Archive for April 2012

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

April 30, 2012

When we were first married, we used to eat Chinese takeout all.the.time! Seriously, I mean once a week. I had no idea it was so easy to replicate the taste at home and for a fraction of the cost. I don't know about you, but I've seen tons of versions of Orange Chicken on Pinterest lately and I was dying to try one out. I decided on this one because, duh, it uses my beloved Crockpot of course! This recipe was a real treat, it had a distinctive "orange" flavor without being overpowering. I had originally planned to skip the step where you brown the chicken pieces first, but I had the extra time so I stuck to the plan. If you don't have the extra time, though, I'm sure it would still taste really good!

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
from Mom's Crazy Cooking

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup flour
olive oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (isn't everything better with balsamic?? :)
3 tablespoons ketchup
6oz orange juice concentrate, thawed
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 steamer bag of broccoli (you can use the whole bag, but I'd have a riot on my hands)
3 cups cooked white rice

Cut chicken into cubes and toss in a ziploc bag with the flour. Shake until chicken is well coated with flour on all sides.
Heat olive oil in skillet and brown a few minutes on all sides, not enough to cook through. This will insure the chicken will hold it's shape in the slow cooker. Steam broccoli in microwave according to package directions.

Place chicken and broccoli on the bottom of the slow cooker (spray crock with cooking spray first or use a liner). Combine salt, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, orange juice concentrate, and brown sugar in a bowl and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3. Serve over rice and additional sauce.

Yum, just like takeout!

Linking up to: Mix It Up Monday, Mangia Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, The Cure For The Common Monday, Makin You Crave Monday, The Gunny Sack, Making Monday Marvelous, Mop It Up Monday, My Favorite Finds, Feature Friday, Foodie Friday, Flaunt It Friday, Feature Friday, Foodie Friday, Simply Link Party, Refresh Your Nest, Friday Favorites, Tidy Mom

Menu Plan Monday - 4/30

Well, this is the last week that Paul has classes so this is the last week of our crazy schedule, yay! He still works all weekend practically and is going to be picking up an extra shift during the week, but overall he'll be home more for dinner starting next week. I'll be pinning grill recipes like crazy in the meantime! Here's what we have planned this week:

Saucy Pasta Bake (from freezer)

Cilantro Chicken (carry over)

Pesto, Turkey, & Swiss Grilled Sandwiches

Cheesy Ham Biscuits (freeze leftovers)

Pizza Grilled Cheese

Breakfast - Stuffed French Toast Casserole with Strawberries ($2/lb at Target this week!)

Dinner - Homemade Chicken Nuggets (double batch for freezer)

Breakfast - Leftover Stuffed French Toast Casserole

Dinner - Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes (carry over, double batch for freezer)

Now I'm off to search for some great grillin' recipes. Have a wonderful week! Linking up to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday Favorites 4/26 - Bars & Brownies

April 26, 2012

I love making desserts in bar form. It's so much easier than making batches of cookies, waiting for the pans to cool, and baking more batches until the dough is gone. Bars are the perfect dessert to bring to a potluck or a church function. I need to make some of these pronto!

Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Bars - Cookies & Cups

Gooey Chocolate Chip Sandwich Bars - Recipe Girl

Caramel Crumb Bars - Everyday Insanity

Snickerdoodle Blondies - Larks County Heart

Reese Cheesecake Brownies - Susannah's Kitchen

Soft & Thick Sugar Cookie Bars - The Diary of Dave's Wife

Linking up to Finding Joy In My Kitchen. Have a great weekend!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

April 25, 2012

Paul has been telling me how good the Tomato Bisque was at his restaurant, but ya know I'm not really the tomato soup kind. Maybe it was all the years of my dad drinking V8 or the generic condensed kind we had as kids that turned me off. The kicker for me when I spotted this recipe was the grilled cheese croutons. I mean, how absolutely adorable!

I figured even if the soup was so-so the croutons would make up for it. Boy was I dead WRONG! Homemade tomato soup is all that and a bag of chips!!! This soup is EASILY frozen, too. Cherry tomatoes are pretty much on sale every where right now, go buy some and make this soup!

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
adapted from Once A Month Mom

2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced (dial this back if your not garlic crazy like we are)
1/2 onion, chopped
14oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup whipping cream

For the croutons:
2 slices bread
3 slices American cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer in your grilled cheese)

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the skins are browned and shriveled.

Melt butter over medium heat in a deep skillet. Add onion and saute until pieces are transparent. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant. Stir in diced tomatoes (undrained), roasted tomatoes, chicken broth, and thyme.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Puree this soup until desired consistency, I used my little 2 cup food processor in two batches, but feel free to use your nifty stick blender if you have one of those guys. I'm totally jealous. Once soup is pureed, stir in cream.

For the croutons, make a usual grilled cheese sandwich. In this house that means exactly 3 sliced of American on wheat bread with Country Crock spread on both sides and cooked in skillet until the edges are browned and the cheese is melted. Let sandwich cool for a few minutes, then slice in cubes (a pizza cutter makes this step a breeze).

Add croutons on top of each bowl just before serving, they tend to sink a bit. This was a total hit with our family!

Linking up to: Gooseberry Patch, Show and Tell, The Mommy Club, Show Off Your Stuff, This Chick Cooks, Cast Party Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Sugar and Spice, Wednesday's Wowsers, Link it up Wednesday, Tastetastic Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday, Thrifty Thursday, Somewhat Simple, Frugal Food Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Timeout Thursday, Things I've Done Thursday, Strut Your Stuff, Link and Greet.

No Knead Focaccia Bread

April 23, 2012

Well, I did it everyone! I finally made an attempt at a recipe with yeast and it turned out fantastic! I had sworn off yeast ever since I tried my hand at 3 different pizza crust recipes and they all turned out horrible! Me and pizza crust do not get along, apparently, so I've resigned myself to buying store made pizza crust or the kind from a can.

Anyhow, after seeing so many people posting about "no knead" bread and seeing all the beautiful, yummy pictures, I knew I to try. I'm so glad I did! This recipe is so incredibly easy, it seriously is harder to make a batch of cookies. We enjoyed this bread plain while it was still warm from the oven, dipped in tomato soup, and alongside baked ziti with some garlic butter. I've read that focaccia is an awesome sandwich bread, so that's my plan next time.

No Knead Focaccia Bread
from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

3 1/4 cup flour
1 envelope Rapid Rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup EVOO, divided
1 2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
shredded parmesan cheese (I used grated)

Combine flour, yeast, and salt; mix well. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and water and stir until fully combined.

Grease a 9x13 pan and stretch dough to fit bottom of pan (as you can see, I did not stretch it out enough and I wound up with a larger puffy side lol). Cover with a dish towel for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.

Poke holes in top of dough with a spoon handle (I used a turkey baster !) and spread remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, parmesan cheese, and additional salt.

Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake bread in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Your house will smell wonderful!

No Knead Focaccia Bread pairs great with:

Linking up to these fabulous parties. Check them out!

Menu Plan Monday 4/23

April 22, 2012

Last week was such a great week! Wednesday we enjoyed dinner out on the grill with my sister and brother in law (and of course baby Elliott). Then Saturday we were able to make the 1 1/2 hour trip to Philly to visit Paul's family and my grandparents. They were all super excited to see us since we haven't been down there in about a year. The only thing I DREAD about making the trip is the awful TRAFFIC! It was a wonderful time, even though it did take us an extra 45 minutes to get home... 

While perusing the grocery ads this morning, a local grocery store is having an anniversary sale and one of their deals is $.99/lb deli ham. No that's not a typo!! I'll definitely be stocking up and freezing a lot of it, I'm now on the lookout for some good ham recipes. Anyway, here's what I have planned this week:

Monday: Poppin' Garlic Ranch Chicken Pot Pie (carry over)

Tuesday: Pesto Pizza (carry over)

Wednesday: Hoagies & chips

Thursday: Cheesy Ham Biscuit Muffins

Friday: Simple Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Saturday: Cilantro Chicken Wraps

Sunday: Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday. Have a wonderful week!