Thursday, January 24, 2013

Slow Cooker Garlic Orange Honey Chicken

Whew, is this a popular concept for chicken or what? But there is a good reason....

It's delicious (singsong voice)!!!

This is a really simple, but quite delicious recipe that just about any cook worth their salt has done a riff on.  So I may as well throw my hat in there too!!

Bang Bang  

Bang Bang

20 oz of **boneless, skinless chicken thighs (these work best and have the best flavor)
1 tbsp flour
3 garlic cloves smashed and minced
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
1/4 Ketchup
1/4 cup frozen concentrated orange juice or orange marmalade
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
1 tsp grated ginger (I freeze my ginger for this)
  1. Lightly coat the chicken thighs in the flour and place in the bottom of a slow cooker
  2. Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken to coat.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours (recommended) or on high for 3-4 hours.
This is wonderful served with fresh steamed rice and a crisp vegetable. 
The ingredients are pretty basic and almost anyone would have them in their kitchen. 
If you don't have frozen concentrated orange juice or even orange marmalade, you can totally omit it and this will still be a delicious dish.  

**Make sure to use skinless chicken, the bones can be fished out before serving, but chicken skin just makes this dish to oily or greasy.

* this recipe is shared at Taste and Tell Thursdays

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sausage and Ricotta Calzones

I had purchased some fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe's last weekend and I had been dying to use it on something creative.

Aha!! Calzones....the pizza's cousin. Easy to hold, filled with whatever concoction you can come up with and hot and gooey and cheesy.

Yup!! that's what I made. I used Chicken Italian Parmesan links, that I browned and crumbled up, combined that with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and Voila!

Having the fresh dough made it a little easier, but I also mixed up a packet of the dry kind-eek! Actually for calzones, it turned out fine. I ended up making 6 healthy portions from this.

You could easily put in some spinach, pepperoni, mushrooms, or whatever you like on a pizza!!

Then I made an easy marinara from the lowly can of stewed tomatoes, and it was the perfect dipping sauce for these babies!!

Fresh pizza dough
2 cups Ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Chicken Sausage, taken out of casing , browned and crumbled-let cool

Preheat oven to 400F.
Set pizza dough out to rest
Mix ricotta, and cheeses, add seasoning and salt & pepper to taste. Once sausage is slightly cooled, add to cheese and mix thoroughly.

Portion pizza dough to 4 pieces and roll out to about an 6-8 circle. Put about 1/3 cup of sausage cheese mixture towards one side and cover and twist to crimp the two sides together. Place on a parchment lined or silicon mat lined baking sheet.
Brush the tops with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until golden and heated throughout.

Serve with a marinara for dipping.

Easy Marinara

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 red wine or water

Blend in a blender until smooth and heat in a small saucepan while Calzones bake.  

This recipe is featured in The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #50 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili it's cold out there!

Ambient temperature this morning was -5F. And how was your weather?

My slow cooker is getting its annual winter work-out. And for us, that's a really good thing. One of my family's favorite is White Bean Chicken Chili. I pre-cook the Great Northern beans in a pressure cooker and then just throw everything together in my slow cooker. I actually made this earlier this week on my lunch, including cooking the beans in the pressure cooker!!

We all come home to a house that smells delicious and know we are in for a hearty, warming dinner. I don't even make a salad, this soup is that filling. Plus it's good for you.
It's full of nutritious beans, carrots, lean chicken and seasonings, that's it.

If you like a spicier flavor you can amp up the chili or do what I do and throw in a whole Jalapeno chile!

I put the chicken in frozen and just "dump everything in on top, put on the lid and away we go!! Prior to serving I take out the chicken and shred it (it falls apart easily) and put it back in. Then I thicken the soup by mixing the half and half with some flour and letting it cook another 15 minutes more. Enjoy!!

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, tenderloins or thighs-frozen or thawed
3 cups cooked Great Northern beans. I cook them in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes and drain or use 3 cans beans that are drained.
1 4 oz can diced green chili
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic smashed and minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4-5 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 fresh or frozen jalapeno pepper

Place chicken and the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker, cook on high 5-6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours. Pull out chicken and shred and put back into slow cooker. 
Then combine half and half and flour by whisking:

1/2 cup half and half
2 tbsp flour
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese or your favorite cheese

Pour slurry and cheese into slow cooker and stir, cover and cook another 15 minutes until dish is thickened. Now is when you would taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, otherwise adding salt earlier may make the beans tough instead of nice and soft.
Serve into bowls with dollop of sour cream and sliced avocado if you wish.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BAKED Shredded Beef Taquitos

Not only are these babies loved by all... kids, teens, grown-ups and ahem..animals. They are really pretty easy to make and budget friendly.

And...bonus!! They are BAKED not fried, so they are figure friendly. (Okay-that means NOT to put half a cup of gaucamole and sour cream on them, no no)

But just keep your portions in check cause you'll just want to keep on eating and eating them......3-9 is pretty normal don't you think?

Whaa, whaa.

I think the hardest part is getting the corn tortillas soft enough without having them crack when you roll them. A key to that is using tortillas that are pretty fresh, and then I use a Comal-a cast iron flat griddle that is about 9" inches across and well seasoned (a cast iron skillet or just a heavy skillet will work also), just pre-heat it to about medium high and "cook" each tortilla for about a minute on each side until softened, no oil required unless yours stick. Then immediately transfer the "cooked" tortillas to a covered container or cover with a pot lid large enough or wrap in a lightly dampened dish towel.

The meat part is super simple also, because I am advocating using leftover cooked beef or pork. Just make sure it is drained of any juices or gravy and we will build on that.

Your only other prep part is the pan. I like to use a heavy half sheet pan, that I have covered in foil and sprayed with oil. That's it, makes clean-up a breeze!

  • 3 cups cooked, shredded beef(or pork)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • zest from 1 lime
  • Juice from the lime you zested
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar-whatever you like)
  • 20 6-inch fresh corn tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the green chiles, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, lime zest and lime juice. Add the beef and toss to combine.
  • Heat your Comal or pan and soften the tortillas or alternatively wrap 5 of the tortillas in a damp kitchen towel and microwave for 1-1.5 minutes and continue after you've rolled all 5. Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese down the center of 1 tortilla, then top with 1-2 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Roll tightly and place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas filling and rolling until all the tortillas are filled.
  • If they don't want to stay rolled you can place them closer together in the pan or stick a toothpick through the center-just don't forget to remove it after baking!
  • Spray the taquitos lightly with cooking oil spray and sprinkle with half the kosher salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-to 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown (halfway through-make sure to turn them and spray again and season with the leftover salt). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a minute or two before serving. 
*Serve with your favorite pico de gallo or salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

This recipe is a riff on many that I have seen, a favorite of my Grandma Lucy's ( but hers were fried in copious amounts of lard) and one of my favorite bloggers, Deb at Taste and Tell

**This recipe is shared on her Taste and Tell Thursdays link share as well


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

California Roll Pseu-shi Bowl

I love sushi.

I know that some people make sounds of disgust and looks of horror when the word sushi is uttered.

Not me!! I love sushi.

Hey, I'm from the West coast, I grew up eating and enjoying all kinds of fresh fish and seafood. I have to admit I enjoy certain varieties more than others. but the utter simplicity of sushi and sashimi allows certain palates to enjoy the beautiful briny essence of really fresh food.

And...not all sushi is made with raw fish or seafood. One of my favs is Kaibashira (scallop with mayo) or Hototegai (scallop shashimi), and those are raw, but I also love Ebi and that is a sweet cooked prawn. 

But almost anyone can and most do order fully cooked and delicious sushi, such as the gold standard: California Roll. 

And since I had the makings and I crave it every so often, I went home and made this for lunch. 

This really is so easy and totally good for you. And, it's much easier than rolling actual sushi rolls. It's a combination of seasoned cooked rice, Avocado, cucumber and Surimi(crab or Lobster flavored imitation flakes or sticks or use cooked Shrimp or tuna or crab or whatever delicious fish or seafood floats your boat). 
It is easy and really fast to make if you have the rice already cooked. I just took the chill of from having it in the frig by nuking it for about a minute or so.

California Roll Pseu-shi Bowls
Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 25 minutes
• 1 cup uncooked white rice
• 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 large carrot, peeled, and cut into matchsticks (I didn't use this in the photo)
• 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
• 6 ounces imitation crab or lobster meat (Surimi Seafood Sticks), sliced or chopped
• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
• 1 square sheet toasted Nori seaweed, crumbled into small pieces
• Your favorite *Oriental Sesame dressing or soy sauce (optional, but recommended).

*You can easily make your own dressing and this is good on just about anything, even an old boot!
Orange Sesame Dressing Recipe:
  • 1/4 cup(s) orange juice
  • 1/4 cup(s) seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon(s) grated peeled fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Asian sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoon(s) reduced-sodium soy sauce 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside
Adapted from: Low-Fat Sesame-Orange Dressing - Good Housekeeping

  • Cook rice according to package directions. Let cool to room temperature.
  • In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave 30 seconds; stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour vinegar mixture on the rice and stir gently to combine. Mix in the carrots, cucumbers, crab, avacado and crushed nori.
  • Serve in bowls and drizzle with your dressing(If you’d like, sub soy sauce or ponzu, to taste.) Serve immediately.

This is what I used for the Nori or seaweed in my salad, a whole package only has 30 cal and you can munch away, plus this way I don't miss the bite of the Wasabi, it's already there.  

**This is shared on The Country Cook Weekend Potluck #49

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sloppy Joe's

I know, it's Monday.....

I cooked really delicious meals all weekend long and Mondays are always really busy days at work. When I came home for lunch I thought about throwing something together in the slow cooker, but obviously the frantic pace at work didn't carry over to my lunch hour. 

So, I am making the omnipresent, (I know big word. I get rolled-eye looks from my whole family when I do that), Sloppy Joes. Sheesh, I gotta exercise the vocab once in a while peeps. Oh, and by the way, it's another way of saying "universal or ever-present". 

Now, I know that this is not a high-brow kind of dish, in fact I think most would relegate this to the lower recipe realms. But this weekend when I was grocery shopping, I asked DH if I should buy some hamburger buns to make Sloppy Joes with and he was like "Yeah"!! 

But come on, what guy doesn't like meat, seasoned, saucy and tangy between 2 halves of a buttered-toasted bun?

So tonight that's what's on the menu and on this blog!

Enjoy a easy, simple but really yummy

Unbuttered Bun photo

2 Tbsp. Butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 green pepper, chopped (this is optional, my family does not like)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp of prepared yellow mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
 6-8 Hamburger buns and butter

  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add the onions (and peppers if using) and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it is finely crumbled, the liquid boils off and the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Drain the grease off the meat and onions. 
  3. Stir in the tomato paste, and keep stirring until the meat is coated. Add the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and pepper, mustard and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. You can make the sloppy joe meat up to 2 days in advance and reheat it over low heat or in the microwave.
  4. Butter both sides of the buns and cook on a medium hot griddle or skillet until lightly browned. 
  5. Serving a heaping portion on one side of the bun and top with the other side.
  6. Serve sliced pickles and chips on the side.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Hash Brown Bake

Currently in North Iowa it's 10F and with a slight wind chill, the temperature is -4F.
Sometimes I think moving here from Northern California was questionable, and that mostly happens when the temperature drops below 10F or the heat index rises above 100F.

Both frequently happen in this neck of the woods.

Since we're dealing with the chill factors this time of year, my thoughts of cooking are focused on "comfort" foods. Warming, filling, tasty concoctions that bring us all together and just make you go ah.....

So here is my riff on the Buffalo Chicken Craze.


This bad boy will warm you, fill you up and make you want some more!!!


1 1/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips-I used tenderloins
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
6 cups frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used ranch)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup minced celery
1 10-ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp black pepper
Crumbled Blue Cheese(opt.)
1/2 cup panko or fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 3 medium)


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. In medium bowl, stir together chicken and wing sauce and place into baking dish.

3. In large bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheddar cheese, celery, pepper and soup. Spoon potato mixture on top of chicken. Sprinkle blue cheese over the top if using.

4. In small bowl, stir together panko or crumbs and butter. Sprinkle on top potatoes.

5. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with green onions.

**I just want to say folks I made this last night and I used tater tots. Someone(me) forgot that she didn't purchase frozen hash browns last weekend. But I think we all found that we like the Tater Tot version better. Everythings better with Tater Tots!! We had a guest over that has an aversion to celery, so I omitted that as well. It was PHENOMENAL!!!
Make this, you will love it!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Garlic Miso Butter Shrimp


May we all be blessed with good health, happiness and prosperity. 

My resolution this year is to incorporate more compassion daily in my life. I honestly think if more people in the world exhibited more caompassion, we would all be living in a much nicer world. 

One small step can lead to a huge giant leap!

That said, we don't really have a "traditional" New Year's day meal. Growing up, we ate a lot of fresh seafood living in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Now that I have lived in Northern Iowa for almost 20 years, fresh seafood is just about as common as finding diamonds here. 

Not quite that bad, but you can only eat so much frozen Haddock. 

Haha! No really, nowadays you can find various seafood as well as scallops, clams and mussels. Whatever can be flown in that is in season. 

Luckily my whole family loves Shrimp. I actually prefer crab, but that would blow my whole monthly food budget, then we'd be eating ramen and canned beans the rest of the month.

So anyway, today, New Year's day, I am making a riff on Jaden's recipe at Steamy Kitchen for Miso Butter Shrimp.

That is a recipe for Shrimp that I changed up by adding crushed garlic and fresh minced parsley, making it more Scampi-ish. 

Believe me you'll want to drink the sauce it's so good. it is delish on any fish, chicken or seafood. 



Garlic Miso Butter Shrimp

1 lb. Shrimp- if frozen, thawed. Peeled and de-veined. I use (24-30) Shrimp
2 tbsp Rice cooking wine
2 tbsp Mirin or a sweet wine or omit
2 tsp White Miso (I use about a tablespoon-that's how much we like it)
2 garlic cloves-minced finely-I use a microplane to grate mine superfine. 
4 tbsp butter-melted
1/4 cup Parsley-finely minced

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the wine, Mirin, miso and garlic until thoroughly incorporated. 
  3. Pour into a shallow baking dish large enough to fit the Shrimp in a single layer,add the Shrimp and toss to coat.
  4. Melt the butter and pour over the Shrimp, sprinkle with the parsley and mix to coat. 
  5. *Place in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, or until the Shrimp are pink and cooked through. 
*This is the method we use during the cold winter months here or they can be broiled.
Alternatively, when the weather is conducive I would grill these outdoors on a medium hot grill, 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through.