Happy birthday to my husband. He is an amazing man, father, lover and friend. And he loves my cooking. So for tonight, I wanted to make him a nice dinner. But of course, I still have the kids to take care of today, a house to clean before company and a dog that is begging to go out, so my options for fine dining were a little limited. I decided to start a crock pot of food at lunchtime instead of at breakfast— our dinner will be done right as the kids are going to bed… so we can eat a meal as adults and maybe even partake in a glass of wine.
I had totally planned on doing chicken fajitas for dinner tonight or some sort of hearty “man” food, but my hubby went out with his coworkers for lunch at a Mexican restaurant, so I needed to reroute my dinner plans. Since I already had the chicken, I decided to make chicken cacciatore (pronounced catch-ahh-toe-ree) instead. It’s robust and filling, but an easy one pot meal.
Cacciatore is usually served over a thin pasta like angel hair, but it can also be served over rice, if you prefer. I like to top mine with grated Parmesan cheese instead of putting the cheese in when it’s cooking. You can also add other vegetables if you’d like– many cacciatore recipes add mushrooms and/or fresh basil leaves.
You don’t need a celebration to dine on this great chicken dish. Enjoy!
4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. spaghetti sauce
1 T. parsley flakes
1 t. basil flakes
1 t. oregano flakes
1/2 t. celery seed
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
Combine vegetables in crock pot, top with all seasonings and stir together. Pour in tomatoes and sauce and stir again. Place frozen chicken breasts on top of mixture. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Serve over thin pasta or rice.
I opened up my weekly CSA delivery and was so excited to see the ripe, fragrant produce. One thing in particular caught my attention– OKRA. The first thing I thought of was some hot, spicy gumbo. I think half of what I unpacked is going to end up in the gumbo— okra, tomatoes, basil, corn, green pepper… now if only I stopped at a farm for some chicken and then headed to the coast for some shrimp, but I guess I’ll have to buy those at the grocery store.
Gumbo is a perfect recipe for the crock pot because it needs to simmer for a long time to fuse all those flavors together. Cut your veggies into small pieces so you can have a bit of each morsel in your mouth! This soup would also freeze really well, so make the gumbo for dinner this week and then enjoy all these fresh treats again later this fall when they aren’t so available.
This soup can also be made vegetarian if you leave out the chicken, sausage and shrimp. I’d amp up the amount of veggies though and maybe get a little more okra, so that this tastes more robust and unique than just vegetarian vegetable soup. You can also use Morningstar Farms chicken strips (fake meat) if you’d like to add some protein. Enjoy!
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 lb. okra, sliced
1 c. of corn (cut off of fresh ears)
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3-4 ripe, sweet tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
2 stalks celery, sliced
4-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. chili powder
1 T. parsley
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Tabasco sauce
2 c. water
3 pork sausages, cooked and sliced
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned
2 c. cooked white rice
Combine all vegetables in crock pot. Add liquid ingredients. Sprinkle with all seasonings. Place chicken pieces on top of mixture next. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add shrimp, sausage and cooked white rice and cook for an additional 1 hour on low.
My nana didn’t make cookies. She didn’t make tea sandwiches. She didn’t make cute food like fruit, desserts, hors d’oeuvres, cordials or ganache. But she made amazing, hearty dishes in mass quantity like spaghetti and brisket and homemade potato salad. But anyone in my family could tell you that the one dish that she was known for was her barbequed salami. It is spicy and soft and just the right amount of sauce to smother a plain hamburger bun and make it melt.
Nana always bought the big tubes of kosher salami and hand sliced in and then quartered it. I don’t know how she made it so thin. I suggest using the tubes of Hebrew National salami, but here’s an easier way to prepare it— cut it in half longways and then in half longways again (it will almost look like four hot dogs at this point). Then, run it through your food processor to slice it really thin. Or, you can do it by hand, like Nana, if you have a sharp knife and a lot of patience.
Kudos to Nana for always serving this amazing feast to our family, for getting us all together and giving us memories to last forever. This will always be a favorite meal for me and I can’t wait to share it with all of you, too. Make it for your next picnic, family gathering or game night. Barbequed salami is best served with a pickle, some wavy potato chips to scoop up anything that falls off the bun and a huge stack of napkins. Enjoy!
2 lbs salami, sliced and quartered
2 12 oz. bottles Heinz chili sauce
1 c. ketchup
1 onion, quartered and sliced
1 green pepper, minced Read more
Stuffing is an under-appreciated side dish. It completely defines a Thanksgiving dinner and can sometimes be found at kitschy homecooking restaurants, but there is no reason to leave it alone for the rest of the year. Plus, it’s a great way to use leftover or stale bread. The more variety you use in your bread selection will equal a total change in the taste of the end result.
In my fridge right now, I have half a loaf of wheat bread (very dense and yeast-smelling) and half a loaf of what was labeled a “tomato bread” (tastes like Italian bread with a swirl of seasoned tomato paste in it). Here is how to prep your bread for stuffing: cut into slices and then into bite-sized cubes. For example, I would cut a normal piece of wheat bread four times each way = 16 smaller pieces. Then, lay cubes out in one layer on a cookie sheet and cook for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees, just until the bread toasts.
Instead of just pouring the stuffing into a pan, I love the idea of hand rolling the stuffing into balls. It cooks into nice individual servings and leaves lots of surface area to crisp. These balls also freeze really well, so make a full recipe and then save what you don’t consume. Enjoy!
6 cups homemade stuffing cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 c. water
1 16 oz. can cream-style corn
1 T. parsley
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 t. celery seed
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
10 little pads of butter or margarine
In a bowl, mix together all ingredients, except butter or margarine. After combined, mixture should be moist, but not dripping wet. Form 10 balls, using your hands and mush it together so that it can stand on it’s own. Coat oval-shaped crock pot with non-stick spray. Place stuffing balls side by side in crock pot. Place one little pad of butter or margarine on top of each stuffing ball. Cook on low for 3 hours.
(The original inspiration from this dish came from crock pot maven Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery Cookbook. No offense, but her recipe was bland and suggested using packaged stuffing mix; my adaptation takes it up a notch and makes it flavorful and heartier.)
Did you catch the title?? Does it sound like a contradiction to say “vegetarian” and then “chicken” in the same meal?! It is not. Thanks to modern day culinary creativity, I can make chicken chili for friends that don’t want to eat meat. This is a pretty easy recipe, but I like that it is a crowd pleaser and still meets certain dietary limitations.
Give this chicken chili a try next time you host a friend that is vegetarian or keeps kosher– they will be so happy that you honored their wishes and still served tasty dishes. (yes, that rhyme was intentional.) And don’t think this meal is for light weights— you can serve this at your next party or sporting event and even the men will be raving about your soup– it’s spicy, it’s filling and everyone will enjoy!
4 c. vegetarian chicken broth
2 cans great northern beans (do not drain)
1 4 oz can diced green chiles (do not drain)
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 c. frozen corn Read more
Here’s your mission if you choose to accept it: make dinner for four adults and two kids when you are staying at a friends house, you found one pound of ground turkey in the freezer and there is a pantry of assorted cans. And…. GO!
While visiting friends this week, I figured it was only appropriate to help with meals since they are at work all day. I know there is a crock pot on staff in the kitchen, so I accepted this mission without hesitation. Crock pot cooking is just the easiest way to make a crowd-pleasing dish without making a huge mess.
With our mix of adults and kids, I figured crock pot sloppy joes would be great. But with only one pound of meat, I knew that I needed to pump up the dish with some added ingredients. This recipe worked out great because it kept the true flavor of sloppy joes, but included some extra protein. Try this out next time you have to feed friends or family members or are looking for a no-fuss take on an old-time favorite. Enjoy!
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 medium onion, diced (or 3 T. dried minced onion)
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 14 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed Read more
I’m too excited about tomorrow’s dinner to wait until morning to post this. It’s funny– I have been posting all these recipes that are hearty and healthy, but mostly vegetable-based. Not this one! For all you meat lovers, this is simple, sassy and super! (Thank you to my friend BBM for introducing me to this sauce.) This recipe is fantastic to throw together for any occasion. It makes a great appetizer, can be thrown on egg noodles for dinner or on little crusty rolls as sandwiches. While it only has a few ingredients in it, the flavors mingle together in a tangy, unique way. Whether you serve it with toothpicks or forks, you’ll be pleased by how little efforts it takes to make great taste.
(Start by making your own meatballs using 1 lb beef, 1 lb turkey, 2 eggs, 1 T. chopped parsley and 1/2 c. breadcrumbs. Mix it all together, form little balls and then bake them on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. I’m going to make these tonight and then do the crock potting tomorrow at lunchtime. Or, if you prefer, you can totally buy frozen meatballs and use those instead. I won’t tell!)
2 lb. meatballs
8 oz. grape jelly
1 jar Heinz chili sauce
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 green pepper, diced
2 T. fresh minced parsley
Put all solids into the crockpot. Mix jelly and chili sauce together and then pour into crockpot. Cook 4-6 hours on low.