Friday, 22 September 2017

Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

Finally!  A new post! 

It's been a while since I posted as literally every single piece of technology I owned died at about the same time.  I only wish I was kidding.  So I had to kind of pick and choose about what I needed first.

The last thing I was able to replace was my desktop PC.

And at literally the exact same time - we arrived at one of my favorite times of the year - for cooking.  We've talked about this before, but literally the MOMENT we have one cold Fall day - which happened this week, all I can think about is lasagna and garlic bread, roast and mashed potatoes, and every casserole that is rich and stick-to-your-ribs.  Comfort food.  Building up that fat layer like a bear hibernating for winter.

Except for not really like a bear.

I thought that with the hustle and bustle of returning to school and the chill in the air (and snow in some places), we should do a SUPER easy crockpot chicken dish. 

I've come across this recipe a number of times and a number of ways... 

In the oven with cheese, in the crockpot, on and on.  I've actually tried the oven method, but found that the stuffing came out dry.  However - that recipe used white wine and I thought it was a wonderful addition. 

You're going to need 4 chicken breasts, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and Stove Top (I used the cornbread one, but you can use whatever your heart desires).  And water.  Or possibly sub in the white wine here - I haven't tried it that way yet.

Start filling the crockpot.  First with the chicken.

And cover with the stuffing - not prepared.

Then, combine the water (or white wine!),

add the cream of chicken soup,

then the sour cream.

Whisk until well combined and pour over the stuffing mix in the crockpot. 

Cover and cook on low for four hours.

Serve with roasted veggies, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, salad, or whatever floats your boat.

This recipe is perfect for a busy day when your time is short.  It's exactly the kind of thing that you need on a cool, blustery Fall day.  The chicken and stuffing together is like having the easiest Sunday chicken roast you can whip up!

You could also change up the type of soup (but I wouldn't stray too far from the 'cream of' types) to change the flavours.

I think it took me 15 minutes to throw everything into the slow cooker and that was it!


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Voodoo Shrimp

I gotta tell you - there have been very few recipes that I have done over and over.  But this is one of them. 
Originally, one of the things that attracted me to the recipe itself was the name - Voodoo Shrimp...  If that doesn't make your tastebuds anticipate something exciting - I don't know what would!
But then.  Then it became about the overall flavor of the dish.  It's dark, and smoky, and complex.  It's quite beautiful actually.
Buuuuuut - there were a few things that needed changing.  For myself.  The original recipe is blazing, stupid hot.  Like - you won't be able to taste anything or feel your tongue for a couple days hot.
And the consistency of the broth..  I wanted it to be more like a gravy instead of a broth.  It might be fine with mashed potatoes, but I really wanted a thick sauce that would coat the shrimp and the rice.
So I experimented a couple of times and here's how it's going to look in my recipe book...
The line-up for this is loooooooong.  Missing from this lineup is butter and flour.

Measure out all the spices and combine them in a bowl.  Then stir them together.

Make sure you get raw shrimp with the shells on.  Then you have to pull off the shells.

Pour half the spice mix into the bowl with the shrimp and put in the fridge until ready to cook 'em.

Then - in a medium saucepan, start heating the oil.

Then throw in the onion and the garlic.  Don't worry about cutting that onion too fine.

Stir the onions and garlic around for a few minutes and then throw in the shrimp shells.

And the remaining half of the spice mixture.

Then the bay leaves.

And the peeled and quartered lemon.

Stir it all together. And add the water.

Pour in the beer.  And the Worcestershire.

And simmer.

Simmer until the juices have been reduced, and strain out the liquid from the shells and other solids.

Then the broth is going to be reduced even more.  Straight up - I use a measuring cup to make sure I can tell how much further I have to reduce.
Once the broth has been reduced according to the recipe, leave it in the measuring cup and add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour into the pot and cook until golden brown.

Then, gradually add in the broth and whisk to combine.  Then add in the half and half.

And the brown sugar.  Cook until thickened.

and the drained tomatoes.  Can you see how the liquid has thickened and is coating the sides of the pot?  That's what you want to see!

Stir in the shrimp and cook a few minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Add in 1 tablespoon butter.

And fresh basil.

Then serve on rice.

For me, this was perfect.  The spices warmed up your mouth, the shrimp was perfectly cooked, the sauce was the perfect gravy-like texture, but retained all the complexity of the flavors of the original dish.
I loved this dish!  I served it with homemade hush puppies (and rice of course).  I absolutely recommend finishing this off with some type of cool dessert.  Ice cream, a lemon meringue or key lime pie would be totally perfect.
Serve it for your Mardi Gras or Halloween party and wow your guests with (what I think) is a little treat from the South.
Enjoy! - Heather

Saturday, 4 February 2017

White Chocolate Cream Pie

 I think it's time we made a dessert.  It's been, like, forever since we made dessert.  Holy crap you guys.  Since OCTOBER. 

Now normally, I'm not the hugest fan of white chocolate - but I am a fan of cream pies.  And whipped cream.  And shortbread pie crust.  Long story short - I'm a fan of THIS pie.

Start with the base.  Pretty simple shortbread cookie and butter combo.  Just between you and me, this box of cookies is ALMOST the perfect amount.  I'm usually a couple of tablespoons short, but it feels silly to buy two boxes.  I suppose I could freeze them, but I tend to be forgetful and will probably find them in two years looking for a bag of soup.

That happens because I'm busy and tired. 

Crush up the cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.

And then add the melted butter.

Stir together to coat the crumbs with the butter and then bake and cool.

Then, you'll make the filling.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and cream,

And the cornstarch.

Stir that all together until combined and then add the white chocolate chips.

Meanwhile, separate the yolks from the whites.

And lightly beat together.

Then, you're going to SLOWLY add a little of the hot milk mixture while beating the egg yolks.  Don't be afraid of this going too slowly.  Take your time.  If you rush, you'll cook the eggs and then it'll be gross and you'll have to start over.

This is called tempering the eggs.  It basically just means warming up the eggs so the same temperature as the mixture you're adding it to.  So the eggs don't cook on their own and everything tastes like scrambled eggs.  (YUCK)

Once the eggs are tempered, slowly add them to the milk mixture while whisking briskly. 

Then cook until the mixture is thickened.  Now you've made pudding! 

Well - then you're going to add some butter and THEN you've made pudding!

Now just let this cool to room temperature. 

Once the pudding has cooled, and the crust is cool, pour the pudding into the crust.  Cover with saran wrap, allowing the wrap to lightly touch the surface of the pudding - this helps prevent a skin.  Also yuck.

Put the pie into the fridge to set overnight.  I just think this is the best length of time for a cream pie to set properly so it will cut nicely.

When you're ready to serve, top with this beautiful almond-flavored whipped cream.

And serve.

And serve.

Isn't that so pretty!?  This makes me so happy!

I'm pretty sure that chocolate and almond is one of the most ubiquitous pairings in the world, but the almost whipped cream it makes the chocolate in this pie zing to another level of delicious.

Smooth, creamy, perfectly paired.  Whether you like white chocolate or not, this is still a delicious dessert for any occasion!

Xoxo - Heather

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Baked Ziti (but no Ziti)

I'm pretty sure there are about eight billion incarnations of lasagna.  And I will rarely tire of trying new ones.  Although you have to kind of watch - because you could be eating the exact same thing over and over.  And when you write a blog about trying out new recipes can result is a REALLY big gap between posts.

I have been wanting to share this with you for ages. 
It's meaty, cheesy, and makes a ton.  So it's perfect for a crowd or if you need leftovers to last a few days.
Start by frying up some onions.  Make sure you get em nice and golden colored.

Then add a whole buncha beef.

While that is cooking, mix up some cheeses.  Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Ricotta.


The egg also goes into the cheeses.  But "someone" forgot.  *sigh*
Okay - now back to the beef.  Once it's nice and browned, drain any excess fat and add the garlic.

Then the tomatoes.

And the tomato sauce.

Stir it all together and add a whole buncha spices.

Back to the cheese.  Add the cooked pasta to the cheese.
Now - I know the title says "ZITI" and this is PENNE, but Ziti isn't exactly considered standard pasta in a prairie border town.  And I failed to pick some up when I was visiting the big, fancy city.  So penne it was.
Not like it mattered - trust me.

Once the sauce has simmered, add a cup or two to the cheese and pasta mixture.

Then, in a deep 9 x 13 inch baking dish, start layering.  First the pasta.

Then a layer of sauce.  Then a whole buncha cheese.  (to say there's a lot of cheese in this dish is the understatement of the century)

Repeat until all the pasta, sauce, and cheese is used up.  Then bake.

 I have to say that this pasta dish is perfectly balanced with the meat to pasta to cheese ratio.  The flavor is fantastic and the leftovers get better and better.  Just like lasagna.
Although if I told you that it was easier than lasagna, I'd be lying - because it's still quite a bit of work.  But without the fuss of the lasagna noodles (I might be the only one who cooks extra noodles because at least one or two for sure rip).
It also freezes like a dream.  So if you wanted to make it in smaller containers, you could absolutely do that and not even know that it had been in the freezer.  I've done them in 8 x 8 inch square pans for this purpose and it serves me very well.
Now - if you're lucky enough to have access to ziti, I encourage you to use it!  But penne is a spectacular substitute.  I also encourage you to send me a bag also! 
Much love to you and your tastebuds!
xoxo - Heather
Baked Ziti
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole large yellow onion, diced
2 pounds ground beef
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
2 14.5 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces (weight) ziti or penne pasta, cooked until not quite al dente
1 15 ounce tub whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 whole egg
Fresh minced parsley (if desired)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened and golden. 
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain excess fat, but leave a small amount behind for extra flavor and moisture.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.  Stir together, bring to a simmer, and cook for 25 - 30 minutes.
  4. Once the sauce has simmered for 25 - 30 minutes, remove 3 - 4 cups to a new bowl and allow to cool.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. In a very large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper.  Do not mix completely!  Add the cooled meat sauce and stir again. 
  7. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool the pasta.  Add the cooled pasta to the cheese and stir to combine.  Don't over-combine, there should still be lumps left.
  8. Pour half the pasta into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Spread half the remaining meat sauce over the pasta, then top with half the remaining cheese.  Repeat with the pasta, sauce, and cheese.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling.  Remove and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired.
  10. FREEZER MEAL:  I like to split this up into aluminum 8 x 8 pans.  Prepare as above, cover tightly with two or three layers of aluminum foil.  To cook:  preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake from completely frozen 45 - 50 minutes or until heated through.  Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.