Monday, September 17, 2012

Sour Cream and Bacon Crockpot Chicken

So…I have this new job.  Generally, I work a normal schedule.  However, there are peak times where we are swamped and work like Hebrew slaves.  During those heavy work days, there’s not much time to spend on cooking a meal.  Thus, my fast food spending habits have left me with empty pockets and extra pounds.  In an effort to curb this, I decided to wipe the dust off the ol’ crockpot.

I discovered this recipe on the blog "Moms with Crockpots" .  Though I’m not a mom, being the rebel that I am, I decided to give it a whirl.  It’s gotta be good if it has bacon AND sour cream. 
Here's the ingredients:

  • 8 bacon slices
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 (10 oz) cans roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    First, lightly cook the bacon in a skillet.  Make sure it's still workable enough to wrap around the chicken. 

    Next, wrap one piece of bacon around each chicken breast and place in crock pot.
    In a separate bowl, combine both cans of soup, sour cream, and flour.  Works best to mix it with a whisk to get all the lumps out.
    Pour soup mixture over the chicken. Cover crockpot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.  I cooked mine on high for 5 hours, and it was delish and tender.  The key is to know your crockpot.  If it's an older model, you may very well need to cook it the full 8 hours.  The newer models seem to cook faster.
    Click here for the link to the full recipe.
    It was so easy to prepare.  Less than 10 minutes of prep time, and leave the rest to the crockpot! I served mine over a bed of rice.  You can also serve over noodles.  However, it is good enough to stand alone if you aren't a lover of carbs as I am. 
    So…for all you busy people out there who think you don’t have time to fix a good meal, think again!  It takes minimal time and tastes like you slaved all day!  Happy eating!

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Pear Preserves

    This summer, my mom and I wanted to can and /or make jelly and preserves. We gave it our best when we tried to make strawberry jam earlier in the summer. We truly had great intentions!! We drove for what seemed like half a day to pick fresh berries only to find out they were already closed for the season. Who knew?! We had to settle for store bought strawberries. The jam tasted wonderful. It just wasn’t very jelly-like. We call it ‘spreadable’ jam. We were a little discouraged by this. We knew it tasted good but wanted to give something else a shot too. My mother-in-law offered me access to her pear tree this past weekend, so I took it as a sign for us to make preserves. This is a whole new thing for me, but people have been canning for ages. I can do this, right?

    We picked all the pears we could fit into two bags and headed home to get to work. Mama peeled while I searched for a recipe and chopped. Because we had so many pears, we decided we would triple the recipe. 12lbs of pears (about 15 softball size) and six lemons later, we were ready to get cooking….
    This is the hardest part...

    Hard work pays off!!
    Start off by boiling 6 cups of water and 6 cups of sugar. Let boil for 15 minutes then add the pears and lemons and boil for 15 more minutes.

    This pot was full!! But the fruit quickly started to cook down.
    Cooking away! Watch your pot carefully. Keep a steady boil without letting it boil over. 

    Add the remaining 6 cups of sugar and 4 more cups of water (6 seemed like way too much). Let this mixture boil until the pears become transparent and the syrup thickens. This will take about an hour.
    I'm sure you could cook the pears until they were darker and even thicker, but I thought they were a beautiful champagne color and a good consistency.

    Pack the pears into hot, clean jars and seal immediately.
    A wide mouth funnel makes it easy to fill the jars.

    Keep your lids in a small pot of boiling water to be sure they stay sterilized.  Lift the lids out of the pot using a fork to help you place it on the jar.



    We decided to use the inverted method to see how well it worked. We didn’t hear the jars sealing but every one of them was sealed when we flipped them back over.

    I’m hoping these sell well at our FUMC annual Christmas bazaar!
    I took a jar to my grandmother, who specializes in pear preserves. She called me that afternoon to tell me how wonderful they were. Nothing better than granmaw's approval!!!
    Here is the link to the original recipe:


    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Whole Roasted Chicken

    As I was reading the January issue of Southern Living, I came across an article titled Every Recipe has a Story. It made me feel a little nostalgic for all the recipes I have that have been handed down to me over the years. The article is about a woman, Kate, who uses these recipes to remember her mother. They bring back memories for her of them together in the kitchen. It is a great article! In it, she says her mother thought that everyone must learn to roast a chicken.  Also, that her mother agreed with Julia Child that you could judge the quality of a cook or restaurant by their roast chicken. This got me to thinking how I have never roasted a whole chicken. I have cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot, but that requires no true skill. Roasting a chicken requires a little more work. You need to season it well, know how to check the internal temperature and try not to burn the skin. The article got me motivated: I’m going to roast a whole chicken! The recipe that came along with the article looks delicious; however, my mother had the new Martha Stewart Living magazine. Inside, there is a recipe for Roasted Chicken with a Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan Sauce.  Yum!!! Is your mouth watering yet? Let’s get started.

    Here’s what you’ll need:
    Chicken and potatoes:
    • 1 whole organic chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved or cut into thirds if large (we added some carrots too)
    Sauce :
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 lemon, zested (2 teaspoons) and juiced (1 1/2 tablespoons)
    • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    • Pinch of red-pepper flakes

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place chicken, breast side up, on a baking sheet. Rub with 2 tablespoons oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Place parsley and 1 lemon half in cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

    Toss potatoes and carrots in 2 tablespoons oil. Drizzle with juice from remaining lemon half. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter potatoes and carrots along chicken.

    Roast for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees F; cook for 25 minutes. Rotate pan, toss potatoes, and cook until potatoes and chicken are golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reaches 165 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes more.

    Let chicken and potatoes stand for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, make the sauce: Combine ingredients. After 10 minutes, brush sauce on chicken and drizzle on potatoes.

    The article shows the chicken whole with the sauce drizzled over the top. Because I’m not 100% confident in my carving skills, I wanted to have it all carved up before calling everyone to the table. Once the chicken was carved and plated, I drizzled the sauce over the chicken so it would be easier to serve. I also reserved some sauce for the vegetables.

    The sauce is delicious, but it is loaded with garlic, so keep that in mind. You could always add more or not use as much. I love garlic, so I could eat it on just about anything. Martha Stewart Living suggests adding it to pasta or spreading over bread and toasting.

    Probably the best garlic bread you'll ever eat!
    The chicken was fall off the bone tender and juicy. The veggies were tender and yummy. I suggest adding the carrots for a little more complexity. I will absolutely use this method to roast next time. If you were looking to save a little chopping/prep time, make the chicken without the sauce. I think it would be excellent since it was seasoned so well before going into the oven. You can also play around with your seasonings. Lemon and rosemary would also be a tasty combination. Make it your own!

    I can’t really say I was scared to try to roast a whole chicken, I just thought it was easier to buy a rotisserie chicken from the store. Well, this recipe is simple and will give you a sense of satisfaction once you finish. Try it!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Perfect Meatloaf

    Since it’s been a while since we posted, this one is going to be a two-in-one. We are going to do a new recipe and product review all rolled into one.

    I love a good meatloaf and love it even more when I have a new product to use to bake it. I purchased 'The Perfect Meatloaf Pan' at Target and decided to give it a whirl. I’m not one who usually falls victim to ‘as seen on TV’ products. Ok, maybe a little, but this just seemed like a no brainer, plus it came with a recipe book! My meatloaf is pretty tasty, but it’s sort of just shaped into a loaf in a casserole dish left to swim in whatever drippings there may be. I’ve never really had a problem with my meatloaf falling apart. I think that has to do with using a recipe with more meat and less filler, but if there is a product I can use to eliminate excess fat and make clean up easy, I’m in!

    There are lots of delicious looking recipes in the book that came with the pan, and I will definitely be trying some of them out soon. But for the first time, I thought I would use my own recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:

    1lb Lean Ground Beef
    1lb Ground Turkey (I use the 93/7)
    1 Egg
    ½ Cup Quick Oatmeal
    Dehydrated Onion
    ¼ Cup Ketchup
    ¼ Cup Water
    Salt & Pepper
    Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. You may want to add a little more/less water and ketchup, because you want your mixture to be very moist.

    Spray the meatloaf pan and insert tray very well with cooking spray. Put the insert tray in the pan and add the meat, shaping into a loaf.
    Bake for about an hour or until meat is done in the center. (According to the meatloaf pans recipe book, a 2 lb meatloaf should cook about an hour.)
    Remove from pan and let your meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

    ATTENTION: I cooked my meatloaf for an hour and it was still a little pink in the middle. Since it was already sliced and out of the pan, I sprayed a nonstick skillet and cooked in both sides until it was done (just about 3 minutes). Another 15-20 minutes in the oven would be all you would need to finish the cooking.

    You can see how much liquid/fat was cooked out of the meatloaf, and the meatloaf was still very moist. Considering I used very lean meats, I think ½ cup is a pretty large amount. Overall, I’m impressed!

    I will definitely use this pan next time I make meatloaf. I’m also very excited about trying some of the recipes that were included like the Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf or Shepherd’s Pie Meatloaf. Yum-o!