Chicken Gnocchi Soup – Crockpot

We have finally gotten to the weekend free to do what you have ignored for the last 2 months because of the holidays. 99% of the decorations are put away, I still have the porch looking a little festive but I am down with that. Plus its too early for the Spring look and I don’t really have anything for the in between and I don’t want it to be naked; it would look too depressing.
IMG_3891.JPGYesterday was also the first time I have done a “normal” grocery shopping. Basically meaning I didn’t need to pick up anything for a particular dessert, casserole or a dinner in general. I can get back into a somewhat normal routine. Which in itself can be very calming at least in my world.
IMG_3879.JPGToday I figured; well most Sundays I try to prep for the week ahead; as best I can anyway. I figure I can at least take care of breakfast, lunches and snacks; for the most part. Dinner is usually whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. More often than not I look in the fridge and see what I need to use up or clean out and that dictates what we are having for dinner.

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The soup I am going to share with you literally was because I bought a huge bag of gnocchi from my favorite farmers market in Montreal over New Years; if you are ever in Montreal, Quebec please visit Atwater Market or Jean Talon Market – you won’t be disappointed. I also had a larger than we normally buy half and half that will most definitely go bad before my husband has enough coffee to use it all up. Plus I had just made some chicken stock the night before so instead of freezing it I thought I could make a soup. Add a few more ingredients and voila dinner or lunch is ready.
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I need to give a shout out to my sister-in-law for the bay leaf – she brought me a baggie full from her bay leaf plant that she has growing at her house. Yeah I didn’t even know that was a thing. Let me just say that the ones I buy from the spice aisle in the grocery store is lets just say less than stellar in comparison. Her’s is SO easy to find and pull out of whatever I added it to. the ones from the store if I can find a whole one are a whole other story.

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken breast
½ cups shredded carrots
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 package approx 16 ounces potato gnocchi
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions
Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add carrots and garlic. Along with the spices. Cover with the chicken broth or stock, whatever you have on hand. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

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Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the chicken and once cooled a bit; shred or dice whatever you like. Make a slurry with the half and half and cornstarch and add it along with the gnocchi to the pot. Place the chicken back in the pot. Cover and place on high for about 30 minutes or so. You want to make sure the gnocchi is cooked through and the soup thickens. 
img_3890Add the spinach just before serving and allow it to wilt a bit. Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste and enjoy!

 

Recipe adapted: http://www.fivehearthome.com

Turkey Chili crockpot/slow cooker

How many parties have you hosted or attended? How many guests do you have staying with you? Who has plans to ring in the new year? So many things to do, so little time!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday however you celebrate!

IMG_3745.JPGThis time of year is always crazy busy and it’s like we are all racing to make sure we fit everything in we possibly can. Oh and let’s also throw in 2 birthdays and an anniversary all within 6 weeks. Needless to say I have already declared January a sugar free zone at the office. And I am threatening to follow suit at home. There will be a rebellion for sure.
IMG_3742.JPGWe had an awesome Christmas party last week I have no idea how many people were here but at one point in the night I walked outside and counted around 24 cars, that’s a lot of people and I think this one had the most people singing along, it was glorious!
IMG_3743.JPGWe were 11 for overnight and 13 for breakfast with that many people there is no way to not be organized and part of my organization is to have something in the crockpot all day just in case anyone needs a little something to snack on and want to help themselves.
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Turkey Chili
1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
1 small white onion diced
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pan over medium-high heat. Add diced onion to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground turkey and cook until it is browned, breaking it up as you cook it. Add the spices to the pan, the heat in the pan helps the spices come alive.

Add the cooked turkey and onions to the crockpot and then all the other ingredients, stir well to combine.

Cover with lid and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-7 hours.

Easy Sweet and Sour Chicken

I brought out my slow cooker again –  we were going to busy and dinner was either going to be late and out or I could make it beforehand. OK so I also wanted to try a new recipe I found. It all works right?
IMG_2986I actually used my slow cooker for the sweet and sour chicken that I will confess was ridiculously easy to just throw everything in the crockpot before I went to work and put it on low and go. But when I got home I used the rice cooker so dinner was literally all set when we were done with our meeting. So easy and very tasty plus it was a huge time saver and way cheaper than going out.
IMG_2979I don’t always plan ahead; or at least not as much as I wish I did but having a nicely stocked pantry and freezer plus having plenty of homemade chicken stock on hand I can whip up some of the recipes I come across. This one I did have to pick up a red pepper and a pineapple; well I didn’t need an actual pineapple but I have another recipe in mind for the rest of the pineapple.

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My chicken stock was still frozen – it will melt!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 red bell pepper – chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion diced
3 medium carrots thinly sliced
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp ground chili paste
½ cup ketchup + 1/4 cup 

Take all the above and put it in your slow cooker and turn it on low for about 7-8 hours.
Remove the chicken and set it aside.

Whisk the next 2 ingredients together
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
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Turn it on high and slowly add the pineapple/starch mixture. And the other ¼ cup of ketchup. Cook this uncovered until the sauce is thick.  Shred the chicken and add it back into the pot to re-heat.

Serve over rice.  Slice some scallions on top and if you have any sesame seeds on hand sprinkle some on top
(I didn’t search for mine – I said well stocked pantry not organized 🙂 )
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Crockpot Cauliflower Bolognese

Harvest season is upon us and I WISH I had a time elapsed camera set up near my squash because for the life of me I cannot figure out how on Monday they are almost but just not the right size and come Tuesday and they are like DAMN what the heck!

1st harvest 2018

1 cup measuring cup for scale


IMG_2964This morning (Saturday) I was sitting at the island enjoying my tea planning my day, making my grocery shopping list and trying to figure out what we might we eating this week. I figured I would head out to the garden and see what needed to be pulled.  I have already gotten way more radishes that any one human could eat luckily they are my Dad’s favorite and my daughter went into work (my favorite restaurant in town) tonight and asked if they might be interested in some; thankfully they said yes.
IMG_2954Veggie season gets me thinking of inventive ways to serve them. Right now it is only the squash and radishes but I see a head of Broccoli forming an the tomatoes are a few sunny days away. I tried a new recipe today using my slow cooker, which actually is not just a winter tool in my world. It doesn’t heat up the house and we get a nice meal with not a lot of effort.
IMG_2956I am going to call it a mock bolognese only because it doesn’t have any meat in it. Though I fried up some sweet italian sausage to serve along side it for us. You could make this totally vegetarian if you so wish to.
IMG_2958Crockpot cauliflower bolognese

Head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
1 medium diced onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1-2 cup chicken broth – or veggie broth
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
IMG_2962Put everything in the crockpot, stir and place on high for 3 ½ hours.  Once everything is cooked down take a potato masher and break up the cauliflower taste for salt and pepper. Leave it a little chunky and ladle over zoodles or spaghetti.
IMG_2971I had planned on making zoodles since I have so many in the house not but I was running late and my husband worked on a roof all day so he needed the pasta, some bread and even a cocktail.

Enjoy!

Easiest Pork Shoulder – slow cooker

I have heard a lot lately from people really interested in quick easy meals. I too really like it when you can throw together something quick and easy but doesn’t taste like you just threw some things on a plate. While we do like an occasional hotdog, beans and fries dinner; we for the most part want a little more love for dinner.

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I browned mine in my cast iron under the broiler in my oven

Even though most people think of their slow cooker more for warm, comfort winter meals, you really can use it all year long. Just yesterday the weather was supposed to be the nicest on the weekend so i knew i was going to be working in the yard for most of it and while I don’t mind raking a bit, I knew it was going to be more than that and that I would probably be too tired to pull dinner together. Yup I was right! I was out there for four hours raking ugh! But the yard is starting to look so good; as predicted I was spent!

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Adobo spices are one of my favorite – I put it on everything!

Luckily I had most of what I needed for a quick chicken chili, quick, easy and delicious! My slow cooker did all the work, all i needed to do was shred the chicken add top each bowl with some shredded cheese, sour cream and some scallions.
IMG_2688I have another recipe that is too good to be true. All you need is 5 ingredients plus your slow cooker. And you have the start of several dishes though we all really liked it as is.
IMG_26913 – 5 pound Pork butt or shoulder
¼ cup soy sauce
1 large onion sliced
Salt and pepper
½ cup water
also add any other spices you like onto your pork

Salt and pepper the roast liberally all over, either brown on top of the stove all over or place it in the pan and broil till browned.  In the oven is less immediate clean up which is nice too.

Place a few slices of onion in the bottom, lay the roast on top, cover with the remaining onions. Cover with the soy and water. Cook on low for the day and enjoy!
IMG_2689To make a complete dinner, I also cheated and bought a bowl of mashed potatoes and opened a can of corn.  I boiled down some of the leftover juice and used it it as a little au ju – it was so good I’ve already made it again and might be doing it again soon!

Leftover meat can be used in sandwiches, quesadilla, nachos.  That is if you have any leftover!

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!

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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.

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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

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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.