Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Good Food!

My wonderful sister got me a subscription to Good Housekeeping last Christmas. I LOVE IT! I enjoy opening my mailbox to get each new issue, it's like she sends me a gift every month! I have never had a magazine gift subscription before, and I sure do like this one!

I was particularly excited about this month's isses, because the front cover hails "ALL NEW! SLOW COOKER SUPPERS 8 recipes=16 different meals" Now, if you know anything about me, it is that I love to cook and I adore my slow cooker. In fact, I have two slowcookers, one is round and one is oval, both are 6 quarts. I love throwing food in the pot, turning it on, and walking to the other side of the kitchen to throw stuff into the breadmaker, setting it's timer, and leaving my house only to return a few hours later with dinner DONE and the house smelling wonderful! (It is also important to note that since we live in the deep south, both of these appliances can be put on my screened in back porch and used there to further reduce the heat in the kitchen)

I dove into the magazine, and found the promised article. What genius! How awesome is this! The basic principle is you make a big batch of stuff in the slowcooker, then when it's done you scoop some out and save it for another night. Then they give you the recipe to use the scooped out leftover portion to make a different meal! How cool is that???? My family is not big on leftovers, so this was a real plus for me!

I've made one of  the recipes once, and another one twice. Both are keepers. The first time, I made them both basically exactly as the recipe reads. I decided to share the one I made twice with you today, because it is gray and cloudy here, and it just seemed appropriate. I will list the recipe as it is in the magazine, then note the changes I made.
Chicken Soup
1 Tbsp, Vegetable oil
1 jumbo sweet onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. fennel (2 large)--I left this out, as we are not fan of fennel
1 lb. carrots
12 oz. Yukon Gold potatoes (2 large)--I used russett
8 oz. celery stalks (4 large)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs. bone in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 1/2 lbs. bone in chicken breasts, skin removed
1 qt. lower sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. Packed fresh dill leaves--I left this out, not big dill fans here either

1. In 12 inch skillet, heat oil on medium low. Add onion and 1/8 teas salt. Cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occassionally.
2. While onion cooks, trim and cut fennel into 1/4 inch slices. Cut carrots in quarters lengthwise, then into 3 inch long pieces. Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch half moons. Thinly slice celery.
3. In 6 qt. slow cooker bowl, evenly spread the vegetables and toss in the bay leaf. Arrange chicken pieces on top, pressing down into the vegetables. Sprinkle with 1/2 teas each salt adn pepper. Spread the hot onion over the chicken. Add broth, cover, and cook on low 6 hours.
4. Stir in dill. Transfer one-third of the vegetables, 1 chicken breast and one chicken thigh to a container and refrigerate up to 3 days. Divide remaining vegetables among serving bowls. Remove meat from remaining chicken and divide among serving bowls. Stir 1/4 teas salt into broth. Ladle over the chicken vegetable mixture and serve.

Chicken Pot Pie
Preheat oven to 425. Transfer 1/2 cup potatoes from the reserved mixture to a large bowl. With potato masher, mash until crushed. Stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream and mash until well combined. Remove the meat from the reserved chicken, shred into large chunks, and add to the potato mixture. Add reserved vegetables, 1 cup frozen peas (thawed), 1/2 teas freshly grated lemon peel, 1/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Mix well. Spread mixture into a 91/2 inch deep-dish pie plate. Center 1 refrigerated pie crust on top. Fold dough overhang to make edge flush with rim of pie plate and gently press against pie plate. Cut 5 slits on top. Bake 25 minutes, then cover rim with foil. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until golden brown.

For the pot pie, I didn't think it looked soupy enough so I stirred in one can of cream of chicken soup and used peas and carrots instead of just peas (we are carrot people). I also left out the lemon peel, because that just seemed strange to me.

Both recipes were delicious!!!! I made them with the above directions the first time, then altered it a bit the second time. Here's how:
For the soup, I cooked at as directed. When the soup was done, I strained off the juice and used it to cook a 16 oz package of peas and carrots and a half bag of egg noodles. (next time I will throw the peas and carrots in about half way through cooking time if I am home) We liked the addition of the veggies and noodles to the soup. When I made the pot pie the second time, I again used a can of cream of chicken soup, and I made my crust with biscuit mix. My family liked the pie crust version better, and mentioned that crescent rolls would be THE BOMB! We also found that both recipes needed a bit more salt for our tastes, especially with the addition of more veggies and noodles.

Although the recipe is meant for two weeknight dinners, I made mine for Sunday lunch and used the second recipe for Sunday evening dinner. We are at church from 7:45am until after 1:00 every Sunday, so having something ready in the crockpot and bread machine makes Sunday lunch a breeze!

Try this out,and see how you like it!
I tried to put a link to the recipe on the magazine's website, but I couldn't find it listed. This is from Hearst Magazine's Good Housekeeping October 2011 issue, and the article was entitled "Superfast Slowcooker Suppers." I did not find an author listed.  I do not take any credit for the original recipe, it was all from those great folks over at Good Housekeeping!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Honestly, I didn't know anyone was looking for me over here on the blog :) It's nice when I get an email saying something along the lines of "Hey, is everything ok? I have missed your blog updates!" Most days when I was blogging regularly, I wondered if anyone even read what I posted. Apparently, at least one of you does, and I appreciate it! ;)

So, since I have not posted for several months, I could do a standard old "update" post telling you of my adventures with my new role as mom-of-a-highschooler, the excitement/trials/crushes on boys of my daughter's high school marching band time, my general enthusiasm of high school football games (LOVE THE VIOLENCE!), news at church including a women's conference that I am SUPER excited about, and general life stuff. However, I'm choosing to go against the grain here and not post about such things at his time. (There is always tomorrow, and those things give me fodder to post on in a day or two, as I strive to get back into the swing of blogging on a more regular basis)

Today, I chose to post about friendship.

I have been blessed in my life to have very good friends. Some friends come for a season, then move on. Some friends never become more than casual friends to socialize with. Some friends come in family roles, like sisters. (I am extremely blessed in this way, having the world's greatest sister!) Other friends come by proxy, such as the wives of my husband's friends. But then there are the other kind of friends....

Once such friend is my best friend. She lives about 5 minutes away. We met when we worked together in a little cafe nearly 11 years ago. Through the years, she has been there through the ups and downs, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hilarious. :)  One such hilarious time involved us visiting a mattress store, where she proceeded to bounce on the bed to see how firm it was and managed to launch herself off the end of the mattress with her skirt up over her head. The good? Lots of long lunches at Cracker Barrel....therapy for me! Laughing together over things only we, with our warped senses of humor, find weird names in obituary listings. Shopping at discount places to find killer deals--including one joint where I was lying in the floor to see if the earrings I chose would get caught in my hair. And eating.....lots of eating......The bad? Tough times in my marriage, the death of my grandmother, my surgery last year, my husband's battle with depression, financial lean get the drift. She is a true friend, one who loves me like I am and prays for me through it all!

The other friend is a long time friend...going on almost 30 years now. We met in church, waaaaaaay back in the day. We too shared and survived things like death of friends and family, school drama, church drama, high school crushes, marriage, divorce, birth of our kids, job issues, military life, the loss of beloved pets, periods of questioning what we truly believe in, and parenting.  There is one weird thing about this friendship though, sort of a sixth sense when ti comes to each other. It's a connection that tells us when the other is going through something, and even if it has been months or years since we last talked, one email or phone call has the connection re-established and it is as if no time at all has passed. It was this dear friend who emailed about my lonely little blog. Hope you are happy now! ;)

I am so thankful for friends, both new and old. They make life so much better! There is a saying....."Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." Through Facebook, I have connected with many friends from high school and military life. It's a great thing!

So to all my friends.....I leave you with this thought from Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.--NLT

I am so thankful for each of you!