Slow Cooker Philly Style Chicken Sandwiches

You know I’m on this “make as many things as I can with my slow cookers” kick these days, right? Betwixt and between running the posse around (side note: Sabrina actually took her drivers’s ed classes – hooray!), and going back and forth to the ranch, my time is…….well, in short supply.

So when Sabrina mentioned that she was going to have a group of her friends over last week to study for their Chemistry final, I figured that was another prime opportunity to try out a new slow cooker recipe that I’d recently saved from my blog feed.

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And this did not disappoint us at all. Although really, how can you go wrong with juicy seasoned chicken, smothered in cheese and perched on top of a toasted roll?

Short answer: you can’t.

Slow Cooker Philly Style Chicken Sandwiches – adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 1 tsp paprika (regular or smoked)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion or garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and sliced into half moons (I forgot to add these, I wish I hadn’t..)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup beer (lighter is better in this recipe)
  • Sliced provolone
  • Whole wheat hoagie buns

Lightly grease a 5-quart (or similar sized) slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, pepper, onion or garlic powder, coriander, red pepper flakes and thyme.

Place the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, and lay the chicken on top of the onions. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken, and pour the beer carefully around the edges.

Cook on low for 2 hours until the chicken is tender (over cooking the chicken may make it a bit dry so only cook it until the chicken is cooked through). Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred into pieces. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions to a plate. Pour out all the liquid into a bowl or liquid measure.

Place the chicken and onions back in the slow cooker and toss. Pour in enough liquid to keep the chicken moist (but not soggy) – about 1/4 cup to start and add as needed. Keep the slow cooker on warm or low until ready to serve.

Toast the buns under the oven broiler. Place chicken and peppers on each half of a bun and top with Provolone cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbly. Serve warm.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

There’s an old expression I’m quite fond of:

“Sometimes, it’s the little things that mean the most.”

In this case, it refers to the fact that Alexander did two things this morning that meant a lot to me:

1. He actually put his clean sheets on.the.bed. Properly, I might add.

and

2. He picked up all his dirty laundry from the floor and put it in the hamper.

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I’m beginning to wonder if he bumped his head when he got up this morning……..

Slow Cooker Carnitas – adapted from bon appetit

6 pounds bone-in pork shoulder
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1 large onion, cut into 4 pieces
6 oz. beer (any mild flavor)Pinto beans, guacamole, corn tortillas, salsa, and queso fresco, for serving
Place pork in bowl of slow cooker and season with black pepper, oregano and cumin. Place onion pieces around pork, and pour in the beer. Cover slow cooker and cook pork on low setting until meat is very tender and falling apart, about 8 hours.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to cutting board. Discard onion pieces. Using fingers, shred pork, and place on a baking tray. Preheat the broiler, and broil the meat until it is slightly charred all over, about 5-7 minutes. Serve hot with pinto beans, corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, and queso fresco.

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.

Slow Cooker Granola

Nothing frustrates me more than computer/technical issues. I know it’s because I can’t solve them easily, and (usually) end up doing more harm than good.

Take, for example, the Apple Time Machine I purchased last March. “It’s so simple!” everyone said.

Simple for them, perhaps, but not me. After hours of trying, and failing miserably each time (complete with freezing Sabrina’s and my phone in the process), I gave up.

And drank several glasses of wine to make myself feel better.

And by the way, don’t ask about the phone freezing issue. The oh-so-helpful Mac people just looked at me, mouths agape, when I described what was happening……

Anyhoo, I gave up on the Time Machine. It sat, next to the router, for 6 months. Collecting dust, I might add. Oh, every time I passed by to dust it, I would give it the evil eye and contemplate returning it, trying one more time, or walking away.

You can guess which route I chose.

Needless to say, it took professional help to unravel the root of the problem.

Oh, and a new router too….

photo

Slow Cooker Granola – adapted from a year of slow cooking

5 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spray a 4 qt. crockpot with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in the microwave in a large bowl, and add the honey and cinnamon. Mix well. Add the oats, stir to combine, then pour into the crockpot. Place the lid over the crockpot but leave it vented so steam can escape. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, stirring every so often so the bottom doesn’t burn. Let cool, then store in a covered container.

Homemade Greek Yogurt and Granola

I am always quite ebullient when something works exactly the way it’s supposed to.

Especially when I follow the directions precisely  :)

Seriously, I’ve made yogurt in the slow cooker before, but it has never turned out this good. I am not sure how or why, but the texture and flavor of this particular batch was superb. I surmise that it could have something to do with the starter that I used …. in the past, I’ve used just regular plain yogurt…. but this time, I used Fage Greek Yogurt (my favorite brand).

To see if lighting strikes twice (and I’ve heard it does), I am in the midst of starting another batch right now.

And, flush with success from the first round of yogurt, I was also inspired to try my hand at making homemade granola, as it’s practically impossible to find nut-free granola around here.

This particular recipe was quite tasty- the granola wasn’t super-crunchy or sickeningly sweet – but in general, I prefer granola that clusters together a bit more.

Having said that, of course, I would definitely make it again, and experiment with a few “Sabrina-approved” add-ins.

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Homemade Greek Yogurt – adapted from creative simple life

2 quarts milk (I use 2% milk)
2 tbs. plain yogurt with live-active cultures (I use Fage)

Pour the milk into a crock pot and turn the heat to high. Heat the milk until it reaches 180 degrees. Turn off the slow cooker, unplug, and allow the milk to cool to 120 degrees.  Once the milk has dropped to 120 degrees, add the yogurt and whisk gently until it is fully incorporated. Replace the lid, then wrap the slow cooker with several towels and let it sit for 6 to 8 hours (overnight is best). Line a fine mesh strainer with two layers of paper towels, and set the strainer over a large bowl. Carefully pour the yogurt into the strainer, cover with plastic wrap, place it into the refrigerator and allow it to drain for several hours. The longer it drains, the thicker it becomes. Once it has finished draining, scrape the yogurt into a container and enjoy!

Extreme Granola – adapted from epicurious

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, cane syrup or honey, at room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour the oats and sesame seeds into a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave; stir in the maple syrup and cinnamon and drizzle on top of the oats. Stir well with a rubber spatula and then spread out the oats in an even layer onto a baking sheet.

Bake the oats for 30 minutes, stirring once with the spatula halfway through, until the oats are lightly colored. Let cool; the mixture will crisp as it cools.

Slow Cooker Ratatouille

My trusty and dependable collection of slow cookers are the hardest working appliances in my home right now – especially during these sweltering Las Vegas summer days.

Although, truth be told, it doesn’t seem like it’s been as hot as usual. Make no mistake – 105 degrees is HOT – but aside from a 10 day period of 117+ days, it’s been tolerable.

I said tolerable, not enjoyable.

I made this ratatouille months ago, and honestly, I actually forgot about it. Forgot that I had the picture, not that I forgot about how deliciously simple and easy it was to make and to eat. I served it over pasta (the original recipe called for polenta) and now, seeing the picture again is inspiring me to make another batch.

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Especially since Fresh and Easy has eggplant and zucchini on sale …..

Slow Cooker Ratatouille – adapted from epicurious

Cooking spray
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 10 1/2 cups)
3 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 small to medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
10 grinds black pepper
1/2 cup packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1/4 pound)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Grease the slow cooker with cooking spray.Place the eggplant and zucchini in the greased slow cooker. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. As soon as it melts, add the flour and tomato paste, and cook until the mixture is thickened and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 hours. Uncover and remove from the heat; immediately stir in the cheese and basil.

Red Chile Braised Pork

Day one of the six- day heat wave we are currently being suffocated with.

Baby ….. it’s hot out there.

My grand plans for this weekend? Before I get to that, let me tell you, first and foremost, what they don’t include:

…. turning on the wall ovens and baking anything that won’t fit in the counter top oven….

Now ….. onto what they DO  include: breaking out the ice cream maker, slow cooking ribs and chicken on the barbecue (a first for me – usually I do them in the oven first), preparing a few cold salads, consuming copious amounts of ice cold strawberry lemonade, and spending plenty of time floating in the pool under the umbrella.

And daiquiris….. there will be daiquiris…. or maybe mango peach sangria…. hmmmmm…..

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Red Chile Braised Pork – adapted from food and wine

The chiles that I used for this dish are a new experience for me, but considering I had such success with them when I made the Grilled Chicken with Board Sauce last week, I was inspired to use the rest here. I was not disappointed – this sauce had lots of flavor but was not painfully hot/spicy. I turned it into a tamale pie, making a simple cornmeal crust and topping it with green onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado. The posse and I loved it :)

10 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
10 garlic cloves
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder

Using tongs, briefly toast the guajillo chiles over an open flame or in a cast-iron skillet until fragrant, 5 seconds per side. Transfer the guajillos to a blender. Add 2 cups of hot water and let stand for 15 minutes.

Add the garlic, chipotle, black pepper and oregano to the blender and puree. Pour the sauce into a large slow cooker – then add the pork and 3 cups of hot water. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until the pork is tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a bowl and let cool slightly. Transfer the sauce to a pan and boil it until it is reduced to 4 cups, about 20 minutes.

Shred the pork with 2 forks and return it to the slow cooker along with the sauce. Cook on high, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced and just coats the pork, about 30-45 minutes.