Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Creamy Italian Crockpot Chicken

Creamy Italian Crockpot Chicken
from Lindsey Gentry/ Mmm Cafe

Tonight I made this crockpot dish served over rice with a salad and Blitz Bread (see below for recipe.) I liked this recipe because it couldn't be easier to put together and was a nice, flavorful meal. It wasn't one of those "wow, amazing!" recipes but for quick, pleasing domestic fare served its purpose well. The chicken was fall apart tender and the sauce was yummy and creamy.

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix

¼ C. water

¼ C. melted butter

1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Hot cooked rice

Combine water, salad dressing mix, soup and butter in crockpot. Mix in chicken to coat. Cook on low for 4 hours. After 3 1/2 hrs add cream cheese and mix in. Cook 30 mins longer. Serve chicken over hot cooked rice.

Blitz Bread

Blitz Bread
from My Kitchen Cafe

I've never made bread of any kind before, but this sounded easy enough and it looked like one of our favorite restaurant breads, the peasant loaf at Macaroni Grill. I haven't eaten there in awhile but we think it turned out pretty close especially when dipped in balsamic and olive oil. I did have to let my bread rise for two hours rather than the recipe's 1hr (I think because it's dryer out here.)

1 1/2 cups warm water

3 Tbs Olive Oil, divided

1 1/4 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbs instant yeast

1/2 tsp garlic salt

3 tsp dried herb blend for sprinkling(oregan, basil, parsley, rosemary are good, but any that you like)

1. Lightly grease a 9x13 dish (I sprayed a little bit of Pam on the sides) then drizzle 2 Tbs olive oil to caot bottom.

2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water then add salt, and garlic salt. Add flour and beat on high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds. ( I don't have a hand mixer so I just used my whisk to mix and combine dough evenly. It seemed to be just as effective even though I'm sure I didn't whisk on high.)

3. Scoop the sticky batter into prepared dish and spread it to the pan, cover with plastic wrap or towl, and let it rise at room temp for 60min, until it is puffy.

4. While rising preheat oven to 375.

5. Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger. (It helps to dip your finger in water first.)

6. Drizzle it lightly with remaining 1Tbs olive oil and sprinkle with dried herbs.

7. Bake until golden brown, 30-40 min.

8. Let cool 5 min, then take out of pan and cool on rack. Serve warm.

Okay, so I just came across some very exciting news! Pillsbury has just come out with a new Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations product. Which, without the fancy title, is essentially their crescent roll dough made into a non-perforated single sheet! I was like, "That's brilliant! Why haven't they done this earlier?" How many times have I made Chicken Pillows, BBQ Beef Pockets, and several other recipes with the crescents rolls and always hated having to pinch together the seams only to have them separate when I accidentally put in too much filling or whatever. No more! All of those recipes will be a breeze now. Maybe some of you won't find this news as cool as I did, but for me I am anxiously awaiting my next grocery trip to see if my store is carrying them yet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Crispy Chicken Wraps

Crispy Chicken Wraps
Totally yummy and so quick and easy. We served these with avacado slices and refried-style black beans. Mmm, Mmm.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons hot sauce (this does not make them spicy but adds great flavor! At the end, I actually added more plus some a little sprinkling of garlic pwdr.)
1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups) OR boiled, shredded chicken breast, which is what I used, but if you go for the rotisserie it's bound to be that much better!
2 cups shredded cheese
4 (12-inch) flour tortillas
1. Whisk the mayonnaise, cilantro, scallions, sour cream and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine.
2. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open(like a flatened burrito.) Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wilted Spinach with Bacon and Pecans

Wilted Spinach with Bacon and Pecans
(from H-E-B's Cooking Connection)
Tonight was Baked Lemon Pepper Tilapia and Wilted Spinach with Bacon and Pecans. Our grocery store, H-E-B, has this little cooking show type thing in it and they always make the yummiest dishes (hoping to lure you into buying the expensive spices and sauces used). We rarely fall for their ploy but love to take home the recipes anyway and try to substitute the more costly ingredients, usually with success.

I've wanted to try this spinach recipe for a year now and finally did. It was so, so delicious and went really well with the fish. I substituted their expensive dressing for apricot jam.
2 bags fresh baby spinach
3 Tbs apricot jam, (microwave for a few seconds to reduce)
5-6 slices bacon, diced
1/4 cup sliced pecans
dash salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese
1. In large skillet, cook chopped bacon until brown and crispy. About half way through add pecans toast them.
2. When bacon is done, add the spinach a little at a time and turn to wilt. When all of spinach is wilted add apricot jam, salt and pepper.
3. Stir in cheese, toss to mix and remove from heat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Ultimate Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff
(from My Kitchen Cafe)

I made this for Sunday dinner today and served it with asparagus and a simple fruit salad(peaches, strawberries, and bananas with cream). It was easy and quite delicious. The beef and gravy were really rich and flavorful. A keeper.

I cooked it on the 8hr setting of my crockpot, but after about 5 hrs, when I checked it after we got home from church, the beef was done and being afraid of it getting dry by leaving it another 2-3hrs, I turned the crockpot down to "warm" for the remaining time. When I checked it again, all of the liquid had been soaked up into the meat, leaving me none left to make a gravy with ( but similtaniously making the meat really yummy) so I added another 2 cups of beef stock. This led me to add more roux at the end than called for to thicken it. It's funny how one person's tried and true recipes never seem to have as consistent a result when someone else tries them. Even when the recipe is followed exactly as they give it I always end up needing to do some tweaking. So, with that in mind here is the original recipe:

Put in crockpot:
2-3 lbs stew meat
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 large onion, sliced

Mix in bowl and pour over meat:
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock (made from cubes or granules)
1 Tbs ketchup

Other Ingredients:
1/3 cup flour
5-6 Tbs apple juice
4oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sour cream

Cook in crockpot on low for 7-8 hrs or on high4-5 hrs. When cooked, make a simple roux by whisking the flour with enough apple juice to make a thick but still pourable flour mixture. Whisk the roux into the crockpot and add mushrooms.

Cook on high for 15-30 minutes. Then stir in sour cream. Serve over pasta (egg noodles or any curly noodle work best), potatoes or rice.

Shrimp Enchiladas

Shrimp Enchiladas
These enchiladas were deffinitely worth sharing. To quote the girl whose blog I got the recipe from, "they are cheesy and creamy with a subtle kick and you will not be dissapointed with the results." I've been frequenting random people's cooking blogs lately in search of inspiration and, though I normally wouldn't have made these thinking that shrimp enchiladas might just end up weird and fishy tasting, with all of the good reviews they got I decided to go ahead and make them last night. I'm so glad I did because Jon and I, and even Logan, really enjoyed them; they will definitely be going into the family cookbook. Here is the recipe:

1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper. chopped
1 small onion, minced and divided into half*
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tbs flour*
3 cups monterey jack cheese, divided (you can also use half pepper-jack for some more spice)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs butter*
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
8 (9-inch) flour tortillas or 14 corn tortillas (the recipe called for flour, but we prefer corn in our enchiladas. Though, when I made them last night I wanted to try the flour and see, so we actually made them half/half with 4 flour and 6 corn. The conclusion was that we liked both almost equally, so whatever your preference may be, enjoy!)

1. In a large skillet or wok, saute red pepper, grn pepper, 1/2 the onion in 1/4 cup butter until crisp-tender. Add oregano, salt,garlic pwdr, pepper, cayenne pepper, cream and flour; blend well. Continue cooking for ~ 3 min. or until slightly thickened. Add 1 1/2 cups cheese; stir until melted. Add sour cream; stir to blend. Put half of mixture into a seperate bowl and set aside(to be used as topping.) Add tomatoes to remaining skillet; mix and turn heat to low. If it looks a little runny, add another Tbs flour and mix until thickened.
*Alright, here is where I actually took a short cut, so if you are interested in making it that way scroll to the bottom, otherwise here are the original directions.

2. In another skillet, melt 2 Tbs butter. Saute shrimp and remaining half onion until shrimp are pink. Remove shrimp and chop; return to butter and onion and add all to the cheese mixture.

3. Spoon 1/3 cup mixture into each flour tortilla, less if using corn. Roll up tightly and arrange seam side down in 9x13 baking dish. Pour reamining cheese sauce(that was set aside) over top of all and sprinkle remaing on 1 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. until cheese is bubbly and enchiladas are heated through.

*Okay, here was the short cut I used since I am a little intimidated by cooking raw seafood and it also saved me from having an extra pan to wash. I pretty much skipped the second step.
At the beginning when adding the peppers and onion, I just added the whole onion and the extra 2 Tbs butter with it. Rather than sauteing raw shrimp, I bought pre-cooked cocktail shrimp and just pulled off the tails. After thawing, I chopped them up and added them to the cheese mix after adding the tomatoes and extra flour to thicken. I turned up the heat for a few minutes to heat the shrimp with the mix. Continue on with step three.

In the pictures at te top the left has the corn tortillas placed horizontally, the right has the flour placed vertically.

So Yummy, Enjoy!