Slow Cooker Sunday: Corn & Bean Enchilada Bake

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as many Slow Cooker Sunday recipes. It’s for a few reasons, one of them, I am running low on recipes. Quite a few of the recipes I have shared have been from this cookbook. While I haven’t tried them all, there are some dessert recipes I would like to try, I have tried those that sounded most appealing to me. Another reason, a lot of the recipes I come across are usually for 6- 10 servings, great if you are cooking for 2 or more people, but, since I cook for just myself that’s way too many leftovers. Don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers (especially since it means I don’t have to cook everyday),but, after eating the same thing for lunch & dinner after two or three days it just doesn’t taste the same by the 5th or 6th time eating it. And yes, I could start working on creating my own recipes, but, I am more comfortable creating recipes for stovetop and oven cooking. So, I did some research and came across the answer, a slow cooker cookbook with recipes geared towards 2 people. No more leftovers for days and days and days.

There’s a little bit of everything in this cookbook. A section on poultry, beef, breakfast, desserts and even seafood. Although, I always avoid making seafood in my slow cooker. I feel like since seafood cooks fast enough there’s no reason to slow cook it. Also, seafood odors can linger and cooking it in a slow cooker for hours on end may not be that delightful. So, I am geared with a new cookbook and ready to start using my smaller slow cooker to whip up some delicious meals that won’t be lasting me days on end.

First up, I made a Corn and Bean Enchilada Bake.

In a medium bowl I combined a chopped tomato, chopped onion, minced garlic, a minced jalapeno pepper, a can of black beans and corn.

After spraying the insert of my slow cooker with cooking spray I layered the ingredients for the enchilada.

I poured salsa verde in the bottom of the slow cooker. While the cookbook does include a recipe for homemade salsa verde I decided to go the easier route and used store bought. I then topped the salsa with 3 corn tortillas, overlapping them. I poured half of the bean mixture over the tortillas and topped it with more salsa verde and finally shredded cheese. I repeated the layers once more and then covered the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 6 hours.

After the six hours the cheese had melted and the tortillas were soft. And I had the perfect sized meal for 2 lunches and 1 dinner.

Corn and Bean Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 8.5oz. can yellow sweet corn

1 1/4 cups salsa verde

6 corn tortillas, taco style

2/3 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the first 6 ingredients.

Spray the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray.

Pour 1/3 cup of salsa verde in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place three of the tortillas in the slow cooker overlapping them. Pour half of the bean mixture over the tortillas and the top with half of the remaining salsa and half of the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Recipe from The Complete Slow Cooking for Two Cookbook

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chicken Parmesan

Normally when I make Chicken Parmesan it’s because I have leftover breaded cutlets from the night before. I don’t know why, but, it just never crosses my mind to make Chicken Parmesan the same day I am frying up the breaded cutlets. Maybe it’s so I can have something different the following night… leftovers are good but they are even better when you can spruce them up into something different. For today’s Slow Cooker Sunday I am bringing you Chicken Parmesan that’s lacking the breading but definitely healthier without it and also because there’s no frying involved and you get some veggies in the mix – mushrooms and onions.

To begin I placed the mushrooms and onions in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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Next, I placed chicken breasts that I lightly browned on both sides over the vegetables.

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Following that I poured a jar of pasta sauce over the chicken. You can use your favorite pasta sauce; I used my favorite Francesco Rinaldi Three Cheese Sauce. I then sprinkled dried basil and oregano over it and placed a bay leaf in as well.

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After cooking it on low for about 7 hours I removed the cover and sprinkled it with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and left it uncovered for about 15 minutes, until the cheeses were melted.

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Meanwhile I cooked spaghetti which I served with the chicken.

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Overall this was a nice alternative to the traditional chicken parmesan and definitely one that I will make again.

 

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, cut into thin wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 jar (24 – 26 oz.) pasta sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Hot cooked spaghetti

 

Directions:

Place the mushrooms and cuts onions in the bottom of a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and lightly brown the chicken on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the mushrooms and onions. Pour the pasta over the chicken, add the bay leaf and sprinkle the basil and oregano over the sauce. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours.

Uncover, remove the bay leaf and sprinkle with the cheeses and leave uncovered on low for an additional 15 to 30 minutes, until the cheeses have melted. Serve over spaghetti.

From the book Crock Pot: The Original Slow Cooker Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes

Baked Onion Rings

I do my best to avoid frying anything; not because of health reasons but because I hate having to clean up oil splatter and inevitably I always end up with an oil stain on my shirt no matter what efforts I take to avoid it. So, whenever I can make one of my favorite foods that normally has to be fried baked I’m all for it – thank heaven for my doughnut pan! Today’s not fried but baked recipe I would like to share with you is Onion Rings!

To begin I sliced a small sweet onion and separated the rings. You can use any sweet onion to make these: Vidalia, Walla Walla, etc… Random fact, sweet onions have a lower sulfur content than other onions so you are less likely to cry when slicing them. I know this from experience! When I cook and am using onions they are always the last thing I cut so I can ensure I won’t end up slicing my finger while cutting other things because I am trying to control my onion crying fit.

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Next I combined panko bread crumbs with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked it on a rimmed baking sheet until they were golden brown. I then transferred them to a shallow bowl. I also put flour and two lightly beaten eggs in shallow bowls as well and was then ready to prep my onion rings for baking.

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I dipped the onion rings in the flour, then the eggs and finally in the bread crumb mixture and placed them on a baking sheet that I rubbed with olive oil. Once the sheet was full I baked the rings in a pre-heated 450 F oven for 12 minutes, flipping the rings once.

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Right out of the oven….

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After letting them cool for a few minutes I enjoyed them with a side of ranch dress – thank-you Johnny Rockets for introducing me to that winning combination! In case you are wondering, baking the rings still gives the crumb coating that crunch you are familiar with when frying them, but, I also think it makes the onion itself tender and sweeter!

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Baked Onion Rings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 small sweet onion, sliced and rings separated

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 F. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Transfer the crumbs to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, tossing once. Transfer the crumbs to a shallow bowl. In two other shallow bowls place the flour and eggs.

Rub the remaining oil on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Dip the onion rings in the flour first, then the eggs (allowing any excess to drip off) and finally in the bread crumb mixture. Bake on the prepared baking sheets for 12 to 14 minutes, turning once.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce; my go-to for onion rings is ranch dressing.

Recipe from Real Simple

2 Salads & A Salsa

With summer in full swing you are probably heading to quite a few BBQ’s or hosting a few yourself. Today I would like to share with you two salads and a salsa recipe that are super easy & super quick to make for any BBQ you may be hosting or invited to or for those days that you just want to make something quick and easy for dinner that doesn’t involve much effort or thought. With all of these recipes I suggest making them a few hours in advance and refrigerating them so all of the flavors can marinate together.

Green Bean – Cucumber Salad

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 English cucumber, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add green beans. Boil the green beans until they are tender – approximated 7 minutes – and then drain and rinse under cold water.

2.  In a large bowl toss the green beans along with the remaining ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Black Bean – Corn Salad

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Ingredients:

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup canned corn

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

Juice of 3 limes

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Whisk together the olive oil, honey and lime juice in a measuring cup.

2.  In a large bowl add the black beans, corn, pepper, scallions and cilantro. Add the olive oil mixture to the black bean mixture and toss all the ingredients together. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the dice avocado. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced white onion

1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in juice*

2 tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Kosher salt

*Alternatively can use 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings.

Directions:

1. Soak the onion in cold water for 15 minutes then drain.

2. Preheat an indoor grill pan over medium heat and lightly oil the pan (you could also grill the pineapple on a grill.) Grill the pineapple rings until marked, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

3. Combine the pineapple, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, garlic, ginger and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and season with salt then toss. Serve with tortilla chips. This salsa also tastes great over salmon and grilled chicken.

A Quick and Easy Coq au Vin

The first time I had Coq au Vin was at a cooking demonstration class at Williams Sonoma. I purchased the braising base that was used at the class but unfortunately my result was nothing like the one I tasted at the class. I think part of the reason was that I still wasn’t all that comfortable with cooking – I’m more of a baker, but, slowly but surely my cooking ability is starting to even out with my baking ability. Recently I came across a recipe for Coq au Vin in a magazine and decided to try making it once again, this time from scratch, and I had much better results. And in case you are wondering, Coq au Vin is a French dish of braised chicken in red wine and normally contains bacon, garlic, onions and mushrooms.

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Up first I sliced baby bella mushrooms, minced 2 cloves of garlic and chopped some fresh thyme.

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I then cooked three slices of bacon, which I cut into half-inch pieces, in two teaspoons of olive oil until they were brown, but not crispy.

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After removing the bacon from the Dutch oven and setting it aside I browned four chicken thighs which I seasoned with salt and pepper.

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Next I cooked the mushrooms along with a 16 oz. bag of frozen white pearl onions for a few minutes until they began to soften.

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Following that I added in the thyme, garlic and a tablespoon of tomato paste.

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And then red cooking wine. I cooked the mixture for about 5 minutes until the wine reduced by half…

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And then added in chicken stock.

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And finally I returned the chicken to the pot, reduced the heat to low and partially covered the pot and allowed the chicken to cook through and the onions to soften, about 40 minutes.

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And for the final step, I dissolved three tablespoons of cornstarch in an equal amount of water and added it to the cooking liquid after transferring the chicken to a plate. Once the liquid thickened I returned the chicken and bacon to the pot, stirring to coat the chicken. I must say I have used cornstarch to thicken cooking liquids before but I normally just add it directly to the liquid, dissolving it in water is a much better method as it eliminates the possibility of any clumps forming in the liquid.

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Final Verdict… Definitely something I will make again, although I think next time I won’t add the cornstarch.

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Easy Coq au Vin – Slightly modified from here

Ingredients:

3 slices center cut bacon, cut into half-inch pieces

2 tsp. olive oil

4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs

16 oz. frozen pearl onions

10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup red cooking wine

2 cups chicken stock

3 tbsp. cornstarch

Directions:

1. In a 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven, cook the bacon in the oil over medium heat until browned but not too crispy. Transfer the bacon to a small bowl lined with a napkin. Season the chicken with salt and pepper (I used about 1/2 tsp. each). Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Stir in the tomato paste, thyme and garlic. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring the liquid to a simmer. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and gently simmer, turning the chicken once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, about 40 minutes.

3. In a small bowl dissolve the cornstarch in tbsp. water. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the cooking liquid to a bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Return the chicken and bacon to the pot, stirring to coat.

Parmesan Herb Loaf

If you follow my blog you know that I tend to try out a lot of Food Network recipes. It’s one of my go-to stops for looking for a recipe when I have something in mind and since I receive their monthly magazine it’s hard to resist the amazing recipes they include each month. Also included each month is a tear out booklet with 50 recipes designated to a specific thing… for the October issues it was 50 Quick Breads. And I was quick to try out one of those breads, the Parmesan Herb Bread to go along with the soup I posted about yesterday.

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To begin I caramelized two onions on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

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Following that I whisked sour cream, vegetable oil and eggs together in one bowl.

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In another bowl I combined flour, grated parmesan cheese, sugar, chopped rosemary, baking powder, lemon zest, baking soda, salt and pepper and finally the caramelized onions. If you are wondering why the onions were mixed in to the flour mixture as opposed to the egg mixture it’s because coating the onions with the flour will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the bread. Hence they will be evenly distributed throughout the bread.

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After that I folded the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

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I then poured the batter into my prepared loaf pan – I lined it with parchment paper and sprayed it with baking spray – and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for 40 minutes.

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I let the bread cool in the pan for about an hour and then removed it and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

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Then it was time to slice it up… As you can see each slice had a nice amount of onions throughout it as opposed to just on the bottom. This bread was super simple to make; granted waiting for the onions to caramelize does take some patience but the end product is definitely worth it. It was incredibly moist and flavorful, it reminded me of Thanksgiving!

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Parmesan Herb Bread

Ingredients:

2 onions sliced and caramelized

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary*

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

*The original recipe also called for 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme which I omitted

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9 x 5 loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang, and spraying it with baking spray.

2. To caramelize the onions, cook in olive oil over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

3. Whisk together the sour cream, vegetable oil and eggs in a medium-sized bowl.

4. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, grated parmesan, sugar, chopped rosemary, baking powder, lemon zest, salt, pepper and baking soda. Add in the onions.

5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 40 to 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

6. Let cool 1 hour, then remove the bread from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

The temperatures have begun to drop and it’s the perfect excuse to make warm and hearty soups, albeit I made this soup last week on a rainy day, which as we all know is also a perfect day for soup. I’ve actually made this soup a few times before after coming across it on a fellow blogger’s blog last year, but, this was the first time that I made the soup by roasting a whole butternut squash as opposed to the prepackaged chopped ones you sometimes see in the produce area and as crazy as it sounds, it made such a difference in the flavor.

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Luckily the butternut squash wasn’t as difficult to slice as the pumpkins were for the homemade puree I made. Granted the two slices weren’t perfectly equal but they were close enough. After I sliced them I cleaned out all of the pulp and seeds and placed the two halves on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I roasted them in a 425 F preheated oven for just shy of an hour, until they were fork tender.

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Along with the butternut squash I also roasted a large sweet potato which I peeled and cubed, the roasting time for the potato was considerably less, about 20 minutes. Once the butternut squashed cooled I removed the peel and chopped it into cubes as well. Of course I couldn’t help but trying a piece and it was absolutely delish. Roasting vegetables really brings out their inner sweetness.

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I then gathered all of the ingredients I needed for the soup along with the squash and sweet potato; 2 diced onions, minced ginger, coconut milk and vegetable stock.

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Now on to making the actual soup… I began by sautéing the onion and ginger until the onions were translucent. I then added in the cubed squash and sweet potato and finally the vegetable stock. Once I brought it to a boil over medium heat I reduced the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

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And finally using a handheld blender (immersion blender) I pureed the soup until it was smooth and then stirred in the coconut milk.

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I cannot say enough good things about this soup… There is sweetness from roasting the squash and the sweet potato and a hint of ginger that makes this soup so delicious. Another plus, it’s great for many who follow different types of diets… Its vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and all around healthy. Even those of you who are not keen on veggies will find this soup tasty!

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup – adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash sliced in half and pulp and seeds removed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and diced

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

4 cups vegetable stock

3/4 cup coconut milk

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Drizzle olive oil over squash and sweet potato; add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. On another baking sheet lay out the sweet potatoes. Cook the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Cook the squash for about 50 minutes, once again until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

4. Remove the peel from the squash and roughly cut it into large cubes and add it to the pot with the onions and ginger along with the sweet potato.

5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, making sure the squash is tender.

6. Using a handheld blender, puree the soup. Add the coconut milk and stir.