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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks

As busy as I am and my family is (partly why I am so busy) one might think that I would use the slow cooker (aka crock pot) more frequently. However, I seldom do. I did find an interesting slow cooker recipe for chicken legs last week and thought I would give it a try. It seemed so easy in fact that I asked Daughter Number 2 to put it together for me. It must have been as easy as I thought because they only question she had was about crumpling up the aluminum foil.

It was a hit with all 5 of us (and I don’t like drumsticks).

So, if you have a few minutes in the morning and a slow cooker on hand (I have 2) give this a try! The fantastic thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t turn the chicken to slimy mush. The outside stays rather crispy and the inside is super moist!

Slow Cooker Drumsticks

  • 6-10 chicken legs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Mix the spices together in a bowl. Rub the spice mixture over the chicken legs. Loosely crumple up some aluminum foil and put it on the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the chicken pieces on top of the foil. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. The chicken should not touch the bottom or sides of the slow cooker.

That’s all there is to it!

This is the kind of dish that’s great with a couple of easy sides. Open up a can of “Baked Beans” or pick up some potato salad at the deli. Open up a bag of salad and a can of fruit and dinner is served!

This is something that I will definitely be throwing in the rotation. I don’t think it would work as well with breasts, but I might have to give that a try!

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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Fish and (kale) Chips

Tonight’s dinner was brought to you (and us) once again by the mad skills of my family of fisherwomen (and man). I had some trout in fridge from earlier in the week that The Hubs (fisherman) had already filleted. I had spent a little bit of time looking up trout recipes that I thought everyone would like. Of course, there is very little that we can all agree on. So, I decided that I would make up my own recipe. One that I thought I would like!

I also wanted to make some kale chips. Kale. Leafy green kale. Chips. My mother and I have both been seeing a growing number of recipes using kale. We have never tried it. I bought some kale last weekend for my mother. She had found a recipe that called for kale, so when I was at the grocery store I bought it. I took it to her house. Mid-week she told me that she had yet to make the recipe. So, I took the kale back. It’s ok. She didn’t mind. We’re close like that! I looked for some recipes that called for kale, and kept going back to three very similar (if not the same) recipes called crispy kale, baked kale, and kale chips. Chips. MMMMmmmm. Chips. I don’t eat many chips these days.

So, when I was planning the fish dinner the little play on words kept popping into my head. In addition to being raised by avid cooks and bakers my father (and many of his friends and family) loved wordplay. My mind just automatically plays games with words and phrases sometimes. Even though I knew I was not making fried fish or potatoes, I was so happy with my “fish and chips” idea! It also helped set the dinner up for the girls to think that we were having chips!

I made the kale first. So simple, it hardly needs any instruction. Rinse and dry the kale. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut or tear the kale into pieces, making sure to remove the thick stems. The leafiest pieces work the best. Place kale in a large bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the kale, tossing to coat. Lay the kale on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan in a single layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crisp and starting to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and lightly salt with kosher or sea salt. Voila. That was it. The Hubs came in during the cooking time and looked quizzically around the kitchen. I told him that he smelled the kale cooking. He thought I was kidding. He saw the kale before I cooked it and he was quite sure that wasn’t what he smelled.

I then made my trout recipe. I served the trout over a bed of kale chips. Hence, Fish and Chips. The Hubs truly and thoroughly enjoyed dinner. The girls were iffy about the fish (they didn’t like the sauce) and so-so on the kale. Daughter Number 4 ate all of her serving of the kale, though. She said it was so she could have dessert. Weird. I’ve never seen her finish stuff she doesn’t like so she can have dessert!

Baked Trout Almondine

  • 6 Trout Fillets
  • ½ cup milk
  • Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

Lay the trout in a deep glass bowl. Pour the milk and about 5 dashes of Tabasco over the fish. Let soak. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Add the lemon juice, stirring until smooth. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. When thickened, add the dill. Remove from heat.

Remove the fish from the milk. Lay the fish gently on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the fish with the sauce. Return to the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the fish from the oven again, and cover the fish with the slivered almonds. Return the fish to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the almonds are golden and the fish is flaky.

I really thought this was a great taste combination. The lemon overpowered the dish for the girls.

It also paired very well with the kale chips. The flavors meshed superbly.

I’m feeling really excited about the freezer full of trout now that I have come up with this recipe. The Hubs said he would have liked it with some grated Parmesan in place of the dill.

I bet the kale chips would be awesome with some freshly grated parmesan, too. I guess I’ll have to get some fish out of the freezer. Well, maybe next week!

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Hunger Games Muffins

I have been promising some of my co-workers that I would bake some muffins for them. Most of my baking is for the girls school functions, fundraisers, or for the family. They just get to hear about it.

So, this morning I decided to bake some muffins for my co-workers. My mom bought me a “muffin top” pan last weekend and I have not had the time to use it yet. Not to mention, the movie “The Hunger Games” opened last night at theaters and people all over Facebook keep talking about it. Not that it makes me want to go see the movie or read the books, but it is making me hungry.

This morning I played some Hunger Games of my own and baked up some muffin tops, mini-muffins, and regular muffins. These have no basis on the books or the movie.

The first batch I made was an adaptation from http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/3437/chocolate-chip-yogurt-muffins.

I was looking for a good chocolate breakfast muffin, but didn’t want it to be too chocolaty or too sweet. This recipe lent itself to my adaptations. They were a little dry, but the overall consensus was good.

Chocolate Yogurt Muffins

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 8 ounces plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the cups of a muffin tin or line cups with paper liners. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and chocolate chips in a large bowl with a whisk.  In a smaller bowl mix together eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla. Add yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Bake 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan to cool completely.

I made these into muffin tops and mini-muffins.

The next batch that I made was primarily so that I could use up some fresh blueberries that I had, and some old bananas. I found a recipe that sounded wonderful. I didn’t even need to make any adaptations! I made muffin tops and regular muffins with them. They are gorgeous! I will definitely make these again! http://www.bakerella.com/paper-pans/

I hope you enjoy both recipes. Now, I guess I had better start reading those books. I hear one of the main characters is a baker. I can definitely relate to that!

Stay Hungry my friends!

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Spring Break Trout

The girls are on Spring Break this week. We didn’t have any big Spring Break plans, so I chose to not take the week off. Remember, I missed quite a bit of work with the Horrible Awful Flu that hit the family.

The Hubs was left deciding what to do with the girls. Daughter Number 1 had gone back to her home in Wichita already, and Daughter Number 2 had alternate plans Monday and Tuesday. Despite the rain, The Hubs decided that he was going to take the youngest girls fishing. They LOVE to fish. So, he loaded them up and drove about 35 miles to do some trout fishing. In the rain. They had a great time, in spite of the downpour. The three of them brought home six Rainbow Trout.

Wednesday was still pouring rain, so the girls didn’t get to go fishing. The Hubs went later in the day and came home with two more.

Today the sun was shining and the temperature had warmed up, so The Hubs, Daughter Number 2, Daughter Number 3, and Daughter Number 4 all loaded up in the truck and drove out to “their” spot. They came home with a grand total of 13 Rainbow Trout.

Needless to say, we had trout for dinner tonight. In fact, we had trout fixed two different ways.

I do not like to eat fried food, and especially fried fish. I do like grilled fish and baked fish. So, we decided to bake some and fry some. The Hubs did all of the cleaning of the fish. Not my job.

I made a stuffing for two of the biggest fish. That is my job. Here is the stuffing that I came up with worked very well with the trout. I threw it together with ingredients that I had on hand. I think it would be especially good on the grill.

Spinach Stuffing for Trout

  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • Sea salt

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Add onions. Cook until translucent. Add spinach and heat through, stirring to combine. Remove from heat. Add bread crumbs, cheeses and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

Stuff the cleaned cavity of the trout with the stuffing. Insert toothpicks through the skin to hold closed. Bake the fish at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size / thickness of the fish. The fish will be tender and flaky when done.

Of course, we have quite a bit of fish in the freezer now, so I will be coming up with more recipes for trout in the months to come!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Cooking with Crab; and Guinness Brownies

The best laid plans…they go awry. As went my plans for cooking and baking on St. Patrick’s Day this year. Being of even a little bit of Irish Heritage has always been a large part of my life. The Hubs is also of Irish descent (and German, but I don’t celebrate that quite as much). Since we both have Irish Ancestry I like to cook and bake and celebrate St. Padraig’s Day in a more authentic way than many Americans (of Irish descent or not).

I had found some great Irish recipes, some great not-so-Irish St. Patrick’s Day recipes, and some great Guinness Stout recipes. The day just got away from me. Seriously, just slipped through my fingers.

The High School play, which had its opening night on Friday, had its second showing on Saturday. Daughter number 2 had a part (or 4) in the play. I had that in the back of my mind all day. So, I did have some time constraints, and put some constraints on food prep based partly on what daughter number 2 would be able to eat before the play. It had to be fairly light fare.

The Hubs and I had picked up some crab legs at the grocery store that day. I had never cooked crab legs, so I was a bit concerned how they would turn out. Keeping in mind that Daughters 2 and 3 are not overly fond of seafood I chose to cook some spaghetti to serve with the crab legs. I had also bought some fresh baguettes at the store.

I steamed the crab legs. It was much easier than I had thought it would be. Daughter number 4 was THRILLED! She really liked the crab. It was pretty darn good. I didn’t even use butter…

Sunday I got up thinking of the cooking and baking I hadn’t done the day before. I especially wanted to try a recipe for Chocolate Stout Brownies. Guinness is one of my favorite beers, and chocolate is my favorite food group. What could be better?

Daughter number 1 was coming from Wichita to spend the day. Her spring break is this week and she had a couple of free days. It’s always great to have her come.

I try to do some cooking or baking when she’s around. I’m not sure she enjoys it as much as I do, but being in the kitchen is good for her.

Together witChocolate Guinness Stout Browniesh daughter number 2 we made the Brownies. Wow. Oh, wow. They were so rich and delicious! I will most definitely be making these again (and again and again). The Guinness was not overpowering in them. The flavor pairing was divine. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Stout-Brownies-388657

I chose to dust the top with powdered sugar instead of frosting the brownies. After tasting the batter, I was afraid they would be too rich or too sweet with the Chocolate Guinness Frosting.

For dinner I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make. I knew I had some crab legs left over from the previous day. Left over crab legs didn’t sound very good to me. I also had an entire loaf of baguette left. I had the idea to combine the crab (once removed from the shell) and the baguette in some way. I looked in the fridge to see what was there to add to the crab. Here is what I came up with. It was a definite success. The biggest problem is that there wasn’t more…

Crab-stuffed Baguette

  • Baguette
  • Crab
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoonDijonmustard
  • ¼ teaspoonOldBayseasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • A few dashesTabascosauce
  • 1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crab, cream cheese, mayonnaise, mustard,OldBayseasoning, Worcestershire,Tabasco and onion in a bowl. Cut the Baguette into 4 sections. Remove the center portion of the bread (I used my apple corer). Stuff the crab mixture into the hole in the bread. Make sure it is filled completely. Repeat with all sections of the bread. Wrap the bread sections tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 12 or 13 minutes.

As I said, this was a success. Daughters number 1 and 2 weren’t home for dinner (daughter number 1 is allergic to seafood) and daughter number 3 wasn’t about to try this. Daughter number 4 was lucky enough to try it. She liked it. The bread was soft and the crab mixture was warm and bubbly. Oh, my. You can bet your crab legs I’ll be making this again. In fact, it would be great cut into smaller slices and served as an appetizer. Or leave the loaf long, and slice it at the table. Hmmmm. Yes, I will definitely be making this again! I enjoyed Guinness Stout with my Crab Baguette. For dessert I had a brownie. Sláinte.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

White Popcorn

I know this will both shock and amaze, but Daughters Number 2 and 4 both needed a treat / snack to take to school on Friday. You are shocked and amazed, aren’t you?

I had worked late a few nights last week which really threw off my schedule. I had the best intentions of whipping of muffins or cupcakes or cookies or something sweet and delicious. I just couldn’t bring myself to bake Thursday evening. So, I thought that if I got up early enough Friday morning (prior to Daylight Saving’s Time this was no big deal) I would bake something then. Didn’t happen. So, I believe that I dreamt the idea that I woke up with. To make white popcorn. It’s so easy to make and delicious to eat! In fact, I grabbed the ingredients before I headed to my mom’s for our morning coffee.

I made the popcorn while we talked. I actually got the recipe from my mother, who got it from one of the resident’s in the assisted living where she works. So, she was able to give me pointers while I made it. Not that I really needed them. You will see that this recipe is ridiculously easy. Oh, and I have made it many times. However, she is my mother. So, I listened.

White Popcorn

2 bags of microwave popcorn

3 blocks of white almond bark

Microwave each bag of popcorn and remove all of the unpopped kernels. Put the popcorn into a large glass bowl. Melt the almond bark in a microwave in a glass bowl on medium-low in 30 second intervals, stirring after every 30 seconds. When it has melted completely pour the bark over the popped corn. Mix it thoroughly with a spoon (or your hands) until it is completely covered. Pour onto waxed paper to dry.

 That’s it! Isn’t it easy? The really neat thing about it, is that it looks like plain popcorn so if you don’t tell people ahead of time they will be very surprised. It is very well received everywhere I take it. Daughter number 4 said it was too sweet for her. She’s just like that. Daughter number 2 said that not only did the class that she was supposed to take it for like it, but students that are not in that class heard about it and came into class to try it. They all just loved it.

So the next time you are in a hurry for a sweet treat to take somewhere, or just looking for something a little bit special for movie night make a quick batch of White Popcorn. Delish!

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Apple Tartlets

Sometimes, you just have to have something sweet. The Hubs was having just such a night. He wanted pie. Would I go get a pie? Would I drive the almost twenty miles to get a cardboard-y pie-like treat from a drive-thru? Apple pie seemed to be the craving.

I did not feel like driving to get a pie. I did happen to have a box of 2 pie crusts in my refrigerator. I believe they were from the holidays. Yes. Those holidays.

I must admit that I am not very adept at making my own pie crusts so that is something that I choose to buy. The ones that come in the red box in the refrigerated section at the grocery store. They roll out and go right in the pie plate. So awesome.

Now, remember, I said these were from The Holidays. 3 or 4 months ago. I think they are supposed to be refrigerated no more than 30 days, or frozen. I had some fresh apples. Two bags, to be exact. I set about to make an apple pie. I had Daughter Number 2 help with the coring and peeling of the apples. I started to unroll the bottom piecrust. Hm. Not so good. It was really sticky. So, I opened the second crust. Not quite as sticky, but it was definitely sticking to itself more than it should. Frustration was starting to set in when I decided to punt. I already had half of the apples I needed for a whole pie. I stopped the coring and peeling. I grabbed a muffin tin and a juice glass. I cut out the pie dough into small circles and put in the bottom of the six muffin cups. I added a few of the chopped apples, some cinnamon, brown sugar, flour for thickening, and a little pat of butter to each, then topped with another circle of dough. I baked them until the crusts were golden brown, and served them with Dulce de Leche and chocolate whipped cream over the top. They were loved by all!

It definitely wasn’t what I had set out to create, but it worked out perfectly. Little apple tartlets. It was such a great thing, that I will definitely make them again. Soon.

Oh, and it satisfied the Hubs craving for apple pie!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Uncategorized