Tag Archive: Munchies Mind


Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Here’s a pecan pie for those who don’t really love pecan pie. I love pecan pie but I couldn’t resist the idea of adding more good stuff to one of my favorites.

The result? My kids, who don’t really care for pecan pie, LOVED this! Me? Turns out I’m a pecan pie purist. I love all the ingredients in this pie and thought I would absolutely love it, so I was surprised to discover I liked it but didn’t love it. Or it could have been that I was stuffed on the Chicken Artichoke Lasagna my daughter made for dinner and the plethora of sweets I’ve had lately. I’m not sure. I might have to make this one more time to decide.  🙂Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

Alex said he isn’t really a nut person – I beg to differ 😉 – but he really liked this pie. Tish liked it because she doesn’t like the texture of regular pecan pie. She also might be a bit of a chocoholic so that helped, I’m sure. When she was younger, maybe in junior high, I remember coming home from work and her telling me she had spent the day reading a book and eating the chocolate cookies she’d found in the kitchen. That’s my girl!

I’d say this pie is definitely worth the try! It’s super easy to throw together, and you can use a pre-made pie crust if you don’t want to make it from scratch. I’m lazy. I used the refrigerated pie crust. The crust is not pre-baked and you should not prick the crust before loading it with the filling.

One thing I didn’t do well, though – I didn’t rub enough flour on the pie crust before putting it into the pie pan. Shame on me for not following the directions on the box! If you’re making a pie with a high sugar content, such as pecan, you need to put flour on the pie crust to help absorb some of the sugar and prevent the filling from leaking through the crust. Mine leaked through the crust and the result was a pie that didn’t come out of the pan cleanly. Lesson learned!

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Pie

from Culinary Covers

Stuff you need:

1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
2 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest [I use the jarred grated zest found in the spice aisle.]
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup mini pretzels (about 18), broken into pieces
3/4 cup semi-sweet, bittersweet or extra dark chocolate [I used semi-sweet because that’s what I had. The kids liked it so I’d use that again.]

Now what?

Preheat the oven to 350F. Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Fold the edges over and crimp as desired. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. [Make sure you flour the crust first! Rub a Tablespoon or so on each side.]

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the pecans, pretzels and chocolate.

Pour into the prepared pie crust. Bake for 30 minutes.

Cover the pie with foil and continue to bake until the filling is puffed and the center is just set, another 15 to 20 minutes. [I think mine took about 65-75 minutes. Might be my oven because my pecan pies take longer than the recipes suggest, so keep an eye on yours.]

Let cool and serve at room temperature.

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Typically I’d agree with my friend’s assessment of homemade Chinese food: “Homemade is never as good as the restaurant!” Typically. But recently I made this Orange Chicken and I think it really IS as good as the restaurant version!

Orange ChickenI’m a sauce girl. It has to be good, and there has to be plenty! No skimping on the sauce – I want to drench my rice or pasta in it! Well, this sauce is near perfect. It’s got great flavor, and with this recipe, there’s plenty of it. The recipe only calls for 2 chicken breasts but there was enough sauce for 3 good-sized chicken breasts or 4 small ones.

The original recipe includes a recipe for fried rice. I’m lazy and I really wanted pasta that evening so I made orzo instead. Honestly, I liked the orzo better than rice, but I have never really a big rice fan.

The recipe, the way it’s written, is delicious but takes some time and the frying makes a mess! I consolidated some steps when I made it, and next time I’ll make an even  more streamlined version. I liked the heat of the dish, but if you don’t tolerate spiciness it can be toned down, so don’t let this recipe scare you off! See the tips below for a simpler recipe and for a milder version.

Streamlined Version

I followed the recipe and fried my chicken. I won’t lie. It was good, but it made a mess! I know the restaurant version is fried but if you’re pressed for time or you don’t eat fried food, you could skip the breading and frying part. Sautee your chicken in a little oil, use 3-4 cups of a rotisserie chicken, 3-4 breasts of baked or broiled chicken, or even leftover turkey. It’ll be faster and healthier!

Less Spicy Version

I never seem to get the heat of cayenne correct and this was no exception. I had no idea what the peppers are that were called for in the recipe, so I substituted 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I would have used crushed red pepper flakes but I didn’t have any in my pantry. I used fresh ginger which I grated directly into the pan – without measuring – so it’s hard to say how much of the kick came from the cayenne and how much came from the ginger. Maybe I should have measured. Nah!  😉   It had a pretty good bite to it. Not unbearable, but it would have been too spicy for someone who doesn’t like spicy food. Anyway, if you don’t like ginger, don’t have fresh ginger, or don’t want all the bite, you can substitute ground ginger. It still provides flavor, but it doesn’t have the bite of fresh ginger root.

Orange Chicken

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Stuff you need:

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or alternate as suggested in the Streamlined Version notes above
¼ cup cornstarch [if you are frying the chicken]
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh orange juice [I used a good bottled orange juice.]
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 strips orange zest – 1″ wide by 2″ tall OR 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoons fresh minced or grated ginger (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
4 whole dried red chilies, broken in half OR 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch, for the slurry
2 Tablespoons water, for the slurry
Cooked rice or noodles

Now what?

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about an inch of vegetable or canola oil to about 375F.
In a large zip top bag, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and seal the bag. Toss to coat completely.
Add the coated chicken to the hot oil in two or three batches. Cook until lightly golden and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Hold the chicken in the oven or microwave, covered.
Drain the oil from the pan but don’t wash it.
In the same saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and dry chilies. Stir to combine and stir the bottom of the pan to dredge up the leftover chicken bits.
Bring mixtsure to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce reduce by 1/3. [This step is VERY important. If you don’t let the ginger and garlic cook, you will have very raw flavors, not the mellowed-out flavor that the simmering brings about.]
In a small bowl, prepare the slurry by combining the cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the sauce and whisk until the sauce thickens. If it doesn’t thicken up, make more slurry and add it a bit at a time until the sauce is thick.
Add the chicken and heat through. Remove from heat and serve over rice or noodles.

When I was younger, Mom used to take us into downtown Chicago to shop. We’d take the commuter train down and walk over to State Street, where all the big department stores had their flagship stores. We’d spend the day in the beautiful, multi-storied buildings window shopping and enjoying the experience. At Christmastime we’d go downtown and look at all the store windows, which were fixed up with elaborate Christmas season displays. The sidewalks were filled with people crowding in to see the windows. It was a wonderful tradition that I’ll never forget!

Deerfield Bakery's Pecan Pie

Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Mom and I still go downtown when we get a chance. Most of the big stores are no longer on State Street, which is a shame, but we still enjoy it.  Lunch was always a part of our trips downtown, and that’s still the case. I remember eating many, many times in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field & Co. Even though it’s now called Macy’s, The Walnut Room is still there, and the current menu includes some of the traditional favorites we enjoyed years ago!

I have two vivid memories of food downtown. One was the Field’s Special from The Walnut Room — iceberg lettuce, sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, tomato and egg served open-faced on rye with thousand island dressing. Nothing special, but it was my favorite and I still order it!

The other is the Pecan Pie from Flo’s. I don’t remember much of the place except that it was more of a diner, noisy and crowded at lunchtime. I don’t even remember what we’d order for lunch, except that knowing me, it was probably a grilled cheese. That was my go-to meal when I was young.

But what I remember the most about Flo’s was the pecan pie. Oh, was it good!! It was served heated up, and the filling was warm and gooey and just to die for! I’ve never been much of a pie person because I don’t like regular pie crust, but Flo’s pecan pie was a wedge of heaven!!!

Pecan Pie from Deerfield's BakeryYears later, my favorite pie is still pecan pie – partly from nostalgia, and partly because it’s just that good. I recently had the opportunity to make a pie for a birthday celebration at work. I’ll admit I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust. I’d like to perfect a scratch-made pie crust, but that will have to happen when a) I have more time; and b) I don’t need it for a special event.

When the pie was baked, I thought it looked a bit darker than the pecan pies I’ve made in the past. It took me a minute to realize the recipe I used was a little different from any I’ve used before because it includes brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar. It was wonderful! I may try it again and use maple syrup instead of honey. Maple and pecans are great complements, so that should be good in the pie.

I did use more pecans than the original recipe. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of pecan halves but I didn’t think that was enough! I used somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 cups. If you don’t want a ton of pecans, start with the 1/2 cup and see if that looks like enough for you. If you’re like me and LOVE pecans, load ’em up!

If the crust starts to brown too much while you’re baking, use foil and loosely cover the pie. Either foil or those crust protectors you can purchase will do the trick.

All the comments I received on the pie were positive, so I know I’ll make this one again!

Pecan Pie

Adapted from the Deerfield’s Bakery recipe published in Killer Pies

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

10 tablespoons packed brown sugar [I used light brown sugar.]

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

1 to 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, mix honey, corn syrup, butter and brown sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Once the butter and sugar dissolve, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. [If you add the eggs to the hot mixture, the eggs will scramble and ruin the pie.]

While the mixture is cooling, line the uncooked pie shell with the pecan halves. They’ll rise to the top while the pie is baking.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together and stir into the cooled sugar mixture.

Gently pour the mixture over the pecans. [They won’t all stay in place, so don’t worry if some float and move around.]

Bake for 1 hour, then allow the pie to cool before serving.

Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake“What did you bring me?” That’s my son-in-law’s usual greeting for me. The last couple of times I saw him I didn’t have anything for him. My daughter’s no slouch in the kitchen but I like baking for him, so this time I sacrificed my beauty sleep and dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to bake for him. Seriously – this is a sacrifice. I love my sleep.

If you like glazed donuts or those commercially baked honey buns, you’ll like this. I made these for my friend’s birthday one year. Actually, I made 2 pans to take to work for her birthday – one with nuts and one without. She immediately took a pan to her car so she didn’t have to share!

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey. Cute, isn’t he?

You’ll be pleased with how simple this cake is to put together. The hardest part is putting on the topping – and doing it right. 😀  As many times as I’ve made this, for some reason this time I mixed all the topping ingredients together. It made a cinnamon mud and that just didn’t look right, so I went back and read the instructions. Good idea, huh? I had forgotten it was just a matter of drizzling and sprinkling the topping ingredients and then swirling them with a knife.

My only excuse for making it harder than it had to be was that the oven was fired up long before my brain was!

I’m not a donut fan but I really like this cake. It’s good warm, and it’s good after it cools. It holds well due to the sour cream and oil that are added. This also travels well, and would be great for a picnic or BBQ. Enjoy!

Honey Bun Cake

from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Stuff you need:

Cake:
1 (18 ounce) package plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 – 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon [I use 2 Tablespoons. We like cinnamon!!]
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted [Or be lazy like me and just stir well.]
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Place cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in large mixing bowl.
Blend with electric mixture on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides as needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Time for the filling!
Drizzle the honey on top of the batter.
Next sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Using a butter knife, swril through the batter to slightly blend the topping with the batter.
Bake for 38-40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla in small mixing bowl and whisk or stir until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the top of the hot cake in the pan, spreading it to the sides with a spoon.
Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes more, and then serve warm.

Apricot Pecan BarsWow – these are good!

Make a buttery shortbread crust, top it with your favorite jam, crumble some topping and nuts over the jam, and bake until set.

Doesn’t that sound easy? It IS! And the result is AMAZING!!

These have been on my To-Bake list for quite a while, so when I needed a quick Banzai Un-Birthday treat for our Karate Club, I was ready to try them!

The recipe is adapted from the C&H Sugar website. I changed out the jam and the nuts to work with what I had in my pantry. We all really enjoyed the apricot/pecan combination! I’m sure several other combos would be good, too: strawberry/almonds and raspberry/walnut come to mind.

I suggest using real butter for the crust and crumble, because it’ll make a much better shortbread than margarine or shortening. The recipe has a glaze, but it’s really not necessary. I wasn’t going to add it, since my taste-tester and I both thought they were delish without it, but changed my mind and added it before I took the rest of the bars to Karate. Add the glaze or don’t, according to your preference. You’ll like them either way!

Apricot Pecan Bars

Adapted from C&H Sugar’s Glazed Peach Bars

Stuff you’ll need:

Crust and Filling Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened [I highly recommend real butter!]
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup apricot preserves [or peach, raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb…]

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if you’re not lazy like me (see Quick Tip)

Glaze Ingredients (Optional):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk (or to desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now what?
Crust and Filling Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F; arrange rack to center position.
Beat butter with sugar and flour; press evenly on bottom of lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Don’t bother to clean the bowl; just use it for the topping.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden around edges. Remove from oven. Stir up preserves and pour into center of the crust. Allow to stand 2-3 minutes, then spread preserves evenly over crust with back of large spoon.

Topping Instructions

Combine flour with sugar, butter and almond extract; beat slowly several minutes to blend.
Crumble evenly over top of preserves.
Sprinkle pecans over topping and return pan to oven.
Continue baking 20-25 minutes or until bubbly with golden edges. [I baked mine about 30 minutes until the filling wasn’t sloshy.]
Cool thoroughly.

Glaze Instructions (Optional)

Whisk powdered sugar with milk and almond extract until smooth. Drizzle randomly over top of cooled, baked crust/filling/topping mixture. Cut into squares.

Quick Tip(s)
To toast nuts, arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet and “toast” under your oven’s broiler until golden, stirring frequently for even browning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

After making steak and a healthy vegetable slaw for dinner, I told The Pretty One I was going to make an unhealthy dessert. But these really aren’t all that bad, I don’t think. At least they’re not as bad as what I would have made if I had a ton of time and energy this weekend!

They sound like something you should eat in the winter (who wants hot chocolate when it’s 70 degrees outside?) but trust me – they make a great treat for spring days too!

These mix up in just a few minutes, and if you’re in a hurry to eat them (like me, believe it or not!) you can put them in the frig and they’ll set up even faster.

The chocolate flavor is “there” but not overwhelming. The mini chocolate chips on top add a little more chocolate goodness. The Pretty One declared these “delicious” and I have to agree. I’m having a hard time not eating the whole pan!

Quick, easy, and addicting. What more could you want??

Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

from Crazy for Crust

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons butter
10 ounces marshmallows
2 packets powdered hot chocolate mix
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 cup Mallow Bits (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Now what?

Spray a 9×13” pan with cooking spray. Keep the cooking spray close by. Measure out cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
Place butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave safe bowl. Melt for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on HIGH power, stirring every 30 seconds until they are melted.
Stir in the hot chocolate packets, then immediately stir in the cereal and pour into prepared pan.
Working quickly, spray your hands with cooking spray so they won’t stick to the mixture, and carefully press the treats into the pan. (Be careful – the mixture will be hot.) Sprinkle immediately with Mallow Bits and mini chocolate chips and press lightly to secure them to the top of the krispie treats.
Let cool completely before cutting into squares. If you are impatient and want to speed cooking so you can eat them sooner, put pan in frig for a few minutes.  🙂

Carrots are good for your eyesight. Walnuts are good for your heart. Pineapple has anti-inflammatory properties.

Banzai Carrot Cake

Banzai!

Translation: If you eat this carrot cake, you’re doing good things for your body! It’s health food!

If that doesn’t convince you and you need another reason to try this cake, I’ve got a very convincing one. Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sensei Phil didn’t have anything particular in mind for his Banzai Birthday treats. Knowing he’s not a chocolate person, I suggested one of my favorite cakes – Carrot Cake! I thought our karate group would enjoy it. The consensus was the cake is good and the frosting is Banzai-worthy!

Carrot CakeThis is a delicious AND nutritious cake, and you should try it. There are a couple things you should know:

  • I bought already-shredded carrots in the produce section. I’m too lazy to shred them myself.
  • You can use pecans instead of walnuts, or eliminate the nuts if there is a nut allergy. Personally, I’d add the nuts if you don’t have to leave them out.
  • This is a great way to sneak fruit and vegetables into your family’s bodies. The ingredient list can be your secret!  😉
  • The frosting amount shown is 1 1/2 times the original recipe. What can I say? I like cream cheese frosting. If I hadn’t used it all on the cake, I would have eaten it right off the spoon. You can make 2/3 of the frosting if you want – it’ll give enough for the cakes. But why would you do that? The frosting is why we eat carrot cake, right?

Make this. Eat it. Feel healthier because you ate stuff that’s good for you. Then have another piece. Carrot cake is health food, and the cream cheese frosting is just plain awesome!

Carrot Cake

Slightly adapted from Food.com

Stuff you need:

CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

FROSTING (See TIP 2 for a lighter frosting.)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened — the blocks, not the whipped stuff
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups icing [powdered] sugar

Optional for decoration: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
Pour into pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes for the rounds or 45 minutes for a 9×13. The cake will bake up fairly dark, and the centers will sink a little.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth; add the vanilla then the icing sugar and beat until creamy.

To frost: If using the round cakes, no need to frost the sides. Plop half the frosting on one cake and spread. You’ll have a nice, thick layer of icing. It’s OK if a little goes over the edges. Place the second layer on top and frost with the remaining frosting.
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and add a few chopped walnuts for decoration, if desired.

TIP: If you’re transporting the layered cake, put a dab of frosting on the plate before you put the first cake layer on it. It’ll act like a glue to hold the cake layer in place.
TIP 2: If you are one of the few people who don’t care for the thick cream cheese frosting, there’s a lighter version that’s also delish. Beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese. Beat in 1 jar (7 oz.) of marshmallow fluff. Frost your cake then lick the spoon and bowl clean!

Crock Pot Jambalaya

Crock Pot JambalayaLike a little zip in your food? Then this just might be the thing for you!

I’d bought some andouille sausage and threw it in the freezer because I didn’t use it right away. When I found this recipe, I remembered that spicy sausage in my freezer and knew I had to try it!

This was a crazy-easy recipe! The hardest part was chopping the onion and green pepper. Other than that, everything is just tossed into the crock pot and then you wait. I even stuck the chicken in the crock pot when it was still frozen!

Easy enough, right?

And I’m sure you want to know if it was good. Well, here’s what The Pretty One had to say (excuse the texting language):

“What the [whoops!] did you put in this soup my mouth catches on fire every bite i love it

i couldn’t taste anything for a week [he’d been sick] then I ate this and flavor exploded in my mouth!”

How do you like that endorsement? I had to agree with him – it was really good!

Crock Pot JambalayaNow I’ve got to say if you aren’t a fan of spicy food, you can cut back the heat but still keep the flavor profile. You can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper, and cut back the Cajun seasoning. I’d still use 1 teaspoon Cajun / blackened seasoning for the flavor.

And you can always start mild and add more Cajun seasoning or cayenne later. Or pass those and everyone can add more spice if they like more of a bite.

Andouille sausage is a bit spicy, but I wouldn’t call it “hot.” It’s got great flavor so if you can handle some spice, I’d use it. If not, you can swap it out for regular smoked sausage.

This recipe is definitely a winner — great flavor with minimum effort. That’s how I like to cook!!

 

SLOW COOKER JAMBALAYA

Slightly adapted from Cats and Casseroles

Stuff you need:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast [I used frozen chicken breasts and stuck them in the pot still frozen.]
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced [I used Eckrich or Johnsonville.]
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun (blackened) seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 c instant rice

Now what?
Place all ingredients except rice in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot.

Cook rice according to package instructions. Add rice, as desired, into each individual serving of jambalaya. Store rice separately from rest of stew.

Spring is soon approaching (fingers crossed!), and my thoughts are turning to grilling! Here is a recipe that gets more requests from friends than almost any other –  Two Step BBQ Sauce. Sounds easy, IS easy, and is SOooooo much better than anything you can buy at the store!Two Step BBQ Sauce

My kids’ school even asked me to provide a half gallon of this sauce to auction off with a Pig Roast (Pastor favorite!)  Not to brag (much!) but when the auctioneer mentioned it came with Alicia’s Special BBQ sauce, the bidding went up and they got TWICE what they normally do for the pig alone!!

Two Step BBQ SauceIf I could eat it with a spoon (NOT that I ever HAVE….ahem), this would be the sauce I’d want to eat!!   You can adjust the seasonings to taste.  One note: The amount of cayenne shown does NOT make it hot. Just gives it a nice “twang.” And this amount of sugar is needed to offset the dark flavors of the malt vinegar, soy and Worcestershire.

This sauce is red gold!! Great on chicken, ribs, burgers, and well….. even a spoon! J

Two Step Barbecue Sauce

Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins

Stuff you need:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 Tablespoons minced or pressed garlic

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste – make the sauce, simmer and then add more if you like)

60 oz. Ketchup (1 40-oz bottle, and 1 20-oz bottle)

1/2 cup Malt Vinegar

1/4 cup Soy Sauce

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (natural liquid smoke flavoring)

Now what?

Heat oil in a dutch oven.  Add the onion, garlic, cumin and cayenne. Saute over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened (about 10 minutes).

Put in large Ball jars (about 3 will do), or another container, and refrigerate. Keeps in fridge pretty much forever (due to ketchup and amount of sugar).

Sit back and wait for the compliments (and requests) to start rolling in!

Classic Chicken & Biscuits“This chicken thing is amazing”

Does it need any endorsement besides that? This was my first try at chicken and biscuits, and based on that text, The Pretty One liked it as much as I did!

I had a chicken pot pie last weekend that was pretty tasty and thought about making one at home. But somehow my mind switched over to chicken and biscuits. Why? I have no idea because I don’t think I’ve had the dish before. Anyway, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I was off on a search for a good recipe that didn’t require canned condensed soup.

I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I admit I cheated because I didn’t make homemade biscuits. I was lazy.  🙂 But I made the sauce from scratch, so instead of an A for effort, I’d say I get a B for effort – and an A for flavor!

This isn’t a difficult recipe, and the from-scratch sauce is definitely worth the effort! You can cook the chicken in advance or purchase a rotisserie chicken. I baked my chicken the night before and seasoned it fairly well with garlic powder and a spicy chicken blend. Be sure to use spices that compliment the basil and thyme in the sauce. And speaking of the sauce, it’s mild and creamy and allows the flavor of the chicken, vegetables, and basil to shine through.

This is family-friendly comfort food I think you’ll enjoy. I know we did!

Chicken and Biscuits

Adapted from Taste of Home

Stuff you need:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 can biscuits OR recipe below

BISCUITS:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fat-free milk
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Now what?

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
Stir in the flour, basil, thyme and pepper until blended.
Gradually stir in milk and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and STIR [so it doesn’t scorch] for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in the vegetables, chicken and cheese; reduce heat to low. [If using canned biscuits, cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.]

If using canned biscuits, cut 5 or 6 biscuits in half. You won’t need the full package, so bake up the rest separately following package directions.

OR

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil and parsley; stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

Transfer hot chicken mixture to a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish.
Top with biscuit halves or drop biscuit batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto chicken mixture.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-40 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings.