Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken

Another yummy crockpot meal that's super easy to put together and have ready on busy weekday evenings. We made it into soft tacos by adding it to tortillas and sprinkling with cheese.

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken
Courtesy of Just Us and the Many Miles Traveled

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa
Juice from one lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
One package taco seasoning
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
4-6 boneless chicken breasts

Add all ingredients to crockpot, mix, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread

This was mighty labor-intensive, but as expected, it was also very yummy. I didn't really taste the pumpkin, so I'm sure just making monkey bread with prepared dough would be just as tasty. It was worth a shot though.

I didn't add the rum so that I wouldn't, again, have to worry about getting my kids drunk on dessert. They were plenty high from the sugar.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread
Courtesy of Sunny Side Up


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup granulated sugar
teaspoons ground cinnamon
teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
tablespoons unsalted butter

Buttered Rum Glaze:
tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2
tablespoon milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
tablespoon rum (optional)

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown 2 tablespoons of butter, letting it bubble up and turn a dark golden brown but being careful not to allow it burn (turn black). Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk, return to stove and heat through. Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook) and allow to cool so it is no longer hot but also not cool (about 100-110°F). Once it has reached a warm but not hot temperature add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof (this can take up to 8 minutes, the top will look foamy and the liquid cloudy). Then add the pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until combined then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. If the dough is too moist, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

Move dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising, brown another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well, making sure sugar evenly absorbs the butter. Set aside. Next, grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a clean floured surface and knead with hands for 1-2 minutes. Roll dough into a 20×12 inch rectangle. Evenly sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mixture and press into dough with palms of the hand. Cut the rectangle into 6 strips. Lay strips on top of each other and cut each strip into 6 even squares (cut in half then each half into thirds). Stack strips vertically into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat an oven to 350°F. After rising in the pan, bake for 30-40 minutes or until top is a very deep golden brown.

To prepare the glaze, heat the butter, milk, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum (if using) and powdered sugar.

Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup

This is a splendid option for a first course during a holiday meal. Paired with some good bread and a salad, it makes a very yummy autumnal meal.

Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 large white potato, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash, fresh or frozen
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apple cider
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-low heat and add the onion, apples, potato and squash. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sage and flour. Add the cider and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Add the broth and milk, cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the potato is soft, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add the cheese to the soup and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Puree in a blender in batches until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the prosciutto, more cheese and chives, if using. Serve with bread, if desired.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini

This was my first attempt at French Onion Soup, and it was very good, if I do say so myself. I would love to say that I enjoyed it on a chilly Fall day, but I really made it out of frustration with the lingering humidity that will not leave us alone. I will make it again though, and hopefully when I won't have to sweat my way through its preparation.

This recipe was from a cooking for two recipe book, so since I doubled the recipe, I'm accounting for that here.

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini
A variation on this recipe from Cooking for Two: Perfect Meals for Pairs


2 pounds yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
Ciabatta bread, sliced to fit crocks or ramekins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups grated Swiss Gruyère cheese 

In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Preheat the oven to broil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. 

Place the ciabatta on the middle rack of the oven and toast until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into ovenproof bowls, float the toasted ciabatta on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyère. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

This tasted wonderful as a leftover dish. When it was fresh, it was a bit sweet. I think I will definitely serve it with something green next time too. Another easy mix and freeze crockpot meal for our busy kid-activity-filled weekdays.

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Courtesy of Ring Around the Rosies

Medium – large bag of baby carrots, chopped
Red onion, chopped
2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts
1 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, divided

If you're freezing before cooking, mix ingredients together (only using 1 cup of teriyaki sauce), split between 2 bags, seal, and lay flat in freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it.

Add all ingredients to crockpot. Add additional 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve over hot rice.

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken

This. Was. Delicious. It's especially wonderful served over greens. The glaze is perfection. I will be making this again. Soon.

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 teaspoons olive oil  
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth  
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced  
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add broth, syrup, thyme, and garlic to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and mustard; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pan, and spoon mustard mixture over chicken. Bake for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Place pan over medium heat; cook mustard mixture 2 minutes or until liquid is syrupy, stirring frequently. Serve with chicken.

Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread

I made this for my brother-in-law for his birthday, after he posted a link to the recipe on Facebook. It was not my favorite thing in the world, but the look on my brother-in-law's face when I told him what we were having for dessert made it totally worth it.

I added less peanut butter cups than the original recipe called for. I wanted to be able to taste the banana, and I thought the amount of cups called for was a bit of overkill. I'm sure that helped protect me from total sugar shock... Though the follow days of eating the rest of the cups as an afternoon snack didn't do so. Oof, I can't eat sweets the way I used to.

Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread
A variation on this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen


1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup of softened butter
¾ cup of sugar
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of milk
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and mashed banana together until very creamy about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined. Add flour, yogurt and milk alternatively until well combined.

Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out almost clean in center.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream

This is a very tasty Fall treat. And it's a far better pumpkin ice cream than the last one I made. While the recipe note said that the gingersnaps will get soggy after a few days in the freezer, we found the kind we used stayed pretty firm. I love the flavor they give too. I decided against adding the bourbon. I'm not a big fan of alcohol in my ice cream. Plus, I figure it would be a bad idea to get the kids drunk on ice cream.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream
Courtesy of Sunset

1 pint whipping cream 
1/2 cup milk  
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup coarsely crushed gingersnaps 
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)

Whisk all ingredients except gingersnaps and bourbon in a bowl to blend. Strain into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Scrape ice cream into a bowl and stir in gingersnaps and bourbon (if using). Freeze, covered, until scoopable, 2 1/2 hours and up to 1 week.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

This is super easy to make up, freeze, and then throw into the crockpot. I paired it with some cheesy garlic bread. Delish.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers
Courtesy of Ring Around the Rosies


6 Italian sausage (or chicken sausage), chopped
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Italian diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

If you're freezing before cooking, mix ingredients together, split between 2 bags, seal, and lay flat in freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it.

Add all ingredients to crockpot. Drizzle of olive oil, and cook on low 6 hours. Serve over hot noodles or fresh bread with mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cider-Glazed Chicken Sausage with Butternut Mash

Really tasty stuff. My butternut squash was a bit on the bigger side (fresh from the in-laws' garden again), so there's some mash in my freezer, waiting for some delicious bangers with which to go at another time. It all went beautifully with roasted kale (chopped and then roasted at 375°F for 30-40 minutes, depending on your preferred crispiness level). Now if only the weather would cooperate and I didn't have to sweat profusely through my dinner preparations. Come on, Fall weather!

Cider-Glazed Sausage with Butternut Mash
Courtesy of Martha Stewart


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 pound chicken sausages
7 fresh sage leaves
3 cups apple cider
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large russet potato (10 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup 2 percent Greek yogurt

In a large skillet or shallow heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and sausages and cook until sausages are deep golden brown, 6 minutes, turning sausages and stirring onion halfway through. Add sage and cider and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until cider is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine squash, potato, and apple. Cover by 2 inches water and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high. Cook until squash and potato are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 minutes.

Drain vegetables and apple and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. Add yogurt, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Divide butternut mash among four plates and serve with sausages and onion.