Crock Pot Chicken and Beer

Yep, you read that right. I cooked some chicken in beer today. And my house smelled so very delicious. 

I started with 6 bone-in chicken thighs. I doctored them up with salt and pepper, oregano, and thyme. Go with whatever spices work for you. 

Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in a frying pan (again, I use ceramic) over med-high heat until it’s rippling. Add about 1/2-1 tsp minced garlic (to taste), and stir for 1 minute. Add all 6 pieces of chicken. Sear each side for 5 minutes, and then transfer chicken to your crock pot. 

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Next dump a bottle of beer over the chicken. I chose a local brew made right here in Stratford, CT. It’s Two Roads Worker’s Comp Saison. It really brought out the savoriness of the chicken and herbs I used.

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Set the crock pot on low and cook for 6 hours. Add some thawed carrots (I had a bag of frozen baby carrots in the freezer that I ran water over to thaw) about 30 minutes before the 6 hours are up.

Holy God was this good. And easy. I’m going to make this like every week. I paired it with Jasmine rice (a staple in our house), and it was scrumptious. 

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Soy and Apple Cider Honey Mustard Pork Loin

I scored a 6 lb pork loin for under $6 right before Christmas. Our local grocery store runs the sale a couple of times a year, and there was no way I was passing it up. When I got home, I sliced it up into 6-1lb portions, froze 5 of them, and cooked the 6th for dinner that night.

Last week, I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest, so I took a pork loin out of the freezer, mixed up the marinade in a ziploc bag, added the frozen loin, and let it defrost and soak up the flavors over the next two days. My marinade was as follows:

 

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (Kikkoman)

2 tbsp apple cider honey mustard (got it at a farmer’s market in Mass. Shaker Kitchen is the name of the husband and wife team who makes it, highly recommended. You can order any of their delicious products at shakerkitchen.com)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 teaspoon minced garlic

fresh cracked pepper to taste

 

Once you’re ready to prepare the pork loin, preheat the oven to 400*F. Add 1 tbsp EVOO to a frying pan (I love my ceramic stuff) over medium heat. Once you see it start to ripple, add the pork loin (make sure to shake off the excess marinade first). Sear for 5 minutes, then turn and sear another 5 minutes on the other side. Turn off heat when done.

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Once that’s complete, transfer the pork loin to a baking sheet lined with foil and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.

While that’s baking, prepare to make your reduction sauce (my first reduction sauce ever!). Add 1 tbsp butter to the still hot pan. Do not turn the heat back on yet. Let it melt. Then add about a 1/4 cup of the marinade and about a 1/2 cup of water (the original recipe calls for 1 cup veggie stock, but water works just fine). I’ve looked it up and yes, you can reuse marinade that was on raw meat provided you boil it for at least 15 minutes. Otherwise, you can just prepare a new one. It’s up to you. Turn the heat to med/med-high, and get the mixture bubbling. Stir it occasionally, getting all the delicious little bits off the bottom of the pan. I reduced for about 22 minutes before I deemed it thick and safe enough to eat.

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By the time the sauce is done, the loin is ready to come out of the oven. Take it out, but let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Then slice the meat thinly and serve.

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I paired it with some Jasmine rice and broccoli covered with hummus (another pinterest find. It was only meh. Kind of bland. Maybe it needed more salt or heat or something. I’ll have to keep experimenting). The meal was fantastic. I got rave reviews from the Mr. I’ll definitely be making it again.

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Crockpot Venison Chili

I think I originally found this recipe on the weight watchers site a few years ago. It’s a simple turkey chili recipe that’s cooked on the stove top. I found that it’s very versatile, in that you can use ground turkey, ground beef, and… ground venison. AND I’ve recently discovered it’s even easier to make in a crockpot. 

Ingredients:

1-2 tsp minced garlic (fresh or jarred)

1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped

1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes (Tuttorosso in the green can is my personal choice)

2-3 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

a sprinkle of ground red pepper (we only like a little heat, but have at it if you like more)

salt and pepper

1 lb ground venison

1-15oz can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Set crockpot to low. Add garlic, onion, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, ground red pepper, and salt and pepper. Stir until all spices are incorporated. Add ground venison (this can be added completely frozen or thawed). Make sure the venison is covered with the sauce. Set the timer for 2.5 hours, and let the crockpot do it’s thing. After 2.5 hours, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the venison; it should crumble easily. Next, add the kidney beans, stir, and set the timer for 1 more hour. Once the hour is up, stir again and spoon into serving bowls. We usually have our chili with some kind of bread product (tonight, Harry had biscuits and I had rye), spooning a little chili directly onto the bread and taking a bite.

Note: this chili tastes even better the next day. Just pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and enjoy! 

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Brownie Hearts and Brownie Bites

I pinned this recipe on Pinterest months ago (courtesy of Kate), mostly for the cute idea of cutting out the hearts and then making little truffle balls with the scraps. I was really in the mood to bake something chocolaty today, so I decided brownies it is! Then I found I was *gasp* out of boxed brownie mix. Yes, I admit it. I love boxed brownie mix. I lurve it. It’s so damn tasty, even though it’s made with kind of yucky stuff. When I found the pantry would not yield my precious red box of joy, I decided I’d try and make them from scratch. And then I remembered Harry used all the white sugar. There’s like 2 tbsp left in the house at the moment. Since I don’t use sugar, I didn’t notice we were out when I went shopping on Tuesday.

Normally I’d just run out and get some, but I’m working from home and don’t have the luxury of popping out to the store. Even if I went out on my lunch break, but the time I got back, I wouldn’t have enough time to actually bake the suckers.

I was sad. So, so sad. No brownies for me.

Then I took a look at the recipe I pinned, and I realized I had most of the ingredients (it only calls for brown sugar!). The only thing I didn’t have was baker’s chocolate (or even chips… oh the horror!). I did, however, have unsweetened cocoa powder. I immediately googled how I could sub, and I found a few different ones (most called for shortening). I decided to give it a shot. Then, when I pulled out my Trader Joe’s cocoa, it had the conversion right on the damn package! 6 tbsps of cocoa plus 1 tbsp oil is equal to 1 oz baking chocolate. Voila!

So during my 15-minute morning break, I whipped these up and threw them in the oven. 38 minutes later, I had a yummy batch of homemade brownies. Winning!

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa and 6 tbsp canola oil (OR 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate)
  • 3 extra large eggs plus 1 extra large egg white (or 4 large eggs)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa, colored sugar, etc for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (I use shortening but butter can be used as well). In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, cocoa, and oil. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir.
  2. Beat eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in flour and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.

Prep time: 15-20 min

Bake time: 35-40 min

Yield: 12 hearts and about 30 bites

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Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

When my family and I can’t decide what we’d like for dinner, we usually end up making pizza. It’s both mine and my girl’s favorite food. We’d eat it every day if we could. My husband is the dough maker, so I also get to sit back and relax while he prepares dinner that night. Win-win.

There was a short period of time last year when I endeavored to eat clean. The food was delicious, but the prep time totally kicked my ass. Working full-time and being a mommy and wife leaves very little time for prepping meals. I’m a 30 minutes or less girl (unless my husband is making the meal – heh heh).

I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and Harry followed it as close as possible. He said it was just as easy as making regular pizza dough, and we found it to be delicious. It’s denser (damnit I want to say more dense!) than regular dough, and it’s slightly sweet even though there are no sweet ingredients found within the recipe.

1 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour

Put yeast into 1 cup warm water and let proof. Stir salt and extra virgin olive oil into proofed yeast mixture.

Place yeast mixture and whole wheat flour into a mixer with a dough hook (or mix by hand if you prefer). Mix until it forms a ball.

Knead it to a smooth ball with your hands and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (can be overnight – use the plastic wrap if this is the case).

When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500*F. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin in the shape of your pan. Lightly oil your baking pan of choice (we use the standard round pizza pan) and place the dough on the pan. This is the fun part… stab the dough with a fork several times. Go to town. This is Ellie’s favorite part of making pizza. It greatly helps with stress, too.

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At this point, top with your favorite pizza fixins. We’re pretty Plain Jane around here. We use a little crushed tomatoes in puree for sauce (Tuttorosso is my brand of choice), about 6 oz of freshly shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella, a sprinkling of dried oregano and thyme, and a little fresh cracked black pepper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until crust and cheese are golden brown. Dinner is served.

Nutritional Info (1/8 of dough only): Cals: 199, Fat: 4g, Carbs: 35g, Protein: 7g


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Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

I whipped up this easy recipe last week. We usually do a breakfast-for-dinner once a week at the Banks household, and these pancakes really hit the spot. All three of us (man-with-an-appetite, woman-watching-her-figure, and somewhat-picky-eater-child) gave them thumbs up. Adapted from Colourful Palate’s recipe, it went from blender to table in less than 30 minutes, and I had all of the ingredients on hand.

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

  1. 1 ¼ cup old fashioned oats
  2. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  3. 2 tsp. baking powder
  4. ½ tsp. sea salt
  5. 1 ½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  6. 2 ripe bananas
  7. a splash of vanilla extract

Preheat griddle to 375*F. Preheat oven or toaster oven to a “warm” setting.

Blend all dry ingredients in a blender until oats are coarsely chopped. In a medium-sized bowl, mash bananas with a fork, add almond milk and vanilla, and slightly mix all together. Add wet ingredients to the blender and slowly mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix (that tends to make the pancakes tough and rubbery).

Quickly spray griddle with cooking spray and pour 6-3.5″ pancakes. Wait until edges look set and center is bubbling to flip. Once flipped, the pancakes should be a nice, golden brown. The second side usually needs no more than 2-3 minutes to cook (check after 2 minutes). Once second side is golden brown, place on an oven-safe plate or cookie sheet and pop in the warmed oven.

Wipe down the griddle with a damp cloth, spray again with cooking spray, and pour the second batch of 6 pancakes. Follow previous steps until done.

This recipe makes 12 pancakes for a total of 4 servings.

We topped our pancakes with some sliced strawberries and 100% grade A maple syrup. Delish!

Nutritional Info (per 3-pancake serving): Cals: 203, Fat: 4g, Carbs: 41g, Protein: 6g

Note: I popped the leftovers in the toaster the next day for breakfast, and they were yummy. They tasted just as fresh and delicious as the night before.

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