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Friday, January 28, 2011

Crock-Pot Jamaican Chicken

My stepkids have not been around lately--my stepdaughter is on vacation & my stepson has been with his mom.  So the only opinion I have on this dish is my hubby's.  He didn't hate it, but he wasn't crazy about it.  He actually put Jack Daniel's sauce on top of his chicken & then he was really pleased with it.  I did taste the sauce the chicken cooked in & it had a tropical taste to me.  I do think my stepdaughter & her boyfriend would've liked it a lot, but I doubt my stepson would've liked it.

Crock-Pot Jamaican Chicken

2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
1 1/4 Cups mango nectar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

*combine jerk seasoning, nectar, sugar, syrup, & rice vinegar in the slow cooker & stir to combine
*add the chicken breasts & turn to coat in the sauce
*cover & cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until chicken is cooked through

Note: I never have corn syrup in the house, just not a healthy food IMO, no matter if it's high fructose or not.  You can't even buy it at the health food stores, which is where I shop.  I felt that maple syrup had too strong & distinct of a flavor that might throw off the dish, so I chose to sub with brown rice syrup, which I always have in the house--it's not as sweet as corn syrup, but it has a nice mellow flavor that is somewhat sweet.

TGIF's Jack Daniel's Sauce

I LOOOVE making sauces.  I often just create my own random concoctions & then create a myriad of recipes from it by finding a million ways to use that sauce.  This is not one I created myself, but it is a favorite of mine.  We rarely eat out, but once in a while we do.  This sauce is the only reason we set foot in TGIF's.  I was thrilled when I found this recipe!  I usually at least double it when I make it, & I sometimes even quadruple it.  It isn't a quick recipe to make, so plan ahead & that's why I make such large batches when I do make it.

TGIF's Jack Daniel's Sauce

1 head garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2/3 Cup water
1 Cup pineapple juice
1/4 Cup teriyaki sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/3 Cups dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons minced white onion
1 Tablespoon Jack Daniel's whiskey
1 Tablespoon crushed pineapple
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*roast garlic in oven at 325 F for one hour: place head of garlic in casserole dish, drizzle olive oil over, cover dish & bake
*when garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze it out (almost like squeezing tooth paste out of the tube), remove all papery skin & mash well
*combine water, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, & brown sugar, stir occasionally & bring to a boil
*reduce to a simmer, add garlic & whisk it in
*add the rest of the ingredients to the pan & let simmer briskly for 1 hour, or until the glaze reduced by about 1/3--it will still be "thin", but as it cools down it should be slightly syrupy & thick

Note: You can use this over fish, chicken, beef, veggies, rice, anything you can possibly think of

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Crock-Pot Oatmeal

Ever find yourself short on time in the morning for a good breakfast?  Then you need a crock pot & you can make yourself oatmeal!!  I've made this twice so far.  The first time hubby complained that he doesn't like salt in his oats & the second time hubby had the idea of throwing a cinammon stick in there as well.  Oatmeal is one of those things that everyone likes to finish off in a different way.  I like mine with a little salt, butter, & maple syrup.  So I wasn't sure I was gonna like the cinammon flavor with that, but I have to say it was REALLY good.  I will definitely add the cinammon stick again the next time we make it.  (I buy the large ones at the Mexican grocery store--or in TJ--& I used about half of one of those)  I read that you can add cut up apples also.  But I read that raisins don't do well with the long cooking time.  I am sad that my little toddler cannot partake of this with us, since he's allergic to oats.  Therefore, I plan to try this method with other hot cereals in the future--millet, cream of wheat, creamy rice, etc.  If they turn out well I will post those recipes as well.

Crock-Pot Oatmeal

1 1/4 Cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Cups water

*combine ingredients in slow cooker, cover, & cook on low for 8 hours or overnight

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crock-Pot Spanish Style Chicken with Rice

This smelled heavenly while cooking.  But I cooked it for 7 1/2 hours or so & the rice was very mushy.  I honestly couldn't eat it.  And hubby took one bite & announced that he doesn't like saffron.  LOL, this didn't go over too well in my house I have to say.  But I think if I had cooked it for a shorter amount of time & left out the saffron (I thought the saffron was wonderful though) it would've been better. 

Crock-Pot Spanish Style Chicken with Rice

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 Tablespoons boiling water
1 Tablespoon oil
3 lbs chicken pieces (skin on breasts, skinless legs & thighs)
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 Cups long grain rice
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, including juice, chopped
1 1/2 Cups chicken stock OR 1 Cup chicken stock AND 1/2 Cup dry white wine
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Cup green peas, thawed if frozen
sliced pimento-stuffed green olives, optional
hot pepper sauce, optional

*heat oil, add chicken in batches, & brown lightly on all sides; transfer to slow cooker
*reduce heat & add onions & cook, stirring, until softened
*add garlic, s/p, & cook, stirring, for 1 minute
*add rice & stir until grains are well coated with mixture
*stir in saffron, tomatoes, & chicken stock; transfer to slow cooker & stir to combine with chicken
*cover & cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork
*stir in green pepper & peas, cover & cook on high for 20 minutes, until veggies are heated through
*garnish with olives, if using, & hot pepper sauce, if using

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lemon Tahini Dressing (for Falafel)

Lemon Tahini Dressing

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1/4 Cup tahini
1/2 teaspoon dry parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
1 clove minced garlic (optional)

*mix well & store in covered jar in refrigerator
*refrigerate until cool before serving


I happen to LOVE falafel.  I do not like garbanzo beans, unless they are in falafel or hummus.  I have never tried to make falafel prior to this, so I have no idea how "authentic" this recipe is.  It seemed a little bland to me, like it needs more cumin & parsley maybe.  But once I dipped it in the lemon tahini dressing (recipe to follow) it was pretty good.  The dressing zips up the flavor of it quite nicely I must say. 


1 3/4 Cup cooked garbanzos or 1 (15-16 oz) can of garbanzos, mashed well
2 Tablespoons wheat germ
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
1 egg, well beaten
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

*mix all ingredients together & form into about 16 balls & flatten slightly
*fry in a little oil about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat
*serve with lemon tahini dressing (recipe to follow)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Avocado Garnish (for Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup)

Avocado Garnish

1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, & chopped
1/2 Cup corn kernels
1/4 Cup chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

*combine all ingredients & cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for up to 4 hours or serve immediately

Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

My hubby REALLY liked this soup.  He says he likes it better than the Mexican Chicken Soup I made recently.  I did make a few changes to the recipe, just customizing it to my hubby's tastes a tad more.  I used 1 1/2 bell peppers instead of 3 & 1 onion, instead of 2.  I left out the canned tomatoes & I used 6 cups of broth instead of 4.  I didn't use any cheese as my hubby can't have dairy.  I didn't add any tortilla strips, just didn't have any in the house.  And I didn't have the ingredients on hand to make the avocado garnish.

Crock-Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Tablespoons oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup gold tequila (optional)
1 (14-15 oz) can chopped tomatoes, drained
4 Cups chicken broth
3 Cups shredded cooked chicken
salt & pepper
fried corn tortilla strips
grated colby or monterey jack cheese, for garnish
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed, leaves chopped, for garnish
avocado garnish (recipe to follow)

*saute peppers & onions until softened, about 2 minutes
*add garlic, chili powder, & cumin & cook for another 2 minutes
*add tequila (if using) & cook until almost evaporated
*transfer above to the crock-pot
*add tomatoes, broth, & chicken
*cover & cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours
*season with salt & pepper
*place tortilla strips in bowl, ladle in the soup, & top with desired garnish

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crock-Pot Basic Poached Chicken Breasts

I have some recipes that call for cooked chicken.  I rarely have just plain cooked chicken laying around, it usually has some sort of sauce or flavoring to it, so this is great for me to use for those recipes.  I also discovered that my toddler LOVES chicken cooked like this.  Up until now it's been kind of hit & miss for me.  Sometimes he likes chicken & sometimes he doesn't based on the sauce, flavoring, etc.  So for me it's great to have a standard recipe that I know he likes.  The first batch I made of this I made with 2 chicken breasts (boneless, skiness) & 2 chicken thighs (skinless, bone in).  I was making it for a soup I am planning to make tomorrow.  I then strained the cooking liquid & planned to use it as part of my broth in the soup.  But then I decided to poach a second batch, for my toddler son, just 2 chicken breasts this time, but I used the broth from the original poaching, so by the time it goes in the soup tomorrow it should be REALLY flavorful.

Crock-Pot Basic Poached Chicken Breasts

2 Cups chicken broth
3 whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
12 chicken breasts, skin & bones removed

*mix together the broth, peppercorns, & thyme in the slow cooker insert
*place chicken breasts in, stacking in even layer
*cover & cook on low for 4-5 hours, until chicken is cooked through & tender
*let chicken cool & remove it from slow cooker
*refrigerate for 2 days or freeze for up to 10 weeks

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honey Butter (for corn bread)

I LOVE honey butter on my corn bread, so it seemed essential to me to post it along with the corn bread recipes. 

1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), softened at room temperature
1/3 Cup honey

*beat the two ingredients together until well blended

Sweet & Cake-like Corn Bread

This is my hubby's favorite corn bread recipe.  He doesn't care for the gritty texture, he prefers it more cake-like & sweet.  My hubby likes everything sweet, he has a real sweet tooth.  :)

Corn Bread

1 1/4 Cup flour
3/4 Cup corn meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 Cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter (solid)
1 egg

*combine flour, corn meal, baking powder, sugar, & salt
*add milk, butter, egg & mix only until combined
*pour into greased 8" square pan
*bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Note: this recipe may be doubled & baked in a 13x9x2" pan

Note: if you use earth balance instead of butter, an egg replacer, & non-dairy mik this is a vegan dish

Coarse-Gritty Not Too Sweet Cornbread

This is personally my favorite corn bread recipe.  I like my corn bread VERY corny.  I like it nice & gritty & not super sweet. 

Corn Bread

1 Cup yellow corn meal
1 Cup flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup oil
1 egg
1 Cup milk

*combine dry ingredients in a bowl & mix well
*combine oil, egg, & milk & mix well
*stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended
*pour into well buttered 8" square baking pan
*bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Note 1: recipe may be doubled & baked in a 13x9x2" pan

Note 2: I have many times made these in cupcake tins & they turn out great

Note 3: if you use an egg replacer & non-dairy milk this is a vegan dish

Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

My family is not really big on soups.  But my hubby does like a good chicken soup.  Right now he is under the weather so I made him this.  It turned out pretty good, but did need quite a bit more salt after it was finished (& I put the teaspoon it called for & I know the broth had salt as well).

Crock-Pot Mexican Chicken Soup

2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 sprigs cilantro (we REALLY like cilantro, so I actually put a whole fistful in)
1 hot chili pepper, seeded & chopped (I didn't have one on hand, so I used a little cayenne pepper powder)
10 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
2 half chicken breasts
1 (10 oz) can condensed chicken broth
5 cups water

1/2 Cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted & ground
2 small avocados, sliced
lime juice
finely chopped cilantro

*In slow cooker stoneware, combine broth ingredients.  Cover & cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours
*Lift out chicken & shred meat
*Strain the broth & discard solids
*Combine strained broth & shredded chicken back in crock pot & set to warm if not eating immediately

*in a bowl, whip cream & beat in cumin seeds & set aside
*when you ladle soup into bowls, lay avocado strips ontop & sprinkle with lime juice
*top with a dollop of cream & garnish with cilantro.

Note 1: I did not do the topping part.  My hubby can't have cream (no dairy) & he dislikes cumin; we didn't have avocado in the house & I honestly forgot about the lime juice & chopped cilantro (I have mentioned that I have a toddler, right??)

Note 2: hubby found the veggies I had strained out of the broth (I had just left them sitting in a bowl) & added them back to the soup & he said it was even better that way, LOL

Mexican BROWN Rice

This is basically the same recipe that I posted before for Mexican Rice.  I had been meaning to try it out with brown rice, since I prefer to eat brown rice.  But the rest of my family prefers white rice, so this dish will probably mostly just be for me.  I used a short grain brown rice, since that's all I had in the house, but I think it would be better with a long grain brown rice.

Mexican BROWN Rice

3 Tablespoons oil
1 Cup brown rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup tomato sauce
2 Cups chicken broth
1/4 Cup chopped carrots

*Cook rice in oil until puffed
*Sprinkle with garlic salt & cumin
*Stir in onions & carrots & cook until tender
*Stir in tomato sauce & chicken broth
*Bring to boil & simmer 45-50 minutes

Note: like I said in my last blog on Mexican Rice, I almost never have tomato sauce in the house, but I do always have tomato paste.  I simply make tomato sauce out of the tomato paste.  Combine 1/4 Cup tomato paste with 1/3 Cup water & add 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon sugar.

Note: if you use veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crock-Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

This was VERY yummy.  It was a winner all the way around, everyone liked it, including my stepson!  I wish the sauce had been a little thicker, but that's my only comment.  I couldn't find boneless, skinless thighs.  I removed the skin myself, but couldn't get the bones out.  I just cooked it for the maximum 6 hours & it was fully cooked & quite good.  In a pinch I'm sure you could substitute breast meat & cook it 4 hours on low & I bet it would be fine.  My hubby insists that thigh meat has so much more flavor & even more flavor when you cook it with the bone.  He didn't mind the bones at all.  I did actually add more bell pepper & carrot than the recipe stated & I thought it was good that way, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference & maybe that's why my sauce wasn't thick.

Crock-Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken

1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I have to omit this because hubby has an intolerance to ginger)
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Cup chopped yellow & red bell peppers
1 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup baby carrots

*drain pineapple & set aside, reserving 1 Cup juice
*combine sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic, ginger, & reserved juice in slow cooker; whisk until smooth
*add chicken, bell peppers, onion, & carrots; stir to coat evenly with sauce
*cover & cook on low 5-6 hours or on high 2 1/2-3 hours
*stir in reserved pineapple; cook 5 minutes longer, or until pineapple is heated

Crock-Pot Cuban Style Flank Steak

This dish takes a really long time to cook.  I split the cooking into two separate days.  I made this dish specifically for my stepdaughter & her boyfriend.  They love beef & they love Cuban food.  They actually knew this dish when they ate it.  They were really excited about it.  My stepdaughter's boyfriend's family is from Puerto Rico & they travel to Puerto Rico at least once a year.  In fact, they are leaving for Puerto Rico TONIGHT.  I did taste it, & it was quite good I have to say.  My stepson said it was "just ok".

Crock-Pot Cuban Style Flank Steak

First Cooking:
1 flank steak, approximately 2 lbs
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 cracked black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
water or beef stock

Second Cooking:
2 Tablespoons oil
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced (I left these out cuz my stepkids HATE mushrooms)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 hot chili pepper, minced, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 each red & green bell pepper, roasted, peeled, & cut into strips
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, optional
Hot cooked rice or tortillas

First cooking:
*place steak in slow cooker
*spread onion slices evenly over meat
*sprinkle garlic, oregano, salt, peppercorns, & bay leaf over onions
*drizzle lemon juice over seasonings & add water to cover
*cover & cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours, until meat is tender & shreds easily
*allow meat to cool in cooking liquid (if not proceeding to second cooking immediately, cover & refrigerate meat & liquid until ready for second cooking)

Second cooking:
*strain & reserve cooking liquid
*using two forks, tear meat into shreds & transfer to slow cooker stoneware
*in a skillet heat 1 Tablespoon oil, add mushrooms & cook until they lose their liquid & then transfer to slow cooker
*add remaining oil & onions & cook until softened
*add chili powder, oregano, chili pepper (if using) salt, & peppercorns & cook for 1 minute
*sprinkle flour over mixture & cook for 1 minute; add 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid & cook, stirring, until thickened; pour over beef & mushrooms & stir to combine
*lay pepper strips over top of mixture
*cover & cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours, until mixture is hot & bubbly; add cheese if using
*cover & cook on high for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted; serve over hot cooked rice or with tortillas

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Play Dough

There exist many, many recipes for home-made play dough.  This is the only one I've tried so far.  So far I've been really happy with this recipe & haven't bothered to try any others.  I know you can BUY play dough, & I'm sure it's not even expensive, but I make my own for a couple of reasons.  1) Toddlers like to put things in their mouths & I don't have to worry about what's in the play dough if I make it myself out of totally ordinary ingredients rather than the chemicals in the store bought variety.  2) One thing my hubby taught me (before having my son, with my stepkids & all my nieces) is about making memories for the kids.  Giving them special happy memories to think back & remember fondly later in life.  I happen to think there's something really special & magical about the kitchen.  To me it's the perfect place to make memories.  I personally feel that it's much more special & memorable to MAKE play dough than to just go to the store & buy it.

Play Dough

2+ Cups white flour (NON self rising)
1/2 Cup table salt
1 Cup hot water
1 teaspoon oil (optional, makes dough more pliable)
glitter (optional, for a sparkly play dough)
coloring (optional)

*mix flour & salt
*slowly mix in water (& oil if using)
*continue kneading & working in more flour until desired consistency & stickiness disappears

Note 1: you can split it up & knead in coloring to each section (if you want several different colors) or if you want it all one color you can put the coloring in the water in the beginning.

Note 2: I store it in plastic zip lock bags to keep it from drying out.  Sometimes my son just wants to rip the play dough into a million pieces & make a mess with it (he's only 20 months) & it's then that I just leave it in plastic zip lock bags & let him play with it that way, he loves squeezing it while it's in the bag.

Crock-Pot Basic Beans

I have to admit that I love beans.  It's a good food to love, I have to say, since they're relatively cheap & very nutritious to boot.  I've never been a big fan of canned beans.  They somehow seem very heavy & hard on my digestive system.  And they're not as budget friendly as buying dried beans in bulk & cooking them yourself.  I spent a lot of years trying to figure out how to cook beans.  I tried them on the stove top, I tried them in the oven.  I did long soaks, I did quick soaks, I did no soaks.  But sadly I never found success.  When I finally got a pressure cooker I tried once again & they were decent.  To ME they were decent & I was content.  But hubby wanted more.  On a trip we took across the border we bought a Mexican Olla to cook beans in.  Hubby swore they tasted soooo good when cooked in one of those, that nothing else could compare.  And I have to admit they were quite tasty & much better than the pressure cooker.  And that's how I've been cooking them for the past several years now.  But now I have a slow I was curious & decided to give it a try.  I've only tried it once so far, but the results were very, very good I have to say. 

Crock-Pot Basic Beans

1 Cup dried beans
3 Cups water or broth
seasoning desired
kombu (optional, see note 4)

*simply put the beans & liquid & desired seasonings into the crock pot & cook on low for 10-12 hours

Note 1: I don't soak my beans, though I know a lot of people do.  I have never seen any benefit to it & my beans turn out great without doing it.

Note 2: I did this late at night & left it going overnight.  Oh the aroma is so heavenly, especially when you get up in the morning.

Note 3: How I season my beans depends on my mood, what I'm doing with the beans, & what type of beans they are.  If I'm just going to eat them as they are (like in burritos or as a bowl of beans, etc) I usually just do a basic bay leaf, & some dried minced onion & garlic.  If it's going into another dish I have to consider the flavoring of that dish.  And if it's aduki beans (the healthiest of all beans) it needs to be well seasoned, they are a tad bland.

Note 4: I also usually add seaweed to my bean pot.  Just a small strip of kombu is what I use.  It is said to add to the nutritional value of the beans & it adds a nice flavor & it is said to help with making the beans more easily digestible.  I leave it up to you if you want to add it or not.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crock-Pot Zesty Mexican Chicken

This dish was super yummy & my hubby really liked it :)

Crock-Pot Zesty Mexican Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Cups hot cooked rice

*Place chicken breasts in crock pot
*In a bowl combine tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, juice, pepper sauce, & s/p; pour over chicken
*Cover & cook on low 3 1/2-4 hours
*Serve over rice

Edited to add: someone told me they were going to make this as taco filling.  YUM!!  Great idea so I thought I'd share in case anyone wanted to consider doing it that way instead of with a side of rice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crock-Pot Hot Lemon Blueberry Cake

I have always liked blueberry.  And I have always liked lemon, especially lemon desserts.  But when you combine the two together I LOOOOVE the results.  For a long time I thought this was just my personal heaven, but lately I see the combination everywhere, so I certainly can't be alone. 

This is also a great moment for me because I have finally pulled out my 6 quart crock pot & was able to use it for this recipe.  I use my 3 quart far more, but there are some things, this recipe included, that call for a 5-7 quart crock pot. 

There is a little prep work involved, but it really wasn't hard or time consuming.  I hope you enjoy this.  While it turned out good, it was really a "just ok" recipe for me.  There really was no "pudding" texture, but the "cake" turned out nice, like a sponge cake.  The aroma in the house was sublime & the flavors are very nice, I'm just not sold on the texture.  If you try it please let me know how it turned out & how you liked it.

Crock-Pot Hot Lemon Blueberry Cake

1 Cup fresh blueberries
4 large eggs, separated
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 Cup milk
1 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

*oil the inside of a 5-7 quart crock pot
*spread blueberries over bottom of crock pot
*beat egg whites until soft peaks form & set aside
*whisk egg yolks, add zest, juice, butter, & milk; whisk until blended
*stir together sugar, flour, & salt & add to egg yolk mixture; beat until smooth
*fold egg yolk mixutre into egg whites
*transfer batter to crock pot; cover & cook on high for 2 1/2 hours
*allow cake to cool slightly before serving

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crock-pot Balsamic Chicken with Figs

On my stepdaughter's last birthday we took her to a Spanish restaurant as a surprise.  Hubby & I used to always pass by the restaurant (seeing it from the freeway) back before we were married & I had always wanted to eat there.  One day a while back we went for one of our very rare date nights.  The menu is a little challenging at first, so many unfamiliar items & ingredients.  But once the food came we were thrilled beyond belief.  There's also a bit of terminology difficulty.  What the Spanish call certain foods is totally different than what the Mexicans call foods by the exact same name (like tortillas, for example!).  Fortunately I've taken enough Spanish classes (where they always focus on Spain Spanish even though we are 2 hours from the border of Mexico) that I already knew about that & warned my hubby.  Anyways, when we were last there, for my stepdaughter's birthday, my hubby ordered something (fish, I think, though it may have been chicken) & it had figs in the dish & hubby couldn't stop raving about those figs.  I kid you not, for WEEKS he was still going on about how good those figs were.  So I stumbled across this recipe shortly after I got my crock pot & I was soooo excited because it has figs!!  Of course I had to FIND figs, but I did (you can also order them online if you really can't find them in a store near you).  However, my hubby & step-son were less than impressed with this meal.  I think they just don't like the taste of the red wine.  I personally tasted it & thought it was really good.  I've never liked to drink wine, but I do like to cook with it.  And when I cook with white wine (this is the first time ever I have cooked with red wine) hubby never complains or even notices.  But this time he complained about the slight wine flavor & said he didn't like it.  So I doubt I'll be making it again, but I would still recommend it highly, unless you have a dislike for red wine.


2 Tablespoons oil
8 chicken breast halves, skin & bones removed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 Cup ruby port wine
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
16 dried figs, cut in half

*sprinkle chicken breasts with s/p & brown in oil, then transfer to crock pot
*deglaze pan with vinegar & port, scraping up anything stuck to pan
*add broth & transfer all 3 liquids to crock pot
*add thyme & figs & stir to combine
*cover & cook on high for 2 hours, until chicken is cooked through & sauce is syrupy

Note 1: I could not find "ruby port" wine, so I substituted a sweet red wine

Note 2: I really prefer to cook things on low, provided I have enough time to do so, I feel like that's the whole point of the crock pot & the food is more flavorful that way & there's less chance of scorching, but this recipe didn't give that option.  It only specified to cook on high, so I'm assuming it just didn't come out as good on low, so I followed the rules & cooked it on high.  Based on my past experience though, thawed chicken breast dishes usually take about 4 hours on low.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mexican Rice

This is a favorite of mine.  I LOVE my sister in law's Mexican rice & this is as close as I can get it to her's through trial & error & then I added in carrots on my own.  I like the addition of carrots, but you can omit them if you like.


3 Tablespoons oil
1 Cup white rice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup chopped carrots
1/2 Cup tomato sauce
2 Cups chicken broth

*Cook rice in oil until puffed & golden, then sprinkle with salt & cumin
*Stir in onions & carrots & cook til onions are tender
*Stir in tomato sauce & chicken broth
*Cover, bring to a boil, & simmer 20-25 minutes

Note 1: I rarely have tomato sauce on hand, but I do always have tomato paste.  In a pinch you can make your own tomato sauce out of tomato paste if you need to.  This is what I always do.  Simply combine 1/4 Cup tomato paste with 1/3 Cup water & add 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon sugar.

Note 2: if you use veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Applebee's Almond Rice Pilaf

I keep this recipe handy.  We tend to eat a lot of rice in my home.  I personally eat very little white rice, but it's the only rice the rest of the family will eat.  I really don't like plain brown rice, but I do love the rice blends (full of brown, black, wild, & other types of rices).  However, I do like this pilaf & I also like my Mexican rice (which I'm still planning to do a brown rice version of at some point!) & both of them are with white rice.  But my point is that if I feel like we've had a little too much plain rice & I need a side of rice with a dish (which is my situation tonight) I do this pilaf instead of just plain rice.  It's usually a hit, with the exception of my stepson.


3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup white rice
2 1/4 Cups Chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup slivered almonds
1/4 Cup diced celery
1/4 Cup diced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley

*Melt 2 T butter & saute rice 2-4 minutes
*Heat chicken broth & quickly add to rice
*Cover pan, reduce heat to low, simmer 20 minutes
*Melt 1 T butter, saute almond 1-2 minutes
*Add celery & onions & saute 2 minutes
*When the rice is done simmering remove it from heat & add everything & let sit, covered, for 5 minutes

Note: if you use oil instead of butter & veggie broth instead of chicken this is easily a vegan dish

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crock-Pot Bananas Fosters

This is super, super yummy.  It's also very easy, & considering it's in a crock-pot, it's quite quick.

You are supposed to serve this on top of vanilla ice cream.  Of course my hubby can't have dairy, so we just eat it as is.  And it's still yummy, although I'm sure it would be wonderful over vanilla ice cream.  I must say that even my toddler loves this!


1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
6 bananas, sliced 1 inch thick
1/4 Cup rum OR 1 teaspoon rum extract
2-3 Cups vanilla ice cream

*melt butter in crock-pot on low
*after completely melted, add sugar & rum (or extract) & stir to mix
*add bananas & stir to coat (CAREFULLY--don't break them up)
*cook on low for 1 hour
*scoop 1/2 Cup ice cream into bowl & serve bananas over it

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lentil Soup

This has also been a favorite of mine for over 20 years.  When I am under the weather this is the soup I always find myself craving.  I almost never order lentil soup in restaurants because it just doesn't compare to my own.  The only exception to that is a middle eastern restaurant near my home that has a lentil soup I am dying to find the recipe for.  But it is a completely different type of lentil soup, so I still love mine & their's both.


2 Tablespoons chopped onion
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons chopped celery
2 Tablespoons chopped carrot
1 Cup canned tomatos with juice, chopped
1/2 lb (1 1/4 Cup) uncooked lentils
4 Cup broth

*saute onion in olive oil & butter, add celery & carrot
*add tomatoes & juice, simmer 25 minutes uncovered
*add lentils, broth, s/p
*cover, cook 45 minutes

Note: if you omit butter & use veggie broth this is easily a vegan dish

Cheese and Lentil Loaf

This has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years now.  I first became a vegetarian at the age of 15 & remained that way for 10 years.  I then decided I didn't like being so legalistic about it all & decided to just eat whatever I wanted to (I've never been a big fan of meat) & by the time I got married I found myself eating meat at almost every meal simply because that's what my hubby & stepkids were eating.  Last September I decided once again to go "mostly vegetarian" & back to my old ways.  Of course if something looks appealing & I want to eat it I will, but it's quite a rarity I must say.  But anyways, as for this recipe, I could honestly eat this every single day & never get tired of it.  I typically make a loaf at least once a week.


2 Cups cooked lentils
1/2 lb. grated cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Cup bread crumbs

*preheat oven to 350F & grease a loaf pan
*mash lentils, cheese, & onion together
*add remaining ingredients & mix well
*bake in greased loaf pan for 45 minutes

Note: if you use a non-dairy cheese (rice, soy, etc) this could easily be a vegan dish

Condensed Soup

As I said in an earlier blog I try to avoid processed foods.  I am also very picky about ingredients that are in prepared food items that I buy. 

This post goes along with the crock-pot theme.  A lot of crock-pot recipes call for a can of condensed soup.  It is extremely rare that I can find a condensed soup with acceptable ingredients.  I had always thought those recipes were for lazy people, but I now realize that with a crock-pot the condensed soup is used simply because it is condensed.  It is easy to end up with too much liquid in a crock-pot if you aren't careful & condensed soup is an easy way to keep lots of flavor with minimal liquid.

At first I was a tad irritated because I was passing up a lot of recipes simply because they called for a condensed soup.  But then I decided to go on a search for a recipe for condensed soup.   This recipe is SUPER VERSATILE, simply by changing the cup of liquid & seasonings used you can do A LOT with this simple recipe.


3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour (I use sorghum or sweet rice or a combo of the two)
8-12 oz liquid (water, milk, broth, wine, or combination of these)
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or other seasoning

*melt butter
*add flour & poultry seasoning, & wisk
*add liquid & stir well
*heat over medium heat 5-10 minutes, or until thickened
*remove from heat & let sit a few minutes & then use in recipe as directed
(tastes best if you don't let it come to a boil)
CREAM OF CHICKEN: 2 T-1/4C diced chicken; add it to cream soup as it's cooking
CREAM OF MUSHROOM: 2 T-1/4C diced mushrooms; saute & then add to cream soup
CREAM OF CELERY: 2 T-1/4C diced celery; saute & then add to cream soup


8 oz. tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt

*mix ingredients together & use in recipe as directed

Crock-Pot Turkey Sloppy Joes

My hubby LOOOOVED this recipe.  After eating it, he said "you know what I'd like you to do different next time you make it?" (I ALWAYS hear this after I make something, hubby is a picky eater & is rarely satisfied with a meal as is) I asked "what?" & he replied "NOTHING, it was EXCELLENT!"  That has to be an all time first I'd say.


2 Tablespoons oil
1.5 lbs ground turkey
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, OPTIONAL (I left it out cuz my stepson does NOT like spice)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Cup tomato-based chili sauce (see note 1)
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 Cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I didn't include this cuz hubby can't have dairy)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped, OPTIONAL
Hot onion buns or other bread/buns

*In a skillet heat oil & brown ground turkey & then transfer to crock pot
*Add onions & cook until softened.  Add garlic, jalapeno (if using), chili powder, oregano, s/p, & cook, stirring, for 1 minute
*Add chili sauce & worcestershire sauce & bring to a boil, then transfer to crock pot
*Cover crock pot & cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours, until mixture is hot & bubbling.
*Add cheese (if using) & bell pepper (if using) & cover & cook on high for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted & bell pepper is softened
*Spoon over buns/bread & serve

Note 1: I cannot obtain "tomato-based chili sauce" in health food stores (which is where I shop), so I improvised by combining ketchup, bone sucking BBQ sauce, Trader Joe's KC BBQ sauce, & a little spicy chile pepper sauce in a measuring cup up to the amount called for in the recipe.

Note 2: I browned the turkey the day before & also cooked up the sauce the day before & put them in the fridge (in separate containers: turkey in one container, sauce in another, & bell pepper in another) until the next morning, when I took them out & placed in the crock pot. 

Note 3: I did not get it going early enough to cook on low, so I did this one on high & it scorched slightly.  I'm not sure if it would've done that had I cooked it on low.  Keep a close eye on it I suggest & add a slight bit of water if it looks a little dry.  I did that & it helped tremendously, even after the scorching had already started. Just be careful to not add too much water or you will end up with soup!  The whole thing with crock-pot cooking is that there is no evaporation occurring & often liquid gets pulled out of ingredients as well, so most of the time you end up with too much liquid, so be careful!

Crock-pot Soy-Garlic Chicken recipe

I recently got myself a crock-pot.  Well, um, actually I got myself TWO crock-pots.  You see, I've been wanting one for MANY years & now that I have a toddler I REALLY want one (time spent in the kitchen is TOUGH with a toddler).  So I got a gift card for Christmas (meant for clothes though) & went & bought a 6 quart crock-pot.  Once I realized you need to fill it at least half way I realized it was kinda big for most of our dinners.  The thought did cross my mind that we could just have A LOT of leftovers, but that never goes over well with my stepkids, they outright refuse to eat the same thing more than twice.  They're usually already complaining at the second serving of something.  However, when my inlaws come to visit we have close to 30 people to feed, so for that the 6 quart would be really great.  There are also some other things I'd like to do that requires a larger crock-pot.  So I did go back & buy a 3 quart & so far that's what I've been using on an almost daily basis.  Soon I will bust out the 6 quart though.  :)

But as I was starting to say, I recently got myself a crock-pot & am having a blast making stuff in it.  So I'm sure there will be a lot of crock-pot recipes posted on this new blog.

This recipe was super easy & was REALLY yummy! 


6 chicken leg quarters, skin removed
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 Cup soy sauce
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic

*Place chicken in slow cooker
*In a bowl combine tomato sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, & garlic; pour over chicken
*Cover & cook on low 4-5 hours

Note: I actually used boneless, skinless chicken breasts when I made this because it was all I had in the house, but I would bet it would be even tastier if you used the legs.  If you are opposed to legs though, or just don't have any in the house, the breasts will certainly do the trick.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to my blog

If you're reading this I assume you like to cook, or at least to eat.  :)

I have always loved cooking.  I also love to eat "healthy", although the definition of "healthy" varies a great deal.  I should clarify in that I like to avoid processed foods as much as possible.  I eat as much organic as my budget allows. 

I am 38 years old, I am a wife, mother, step-mom, & a nurse (although for now I am a stay at home mom with my 20 month old son & am loving it more than I ever dreamed).

Since I have a toddler finding time for the computer is tough, I am not sure how often I will be posting on here, only time will tell.  But I do manage to post at least weekly on my main blog.