slow cooker garlic chicken thighs

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I jumped on the slow cooker train way too late.  Even when I actually had one in my small kitchen, I kept it in the box because there just wasn’t any room for it.  So this year, when K and I moved into our new townhouse, which had a kitchen about double the size of our old kitchen, I couldn’t wait to give the slow cooker a try.

Since then, the slow cooker gets used about once a week.  Our regulars are pulled pork, chili, and of course, these garlic chicken thighs.  I love this chicken dish (and generally any slow cooker dish) because I can put everything in the slow cooker (even if the chicken is still frozen) and voila! 8 hours later, I have a stunning, juicy yet crispy chicken dish.

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken Thighs
(Makes 2 servings)

4 chicken thighs, skin on and patted dry
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup white wine such as Chardonnay
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the wine and flour until no lumps remain.  Set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker, skin side up.  Pour the wine mixture on top of the chicken.

Cover and cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.

Transfer 2 cups of the sauce from the slow cooker to a small saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to simmer and reduce to about half the volume.  Set aside.

Serve the chicken thighs over couscous with some of the reduced sauce.

slow cook on,
Sharon

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turkey chili

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Hopefully everyone had a relaxing and delicious Thanksgiving!  Now that it’s officially December and the chilly nights are in full swing, chili has made its way back into the weekly dinner rotation.

Our family can thank Shirley for the introduction of chili.  Since then, it has become a favorite meal in the family.  We all love it for many reasons.  It’s easy to make, it tastes delicious, and it makes a huge quantity.  One pound of meat will get you a long way.  This means it gives me plenty of leftovers, which I have used as a pasta sauce, for chili dogs, or even in a chili omelet.  Feel free to try out the recipe with ground meat, but I’ve never had issues with using ground turkey.  It fact, I prefer it!  The sauce keeps it moist, and the spices keep it flavorful.  You really can’t go wrong.  Topped with some freshly grated mozzarella or a dollop of sour cream, it’s the perfect Sunday Night Football meal.

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Turkey Chili
(Serves 6)

½ large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean (93%) ground turkey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground Ancho Chili pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 large potato, cut into small cubes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can chickpeas

In a large pot at medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the garlic begins to brown.  Add the turkey, and stir it well with the onion and garlic.  Add the garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and Ancho Chili pepper.  Add as little or as much hot sauce as you prefer.

Once all the turkey is cooked, add the tomatoes, potatoes, kidney beans, and chickpeas.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, cover the pot, lower the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer for 30-60 minutes.  The more time, the richer the flavors.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or a sprinkling of cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

– food on,
Sharon

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coffee chicken

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As a child, when your mom tells you that she’s going to make coffee chicken for dinner, your initial reaction is, “Ew, Mom.”  And for most adults, coffee is coffee.  You don’t really mix it into savory foods very often.  But as I grew up, I came to realize that this is an absolutely unique and delicious dish.  This recipe has been in our family for many generations, and continues to get passed down.  Most people are reluctant, until they smell the chicken cooking in the coffee mixture.  The chicken cooks in a mixture made up of freshly roasted coffee, ketchup, soy sauce, and more.  The result is a juicy and flavorful piece of chicken.  One bowl, one mixture, one hour.  Couldn’t get easier than that.  Serve it with rice pilaf and broccoli, and you’ve got yourself a meal that will not disappoint!

Coffee Chicken
(Serves 6)

1 whole chicken, cut to small to medium pieces
¾ cup brewed coffee
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the chicken.  Mix well.

Spread the chicken pieces onto the bottom of a large pot.  Pour the sauce over the chicken.  Bring to a boil.  Leaving the pot uncovered, reduce the heat to low and let cook for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and tender, and the sauce has reduced to a semi-viscous sauce.  Be sure to stir occasionally.

– food on,
Sharon

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baked & breaded tilapia

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I can’t say enough great things about this meal.  This is the quickest filling dish that I have ever cooked.  K and I walked in the apartment this evening, and from the time it took to take these filets out of the shopping bag and onto our plates, just 10 minutes had passed.  And that was with a side of roasted asparagus.  Can you imagine?!

Another great thing about this meal is that it is very versatile.  I tend to favor tilapia because I like the taste and I think the portion size is ideal.  However, I’ve made this [successfully] with scrod and cod as well.  I use Italian-style bread crumbs with the fish, because, well, it’s an easy fix for when I’m lazy.  But I do think it’s the perfect seasoning for this gentle fish.  However, you can definitely use unseasoned bread crumbs and season the fish with salt and pepper however you wish.

Season with bread crumbs.  Add butter.  Pop into the oven for 7 MINUTES.  Dinner is served!

Baked & Breaded Tilapia
(Serves 2-3)

4-5 filets of tilapia, about 1 pound
about 1 cup italian-style bread crumbs
1/4 cup salted butter, diced into small pieces

Preheat oven to 360 F.  Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.

Arrange the filets flat on the baking dish, side by side.  Add a thin layer of bread crumbs evenly on top of all the filets.  Then add the small pieces of butter over the bread crumbs, evenly spacing the butter throughout each filet.

Bake in the oven for 7 minutes and serve immediately.

– food on,
Sharon

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sausage stuffed zucchini boats


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Happy Labor Day everyone!  Nothing could be better than waking up at 10:30am on a “work-day” with not a single work-related e-mail in my inbox.  With the monsoon thunderstorm outside, and the laundry complete, I figured it would be a great chance to try out a new dinner recipe.

Zucchinis were my test subject.

K and I have become very fond of zucchini.  Neither of us grew up eating it very often, but we gave it a try earlier this year, and I’m proud to say, it has made it to the weekly vegetable rotation in the household.  We like it because it’s easy and versatile. There are so many way to prepare it, not only as a side, but in this recipe, it’s a main component!  A nice change of pace from the usual “vegetable on the side” routine that we tend to have.

Not only was this recipe delicious, with so many unique flavors coming together beautifully, it was extremely filling.  I will admit, prep time and cook time combined was over an hour, but I felt that it was well worth the wait.

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
(Serves 4)

1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for baking dish
4 medium-sized zucchini, about 2 pounds
1 pound sausage, such as spicy chorizo or Italian, removed from casing
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Drizzle a large baking dish with olive oil.

Since you are not peeling the zucchini, make sure they are nice and clean.  Halve each zucchini lengthwise, so you end up with 8 equal pieces of zucchini.  Holding the zucchini in one hand, and a teaspoon in the other, slowly scrape the seeds and flesh from the zucchini.  This may seem difficult at first, but you will quickly get the hang of it.  Reserve 1/2 cup of this flesh.  Leave enough of a border so that the zucchini maintains its integrity.  Place the zucchini, cut sides up, on the baking dish.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sausage.  Break up the sausage using your spatula.  Cook until the sausage is browned and the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and the reserved zucchini flesh and cook for 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Add the panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and the egg to the sausage mixture.  Mix well.  Divide this mixture among the zucchini boats.  Bake until the filling is firm and the zucchini is tender, with wrinkles around the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes.

– food on,
Sharon

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shrimp, asparagus, and tomato sauce over spaghetti

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I have a very special place in my heart for this meal.  It was the first meal K ever cooked for me.  He went all out, from buying the fresh shrimp, to deveining them one by one, and then watching carefully as everything cooked over the stove.  He did however use store-bought tomato sauce, but I’ve taught him since.  He knows better than that these days!

The flavors in this meal go perfectly together.  Shrimp, asparagus, and tomatoes are the staples, but we’ve added scallops to the mix on numerous occasions.  Aside from the cleaning of the shrimp (which you can have your store do for you, or use frozen shrimp), it’s a very simple dish that tastes amazing and looks equally impressive.

Shrimp, Asparagus, and Tomato Sauce over Spaghetti
(Serves 3-4)

3/4 pound spaghetti
1/2 pound asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1-inch segments
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cups of homemade tomato sauce, or about 1 24-oz jar of tomato sauce
1 pound fresh jumbo shrimp, top & bottom deveined, and shells & tails removed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook the spaghetti according to the directions on the box.  Drain completely and set aside.

Lightly oil a large frying pan at medium-high heat.  Add the onion and let cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the asparagus to the pan and mix.  Let cook for about 5 minutes.  Next, add the raw shrimp and mix.  Season with pepper.  Let the ingredients cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the shrimp is pink and the asparagus is tender.  Add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Serve the sauce over a bed of spaghetti, and garnish with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

– food on,
Sharon

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grown up hot dogs

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I am  not a big fan of hot dogs.  I am sure you can understand why.  But, we picked up a package at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t as apprehensive about getting them there: they are 100% beef and made at a small, family owned farm that’s about 15 miles away.  Of course, they had ones with cheese, and J just couldn’t resist.  Usually J eats them and I pass, but, in the spirit of 4th of July, this time I figured I’d partake.  But that meant I’d have to take it up a notch.

I love this because not only does it make the hot dog feel very grown up, it uses a bunch of my veggie share.  Instead of caramelized onions, that mixture is made up of jalapeño peppers, onions, and fennel.  The fennel adds a really great flavor.  And I made a slaw of sorts with 2 different kinds of beets and carrots to add a crispy element.

I had some halumi cheese on hand, so I used that instead of regular cheese.  Halumi cheese originates from Cyprus, and it has a salty taste and chewy texture.  It gets soft after a couple minutes of heat and tastes amazing, even if just eaten on its own.

I was tempted to add bacon, but resisted the urge, although I know that everything tastes better with it.  Next time.

Grown Up Hot Dogs
(Serves 2-3)

2 carrots
1 beet
1 small chiogga beet
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil

Julienne the carrots and beets.  In a small bowl, toss vegetables with lemon juice and olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

½ onion, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 small fennel, cut into 2 inch slices
½ cup white cooking wine

In a small pan, sauté the onion and jalapeño pepper until brown.  Add the fennel to the pan and stir. Add wine and cook together for a few minutes until the fennel has caramelized.

¼ cup slaw
½ cup caramelized fennel mixture
3-4 hot dogs
3-4 hot dog buns
½ block Halumi cheese

Grill the hot dogs on the grill.  Cut the Halumi cheese block into thin slices, and cook at medium heat for about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Lay the cheese in the bun, top with hot dog, caramelized fennel mixture, and slaw.

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– food on,
Shirley