Crock Pot Chicken noodle soup

27 Jan

Talk about easy!

Made on my freezer cooking day:

3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tbs chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp Parsley
4 uncooked chicken thighs- trimmed and cleaned
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles

Combine all ingredients except egg noodles in a freezer safe bag. Freeze flat. Remove from the freezer the night before to thaw. Place bagged ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until juices run clear. Shred chicken and return to pot. Add egg noodles and cook an additional 30 minutes.

All Vegetable Lo Mein

9 Aug

I must admit, I have never made an asian inspired dish… ever! I’m not sure why, but it has always intimidated me a bit. This dish was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed the challenge of working with different ingredients. This dish takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, which is always handy in the hot summer nights when  you don’t want to heat up the house. It’s also quite healthy since we replace the traditional lo mein noodles with vegetables.

Vegetable Lo Mein

For the chicken you will need

2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons of honey
4 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
3 chicken breasts cut into chuncks

For the “noodles”

2 cloves of minced garlic
3 large carrots
2 small summer squash
2 small zucchini
Splash of reduced sodium soy sauce

(Basically you want equal parts of each. Getting smaller squash and zucchini is key in this dish to avoid excess seeds and water)
Combine the first five ingredients and 1/2 a cup of chicken stock. Stir well. Add the chicken breast and marinade it for about 15 minutes. While the chicken in marinading use a mandolin to julienne the carrots, zucchini and squash.

With a large saute pan (or wok) heat about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil on high. While the pan is heating remove the chicken from the marinade. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken.  Working quickly, rotate the chicken to brown it on all sides. Once the chicken is browned, add the reserved 1/2 cup of chicken stock and cover. Simmer on low for about 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove the chicken and cover it to keep it warm.

Using the same saute pan (or wok)  heat it to high and add about 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Toss in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, next add in the julienned vegetables. Cook on high heat for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Do not over cook the vegetables or they will become mushy. The vegetables should have a similar consistency as noodles. Finish the vegetables with a splash of soy sauce and top with the drained chicken.

Enjoy!

Summer Squash Bread

25 Jul

IMG_0018w      Summer Squash

This year we added a new veggie to our garden– Summer squash! With all the rain we’ve had recently, our garden is growing like crazy. I had like 8 good size summer squash staring at me needing to be eaten before going bad so I decided to try making a bread. Grandma was infamous for making zucchini bread. Every summer grandpas garden would produce these huge zucchini and grandma would spend a few days a week baking breads for all of us. She would always be sure to give us at least one batch with chocolate chips since that was the grand-kids favorite.

Summer Squash BreadThis recipe makes two loafs of summer squash bread

You will need:
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups of white sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
zest of one orange (optional)
2 cups finely shredded summer squash

Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees and prepare the two bread pans with butter and flour to prevent sticking.

Beat the eggs for about two-three minutes on medium to get them fluffy. Beat in the sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients which include the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. Gradually add the dry mixture to IMG_0023wthe wet and then mix in the shredded squash. (If your squash is very wet, gently drain it on a paper towel to remove some of the liquid.)

Bake on 325 for about 45 minutes. To see if the center is cooked through, insert a toothpick or knife in the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done!

So there you have it! This is a great way to use up all that fresh produce from the garden. My favorite way to eat it is after its slightly cooled from the oven with just a little butter… YUM! It also freezes well! Just tightly wrap with parchment paper, tape the sides shut, and place in a freezer bag.

Hope you enjoy!

IMG_0027w

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

21 Apr

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Ingredients

2 bell peppers
3/4 cup orzo
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock or salted water
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 medium zucchini finely grated
1/2 medium zucchini chopped
1 cup mozzarella (plus a little extra for sprinkling on top of the peppers)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper, olive oil

 

Cook orzo pasta in vegetable stock or salted water according to package instructions. (Reserve cooking liquid for later use). While the orzo is cooking prepare the peppers by cutting each one in half. Remove the stem, seeds and rims and place in a casserole dish. Saute the onion, garlic and chopped zucchini until tender.

Combine orzo, tomatoes, sauteed vegetables, grated zucchini, cheeses and seasoning in a bowl and spoon into the prepared peppers. Pour about an inch of the cooking liquid into the dish around the peppers. This will help steam the peppers while cooking. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove foil top the peppers with the remaining cheese and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!

Super Stuffed Shells

10 Apr

My boyfriend is an italian-aholic. Anything including pasta, marinara, cream sauce, and cheese he’s all over it. For dinner this weekend I decided to make some a new concoction that might please him.. Naturally, it was Italian themed.

Italian stuffed shells

1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs

1/2 pound cooked Italian sausage
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 14.5 oz canned Italian stewed tomatoes
(I had 5 Roma tomatoes I needed to use so I roasted them with italian seaoning, fresh garlic and 1/2 a chopped small onion  at 425 for about 35 minutes instead of using the canned tomatoes. )
8 ounces (20 to 24) jumbo pasta shells
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
Cook pasta shells as directed on package.
Combine ricotta, 1.5 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, cooked sausage, spinach, tomato mixture in a large bowl. Prepare a baking dish by spreading about 1/4 of the marinara sauce on the bottom so the shells don’t stick.  After the shells are cooked, fill each shell with the filling and arrange in the baking dish. Top with remaining Marinara sauce and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 45-50 minutes.
Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Soup

2 Mar

Roasted carrots, onion and garlic pureed into a creamy delicious soup. It really can’t get much simpler!
roasted_carrot_soupYou will need:

7 large carrots peeled, halved crosswise, and cut lengthwise
1 Large Onion, quartered
1 head of Garlic
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 stick of margarine
1 tsp Garlic salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400

Mix room temperature margarine with parsley and garlic salt in a small bowl until combined. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the butter mixture all over the foil. Place the carrots and onions on the foil lined baking sheet and mix around so they are coated in the butter. Place in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes- turning at least once.

For the garlic, cut 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves. Drizzle about a tbsp of oil on the cloves and wrap in tin foil. Place the garlic in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once cooled, turn the clove upside down and squeeze the cloves out. You could also use  a fork and knife but if find the squeezing method to be faster.

Using a food processor or emulsion blender puree the vegetables until smooth and transfer the mixture to a pot. Add chicken stock until the desired thickness and simmer for 30 minutes.   It would be great as a first course or light main dish. Serve with crusty bread

roasted_carrot_soup2

Caprese Salad Skewers

27 Feb

Last week the college and career group hosted a valentines banquet for the married couples in our church. One of the appetizers we made were these caprese salad skewers. They are SUPER simple to make and they are very good!caprese salads

1 package tooth picks
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 lbs of fresh mozzarella (bocconcini which are small balls of fresh mozzarella)
Bunch of fresh basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Quality Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

 

Be sure to get quality ingredients as this is a simple dish that should be fresh and simple. The freshest ingredients will bring the best flavor. Assembly is very simple. First wash and dry your tomatoes and basil. We chopped our tomatoes in half so they would fit on the toothpicks better. If you’d rather not chop the tomatoes you could get larger toothpicks or skewers instead. Skew the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil on the tooth picks. The drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. It’s that simple!

caprese salad