Thursday, June 27, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches

I was looking for something different to do with chicken in the crock pot besides cooking and shredding it for casseroles when I happened upon this little gem from Food Family & Finds. Cat Davis has a wonderful blog full of great recipes and a ton of other stuff!  Check it out if you have time.  I love Philly style sandwiches and this recipe was so easy to put together in the crock pot and tastes delicious!  Here is my adaptation of the original recipe:

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches


2 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
3 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 can beer
McCormick's Grill Mates Backyard Brew Marinade
sliced Provolone cheese
hoagie rolls

Spray a 3 – 4 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and turn to LOW heat.
Add butter, onions and green peppers.
Toss chicken with steak seasoning, salt and pepper, then add to slow cooker.
Cover and cook for 5 hours.

Serve on hoagies with a slice of cheese melted on top.

Here are the ingredients I used...simple!  Yep, Old Milwaukee Light in this house folks.  I don't drink beer at all, so this is what hubby prefers.  He's drank this since I've known him!  You'll notice that there is no beer mentioned in her recipe if you went to the website. I couldn't find that Dales' Steak Seasoning that she had listed in her recipe so I opted for a packet of McCormick Backyard Brew.  It calls for marinating the meat in a mixture of beer and the seasoning. I think it worked out great!

The chicken breasts I used were particularly thick so first I sliced them lengthwise to thin them out.

Then, I cut them into strips.

And finally, I put them in a large bowl and with the beer and marinade mix.  

While I let the chicken marinate for a bit, I sliced up the vegetables and added them to the crock pot.  You can barely see the butter melting on the bottom underneath the sliced onion.

This is two large green peppers, sliced.  

Using tongs, I removed the marinated chicken from the bowl and placed it on top of the peppers.  I did pour some of the marinade over the top as well (maybe one cup - I forgot to measure so use your best judgement).  I put the crock pot on low and cooked it for about 6 hours.  Now, let me tell you that this had a super strong smell as it was cooking!  I don't know if it was the marinade, onions, or a combination of both, but I was seriously worried that I had screwed this up and it was going to be way too seasoned and spicy!

This is what it looked like after cooking for about 6 hours.   I stirred it once around 4 hours to get everything mixed and make sure all the flavors blended.    

I just bought brawt style buns in the bakery, but you could use any hoagie type of bun that you prefer.  To serve the meat, I used tongs to remove it one serving at a time from the crock pot and placed on the bun.  Her recipe also calls for mozzarella cheese, but I had Provolone on hand already and that worked out just fine.  My cheese isn't nice and melted in this picture like hers is on the website, but let me tell you how delicious this turned out!  Everyone in my house decided this should make into our regular rotation.  It is so tasty and so easy!  I really can't wait to make them again!   It makes fabulous leftovers, too!


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Chocolate Lasagna

I love chocolate and I love lasagna so I figured I couldn't go wrong with this recipe!  I have to give credit to the Center Cut Cook for the recipe.  I've also seen this floating around Facebook lately, too.  Whoever invented this is just a genius!  It's so easy to make.  It's my turn to take dessert to my book club next month and I'm thinking this is just the dessert for a summer girl's night out!

Chocolate Lasagna

1 package regular Oreo cookies (Not Double Stuff) – about 36 cookies
6 Tablespoon butter, melted
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cold milk
1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
2 – 3.9 ounce packages Chocolate Instant Pudding.
3 1/4 cups cold milk
1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. I used my food processor for this, but you could also place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.
Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.
In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

I followed the directions exactly except for I used my food processor to chop up the Oreos.  It so easy that it really doesn't need any further explanation.  But you should see some pictures!

The first piece I took out of the pan looks more like a blob, but I assure you, it tastes just as delicious!  You can't really see the actual layers though.  

Here you can see the layers on the outside of the dish.  Looks like chocolate lasagna to me! 

I can't stress how easy this was and how delicious.  It only lasted a couple of days in this house!   The best part is that it really isn't too rich so you can eat a large piece and not feel like it's too much! :)  I think this is one of my new favorite desserts!

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stawberry Sauce

'Tis the season for fresh strawberries from the garden!  I'm not a huge fan of just eating strawberries on their own, but I love them in recipes.  I have a small strawberry patch in my MIL's garden and was able to pick a bunch the other day.  Don't they look delicious????

My two favorite things to make with strawberries are freezer jam and ice cream sauce.  I decided to make strawberry ice cream sauce with this batch since I really didn't have enough for jam.  If you happen to be one of my Facebook friends, then you know that I LOVE ice cream!  I eat way more than I should and it's extra delicious smothered in this strawberry sauce.  

I've been using a Martha Stewart recipe for quite some time now that I really like.  I sort of follow the recipe but not down to the letter.  
I start by heating 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan on high heat and bringing it to a boil.  Then I reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.  This only takes a few minutes.  Next, remove from heat and allow to cool.  So far, all of these steps follow the recipe exactly.  However, this is where I deviate.  After I have cleaned and removed the stems from the strawberries, I just cut them in half (or into quarters if they are large) and put about 1 to 1 1/2 pints into the sugar mixture.  Then I just take my potato masher and mash them up in the liquid.  No need to puree in the blender like the recipe states.  That's just an unnecessary extra step.  This way you can also have it chunkier or smoother depending on how you like it.  I leave some larger pieces of strawberry in the sauce, but it all depends on your taste.  

This sauce is so sweet and delicious!  You can also add more strawberries if you like a product that's more strawberry and less sauce.  
Now I really want a bowl of ice cream with strawberry sauce! But it's only 9 a.m.!!!!!!


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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cookie Bouquet

A couple of weeks ago, we had a graduation party for my son.  I thought it would be fun to have a couple of cookie bouquets on the cake table.  I have seen pictures of them and they always look so neat!  I've never made them before, but figured they couldn't be that hard.  After a quick internet search for instructions, I gave it try.  I can't give any one person or blog credit for how to make them since I basically read a half dozen or so tutorials and then just dove right in.  It's actually very easy!

Just choose your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out whatever shapes you want to use.  I would suggest using a fairly good sized cookie and not one with a delicate shape.  I used stars and circles.  The smallest was probably 2 inches across and the largest about 4 inches.  After cutting out the shape, place it face down on your cookie sheet.  Next, lay a cookie stick on top of the cookie (sticks sold at JoAnn Fabrics or where ever you might buy Wilton supplies. **note:  They also sell candy sticks.  Make sure you don't accidentally buy those because they aren't as sturdy).  Now take a small piece of cookie dough and gently press it over the back of the cookie, sandwiching the stick in between cookie layers. My stick goes about half way up the back of the cookie.

Next, carefully flip the cookie and stick over to bake.  You might notice a small tear in the dough on the front side (see below) after you flip it.  I just gently pushed the dough back together.

Bake your cookies per your recipe directions.  When they are done, the back will look similar to this:

This is the front of two after baking:

These came out surprisingly sturdy.  I mean, I was careful with them, but they weren't as fragile as I thought they might be.  Just frost and decorate as you normally would.  If a stick does come loose, just dip the tip of the stick in frosting and slide it back in the cookie.  That should hold it.  I did use a couple of different lengths of sticks to create the bouquet - 6 and 8 inch.

To make the bouquet, I bought a cheap metal vase and cut floral foam to fit inside.  Then I covered the vase with black tissue paper and topped it off with a handful of metallic shreds.  All of those supplies were purchased at Dollar Tree for $1 each!  The sticks cost a few dollars per package (20 per pkg).  So I made 2 cookie bouquets for probably less than $10.  I also didn't use all the tissue paper, shreds, foam and sticks so really if you break it down by pieces I probably spent about $5 for the two because I have supplies left over.  Either way, I think they turned out pretty darn good!  Please excuse the background.  I totally forgot to take some better pictures before the party!

I think they look best with an odd number of cookies in the bouquet.  You could add more if you would like to make a larger bouquet.  I seriously couldn't believe how easy they were to make!  I'd really like to get into making and decorating cookies more.  I really enjoy the decorating part!  Also, these bouquets sat out, uncovered, overnight and they did not get stale.  They are obviously more for show, but I just couldn't resist eating one after they party and they were still fresh! :)

I really want to make more of these bouquets because I enjoyed the process!  Maybe I can talk my SIL into letting me make some for my niece's next birthday party. :)

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Grilled Spinach Dip Sandwich

I totally made this up!  Well, sort of.  I had seen this post a long time ago for a Spinach and Artichoke Melt. It sounded simply delicious!  I'm sure it is too given the yumminess of the ingredients listed in the recipe.  However, I'm not enough of a foodie to go to all that trouble to make it.  So I stuffed this recipe in the back of my mind in the little space I reserve for things I want to try someday.  Recently, I found myself with some extra spinach dip I had purchased from the store.  Not quite as good as homemade, but still pretty tasty.  So I bought a loaf of french bread and started grilling a sandwich.  I basically just made this the same way you would a grilled cheese, except I added about 2 tablespoons of the dip on the bread (my slices were fairly small - you could use more on larger bread slices).  I also used provolone cheese instead of the usual Kraft, barely cheese, slices we make regular grilled cheese with.  I must say that this made a pretty darn delicious lunch!

Ya, I've had this for lunch 3 times already in the last 4 days.  


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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Baked Chicken and Spinach Taquitos

I've finally had time to try a new recipe!  I made Chicken and Spinach Taquitos.  I didn't follow any one recipe exactly, but my inspiration came from Cinnamon and Spice and Healthy-Delicious

I started out cooking my chicken in the crockpot just like I do for my Chicken Tacos.  Put a bag of the frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot.  Season with taco seasoning and top with a small jar of salsa.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  After chicken is cooked, shred with a fork.
I actually only used about half of the chicken I cooked.  I froze the rest for later use. 

I really just sort of winged it for the rest of the recipe.  In a large bowl, I combined the shredded chicken, a 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained), 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese, and about 2 cups of taco seasoned shredded cheese.  Mix well.

Using small, 6 inch, four taco shells, I placed about 2 tablespoons of the filling on the shell and rolled it as tight as possible. 


 I liberally sprayed a baking sheet with Pam and place the taquitos seem side down.  To keep them from unfolding while I made more, I butted a glass up next to the taquitos so they'd stay rolled. 
After I completed all the taquitos, I sprayed the tops of the taquitos with Pam (this is to help them brown). 

I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes then I rolled them over and baked for another 15 minutes or so.  They don't come out brown on all sides, but they do have a nice crunch to them when they're done.  Baking them this way gives them that lightly browned crunch without all the added oil that frying would!

I served them with spanish rice and beans.  Everyone gave them a thumbs up!  They are even good as leftovers the next day.  They don't retain their nice crunch, but they still taste delicious!  These could really be made with about any meat and vegetable you like.  They are a nice alternative to the same old tacos and are really easy to make!


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