Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs

This week my kitchen was pretty quiet; which is my way of saying that I didn’t make anything exciting that I felt I HAD to share with you. That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat it’s more how I would say “no brainer” meals were had this week. What I mean by that is whatever was simple, quick and not a lot of ingredients. Any shortcut you know works here!

IMG_2704
I am sitting here trying to think why I didn’t make something fun and exciting. I don’t think we were super busy, though we did spend a wonderful night out on the town. I mentioned in last weeks blog about gathering 9 of my foodie friends and family to a food bank fundraising event featuring Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. What an awesome night! She is a true rock star. She was funny, engaging, personable, approachable and everything I had hoped she would be and more.
icag.jpg
Three of us paid a little extra, it was for charity, it’s all good. For a meet and greet with Alex. I met her, shook her hand and took pictures with her, we are on first name basis now, well at least I think so and it’s my blog so that’s what I am going with.
MaryAnn Esposito
While in the VIP room; yeah that’s what they called it. I was kind of geeking out. There was a TV chef from my younger days that I recognized Mary Ann Esposito she has a show on Public Television called Ciao Italia which I just looked up is the longest-running television cooking program in America. I watched this all the time when I was younger; mostly because it was one of the 5 channels we had. But I loved her and her show so it was an honor to meet her. Plus she thought my daughter was my sister so I love her even more.
luca-paris.jpg
We had a great time laughing and talking with local Chef Luca Paris who is Chef/Owner of Luca’s Mediterranean a few towns over. I’ve eaten at his place numerous times but this is the first time we chatted more than just the cordial meet and greet; here’s your table and how is everything. He was one of the competitors; this was an chef challenge event; he didn’t win – but we were routing for him all night.
IMG_2701
If you are looking for something simple, hands off and delicious this is going to help you out a lot. I know it’s not really a recipe but we had such a great night I wanted to share it with you but this is a food blog so I wanted to leave you with something.
IMG_2703
Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs – couldn’t be simpler!

Bone in skin on Chicken thighs – however many fit in a single layer in your size crockpot
Kosher salt
Black Pepper

Salt and Pepper both sides of your chicken thighs and lay them in a single layer in your slow cooker, nothing else just put the cover on them and leave on low for the day. about 6-8 hours. They come out perfectly cooked with the skin still crispy. it’s that simple and they taste great. Add a couple of your quick sides and dinner is served.

I’m sure you could add another spice to the mix; maybe Cajun, Garlic, Italian seasoning whatever you like.

Creamy Garlic Chicken

I think I have finally found something I am passionate about. I mean truly passionate about. I love playing golf, I love gardening, I love traveling and exploring; but what gets me really excited is food. It only took me around 20 years to figure out that I get super excited about the experience of and being around food. I mean it has not always been this way trust me but I definitely can see that I have become more excited at the prospect of getting into a restaurant that is impossible to get in, finding a hidden gem by accident and staying for hours,  seeing/meeting a famous chef or even a chef that came in second on Chopped; yeah that really happened.
IMG_2726.JPG
My daughter wanted to go to a restaurant the runner up was cooking at in Washington DC; so we were in the city and went for lunch, I mentioned to our waiter we were here only because my daughter saw him on chopped. He said he was cooking out back and then proceeded to tell him without our knowledge. A chef was coming towards us; came to our table and chatted with us, more like me, my daughter was chef shocked and could barely speak. Same thing happened when she came face to face with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on a flight from Japan to the US.
IMG_2720.JPG
Last year my daughter and I went to a taping of a radio show featuring ex iron chef Mario Batali, this week I am dragging 9 of my foodie family and friends to a fundraising dinner and I paid extra for my ticket for a meet and greet with Iron Chef Alex Guarnascelli.  I am currently waiting “patiently” to see if my name is pulled to make a reservation to the Lost Kitchen in Freedom ME; which is only taking names via 3×5 index cards mailed in for reservations.  Also a couple of years ago my husband and I along with another couple made a reservation to a restaurant in Montreal Canada that had a 4 month waiting list; which by the way is a 4 hour drive from us. Not to mention I am heading into my fourth year of writing a weekly food blog. I think you get the gist now!

I love that I am sharing my passion with my husband and kids and that they are just as much a foodie as I am. Having dinner together at the table every night together IS important! What my husband said about this dish “knocked it out of the park”

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced or chopped up like I did
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions

season chicken with salt and pepper, in a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through and browned on each side, remove chicken and set aside.
IMG_2721.JPG
Add the garlic for and cook for 30 seconds, do not let it brown. add the chicken stock and using a wooden spoon get all the browned bits up off the pan, cook for about 3-4 minutes to almost half of the stock is gone.
IMG_2722.JPG
Add the heavy cream, seasoning, cheese and whisk over high heat till it thickens. Add the spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken to the sauce.
IMG_2723.JPG
IMG_2724.JPG
IMG_2725.JPG
serve over pasta if you want – I served it over linguine and it re-heated beautifully the next day!

Macros – chicken and sauce only
484 Calories 57 g Protein 34 g 23 g Fat 9 g Carbs

no-bake cheesecake bananas & brown sugar

I was looking around for a quick but delicious dessert to serve after Easter dinner.  It was a small gathering but I still wanted something special for the day.
IMG_2707I am going to warn you that this was so delightful that you will only want to make it if there is a crowd; only so you don’t eat the whole thing yourself. Baring you like Bananas, light and fluffy brown sugar and cinnamon filling and a crust that; when baked; is crisp and tastes like vanilla buttery sweetness.

IMG_2715

My son does not like nuts so I left some off for him

I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought a box of Nilla-Wafers. I kind of remember there being two brands, I thought one was actually called vanilla wafers not the nilla one but I could  only find the one. I could also be wrong – doesn’t matter I didn’t have a choice.
IMG_2708The recipe said you don’t have to bake the crust but I am not sure how well the crust would hold together without the baking, if you decide not to, please let me know how it worked out for you. My first slice was the typical disaster, even the second slice wasn’t pretty but after that they all came out just perfectly after that. I will tell you that slicing it at the tables was not one of my finest moments. So if I were you just slice it in the kitchen before bringing it to the table.
IMG_2711Brown Sugar Banana No-Bake Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients
2 cups (va) nilla wafers – crumbled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filing Ingredients
2 Bananas, sliced thin
16 ounces cream cheese – room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream
Optional toasted nuts

Crust Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350’F
Lightly grease a 9-inch round tart part – or use a pie plate
Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter until thoroughly combined and press into the bottom and up the sides of your dish
Bake for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool
IMG_2713Filling Directions
Arrange the sliced bananas along the bottom of your cooled crust
Beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until thoroughly combined and smooth.
In a separate bowl whip up the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Fold a third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Gently fold the rest of the whipped cream.
Spread the filling evenly on top of the bananas. Tops with toasted nuts if using and refrigerate for 4+ hours.


recipe from: bakeorbreak

Macro friendly weekly Frittata

Happy Easter!

Meal prep is such a buzz word all over the internet, it seems there are hundreds of ideas out there that people are sharing. I do like the idea behind it but I don’t think one size fits all and are you going to plan/eat the same thing every single day? Probably not! Could you for a couple or a few day I think so!
IMG_2700My daughter and I have made several versions of mason jar salads, my all time favorite was the orzo, mozzarella, tomato spinach salad but there is only so much of it one can eat in a week. Variety is the spice of life or so goes the saying.  Though the convenience of having lunch already made and my upbringing to not waste food, the saying when I was a kid growing up was there were people starving in Africa eat your meatloaf – yuck! Meatloaf is still my nemesis!
IMG_2692Working on being a little more self conscious of what I put in my mouth I find it a whole lot easier to prep at least my breakfast, lunch and snacks for the work week. I try to do this on a regular basis, when I don’t I actually miss it so I am getting better at it.
IMG_2693IMG_2694My staple for breakfast is the frittata I make every Sunday and once cooled I put 5 pieces in a container and bring it to work with me.  It solves a few problems; one I’m not a morning person, so making a healthy meal every morning just not going to happen, two I am never hungry when I wake up, I generally don’t eat till around 9:30, three is the portions are already pre-set and I have already calculated out the macros – if you are watching them.  
IMG_2695IMG_2696This has been going on for months now and I am have not once been like ugh more eggs! Which is saying something because i’m not a huge fan of eggs I generally only like them poached but this is working for me, so I thought I would share it with those people who might need a little help for at least the morning.
IMG_2697

My Macro Friendly Frittata

16 ounce container of egg whites – or 8 large eggs – 1 container of egg substitute – you be you!
1 Large or Extra Large egg – it does make a difference
3 ounces cubes ham
1 small onion diced
1 ounce fat free feta cheese
5 florets broccoli chopped
1 green onion diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
6-8 grape tomatoes – halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
Sriracha sauce – a must if using egg whites
IMG_2699I heat the olive oil in my cast iron pan, saute the onion and ham.  Add the broccoli for another minute or so. In a small bowl I combine the whites with the egg and season with salt and pepper plus the hot sauce.
IMG_2698Pour the eggs over the ham, onion and broccoli then add the cheese and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the scallions, salt and pepper and let it cook the bottom of the frittata for about 3-5 minutes on medium low heat. Finish off under the broiler till set and browned.

Let it set up for about 5 minutes before you remove it from the pan. I run a spatula around the edge and try to lift it off the bottom of the pan, just so it won’t stick. It’s happened. Slice it and enjoy!
IMG_2700

Serves 8
Approx Macros – for the egg white and 1 egg 
80 Calories – 2 Fat – 2 Carbs – 12 Protein

Chicken Divan – a little lighter

Last week I unfortunately ate WAY too much of the Texas sheet cake I blogged about; it was SO good I’m going to have to hold off on making it again anytime soon, eventually it is going to be shorts season again; once all this snow melts.
IMG_2685.JPG
My husband has a childhood memory of chicken divan, he never calls it chicken divan it’s always my mom’s chicken and broccoli casserole so when I made my first divan he was like yeah that’s it. Wel after making it for several years now I have come to realize even though it’s filled with broccoli the other things around the broccoli are kind of crazy bad for the waistline if you know what I mean. Cream of chicken soup, cubed bread, shredded cheese and butter. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the old casserole but I wanted to try to lighten it up just a bit.
IMG_2674
I am all about flavors and was a little nervous to change it too much that it is unrecognizable. So I stuck with building layers of flavor so I wouldn’t miss all the richness of cream of soup, bread and cheese.  I hope you like this “lighter” version of my husband’s’ childhood chicken divan.
IMG_2683
Chicken Divan

Ingredients
2-3 heads of broccoli, chopped
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bulbs shallots, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2-3 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cut fat free milk
¼ cup white wine
6 oz shredded low fat cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions
Steam or blanch the broccoli just till slightly tender and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350’F and grease a 13×9 baking dish

Chunk up chicken into bite sized pieces.  Season liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
IMG_2676
IMG_2679
Heat a medium skillet on medium high heat, add some of the oil and cook the chicken till it is slightly browned and just cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside.
IMG_2677
In the same skillet add more oil if needed and saute the shallots and garlic; saute till soft and translucent. Sprinkle with flour and the curry powder whisk till smooth.
IMG_2680
Stir in the broth, milk and wine and bring to a boil allowing the flour to help thicken the sauce.
IMG_2682
Remove from the heat and add half of the shredded cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the bottom of the casserole dish with the broccoli, pour half of the sauce over the broccoli, cover with the pieces of chicken and then the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese, the grated Parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Spray a little cooking spray on top and bake for about 30 minutes.

Serves 6
Approx Macros
340 Calories – 13 Fat – 20 Carbs – 34 Protein

Texas Sheet Cake

I briefly looked into why this is called Texas sheet cake but there was no evidence to where or when this originally got it’s name that I could find. I did share this recipe a few years ago but I thought it needed to make another appearance. 
IMG_2673.JPGI honestly do not care what it is called or where it came from but thank you to whoever started it. It is very moist, tangy, chocolaty, easy to make and just plain delicious! I strongly suggest you make this cake at least once in your life, though if you do, you will be making it again!
IMG_2656.JPGThe only ingredient that I needed to grab from the store was buttermilk. I do wish I could find a pint of buttermilk but all I have ever seen is it by a quart. Since I don’t love wasting food I will find some other uses for it, like buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits or buttermilk fried chicken. I was actually thinking of trying to make an Irish Soda Bread since this weekend it St Patrick’s Day and I have never made it before.
IMG_2658

IMG_2660

IMG_2662.JPG

IMG_2663.JPG

I usually make this cake in one sheet pan and add nuts but I was invited to friends for dinner and wasn’t sure how the nuts would go over and I wanted to make it a little festive so I added green and white sprinkles. I used two sheet pans just cuz no reasoning. I hope everyone likes it!

Preheat oven to 400’F

In a Saucepan add the next 4 ingredients and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes
1 Stick of Butter
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
4 TBS Cocoa
1 Cup Water

Sift together and pour the chocolate sauce over and mix well
2 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar

Add to the above
½ Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
Mix well and pour into greased jelly roll pan
IMG_2664Bake for 20 minutes
IMG_2667

While baking make the frosting as it needs to be poured onto the cake while it is still hot.
In a saucepan – you can use the same one just clean it while the cake is in the oven
1 Stick Butter
1/3 Cup Buttermilk
4 TBS Cocoa

Bring to a boil for a minute or two
IMG_2665.JPGAdd the following
1 Box of Confectioner’s Sugar (roughly 2¾ Cup)
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
¾ Cup Chopped Walnuts or pecans or sprinkles be creative
IMG_2669.JPGOnce cooled – slice and store in airtight container

Cabbage Soup – EASY

I don’t know about you but I have already been thinking about the plants I am going to put in my garden this year.  It might have had something to do with the warm February we had but them mother nature had a different plan and decided we really needed another foot of snow. If nothing else it was absolutely beautiful around here.

Snow.jpg

IMG_2586

I added the Edamame as I had a small bag in the freezer – cleaning out the fridge kind of soup

I literally made this soup because I had a hunk of cabbage left in my fridge since harvesting it in from my garden sometime in the Fall or Autumn whatever you call it. I needed the space but I would never throw away perfectly good food. It’s not in my nature to waste but we don’t really eat a lot of cabbage but I grow enormous ones and they last once wrapped in plastic wrap for a VERY long time.

IMG_2592Believe it or not I still have some red and yellow onions, shallots and garlic that we are still using from my garden. If you have never grown any vegetables or herbs you should try; at least grow some herbs in a pot, or a patio tomato. It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming a little soil, sun and water and you are good to go.
IMG_2629Cabbage Soup with ingredients on hand

2 stalks Celery – diced
2 Carrots – peeled and diced
2-3 Tomatoes – chopped
1 large Onion – diced
Head of Cabbage – chopped
2 cloves Garlic – minced
1 cup Edamame
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher Salt & freshly cracked black Pepper – to taste
Sriracha – to taste
Chicken Stock – enough to cover veggies

IMG_2631

I added a little sweet Italian Sausage that I browned and added at the end – Just a little more love

In a slow cooker I chopped and added it to the pot, set it on high and left it for about 4 hours.
You can make it on top of the stove as well using the same method.