Thursday, November 16, 2017

Small Batch Granola

This is a great recipe from Joy the Baker.  I actually doubled the recipe, lol, so it wasn't small-batch for me.  But granola lasts forever if stored correctly.  I'm the only one who eats it in my house, but it still lasted until I finished it.  I like how this recipe uses coconut oil and cinnamon.  One can use either whole or sliced almonds in this.

Small Batch Granola
adapted from Joy the Baker
easily doubled

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw whole or sliced almonds
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, toss together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and toss until all of the oat mixture is coated in moisture.
Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the almonds, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss in the coconut flakes and bake for 10 minutes until everything is golden brown.

4.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing or serving.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

I made this a few weeks ago and the whole family really liked it.  Then I was looking through my blog and realized I've made really similar soups at least three times.  Lol!!  Here, here, and here. Oh well- I must really like this flavor combination.  I'm posting this anyway- it has baby kale in it, so it's different enough.  :) And, the first time I've ever used kale! It was good in this soup. I did cut down on the quantities of some ingredients in this recipe- I don't think it would have fit in my very large crockpot if I hadn't.  My changes reflected below. 
Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup
adapted from Dash of Sanity

2, 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth (1 quart)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cup baby kale, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream or half-n-half
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 9 ounce package Cheese Tortellini (I used ricotta & spinach)

1.  In a large pan add sausage, onion and garlic. Brown and crumble the sausage and veggies over medium-high heat until the sausage is completely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.  Once sausage is cooked remove from heat and drain excess grease.

2.  In a 6 qt. slow cooker add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, cooked sausage and all of the seasonings.  Add lid onto slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or love 4-5.

3.  Add heavy cream, shredded parmesan cheese and tortellini and cook for another 20 minutes. Then add chopped kale and cook another 10 minutes. Serve and garnish with more cheese if desired.  
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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Slow Cooker White Hot Chocolate

We had another Narnia party recently- where we watch the movie and eat Turkish delight, hot chocolate, Chex Muddy Buddies (the powdered sugar looks like snow!) and other fun things.  I wanted to make white hot chocolate and I wanted an easy make-ahead recipe.  This was perfect.  Throw it in the crockpot a few hours ahead of time, and then serve with whipped cream.  Make sure and use real white chocolate or real white chocolate chips for this- they should contain cocoa butter and not hydrogenated oils.  The cocoa butter will separate and go to the top, (looking yellow-ish) but just whisk before serving.

Slow Cooker White Hot Chocolate
adapted from Wishesndishes

2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (12 ounce) package real white chocolate chips, or 12 oz chopped white chocolate
whipped cream, for garnish

1.  Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and white chocolate chips in a 5 quart slow cooker/crock pot (a little smaller or a little larger could also work).

2.  Cover and cook on low for 2 to 2½ hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are completely melted. Stir again before serving. Keep on warm setting if you're serving at a party and want to keep it warm. Stir occasionally, because the cocoa butter from the white chocolate will rise to the top. Garnish with whipped cream as desired.  Enjoy!
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Friday, October 20, 2017

Italian Apple-Ricotta Cake

This cake was simple and delicious and great for fall.  I liked using fresh local ricotta and apples in this.  The cake was moist and delicious.  One could add a topping to this, but we enjoyed as-is.  This cake is supposed to be from the Tuscany region. 

Italian Apple-Ricotta Cake
adapted from Food 52

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated (should yield about 1 cup)
Confectioners' sugar for serving

1.  Heat the oven to 400° F. Butter and flour a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

2.  Cream the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy.  On the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time.  Slowly add the flour, salt, ricotta, lemon zest, baking powder, and apple.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan.

3.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely on the rack. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top or serve with your favorite seasonal fruit.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

One-Pot Creamy Chicken & Rice Casserole

I really liked this dish- it was very creamy and comforting.  There's chicken in here- I used some rotisserie chicken, but I could have actually done without it.  (One could omit the chicken and use veggie broth to make this vegetarian.)  My husband liked the chicken, but I thought it just got in the way of the delish creamy rice.  I might make this again and leave it out.  I think it'll be good either way.  This is kind of like a combo between mac & cheese and risotto.  Although, it's a lot less hands-on than risotto since you don't have to constantly stir. 
One-Pot Creamy Chicken & Rice Casserole
adapted from The Kitchn

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups whole or 2% milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1.  Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes.

2.  Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they smell toasty, about 1 minute. Add the broth, milk, and remaining salt, and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn't stick to the pot. Add the chicken, stir to combine, and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. (Add water as needed if the rice absorbs it all before tender.)

3.  Remove from the heat. Stir in the peas and 1 cup of the cheese. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then cover again and let sit for the cheese to melt and the rice to steam, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Thai Basil Beef

This was a great use of my Thai Basil plant.  I also added some regular (Italian) basil to this.  This was a quick, easy and tasty dish.  I love the Thai flavors in this. 
Thai Basil Beef
adapted from Closet Cooking

1 pound ground beef
2 shallots, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 birds eye chilies, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce or tamari)
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 lime, juice and zest
1 cup basil (preferably Thai basil)
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1.  Cook the ground beef and shallots in a large pan over medium-high heat until the meat is cooked, about 10 minutes.

2.  Add the red pepper, garlic and chilies and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lime and basil and cook until the basil just starts to wilt, about a minute. (Taste test and adjust to make sure that the balance of salty, sweet and sour is just right.)  Enjoy garnished with green onions!
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Monday, October 9, 2017

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

I loved this chowder- so full of flavor, and comforting.  I don't cook with shrimp often, but I really should.  One could also use cooked crab meat or fish, like salmon, or whatever you have on hand. The original recipe for this soup called for 32 oz. of corn, but I cut it in half, and it was plenty.  I couldn't imagine what 32 oz. would look like!!
Shrimp & Corn Chowder
adapted from The Kitchn

6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
2-3 cups frozen corn kernels
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (or celery salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 pound uncooked peeled and de-veined shrimp, tails removed*

1.  Place the bacon in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

2.  Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened and browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon and onions to a bowl, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.

3.  Add the butter to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the butter is completely melted, about 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined and the mixture forms a paste. Continue whisking until the flour mixture darkens to a golden blond, 2 to 3 minutes.Add the broth and whisk until it is completely incorporated into the flour mixture and there are no lumps.

4.  Add the potatoes, carrots, corn, reserved bacon and onions, celery salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

5.  Add the milk and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high, cover, and bring to a gentle boil, about 3 minutes. Stir well, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

6.  Add the shrimp and stir gently, making sure they are all submerged. Cover and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately ladle the chowder into bowls and serve.

*I could only find fully-cooked shrimp without tails.  I did not want to mess with removing the tails myself.  To use these, thaw them out beforehand, according to package directions.  Then add at the very end and just heat through before serving.  Do not cook further.
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