Monday, January 23, 2017

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

It's been so chilly around here lately, the perfect weather for a bowl of steaming hot soup.

I actually made this batch for myself, to have during the week for a quick lunch, because I'm trying to eat healthier and get to where I was pre-holidays. 

This is a very easy soup to get going, you can pop everything in, in the morning, then let it cook on low all day long.  I give it a quick whiz with the immersion blender and it's done.

My husband  and children are not very big fans of butternut squash, so I really do make this just for myself to enjoy, and it last quite a while because it makes a pretty big batch.

Thank you to Claire from The Witt Family on Youtube for this wonderful recipe.

Slow Cooker 
Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

1 Butternut Squash
1 Large Onion, diced
2 to 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup lentils
1 vegetable stock cube
3.5/4 cups of boiling water ( I used a box of Garden Vegetable Broth, 32 oz. )

 Peel butternut squash, cut in half and remove all seeds.  Cut into chunks and place in a slow cooker.  Add the diced onion, garlic and season well with salt and pepper and paprika.  Add in the cup of lentils, and the vegetable broth.  Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours.

Once done, use an immersion blender to puree the soup.  Check the seasonings and adjust accordingly.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

We love pork chops but I tend to get kind of stuck in a rut when it comes to preparing them.  It feels like it's always the same old thing, and so I've been looking for new recipes to try.

I came across this one on Pinterest and decided to give it a go.  I'll be completely honest with you, I don't always have the best of luck with Pinterest, it's kind of a hit and miss for me.  Things that seem really good don't always turn out how they look in the pictures, or they don't taste as good as I thought they would etc.

These were a hit.  From the moment they started cooking, the whole house smelled amazing.  Very easy to throw together and they make for a filling and delicious dinner.

I did use bone in but they completely fell off the bone, which is a very good thing.  But yes, please make sure you have pretty thick chops, I don't think the pork tenderloin chops would work very well, they would probably shred apart during cooking.

Source:  Country Cook

4 bone-in pork chops (or boneless)
1 envelope onion soup mix (1 oz. packet)
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth (lower sodium)
1 can (10.5 oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 envelope dry pork gravy mix (1 oz. packet)
1 tsp. garlic powder
to thicken sauce:
3 tbsp. corn starch
3 tbsp. cold water

In a 5-6 quart oval slow cooker, combine onion soup mix, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup and pork gravy mix.
Whisk together until combined.
Season both sides of the chops with a little bit of garlic powder.
Place pork chops into the slow cooker.
Do your best to spread them out and cover with the gravy mixture.
Cover and cook on low about 4-6 hours.
Just before the pork chops are done - whisk together the corn starch and cold water in a small bowl. Once it is smooth, pour it in with your pork chops in the slow cooker and stir gently.
Cover and switch the slow cooker to high and cook for another 30 minutes (until gravy has thickened.)

Apple Blondies

Imagine if you will, you have an apple, and you throw it into a doughy brownie like batter, pop it into the oven and out comes the unmistakable taste of Apple Pie.

Yeah, something like that.

I know it's not exactly Fall and some people tend to only gravitate towards these kind of desserts, when it's around that season, but for me, food is about eating and enjoying, any time of the year, so I don't even think twice about making some apple cinnamon concoction in Winter, or Summer, or having ice cream in the cold months.  It is what it is :)

I'm going to start by saying that I'm trying to lose some weight, it's not much, about 5 pounds that I seem to inherited from Thanksgiving and Christmas (thank you good food and wine).  This recipe is everything I shouldn't be eating, but I am not one to diet completely, I can't do that, I always lose weight by controlling portions and not over doing certain things, without having to give up the food I love.

I will probably only have one of these, just enough to curb that sweet tooth craving, but I'm pretty certain my husband and children will enjoy the rest :)

The recipe comes from Allrecipes.  I changed it slightly in that I doubled the ingredients and used a 9x13 instead, aside from that everything is the same.

Apple Blondies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup apples, diced (a tart baking apple is best like granny smith)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 9 square dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar.
Add egg, vanilla, cinnamon, salt & baking powder, mix well.
Add flour and mix again. Batter will be thick, don't worry!
Add apples and walnuts if desired and mix well. Batter should begin to thin to more brownie like consistency.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.
In a small dish, mix 2 Tablespoons sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of apple mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes or until brownie consistency then remove from oven.
Allow to cool. Once cooled, cut into bars and devour immediately by itself or with a large scoop of ice cream!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Layered Nacho Dinner

I don't know what it is, but lately I've been on a Mexican flavor kick.  From Homemade Crunchwraps to Tacos, Quesadillas and everything in between.

In keeping with that theme, tonight I made a Layered Nacho dish.  The beauty about this is that it's so versatile and you can add or remove anything you don't like.  It is also one of those that everyone in the family can enjoy however they want it in a hard taco shell, go for it.  Want it in a soft flour tortilla, by all means....or maybe you just want to scoop this delicious stuff all over tortilla chips for some amazing nachos....yep, you can do that too.

It's quick to put together, it tastes amazing and your whole family will thank you for it.

Layered Nacho Dinner

Layered Nacho Dinner

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can refried beans
Queso Dip (I'm talking the ever famous queso dip involving Velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes and chilies)
Diced onion
Diced tomato
Shredded Lettuce
Sour Cream, optional

Prepare the Queso dip according to the directions on the back of the Rotel can.  It is nothing more than emptying the can into a microwavable bowl, adding a 16 oz. block of Velveeta cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes.  Cover and microwave for 5 minutes until melted, stir well and there you go.

Brown the ground beef, drain and add in a packet of taco seasoning, mix well to combine.  Add a can of refried beans, stir and cook for a minute or two until warm.

In a casserole dish, pour in the meat and beans mixture.  Next goes in the queso dip, followed by diced onions, shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes.  That is IT!!!!

Serve along with tortilla chips or soft and hard taco shells.  Enjoy!!!

Layered Nacho Dinner

Optional:  You can add a layer of sour cream right after the meat and before the queso dip.  You can also add black olives to the toppings, or sliced avocado, dollops of sour cream etc.  It really is up to you.