Monday, December 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Rice Bowls

This is super easy and very tasty.  Enjoy!
-1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into chunks
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
-3/4 cup white rice
-1 1/2 cups water
-1 cup chunky salsa (mild)
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp garlic powder
-2 tsp salt, divided
-2 tsp pepper, divided
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-1 green bell pepper
-1 medium onion
-shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
-sour cream, for topping
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray.  Add the chicken chunks.  Top with beans, rice, water, salsa, bay leaf, cumin, garlic powder, 1 tsp of the salt and 1 tsp of the pepper.  Give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for 3.5 hours.
Heat the oil in large skillet.  Slice the bell pepper and onion.  Add to the hot skillet.  Season with remaining salt and pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes.
To serve,remove bay leaf from slow cooker and scoop some of the rice-chicken mixture into bowls.  Top with bell pepper and onions.  Garnish with some cheese and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Greek Yogurt-Blue Cheese Dip

This is so good!  You can have it with tortilla chips or with your favorite veggies (radishes, cucumbers, etc).  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
-1 Tbs lemon juice
-1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 green onion, finely chopped
-1 tsp dried parsley
-2 oz crumbled blue cheese
Combine everything in a medium bowl.  Let it stand for about 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate with Nutella

Rich, creamy and chocolatey, this is perfect for a cold, winter day to warm you up.  Enjoy!
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 cup Nutella
-1 cup hot tap water
-5 cups milk (whole or 2%)
Mix sugar, cocoa, Nutella and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, so that lumps are gone.
Pour mixture into slow cooker.  Add the milk and mix well.
Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
Ladle into mugs and top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, if desired, or enjoy as is.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Southern Barbecue Chicken

This is finger licking good stuff!  The sauce is the key to this dish.  It is a perfect balance of flavors.  You could use boneless chicken thighs or some pork loin, shred the meat at the end and make sandwiches out of it.  Or you can eat it like we did, on top of rice.  However you want to enjoy it, go ahead and make it.  You'll LOVE it!  Enjoy!
-1 (36 oz) bottle ketchup
-6 Tbs brown sugar
-2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
-2 Tbs soy sauce
-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-3 garlic cloves, crushed
-6 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Coat your slow cooker with cooking spray (up the sides too).
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken.  Mix well.  Pour a little on the bottom of slow cooker and spread (to cover all the bottom).  Layer the chicken on top of top.  Pour remaining sauce on top of chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 4-4.5 hours.
Serve on top of cooked rice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sarmale (Romanian Stuffed Cabbage or Grape Leaves Rolls)

This dish takes a lot of time preparing it.  The results are absolutely amazing and well worth the work!  I usually make it at Christmas time.  It can be done with either cabbage or grape leaves.  I prefer the cabbage because cost wise is way more inexpensive than the grape leaves (unless you own a  vine and you can pick up the leaves for free ).  This dish can be done either in the crock pot (which I prefer) or over the stove.  If you do it over the stove, you have to cook the rolls at a low temperature, shaking the pot every 30 minutes or so, to prevent the rolls from sticking to the bottom.  Most Romanians eat this dish with a side of plain cornmeal mush and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on top.  Enjoy!
-1 lb ground beef
-1 lb ground pork
-½ cup uncooked white rice
-1 onion, chopped
-salt and pepper to taste (about 1 Tbs each)
-grape leaves-I usually buy two of the tall narrow jars or 3 heads of cabbage
-4 Tbs tomato paste, divided
-2 quarts (8 cups) sauerkraut juice or 1-2 cups lemon juice, if using cabbage leaves
-2 cups chopped cabbage or sauerkraut, if using cabbage leaves 
Fill a large bowl with boiled water and soak the grape leaves/cabbage in it until ready to use.  Soak the rice in water, also until ready to use.
In small  saute pan pour 1 tsp oil and cook the chopped onion until translucent.  Set it aside and let it cool
In a large bowl mix the ground meat, cooled onion, drained rice, and salt & pepper. Mix VERY well.
Prepare the pot (whether regular or crock pot) you're going to use to cook the sarmale.  Pour 1 tsp oil on the bottom.  Then mix two Tbs tomato paste with 1/2 a cup water.  Pour it over the oil and try to mix it a little bit, but not too much.  If using the cabbage, pour 1 cup of the chopped cabbage or sauerkraut on top of the oil mixture.
Drain the water from the grape leaves/cabbage.  Take one leaf (either grape or cabbage), cut the stem (the hard part), fill it with about 2-3 Tbs meat mixture, and wrap the leaf around the meat (just as you would wrap a spring roll).  Put the roll in the prepared pot and form circles with the rolls.  Repeat with the rest of the leaves and meat. 
When done, if using the cabbage, place remaining 1 cup of the chopped cabbage or sauerkraut on top of sarmale.  Make again the tomato paste mix and pour it on top.  If using grape leaves, fill the pot with water, so that the sarmale are covered.  If using cabbage, fill a quarter of the pot with warm water.  Pour the sauerkraut or lemon juice on top, so that the liquid covers all the sarmale.  Turn on the stove to low-medium heat and cook for 5-6 hours, until the meat is cooked through and the leaves are nice and soft enough to cut them with a fork.  Remember to shake the pot every 30 minutes or so, so that they don't stick to the bottom.  If using the crock pot, set it on low and cook for 8-9 hours.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Easy Rich Chocolatey Brownies

Oh, what a treat this is!  I know that I have a ton of brownie recipes on this blog, but every single one makes such unique and delicious brownies!  This is an easy recipe, fairly quick to put together, which results in these amazing rich brownies.  Pure delight!  Enjoy!
-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
-5 large eggs
-2 cups sugar
-1 Tbs vanilla extract
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 inch pan with baking spray.  Set aside.
Melt chocolate chips and butter.  Remove from heat and let it cool for a little.
Meanwhile, cream eggs and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add the chocolate mixture.  Stir in the baking powder and the flour, half of cup at a time.  Mix very well.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dill Pickle Soup

Now before you discount this, let me tell you that you're in for quite a treat.  This soup is food for the soul!  For real!  The taste is absolutely amazing and not pickley like you would think.  Enjoy!
-2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
-5 1/2 cups chicken broth
-2 large carrots, peeled and diced
-1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
-3 large dill pickles, finely diced
-1 cup flour
-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup water
-2 cups pickle juice
-1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp cayenne
Place diced potatoes, broth, carrots and butter in large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add the pickles and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, sour cream and water until nice and smooth.  If needed, add some broth from the soup.  Pour mixture into pot and give it a good stir.  Add the pickle juice, seasoning, pepper and cayenne.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Blue Cheese and Pine Nut Puffs

Warning: these are seriously addictive!  You can't stop eating them!  If you like blue cheese, you are in for quite a treat.  The toasted pine nuts give these little gems quite a distinct flavor.  These are a wonderful appetizer or simply a snack.  Enjoy!
-1 cup water
-1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1 cup flour
-4 large eggs
-5 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese
-5 oz crumbled blue cheese
-4 oz shredded apple smoked gruyere cheese
-1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, thyme and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.  Remove from heat.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Using the same wooden spoon, stir for a few seconds.  Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.  Add the cheeses and pine nuts.  Mix very well.
Transfer dough to pastry bag.  Pipe onto prepared sheets.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and firm.
Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cranberry-Orange-Almond Bread

Quick and delicious!  I absolutely love this bread made with fresh cranberries.  The flavors just burst in your mouth!  Enjoy!
-2 cups flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-3/4 cup orange juice (pulp free)
-2 Tbs vegetable oil
-1 tsp orange extract
-1 large egg
-2 cups fresh cranberries (frozen do just well)
-1/2 cup almond slices
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x5 loaf pan with baking spray (the one with flour and butter).  Set aside.
In your mixer's bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Mix well.  Add the orange juice.  Stir in the oil, extract and egg.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in the cranberries.  Mix on medium until berries start to burst (they make such a nice sound!).  Stir in the almonds.
Pour mixture in prepared pan.  Bake in preheated oven for about 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cranberry-Citrus Salad with Goat Cheese and Honey Roasted Walnuts

This is a beautiful and tasty salad that can be put together in a pinch.  Enjoy!
For salad:
-1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
-2 Tbs sugar
-2 Tbs water
-2 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn in bite sized pieces
-1 (15 oz) can  mandarin oranges, drained
-1 cup honey roasted walnuts
-1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
For dressing:
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-5 cloves garlic
-4 Tbs honey
-zest of 1 orange
-juice from 1 orange
Combine cranberries, sugar and water in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until berries start to burst,  Remove from heat and let cool.
Combine all dressing ingredients in blender and process until well incorporated.
Assemble the salad by placing the torn lettuce, cooled cranberries and oranges in big bowl.  Give it a toss.  Add walnuts and cheese.  Stir gently.  Coat with dressing.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Slow Cooker Lasagna

This is comfort food for the soul.  It's absolutely delicious!  All the right flavors with the right texture, in one awesome combination.  Enjoy!
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp dried oregano
-1 tsp dried basil
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
-6 lasagna noodles
-1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Place beef, onion and garlic in large skillet.  Cook until beef is nicely browned (make sure to break the clumps while cooking).
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil and pepper flakes.  Give a good stir.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.
While that's simmering, mix the ricotta with 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Mix well.
Coat the bottom and sides of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
Spoon 1/3 of the beef mixture on the bottom of slow cooker.  Break 3 of the noodles in half and arrange on top of sauce.  Top noodles with half of the ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers: sauce, noodles, ricotta.  Top with remaining 1/3 of the sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 3-3:30 hours.
In a small bowl, combine remaining mozzarella with the Parmesan.
Once the lasagna is done cooking, turn off the slow cooker.  Uncover and sprinkle the Parmesan mixture on top.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes so that the cheese on top can nicely melt and the lasagna to set.
Cut into serving sizes and enjoy!


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