Archives for category: make ahead

avocado-lime-mason-jar-salads-zucchini-noodles-and-fresh-veggies

Our garden still runneth over with zucchinis. I made a batch of mason jar salads, using spiralized zucchinis instead of lettuce. I threw in some baked chicken breast and fresh veggies. Then put the jars in the fridge for a week’s worth of lunches. For the dressing I mixed up avocado, lime juice, fresh cilantro, garlic, and olive oil. Can you say delicious?!?

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci, and she uses a big fancy spiral cutter called “The Inspiralizer.” However I just use a tiny GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer. Anyway here’s what I came up with:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 2 or 3 zucchini, spiralized into noodles
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 pint-size mason jars

WHAT YOU DO:

Make the dressing: In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, lime juice, and avocado. Pulse until creamy. Add some room temperature water a few teaspoons at a time then pulse after each addition of water, until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble the salads: Divide the ingredients and the dressing among the four jars: First the dressing (bottom layer), then the remaining ingredients up to the top. Place lids on the jars and refrigerate.

*I assembled everything in advance except for the dressing (just in case the avocado browned), so I prepared the dressing right before serving.

And here’s a link to an avocado scoop I hand-stamped; available at my Etsy shop!

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Here’s a simple and delicious recipe I tried: Lemon Ginger Chicken Thighs. I adapted it for the slow cooker, and then broiled it in the oven for a few minutes to make the thighs nice and brown. 

Slow Cooker Lemon Ginger Chicken - from Crock Pot to broil a few minutes to crisp

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 8 chicken thighs; bone-in, with skin
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • for garnish: sliced green onions and lemon wedges

WHAT YOU DO:

Finely grate the peel of 1 lemon into a bowl. To this, add ginger and salt. Stir to combine. Rub this mixture under the skins of the chicken thighs.

In slow cooker, combine the juice of two lemons (the grated lemon, plus another lemon), honey, soy sauce, oil, and water. Add chicken, making sure to coat all pieces with liquid.

* tip: I love slow cooker liners. Much easier and faster clean-up afterward.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until internal temperature of chicken reaches at least 165ºF. Once chicken is cooked, preheat oven to BROIL.

Remove chicken from slow cooker and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place chicken in oven and broil 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown, then remove. Top with green onion slices, add lemon wedges cut from the remaining lemon, and serve.

recipe adapted from bhg.com

Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker liners for Crock Pot recipes

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One-Pot Beef and Guinness Stew Recipe

Easy freezer-friendly beef stew. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you crave warm comfort food. Just start everything in a dutch oven or heavy pot on the stove, and transfer the whole thing to the oven.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 4 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 lbs. small potatoes (I used a mixture of red and yellow), cut into chunks
  • 2 white onions, diced
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • Irish stout beer – I used one 11-oz. bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, for seasoning
  • 16 oz. frozen baby peas, thawed

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a heavy pot or dutch oven (5-quart size or so) on the stovetop, toss beef with flour and stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, occasionally.

Cover with lid and place pot in oven. Cook until meat is fork-tender, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, then season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

TO FREEZE: Prepare according to recipe. Cool, then divide into a few containers, label, and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw, reheat, and serve.

adapted from marthastewart.com

 

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef Recipe – Here’s a delicious Crock Pot option. You can use this shredded meat on sandwiches, tortillas, as a nacho topping, and more.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Recipe - delicious Crock Pot meal option 

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3 lbs. chuck roast
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt plus additional if needed, to taste
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ c. diced red onion
  • ¼ c. beef broth
  • ½ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar

WHAT YOU DO:

1. On a large plate mix together flour, ½ tsp. salt, and pepper. Dredge the chuck roast on both sides.

2. In a large pan, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add chuck roast and brown for 3-4 min on each side, until both sides are browned and a crust forms.

3. Transfer beef to slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray (or lined with a slow cooker liner).

4. In the same pan used for the beef, sauté garlic and onion until fragrant and onions are translucent (approx. 3-­4 min).

5. Stir in broth and scrape up any brown bits left from the roast. Transfer mixture to the slow cooker with the beef.

6. In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar (tip: use a wet dishcloth or paper towel “nest” under your bowl to whisk with one hand and add ingredients with the other). Pour over the roast.

7. Cook on HIGH for 5 hours (or LOW for 8-10 hours). Flip the roast a couple times while cooking and make sure all ingredients are combined.

8. Using two forks, shred the meat. Add salt. Combine with sauce and serve.

* * * Make ahead option: Cook as instructed above, then cool and freeze into portions. Heat on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 5 hours
Makes 10 servings (1/2 c. per serving)

recipe adapted from organizeyourselfskinny.com

Slow Cooker liners for Crock Pot recipes

Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

French Onion Soup Recipe

Cold weather makes me crave soup, soup, and more soup! Here’s a French Onion Soup Recipe, which I love because you can freeze some for later and use it in your next batch for an even richer soup.

Also, since I am a make-ahead junkie, I love that you can cook this up to two days beforehand, and refrigerate it until you are ready to broil it in the oven topped with sliced baguettes and delicious cheeses.

The basic steps are pretty easy too: saute some onions, make the broth, then portion into cute little soup crocks, and broil to melt the cheese for a minute until it’s bubbly and starts to brown.

French Onion Soup Recipe - YUM

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the soup:

  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 6 c. beef stock
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

For the topping:

  • 1/2 French baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 slices Provolone cheese
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

WHAT YOU DO:

STEP 1: CARAMELIZE THE ONIONS
– Melt butter in large pot over med-heat
– Add onions with a pinch of salt, and stir to coat with melted butter
– Sprinkle cayenne pepper and black pepper on top and stir every few minutes, for approximately 20 minutes, until the onions become soft and brown

STEP 2: DEGLAZE THE PAN
– Bring mixture to a boil over high heat
– Add wine
– Cook, stirring to release browned pieces
– Reduce heat to medium and simmer for approximately 5 minutes, until the wine has reduced slightly

STEP 3: ADD THE STOCK
– Pour beef stock into onions and stir
– Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to low
– Let simmer for at least 1 hour (longer simmering will lead to more flavor)
– If liquid reduces too much add more stock or water until it has a soup-like consistency again

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE
– Just prior to serving, place oven rack near the top and set broiler to high
– Ladle soup into 4 soup cups (save any leftover for next time – you can freeze the unused soup and add it to your next batch to make it more flavorful)
Place a baguette slice on top of each, covering with soup
– Lay a slice of provolone on top of the bread, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano
– Place cups on a baking sheet and set under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese becomes bubbly and brown (be careful so it doesn’t burn) and serve

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

Make-Ahead Option: Complete STEPS 1-3. Refrigerate for up to two days until ready to complete STEP 4.

French Onion Soup Recipe

Season With Sage Cookbook - French Onion Soup Recipe - Page 89

recipe adapted from Season With Sage (2011)

 

 

Crock Pot Black Bean Enchiladas Recipe - easy and delicious slow cooker meal

Slow-Cooker Cheesy Black Bean Enchiladas Recipe

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 can (16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 c. of your favorite shredded cheese (Monterey jack, colby, cheddar, etc.)
  • 2 jars (approx. 16 oz. each) salsa
  • 1 package corn tortillas, warmed according to instructions on pkg.
  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken), browned and drained
  • optional toppings: sliced olives, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, jalapenos, etc.

In a medium bowl, mix together the filling: onion, beans, spices, meat, and approx. 1/2 to 1 c. of the cheese.

Spread approximately 1 c. of salsa over the bottom of slow cooker, enough to evenly coat the bottom with a thin layer.

Fill each of the tortillas with about 1/3 c. of filling, roll tightly, and pack seam-side down into the bottom of the slow cooker.

Spread another cup of salsa over the top and sprinkle with more (but not all) of the remaining cheese. Continue rolling the remaining tortillas with the remaining filling to make one more layer; sprinkle any leftover filling on top. Finish by pouring another cup of salsa over the top of the enchiladas.

Reserve the last part of the cheese to add later.

Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on HIGH for 2 to 4 hours. For the final 15 min. of cooking, sprinkle remaining cheese over the top, re-cover, and finish cooking.

Serve enchiladas with optional toppings.

recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Slow Cooker liners for Crock Pot recipes

Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Chili and oyster stew are a Christmas tradition on my side of the family. When I was younger I only liked the chili but now that I have grown wiser in my ways and my tastes have matured (ha!) I looooovvvve oyster stew too.

Here is a link to my “no recipe” recipe chili.

And here’s how our Christmas 2015 oyster stew turned out…

Oyster Stew Recipe adapted from Paula Deen- a Christmas tradition - we always have oyster stew and chili

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 12 oz fresh raw oysters, undrained
  • 1 quart (32 oz.) whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • optional toppings: oyster crackers, sliced green onions

WHAT YOU DO:

Saute onion in butter until tender.

Add oysters, milk, and seasoning.

Cook over low heat until edges of oysters begin to curl, and the stew is hot but not boiling.

Top with crackers after serving and garnish with sliced green onions.

recipe adapted from PaulaDeen.com

Whole Roasted Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

Whenever I am at Costco I always pick up a rotisserie chicken. They are so easy to use in recipes, or just eat plain out of the container. It’s one of the few things all of our kids will eat! I went to buy a rotisserie chicken at… NOT Costco (ha!) and it was $9! Are they always that expensive if it’s not at Costco or Sam’s? I decided to try my own in the slow cooker. I ended up with a 5ish pound whole chicken, for $6. So, yep, I saved a whopping three bucks. Lol! It WAS super easy though, and so tender it fell it off the bones, so I consider this a success.

I put the bones and the leftover carcass in a stockpot and added some water to make homemade broth. I threw in chopped carrots, celery, and onion, and added some herbs: garlic, parsley, and a bay leaf, and let everything simmer for a few hours. I strained the broth into a few containers and stashed them in the freezer for later.

Awesome slow cooker recipe - Whole Roasted Chicken - just rub some spices on, throw in some onions, and set your Crock PotWHAT YOU NEED:

  • whole chicken (I used one that was around 5 lbs)
  • 1 onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. red cayenne pepper
  • dash of pepper
  • kitchen twine, for trussing

WHAT YOU DO:

Combine paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Stir to mix.

Place onion pieces in the bottom of slow cooker.

Remove any giblets from chicken. Using kitchen twine, truss the chicken. Tying the legs and wings in gives a smooth shape so the chicken cooks evenly and retains moisture. I followed the poultry trussing instructions in The Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America, but of course a quick internet search is an easy way to learn how as well.

Rub spice mixture over the entire chicken. Don’t forget to throw some in the cavity, and if you want you can even stuff some under the skin that covers the chicken breasts.

Place chicken on top of onions in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the chicken starts falling off the bone and is thoroughly cooked.

Slow Cooker

recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Italian Lasagna with Red Sauce Recipe – I took an Italian cooking class and learned how to make red sauce, and different types of lasagna. The instructor gave us recipes and some cooking tips and then we got to make some and bring them home. YUM.

This was my favorite:

Best lasagna recipe ever - includes freezer instructions - Not sure why but they always taste better the next day as leftovers!

I have since made a bunch of these, and froze some for later. Gotta love freezer meals!

If you want, you could use ground turkey instead; or even vegetables for a meatless option (just saute zucchini, broccoli, and carrots, and use them in place of the meat) and add a little pesto to the cheese mixture.

I used two 8×8″ pans, but if you want to make one batch just use a 9×13″ pan with the same recipe.

When I made the two 8×8 lasagnas, I baked one and froze the other for later.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef (or Italian sausage; or a mixture of both)
  • Red sauce (see recipe below)
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups (or more if you’re a cheese lover) shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 package (approximately 12 oz) oven ready “no cook” lasagna noodles
  • Fresh Italian parsley, to taste, chopped

WHAT YOU DO:

Brown meat in a skillet and drain grease. Stir in the red sauce and heat through.

Combine ricotta cheese, grated Pecorino Romano, eggs, and parsley in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Evenly spread the meat sauce in a the bottom of a 9×13″ pan OR two 8×8″ pans. Layer lasagna noodles on top, then spread on some of the cheese mixture and cover with meat sauce. Top with shredded mozzarella, and repeat for one or two more layers.

If preparing lasagna right away: Bake in preheated oven at 375ºF for 30-40 minutes until cheese is golden (cover with foil for the first 20-25 minutes or so then uncover until done).

If freezing for later: Wrap unbaked lasagna in foil/plastic wrap and label. Freeze. To prepare, thaw and bake at 375ºF for 30-40 minutes until cheese is golden (cover with foil for the first 20-25 minutes or so then uncover until done).

Italian Red Sauce - so easy and fresh and homemade - includes an awesome lasagna recipe - I make giant batches and freeze for later

FOR THE RED SAUCE:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 1 cup crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • sea salt, to taste
  • pinch of brown sugar (weird I know!)

Heat EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent for 8 minutes or so. Add parsley and garlic and cook just enough to release fragrance (don’t let the garlic burn).

Add red wine and cook for approximately 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper, salt, and brown sugar.

Simmer briskly until reduced to a sauce-like consistency and stir occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Ranch Snack Crackers Recipe - just mix oil with a few ingredients and bake

Remember these? Oyster crackers seasoned with ranch dressing mix, lemon pepper, garlic, and dill. One of my favorite things to eat when I was a young whippersnapper, ha!

I made this recipe for a quick kids’ snack and they loved shaking the bag to mix the ingredients together. Here’s what we did…

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 packet (1 oz) dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bag (16 oz) oyster crackers
  • 1/2 tsp dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 250ºF.

Pour crackers into a gallon size zipper bag. Pour oil over crackers, seal, and shake gently to coat.

Add ranch mix and spices to bag, then seal, and toss until coated.

Pour onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

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Gone Fishin Chex Party Mix - warning super addicting! Easy and delicious.