Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

I love my crock pot  If it were up to me I would use it for every meal! The only things my parents would use their crock pot for was roast, soups or stews so when I got my first crock pot I had no idea the endless possibilities that could come from it. As I have mentioned in the past I have 4 kids and with that comes a tight budget. Chicken is always reasonably priced and you can do so much with it. While experimenting I came up with this yummy favorite! We love it served with coconut rice which I will give you the recipe below! Hope you love it! Excuse the bad picture I promise to take a better one next time I make it! 

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

6 chicken thighs (you can use boneless skinless and you can use breast if you like)
1 (15 oz.) can of pineapple chunks drained, reserve liquid
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup corn starch
salt as desired

Place chicken in crock pot, sprinkle with salt.
Pour pineapple chunks over the chicken.
In a small bowl combine pineapple juice, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, and corn starch and stir until combined.
Pour over chicken.
Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Serve on a bed of coconut rice (recipe below).

Coconut Rice

2 cups Thai jasmine scented rice
2 cups good quality coconut milk (I use canned make sure it is not light or reduced fat)
1 3/4 cups water
2 tbs. shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp coconut oil
optional: toasted coconut for garnish

Melt and heat oil in a pot. 
Place rice, coconut milk, water, shredded coconut and salt in the pot and set heat to med-high stirring to make sure that rice does not stick to the bottom. 
Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and place a tight fitting lid on the pot.
Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Crock Pot Spinach Lasagna

About a year ago me along with my family had to stay somewhere for a short time without an oven. I did not realize how much I would miss one. So when my family started craving lasagna I knew I needed to get creative. I had seen crock pot lasagna's before but I was feeling inventive. I wanted it to be different and a little bit healthier (mind you with all of the cheese it is not healthy by any means but I tried to cut calories where I could). What I came up with has become a favorite. The picture came out terrible last time I made it but I promise that when I make it next I will get better pictures! I hope love it as much as we do!

1 lb. ground turkey breast (you can use beef we just wanted to go healthy)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (normally I make my own but for this I used prego)
1 15 oz. tub of light ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. (8oz.) no boil lasagna noodled (I used barilla)
8 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 of a 6 oz. bag of baby spinach
 1 jar (15 oz.) of your favorite alfredo sauce

In a skillet brown the ground turkey, onion and garlic over medium heat for about 8 minutes until meat is no longer pink, drain.
Stir in spaghetti sauce and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
In a bowl combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and pepper.
Spread 1 cup of meat mixture into the bottom of a 5-6 qt. slow cooker. 
Place 4 noodles over the sauce breaking them if needed to fit.
Layer with half of the ricotta mixture, 2 cups of the mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of the meat mixture.
Top with 4 noodles, spinach, alfredo sauce, and 2 cups of mozzarella cheese.
Place 4 more noodles, remaining ricotta mixture, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, and 1 cup of meat mixture.
Add the remaining noodles if any, top with the remaining meat mixture, and mozzarella cheese.
Cook covered on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender. 


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Poor Man's Steak

Like most families, mine is on a tight budget. So when I saw that lean ground beef was on sale I started thinking of the different ways to use it. I went over the usual things such as chili, spaghetti, and burgers but these are things that we do often and typically use ground turkey breast in place of beef. My parents both were great cooks so I started thinking of the things that they would have made. My dad was 100% Portuguese and grew up in Massachusetts so he would have made some sort of soup or pasta dish. My mom was born and raised in Atlanta Georgia as was I and she was big into soul food and comfort food. I remember growing up, she would make a dish with hamburger patties filled with green pepper and onions served with a brown gravy on top. To me this was the ultimate comfort food. It had so much flavor. I knew I wanted to make this however my daughter is not a fan of green pepper so I had to hide them. This was the result! They were AMAZING and she could not tell that the peppers were there, she just kept asking what was in them to make It taste so yummy!!! The picture looks horrible and for that I am sorry. I will be taking a new one next time I make them! I hope you love this as much as we do!  

Poor Man's Steak

2 lb. ground beef
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 eggs
1 sleeve of saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 pkt. brown gravy mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed french onion soup
1/2 cup water
2 tbs. corn starch

In a food processor or blender add bell pepper, onion,  eggs, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper and blend until most of the chunks are gone.
In a bowl combine the beef, crackers and contents of the blender and work with your hands until combined together well.
Make into patties and set aside (they will look a little green).
Heat up a skillet on medium-high, if you are using a non stick skillet you may want to spray it with a non stick spray.
Brown patties on both sides for about 3-4 minutes on each side then take out of the pan and set aside.
In the pan combine the brown gravy mix, corn starch, cream of chicken soup, french onion soup and water.
Whisk well making sure to remove the lumps and get the cooked pieces from the patties off the bottom (this gives your gravy extra flavor).
Once gravy is combined, place your patties into the pan making sure to spoon gravy over the top. 
Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes then serve with your favorite side (we love egg noodles).


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Slow Cooked Fiesta Pork

This week I found an awesome deal at our local store on pork tenderloin tips (buy 1 get 3 free). I thought of many different dishes I had made in the past such as pulled pork and marinated pork fried rice (will be blogging about that later) but I was feeling more of a tex-mex vibe. Honestly I did not expect this dish to turn as good as it did and the best part I made it in the slow cooker!!!. I served mine on a bed of rice however it is perfect to go in a tortilla or taco shell!! I hope you enjoy!

Fiesta Pork

2 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin (if you use another cut make sure all fat is trimmed and bone is removed)
3 cups salsa (your choice if you want mild, medium or hot)
1 pkt. taco seasoning
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups hot cooked rice
sliced avocado
sour cream
cheddar cheese

In a bowl combine salt, cumin and garlic powder and rub pork making sure to use all it.
Place pork in the slow cooker.
In another bowl mix together taco seasoning and salsa.
Pour over the pork.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Place pork on a plate and with 2 forks shred the meat.
Pour the meat back into the slow cooker. 
Mix in the black beans and corn.
Cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice.
Top with avocado, cheese and sour cream if desired.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aloha Fluff

Recently I have seen all of these 2 ingredient desserts that has made me curious. I have seen Spice cake mix with pumpkin puree, Yellow cake mix and soda, and I have even seen brownie mix with black beans..(I don't know what I think about that). When I came across one with angel food cake mix and crushed pineapple that really peeked my interest. Angel food cake is fat free and pineapple is good for you..hmmm. So I tried it and WOW it is so fluffy and yummy, plus it is inexpensive!! My husband has decided to name it Aloha Fluff...thought I would share! Hope you enjoy!! 

Aloha Fluff

1 box of angel food cake mix
1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
tub of whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 and spray or grease your baking dish.
In a medium sized bowl pour in the angel food cake mix.
Add the pineapple with the juice.
Stir together but make sure you don't over stir.
The mix will begin to get foamy. (in the pic below you can see the bubbles and my sons thumbs up)

Empty into a baking dish (bundt pan, muffin pan, 9x13 baking dish) I used an oblong casserole dish.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Cool and serve with whipped topping.
If you want you can stir in some drained crushed pineapple into the whipped topping for extra flavor!


Friday, April 5, 2013

Crock Pot Chunky Tots

I have noticed an increase in using tater tots in recipes, which is a good thing in my eyes because it is inexpensive and yummy!!! I came across a few different recipes using them in a crock pot. Almost all of them contain bacon and chicken breast which I love. I tried a few of them and in my opinion they were not quite what I was looking for but really close. So I started experimenting with different seasonings. I also noticed that the chicken breast was kinda dry so I tried using thigh meat which was perfect! This was my creation! I hope you like it!

Crock Pot Chunky Tots

1 32 oz bag of frozen tater tots, divided
15 slices of fully cooked bacon crumbled, divided
2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thigh cut into bite sized pieces
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup half and half
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup green onion chopped
cooking spray

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside.
Spray your crock pot on the bottom and sides.
Pour half of the tater tots into the crock pot.
Top tater tots with 1 cup of cheese and 1/3 of the bacon.
Take the raw chicken and place on top of the cheese and bacon.
Top chicken with 1 cup of cheese and 1/3 of bacon,
Place the remaining tater tots on top of the cheese and bacon.
Top the tater tots with the rest of the cheese and bacon. 
Pour half and half on top.
Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
Turn off heat and let to sit for about 20 minutes.
Serve with green onions on top.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sliders

Pulled pork is one of my favorite foods. I have had it many different ways, spicy, tangy, sweet and combinations of all of the above. I also love the fact that you can make the meat easily in the crock pot. Of course the proper way is to smoke the meat but with a growing family I do not have time for that. After watching a cooking show and someone mentioned hawaiian pulled pork I got inspired to experiment. This was the outcome. I have brought it to pot lucks and parties and it is a huge hit especially when paired with my Hawaiian Slaw (link below). Hope you love it!

Hawaiian Pulled Pork

1 pkt. McCormick grill mates Hawaiian Luau dry marinade 
1 Tbs. paprika
1 tsp. pepper
4 lb boneless boston butt (any boneless pork roast will work)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup chili sauce
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 medium onion chopped into big chunks
2 carrots chopped into big chunks
2 packs Hawaiian rolls (you can use regular buns but these are sweet)
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. ginger minced
2 tsp. garlic minced

In a bowl combine the dry marinade, paprika, and the pepper.
Rub the pork with dry mixture, using all of it and set aside.
In a bowl mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, chili sauce, and pineapple juice and set aside.
Place the chopped onions and carrots into your slow cooker.
Place the pork on top of the veggies and pour half of the pineapple mixture on top of the pork. 
Reserve the remainder of the pineapple mixture to make the sauce.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Lift your lid and the pork should look something like this

At this point the meat should be ready to fall apart. 
Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place on your cutting board.
Discard the juice and veggies in the crock pot.
Using 2 forks shred the pork and place back into the slow cooker.
It will look something like this.

Now time to make the sauce!
In a medium pot heat the oil over medium heat. 
Add the ginger and garlic and saute until soft making sure not to burn them about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining pineapple mixture that you set aside and bring to a boil.
Boil for about 10 minutes until it becomes a sauce like consistency.
Pour on top of the pork and mix it well making sure to cover all of the meat.
Cover and let the flavors incorporate for about 30 minutes. 
Serve on hawaiian rolls as sliders or on your favorite bun!
Make sure you try it with the Hawaiian Slaw (pic and link below)


Hawaiian Slaw

I am from the south and us southerners love our barbecue. The sweet and tangy sauce on some meat...yummy. Along with good barbecue usually comes a delicious cole slaw, especially if pulled pork is on the table. I was not always a fan of cole slaw but if there is one thing I learned over the years is that your tastes buds change as you get older. So I gave it a try now and then and the sweeter the cole slaw the more I liked it. It dawned on me while eating my Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sliders (link and pic below) that maybe I can give my slaw a Hawaiian twist so this is what I came up with and it is so yummy!!! Bring this to your next barbecue, it is a huge hit!

Hawaiian Slaw

1 16 oz. bag cole slaw (just the veggies)
2 cups chunk pineapple (you can use fresh I use can typically)
1 cup light mayo
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 cup macadamia nuts 
1/4 cup golden raisins

Mix all ingredients together well in a large bowl.
Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours (this gives all the flavors time to get to know each other)
This recipe goes great with my sliders as pictured below (link below pic)!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yumm Yumm Sammie

I love sandwiches. I honestly look forward to holiday dinners not for what you eat on the holiday but what you can put between 2 pieces of bread the day after! I guess I come by that honestly, my daddy ate everything as a sandwich. His favorite was mamma's meatloaf smothered with gravy on wheat bread. Now that I am older I have to watch what I eat a little bit more. My favorite sandwich hands down would have to be turkey and mayo. Most of the time the deli turkey is full of salt and we wont even talk about mayo! Recently I noticed that the deli offers more meats that are low in sodium and low in calories! So I was on a quest to create a healthier alternative to turkey and mayo so this is what I came up with. It may be silly to some that I am blogging about a sandwich however this sandwich is so yummy and it is only 403 calories!!! 

Yumm Yumm Sammie

2 slices 5 grain Italian bread
1 Tbs. spicy brown mustard
1/2 hass (california) avocado
1/2 cup baby spinach
2 slices deli low sodium turkey breast

Cut your avocado long ways like in the pic below, rotating your knife around the seed in the middle.


once you open it up you will see this 

If you are only making 1 sandwich put the other half of the avocado in your fridge with the seed still in the avocado (This will help it to not oxidize and turn brown).
Make parallel cuts through the avocado and be careful not to cut the skin. Scoop out the avocado with a spoon as seen below and place it onto a plate.

Take your bread and spread the mustard on both slices. 
Build your sandwich anyway you like. 
If you want to add other veggies like lettuce, onion and tomato feel free this just happens to be the way I like it! 

Just as a note the creaminess of the avocado makes up for me not having mayo and although avocado is one of the more fattening fruits, it is the good fat that the body needs!


Chicken Marsala

I love to cook with wine! I have experimented with many recipes that included wine but it wasn't until 6 years ago that I experimented with marsala wine. It has such a distinct flavor. There is one thing that I have learned about cooking with wine is that you never ever cook with wine that you are not prepared to drink. If your palate can not stand to drink it then you probably will not like it in your food. You can use cooking wine on the fly if you do not have any other choice and I used to use it all of the time because of convenience and of course price but cooking wine tends to be salty. Believe me I love salt but not that way! 
One of my favorite dishes I used to order when I was out is Chicken Marsala. The mushrooms, the marsala sauce drizzled on the moist yummy chicken sooo yummy!!! I tried many recipes and there were facets of all of them I liked but always something missing so I came up with this one. I hope you like it!!!

Chicken Marsala

3 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large shallot diced (you can use 3/4 cup finely diced onion)
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms sliced
3/4 cup marsala wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 pkt. mushroom gravy
2 tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with thyme and if desired salt and pepper.
In a large pan heat up 1/2 off the oil on med-high.
Place chicken in pan and brown on both sides for about 5 minutes. 
Remove chicken to a plate until all pieces are browned.
Add the remainder of the oil to the pan.  
Add shallots (or onions) to the pan and saute for 2 minutes.
Add mushrooms and saute until shallots (or onion) and mushrooms are tender.
Add the gravy packets to the pan with the veggies (this will create a roux), stir continuously for about 1 minute until blended well. 
Add the wine and chicken broth stirring continuously until heated. 
Add chicken making sure to spoon gravy on top of the chicken.  
Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened and bubbly.
Remove from the heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 
Serve and enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup

As I have said before we are soup lovers. Especially my daughter Brianna! I recently posted our favorite Loaded Baked Potato Soup ( but it is not exactly the healthiest of soups so I went searching for a healthier alternative and I found one but it needed a little tweaking so this is what I came up with. I hope you love it!

Roasted Garlic Potato Soup

5 garlic bulbs
8 slices of thick cut bacon diced
1 shallot diced (you can use onion about 1 cup)
1 cup carrot diced
2 garlic cloves
2 lb. baking potato skinned and diced (6 cups)
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
10 dashes of hot sauce to taste optional

Wrap each garlic bulb in aluminum foil and bake in oven at 350 for about an hour and let cool for 15-20 minutes. 
Separate the cloves and squeeze out the garlic pulp until you have 1/4 cup or more if you like and discard the skins.
Cook bacon in a dutch oven until crisp. 
Add shallot, carrot and minced garlic and saute for about 5 minutes.
Add potato, broth, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and hot sauce and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. 
Remove bay leaf.
take garlic pulp and 2 cups of potato mixture, place into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Return the puree to the pot, stir in the milk and cook over low heat until heated. 
Remove from heat and add chopped parsley. 


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

My family loves soup especially on chili days and let's face it this winter has been full of chili days! My daughter is always asking me to try new soup recipes because in her mind soup is a food group all in itself! This soup hands down was our favorite! We tried a healthier version which I will post after this one but this one was perfect. It was like a warm hug. All we needed was a blanket and a warm fire! I hope you love it as much as we do!! 

Loaded Baked Potato Soup


1 lb. bacon cut up into pieces (if you like the topping to be crisp cook those separately until crisp)
1 large shallot diced (a small onion will work)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 14.5 oz. cans of chicken broth
5 potatoes baked, skinned and cubed
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups half and half
4 oz. grated cheddar cheese (more for topping if desired)
1 cup sour cream (more for topping if desired)
chopped green onion if desired

In a dutch oven cook bacon until desired doneness, reserve drippings.
Cook shallot in bacon drippings until tender, stir in flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Gradually add chicken broth and cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add cubed potatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, half and half and half of the bacon. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and sour cream, stirring until cheese melts. Serve immediately. Top with bacon, cheese, green onion and sour cream if desired. For me I love topping it with cheese and bacon! 


Monday, April 1, 2013

Cobblestone Pizza Bake and Taco Bake

This has become one of my kids favorites and one that they can make on days where they want to help in the kitchen! This recipe is so versatile. You can play around with what meats you like, what veggies you like and even turn it into a taco pizza (which is my 12 year old sons favorite)! 

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 jar pizza sauce (14-15 oz)
2 tubes (12 oz. each) buttermilk biscuits
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I use baby bella)
1 bell pepper sliced in strips longways (I use yellow or orange)
2 cups shredded pizza cheese 

Preheat oven to 400.
Grease 13x9 inch baking dish.
In a large pan, cook both meats until  browned and drain well.
Stir in pizza sauce.
Cut biscuits into fourths and place in the baking dish, slightly pressing down to kinda form a crust. 
Top with meat mixture.
Top with veggies. 

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 5-10 minutes longer until cheese is melted and golden.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


For the taco version which is my sons favorite as you can see below!!

The cooking method is pretty much the same just change up the ingredients!

2 lb. ground turkey (you can use beef I prefer the turkey in taco)
4 Tbs. taco seasoning* recipe below (using the water it calls for)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of queso sauce or salsa depending on your preference

Cook this up and use in place of the meat/sauce mixture above. I usually omit the mushrooms but keep the bell pepper and also use Monterrey jack/ cheddar cheese in place of the pizza cheese. Other than those few changes it is the same! 

Taco seasoning* (you can use 2 packets of taco seasoning if you prefer)

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container. Yields about 2 3/4 tablespoons.
To use: Use about 2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning for every 1 pound of meat. Use more or less depending on your preference. Brown meat and drain the fat. Add your taco seasoning along with about 1/2 cup of water. Simmer and stir until water is absorbed. If you want more of a sauce throw in about 2 tablespoons of flour with the water.