crockpot

Teen-Pleasing Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings #sevendaysofsoup

Holy crap. It’s COLD in my neck of the woods!! So cold, that my teens requested canned Chicken & Dumplings for dinner the other night. They agreed on a dinner. Just so you know, that’s a very big deal. I complied because 1) when your teens agree on a dinner you must comply and 2) chicken & dumplings are freaking delicious.

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

 

But deep down, I didn’t feel good about feeding them C&D from a can. Not because I’m any kind of anti-canned-food fanatic, obvs. But because I felt like C&D would probably be a relatively easy thing to make if I had a jumping off point.

As I guiltily stirred the canned goodness, I text my Bestie, a bonafide Southern gal, betting it was something she would know how to make. After all, she taught this Yankee how to make real Sweet Tea. Of course she did. She then text me a recipe, apologizing for it’s housewifey-ness but promised it would be delicious. I’ve made it twice in less than a month. In my crockpot. Who am I??

Bone-Warming, Teen-Pleasing, Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

For me, this recipe makes one dinner & one lunch for me & 2 teens. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 good-sized boneless, skinless frozen chicken breasts (or the equivalent amount in tenderloins)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 qt chicken broth or stock (I used my own homemade stock)
  • medium white onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (optional)
  • 2 carrots, diced (optional)
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 can of 8 Grands flaky biscuits (traditional or buttermilk)
  • Kosher salt & black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken in the crock pot.
  2. Cut up the butter and put on top of the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle diced onions & veggies over top of chicken & butter.
  4. Add the soups & broth/stock. It’s going to look very moist right now. Don’t fret, the gravy will form. Stir them in a little, but don’t worry if there are still chunks of soup. As it cooks they will blend together.
  5. Sprinkle your parsley over the top and give it a stir.
  6. Cook on low/slow cook setting 4-6 hours until chicken is no longer pink.
  7. Pull out the chicken & shred it up. I was able to use 4 forks to do the job. Throw the shredded chicken back into the crockpot.
  8. Open your can of biscuits. Cut each biscuit into eighths. The first time I made this recipe & bought 2 cans of biscuits because in biscuit-form there’s no way 1 can would cut it for my kids. But once I cut up 1 can I realized that was a lot of dumplings & 1 can would suffice.
  9. Drop the dough into the crock pot and mix it in so it’s coated in the gravy. Cook 30-40 mins for doughy dumplings, an hour for firmer ones.
  10. Stir before serving. Season to taste with salt & pepper, if desired. I found that the salt level was fine & I didn’t need any more.


Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog

It’s that magical time of year, so here’s pumpkins, apples, and all things fall!

Originally posted October 2014.

Yesterday I went apple picking and picked out some pumpkins. Yes, I was THAT GIRL, walking around the orchard in a scarf and a chambray shirt, picking apples. Today I have more apples than you can shake a stick at. Hence, today’s Gratuitous Fall Cooking Blog: apples, pumpkins, and warm spices. Put on your riding boots and let’s embrace autumn!

Slow-Roasted Pork Loin with Apples, Carrots, and Onions

Ingredients:
4-5 apples, skins on, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Pork Loin, about 3 lbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
Wine, enough to cover

1) In a crockpot or slow-cooker spread a layer of apples, onions, and carrots.

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The apples we picked were golden delicious and another one that was “like a Jonathan”. I used a little of both, and threw in a couple of carrots since I had them laying around.

2) Lay the pork loin over the apples, onions, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper.

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My 3-pound pork loin actually ended up being 2 smaller ones packed together. I’m cool with that, leftover pork loin makes awesome sandwiches and can even be chopped and used as an omlette filling!

3) Pour wine over everything until mostly covered. I used Briolette Apple wine (shout out to my new gig) but you could use a Riesling or even beer in it’s place.

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The wine pictured is Briolette Cut, a seasonal Apple wine from my new gig at Weston Wine Company!

4) Slow cook at 200F 8-10 hours or until tender, serve over noodles, or with roasted potatoes.

Roasted Pumpkin Purée
Make your own puréed pumpkin and never buy canned again! The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
2 pumpkins, I used one regular pie pumpkin and one Amish pie pumpkin

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On the left is the regular pie pumpkin, on the right is the Amish. Pie pumpkins are in general better for making pies because there is way more flesh inside. I decided to try both to see what the difference was.1) Preheat oven to 350F

2) Cut the pumpkins into quarters and remove the stems. The stem on the Amish pumpkin popped off much more easily than the stem on the regular pumpkin.

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Here’s the inside of the Amish pumpkin. The seeds are quite a bit smaller than a traditional pie pumpkin. No extra charge for dramatic lighting. 🙂

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o' lantern out of this baby.

The inside of the traditional pie pumpkin. See how thick the flesh is? Imagine trying to make a jack o’ lantern out of this baby.

3) Scoop out the seeds and gooey stuff and set aside. Toasted pumpkin seeds are yummy!

4) Place skin-side-down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 45 mins.
5) Remove from oven and allow pumpkins to cool at least 10 mins until able to handle easily.

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

Freshly-roasted pumpkin!

6) When cooled, remove flesh from skins and place in blender. Blend flesh until smooth. I added about 1/4 C of water to help it blend more smoothly.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

Pumpkin in my blender getting puréed.

7) Allow to cool at least 30 mins. Maybe be frozen or used immediately in place of canned pumpkin, such as in pumpkin pie. This recipe made enough pumpkin purée for 2 9-inch deep-dish pies. The equivalent of about 2 cans.

Food Trends: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You go to the supermarket- it’s there. The other moms at the playground won’t shut up about it. Your still-hip high school friend is Facebooking about it. Just where did this food come from and why is everyone obsessing over it? Welcome to food trends. Fear not, soon you will be able to find this item at your local McDonald’s and that is how you will know it is almost over. Some food trends will get you excited, some will make you scratch your head, and if you’re like me some will make you FURIOUS.

TEN FOOD TRENDS YOU WILL LOVE OR LOVE TO HATE:

  1. Kale: My God. Kale is everywhere. Sautéed kale, kale in salads, kale chips. Here’s what: I don’t think that kale is any better for you than arugula, endive, spinach, or any other greens out there. And, it tastes terrible. Kale chips are not real chips. C’mon people.                                                                                                                            Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.51.46 AM
  2. In-house charcuterie: I am super-excited about this one. This trend came about with the morphing of 2 trends: head-to-tail eating (in other words you purchase an entire animal and eat ALL of it’s bits and pieces) and the pork-everywhere trend. Both of which are trends I am fully on board with. I think this may also be, at least partially, a backlash from the vegan food overload we’ve been seeing in the last few years. Charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school and homemade pâtés and terrines are very nearly a lost art. LOVE.                                                                          charcuterie
  3. Pretentious food: It’s so very avant-garde (eyeroll)! What? You’re not a fan of deconstructed burritos? There’s a tiny stack of tortilla strips over there, and a small smudge of refried beans here, and some artfully arranged beef in the corner and a smattering of shredded cheese sprinkled over the whole thing. Under the heading of pretentious food is deconstructed anything, anything prepared in a sous-vide (AKA French boiling bags), and anything that Gwyneth Paltrow puts on GOOP.gallery_main-gwyneth-paltrow-meme-01
  4. Canning/brining/pickling: This is uber-trendy at the moment and I’m all over it. I learned to brine my Thanksgiving turkey a few years ago from Aunt Martha– to which my Southern Belle Bestie replied “How else do you make a turkey?” I got a canner at Christmas and I’ve been happily canning soups and tomato sauce ever since. I’ve even made some jams out of wine! So trendy! And let’s talk about pickling and brining. I will literally eat ANYTHING that is pickled or brined– except those weird pale tomatoes at the kosher deli. They’re just creepy.                                          portlanda-pickles
  5. Asian cuisine: It’s not just about Chinese takeout anymore. A few years ago the trend was Pad Thai, then Vietnamese Pho, and now suddenly it’s any and all things Korean. Bulgogi and Kimchi are not words that were in the average American’s food vocabulary 2 years ago and now Korean BBQ places are popping up all over and dishes like Korean Short Ribs are showing up on fine dining menus. A coincidental combination of #4 and #5: you can buy a kimchi pot from Williams-Sonoma! Make your own kimchi at home, and then can it!!                                                                    kimchi-1
  6. Cupcakes and macarons: When I was growing up, cupcakes were what your mom brought to school when it was your birthday and a macaroon was something that was made by Manischewitz and came in a canister. Today, high-end cupcake shops are all the rage and feature humungous cupcakes in interesting flavors. Food Network is running a competition show called Cupcake Wars You can even pair your cupcakes with wine! The macaron (not macaroons) that you’re seeing are are delicate, adorable, fussy, tiny French cakes (although historically they are Italian in origin) made from meringue, sugar, and almond flour (no coconut as present in the macaroons). A sweet trend!

    cupcakes

    These are actual cupcakes made by moi to be paired with wines. From the top: dolce de leche, red velvet, lemon drop.

  7. “Weird Dairy” and non-dairy Dairy: Wow. The dairy section in your local supermarket has grown! The yogurt you didn’t want to eat as a kid now comes in flavors like passionfruit, watermelon, and key lime. You can get an extra protein boost from Greek yogurt (best with a drizzle of honey) or the truly brave can try the weirder dairy products like Kefir. Kefir is a yogurty drink, originally from Russia (remember those Russians that ate yogurt and lived forever?) that contains both bacteria (of the probiotic variety) and yeast. If your local grocery is really trendy you will be able to find quark, a weird dairy product made from coagulated sour milk. It is used in many German baked goods and often as a breakfast spread. The other side of the weird dairy coin caters do non-dairy eating folks like vegans and the lactose-intolerant. There are no shortage of dairy alternatives for you. Gone are the days where the only non-dairy dairy you could get was soy. Today you can get almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew milk and even hemp milk!                                        milk
  8. Farm to Table: Farm to Table is huge here in the Midwest and it seems to be a trend that was MADE for America’s heartland. This trend includes things like eating local, eating seasonally, and knowing where your food comes from. The trend has even spawned a new foodie term: “locavore”- one who eats locally. Restaurants are getting away from using the big food suppliers and forming relationships with local farmers, some are even cultivating gardens and raising fish in-house!folk and roots fest 08
  9. “Ancient Grains”: Ancient Grains include grains such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, barley, and rye. Five years ago I probably couldn’t have told you what half of those are (the only Buckwheat I knew was on The Little Rascals) much less how to pronounce quinoa (it’s KEEN-wa by the way). Quinoa is super-trendy right now as a substitute for rice or pasta. I think that this trend began as an offshoot to gluten-free diets. But be wary, some of these grains (barley, rye, and spelt) DO contain gluten!                                                                                                              ancient grains
  10. Slow cookers/Crockpots/Pressure Cookers: These used to be your grandma’s bag. The roast would go into the crockpot so she could get household chores done. Today, families are BUSY. Mom and dad work all day, there are sports and rehearsals for the kids after school but most people would like to keep fast-food eating to a minimum. Enter the crockpot/slow cooker. Set it up in the morning and come home to a hot meal ready for the family! The traditional pot roast and chili are there, but also some fun outside-the-box stuff. How about breakfast in your crockpot for Christmas morning? Or a chocolate cake? Bread? Pumpkin Spice Latte? I got my crockpot as a wedding present, and for years I only used it for heating up Glühwein, but in recent years I’ve used it tons more. This is a great trend for families, homemade meals, eaten at home, possibly together? Definitely a good thing.                                                                                                         Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.13.44 AM