Slow Cooker Sunday: Zucchini Bread

I recently started using my slow cooker again. Ideally it is the perfect appliance to use in the warm summer months to avoid turning on the oven, but, I just find that the meals it produces are bit heavy for the dog days of summer. Granted, I should have been looking for recipes for desserts as there’s never a bad time of year for a sweet treat. This recipe today, Zucchini Bread, is perfect for the summer months with the abundance of zucchini available at the supermarket and at your local farm stands, but, thankfully zucchini is one of those vegetables that is available year round and always seems to taste the same.

To start I made the batter. Using my food processor I grated two small zucchini and squeezed out the excess water. In one bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil. I folded in the zucchini and then whisked in the flour mixture. I then transferred the mixture to my 4-quart slow cooker that I brushed with oil.

I covered it and set it to cook on high. Now, the directions said to leave the lid slightly ajar, I did this and after about 2.5 hours my bread was still undercooked in the middle. So, I decided to completely cover it and let it cook and it was done in about another 20 minutes. I turned off the slow cooker and let the bread sit uncovered for thirty minutes. I carefully removed it and let it cool completely.

I then sliced and enjoyed a piece. It was good, but, I think next time I make this I may use less cinnamon.

Slow Cooker Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups grated Zucchini, about 2 small zucchinis

9 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Brush the inside of a slow cooker (4 – 6 quarts) with 1 tablespoon of oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the remaining oil until well combined. Fold in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the eggs mixtures and stir until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the greased slow cooker and spread in an even layer. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Uncover and let the bread cool in the slow cooker for 30 minutes. Loosen the edges of the bread and then carefully remove using a large spatula. Slice and enjoy!

Recipe from Savory Online

Slow Cooker Sunday: Vegetarian Minestrone

While spring may be a few days away the weather is still cold enough for some hearty soup. And while this soup may not have any meat in it, it’s still filling thanks to the array of vegetables. I was a bit intimidated by the amount of ingredients – I tend to avoid recipes that have too many ingredients – but, they are all pretty simple and some I actually had on hand.

I added most of my ingredients to my slow cooker and then set it to cook on low for 8 hours. I began checking on it after 5.5 hours as I didn’t want my vegetables to over-cook and break down, especially the zucchini. Ultimately my soup was ready in 6 hours, my vegetables were tender and still intact.

I then cooked the elbow macaroni in pot of boiling salted water and added it to the soup along with chopped baby spinach. I cooked it on low for an additional 15 minutes and it was done.

The Minestrone was flavorful and as I said earlier hearty and, the leftovers tasted even better the next day and even better the day after that.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Minestrone

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable broth

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 cup frozen green beans

1 small zucchini, cut into quarter moons

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoons thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup elbow macaroni

4 cups chopped fresh spinach

Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Combine all ingredients from the broth through the black pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until vegetable are tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the elbow macaroni for about 8 minutes, until cooked through but still firm, drain.

Add the macaroni and spinach to slow cooker and cook for another 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.

Recipe from allrecipes

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir-Fry with Chicken

Quick and delicious meals are something I am always searching for. And, meals that aren’t written for 6 or more servings. Since I cook for just myself 4 or less is perfect. It gives me enough for leftovers for the following day. While you can find quick to prepare food at the supermarket, you know those flavored rice’s and pasta sides, have you ever noticed how much sodium is in them. I am by no means a health nut, but, I do try to avoid certain things whenever possible. Sodium being one of them. Today, I am bringing you a quick dish that can be made with tofu, chicken or shrimp and has a healthy amount of vegetables… A Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry. What’s really nice about this dish is that there are no sauces that are giving this dish a flavor. Just some salt, pepper, garlic, onions and basil. Yum! And, it’s written for 2 servings… Perfect for me.

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry

Ingredients:

8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or sausage, or shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into half-moons a 1/2 inch thick

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off*

1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, optional

*This is approximately 3/4 cup of corn if you want to sub frozen or canned corn

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, season the oil with salt and pepper. Cook your chosen protein to your liking, fully cooked if chicken or shrimp. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add more oil if necessary, add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the zucchini, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the zucchini is golden, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and corn and cook for an addition 2 minutes, stirring. Add more salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet and let it steam for 3-4 minutes. Check the zucchini with a fork for doneness. When the zucchini is ready add the basil and adjust the salt.

Add the red pepper flakes, if using and return your protein the skillet and heat through.

Recipe from Feasting At Home

Slow Cooker Frittata with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta

Yes, I made a Frittata in my slow cooker. It may seem a bit odd to make something that can easily take 10-15 minutes in the oven for almost 3 hours in a slow cooker, but, I will say this, this frittata came out super fluffy and was evenly cooked. And reheated a lot better than your traditional frittata. I share this recipe with you this week as it may be a welcomed addition to your meal if you are planning an Easter breakfast or brunch next Sunday.

I began by grating 2 zucchinis into a colander and sprinkling it with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. What I did was grate one zucchini and then sprinkled it with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and then repeated that. After letting it sit for a bit, about 20 minutes, I squeezed the excess juices out of the zucchini. After all the squeezing was done I was left with about a cup of grated zucchini.

After brushing the insert of my slow cooker with olive oil I continued on with making the frittata. I beat 6 eggs with paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and parsley. I then added in the grated zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese.

I then poured batter into the slow cooker, covered it and set it to cook on low for 3 hours.

I checked on it after about 2.5 hours and it was ready; when I inserted a knife in the center it came out clean.

I tried using a spatula to get the frittata out, but, had much better luck inverting it onto a plate and then flipping it once again.

Slow Cooker Frittata with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta

Ingredients

2 zucchinis, medium sized, coarsely grated with a 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 eggs

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (about 10-12 cherry tomatoes)

Olive oil for slow cooker

Directions:

Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let the juices drain for a while and then squeeze out the excess juice with your hands until you are left with one tightly packed cup of grated zucchini.

Grease the insert of the slow cooker with the olive oil.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and parsley. Add the grated zucchini, the tomatoes and feta cheese. Mix well and then pour into the prepared slow cooker.

Cook on low for 3 hours. Check the frittata after 2 1/2 hours. Frittata is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe from The Foodie Corner Blog

Slow Cooker Sunday: Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

This is probably the best soup I have ever made and maybe tasted, well, there was this French Onion Soup that I had years ago at a restaurant that I still compare all French Onion Soup’s I have to this day to. Maybe I should try making that soup one day. But anyhoo, I digress, as usual. Back to the soup at hand, an Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup that best of all is made in a slow cooker. There’s nothing better than dumping everything into your slow cooker, coming back a few hours later and having a great meal waiting for you.

I began by adding all of my vegetables to my slow cooker: corn, chopped onion, chopped carrots, sliced zucchini and garlic. I wasn’t sure if garlic could be considered a vegetable, but, after a little research it turns out can be.

 img_0001

Next, I stirred broth, tomato paste, salt and basil until the tomato paste had completely blended into the broth. I used tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano. I advise definitely using this blend of tomato paste since it adds more flavor to the soup.

 img_0002

I opted to cook it on the high setting – for about 3 1/2 hours – and then added in dried shell macaroni and a bag of frozen green beans and cooked it for an additional 45 minutes.

 img_0004

Once it was done I served myself some in a bowl and topped it with shredded parmesan. YUM!

 img_0007

Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 small zucchini, halved and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups no-salt vegetable or chicken broth

1 6-ounce can tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 9-ounce package frozen green beans

1 cup dried tiny shell macaroni

Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping

*I used regular (not the no-salt one) garden vegetable broth

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker combine the frozen corn, onion, carrots, zucchini and garlic.

Stir in the broth, salt, basil and tomato paste until the tomato paste is completed blended into the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. If cooking on low set the heat to high and add in the macaroni and green beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

Chicken Pad Thai

Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant my go-to dish is always Chicken Pad Thai. It’s pretty much foolproof and always delicious. A few years ago I attempted to make it myself and was happy with the outcome – it was super simple and tasted awesome. I recently dug out the recipe I used and whipped it up for dinner.

To begin I prepped all of my ingredients; minced garlic and ginger, sliced three thinly sliced chicken breasts into strips and julienned 2 carrots and 1 zucchini.

IMG_7158

Two of my other ingredients were rice noodles and Asian chili paste.

IMG_7162

Next I whisked together soy sauce, water, peanut butter and the chili paste until it was smooth.

IMG_7163

To cook the vegetables and chicken I began by sautéing the garlic and ginger for about a minute and then adding the vegetables and chicken and cooking everything until the chicken was cooked through.

IMG_7166

While I was cooking the vegetables I prepped the rice noodles by soaking them in warm water (I brought a pot of water to boil and then removed it from the heat). Luckily the rice noodles now come in these individual packets (there are four in a box) so I knew exactly how many noodles I needed – 2 packets. The last time I cooked with rice noodles – granted it was some time ago – they didn’t come in these nifty packages so I had to use my best guess as to what was half of the package.

IMG_7164

The noodles soaking…

IMG_7165

Once the noodles were ready (I followed the directions on the package and soaked them for 5 minutes) I added them to the pan with the vegetables and then added in the peanut/soy sauce I made along with light brown sugar and cider vinegar. I tossed all of the ingredients together to distribute the sauce and let everything cook for a few more minutes and then it was time to enjoy my homemade Chicken Pad Thai and it was delicious!

IMG_7168

Chicken Pad Thai – Modified from here

Servings 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons Asian chili paste

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 zucchini, julienned

2 carrots, julienned

8 ounces chicken breast, sliced into strips

1/4 pound rice noodles, follow directions on package to prepare

1 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoons cider vinegar

Optional for garnish:

Lime Wedges

Chopped Peanuts

Bean Sprouts

Directions:

1. In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, water, peanut butter and chili paste.

2. Heat a large sauté pan (or wok) over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot add the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the vegetables and chicken and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Add the noodles and toss to coat them.

3. Add the peanut/soy sauce, brown sugar and cider vinegar and toss to distribute. Cook until heated through.

Pesto Chicken Packets

As I mentioned in a previous post I was rained-in last week and went on a bit of a cooking binge making a Chicken Corn Chowder, a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake and a Pesto Sauce; the latter of which I finally put to good use and made Pesto Chicken Packets – a recipe I came across in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine a few years back. Let me take a few steps back though and go over how I made the Pesto Sauce.

To make the sauce I combined 3 cups of basil, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, a garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor.

IMG_4727

I pulsed the ingredients until they were combined.

IMG_4728

And then let the machine run while I drizzled 2/3 cup of olive oil into the mixture.

IMG_4729

After transferring the mixture to a bowl I stirred in a 1/4 cup of freshly grated of Parmesan cheese.

IMG_4730

Since I wasn’t using the Pesto Sauce immediately I stored it in an airtight container in my refrigerator. After being in the fridge for a few days I added a little more olive oil to the top of it to make sure it would stay fresh. And when I was ready to use it was perfect.

IMG_4732

On to the Pesto Chicken Packets…

Along with the chicken and pesto, I also needed zucchini, plum tomatoes and scallions for the recipe.

IMG_4793

I prepped the vegetables by slicing the zucchini, chopping the tomatoes and trimming the scallions.

Pesto 1

Then it was time to prep the chicken packets for the oven. I drizzled about a teaspoon of olive oil in the center of a 12-inch long sheet of aluminum foil and placed a thin-sliced chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper on top of it. I then spread about a tablespoon of the pesto over the chicken.

IMG_4799

Next it was time to cover the chicken with about a handful of the sliced zucchini and chopped tomatoes and a few of the scallions. Prior to closing the packets I also dolloped about two tablespoons of the pesto on top.

IMG_4800

I placed all of the packets on a baking sheet and baked them in a 355 F preheated oven for 40 minutes.

IMG_4801

And voila, they were perfectly cooked in that time. This is definitely a great recipe for chicken as the juices of the zucchini, tomatoes and of course the pesto produces a chicken breast that is perfectly juicy and flavorful. I served them with brown rice and no worries I did take the chicken along with all of its components out the aluminum packet prior to eating it. How else was I going to be able to mix all the wonderful juices in with my rice?

IMG_4803

 

Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

1. Place the basil, pine nuts, basil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

2. While the machine is running drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.

3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

 

Pesto Chicken Packets

Ingredients:

Extra-Virgin olive oil, for drizzling

5 Thinly sliced skinless and boneless chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper

1 cup Pesto

2 zucchini, thinly sliced

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

10 scallions, trimmed

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 355 F. Cut five 12-inch long sheets of heavy-duty foil. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil in the center of each sheet.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 piece of chicken in the center of each sheet and spread 1 tablespoon pesto on top.

3. Mound a handful of the zucchini and tomatoes over each chicken breast along with two pieces of scallion. Dollop a few tablespoons pesto over each mound. Fold the foil over the chicken and vegetables; pinch the edges to seal.

4. Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.