it just a tiny bit healthier.  This recipe was super, super easy.  The hardest part (which wasn't hard at all) was cutting the meat into small strips.  After that, I threw this into my Instant Pot in 5 minutes!  

My family (including my mom and sister) loved this recipe!  The meat was so tender and I wasn't sure I was going to like the peppers but as soft as they were, they were still so good.  Everyone but Matthew was a big fan, and even he at least ate the meat (who doesn't want/like the bread part of a sandwich!?).

This is a huge keeper recipe and I will definitely be making this again...soon.

The original recipe I found said to put this in the instant pot for 40 minutes...yeah I knew that was too long for the steak to cook, so I decided to take a chance and cook it for 23 minutes.  After the 23 minutes I did a natural release for 10 minutes.  It was perfect!  

2 sliced green peppers
1 sliced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 - 2½ lbs. thinly sliced steak (I used sirloin steak cut into thin strips against the grain)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 envelope dry Italian dressing mix
1 cup beef broth
6 slices of provolone cheese, sliced in half
6 hoagie rolls

Add the vegetables, steak, seasonings and beef broth to the instant pot.  
Seal and cook on high pressure for 23 minutes.  Allow the instant pot to depressurize naturally for 10 minutes. Then release the steam manually the rest of the way.

In the meantime, slice the hoagie rolls open and place on a baking sheet. Top each with with two slice cheese halves.

Broil for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

Top each roll with the meat and veggies. You can also used the juices in the pot with the meat to dip the sandwiches in if desired. 

#2,674: Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Burrito Bowls's the first real recipe I decided to try using my new Instant Pot!  Eeek!  I had super low expectations for this recipe mainly because I have no idea what I'm doing!  As I've mentioned the last several months, I'm trying to use different cuts of meat besides boneless skinless chicken breasts, and ground beef/turkey.  So when I found this recipe which used chicken thighs, I knew I needed to give it a try, rather than sub in some ground beef instead (as I normally would do).

I also knew that serving my family burrito bowls would not go over very well, so although I ate mine this way, I gave the rest of them a tortilla and they filled it with some of the chicken, rice, and cheese.  

This was really good!  There was a little too much rice, but personally I liked it that way.  I added some chopped cilantro and avocado to mine, and topped it with a little sour cream.  I also scooped some of it up with mini tortilla chips.  Yum!  Yes, I would definitely make this again! 

1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I omitted from the Instant Pot and added it in at the end)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (I omitted from the Instant Pot and added in canned corn at the end)
1 (16-ounce) jar salsa (I used mild picante sauce)
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Add the oil to the Instant Pot, turn on sauté setting, and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cumin. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth and cook, gently scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck-on bits, and simmer for 1 minute.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Add the chicken, beans, corn, salsa, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the rice on top of the chicken and beans mixture and pour the remaining 3/4 cup broth on top of the rice, but do not stir. Using the pressure cooker's manual setting, set the pressure to HIGH for 10 minutes. Close and lock the lid. It should take the pressure cooker about 10 to 12 minutes to come to pressure and begin the 10 minute countdown. When cooking time is complete, do a quick release of the pressure.

Gently stir everything together. Divide between bowls and top with the cheese and cilantro.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#2,673: Crock Pot Chicken Tortellini Soup

This is another recipe that I made this recipe right after I had my gallbladder surgery because it took such little time to throw together in the crockpot.  You basically cook the veggies and broth (and chicken if you're using it) and then add in the tortellini at the very end.  As you can see in the original recipe below, you are supposed to cook (and shred) chicken into this soup.  That had no appeal to me whatsoever, so I decided to omit it and use chicken tortellini instead.  I still got the chicken flavor, but didn't have chicken pieces floating throughout my soup.  Although I really enjoyed this healthy, easy soup, next time I will make one change.  I'll cook the tortellini in a pot on the stove, let it cool, and then add it to my soup so it stops cooking and soaking up so much liquid. 

If you are making this an plan to serve/eat it all in one sitting, you definitely don't have to do that.  But since I was the only one eating this, and eating it as leftovers, the tortellini got a little soft (still good, but not as good as it could have been). 

3 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 celery stalks, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups shredded chicken 
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
16 ounces three-cheese tortellini (I used refrigerated chicken flavored tortellini)
fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)

Place the carrots, celery, garlic, onion, chicken, chicken stock, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary into a 6-quart slow cooker. Mix until combined.

Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Place the three-cheese tortellini into the soup and mix. Cook on high for another 15 minutes.

Serve and garnish with parsley.

#2,672: Oatmeal Apple Banana Muffins

Right after I had my gallbladder surgery, I couldn't sit and just rest, so I decided to make something low-fat, healthy, and that I could easily grab if/when I was hungry.  Thankfully, I had all of the ingredients on hand for this recipe (including overripe bananas!), so I decided to give these a try.

Although I liked these muffins, I liked them best the day or two after I made these.  The longer these sat in the fridge, the denser they seemed to become.  I wonder if I should have froze these the next morning instead of putting them in the fridge.  Since it had apples in it, I figured these probably wouldn't last long if I left them sitting out on the counter.

My kids enjoyed these too, but they only wanted them the first day for their breakfast.  When I offered them to them a second time, only one kid wanted them again.  That's not a great sign for my kiddos.  BUT I love that there is so little sugar in this recipe (which is probably why they weren't gaga over these).  They are healthy though, and they are good...I'd make them again, but just not on a super regular basis. 

1½ cups large rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used all-purpose flour)
3 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
4 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp sugar
⅔ cup milk
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup grated unpeeled apple (approximately one large apple)

Mix together the oatmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt,cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Beat together the eggs. oil and sugar until fluffy.  Blend in the milk.  Fold in the dry ingredients and when the flour is almost incorporated fold in the mashed banana and grated apple.  Do not over mix. Fold in only until the fruit is mixed through the batter.

Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Best served warm.

#2,671: Coconut Rice and Peas

Ok, I'll admit, this recipe is just a tiny bit weird.  I was definitely intrigued by it when I came across it in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine.  It combines 3 of my favorite things, coconuts, peas, and rice.  So I couldn't help but give it a try.

Although it IS a slightly bit weird, I actually really enjoyed it.  I felt like it needed something, more so I added in some sliced green onions.  I also wanted to make this more of a meal, so I added some chopped up cooked chicken sausage as well.  I really liked this.  It's not my favorite thing that I've ever eaten, but it was good.  And I think this would make a great side dish to something like jerk or Thai chicken, or maybe some grilled shrimp.

1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 c sweetened 
shredded coconut (I used raw, unsweetened)
salt, pinch
red pepper flakes (to taste) 
3 cups frozen brown rice
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup coconut water (NOT coconut milk)
Cilantro, chopped (to taste)
I also added some sliced green onion

Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shredded coconut and a pinch each of red pepper flakes and salt; toast, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in frozen brown rice, frozen peas and coconut water. Cover, reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Stir in some chopped cilantro (and green onion).

#2,670: Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs


I finally did it...I got an Instant Pot!  Everyone around me is not only getting an Instant Pot, but raving about how much they love it.  It's not that I'm opposed to getting one, but a few years ago I got a pressure cooker and have only used it twice.  Both times I was scared to death that I was going to send myself to the hospital or blow up my kitchen, and both times, I wasn't impressed with our meal.  So I was equally as nervous about trying an Instant Pot too.  I had to watch a Youtube video THREE times to see how to test it with only water, and was still afraid/convinced I wasn't going to do it correctly.  So, I knew I'd have to start with something easy (and not our dinner!) for my first real recipe trial.  I decided to use it to hard boil eggs.  

Let's be honest, I don't even really like eggs, but for less than $1, I could try it and see how it turned out.  I knew before I even opened it up that at least one must have cracked open because I could smell the eggs, and sadly I was correct.  Of the 12 eggs I tried to hard boil, only SIX of them came out without cracks.  I took all 12 eggs (cracked ones and all) and put them into an ice water bath for 5 minutes before drying them off and trying to peel them. 

I have tried twice in my life to make deviled eggs, and I will never ever offer to make them again because peeling the shells off the eggs is pure torture to me!  BUT....after trying to make them in the Instant Pot, I WOULD try it one more time.  The peels really did peel off quite easily AND every egg that I've cut open so far is perfectly hard boiled.  (Usually mine are just slightly under cooked or already getting that over-cooked green color to the yolk). 

I'm going to give this another try to see if I get a better success rate out of them not cracking, because this would be fabulous to use at Easter time.  I hard boil at least 7 dozen eggs for us to dye, and this would be much easier (not necessarily faster, but easier for sure!).  

Here's the recipe I used/followed to make these hard boiled eggs. 

1 dozen eggs
1 cup of water

Place rack inside of an Instant Pot. Place eggs on wire rack. Add 1 cup of water. Seal the Instant Pot. Set pressure cooker on high for seven minutes. When the cooking time is done, you can release the pot with an instant release. Carefully remove the eggs from the pot (they will be very hot), and place in an ice water bath (I kept mine in the ice water for 5 minutes).

Monday, February 5, 2018

#2,069: Copycat Chipotle Corn Salsa

I have to admit this is close to the original recipe but not exactly....but that's because I am NOT taking the time to broil a poblano pepper!  I don't love heat in my salsa that much, and I'm just too lazy for that.  So I omitted the poblano but made it with the rest of the ingredients as listed below.  I loved this.  I ate this on top of a salad, with tacos, and as a filling for a quesadilla.  I'm a fan!  But I love pretty much all corn salsas so it's not hard to impress me with this.  Maybe someday I'll try this with a roasted poblano...but this just wasn't the day/time for it.  :)

16 ounces white sweet corn, fresh or frozen and defrosted (I used canned)
1 large poblano pepper + 1 teaspoon high heat oil (I omitted)
1 small red onion (approx. 3/4 cup)
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 2 limes + 1 lemon (approx. 1/2 cup)
large pinch sea salt

Start by lining a cookie sheet with tinfoil and then set the oven to broil. Using your hands, coat the poblano pepper with the oil and place on the cookie sheet. Broil the pepper in the oven for 5-7 minutes on each side, while keeping a close eye to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once both sides are brown, remove from the oven and set aside in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and allow the pepper to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the salsa by finely chopping the red onion, jalapeno pepper (core and seeds removed), and fresh cilantro. Place into a large bowl and set aside.

Once the pepper has cooled, put on dish gloves and use your hands to peel the outer layer of skin off. Next cut off the top and slice the flesh away from the core. Finely chop the pepper and place it in the bowl with the corn.

Pour the citrus juices into the bowl along with a large pinch of sea salt and stir until well combined. Taste test and add more salt if needed.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up 4 days.

#2,068: Chamomile Lavender Latte

I've never had a tea latte, but I am a huge tea drinker lately.  So when I came up with an advertisement for it in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine, I wanted to give it a try.  So this recipe is close to/inspired from that ad. 

I didn't love this at first, but found that I kept going back and trying it again and again.  Next thing I knew, I had drank the entire thing.  I guess that's a pretty good sign.  Since then I've made this a few times.  I've tried different types of milk and there are definitely differences to it (the less healthy milk choices make a much better froth!).  Heavy cream definitely froths the best, and unsweetened almond or cashew milk don't froth at all.  Skim milk didn't froth too much either, so I've settled on 2% milk which is definitely much healthier than cream but still gives it a bit of a froth.  I'm sure if my blender was more powerful that might help too! 

I've tried making this with different essential oil flavors and/or teas and this one seems to be the best one I've had and continue to make. It's great before bedtime because it's got both chamomile and lavender, which are both calming.  Although I enjoy this first thing in the morning too! 

2 bags of chamomile tea
1 c boiling water
1/4 c creamer of choice
1 tbsp honey (sometimes I use stevia too, but honey is better)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I don't measure, just do a splash)
1 drop of Young Living Lavender Vitality essential oil (only use one drop, or dip a toothpick into the oil and the swish around in the liquid to get a hint of it)

Boil water and pour over teabags.  Let steep for 10 minutes or so.  Pour hot tea into a blender and add remaining ingredients.  Blend until froth begins to form.  Pour into a cup/mug/teacup. 

#2,067: Pumpkin Banana Bread (Eggless)

I had 2 very, very ripe bananas on my counter needing to be used up.  I'm on a healthier bread/muffin kick lately so I knew I wanted to sneak a veggie in as well, and I had a can of pumpkin puree in my pantry that would totally fit the bill for that!  I've seen this recipe many times so I actually had to go back and search my blog to see if I've made this before.  I was quite surprised that I had not!

I let the kids try this after they got home from school and they were all excited to try it.  I think the chocolate chips on top were their main motivator.  But they all ate it and said they enjoyed it.  And when I offered up a second small piece, they all ran over to get another one.  I'd say that's a very good sign.

As you can see from the photo this is a little over done.  I kind of forgot it was still in the oven.  Because I over cooked it, it's a bit dense but it is still good.  I would definitely make this again.  And I love loaf recipes because it's less mess to clean up!  I hate cleaning out muffin tins!

2 cups flour 
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger 
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cup mashed, overripe banana 
1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave
2 tbsp sweetener of choice (I used 1 tbsp sugar)
1/3 cup oil OR milk of choice
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional (I used minis)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan, and set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. 

Whisk all liquid ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour wet into dry and stir to form a batter.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Smooth into the prepared pan. If desired, press some extra chocolate chips into the top.

Bake on the center rack 30 minutes, then do not open the oven door but turn off the heat and leave in the closed oven for 10 additional minutes. Because ovens may vary, if it’s still under cooked after this time then just turn the heat back on and cook–checking every 5 minutes–until firm. (I definitely had to let mine cook longer, but I forgot about it so that's why it looks a little too brown!)

Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Taste and texture will be much better the second day (and even better the third day as it will get sweeter). Leftovers can be sliced and frozen if desired.

#2,066: Roasted Carrot-Orange Muffins

I had quite a bit of leftover roasted carrots and couldn't eat them all myself, so I wanted to find a way to get my kids to eat them too!  I pureed the leftover roasted carrots and set out to find a recipe that would be easy and that my kids would enjoy.  My kids LOVED these muffins.  Personally I did too.  :)  I only used some of the carrot puree I made, so I have another batch ready to go in my freezer.  My kids had no idea there was pureed roasted carrots in these!  My 11 year old even told her younger sister, "Don't pretend like you don't like these!  You loved them until she told you there was carrots in it."  Preach sister!  This recipe only made 10 large muffins, so I probably would double the batch next least for my family.  These will be great to bake and then put in the freezer for a quick breakfast.

I did not include the directions on how to make the roasted carrots, so if you need those instructions, I'd definitely check out the original website for this recipe.  

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup skim/low-fat milk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil, liquid-state (I only had 5 tbsp left, so I added 1 tbsp of olive oil)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I only used 1 cup)
1 teaspoon orange zest (I actually added 3 drops of Young Living Vitality Orange oil to the milk/vanilla mixture)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup roasted carrot puree, packed 

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit degrees. Line standard muffin pan with liners or grease with butter/baking spray.

In medium sized bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

In measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.

(I skipped this step) In small bowl, combine sugar and zest. Using fingertips, rub zest into sugar until fragrant.

In stand mixer bowl, combine oil and sugar. Using whisk attachment, mix together until fluffy and light in color. Turn down speed to low and beat in eggs one at a time, until incorporated.
Turn mixer to low speed and add carrot puree until just blended.

Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with 2 additions of the milk/vanilla mixture. Beat at low speed until just combined.

Using spoon or muffin scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin pan—it should fill each up about 7/8 full.

Bake at 350 degrees (on center rack) for 24-27minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Place muffin tin on cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan, place on cooling rack, and allow to come to room temperature. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

#2,065: Easy Soft Pretzel Bites

Need a last minute Super Bowl snack?  This one was so easy, I served it to my family as part of their lunch (we did a bunch of leftover things), and they asked for me to make it again tonight.  The only thing  I will do differently next time is to be more generous with the salt.  I thought I was salting it with plenty of salt, but it still could have used more.  I decided against making homemade cheese dip and used some leftover nacho cheese sauce we already had in the fridge.  This was a huge hit with my crew!  

1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
4 c. water
1/4 c. baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
Coarse salt

Cheese Dip (I omitted these ingredients and used a store bought cheese dip instead)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
2 c. Cheddar cheese
Salt, pepper, and cayenne, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Quarter each biscuit then roll piece into a ball. Pinch to seal. (I didn't pinch mine.  They seemed good enough just rolling them)

In a medium saucepan, combine water and baking soda. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the rolled balls and cook for 1 minute. (I did about 10 balls at a time).  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to baking sheet, making sure the pretzels aren't touching. Brush beaten egg over each pretzel. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. (Mine only needed 10 minutes).  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

(I skipped this step and just heated up our store bought cheese sauce in the microwave!) Meanwhile, make cheese sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in milk and bring to a simmer. When the milk begins to thicken, stir cheese, whisking constantly until sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

#2,064: Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

It was one of those days where I wasn't totally sure what I wanted to make for dinner because I didn't have any definite plans (a lot of times I do).  I knew I wanted to make something ridiculously easy, and I had some chicken thighs in my freezer, so I figured I'd do a quick search for something...and something that would go well with pasta as a side dish. Enter this recipe!  It was so simple, and I literally had all of the ingredients on hand.  Well I didn't have any mushrooms on hand, but my husband wouldn't want them in this dish anyways.  
I love recipes when dinner is in the crockpot and cooking within minutes!  That was definitely this recipe! 

Overall, my family really did enjoy this meal...there weren't any leftovers, so that's always a great sign!  The chicken was tender and moist, and I'd make this again. Although I was the only one who ate it on top of pasta...everyone else ate it on the side, and Allison put it into a little roll to make a chicken sandwich.  To each his own!  

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 (28 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/4 pound sliced fresh mushrooms 
(I omitted)
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced 
(I didn't have green on hand, so I used red bell pepper)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 

Place chicken in a slow cooker; stir in spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, basil, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cover. Cook on Low until chicken is tender, 6 to 8 hours.

#2,063: Baked Blueberry Ginger "Pancake"

When I was flipping through a recent issues of Taste of Home magazine, I came across this recipe for baked "pancakes."  I think this word "pancake" needs to be use very loosely though because this does not resemble (or taste like) a pancake at all.  I'm kind of surprised they didn't call it a cake.  But in terms of a blueberry "cake" my kids really enjoyed this!  I thought it was a bit dry so the syrup does help give it a little more moisture.  And it definitely tastes better warmed up!  The kids ate this for breakfast for a few days and enjoyed it! 

2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
Maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine eggs, milk and butter. Whisk the next five ingredients; add to egg mixture. Spoon batter into a 9-in. square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle blueberries over top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cut into squares; serve with warm maple syrup. Yield: 9 servings.

Taste of Home Test Kitchen tip
If you aren't fans of ginger, feel free to scale it back or substitute something else, such as ground cinnamon or grated lemon zest.

Blueberries make this pancake wonderful, but raspberries, blackberries or chopped strawberries would work well, too. Or try a mixture.

Friday, January 26, 2018

#2,062: Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole

I picked up broccoli and cauliflower from the grocery store this week completely intending to use them for different recipes.  But life is busy so I needed something quicker to make with them before the started to go bad.  A quick Google search led me to this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, and I was excited to try it (and happy that it was in the oven within 20 minutes!).  Although I'm not totally in love with this, because the cauliflower is a little too undercooked for my liking, but I am loving the pieces of broccoli I'm eating.  When I steamed my broccoli and cauliflower I wanted to make sure it was slightly undercooked since I figured it would keep cooking in the oven, but next time I think I will steam it until it is literally just about done/to my liking.  Don't skimp on the pepper or needs it! 

1 head (large) Broccoli
1 head Cauliflower
6 Tablespoons Butter
1/2 medium Onion, Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 cup Flour
2-1/2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
4 ounces Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt, More To Taste
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1-1/2 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese, More To Taste
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/3 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs

Break the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets, cutting off the thick stalks as you go. Steam them for 3 to 4 minutes until the broccoli is bright green, then remove them from the heat. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the 6 tablespoons of butter and saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top, whisk to combine, and cook for another 45 seconds. Pour in broth, whisking constantly, then cook until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and add the softened cream cheese, salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and paprika. Stir to combine until the sauce is nice and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, making sure it's nice and flavorful! Keep warm.

In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Set aside.

Layer half the broccoli and cauliflower in a small casserole dish. Pour on half the cream sauce, then sprinkle on half the cheese. Sprinkle a little paprika on the cheese, then repeat with another layer of broccoli, sauce, and cheese.

End with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve warm.