Sunday, April 23, 2017

CROCK-POT CHICKEN SPAGHETTI

This is a quick and easy weekend recipe for chicken spaghetti and everyone loves it. I usually make this with chicken breasts,  but it is also excellent if you substitute quartered chicken thighs and throw in some mushrooms....add a tossed salad and dinners ready.



2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (or several thighs)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg beaten
1 jar meatless marinara sauce (about 25 ounces)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

mushrooms (optional)
Mozzarella cheese
spaghetti noodles

In small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 1/2 cup chopped onions. Saute onions at medium high heat until you start to get golden edges on the onions (the onions AND butter they cooked in, go into the sauce).

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with vegetable spray before you put in the marinara sauce + water + well sauteed onions and butter + basil + oregano + garlic powder +  sugar + salt + black pepper + cayenne pepper + melted butter (and mushrooms if you are using them). Stir well.

Mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in one bowl and the beaten egg in another bowl. Coat the chicken in beaten egg, then roll it in the bread crumb-Parmesan mixture. Place the pieces gently (in a single layer) in the marinara mixture and spoon a LITTLE of the sauce over the chicken, but DON'T MIX AFTER YOU PUT THE CHICKEN IN THE SAUCE OR IT WILL KNOCK OFF THE COATING.

Set your slow cooker on LOW for 3 to 4 hours and do not disturb the chicken while it cooks. 

About 30 minutes before it's time to eat, GENTLY lift out the chicken and set it aside, then stir in about 1/2 pound of half cooked spaghetti noodles (that have been tossed with a little butter) into the crockpot (they will finish cooking in the sauce). Make sure the noodles are well coated, BEFORE GENTLY placing the cooked chicken back on top of the noodles (don't stir)and top each piece of chicken with a some mozzarella cheese. Put the lid back on and let it cook on LOW for 20-30 minutes or till cheese is well melted, DON'T STIR.

NOTE: All crock-pots cook at different temperatures, so keep that in mind when you set your timer. I usually cook 2 chicken breasts for about 3 1/2 hours (almost fall-apart tender). Just keep an eye on the chicken the first time you try this recipe, so it doesn't get over cooked.

NOTE: Chicken thighs cut into larger cubes works VERY well in this recipe too.


NOTE: Use whatever commercial marinara sauce you like. Personally, I use an inexpensive brand (like Ragu) because the extra onion, oregano, basil, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper jazz up the marinara nicely.

NOTE: This would be a fantastic recipe for a potluck dinner if you quarter the chicken breasts or use thighs.


ENJOY !!!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

PECAN PIE BITES

 
Picky-picky Hubby tells me these Pecan Pie Bites are totally addicting. They have a buttery shortbread crust ......  a slightly gooey center and glazed sweet pecans on top. What more can you ask for?  Oh yes, they also freeze exceptionally well!!!

Click on this photo to get a better look

CRUST
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter (room temperature)

Mix the above crust ingredients well and press into a  9" x 13" baking dish that has been lined with parchment or no-stick foil (see note below). This mixture will seem crumbly before you bake it, but don't worry about that. Just pat it evenly into the pan and bake in preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes. If you are using a glass baking pan, bake at 325°.

While the crust is baking, mix up the topping:

TOPPING
3 eggs well beaten
1 cup light corn syrup (I use Karo brand)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 + 2/3 cup chopped pecans

Mix well and pour over partially baked crust, making sure the nuts are evenly spread out. Return to the oven and bake for 25 more minutes.

 
Cool COMPLETELY in pan.



NOTE:  The Pecan Pie Bite crust does not stick to the pan, but around the edges of the topping, it does like to stick. To combat that, I line my 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper or the new Reynolds Easy Release foil, leaving the ends a little long so I can use them as "handles" to lift out the COMPLETELY COOLED recipe. 

Make sure they have cooled this 
to room temperature before
you cut them into bites. 

NOTE:  Since we are empty-nesters, this recipe is too big for us, so I cut the baked recipe into thirds and wrap each one in plastic wrap then again in a zip top freezer bag and freeze them.They freeze VERY well. 

DO NOT CUT THEM INTO "BITES" UNTIL YOU  THAW THEM OUT.


ENJOY !!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CLASSIC SHORTBREAD COOKIES

Sweet and tender, these old fashioned classic shortbread cookies are easy to make and ALWAYS a big hit. Picky-picky husband loves them frosted in pink (for some weird reason), they are one of his all time favorites.



 

CLASSIC SHORTBREAD COOKIES

2 cups UNsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 cups all purpose flour
(NO EGGS)

The cookie batter in the recipe is fairly heavy, so it works best in a stand mixer if possible.

Add 2 cups (one pound) of room temperature butter and 1 cup regular sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). The last 30 seconds or so, add the salt and extracts and beat until well mixed. (see note about salt)

Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Dump cookie batter onto counter and divide into 4 sections. Roll each section into a "log" about 2" in diameter. Wrap each "log" in plastic wrap and chill for one hour. You can roll the entire CHILLED log in sprinkles or finely chopped nuts before you slice them if you like.


Pre-heat oven to 350° and slice chilled cookie dough "logs" into 1/4" slices. Place on UNgreased cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes or until the very edges just start to turn golden.

Cool cookies and frost if you like.  If you aren't going to frost them, roll the sliced cookie's in granulated sugar BEFORE BAKING.

NOTE: If you do not have UNsalted butter on hand (no big deal), just use regular salted  butter, but LEAVE OUT the salt in the recipe.



 
ENJOY !!!!!