Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

If you haven't noticed already, I love easy meals.  I like to cook but sometimes I'm just busy, but I still want a good meal on the table at dinner time.  My crock pot is my friend and I am trying to pull out and go over my crock pot recipes now that it is starting to get warmer, because who wants to use the oven much when it gets hot outside.

Today was a semi-busy day, I ran around town shopping, I can't remember the last time I went shopping for just me.  So before I left the house I put 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (I want to make my own sometime but didn't have the time today), 1 can of chicken broth, 2 cans of water (use the broth can for this not the soup), salt and pepper (I don't usually salt cause of the soups but I do put in pepper), 3 medium size frozen chicken breast, 1/3 cup of each frozen peas and frozen carrots, and 1/4 cup of frozen chopped onion (you could use fresh or omit these altogether but frozen are faster for today).  Put the lid on and turn it on low for 4-6 hrs.

When I got home I did a few things around the house while the girls napped, and Anthony was at the park with a friend of his. Then I turned the crock pot on high and took the chicken breast out. I placed them on a cutting board and they easily shredded, then back in the pot they went.

About this time Elizabeth woke up and I brought her in the kitchen to color in her highchair while I cut up the biscuits on a floured cutting board.  I like a lot of biscuits in my chicken and dumplings but I have seen other recipes that use about the same about of liquid and other ingredients but only use 1 can of biscuits so you could cut this down to 1 if you would like.  After they are all cut, dump them in the crock pot and put the lid on, don't stir them.  I know you want to, but don't do it :).  After about an hour check them and then if they are not cooking well stir them slightly and try to get them under the liquid if you can.  Just make sure not to stir much because they may still be doughy at this point.  After the dumplings have been in for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs check and see if you need to add any salt or pepper and that your dumplings are cooked.  That's it, an easy dinner for a semi-busy day. 

Printable Recipe:

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Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings
total cook time 5 1/2 -8 hours

3 chicken breast
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth
2 cans water (broth cans not cream of chicken)
1/3 cup frozen carrots
1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup frozen peas
2 cans biscuits

Put all ingredients except biscuits in the crock pot. 
Cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Shred your chicken after 4-5 hours.  Turn the crock pot on High.
Flatten biscuits and cut into 4-6 pieces (your preference I like mine into six pieces)  Place in crock pot quickly but try not to stir them much if it all, after about an hour check and see if they need to be stirred.
Cook on high for 2 hrs.

*note: On occasion my biscuits have not cooked well (maybe I left the lid off too long, or cut my biscuit to large, who knows) or I need to get dinner on the table quicker than 2 hrs from putting the biscuits in.  You can still use the crock pot for the everything up until the biscuits, let the flavors simmer all day, yum.  But about 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner put the whole thing in a large pot.  Bring to a boil. Cut biscuits and drop into boiling broth. Cook on medium heat approximately 10-15 minutes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quick Idea: freezer burrito mix

I love to cook and I love to freeze meals.  It's always nice on a busy day to not have to do a lot of extra work.  Days like that is when my freezer is my friend.  I actually just upgraded to a huge upright freezer today, I love it!

Well, earlier this month we had some family over and per Anthony's request I made tacos.  We ended up with quite a bit of leftover meat, refried beans, and rice/bean side.  So I put it all together in a ziploc bag and stuck it in the freezer for later. 

I told you there was quite a bit leftover
Tonight we are having freezer burritos, from the above referenced ziploc bag mix that is.  All I have to do is pull out the ziploc bag, defrost, and assemble with some flour tortillas and a little cheese.  So easy and you're not throwing away a bunch of leftovers.  Plus it's a nice cheap meal to use at the end of the month (especially if your at the end of your food budget like me)

I hate throwing food out.  It feels so wasteful, so I try to repurpose food when I can.  I freeze individual portion sized meals for Matthew to take to work.  I'll also freeze small amounts of meat to add to quesidillas for the kids lunch or individual portions of veggies for me to have with my lunch.  Don't get me wrong we actually like eating leftovers but this was on a weekend and I knew we wouldn't eat all that was left within the next couple of days, so that's when things go in the freezer. 

The only thing I don't like about this kinda cooking is about 4:30, when I normally start cookng, I'm walking around the kitchen feeling like I should be doing something, but have nothing to do.  So I may just organize my pantry tonight, who knows. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Santa Fe Rice and Beans

I absolutely love this meal. It is so easy and versatile. It's also a crowd pleaser, so I like to make it to take to our church potlucks on Sundays.  This weekend was crazy so we didn't stay for potluck but I made it anyway for us to have at home.  And of course I forgot to take pictures til the end so all I have is the one.

This is without the cheese since I plan on serving it cold, I will add the cheese later

First start your rice cooking. Then open and drain all the cans except for the Rotel.  After that, get out a big mixing bowl and start dumping in cans, sounds easy huh? My 8 year old loves to help with the dumping part. 

If I'm putting meat in it, I will cut it up and put it in at this point.  We grilled this weekend, so I had my husband grill a few extra chicken breast, and I put those in for my meat. 

Then in goes the rice and cheese, stir to combine.  If you are heating it put it in a 9x13 pan or a large casserole dish.  Bake for 20 min at 325 degrees.

It's also good served cold, so you could make it in advance.  All you have to do it pull it out of the refridgerator when you're ready to serve.  The only thing I like to do differently if I serve it cold is just don't add the cheese till I'm ready to serve or it will melt some with the rice since it is still warm when I first mix it. 

This is very good served with tortilla chips, over a green salad, or with flour tortilla shells.  I've also doubled the rice before and just served it alone, like I said it's very versatile. 

Printable Recipes:

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Sante Fe Rice and Beans

2 cans of pinto beans, drained
2 cans of black beans, drained
1 can Mexicorn, drained (or use a can of regular corn and add chopped bell peppers)
1 can Rotel, not drained
1 small can of sliced olives, drained (optional)
2 cups cheese
1 cup brown rice, cooked
salt and pepper to taste
This can be prepared with or without meat. I like to add part of a rotisserie chicken, or a pound of pork chops cooked and cut into bite size pieces.

Prepare meat and rice.  In a large bowl mix olives, beans, corn, salt and pepper, Rotel, and meat.  Add in rice, and if heating add in cheese as well.  If serving chilled, add cheese when ready to serve.  Combine well.  Either leave it a cold dish, or bake it in the oven for 20 min at 325 degrees.  I serve this with tortilla scoop chips, or also good in a flour tortilla or over a salad with some salsa or ranch as dressings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chicken Monterey

This is a dish my husband's been requesting for a little while now and I finally decided to make it for him.  I'm so glad I did, I forgot how good it was.  It's really fairly simple and I've done it a few different ways, like this time I forgot the taco seasoning till everything else was almost done so I just added it into the sour cream and you couldn't tell a difference except for the orange sour cream of course. 

This dish is not too spicy, but I use mild taco sauce and mild taco seasoning, so it can easiely be spiced up if you prefer.  I usually serve this with refried beans and salad.  You could also serve with tortillas and make burritos out of it, I've done that with leftovers before but there were no leftovers this time.

Printable recipes:
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Chicken Monterey
Serves 4

2 chicken breast
2 cups cooked brown rice
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices pepper jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup taco sauce
envelope taco seasoning

Put the rice on the bottom of a casserole dish. 
Place chicken on top of the rice.
Mix oil, taco sauce, and taco seasoning then pour over chicken.
Place cheese slices over chicken then top with dollops of sour cream.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

I serve with refried beans and salad.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The other night we had Sweet and Sour Chicken, Fried rice and so I made eggrolls to go with it.  This was the first time I've ever made them and wasn't sure how it would go.  They turned out really, really yummy.  I wasn't thrilled with the texture. I baked them instead of frying and didn't set the timer before we had a catastrophe (we'll just say involved a diaperless 1 year old on the loose, and leave it at that).  So most likely I didn't cook them long enough, I can be a little impatient sometimes, or they would of been fine.  Like I said though they were still excellent.  Oh and I forgot to meantion, they were super easy.

You start off with 1 lb of ground pork or chicken, though I think I will only use 1/2 lb next time.  My husband liked all the meat but it was a little too much for me, either that or I will try to get it into smaller pieces next time. 
While browning your meat sprinkle with the soy sauce and spices.  After your meat is cooked add in your bag of coleslaw mix and let it cook down some about 3 minutes.  You still want your cabbage to be a little firm but not quite crisp. 
Using a 1/4 measuring cup scoop out some mix onto your wrapper and tuck the sides in then roll tightly.  Seal with your finger dipped in a little water. 

 Now if your like me I didn't even know you could buy these wrappers.  So you don't have to search all over the place for them I found them in the produce section very close to the bagged salads.  Also you can add in other vegetables, sprouts, or whatever you want to.  Next time I think I am going to try my hand at making my own wrappers.  Not sure though since these were so easy, we'll see. 

Prinable copy:

Egg rolls
adapted from www.groceryshrink.com

1/2 - 1 lb ground turkey (or chicken, pork or shrimp or any combo)

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 scant teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 package 16 oz coleslaw mix

10 - 20 egg roll wraps ( I used 20 and was able to freeze some for later)

Place meat in a large skillet (remember your cabbage is going in here next too) and sprinkle with soy sauce and spices.  Brown meat, breaking it up into small pieces, the smaller the better.
When meat is cooked and drained, add the coleslaw mix, cook, and stir for 3 minutes or until the veggies are crisp tender.
Place 1/4 cup of mix on a wrapper, if you want bigger egg rolls use 1/2 cup.
Fold the sides over.

Bring the bottom corner up and wet the top of the wrapper with your finger dipped in water. Roll the rest of the way up.

You can either fry them or you can bake them.  If you choose to bake them, brush them with olive oil then place in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

*Edited:  I froze the extras I had and they did not reheat as well as I would of liked.  Next time I will probably use 1/2 lb of meat,  fill them a fuller (1/3-1/2 cup), and not make quite as many.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken, fried rice, egg rolls, and extra sweet and sour sauce for dipping

We had Sweet and Sour Chicken, with egg rolls, and fried rice.  It is a time consuming dish so be prepared, it does take 1hr in the oven and probably about 30 minutes of prep and time at the stove.  Needless to say we don't make this often but it is a favorite.  If a recipe keeps me in the kitchen that long it better be exceptional or it doesn't last on our menu long. 
Also I have used just the chicken recipe without the sauce and added in a little garlic powder and onion powder to the flour mix to make chicken nuggets to keep in the freezer for the kids lunches.  It is cheaper and much better than store bought chicken nuggets.  I enlist Matthew's help and we do a whole 6 lb bag of chicken at once.  They love it, and Matthew and I even made a few for ourselves last time by adding a little Cajun seasoning to the last of the flour.  But back to the actually recipe.


Start off by cubing 3-4 chicken breast. Then put your flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. And your beaten egg in another shallow dish. I use 8x8 pans. I like to double dip my chicken, because of this I use about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of flour instead of the 1 cup the original recipe calls for. Start off in the flour, then egg, then flour again. While you are dredging your chicken you can start your oil heating up on the stove. When you oil is heated enough to sizzle and bubble at a pinch of flour tossed in, you can add your chicken. Now don't cook your chicken all the way just get it brown, the oven will finish where the skillet leaves off. Oh yeah on that note nows a good time to preheat your oven to 325 degrees while you finish up the chicken.   Remove your chicken from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate, drain, then transfer to a 9x13 dish. 

Now you get to mix up your sauce.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of vinegar but this is just too much for my family so we cut it down to 1/3 a cup.  If your family isn't turned off by that much vinegar, Matthew and Anthony liked it fine with 1/2 a cup, but the girls and I like it better with a little less.  Now if you don't want to take the hour for the oven, you could cook completely in the skillet, then heat your sauce in a saucepan for about 10 minutes on a low heat.  It really is worth the wait to do it in the oven though, the flavors blend so much more that way.  So with your chicken placed in the 9x13 single layered, pour your sauce over the chicken, and bake for 1 hour turning about every 15 minutes so they are coated well.

So I got distracted and this is the last picture I took till my actual plate sorry.
 We like this with fried rice and for the first time I made egg rolls.  I also doubled the sauce so we had the extra to dip our egg rolls in.

Printable Recipes:

Recipe without picture

Recipe with picture

Sweet and Sour Chicken
adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Serves 4-6


3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup canola oil


3/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons ketchup

1/3 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. 

Mix salt and pepper into flour in a shallow dish I use a 8x8 glass pan.

Dip chicken in flour and then in egg then back in flour.

Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through.

Place in a single layer in a baking dish.

Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.
Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes so it is evenly coated with the sauce.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick idea: Quick Bread Sticks

With grilling weather fast approaching (ok, I can dream) here is something you can do with those extra hot dog buns.  Why do they never match up with how many hot dogs in a package?  We may never know, but I choose to take advantage of this.  Anytime there are extras I throw them in the freezer and pull them out when I need quick bread sticks.  Separate the two sides, place on  a cookie sheet bun side down, spread butter, sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little shredded Parmesan cheese, or top however you like.  Place them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, this time is if they are frozen, if they are room temperature reduce time to about 5 minutes.
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