Wednesday, September 15, 2010

French Dip

Wow! I can't believe it's been 2 months since I've posted a recipe. If you're a fan on Facebook, you'll know that I have 2-3 recipes to catch up on, but we've mostly been re-making some early favorites. Lots of Sweet and Sour Catalina Chicken being made in this house. :-)

But today, I share with you my first attempt at cooking a roast in the crock pot which was for french dip and was shared with me by my friend, Jessica.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Orange Honey Tilapia

Wow! Has it really been a month since I've cooked something in the crock pot? Not quite (but almost)...but I've only been cooking things I've already made and blogged about. No need to bore you with those (although I do keep you updated with that on my Facebook page). But last night, I cooked another one of Stephanie O'Dea's fantastic fish recipes, the Orange Honey Tilapia. Yes, you can cook fish in the crock pot!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour (Catalina) Chicken

This DEFINITELY goes on the must-cook-again list! I am so pleased with myself with this one. A friend of mine had told me about cooking chicken with Catalina dressing. She's right, if you Google "catalina crock pot chicken" (or something similar) you get a million variations of this idea. Of course, when I went to the grocery store yesterday, I didn't bring any of the recipes with me - but I took a chance and decided to wing it! And boy am I glad I did!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Chicken Tenders (8 tenders)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 1 can pineapple chunks in pineapple sauce (not syrup - only cuz we're really trying to eat healthier)
  • 1/2 bottle of Fat Free Catalina dressing

Yes, it's really as simple as...
  • I poured a small amount of the pineapple juice in the bottom of my 4 qt crock pot so that the chicken wouldn't stick.
  • Dumped all the chicken in.
  • Cut up the onion and red pepper into chunks and put those on next. (I really wanted the flavor of the onion and red pepper, but I don't actually eat them so much. The bigger chunks made it easier to pick out. :-)
  • Put all the pineapple on top (without the juice).
  • Poured about 1/4 cup more of the pineapple juice over everything but not the whole amount from the can.
  • Squeezed 1/2 the bottle of Catalina dressing over top of everything.

  • Cook on high for 4 hours (I could have probably cooked this on low for longer, but my friend just posted on Facebook today that she thought she had food poisoning from a pork slow cooker recipe, and I really just wanted to make sure the chicken was fully cooked.)
  • Turn it down to low for 30-45 more minutes or until the chicken starts to fall apart (which it did).
  • Optional: If you want to thicken up the sauce a little bit (I'm a sauce junkie), in a small bowl mix 1 tsp of corn starch with 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Turn the crock pot back up to high, pour this mixture in and stir. Let that come back up to a little boil. Voila! (You can make it even thicker with more corn starch, but be sure to dilute it in water before adding to your pot to avoid clumps.)

I steamed up some rice to serve this on and voila! OMG! First of all, about 2 hours in it started to smell SOOO good! I really was hoping it was going to taste as good as it smelled. Totally company-worthy! And I love that it was a healthier version of one of our favorite dishes, mostly because normally sweet and sour chicken is fried chicken then cooked with sauce. 

The chicken was so tender and yummy. Oh, but the chicken gets a little dark looking from the sauce, so it looked like dark meat until you cut into it. (This is only important for people like my husband to know, as he does not like dark meat.) Plenty for leftovers for us to eat another meal - I'll probably have my portion for lunch tomorrow.

I'm really so pleased with how this turned out. I'm a little hungry after going down to the gym, and it's taking every ounce of will power I have not to finish the whole thing off! :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Corn Chowder

I've left my crock pot cook books on the shelf today, and am trying one of the hundreds of wonderful recipes that Stephanie O'Dea has published on her blog: Corn Chowder

If you haven't checked out her blog, do it! She has the most amazing recipes and I've got a ton to try in the coming weeks.

She did a much better job taking pictures of the finished product than I did. Honestly, my picture looked like a big pot of....something you wouldn't want to eat. But, it tasted good! The ingredients and directions are on her site (here's the link again) but basically its...frozen corn, onion, red pepper, carrots, potatoes, and chicken stock. That's it! I love that this is a chowder recipe without any milk or cream! We are trying to eat healthier - doctor's orders now - and my husband and I are both lactose intolerant, so this was a win-win!

I did take a couple pictures...

Of my ingredients:

And my ingredients all prepared to go in the pot:

Yes, this required the use of a small pan to pre-cook the onions. But I liked that anyway because I don't really like the taste of onions but know they add a good background flavor. And I don't have the Pampered Chef chopper Stephanie has...but I'm going to get one at my friend's upcoming PC party! Baby carrots are way easier to chop up by hand than big carrots though, so at least I didn't have to worry about cutting a finger off in the process. But if I can't have my very own sous chef...then I was tools and gadgets to make it easier!

Oh...couple other important notes...I used less ingredients than the original recipe. This is partly because I was fighting a head cold and my husband, bless his heart, did the grocery shopping for me. He did not check package sizes (less corn than the recipe called for). And he found the very smallest "small onion" possible. It worked out okay though. I had used my 4qt crock pot and ended up not being able to fit everything (only used 1.5 quarts of chicken stock). (Next time, I'd use the 6qt pot.) And when I blended it all up it was more of a puree consistency instead of a chowder. My husband didn't mind. He was excited he "didn't even have to chew". Next time, I would have liked it a little bit thicker.

We also used regular corn (not smoked, like Stephanie) and I ended up adding a little salt and pepper to mine. I think the smokiness would have added a nice flavor (no Trader Joe's in Houston though....moment of silence please).

My husband bought three different kinds of biscuit products to go along with this. We ended up using the canned biscuits which were yummy. I just couldn't see corn bread going with corn chowder. Too much corn at one time and all. But any bread would be good.

This was also my first time using the immersion blender I bought last week (just because I knew I wanted to try this recipe). I love that thing! I compared models for hours! (Okay, maybe only minutes, but it felt like hours because I kept going back and forth and back and forth.) I ended up with the Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome and am so far happy with the purchase. Let's see what else I can make with that! :-)

Yeah - I love having a home cooked meal waiting for me as soon as I'm done working. Especially after a VERY TIRING day like I had today. I would have easily gone out or grabbed a bowl of cereal rather than think of cooking something. But it was nice to have this "comfort" food waiting for me. Loving my crock pot!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chickenetti (or "Be sure to fully read the directions before choosing a recipe")

Wow! Has it really been a month and a half since I cooked? Yes, I mean cooked anything (french toast for breakfast this past weekend doesn't count). I have quickly realized that I am just NOT going to cook dinner after a long day at work unless it's sitting in the crock pot doing it's thing all by itself. I mean, April was a very busy month - traveled out of town every weekend including being gone for an entire week...had a birthday and an anniversary - but since I've been back, despite my best intentions, haven't cooked a thing. Until today. And if this would have been my first crock pot cooking adventure, it very well may have been my last...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tortellini with Broccoli

Today's crock pot meal felt like cheating. It didn't even feel like cooking, but I guess that's one of the perks of the crock pot, right? :-)

Today's meal was from the Fix-it And Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites cook book (LOVE this cook book!) - page 160. Here's the recipe as it was printed in the cook book (use a 4qt crock pot):

1/2 cup water
26-oz jar pasta sauce
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
9-oz pkg frozen spinach and cheese tortellini
16-oz pkg frozen broccoli florets
  1. In a bowl, mix water, pasta sauce, and seasoning together
  2. Pour one-third of sauce into bottom of slow cooker. Top with tortellini.
  3. Pour one-third of sauce over tortellini. Top with broccoli.
  4. Pour remaining sauce over broccoli.
  5. Cook on high 2 1/2 - 3 hours, or until broccoli and pasta are tender but not mushy.
I modified this slightly based on the ingredients that I could find/get.

The tortellini came in 19 oz packages (not 9) and I think this might have been a typo in the cook book, because I can't imagine there would be less than 1/2 of the tortellini. I also didn't have Italian seasoning, so I added what seemed Italian to me: garlic sauce, basil, oregano and black pepper.

It felt like there wasn't a lot of sauce - but I think that's because I really like sauce and expected it to have more. Next time, I might buy the larger size pasta sauce so I would have a little bit more.

I was a good girl this time, didn't peek or lift the lid. But honestly, it was a little difficult to know if it was done because there was no sauce boiling or anything. After 2.5 hours, it was definitely done. 

The tortellini actually started to stick to the sides (I guess that's why you needed sauce in the bottom of the pot), but not too bad. 

(This is not the best picture - it tasted much better than in looks. :-)

It was really yummy. Super simple and plenty of leftovers! Yeah, this was so much better than fast food or some other sort of takeout.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore (Recipe Included)

This week's main crock pot meal was Chicken Cacciatore from page 29 of one of my very favorite cookbooks: FIX-IT and FORGET-IT LIGHTLY : Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes for Your Slow Cooker Honestly, I don't think I've ever eaten cacciatore, but the ingredients sounded good enough so I gave it a whirl. Who could go wrong with chicken, mushrooms, and tomatoes! (No, I'm not leading up to a disaster story. It was actually very good!)

Here's how it all went down...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Make Your Own Chicken Stock

Today we had plans to go out to dinner and run a few errands after work, so I didn't need to actually cook dinner. But I did want to use my crock pot today to pre-cook some chicken that I'll need for future recipes I want to try, and the bonus is that this means I made my own chicken stock! There are a lot of variations out there for how to do this, but I used the 5 Dollar Dinners version (another great blog that I follow) as my inspiration. And let me just say, I ended up craving chicken all day because it smelled so good! Here's how it went down...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Peach Cobbler (Recipe Included)

This week, I was ready to venture into the world of cooking dessert in the crock pot. Again, who knew a crock pot could be so versatile. What I'm learning to love and appreciate, is that a crock pot really works like a portable oven. And on a day when I had the air conditioning running, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven. So dessert in the crock pot was perfect! I got out the cook books and what I learned was that a lot of dessert recipes seem to call for apples. I'll have to try one of those some other time. But for tonight, we had cobbler!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chicken and Noodles (Recipe Included)

I'm slacking already at keeping up with my posts! Today's meal is really from Wednesday night's dinner. Maybe it was a subconscious thing - I thought it was good, but not great. So maybe I wasn't in such a hurry to post it. Either way, I need to stay on top of these things. :-)

This meal was from a new site - Campbell's Kitchen. Yep, that's Campbell's as in Campbell's soup. I figured many recipes call for using soup of some sort, so I took a peak at what they had to offer and found this chicken and noodle meal. There are many slow cooker recipes on their site, so I think I'll be trying more, but here's how this meal went down.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Salmon with Dry Rub (Recipe Included)

I am so excited to be finding some fantastic new recipes and truly expanding what I thought a crock pot could do. We have been wanting to have salmon for dinner (I keep some in the freezer from Costco) so I set out to find a recipe that would allow me to cook it in the crock pot. I logged back into one of my new favorite crock pot blogs (Year of Slow Cooking) over the weekend, and wouldn't you know it, the flash back to her 2008 daily posts had Salmon as the recipe for March 20. So...we gave it a try tonight and I have to say the results were amazing!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole (Recipe Included)

I honestly hadn't thought of making breakfast in my crock pot until last night. I was going to play Bunko with some friends today at noon, and it was a potluck. So rather than picking up the "standard" stuff on my way there, I thought "This is a great opportunity for a crock pot adventure!" So I got out my cookbooks, and although there were breakfast/brunch sections, the choices were few. So I checked out this other crock pot blog that one of my friends recommended, and I'm SO EXCITED to try out a bunch of her recipes. (I definitely recommend her blog:

So...from that, I set out to make my first crock pot breakfast...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Turkey Chili - Easy way to have success

Okay - don't count on 4 posts a day. It's just "getting started" day. :-)

Today's crock pot meal was a yummy turkey chili. Now, for those of you in Houston, you might wonder why I didn't cook this yesterday when we were having a cooler, rainy day - but instead waited until it was beautiful outside. I know chili is customarily a cold-weather meal, but this recipe made it worth it (and besides, we were still finishing up leftovers last night). 

Let me start by saying, it's amazing what happens when you (mostly) follow the recipe.

My First Two Meals

So, even though I got my crock pot for Christmas I only started using my crock pot a few weeks ago. So, it's easy to bring you all up to speed with my experience so far. I've used it only twice before today (I'll post about the results of today's meal separately). I would say that each of those attempts was good, but not great. But I'm sure that the lessons I learned from those first two attempts will save me many future heartaches.

My Crock Pot

So, I thought I should start by sharing which crock pot I have. This was on my wish list this past year for Christmas, and thanks to my in-laws, I am the proud owner of the  Hamilton Beach 33134 3-in-1 Slow Cooker with 2-, 4-, and 6-Quart Crocks.
What I love about it is that it came with 3 different size bowls - 2 qt, 4 qt and 6qt. As I'm starting to check out recipes, I've found that size matters. So, having the flexibility to use a smaller or larger bowl is great! One of the things I'm learning is that it is best to make sure the crock pot is at least 2/3 full. If it's filled less than that, it starts to burn. I don't know yet what happens if it's more than that (I don't think I should try and find out either). So, having the flexibility of different sizes without purchasing 3 different crock pots (and then finding a place to store them) is awesome!

And besides, the muted colors of the bowls look really cute. :-)

Why I started this blog

This is my very first blog...ever. Not just for Crock Pot Virgin...but ever. So, why start a blog now? Well...I've been wanting to (ever since watching the movie Julie and Julia I imagine - great movie by the way!) but never really had anything worth writing about. Then, I started to post comments on Facebook when I made my first meal. And my friends were very supportive of helping me ease into this crock pot thing, and wanted to know what recipes I was trying, etc. So I thought - ding ding ding! Let's start a blog!