Monday, January 25, 2016

slow cooker mediterranean chicken

Delicious!!  If we'd played some thematic dinner music our family would've thought we were dining at Olive Garden tonight yet the bill for this meal was NOTHING like when we actually went there last month with my extended family.  The chicken was super tender and the sauce tasted so fresh and restaurant-like but a lot healthier.  No greasy plates here!  I should've doubled the recipe for leftovers.
I would serve this to dinner guests.

slow cooker mediterranean chicken (adapted from Spark Recipes
2 cups chopped portabello mushrooms (okay, I omitted this for my kids' sake)
6 roma tomatoes, chopped (I used a can of petite diced tomatoes)
1 (6.5 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup quartered kalamata olives
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons cornstarach
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces*
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup chicken broth 

Spritz slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Combine mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, garlic, olives and Italian seasoning  Mix together gently.  Combine cornstarch and chicken broth and add to slow cooker and stir gently.  Place chicken on top.
cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.  Stir half way through.
Serve with whole wheat pasta.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

*If you want to use frozen chicken breasts like I did, follow the recipe but place frozen chicken on top and turn the slow cooker to HIGH.  After an hour your chicken will be thawed enough to cut into pieces.  Place back into the slow cooker and turn the temperature down to LOW.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

cuban pork tacos

Hall of Fame.  These are outstanding- the flavors really stand out!  I'll have to remember to make these the next time we have dinner guests.  My oldest had three of them in about 3 minutes flat.  I love it when dinner is this good.  I'm going back for another; this post is making me hungry all over again.

cuban pork tacos (Mel's Kitchen Cafe
4-pound boneless pork top loin roast, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 medium orange, halved and juiced
tortillas, small red onion thinly sliced, cilantro, salsa, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese

Rub the pork all over with salt.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add the pork and sear each piece on all sides, working in batches.  Once browned, remove the pork to the slow cooker.  In the same pot used to sear the pork, pour in the water and broth, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to get up all the brown bits from the bottom.  Add pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, jalapenos, onion, lime juice and orange juice and bring to a simmer.  Pour the mixture over the pork in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the pork is very tender.
Remove the bay leaves and onion and discard.  Remove the pork and place in a bowl and set aside.  Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot on the stove and over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Let the mixture boil until it reduced to about 1 cup and is thickened slightly, about 10-15 minutes.  Shred the pork and pour the sauce over the pork.
Serve in tortillas garnished with all the most glorious toppings you can think of!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

chicken enchilada stuffed peppers


I loved this dish- I loved everything about it.  So did my husband.   When my daughter said she wasn't a fan of peppers I had her put some of the filling in a tortilla with some cheese and grill it like a quesadilla.  I'll be making these again soon.
P.S.  What I thought was cool about trying this recipe was that I learned how to make a homemade cream of chicken soup base!

chicken enchilada stuffed peppers (mel's kitchen cafe)
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups (single batch) homemade condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa or rice (I used a combination of both made by Hodson Mills)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 (4 oz) can green chiles
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 bell peppers, any color

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese and the cream of chicken soup.  Add the quinoa or rice (or the blend like I did), chicken, mozzarella cheese, chilies, cilantro, salt and pepper.
Slice each bell pepper in half and pack lightly.  Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish.
Cover the dish with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more until the peppers are tender and the filling is hot.  Let the peppers rest for 5 minutes or so before serving.

homemade cream of chicken soup (mel's kitchen cafe)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of dried parsley
pinch of paprika
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup flour

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and all the seasonings to a simmer.
In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together until smooth.
While whisking the broth, slowly pour in the flour/milk mixture, whisking constantly.
Continue to stir and cook until the mixture bubbles and thickens, 3-4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add additional salt and pepper to taste as needed.  Use immediately in a recipe or cool and refrigerate for up to a week.  This will thicken much more as it cools.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

mediterranean chicken wraps

These wraps were flavorful and packed a punch.  I loved them.  My husband wasn't a fan of the tortilla and would've preferred a nice roll or toasted pita so I'll do that next time.  I plan to use the leftover chicken mixture over a bed of spinach for a salad tomorrow for lunch.  Looking forward to that!

mediterranean chicken wraps  (slightly adapted from mel's kitchen cafe)
4 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 cup plain Greek  yogurt (I used fat free)
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry and chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 (12-inch) flour tortillas, white or whole wheat
4 cups baby spinach

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, feta, yogurt, red peppers, olives, lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper.  Divide the spinach among the tortillas, spreading across the entire tortilla.  Spoon the chicken mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll up tightly.  Cut each tortilla in half.  Serve with veggies and hummus.

southwestern chicken soup

Super yummy soup- great way to start out the New Year.  This soup is so easy to make because the chicken cooks into the soup- love that!

southwestern chicken soup (adapted from sparkrecipes)
7 cups chicken broth
1 (32 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
tortilla chips
1 cup  shredded cheddar or mexican cheese blend

In a soup pot, combine all ingredients except chips and cheese.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Top each serving with tortilla chips and sprinkle with cheese.
Makes eight 1 1/2 cup servings.