Monday, January 27, 2014

Too-Tasty-to-Be-Good-for-You Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese ***

This was really pretty good.  I couldn't find whole wheat macaroni, so I went with penne.  I had some errands to run this afternoon, so the 10-year-old actually made it for us (with Hubby's help, of course).  It's written as a recipe for kids to make anyway, so it really worked out pretty well for us.  He got a kick out of getting to cook, and I didn't have to do it.  Ha!  

The cauliflower is the best part of the dish.  The noodles and cheese are good too, but I could have happily eaten just the cauliflower and cheese by themselves.  The recipe says it makes 4 servings, but we still had about 2 servings left over after the four of us had gotten ours.  I'd definitely make this again, though.  A nice way to add some extra veggies to an old favorite.  I served it with the Slow Cooker Ham with Pineapple.  Yum-O!  :-)

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ RachelRay)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound whole wheat pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Ask a GH (Grown-Up Helper) to bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Ask your GH to transfer the florets with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In the same boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, then drain in a colander. Add the pasta to the cauliflower.
While the pasta is working, ask your GH to melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Have your GH help you whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and chicken broth and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese. Whisk in the mustard and season with pepper. Stir the cheese sauce into the pasta and cauliflower. Yum-o!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crockpot Italian Chicken *

This was good, but it was way too salty.  I'm wondering why you really need two packets of the dressing mix.  I think you'd still get the flavor with one.  Even with that, though, the peppers give it quite a bit of salt on their own.  I don't know.  I think it has possibilities, with a lot of changes, but it's just not worth trying again.  For my group, at least.

For a crockpot chicken sandwich recipe, the Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Sandwiches are so much better.

(BeyerBeware via Pinterest)

2 lbs of chicken breast, thighs, or combination
1 (12 oz) jar of pepper rings
2 (.7 ounce) envelopes of Italian Salad Dressing and Spice Mix

Put chicken in the bottom of a crock pot. Pour pepper rings with juice over chicken. Sprinkle Italian mix over chicken. Cook on low for 8+ hours or on high for 4+ hours.
After chicken has cooked, remove any bones or skin and shred. Keep on low till ready to eat. Add chicken broth or water if chicken seems to be drying out.
Serve on buns.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Lentil Rice Casserole (Clean) ***

I have this listed as clean, but you obviously need to leave out the cheese for a cleaner dish.  Honestly, while the cheese is always a welcome addition to any dish (in my world, anyway), it's really not all that necessary in here.  I'll keep using it, just because I love me some cheese, but I think it would be just as good without it.

The flavors in this are amaze-balls.  I used a pack of three pepper and onion blend (I'm all about those things right now!), added spinach, and went with the taco seasoning.  I would definitely recommend that route.  It gives it a flavor that's really different from other lentil recipes.  Because I wanted to make sure we had leftovers, I did 1.5 times the original recipe.  In retrospect, I really think that the recipe as written is definitely closer to 6 servings than 4, so I wouldn't bother doing that again.

The only problem I ran into was that even after cooking 10 hours, my lentils were still pretty hard.  After doing a little research online, it looks like our hard water and old beans were probably the culprit.  Next time, I'll use bottled water to soak them and make sure I get fresher beans.  I definitely want to give this another go, though.  If nothing else, I can always just convert it to a rice-only dish, and it would still be yummy.

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ TheHumbledHomemaker)

3/4 c. dry green lentils
1/2 c. brown rice
1 c. water
2 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 c. tomato sauce (8 oz. can) or 1 6-oz. can tomato paste + an extra 1/2 c. stock
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped green or red pepper
1 grated or finely chopped carrot
2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
optional: other vegetables like spinach, broccoli
3 tsp. Italian seasoning or taco seasoning
2 cloves crushed garlic or 1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1 c. grated cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, but try a Mexican blend with the taco seasoning or mozzarella with the Italian)
optional: salsa or spaghetti sauce to serve

Combine rice, lentils and water in crock pot. Soak overnight. (Do NOT turn crock pot on!)
In the morning, drain the water and mix in all remaining ingredients except cheese.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Add cheese in 30 minutes before done.
Serves 4-6.
*luckymommy/Amy's notes: I used a 3-pepper and onion blend, added spinach, and chose the taco seasoning.  I want to make sure to use bottled water and fresh lentils next time.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One Pot Wonder Chicken Lo Mein ***

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of lo mein.  It just always tastes to oily to me, for some reason.  I saw the picture of this one on Pinterest, though, and I knew I had to try it.  So glad I did!  It was delicious.  I used two large boneless/skinless chicken breasts, just to make it stretch a bit further.  I also used linguine, since that's what the OP used with hers.  Definitely my favorite for this dish as well.  I think the fettuccine would have been a bit too big for this.  It would have taken away from the other flavors, in my opinion.  The red pepper flakes add just a bit of heat, but it was just right for my kids.  Over all, this was an absolute winner for us.  I served it with the Slow Cooker Baked Sliced Apples, so that we'd have a little of sweet to offset the heat. ;-)

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ TheWholesomeDish)

1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small chunks
12 oz. whole wheat linguine or fettuccine, broken in half
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in thin 3 inch long strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in thin 3 inch long strips
1 bunch green onions, white part sliced and green part cut in 3 inch long strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Add the chicken, then the pasta, then the remaining ingredients to a large stockpot and cover. Bring to a boil. Stir and reduce to a simmer. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until most of the liquid is gone and the chicken is cooked through.

Slow Cooker Baked Sliced Apples (Semi-Clean) ****

I am nearly speechless at how wonderful this was.  My monkeys were licking their plates.  They loved it.  It's not truly a "clean" recipe, since it has the margarine, but you could make it one by subbing olive oil.  It wouldn't be as good, lol, but it would still have great flavor.  I chose to go with organic butter, and it worked fine for me.  Since my crock is a 6-qt, I was afraid that it would burn easily.  I went ahead and used 6 medium Fuji apples (absolute perfection in this recipe) and doubled everything else.  I'm trying to get away from Splenda, so I went with Stevia instead.  I couldn't find unsweetened apple juice, so I used some that had the least amount of sugar I could find and was all-natural.  I don't have butter-flavored cooking spray, so I just used my olive oil spray.  Oh, and I used Craisins in place of the raisins, just because I really can't stand raisins in stuff.  I think that's about all of my changes, lol.  Seriously, though, this was some dynamite stuff.  It would be spectacular with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ GetCrocked)

3-1/2 cups apples, (cored, peeled, and thickly sliced)
1/4 cups raisins (seedless)
1/4 cups Splenda granular
1-1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice
2 tablespoons apple juice, unsweetened
1 tablespoon margarine

Spray a slow cooker container with butter-flavored cooking spray.
Combine apples and raisins in crock.
Add Splenda, apple pie spice, and apple juice.
Mix well.
Dot top with margarine.
Cover. Cook on Low for 4-6 hours.
*luckymommy/Amy's notes: I used 6 medium Fuji apples and doubled everything else.  I also subbed Stevia for the Splenda and Craisins for the raisins.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Clean-Eating Jambalaya ****

I could have kept eating this all night.  Seriously.  I made a few minor alterations, but nothing that would greatly change the outcome.  My shrimp and chicken were frozen, so I just chucked them both in at the beginning of the cook time.  I cooked it for 6 hours on low and 1 hour on high.  I used a package of frozen peppers and onions (the fajita blend packs), just because I already had some in the freezer.  Similarly, I used Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning in place of the Cajun seasoning, because that's what I had on hand.  I accidentally picked up a tomato paste that had salt and basil and oregano, so I cut the salt from the recipe.  So basically, I used the recipe, but I just improvised a bit, lol.  Oh, I did cut the Creole seasoning to 2 tablespoons instead of 3, so that it wouldn't be too spicy for the kids.  It was absolutely perfect.  Just enough heat without being too hot for them.  Now I can't wait to have it again!  :-)

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ GetCrocked)

2 lbs. chicken breast, boneless, skinless
1/2 c. green bell pepper, diced
2 c. celery, finely diced
1 c. yellow onions
2 c. tomatoes, fresh, diced
2 c. chicken broth, Organic, Free Range
6 oz. tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. cajun seasoning
1 tsp. sea salt
1 lb shrimp, uncooked wild-caught; peeled, and de-veined
2 c. cooked brown rice

Combine chicken breasts, bell pepper, celery, onion, tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, garlic, seasoning and salt into large, 6-quart slow cooker.
Cover. Cook on Low for 6 hours, or High for 3 hours.
Stir occasionally, if needed.
Add shrimp to slow cooker, stirring to combine.
Cover. Cook on Low for an additional 2 hours or on High for 1 hour.
Cook brown rice according to the directions on the package, stirring in the last 15-20 minutes before your meal is done.
*luckymommy/Amy's notes: I subbed 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning for the Cajun seasoning.  I also put frozen shrimp and chicken in at the beginning of the cook time and cooked for 6 hours on low and 1 hour on high.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crockpot Cajun Roast (Clean) ****

This was really good.  Absolutely phenomenal.  I tried to pull the pork out of the crock to slice it for the kids, but it was so tender that it just fell apart.  I ended up just shredding it in the pot and adding 6 cups of cooked brown rice in with it.  I also just used a package of frozen sliced onion/peppers blend.  We all loved it.  It made a LOT, though.  I was able to put some up for hubby's lunch and still have enough for a weekend lunch for all of us.  Yay!  Definitely making this again.  The only change I might make is to add in more corn.  The kids and hubby all said they would have liked to have more corn in each bite.

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ StacyMakesCents)

1 roast of your choice (2 to 2-1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups corn
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tomato diced
Rice to serve

Combine spices.
Put roast in greased crock pot. Pour half of your spices over the roast. Rub in. Flip roast and coat with remaining spices, rubbing in well.
Pour veggies (excluding corn) over the roast.
Layer the corn over the top.
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until temp reads 160+ degrees.
Serve over a bed of rice.
*luckymommy/Amy's notes: I shredded the pork and stirred in 6 cups of cooked brown rice before serving.   I also just used a package of frozen sliced onion/peppers blend.  Next time, I will add more corn.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Crockpot Pizza ****

This is an old tried and true favorite for us.  I got it from Rachel years ago, and we've been enjoying it ever since.  I add black olives to mine, and since I can never find large jars of pizza sauce, I just use three of the medium-size jars.  Comes out perfect every time.  Our stores never carry rigatoni either, so I just use regular penne.  I've used the whole grain noodles in the past, and there's really not much of a difference, since it cooks for so long.  It's yummy either way.  :-)

(Rachel ~ 4*Kowbabies)

1 box rigatoni, cooked
1 1/2 lbs ground chuck browned and drained
1 large pkg sliced pepperoni
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 pkg mozzarella cheese shredded
2 large jars of pizza sauce
1 med. onion chopped
(optional can of mushrooms)

Stir all ingredients together. Place in crockpot and cook on low for 5 hrs.
*luckymommy/Amy's notes: I use 3 small jars of pizza sauce, add a can of black olives, and sub penne noodles.

Two-Ingredient Banana Cookies **

Yet another review that I'm slow on posting.  We had these sometime over Christmas break, but I honestly can't even remember when.  I had some bananas to use up, so I whipped them up one night after supper.  They are probably the easiest cookies I've ever made in my life.  I added pecans and chocolate chips to ours. They were good.  Nothing fabulous, but a nice little sweet treat that wasn't too terribly unhealthy (would have obviously been much healthier without the chocolate, lol).  Everyone else said they really liked them, but I just thought they were okay.  They have a kind of mushy texture to them that I didn't really care for, but the flavor wasn't bad.  Kind of like banana bread, I guess.  

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ TheBurlapBag via Pinterest)

2 large old bananas
1 cup of  oats (quick or regular! if you use regular, we’d suggest chopping them a little so everything holds together better)

Mix those two together. Old bananas are amazing for this, but you can use fresh ones too. I buy a bunch of bananas, let them get old on my counter, and then stick ‘em all in the freezer.
Then add in what sounds yummy to you! (or nothing!) We love: a handful of chocolate chips, crushed walnut pieces, cinnamon, raisins
Since all bananas are different sizes, the needed measurements can vary. If it seems too runny and the cookies would flatten out too much, add in more oatmeal. And make sure to not add in TOO many mix-ins as the cookies won’t hold together very well. The ones in these photos have a handful of chocolate chips, a teaspoon or two or cinnamon, and 1/4ish a cup of crushed walnuts.
We made 16 cookies with those measurements. We cook them at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a GREASED cookie sheet. Don’t forget the greased part…. I did once and had to scrub my pan forever.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts ****

These were actually really good.  Not that I had any doubts, lol.  It's bacon and water chestnuts.  What could possibly go wrong?  Hehehe.  I made this for our family Christmas Eve get-together, but I'm just now getting around to posting it (so sue me, we were enjoying our holidays, lol).  Every year, our family gathers at my parents' house, and we each bring 2-3 appetizers.  I adore appetizers.  I love being able to have just a little of this and a little of that, without having to commit to one main dish.  So needless to say, I look forward to Christmas Eve every year for this exact reason - it's the only time of year I get to experiment with appetizers.
So anyway, I chose this one based on the baby boy's (the 8-year-old) current obsession for bacon and his newfound love of water chestnuts.  I had every intention of using the homemade BBQ sauce on the included recipe, but time got away from me.  This was my last recipe of the day (since I wanted it to be served hot), so I used a bottle of our favorite BBQ sauce instead.  Our absolute favorite for the past few years is the Jack Daniels Hickory Maple Barbecue Sauce.  I normally can't stand BBQ sauce, but I could seriously drown my food in that stuff and be perfectly content.  It came out great.  I'm sure it's probably even better with the homemade version, but for a last-minute substitution, I was pretty pleased.  These were wonderful, though, and I would definitely make them again.

Warning: My picture does not do it justice.  I didn't think to snap one until they were almost gone, so it's a pretty lame representation of the final product.  Do yourself a favor and click on the link in the recipe to see her picture.  It's much prettier than mine. :-)

(luckymommyto2boys ~ Amy ~ ClawsonLive via Pinterest)

2-3 cans whole water chestnuts drained
1 (1 lb) package of bacon

Homemade BBQ Sauce
1-2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
squirt of mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
vinegar splash

I usually place the bacon in the freezer for a few minutes to really get it firm. I then cut the slices into 3 pieces right through the plastic. You're going to need a lot of toothpicks. Wrap each little chestnut in a coat of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the chestnuts in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Once all of your chestnuts are wrapped top with BBQ sauce or make your own like we do.
If making your own BBQ sauce: Stir all ingredients together and pour over the chestnuts.
Bake in a 375* F oven for 30-45 minutes (or until the bacon is done). The tops of the toothpicks will turn brown so watch out for that. Enjoy every New Years Eve or Day for the rest of your life.