Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Fiesta Soup

Fall is coming--that means soup. Actually I eat soup all year round, it is just too good not to enjoy weekly. This soup is quick to assemble, just dump ingredients in your Crock Pot, run errands, watch a soccer game or read a good book and soon dinner is ready. When your family walks in the door they will know that dinner is not far off. My mother taught me to always set the table early (even if dinner was a ways off), family members would see the set table ad assume dinner was right around the corner! It works I know.
I love this soup because it uses a Crock Pot and has many variations. Add or subtract ingredients to meet your family's likes. It can be gluten free. Make it your way--and enjoy!

Crock Pot Chicken Fiesta Soup
1 pound chicken tenders (they can be frozen)
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped red or green pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 cups froze corn--use fresh corn cut off the cob if available
1 15 ounce can Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt--divided
1 teaspoon pepper--divided
Place first nine ingredients in a Crock Pot, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Do not
over cook--the chicken will be come dry and chewy--not good. Remove cooked chicken tenders from the pot and place on cutting board. Slice, dice or shred the chicken, season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. This makes the chicken taste awesome!!
Now comes the fun part. Place the large bowl of soup in the middle of the table. Surround it with various bowls of toppings. You may include the diced chicken, minced cilantro, fresh lime wedges, grated jack cheese, sour cream, cooked rice, cooked orzo, sliced green onions, sliced olives, diced avocados, tortilla strips etc. See how much fun this soup can be. You really can have it your way!
It would be great for a party, everyone could bring a topping or two--the hostess makes the soup. This soup is so versatile I am sure you will have fun with it--and yes, it is delicious! This recipe was inspired by Baked By Rachel
Printable Recipe

Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
1 Year Ago--------Oatmeal Fudge Bars
2 Years Ago-------Frosted Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 Years Ago-------Creamed Potatoes and Peas
4 Years Ago-------Crispy Party Bars

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hoisin Noodle Dish--with Shrimp

This dish was amazing--so amazing that I made it twice in a week. The leftovers are also delicious, a plus when there are just two. With a little advance prep this dish comes together quickly. Make the sauce early in the day--it keeps several days in the fridge. Prep your veggies, put them on a pretty plate and refrigerate.
When it is time to eat soak the rice noodles for 8 minutes and cook the shrimp for 3 minutes. That's really all there is to it. I'm sure it would be good with pork or chicken. We love that it is a gluten free dish.
Try it and prepare to be amazed.

Hoisin Noodle Dish--with Shrimp
1/2 cup soy sauce or Tamari (it is gluten free)
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
6 ounces thin rice noodles
3/4-1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Grated carrots (I use a julienne peeler)
Chopped green onions
Chopped peanuts
Chopped cilantro
Chopped red pepper
Combine first 10 ingredients and whisk together--refrigerate. Prepare garnishes, Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions or pour boiling water over noodles let sit for about 8 minutes. Drain noodles.
Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Pat the shrimp dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp with about 1/3 cup of the sauce. Shrimp cooks in about 3-4 minutes, flipping once. Stay focused on this task--overcooked shrimp is not so good. Scoop the sauce and shrimp onto a plate and set aside.
Drain the noodles and add them to the hot skillet with most of the rest of the sauce--save some sauce for drizzling. Cook 3-4 minutes until the noodles have soaked up most o the sauce and become more tender.
Add the shrimp and heat through.
Serve the noodles and shrimp--put out your plate of veggie garnishes. Let each person add their own toppings. Add extra sauce if needed.
Printable Recipe
Inspired by Mel's Kitchen Cafe--a place I go very often if I need a new tasty recipe

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Packable Brownies

Talk about a fun tasty bite. These Packable Brownies are perfect for picnics, lunches, tailgating parties etc.  Hide them in the freezer for those unexpected or expected brownie attacks. They are also a perfect portion for hot fudge brownie cake. Just make these--I am sure you will find many ways to enjoy them.
Thanks Mary from One Perfect Bite for another incredible recipe.

Packable Brownies
1 square butter, 8 tablespoons
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (yes, toast the nuts--it really makes a difference)

Microwave butter and chocolate--I have a wonderful setting on my microwave just for this purpose. If you don't have a chocolate setting, microwave for about 2 minutes, stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir. Gently stir in the flour with a rubber scraper until just incorporated.
Using a large scoop portion batter in a 12 cup muffin tin that has been sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let cool slight and remove from pan. Now you can make 12 people very happy!

One Year Ago-------Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones
Three Years Ago----Smoky Potatoes--Summer Side
Four Years Ago-----Blueberry Crumb Bars

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Pretzles and Caramel Bits--A Flop and a Fix!

. This cookie has been on my short list for ages. I finally had pretzels and I knew I had Caramel bits so I was ready to create. All went well until I went to put the caramel bits in the bowl. I tasted one and was sure this was not how they really tasted. I looked at the date--they expired March of 2011. So they found their way to the trash.
 No problem--I always have a big block of Peters Caramel to make caramel apples and dipped pretzels. So I just chopped up tiny squares of caramel and dropped them in the batter. Everything look good--till I baked them. The block of Caramel must lack the substance that keeps the little caramel bits, in bits. They didn't taste terrible but they certainly were not worthy of sharing.
Actually my sweet neighbor happened to drop by and gladly took the not so good looking batch home for her boys (they are at the 'eat anything age'). I also sent her home with some good cookies too.
At this point I was tired and ready to scratch the whole mess. Hubby to the rescue--he didn't want to see me end on a fail so he went to Walmart and purchased a fresh bag of Caramel Bits. The cookies turned out perfect and I was happy. He took a bag of cookies to a neighbor and she immediately called me for the recipe. So yes they are yummy. Use the right kind of Caramel Bits and they will turn out perfect.
Save your brick of Peter's Caramel for dipping apples or pretzels!
Enjoy these yummy cookies from one of my favorite blogs--Dessert Now Dinner Later, thanks Amber.

Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/8 cup sugar
3/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup stick pretzels, broken into thirds
1/2 cup caramel bits
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a stand mixer cream butter and sugars. Add vanilla and egg. Mix well.
Combine salt, baking soda and flour, gradually add to wet mixture. Mix until combines
Fold in pretzel pieces, caramel bits and chocolate chips with a spatula
Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Printable Recipe

Friday, August 9, 2013

Loaded Peanut Butter Bars

I wanted to make a batch of cookie bars but I had peanut butter on the mind. I've had a bag of Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the pantry. I have resisted opening them because I knew once I did they would be just too much temptation. Can you resist an opened bag of your favorite treat??? 
So using them in a dessert was the only solution. I was taking dinner into a new mother tonight, perfect timing. I loaded a plate for the new mother, shared a couple with friends at lunch and quickly cut the rest of them, double wrapped them and hid them in the freezer for upcoming company!
This recipe is my Thick and Chewy Cookie Bar with a peanut butter spin. Try them, they are delicious with any combination of chips!

Loaded Peanut Butter Bars

2 1/8 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, cut in half
3/4 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting the excess hang over the edges of the pan by about 1 inch so you can grab those edges and pull the brownies from the pan after they have baked. Spray the foil-lined pan with Pam.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not over mix. Fold in the Peanut Butter Chips, Cups and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.
Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 24-28 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
Printable Recipe 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

We have spent the last week in Chicago visiting with my daughter Amber and her hubby Tadd. They have 4 amazing children that we had the privilege of doting on. 8 year old Harrison was getting baptized--what a great event. The week was filled with boat rides, bike riding, playing, swimming parties, shooting bb guns etc. Luckily Amber and I had to look out for baby. So we spent hours visiting with each other and just catching up on life. And of course playing with baby!
Amber and I both love to bake and cook. Chopping is therapy! The first meal we made together were these delicious Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I'm sure I exposed bad manners--I couldn't eat these fast enough! Bad me. So the first meal when I got home was Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Hungry Max happened to drop in at dinner time and agreed--these are amazing. I served them with chilled water melon and corn on the cob. We were having fresh peach short cake for dessert but we were to full!
This low fat dish can easily be made gluten free. You can also cut the carbs and just delete the rice. So many choices. Such a yummy dish! Thanks Amber.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Short Grain Rice, I cook mine in a rice cooker--perfect results every time. I always cook extra rice, then I am that much closer to dinner another night. Think Curry, Fried Rice, Beans and Rice etc. If you don't have a rice cooker just follow the directions on the package. Easy

12 leaves of Boston, Bibb or Butter Lettuce, washed--next time I will give them a gentle whirl in my salad spinner--I do love that thing!

2 tablespoons Fish Sauce--don't substitute, it is stinky (don't smell it) but it adds an incredible layer of flavor.
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice (before juicing the limes--zest them, you will need 2 teaspoons of zest later). Don't try zesting after you have juiced the limes--one word, difficult! I do know these things. I'm all about saving you from the mistakes I have made!
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Put sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside

Meat Mixture
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeds removed and diced
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 pound ground chicken--I did not like the looks of the ground chicken at the market I went to so I did a little Google research and It paid off. I semi thawed 1 pound of chicken tenders--cleaning/cutting out all the parts I don't want to eat. The tenders are now in about 1 inch chunks--still semi frozen. I put the entire pound in my food processor with the metal blade and pulsed it several times. Scraped down the sides and pulsed a few more times. You don't want a mush just a chop--watch closely. Now you have ground chicken--and you know exactly what is in it!
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves--perfect because my basil plant is going crazy right
3 green onions finely chopped

Now let's make this dish happen!
Put 2 teaspoons of oil in a large non stick skillet on medium heat--heat till shimmering. Add the meat mixture with the zest and jalapeno. Cook for about 5 minutes breaking up the chicken with a wooden spoon. Cook till pink is gone.
Whisk together the sauce ingredients and add to the meat mixture. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes until slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and add basil and green onions

To Serve:
Place a small spoonful of rice on a lettuce leaf. Add chicken mix, be sure you get a few drops of juice. Fold lettuce leaf up like a taco and enjoy every flavorful-bite. I dare you to not make this twice in one week! That is just how good it is.
Printable Recipe

Thanks Mel from Our Kitchen Cafe--another winner!