Tag Archives: food

Crock Pot Mexican Chicken

Tonight I have another recipe for you from The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart. I made it the night after I made her Pumpkin Gnocchi Soup (yes, the very first time!)and this dish was delicious as well. It was also my second time using my new crock pot. I’ve found a lot of crock pot recipes that sound good, but they call for several steps or adding things at specific times. Is it just me, or isn’t the whole point of using a crock pot being able to throw everything in it and not have to bother with it for 6-8 hours? So I was happy when I found Ruthie’s simple, two step, and yummy sounding crock pot recipe for Crock Pot Mexican Chicken . I don’t have as many pictures, since the prep was done in a rush before I ran out the door this morning, but as Brittany likes to say, I got the money shot 🙂

You’ll Need

4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts*

1 16 oz jar salsa of your choice

1 can corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 block of cream cheese

* I learned from my first experience with the Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken that 2 lbs of chicken breasts makes way more shredded chicken than I could possibly eat. So for this recipe, I only used 3 chicken breasts and it didn’t affect the other ingredients as far as I could tell

1. Put all of the ingredients except the cream cheese in the crock pot and mix well. Cook on low for 6 hours (mine cooked for longer than 6 hours because I had to start it before I left for class and I wasn’t ready for dinner at 5:30. It was just fine though)

2. The recipe says to stir occasionally. But as I said, I was gone all day and it was fine unattended. Shred the chicken either as it cooks or before serving.

3. 30 minutes before serving, add the cream cheese and stir very well.

4. serve in tortillas, over chips, or on its own and enjoy!

XO,
V

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Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

Sorry I forgot to post yesterday. I fell asleep on my couch around 10 and didn’t wake up until 1 a.m. Oops! Gotta love it when your body decides it needs sleep, whether you’re going to give in or not. Anyway, here’s what I was planning to post yesterday.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had baked potato soup, in fact I’ve never been a huge fan of baked potatoes. But for some reason, when I stumbled across this recipe for a healthier version of baked potato soup, I suddenly wanted to try it. The only problem was, it called for an immersion blender which I don’t have. I probably could have called Brittany and asked her to use her Macgyver-like skills in the kitchen to help me figure out a way around using an immersion blender. But truth be told, it just seemed like too many steps and I didn’t want to try it that badly. so I forgot all about it.

fast forward several months. One day recently while on facebook, I saw a link to a post by Ruthie from The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart. she had posted a recipe she’d found on Pinterest for crock pot baked potato soup *cue angelic music* Let’s just say that lately, “crock pot” has become the magic word for me. I just love forgetting that my dinner for that night is already cooking until I walk in the door and smell it cooking. And this recipe is not only delicious, it’s literally only two steps (if you chop the onions ahead of time or buy them pre chopped). You have to try this recipe asap! (I followed it exactly)

Ingredients 

1 30oz bag of frozen, shredded hash browns
3 14oz cans of chicken broth (or a whole 32 oz carton of chicken broth plus 10 oz. of another carton)
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 package cream cheese (FYI: unfortunately, fat-free won’t melt fully and store brands also seem to have this problem)
*shredded cheese, green onions, bacon, sour cream, etc for garnish
Directions
1. Place all the ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (I’m not exactly sure how long mine cooked, but this recipe can definitely cook for longer if necessary). The shape of the frozen hash browns didn’t quite fit in the crock pot at first, but pouring the chicken broth over them quickly melted them enough that I could break them up
2. About an hour before serving, add the cream cheese. Stirring regularly will help it melt faster. Then top with desired garnishes, serve and enjoy!
The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe, is that leftovers were much thicker the next day. it was more like eating a bowl of mashed potatoes than a bowl of soup. But all in all, this is a great recipe that I’ll definitely be making again!

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Hot Apple Crumble Bars

Hello again! I hope everyone is getting back to a normal schedule and normal eating habits! I’m still on break from school, I can’t believe this is my last Christmas break ever (more on that later)! And I requested some time off work, so I’ve just been hanging out with my family. I’ve seen Sherlock Holmes and We Bought a Zoo, which is the most I’ve been in a movie theater in a long time. Tomorrow my brother’s girlfriend (whom I adore) is arriving to spend New Years with Us! She only visits when my brother comes home, and he’s so busy that he doesn’t get home often. So I’m excited to see her! But anyway, on to today’s post. Since it’s still technically the holidays, I thought I’d publish my first baking post (the one minute chocolate cake doesn’t count!).

The great thing about cooking is that you can experiment. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out so well, but other times it’s a huge success. Baking is different though, it’s far more precise. and sometimes something as simple as over stirring the ingredients can change the outcome. That’s partly why baking is an area of cooking that I haven’t ventured very far into yet. Furthermore, baking is “extra.” The results of baking usually can’t be eaten for main meals and they’re also usually very tempting and unfortunately high in calories.

Nevertheless, I’ve gotten interested in trying more baking. Maybe it has something to do with the impending holidays (I wrote this entry quite awhile back!). Baking just seems to go hand in hand with cold weather and the spirit of the holidays. So far I’ve only made one attempt at baking beyond brownies from a box and they turned out really well

I may share the recipe for these pumpkin spice cookies eventually, but for now it’s going to be my little secret. Every good cook has to have some secrets 😉 I definitely want to expand my repertoire of baked goods beyond this one recipe though. Enter hot apple crumble bars

A few weekends ago I was at my parents’ house having lunch and getting my dad’s help on my thesis. My mom had purchased a bunch of apples from a nearby orchard, so she gave me four to take home. Coincidentially, when I checked my e-mail later that day, there was an e-mail letting me know that Chocolate Covered Katie had posted a new recipe for hot apple crumble bars. Lightbulb moment! I could slice up the apples my mom gave me and eat them with peanut butter or on a bagel thin with melted provolone cheese and cinnamon, or I could try out this delicious looking recipe. I bet you can guess what I did!

Katie is vegan and also tries to make healthier desserts. But she made this particular recipe for people used to “regular” desserts, so it’s a little higher in sugar. Here is the original recipe if you’d like to know how to make it with less sugar and fat. I decided to go with the original amount of sugar and substituted dairy milk and butter for vegan versions, so I’ll write out the recipe here as I made it.

Hot Apple Crumble Bars

*Since the apples have to be peeled, this recipe is a little time intensive. But as far as difficulty goes, it definitely isn’t too hard for a beginner      

You’ll Need

1.5 cups flour (any kind is fine)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbs cold butter (I realized tonight that I don’t have a 1/4 cup measure. I don’t know if that’s unusual, but in case you’re in the same boat, 7 Tbs is the equivalent)
2 Tbs milk
2 cups peeled, chopped apple (approximately two small apples)
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbs maple syrup (or agave)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. In a bowl, mix together the first 8 ingredients. I started with a mixer, but because there’s almost no liquid in here, even the lowest setting on my mixture threw up quite a bit of flour. So once the mixer had sufficiently broken up the butter to create little crumbs, I mixed in any remaining flour with a spoon

3. Scoop approximately 2/3 of the dough into a greased 4×7″ dish and press down firmly (I used a bigger dish, and while they turned out just fine, they were much thinner than the picture of Katie’s bars)
4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until the apples are well coated and the baking powder has dissolved. spread the apple mixture evenly over the crust you created (there will be some extra liquid from the vanilla extract and syrup, I just tried to make sure this was evenly distributed over the crust as well)

5. Use the rest of the dough to cover the apples and press down gently. Bake for 45 minutes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Store tightly covered if you want softer bars or uncovered if you want them crispier. Enjoy!

Something about warm apples and cinnamon just seems to embody all the wonderful tastes, smells, and feel-good emotions of Fall. And oh my God do these smell amazing when they’re baking!

(Photo belongs to Katie. Mine are so thin they’re not very photogenic)

Enjoy!

XO,
V

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Crock Pot Virgin

Sorry I forgot to post yesterday! I’m at my parents’ house for the holidays so I’m totally out of my routine. here’s a post I wrote while the blog was on hiatus. Since Brittany recently posted a new crock pot recipe, I thought now was a good time to publish this post.

When I moved into my first apartment two years ago, I bought all the basics: one sauce pan, one skillet, a $5 collander from Walmart, one paring knife, silverware service for four, etc., etc. Over time I’ve slowly collected all the “extras” like: a hand mixer, a blender, prep bowls, more pots and pans, better knives, etc. Some were hand me downs from my mom, some were gifts, and some I bought myself. Unfortunately, the more new things I learn to cook, the more gadgets I find myself wanting. Funny how that works. Well, a few days ago I bought something I’ve been thinking about getting for awhile now and should’ve bought a long time ago!

Well hello, where have you been all my life?!

Walmart was selling this 5 quart Hamilton Beach  Crock pot for a ridiculously good price (and Hamilton beach products are already quite inexpensive for their quality). I passed the display twice over a period of a week, and finally I decided to just buy one and give it a try before they all disappeared. The best thing about this crock pot (besides the fact that it’s red (!) and cooks for you while you’re not home) is that the stoneware crock  and the lid are dishwasher safe. I don’t know about you, but in my book, being dishwasher safe is one of the best qualities a kitchen tool can have. What can I say, I love cooking but I hate the clean up. I used my new crock pot for the first time tonight and it was a success! Such a success that I texted Brittany saying “Why did I wait this long to buy a crock pot?!”

For whatever reason, I’ve been craving BBQ pulled chicken like crazy, so that was the first recipe I decided to try. When I typed that into the Google search bar, this  intriguing recipe for Hawaiian BBQ pulled chicken was one of the results. Of all the recipes I found, this one was my favorite. And I wanted to go by a recipe my first time using the crock pot. So Hawaiian BBQ chicken it was! If, like me, you’ve never used a crock pot before you will be shocked at how easy crock pot recipes are. They put my other easy recipes to shame! Anyway, I followed the original recipe pretty closely, but I’m going to write it out here because I have some notes for you all.

What You Need

Boneless skinless chicken breasts*

1 can pineapple, drained*

Onion to taste, chopped or cut into chunks

BBQ sauce of your choice*

Hamburger buns (optional)

*The recipe called for 2 pounds of chicken which I went ahead and got for the first try. But this made TONS of chicken. And after making it, exact measurements don’t seem very important)

*According to the recipe, the pineapple juice can be added if you like sweeter BBQ. But I found that it was actually quite sweet even without the added juice. Just FYI.

*The recipe calls for an entire bottle of BBQ sauce and says that you can never have too much BBQ sauce. However, my chicken was quite saucy. And despite toasting the hamburger bun, it got soggy faster than I would have liked. I conferred with the cooking Goddess (aka my mom) who said that cutting back on the sauce might help this. After all, you can always add some BBQ sauce after you serve it if you want more

Now for the ridiculously easy directions:

1. place chicken in the bottom of the crock pot then cover with onion and pineapple

2. Pour BBQ sauce over the chicken, onion, and pineapple

3. Cover crock pot and cook on low. The recipe says to cook it on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. I cooked it on low but took it out after 7 hours and it was already fully cooked and falling apart

4. Remove chicken approximately 2 hours before it’s done cooking and shred with a fork (you can actually shred it pretty easily without removing it from the crock)

5. Return shredded chicken to crock pot and stir it back into the sauce. Continue cooking for remaining 2 hours, or until you can’t wait any longer

6. Serve chicken on its own or on a hamburger bun. I added cheese because…Well who doesn’t like cheese?!

This was really good! I scarfed down an entire sandwich plus the steamed veggies I made before eating a second serving of chicken without a bun.

I originally assumed the pineapple and onion were just for flavoring. But I realized as I was trying to serve the chicken that it’s pretty hard not to getting any pineapple chunks or onion mixed in. I ended up really liking it that way. But if chunks of fruit in your BBQ don’t sound like your thing, I recommend buying fresh pineapple and using large slices instead of chunks. The same goes for the onion, cut big chunks if you just want them for the flavor.  I hope you enjoy this! The absolute best parts were coming home to an apartment that smelled like BBQ, and having dinner basically ready to serve whenever I was ready for it!

XO,
V

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Lazy Pizza

Sometimes an experiment in the kitchen just works! Although this ingredient combo isn’t particularly daring, I had no idea how it was going to turn out. And as someone who’s still finding her way around the kitchen, I’m always unsure of what to expect when I’m not following a recipe at all. Needless to say, I was extremely excited when this “recipe” turned out even better than I’d hoped.  On top of being delicious, it’s also super easy (I’m talking less than 15  minutes prep and cook time!), fairly inexpensive, and versatile to boot. I was inspired by a delicious pesto flatbread pizza I found at Trader Joe’s when I was in DC this summer. I decided to try to recreate it at home, especially since I was pretty sure I could make it incredibly simple and fast.

I bought a Boboli whole wheat pizza crust. I’d never used a premade pizza crust, I usually use my mom’s trick of buying frozen white bread dough, letting it defrost, then rolling it out into a pizza crust. But that takes some work and advance planning. Julie over at PB Fingers blogged about Boboli pizza crusts after trying one for the first time, so I gave it a shot. I spread Bertoli pesto (note: pre made pesto is cheaper and more convenient, but it does contain a lot of preservatives)  over the crust, then topped it with diced tomatoes (I bought them pre diced at the grocery store because I really suck at chopping tomatoes and it saves time), spinach, and precooked chicken breast strips

Then I topped everything with lots of mozzarella cheese, baked it at 450 degrees for a mere 10 minutes, and I had a delicious pizza that was cheaper than ordering a pizza and much yummier than a frozen pizza.

I’m already thinking of all kinds of other toppings combinations like BBQ (BBQ sauce, chicken, and cheddar cheese), BLT (spinach, tomatoes, chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese), or traditional marinara sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese. I will definitely be making this again. I had quite a bit of homework tonight and neither the prep or clean up took up too much of my time. score!

Question of the night: What ingredient combination would you use to make lazy pizza?

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The Easiest Chocolate Cake You’ll Ever Make

Ever since I started following blogs, especially cooking blogs, I’ve discovered some incredibly creative bloggers with amazing recipes that I never in a million years would have come up with on my own. That’s what I love about the blogging community. And this post contains the easiest, yummiest, most creative recipe I have yet to come across. This little beauty comes from Katie at Chocolate Covered Katie.

Have you ever found yourself hit by an intense craving for chocolate at 10 o’clock at night (or at least after you’ve already changed into your comfy clothes and nothing short of a fire is going to make you leave your house)? But alas, you don’t have ice cream, cookies, or candy of any kind in your kitchen. Yep, been there, done that. And until now, you just had to ignore it. But not anymore! I present to you One Minute chocolate Cake! This recipe can be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and/or fat free if you so choose. See the original recipe if you want it to be made one of the above ways. I already had all 9 of these ingredients on hand, even though I don’t bake very often. So chances are good you do as well!

You’ll Need

1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp cocoa powder

3 tablespoons flour

1/8 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. in a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix very well

2. Add the wet ingredients and stir

Now here’s the beauty of this recipe…

3. Transfer the batter to a small microwaveable dish (even a coffee mug will work). If you don’t want to eat it out of this container, grease the dish first.

4. Microwave the cake for 30-40 seconds. Seriously, that’s it! The cake is delicious, hot, and moist. it’s almost like a really easy imitation souffle.

The first time I made this recipe, I followed the recipe exactly. The second time I made it, two things happened:

1. I decided to try substituting 1 Tbs of agave syrup for the regular sugar because it’s a low glycemic index food (meaning your body absorbs it slowly, minimizing blood sugar spikes) and because it’s sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less of it. It worked!

2. I was going too fast and forgot to mix the dry ingredients together before adding the wet ones. I figured I’d see what happened instead of wasting the ingredients and starting over. Luckily, it turned out exactly the same as last time. So there’s one less step you have to follow!

3. Also, adding chocolate chips makes this kind of like a molten chocolate cake

Enjoy!

XO,
V

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Pumpkin Gnocchi Soup

It’s good to be back! It’s been a crazy few months, and it’s still going to be crazy for two more weeks. But thankfully, our little hiatus allowed me to write when I had the time and now I have a bunch of posts I can’t wait to share with you. I had a little trouble deciding which post to use today! But I finally settled on this one because I’ve made it twice more since the first time, it’s that good. Also, it has pumpkin in it and we are kind of getting out of pumpkin season. To be honest though, I’ll probably keep making it as long as it’s cold.

When I found this recipe I was feeling completely uninspired in the kitchen. And it wasn’t just that I didn’t feel like cooking, nothing sounded appealing to me. Not even super simple dishes like spaghetti or Cream of Mushroom Chicken & Rice. But I have to eat, and ordering out gets expensive fast. So…I went in search of inspiration. And I found it thanks to a blogger who I actually know in person. Ruthie over at The Chronicles of Ruthie Hart started her blog either right before or right after she got married last February, I can’t remember for sure. When my family lived in Texas, my parents and her parents were really good friends so our families spent a lot of time together. I decided to check out her recipe page and see if anything struck my fancy. When I saw Pumpkin Gnocchi Soup, I was immediately intrigued. I also already had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a shot. She says she created this recipe as she went along, which is seriously impressive because it’s so good! I made a few changes, but for the most part, I followed her incredibly simple recipe. It was chilly and rained on and off all day the day I made this recipe, making soup sound especially enticing. And pumpkin + soup just screams “Fall” to me.

You’ll Need

1 Tbs olive oil

1 15 oz can pumpkin

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream (the original recipe calls for two cups milk, but I wanted a creamy bisque-like soup so I added cream)

1 16 oz package gnocchi  (I used whole wheat)

3 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 tsp chili powder

2 tsp garlic powder

Directions

1. Put the olive oil in the bottom of a large pot, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir well

2. Bring to a boil and boil until gnocchi is soft, about 2-3 minutes (be sure not to overcook the gnocchi). Then serve and enjoy. How easy is that?!

A word of caution: My pot wasn’t even half full and this soup still sprayed everywhere once it really got boiling. So wear an apron and stir almost constantly! The only thing I would change is maybe adding a little salt next time, since I used garlic powder instead of garlic salt. But I really like the flavors of this soup and I’ll definitely be making it again!

*update*

As I said, I’ve made this several more times since the first time. So here are a few notes for you

  • The second and third times I made this, I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand, so I just used milk like the original recipe called for. I didn’t notice any difference, so I think I’ll stick with just milk from now on and save some calories
  • The last time I made this, I also decided to add some cooked shredded chicken to make the soup a little more filing. I really liked it this way!

Stay tuned for more!

XO,
V

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