Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie

Need an easy family meal everyone will love?  Well I have one that I wanted to pass it along. Not to mention it has a snappy name that just might make your kids want to eat it! It started when a friend posted a picture on Facebook of a chicken n' dumpling recipe.  It looked delicious, only I've never been a fan of how slimy biscuit dough can get when you cook it in a hot liquid. I mean, come on now, the BEST part of a biscuit is it's golden flaky brown crust, am I right?  So if you're gonna have carbs, you might as well do them up right. So I did some modifications of my own and came up with: Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie.

The best part of this meal is that most of it can cook all day in a crock pot and be all smelling fantastic and waiting for you to come waltzing in your door after your busy day.  Pop in some refrigerated biscuits in the oven (or from scratch if you are so inclined), and by the time the table is set, dinner is ready.  Ingredients you will need for your recipe are as follows:

4 Chicken breasts (thawed - frozen would work too with longer cooking time)
1 diced onion (or bag of frozen chopped onions)
2 celery stalks chopped
2-3 carrots cut in rounds
1 15 oz can corn
1 large (23 oz) family sized can of cream of chicken soup
1 32 oz box chicken broth (I used Rachael Ray)
Salt, pepper, and dried parsley to taste

(full printable recipe at the end of the post)

Pour the large cream of chicken soup in chopped onion, celery, carrots and the can of corn in the bottom of the crock pot.
You can tailor the veggies to your liking.  Add frozen peas the last hour of cooking if you wish.
Next, pour in about half the box of Rachel Ray chicken stock and stir everything around.  (Note: I did not use the whole box for four chicken breasts.  If you have more chicken to add (or a larger family), you can add as much or as little stock liquid as you would like for the consistency you want.  The end result is the sauce should be about the thickness of a stew, not a soup)

 Drop in the chicken breasts and make sure they are covered in the "sauce"

Adding the chicken in.  I pushed them down after this picture was taken.

Cook on low in the crock pot for six hours.  After six hours, pull chicken out of the pot and chop up into bite sized chunks on a plate.

Add the chopped chicken back into the pot, stir, and let all the flavors meld and incorporate. Add salt, pepper, or dried parsley at this time.

Now bake up a quick pan of your favorite biscuits until they are fluffy and golden brown.

By now your house should smell like heaven.

While the biscuits are still warm, split them open on a plate and top with a pat of butter.
Mmmm melted butter on a hot bun.  Hello comfort food.

After that, lovingly spoon over a heapin' helpin' of the chicken pot pie mixture.  Serve with fruit, a green salad, and you've got an easy winner winner chicken dinner.

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie

I'm not gonna lie here people. This was so so SO good. The kids ate it up.  It made for great left overs too.  I stored the extra pot pie filling by itself in microwave-safe container, and wrapped the biscuits separately.  I sent hubby to work with an "upside down chicken pot pie" kit and he could heat and assemble at work at will.

I was trying to figure out the differences between chicken n dumplings, chicken n' biscuits, and my new and improved upside down chicken pot pie.  In my research to make the first two, I kept reading comments about the dumplings being "raw" or soggy in the middle. In the case of chicken n biscuits, (in which you cook the biscuit dough on top of the pot pie sauce), the number one complaint was soggy biscuit bottoms.  Well have soggy bottoms no more!

Upside down chicken pot pie... it's a win win for flavor town!
I think we've found the perfect solution on how to add those delicious, home-style chicken pot pie flavors, with those fully cooked golden buttery flaky biscuits that every one loves.  All we had to do was flip everything upside down!!  Full printable recipe can be found by clicking here.


Monday, September 07, 2015

Easy Peach Blueberry Crisp

Mr. D brought home some peaches from Costco this week that were absolutely delicious.  After eating a few right out of the box, my mind started to wander on what yummy grub we could make with such a fresh and fruity find.  Now we like our fruit pies around here, don't get me wrong, but there is just something about fragrant, super ripe peaches that lend themselves to turning into a warm, hot bubbly crisp. Throw in some blueberries we picked from this summer and you've got yourself one beautiful, tasty summer dessert.

Peach Blueberry Crisp - the perfect summer dessert!
What you will need for this dessert: (Printable recipe found at the end of the post)

5 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
4 cups of blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 cup brown sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (half a lemon squeezed)
1 Tablespoon of flour or corn starch

Crisp Topping:
1 1/2 cups of quick or rolled oats
1 cup of flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
12 tablespoons (1 and 1/2 sticks) of chilled (regular salted) butter, cubed into small pieces

In a bowl, put the sliced peaches.

Add four cups of blueberries and 1 cup of brown sugar (more or less to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit).  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and the juice of 1/2 a lemon

Stir in 1 Tablespoon of flour or cornstarch as thickener and mix together until blended.  Since our blueberries were frozen, I put this bowl sit to the side to let the berries come up to room temperature while we worked on the topping.

You can then also dump this fruit mixture into a 9x13 pan to await the fabulous topping goodness.

For the topping:

In another bowl, add 1 1/2 cups of quick or rolled oats. Add 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 cup of flour, and mix until combined.

Drop in 1 and 1/2 sticks of chilled, cubed butter.  

Use a pastry dough cutter to mix the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, then dump over the fruit mixture in the 9x13 pan, and pat down firmly.

Heat the oven to 425º and place in the center of the oven.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown, bubbling, and the fruit is cooked through.  Let it cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  

Delicious hot peach blueberry crisp!
Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.  

This turned out quite delicious and we ended up having some the next morning for breakfast too, I mean, come on, fruit, oatmeal... it's practically the breakfast of champions, right?  If you  are lucky enough to have any leftovers the following night, put a scoop in a microwave safe bowl or plate and nuke for 30 seconds to heat it back up and then top accordingly.  
For full printable recipe, click HERE.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Walking Tacos

We just returned from not one, but two mini camping trips.  My siblings and I went on an untold number of camping trips as kids growing up.  Camping is so FUN when you are young.  I've come to realize now, that camping is only fun when you are a kid, because it is a lot of work for the grown-ups!  The "fun" for moms on a camping trip is, how to bring and prepare food ahead of time so that less time has to be spent doing meal prep during the actual camping trip.  I hate doing dishes.  I don't want to make dirty dishes, or heat up a bunk house oven if I don't have to when I'm suppose to be on vacation.  My goal for our trips was to make enough things for dinner that were fun, yummy, but the key word for me was EASY PREP and EASIER CLEAN UP.  Flash forward to "Walking Tacos"

Walking Tacos.  They're sweeping the nation (one step at a time)
Oh sure, they are all over Pinterest right now.  I surely did not invent them.  But I did decide to try them, and I'm here to report they were the biggest win win with the kids and adults alike.  

All you have to do before your trip is cook your favorite taco meat, bring along all the side fixin's you would put in a taco, and toss in some individual bags of Fritos and Doritos, and you are in business!

Here's what we brought:

cooked taco meat (we stored ours in a gallon zip lock bag)
shredded cheese (bought it pre-shredded)
lettuce from our garden (chopped and stored in another ziplock bag with a wet paper towel inside to keep moisture and crispness - a little trick I learned from my mom) 
can of sliced olives
favorite salsa (in a baggie or a small container so you don't have to bring the whole thing)
sour cream (also in a baggie or small container) 
individual bags of Doritos/Fritos
Plastic Forks 

All you do after that is open your favorite bag of chips.  Crunch them up a bit.

Mr. D dramatically demonstrates the crunching up of said chips
 Now that your chips are properly smashed...

Do not underestimate how much the small fry will love crushing up a bag of chips.  Very satisfying!

Next, add a scoop or two of the warmed up taco meat

Add some cheese

Throw in some lettuce and other goodies

My youngest does not enjoy the lettuce so much, so her completely customized creation was more of a meat n' cheese scenario.  She also chose Doritos instead of Fritos.  Kids LOVE having it "their way" let me tell you.

"Nothing green to see here, carry on..."

Finally I put in a scoop of salsa and a scoop of sour cream, (which made it's own taco salad dressing of sorts) and a few sliced olives. 

After that, shake everything up inside your chip bag.  There was some flipping bags over and stirring of forks at this part.  The kids thought this was FUN!

Now it's time to dig into your creation.  It was a perfect little taco salad in a bag if you will.  Not that pretty, but delicious! The kids could customize the bags to their tastes and add only the toppings they wanted.  They loved that they were eating out of chip bags like bowls.

My girls loved the name "Walking Tacos" almost as much as they wanted to demonstrate they could walk and eat tacos at the same time.

She's walking... she's taco-ing...
And, the other fun fact in this kid friendly dinner, is the clean up.  Toss your bags and forks into the garbage and you are done!  Didn't even need plates if you don't want them.

This little dinner would not only work great for camping, but anytime you need to feed a crowd.  I could see this working for a youth group game night, a slumber party, or when you have the little league team over for their big awards night.  It really was an easy thing to make, and we will totally make these again soon.  Maybe in the luxury of our own kitchen, just for kicks!



Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Root Beer Float Slushie

Well it has been pretty warm around these here parts. Some might even say TOO warm, but it is definitely warm enough to find some new refreshing treats to help everyone stay cool out there. My girls love root beer floats and I was wondering if we could use our ice cream maker to create some kind of root beer float slushie.  Fast forward to a few ingredients later, and I think we found ourselves a winner!

Cool, creamy and frosty, behold the root beer float slushie

So all you need is your Cuisinart 2-quart electric ice cream maker, and a chilled inner canister.  You will need the following three ingredients:

4 1/2 cups of your favorite root beer
1 cup of heavy cream
3/4  cup of sugar

Pour the 4 1/2 cups of root beer into a measuring cup.

Add the 1 cup of heavy cream and the 3/4 cup of sugar into a larger bowl. Once they are mixed together and the sugar is dissolved, pour the entire concoction into your chilled inner ice cream canister for your machine, place the stirring paddle, place the lid on securely, and turn on the machine for 22 min.

Churn baby Churn!
Once finished, turn the machine off and start scooping the frosty goodness into the nearest glass...

The consistency of a Slurpee, the awesome taste of a root beer float
The heavy cream and sugar have mixed together during the spin time, to give it that mock ice cream flavor, and the carbonation in the root beer stays bubbly and fun.  Hand these off to some near by small fry and you will have some happy smiles... Oh, here are some small fry now.

They lovely ladies had almost finished theirs before I could even snap a picture
Here's some close ups of our root beer-y goodness

Frothy, root beer and cream flavors come shining through
We just loved the way this turned out.

You know you want a root beer slushie right this minute, don't you!
Oh and by they way, after we had our fill, we still had a bit of this deliciousness left over.  So I put it in a container with a lid and put the whole thing in the freezer for later, when hubby and my other daughter would be home.   The thing that makes this different than freezing ice cream, is that it never really hardens into a scoop-able ice cream, the soda factor makes it freeze almost as is.  So when they came back later, I could just scoop and scrape out more into the cup and it still had the texture of a slushie.  
Now if you are saying to yourself, darn, this looks delicious, but I don't have me one of them fancy 2-quart ice cream makers.  My question to you is... WHY?  You need one of these handy dandy machines, like now.  We made ours a gift for my hubby for father's day three years ago, and we have made so many homemade ice creams and treats using this bad boy since.  I seriously have not bought ice cream now in years.  We make it fresh, we know all the ingredients that go into it (often using seasonal fruit and fruits from our own garden), and we are always experimenting with new ideas and flavors, and now refreshing beverages. Hence, the birth of the root beer slushie.    

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

One of my favorite flavor combinations in the entire universe is chocolate and cherries.  Chocolate.  Followed by cherries. Cherries, followed by chocolate.  Chocolate cherry chip ice cream with chocolate chunks. Cherries covered in chocolate. Cherries, dipped in chocolate, and flying through space (I did say the universe).

Many moons ago, I received a very important culinary book in my budding, yet illustrious cooking career.  It was authored by Anne Byrn, the Cake Mix Dr., (aka genius), in which she would take regular old boxed cake mixes, add a few extra ingredients, and made them taste like they were homemade.  Is she a Doctor? An honorary one perhaps, but in reality, she is a wizard. She takes cake mixes as a base and can turn them into, not only scrumptious cakes, but goes on to defy the laws of cake nature by also turning them into all kinds of concoctions, such as cookies, tortes, bars, brownies, crumbles, dump cakes, it's crazy I say!  

Crazy like a fox, I mean.  

Speaking of crazy, try not to lick your screen right now when you feast your eyes on this delectable chocolate covered cherry cake.

Chocolate covered cherry cake - is the bomb diggity

The most ironic part of this post, is that I have made this, my favorite cake, for years. YEARS! I thought for sure I had blogged about it ages ago, but to my chagrin, I realized today I have not shared my most favored, easiest cake with the world.  So here you go.  Be prepared, because this baby only has FOUR ingredients. That's right FOUR.  You will need:

1 box chocolate cake mix (I picked chocolate fudge)
1 21oz can of cherry pie filling
3 eggs
2 teaspoons of almond extract

Anne's original recipe by the way has 2 eggs, and 1 tsp of almond extract - everything else is the same.  Also if you noticed, no OIL is needed in this recipe.  The fruit in the cherry pie filling will add a wonderful amount of moisture into this cake, seriously days later and it will still be moist and tasty and won't dry out.  Ha, like it will really last for days, what am I saying? Once you take a bite, you'll be tempted to eat the rest of it straight out of the pan and not share with anyone. So take these said four above ingredients and put them into a bowl.

Chocolate cake mix, three eggs, one 21 oz can of cherry pie filling, and two teaspoons of almond extract
After that mix them with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, then blend for one minute, 30 seconds more. Pour into a prepared (greased and floured) 9x13 pan.

Nothing to see here kids, just bakin' on a week night to satisfy a chocolate craving
Bake according to package instructions, I baked mine at 350º for 34 minutes, until the center was set and a toothpick inserted into the center came out clean... and the house smelled like a chocolate cherry fairyland.

Let this cool and then top this bad boy with anything you wish.  A dollop of homemade whipped cream, your own homemade butter cream, or a any store bought variety of chocolate frosting.  Wait, I'm having an epiphony, warmed up cherry sauce (Note to self: going to try that next time)! At the time of this particular baking, I was having a major chocolate craving, coupled with a clash of down right laziness, so I went for the Betty Crocker Homestyle butter cream frosting in the tub.  Slather that puppy on the top and take a deep whiff of all that chocolate cherry goodness.

Sorry for the boring 9x13 pan.  This is week night cake, we don't have to look pretty, we just have to taste good.
Time yourself and see how long you can wait before you slice yourself a piece.

It's chocolate, it's cherries, it's covered in more chocolate.  You can NOT go wrong
This thing was so moist and dense that it was hard to cut a piece that looked perfect.  Look at all the goopy molten goodness with chunks of cherry here and there...

One more view from this angle:

Don't forget to put some on your fork.  You can push your fork through this entire piece of cake and the whole section will stick to the tines.

Anyway, this cake is so awesome.  The double hit of almond extract really brings out a nice cherry flavor that is not overpowered by all that chocolate. This is a great go to cake to bring to parties, potlucks, and family gatherings.  The batter also makes for nice, rich, people will be asking for more of them plus the recipe cupcakes.  

The 4 ingredient chocolate covered cherry cake - easy and delicious!

The best part about this four ingredient recipe, is that you can do different cans of pie filling and different flavors of cake, for an almost unlimited combination of flavors.  I have made an apple spice cake in this same fashion (click here) with a cinnamon glaze that is to die for!  I still want to try different fruits with the bases and see what I can come up with.  For now, I will bask in this super awesome chocolate cherry goodness, and know that it was GOOD!  Nay, Delicious. 

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