Okay, I admit it. Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot. I love to cook, so I never saw the point. Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde. Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot. As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot. (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry. Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test! Results: AWESOME!
3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!
(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven. Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)
Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers! (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun. If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)
Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden! When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce? You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!
- Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
- Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan. Cool slightly after removing from oven.
- Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
That’s it! Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!
Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!
You’ve heard of turning lemons into lemonade, well here’s a quick and easy way of turning apples into applesauce! Every have apples sitting on the counter long beyond their ‘shelf life’? Or apples that were pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten? What did you do? Compost? Trash? STOP! Turn your old (or new) apples into homemade delicious applesauce! It’s as easy as 1) Peel and chop apples, 2) Place in small sauce pan on stove top with a little water (1/4 cup?) and a dash or two or cinnamon, 3) Boil/simmer until tender. At that point, I use a potato masher to turn them into a chunky applesauce. (You can keep cooking and blend cooked apples to get more of a pureed consistency, but when it comes to homemade, I like the chunky style.) Enjoy!
This recipe (with slight revisions/omissions) came straight from April 2015 Bon Appetit magazine – Carrot and Ricotta Tart!
Start by washing and peeling 3-4 large carrots, then slice each carrot into thin coins. Peel and thinly slice 2 large shallots (which I used instead of onion.) Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a skillet and saute the shallot (with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper) until lightly browned (about 5 minutes) then add the carrots and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, then set aside.
Defrost/thaw one sheet frozen Puff Pastry, lightly roll out on parchment paper (just to seal the creases,) and score a one-inch border around the pastry shell. Transfer parchment paper to baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400F until puffy and light golden brown. Meanwhile, whisk a 15-oz container of Ricotta Cheese with 1/2 cup Heavy Cream. When tart comes out of the oven, spread the ricotta cheese mixture onto the tart, inside the one-inch border. Then top with the carrot/shallot mixture – and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until pastry shell is a deep golden brown. (Carrots will also be cooked through at this point.) When the tart comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh chopped chives, and additional (Kosher or Sea) salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cool, cut, and serve! (Note: You end up with a thick layer of ricotta mixture on this tart. If you prefer a thinner layer, you might be able to stretch these same ingredients into two pastry tarts.)
This served as an interesting, creative, and delicious start to our friend Christine’s birthday dinner! Buon Appetito!
Until recently, I had never eaten spaghetti squash, let alone cook with it. I recently shared an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with my friend Sylvia and I was hooked! Check out my take on this easy, delicious, and nutritious (I’m sure) recipe:
Wash and cut (lengthwise) one spaghetti squash. With a tablespoon, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy interior from center of squash. Lightly coat cut surface and interior with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 375F. You’ll know it’s ready when a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the squash. Let cool for 10-15 minutes until you can comfortably handle the squash. Using the tines of a fork, scrape along the interior (down to the skin) of the squash, peeling away ‘spaghetti-like’ strands of squash. Remove to a bowl and toss with the red sauce of your choice and 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Once squash is well coated with sauce, scoop back into the squash shells, top with Mozzarella cheese, return to parchment lined baking sheet – and continue baking at 375F for another 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted.)
Let stand to cool for a few minutes – and enjoy! Pair with a mixed salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine! Delicioso!
It was anything but cold here in San Diego this past weekend, but it is winter – and with that comes the craving for delicious nutritious soup! You know my freezer is always stocked with homemade soup selections, so it was time to restock! Here’s what came from two chickens and a few vegetables:
4 Quarts Chicken Soup, 5 Quarts Roasted Chicken Lentil Soup, Chicken Salad, and Roasted Chicken (with sweet potatoes) for dinner!
The recipe for this lentil soup is straight from Ina Garten’s Vegetable Lentil Soup recipe, with the added deliciousness of shredded roasted chicken! Either way, it’ll warm you up!
Lentil and Roasted Chicken Soup
(Vegetarian – Omit the Roasted Chicken)
1 pound lentils
3 large yellow onions
2 leeks, white parts only (chopped)
3 cloves garlic – minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp. ground cumin
8 celery stalks – ½-inch chop
6 carrots – ½-inch chop
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Bone-In Roasted Chicken Breasts (shredded) – optional
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot on medium heat, sauté the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and shredded chicken. Serve hot, sprinkled with grated Parmesan.
Versatile Chicken! I love to make chicken salad with roasted chicken, so I cut up the two chickens, roasted the 4 breast halves with the legs and wings, used the two backs and all the thighs for the chicken soup. Two of the roasted chicken breast halves were shredded for the Lentil soup, and the other two were chopped and combined with some chopped celery, carrots, walnuts, dried cranberries, a dash each of Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and cumin, along with a couple spoonfuls of mayo – and voila – Roasted Chicken Salad!
Treat yourself to a Sunday, Fun Day in the kitchen – and reap the reward with meal after meal!
Your freezer IS your pantry – saving money, saving time!