Crockpot Chicken Chili

The holiday season is upon us; which is quite apparent if you have ventured into pretty much ANY store. Just this last weekend there was Christmas music playing at my local craft store while I was picking up stuff for my Thanksgiving table centerpiece. Let the games begin!
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And just because you have a huge list of things to get done on the weekends doesn’t mean you can’t take a few simple ingredients; that you might already have on hand; throw it all in your slow cooker and have a warm satisfying meal at the end of the day. And probably a lunch during the week.

img_4700The last few weekends I have been spending a few hours in the kitchen preparing meals for the coming weeks lunch and or dinner. Make a roast for Sunday dinner and then a soup/stew for the following week. It’s like a win win. You are already chopping veggies, making a mess; or at least that is in my case. I swear I use pretty much every pot, pan and cutting board I own when I get going.
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Ingredients
Boneless skinless chicken breast
1 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 cans of beans – great northern, navy pea beans, black beans Or any combination
1 can hominy
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can chopped green chilis
1 can Rotel
1 can cream of chicken soup
Chicken broth

Directions
Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker
saute onions and garlic till they are soft
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Top with beans
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In a medium bowl combine taco seasoning, chilis, Rotel, soup and broth. Pour over beans
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Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours
Before serving shred chicken to your liking.
Top with shredded cheese, sour cream and chives or green onions.

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad

I seem to break the cardinal rule of “never make a new dish to serve company” fairly often. I also always confess up front that this is a new dish; I am not sure how it’s going to come out or taste. I think I confess upfront just in case it’s not a hit; kind of a cop out isn’t it! Maybe I will turn over a new leaf and just pretend “Oh I make this all the time” yeah I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.

I do take pride in making a family Sunday dinner. I actually take pride in making family dinner almost every night. When my kids came along no matter how hectic life got, we all sat down for more dinners together than not. I think that might be where the whole family being foodies came from.  I even have as part of my cooking class mission statement “Help bring your family together at the dinner table”

Last Sunday being Mother’s day I made my guys and in-laws a couple of new dishes that were on my list to make at some time during the week; which I never got around to doing, so Sunday dinner I made them both, a little worried that they didn’t necessarily “go together” I was making them both since I had bought all the ingredients and hoping for the best. They were both a hit and actually worked out really well together. I made a Roasted Tomato Panzanella salad and a Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salad.

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Grilled Chicken

Because you are grilling, I suggest bone in skin on; they are more forgiving of not overcooking or drying out; however please use your favorite or what you have on hand

You can also make this on the stove or in your oven if you don’t have a grill

4-6 Chicken Thighs – bone in skin on (you can always remove the skin before you eat it)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

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Grilled Pineapple Salad

Cut pineapple into spears

Grill 2-3 minutes per side or until charred. Remove from grill and cut into bite sized pieces

1-2 heads of radicchio

1 cup julienned carrots

2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbs chopped parsley

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Make the vinaigrette (you can do this ahead of time) whisk together the lemon juice, parsley, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper; add the chopped grilled pineapple, radicchio and carrots to the bowl. Toss and coat all ingredients in the vinaigrette.

Soup Season is here – Chicken Tortilla Soup

I am a huge lover of soup; it surprises me when I hear some people are not. I think of soup/chowder and stew as a warm hug in a bowl. There are endless possibilities you can combine to make a yummy pot of soup, you can add milk and/or cream for chowder, clear broth to make a light soup or combine cream and broth to make your light soup a little creamy like creamy tomato soup. I think I will make that today with the tomatoes from my garden.

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After a long day of Christmas shopping on Friday – Yup I said it; it was only for the “typical” PJ’s, socks etc. (I am going to try and spread out the money pain over a few months) items for the fam. While eating my grilled chicken sandwich I overheard the person sitting next to me ordering Chicken Tortilla Soup – So for the rest of the day all I wanted was a bowl Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Guess what I did when I got home; of course after hiding all the loot! It was a huge hit; my guys and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It comes together pretty quick and tastes great straight away; you know how some things taste better the next day; this one is d’lish now and if you happen to have some leftover for the next day I am sure it tastes just a great; we wouldn’t know!

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2 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 Tbs minced garlic

2-4 Jalapeno’s (depending on how spicy you want it) seeded and finely diced

6 cups chicken broth (homemade if you have it)

1 28 oz. can San Marzano peeled tomatoes–while pouring out the tomatoes squeeze them into the pot to help break them up.

1-2 cans black beans – rinsed and drained

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 limes juiced

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Cilantro leaves

1 flour tortilla grilled and cut into strips or use tortilla chips crumbled

1 avocado, pitted, sliced

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Dollop of sour cream

In a large saucepan heat the oil till warm, add the onions until they softened; about 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos cook for another minute. Add broth, tomatoes and beans and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add the chicken breast. Cook the chicken for about 20-25 minutes. Once chicken is cooked remove from the pot. When cool enough to handle; shred it and set aside. Add lime juice and the cilantro to the pot.  In a bowl add a mound of chicken. Ladle soup over chicken and with tortilla strips, avocado slices, cheese and sour cream. YUP hug in a bowl!!!

Pan Seared Scallops

If you like Scallops and have only ever had them battered and fried; you are missing out on something pretty special and extremely simple to make.  Sea Scallops need very little attention before you can enjoy them.  Make sure to remove the small side muscle from each scallop, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.

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Get out your favorite 12 to 14-inch sauté pan heat to about high to medium high and add a small amount of olive oil, once the oil start to shimmer and just before smoking.  Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper each scallop and place them gently into the pan; careful not to let them touch each other.  Sear the scallops for a 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side.  They should have about a ¼ inch golden brown crust on each side.  Take special care not to overcook them; they will become rubbery.  The center should be translucent. 

Transfer them to a plate and enjoy!  OR I personally enjoy making a simple sauce to serve over them.  A little white wine, some fresh crushed garlic and to finish it off a tablespoon or two of butter and life is good!

While the heat is still on add some white wine, with a wooden spoon scrape up all the yummy leftover bits. Cook down the wine for like 3-5 minutes, turn off the heat and add a pat or two of butter.  Once melted you can add the scallops back to the pan to re-heat a little or just pour the love over them and enjoy.

Searing is a very important part of making a wonderful flavorful caramelization to most meat.  It is all about building the depth of flavors.  Most people want to move, flip and lift whatever it is they are searing.  Please refrain from touching it for 1-2 minutes for scallops, 3-5 minutes for pork and beef – time is relative to your personal stove; only you know how hot it gets, how quickly it heats up.  I sear Steak, Chicken, Pork and fish fairly often and finish it off in the oven.

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Make sure your using a pan that can go into a hot oven, make sure you pre-heat your oven.  Size matters; that is the thickness of the meat you are searing and finishing off in the oven.  Times will vary so if you have an instant meat thermometer; that will help you until you get a feel for how long things will take to your doneness.

In one of my cooking classes we were searing chicken.  I had 2 saute pans and 2 students watching them.  I literally had to set the timer on my stove to help them with the timing.  Another good tip is to wait for the meat to release itself; that is another way to know when you should flip to the other side. If you have to fight to remove what you are searing from the pan, it is not done building flavors.

I work with one of the students from this class.  She came up to me last week and told me she waited for the chicken to release before turning and her whole family loved the crust and additional flavor that it added to her dish.  She mentioned it was pretty painful for her to not flip but I was in her head saying let it be; leave it alone…I love hearing these types of stories.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I had a cooking class last week where we made 3 different chicken dishes.  We made Harvest Roasted Chicken, Skillet Chicken and Chicken Cordon Bleu. I had blogged a few weeks ago about the Chicken Cordon Bleu it was a huge hit as I knew it would be the white wine sauce is just that awesome!!!

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I had 4 attendees at this class; 2 have come to previous classes and there were 2 new students.  I always find it quite comical some of the things I end up sharing with the class.  The cutting of an onion is always something new that we practice, this particular class we set a timer for searing chicken so they would leave it alone and let it brown.  Another tip shared was if you try to flip the meat and it doesn’t release from the pan to leave it alone.  Once it releases than you can turn it over.  One student couldn’t believe how long 5 minutes truly was; everyone wants to flip before its time. I see it ALL the time.  Let it set and get all yummy before flipping!!!

 

 

My daughter arrived from Japan Friday night for a 12 day visit.  SO excited to see her after her being gone for 8 months; we will be having several of her favorite meals while she is home.  She has already had mashed potatoes each of the 3 days of her being home in America.  We literally just finished eating a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy for Sunday dinner.

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Some of the things that she can either not get or it does not taste like it does here in the states, is bacon, steak and burger. We are all SO excited she is here and are looking forward to hearing all her stories.

Skillet Chicken

1 TBS Cajun Seasoning Blend

¼ Tsp Salt

¼ Tsp Pepper

4 Chicken Thighs – Bone in works best for this

2 TBS Olive Oil

4 Cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

8 Small red or new potatoes, about 1 ½ inches in diameter

2 medium onions chopped finely

1 Cup peeled and cut carrots

2 ribs Celery, halved lengthwise and chopped diagonally into ½ inch pieces

½ Red bell Pepper, cut into large dice

2 Tablespoons AP flour

1 Cup chicken broth

½ Cup Wine

2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.  Rub mixture on all sides of chicken

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add chicken (skin side down) cook until chicken is browned, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate, set aside.

Add potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bell pepper to skillet.  Cook and stir 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir to coat.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and wine.  Scraping up browned bits from the bottom of skillet bring to a boil, stirring often.

Reduce heat to medium-low.  Place chicken back into skillet.  Cover and cook about 30 minutes, or until chicken is done and juices run clear. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered about 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner – Class Thur 3/20 6pm

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! 
Looking for a night out? Maybe a recipe or two to add to your list of go to meals. All are easy enough to make during the week but flavorful and impressive enough to show off. 

We will make 3 totally different chicken dinners
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Harvest Chicken
Skillet Chicken

Let me know if you are interested in coming Thursday the 20th at 6pm. 
Cost is $45pp and the first class includes a personalized binder for you to keep.

Golf weekend, leaf peeping and a quick yummy dinner!

Left town on Friday around 1pm and headed North for a weekend of golfing & laughs with another couple.  Not even thinking that North in New England this time of year generally means the leaf peepers are out and about; though the colors are not at their peak just yet.  The turning of the trees is one of many magical moments in New England; if you have never been here in the fall; you have never really been here.  The mountains and the trees are just amazing; we were in the lower White Mountains for the weekend.  I have lived here my whole life and I am still in awe when the trees show their colors. Going from green to bright yellow, or red, or orange; really any color in between. When the sun hits them just right ahhhhhhhhh beautiful!!!!! There are very few people that don’t stop and take it all in.

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We were able to get in 16 holes before the early setting sun made it impossible to find where our balls were landing. Actually kind of funny; my husband landed on the green in two and never saw either hit land.  They were great hits, we think!  I lost one of my pink balls, which come to think of it was kind of a pain to locate if I hit into the dropped leaves.  It didn’t stop me from using them all weekend though.  I only truly lost one that was on the 16th hole in the dark; we heard it go through the leaves but could never located it; I even tried looking again when we played the course the next day in the daylight – no luck. I did have a trick up my sleeve for dusk play. A few years back I was lucky enough to stay late with some friends after the womens league I play in. Someone brought out some light up balls – they are SO cool! We kept playing the 18th hole over and over again – Had a blast!  I ordered some of them shortly after; I finally got to use them on Friday night to finish out the 16th hole.  Very Cool!!!

I won’t bore you anymore since this is a foodies blog but I must tell you about my best shot of the weekend.  on the 4th hole at Owls Nest course Friday (in the daylight) after taking my ball out of the water I barely rolled into, I chipped a 50 footer into the hole for par; even though I had to take a drop – I think I peaked too early! Just saying – nothing as exciting after that!

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We got another 18 on Sunday before the rain started; it actually started when we were on the last hole; but we had to finish – too close not too.  Arriving home late in the afternoon on Sunday being very chilled chilled even after our 2 hour drive home; it was 59′ out cold raw and damp.  I wanted something warm yummy and quick!  I had some beets that I had picked from my garden before we left; and even though my husband planted enough potatoes for an army; he hasn’t picked them yet; We always have potatoes in the house, so I picked some thyme from the garden and made roasted thyme potatoes, sliced up the beets and boiled them and Cider Honey Glazed Chicken thighs.  Sorry the picture isn’t very good quality; I took it with my phone, pretty tired but I wanted to share this because it was delicious!!!

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1TBS olive oil – Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1 cup apple cider
2 TBS honey
1 1/2 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Oven rack should be set at 6″ from the broiler, heat oven to 450′. Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with foil

rub the chicken with the oil and the salt and pepper, place thighs skin side up, place in the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes; they will be lightly browned and done through – you can double check with a meat thermometer (not near the bone) it should read 165′ F.

While cooking place the cider and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer vigorously until the mixture has reduced by half.  remove from heat and wisk in the butter.

Turn to broiler; brush the chicken with the cider glaze and broil for a minute or two, brush with more glaze, broil again until deep golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove chicken brush with more of the glaze and serve.

Both pictures look great on my phone; they do not transfer well – I will use my camera from now on!!!