November 11, 2016

Rich and Brown Crockpot Chicken


Are you ready for a crockpot chicken dish that will completely knock your socks off? Are you also ready for your taste buds to explode? If you do you need to read this recipe. Then promptly head to the supermarket {and the Wine and Spirits for the Marsala wine if you need it!} and purchase these ingredients to make this dish. This is a fairly quick crockpot recipe - I cooked the chicken on high for 5 hours, so it's not an all-day-er like most crockpot dishes.  Although, you could absolutely let it cook on low for a full 8 hours so that it is ready for you over a workday.

The flavors in the dish are so complex and magical; you should have heard the ooos and aaaaahs when we were eating dinner last Sunday.  The ingredients are simple and not very many – here's what I used:

Ingredients

10 Chicken thighs, bone in and skin on!
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Avocado Oil
Salt, Pepper and Granulated Garlic, to taste
1 Large or 2 Small Onions, Sliced
1/2 Cup Marsala Wine
1 Packet Knorr Leek Recipe Mix (Vegetable Recipe Mix can be used too!)
1 Can Golden Mushroom Soup
1 Can Chicken Broth






{Season your chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. I was sure to season this very well to create a good flavor base for this dish. Any chicken parts can be used; as long as they are skin-on and bone-in which also adds to the flavor. }


{In a hot heavy-bottomed skillet on medium heat, add the olive oil and begin browning the chicken.}


{Let this sizzle and brown for about 4-5 minutes per side.  No need to cook all the way through, these will obviously finish cooking in the crockpot.  This browning step not only seals in the chicken juices, but the skin caramelizes and creates this rich flavor base for the entire dish.


{Once the chicken is seared on each side, remove from the pan.}


{Drain any excess oil from the pan, leaving 1-2 tablespoons.  Over medium heat, sauté the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until they start to brown.}


{Add the marsala wine and let it bubble for about 3 minutes so that the alcohol evaporates a bit.}


{With a spatula, lightly scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. All that crispy brown goodness is definitely needed to help flavor the dish! :)}                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

{Sprinkle in the Leek Recipe Mix and mix it well.  The leek mix is sometimes hard to find – if you are unable to locate it, feel free to use vegetable recipe mix, which will be just as good.}


{Add the can of golden mushroom soup then mix to combine.}



{Next add in your chicken broth and mix well.  Let it simmer for another minute or two.}


{As it bubbles, taste for salt an pepper.  I didn't need salt but I added some fresh cracked pepper.} 




{Put the browned chicken in the crockpot...}


{And pour your flavorful brown sauce all over.  Let it cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8. It will be falling off the bone and completely delicious!


{We had ours over rice and I also made my braised kale to accompany it. What an insanely superb Sunday dinner!}

Please let me know if you try this one! I'd love to hear how you liked it.

xoxo,

September 13, 2016

Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese











This recipe for creamy macaroni and cheese impressed me so very much, I could not wait to share it here on the blog! This was the second time I made this dish and it came out 100% perfect both times.  

Before initially making it back in July, I had never made macaroni and cheese that started with a Béchamel sauce.  My go-to macaroni and cheese is simply mixed and baked – which comes out perfectly well but let me tell you! This creamy macaroni and cheese may just be the BEST macaroni and cheese I have ever eaten. YES. You heard that right.  The flavors are unbelievable.  The texture is amazing. This can be made in whatever portion size you would like - a small batch for two people or a HUGE batch for a dinner event.

Ingredients

1 Box Pasta, Cooked  {you can use traditional macaroni noodles but I decided to use Cavatappi and I LOVED the texture they gave this dish. It was so hearty I found that it yielded more portions}
6 Tablespoons Stick Butter 
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 12 Ounce Can Evaporated Milk
2 Cups Half and Half
1 Heaping Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 8 Ounce Blocks Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Divided {it is IMPERETIVE that you use fresh cheese and grate it yourself.  The pre-grated / shredded bagged stuff just won't cut it in this recipe. In a pinch, you probably could use it but I would never compromise the flavor of this dish by taking that shortcut. :)


 

{In a heavy bottomed large pot, melt your butter over medium-low heat.}


{Once the butter is melted, add in your flour.}


{Begin whisking immediately to work out any lumps.  Continue to whisk this until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. You want to slightly cook the flour/butter mixture.}


{Slowly add the evaporated and continue to mix, working any visible lumps.}


{Keep whisking those lumps out! The key to making a good Béchamel is getting it as smooth and creamy as possible.}
 

{Slowly add in your half and half. Continue whisking.}


{Season the sauce with the Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. The Dijon is an essential ingredient.  It REALLY brings out the cheese flavor in this dish.  It provides just the right amount of characteristic savor that it needs.}


{Once you mix the salt, pepper and Dijon in, reduce the heat a bit let it slightly simmer for a minute or two.}


{Add 2 {of the 3} 8 ounce cubes of your {FRESHLY GRATED!!} cheese and mix it in well to melt down into the sauce.}




{Keep whisking this it until the cheese has melted down and the sauce is thick and creamy.  Taste it for seasoning, I added a pinch more of salt and pepper.}




{Add your pasta and mix it until you have coated every single piece. Try very hard not to devour the entire pot and I am warning you – it WILL BE HARD! LOL! You could serve this now and it would be absolutely delicious but I think the next steps kick this dish up a bit.}


{Spread the macaroni and cheese mixture into a 9"x13" baking dish.}


{Sprinkle the last 8 ounce block of grated cheese over it along with a bit of paprika.  This helps give the dish a nice tan while in the oven. :)}


{Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until it is bubbly and golden brown.}




{The creaminess is out of this WORLD! I man BEYOND. This is the most perfect pan of macaroni and cheese that will ever come out of your kitchen. And that's a promise.}



Serve it up and bask in your accomplishment while everyone who tastes it raves and raves. LOL! There really isn't much more to say. I hope you give this one a try! :)

xoxo, thanks for reading!  


September 12, 2016

Grilled Corn, Black Bean and Avocado Salsa



This recipe post has been a long time coming.  I think I enjoyed this grilled corn and avocado salsa over a dozen time this summer!  It's completely addicting and so easy to make.  I am so excited to have a few more warmer weeks left until the weather completely changes because that means I can still grill fresh ears of corn to enjoy this salsa.  The good news is that this will be equally as delicious using fresh steamed corn too so even after grilling season is officially over, this is a wonderful recipe to have in your back pocket for entertaining, lunch or a tasty snack for Sunday football. 

Ingredients:

4 Ears Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob, Kernels Removed
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Can Black Beans, Rinsed
2 Avocados, Diced
3 Green Onions, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro
1 Large Lime, Juiced
1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Pepper


{To grill the corn on the cob, shuck your corn on the cob, rinse it well and pat to dry.  Rub vegetable oil on the ears and grill for about 5 minutes, rotating the corn to evenly char.  Cut the kernels off the grilled corn cobs and set aside.  Like I mentioned above, you could also steam the corn to cook the kernels and then remove.  An indoor stovetop grill would also work just fine.}

{In a large bowl, add your corn kernels and the can of rinsed black beans.}

{Add your diced ripened avocado.}

{Next comes the chopped green onion and freshly chopped cilantro. The green onion adds the perfect onion bite without being too overpowering and the cilantro. Well, I am obsessed with cilantro so any excuse to add it in, makes sense to me.:)}

{Add in your freshly squeezed lime juice.  I had a really big juicy lime and it worked perfectly.  If you have smaller, tighter limes, you may need to use a few of them to produce enough juice.  You will probably need a third cup or so for this recipe.}



{Finally, add your spices and season well.  Granulated garlic, ground cumin, salt and pepper. }

{Mix really well to combine and taste for flavor.  Add in more of whatever you think it needs.  I've also added in crushed red pepper flakes a few times and it was spicy and delicious.  Need more lime juice? Add it in.  This can be served immediately or after chilling in the fridge for a few hours.  This salsa will keep well in the fridge for about 24 hours, though mine never lasted that long. LOL.  If its sits for more than a few hours, you may need to add a bit more lime juice to replenish the moisture :)}


Plate it up and serve with tortilla chips! I've been loving blue corn chips lately and they taste really great with this particular salsa. 

I hope you give this one a try - let me know if you do! 

xoxo, thanks for reading! 


June 28, 2016

BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich


There is an art to making grilled cheese and I believe I've mastered the steps. I am super excited to share this recipe for the perfect bbq chicken grilled cheese sandwich.  This sandwich is so easy to make and is the best idea for an easy summertime lunch.  You could use any leftover grilled meat that you have on hand to make this your own.  Cory grilled up a bunch of boneless chicken thighs on Sunday and we had a ton leftover so I decided to use them.  The flavors were insanely delicious; here's what I did.

Ingredients {Makes 4 Sandwiches}

8 Slices Fresh Bread of Your Choice {I used an Italian loaf}
1 6-8 Ounce Block of Good Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Leftover Grilled Chicken, Chopped {or any meat of your choice!}
2 Green Onions, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter



{Start by chopping your grilled meat.  I used leftover chicken thighs that I quickly marinated in a generous amount lemon pepper seasoning, sea salt and garlic powder.  Cory then grilled them until charred and cooked through and right at the very end, basted them with a GOOD BBQ sauce.}

{The bread used was a fresh Italian loaf that I bought from the bakery. Be sure take your loaf to the bakery counter and have them slice it on the machine for you.  They will put it right back in the bag that it came in, all sliced and ready to go.  This goes for any large loaves of bread that you buy at the super market.  This has saved me so much time and effort - I never seem to have a knife sharp enough to cut through fresh bread without smashing and ruining it.}

{Another key to good and flavorful grilled cheese sandwiches is GOOD cheese.  None of that pre-sliced American stuff from the deli counter.  You want to use a good sharp cheddar.  Gruyere also works really well and melts beautifully. And please, if you can help it, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese in  the bags in the dairy section.  Cheese is freshest and tastes the best when you shred it yourself. :)}

{To achieve the ooey, gooey, cheesy grilled cheese sandwich that we all know and love, you have start by piling the cheese on the bottom piece of bread.  Be sure to cover the entire surface so that the cheese melts from end to end.}
{Next, pile on your other ingredients.  I started with cheese, then added the BBQ chicken, green onions and topped it off with more cheese.  You always want to begin and end with cheese so that the sandwich sticks together and the cheese melts down into the other ingredients, holding them together like glue.}

{Top it off with the other slice of bread and lightly press it so that it stays together.}

{In a cast iron or heavy bottomed non-stick pan, melt the butter over low heat.  It is very important to cook your grilled cheese sandwiches over low heat so they don't burn.  All it takes is a few seconds for the pan to overheat and your sandwich will be too dark.  That's the last thing you want.  It is also important that the butter doesn't burn and start to smoke. To avoid any of that, make sure the flame is verrrrrry low.}

{After you have your sandwiches in the pan, find another heavy-bottomed pot or pan, to use as a weight to smash the sandwiches.  This will ensure that the heat is being evenly distributed and the cheese is melting throughout.  You are gonna let these cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Remember the heat is on very low so this may take a little longer - keep an eye on them, making sure they are not browning too quickly.}

{When the sandwiches are golden brown on the first side, turn them over and brown the other side,  Add in the remaining butter, rotating the pan to evenly distribute.  Return the weighted pot/pan so that the other side gets melty too. }

{Your sandwich will be so perfectly golden brown, crispy, buttery and FLAVORFUL. Slice and enjoy immediately!}

{I served ours with a big green salad for dinner tonight and it was delightful.  This is the perfect summer lunch OR dinner.  It was amazing with a salad but imagine this with soup! :) 

Let me know if you plan on making this recipe - you will love it!

xoxo, thanks for reading. 



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