Slow Cooker Sunday: Smoky Beef Chili

So, I have made chili before but, this was the first time I’ve made chili using beef chuck as opposed to ground beef and I must say it was a much heartier chili and definitely one I’ll make again.

This is my favorite type of slow cooker meal… Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker, give it a good stir and set it to cook…

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And a few hours later my meal was ready! You can’t beat that.

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When I packed some for lunch I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese so when I heated it up it was all melted and gooey… YUM!

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Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Chili

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

3 15.5oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 28oz. can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 cup tomato puree

3 teaspoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, plus 1 teaspoon sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and cilantro

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and give everything a good stir to combine all of them.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until the beef and vegetables are tender. Taste for seasoning and serve topped with your favorite topping.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

It’s Pi day! And no, I didn’t spell that wrong. Today is 3/14, the first 3 numbers for Pi. The Greek letter that is a symbol in mathematics to represent a constant – the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational and transcendental number, i.e. it will go on infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Have I bored you yet? Sorry… On to the Pie. In honor of Pi Day, I decided to bake a pie I had never had before, a blueberry pie. A Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie to be exact. Yes, I never had Blueberry Pie until I made this one. I must say, I am not a big pie eater, especially fruit pie. I always feel like they are going to be super sweet. What made this pie a hit amongst those who tried it was the fact that it wasn’t super sweet. Something I was quite happy about as well.

I’m not a fan of making pie crust from scratch so I buy Pillsbury refrigerated crust. I find it works just as well as homemade crust – I am sure there are plenty of you shaking your heads at that comment right now – and its super easy to use to make a decorative crust. And another plus, clean-up is a cinch! So after letting my two crusts (one for the top and one for the bottom) come to room temperature I rolled out what would be the bottom into a 13 inch round; the crust was already a 9-inch round so I had no problem rolling it out the extra few inches. I then fitted it into my 9-inch pie plate.

Next, I made the filling. I combined 7 cups of fresh blueberries with sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch & lemon juice.

I then poured the mixture into the pie plate.

To make the lattice top, I started by rolling out the other half of the pie crust into another 13-inch round.  Then using a fluted pastry wheel I cut the dough into ten 1-inch strips. Thankfully my work mat has 1-inch grid lines on it so cutting out the strips was a breeze. I just had to be sure to cut in a straight steady line.

I placed five of the strips vertically on the pie, evenly spaced.

And then proceeded to fold and unfold the strips to create a lattice pattern.

I then trimmed and tucked in the edges of the crust and crimped it with a fork.

Next, I brushed the pie with an egg yolk-heavy cream egg wash and sprinkled sanding sugar on top.

And after refrigerating the pie for about a half hour in the fridge I placed it on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust began to brown, and then lowered the oven to 350 F and continued baking the pie for about another hour, until the crust was a deep golden brown and the juices began to bubble. I kept the pie tented with aluminum foil for most of the baking time, removing it for the last 30 minutes of baking so the crust wouldn’t brown too quickly.

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie

Ingredients:

Pie Crust – Bake your own or store bought

2 pounds (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 large egg yolk, for egg wash

1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out half of your pie crust into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the pie plate, piling in the center.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the other half of your pie crust. Once again into a 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. To make the lattice, cut the dough into 10 1-inch strips using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter. Carefully place the strips on the pie weaving into a lattice pattern. Trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang and fold the edges under, then crimp with a fork.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash. Brush on top of the dough strips and then sprinkle with the sanding sugar.

Refrigerate or freeze the pie until firm, about 30 minutes.

Place the pie on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and bake until the pie begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until the crust is a deep golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, about an hour. If the crust begins to brown too quickly tent the pie with aluminum foil.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing in.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Pies and Tarts Book

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew

So, I personally think that one of the best things to make in a slow cooker is soup / stew. I consider them to be more or less one in the same. And this week I am bringing you a Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew that is the ideal Slow Cooker Meal. The only prep is some dicing, chopping and cutting. No sautéing veggies or heating the aromatics to develop the flavors. You control the level of spice with a jar of salsa. I got this recipe in the cookbook I mentioned last week… Slow Cooker Family Favorites. I’m 2 for 2 with the recipes in this book… Yay!

I began by stirring together salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in the bowl in my slow cooker.

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I then added in diced potatoes, frozen corn, cut celery & carrots, a diced onion and minced garlic.

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I gave everything a few good stirs to make sure the vegetables were coated by the salsa mixture.

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And finally, I placed 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and poured in a can of chicken broth.

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So, according to the directions the stew was to be cooked on high for 4 hours, or until the chicken was cooked through and the vegetable were tender. After 4 hours the chicken was cooked through, so I removed it from the slow cooker and shredded it using two forks. But, my vegetables were still a bit undercooked, so I returned the chicken to the slow cooker and cooked everything for about another 2 hours.

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Which I think was the best thing. The end result were vegetables that were perfectly tender, but, better yet, the chicken was really able to absorb the flavors of the stew. YUM!

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I packed a bowl for lunch the following day and I must say it was even better then and each subsequent day!

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Spicy Chicken Mexican Stew

Ingredients:

1 16-oz jar spicy salsa*

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes**

1 16 ounce package frozen corn***

2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs****

1 14.5-oz chicken broth (approximately 2 cups)

 

*I used Chi-Chi’s Medium Thick & Chunky Salsa

**I used 2 medium sized potatoes and 1 small one

**The package I used was 12 oz.

****About 1 3/4 pounds of chicken

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a slow cooker stir together the salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Add the potatoes, corn, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Toss everything to coat the vegetables.

Place the chicken on top and then pour in the chicken broth.

Set to cook on high for 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Once chicken is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks and return to the slow cooker. Season for taste.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread

So this is sort of a continuation from yesterday’s post – Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce. I made the sauce to go along with today’s post… A Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread. I originally came across this recipe in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine last year. Well, the recipe was for a Basic Monkey Bread and then you had a few options to flavor the bread. I was partial to trying the Cheesy Garlic version.

The version in the magazine called for you to actually make the dough for the bread, but, to be honest working with yeast and me don’t always go over that well. So, when I saw a recipe that used Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits as the base for a monkey bread I knew I had to try it.

I began by combining olive oil, grated Parmesan, minced garlic and salt in a large bowl.

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Next, I cut each Grands! Biscuit into four equal pieces. I ended up using 2 cans of biscuits, each of which has 8 biscuits so I ended up with 64 pieces. After cutting the biscuits of the first can I placed them back in the refrigerator so they would stay cold while I cut biscuits from the second can. It’s best to work with the biscuits when they are cold, you don’t want them to become warm & sticky.

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I then tossed half of the quartered biscuits in the olive oil mixture and gradually added in the remaining quarters.

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After spraying a Bundt pan with cooking spray, I layered the biscuit pieces into the pan. I opted to use my hands to spread the pieces into the pan to ensure they would be even throughout the pan.

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I then baked it in a 350F preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. Until it was browned on top and I was sure that all of the biscuit pieces had cooked throughout the monkey bread. After letting it cool in the pan for a few minutes I inverted it and sprinkled it with freshly chopped parsley…

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And a side of homemade marinara sauce.

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Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

2 Cans (16.3 oz.) Grands! Original Biscuits

3/4 cup olive oil

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter a large Bundt pan.

In a large bowl combine the olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic and salt and set aside.

Working with 1 can at a time, cut each of the biscuits into quarters. After cutting the first can place it back in the refrigerator while cutting the biscuits of the second can.

Fold half of the quartered biscuits into the olive oil mixture and gradually add in the remaining pieces.

Pile the biscuit pieces evenly into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a large plate and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Recipe Adapted From Rachael Ray Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: A Cookbook Review and Marinara Sauce

So about two months ago while perusing in the cookbook section of my local Barnes & Noble I began scanning through some of their slow cooker cookbooks and settled on purchasing America’s Test Kitchen: Slow Cooker Revolution. I was excited to try out some of the recipes as they sounded really good. I started with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup and it was a disaster! It had no flavor and was more like heavy mashed potatoes instead of soup. I decided that I would try it again another day with less potatoes. But then I tried another recipe and it didn’t come out that great, okay, truthfully, it was horrible again. It was a Broccoli and Chicken sauce that was to be used for pasta. The sauce, made with chicken broth and wine as the base, was bitter and the chicken was dry. Yuck! So, instead of trying a third recipe – quite honestly at this point none of the recipes sounded all that great – I headed back to Barnes & Noble to see if I could return it. And luckily I was able to. And since I wasn’t in a rush, I headed back to the cookbook area and picked up another book to try out… Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Maggie Shi. And (oh boy, starting 3 sentences in a row with “and,” such bad grammar… LOL) the first recipe I tried was delish… a slow cooker marinara sauce.

To make the sauce I combined crushed tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, fresh basil, fresh garlic and salt in the bowl of my slow cooker.

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And then gave everything a few good stirs and set it to cook on low for seven hours. For a little extra seasoning I added a few grinds of fresh pepper and that was it.

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I ended up with about 6 cups of sauce. I decided to freeze 4 cups and used 2 cups as a dipping sauce for this Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread that I will be posting about tomorrow!

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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 large fresh sprigs basil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with breadsticks, garlic bread, baguette slices, etc. for dipping. Or use for your favorite pasta. Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Rice Pudding

For today’s Slow Cooker Sunday recipe I am bringing you dessert. Rice Pudding… One of my favorite desserts. And this is probably the simplest Slow Cooker item I have ever made hence this super short blog post.

In the bowl of my slow cooker I added all of my ingredients: Arborio rice, whole milk, water, sugar, salt and a cinnamon stick. Now, the true title of this rice pudding recipe was for a Moroccan Rice Pudding, but, since I opted not to use the orange water that was listed in the ingredient list I am assuming it’s just a plain rice pudding. I gave everything a good stir and then set it to cook on low…

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And after a short 4 hours my rice pudding was ready. Now, you might be tempted to leave it on longer since the rice will be tender, but, there will still be a considerable amount of milk left, but don’t. As the rice pudding cool it continues to absorb the liquid and it will be creamier.

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You can opt to top it with ground cinnamon or nutmeg or toasted walnuts or almonds. I opted to eat mine as is and I must say it’s one of the best rice puddings I have ever had. I feel that using a cinnamon stick as opposed to ground cinnamon allowed for a cinnamon flavor that wasn’t as pungent and more of an essence. If that makes any sense… I hope it does! I hope you try it and that you like it as much as I did.

 

Slow Cooker Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup short grain rice, such as Arborio

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter*

3 1/2 cups milk**

2/3 cups sugar

1 cinnamon stick

*I used unsalted butter

** I used whole milk

Directions:

In the bowl of a 4-Quart slow cooker add all of the ingredients. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours or on low for 4 hours.

Top with your favorite topping: cinnamon, nutmeg, toasted almonds or walnuts.

Recipe from Crock-Pot

Slow Cooker Sunday: Caribbean Beef Stew

With the cold temperatures outside you may be looking for meals that are hearty, comforting and most important of all… easy to make. This beef stew covers all those bases.

I began by adding my vegetables – potatoes and carrots – along with fresh thyme, ginger and garlic in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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Next I topped the vegetables with beef stew meat that dredged in a mixture of flour, allspice, salt and pepper.

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I reserved the excess seasoned flour from the beef and whisked it with water and Worcestershire sauce and then poured it over the meat and potatoes along with a can of Mexican-style tomatoes.

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I covered my slow cooker and cooked the beef stew on low for 7 hours and this is the deliciousness that resulted.

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It was incredibly flavorful, the beef was wonderfully tender and it had just enough kick to it.

 

Slow-Cooker Caribbean Beef Stew

Ingredients:

3 sprigs thyme

1/2 all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into thirds

1 1-inch ginger piece, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 10-ounce can Mexican-style diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)

Directions:

Put the potatoes, carrots, 2 thyme sprigs, the ginger and garlic in a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker

Strip the leaves from the remaining thyme sprig and chop; combine with the flour, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat. Add to the slow cooker on top of the vegetables and reserve the excess flour.

Add 1/2 cup water and the Worcestershire sauce to the reserved flour and whisk everything together, then add to the slow cooker. Pour the tomatoes on top.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours.

Recipe from Food Network