A Chicken in Every Crockpot!

Karen's Kitchen Adventures

Stovetop Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese (with toasted cornbread crumbs!) January 30, 2010

Filed under: one dish,pasta — frappqueen @ 1:14 pm
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It’s always fun to try a twist on a classic: Mac and cheese is such a yummy dish, and really quite easy to make when you get over your fear of making a cheese sauce. It’s just a lot of stirring, don’t worry! Anyway, Mike got me this Robin Miller Rescues Dinner cookbook out from the library, and snuck in this photocopy when I picked out ones to try. I’m glad he did, it was delicious! Not spicy at all, but not too mild, the breadcrumbs are really what make it pop, so don’t skip them!

terrible picture but really delicious!I apologize for the pictures, I really do need to work on my food photography skills, or at least to get a decent light to take pictures with!! Also, I drowned my food in breadcrumbs so uh, you can’t see too much up there!! Oh well, despite it’s unexciting photo, it really is awesome!!

Stovetop tex-mex Mac and Cheese (courtesy of Robin Miller)

12 ounces elbow macaroni (you will think this isn’t enough as it is cooking, but it IS so don’t add more!)

2 cups crumbled cornbread or corn muffins (I was thrifty! Got a package of muffins and froze half for next time I made fake thanksgiving dinner, its great for stuffing!)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Pepper Jack (NOTE: I didn’t realize: one of those prepackaged bags is only TWO cups, and if you don’t have enough cheese it will be too watery of a sauce, so buy TWO BAGS….luckily we had some taco cheese in the fridge so I added a cup of that; it was great!)

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 cup diced roasted red peppers (you know, you get em in a jar)

1 4 oz can drained diced green chiles

salt and pepper to taste


Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the box, drain and set aside.

Put the cornbread in a large DRY skillet and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, shaking and stirring the pan frequently to prevent burning, for about five minutes. When the cornbread crumbs are lightly browned and toasty, take off the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute or two, until it is smooth and slightly brown. Whisk in the milk, cheese and cumin and cook until the cheese  melts. You will need to stir it consistently for the first few minutes or else you’ll have lumpy cheese sauce! Once the sauce is smooth and thick enough, remove from the heat. Stir in the macaroni, red peppers, green chiles and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mac and cheese into shallow bowls and top with some toasted cornbread crumbs. Eat and be thrilled; it’s just THAT good!


Fancy Pants grilled cheese January 28, 2010

Filed under: sandwiches — frappqueen @ 10:19 pm

Sometimes you just want simple and yummy comfort fo0d. Lately, Mike and I have been feeling rather under the weather. We are tired, cranky and feel downright awful! We decided last night that the only cure, aside from you know, sleep and medication, was some grilled cheese and tomato soup! I made the soup straight out of the Campell’s fancy box (it was too chunky, blah!) but we did make two kinds of delicious fancy sandwiches. The key to making fun grilled cheese to me is to just wander the grocery store and see what strikes your fancy.

I went to Trader Joe’s, because they usually have a nice variety of presliced fancy cheese. They did not disappoint! I came home with sliced swiss, sliced Asiago, prosciutto, tomato and thick sliced bacon. The makings for some epic grilled cheese, let me tell you!! Here’s what we did:

Pancetta/Asiago grilled cheese:

two slices of sourdough bread (we just used Arnold or some other very common brand)

4 slices Asiago cheese

2 slices tomato

1 slice prosciutto

butter or butter-like spread


Layer your sandwich like this: 2 slices cheese, meat, tomato, last two slices cheese. Slather the top with butter. Place the sandwich BUTTER SIDE DOWN in a hot frying pan. Butter the other side. When bread is browned, flip it! Then, cut in half and eat! YUM!

Swiss and Bacon grilled cheese

4 slices swiss cheese

2 slices thick apple cut bacon

2 slices sourdough bread

butter or butter-like product.


cook bacon in a frying pan. (If you get the thick cut, don’t be lazy like me and microwave it; it just wasn’t crispy enough!)

layer the sandwich like this: 2 slices cheese, bacon, more cheese! Butter bread and cook it up! Delectable!


bbq chicken pizza January 26, 2010

Filed under: poultry — frappqueen @ 7:50 pm
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OOh I love pizza and I love making it in lots of different ways. This recipe is from Cooking Light, but I did change it a bit. It originally called for lean ground beef, which was yummy, but I thought, “Hey, BBQ chicken is sooo good and it would be even better on this pizza if I used ground chicken, yeah yeah, ground chicken!” And so, deliciousness was born! We eat this one once every month or so and it is really simple to throw together and really filling. Also its relatively low in fat and calories as it uses ground chicken and low fat cheese. Give it a try!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 package of ground chicken (usually about 1 lb. you can do a 1/2 pound very easily though)

1 small red onion, chopped

1/2 c. of chopped carrots (I just take like 10 baby carrots and chop them and call it dinner)

1/3 c. bbq sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

dash of black pepper

boboli pizza of your choice

1/4 c. of shredded low (or NO) fat provolone or mozzarella/provolone mix


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook chicken, onion, and carrot in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain well; return meat mixture to pan. Stir in barbecue sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Place pizza crust (or crusts if you are making minis) on a baking sheet. Divide meat mixture evenly among crusts, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake pizzas at 450° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts.


Pork Fried Rice January 25, 2010

Filed under: one dish,rice — frappqueen @ 9:47 pm
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I love things that involve rice, its just a cozy and delicious accompaniment to anything! Generally on Fridays, Mike and I get Chinese take out, but I recently saw a Rachel Ray recipe for Sizzling Beef and Scallions, and it looked so good, I wanted to give it a try!I figured it was pretty much just like fried rice, and I decided to switch out the beef for slightly healthier pork.  I liked it, its a lot healthier than the rice from your favorite place, and its lighter feeling even to eat. Plus, the leftovers heat up a lot better than the kind you get from the store!

fried rice!

Pork Fried Rice (adapted from Rachel Ray)

8 ounces of pork tenderloin, sliced thin and into small cubes (you can also use steak or chicken or omit to go veggie)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces

2/3 c. frozen peas, thawed

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

10 scallions, green parts thinly sliced, white parts cut into one inch pieces

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups of cooked white rice


If you haven’t already, cook the rice according to the directions.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook, about two or three minutes, until cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl.

Next in the skillet heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the scallion whites, bell pepper and ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the peas. Push the vegetables to the side and add the two eggs. Stir the eggs until they begin to set, then stir in the veggies. Add the egg/vegetable mix to the bowl of cooked pork; stir in the 1 tbsp of sugar and the remaining soy sauce.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the rice, breaking it up and cook without stirring for two minutes. Add the beef/vegetable mixture and scallion greens. Toss to combine and cook one more minute. Serve and enjoy!


Turkey Jambalaya January 20, 2010

Filed under: one dish,poultry,rice — frappqueen @ 10:49 pm

It would appear that lately all we seem to eat are things that come in bowl-fuls! Chili, soup, risotto, it’s all in a little bowl of happiness! Oh well, tonight I’ve got another bowl-ful, and this one is even healthy!

Jambalaya is an awesome mix of sausage, rice and spices. I’m not a big fan of spicy though, so I tend to try to sway Mike away from making it. However, awhile ago I made a version from Sandra Lee (of all people!, she scares me, but that’s another story) and it was not that spicy at all; in fact it was really good! So when Mike sent me this Cooking Light version, which uses turkey instead of chicken and ten kinds of fatty meats, I said, why not?! And I’m glad I did!


Turkey Jambalaya (from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil (I just used cooking spray, it’s my bff)

1 1/2 c. chopped onion

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used yellow, I hate green peppers)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp ground red pepper (I omitted this as I’m wimpy; also we don’t have any!)

1 c uncooked long grain rice

2 c. fat-free low sodium chicken broth

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 c. shredded cooked turkey

6 oz. andouille sausage, sliced thin (you can use spicy italian if you can’t find andouille)

1 bunch of scallions, chopped


Heat oil in a large dutch oven (really big pot!) over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in bell peppers and next five ingredients (bell peppers through red pepper); sauté 1 minute. Add rice, sauté one minute. Stir in broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add turkey and sausage; cover and cook another five minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and let simmer 1 more minute, uncovered.

Scoop it in a big bowl and dig in! This one is only 249 calories a bowl! With 7.6 grams of fat! Eat two bowls if you wanna!


Bacon and Butternut Squash Risotto January 17, 2010

Filed under: eat your vegetables,rice,Uncategorized — frappqueen @ 8:32 pm
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I finally made it and it really was heaven! I’ve been dreaming of creating a risotto that included two of my favorite foods, bacon and butternut squash. Finally last night, I went for it! Now I know that others have created the very same dish, as food is just like art: everyone has done everything, and everyone is re-inventing everything. But, it’s still fun to give it a try! A few months ago I made butternut squash and shrimp risotto for my parents and it was okay, but the squash ended up being pulverized by the end of the cooking process, so this time I vowed to change that! How? You ask? Simple, roasted butternut squash, which makes it even more delicious!

bacon and butternut squash risotto!

Now, before you keep reading and are thinking to yourself: “Whatever, she’s crazy! Risotto is scary and hard to make! It takes effort! And time!!” relax! No, really. Risotto is merely scary because it is the unknown. Once you have given it a try, I promise you will be hooked. BUT you do need a fair amount of dedication, and also time. You can not rush the cooking or make it happen quicker. You need a good half hour to kill in the kitchen for it to be delicious. Just a few minutes less can make the rice come out hard and icky. Too long can make it mushy and unpalatable. So make it on a night when you have nowhere to be and plenty of time to babysit the food and you will be thrilled with your hard work. Plus, it makes you look really fancy!

Here is what I did!

Bacon and Butternut Squash Risotto

one medium-sized butternut squash, diced into small, mouth-sized pieces (I buy the pre-chopped kind and then chop it further to save time. NOTE: sometimes you can’t find it fresh, but you can always find it frozen and in that case it is chopped perfectly! There’s no shame in frozen, go for it!)

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

ground sage or chopped sage, whatever you’ve got, about 1 tablespoon

6 slices of a nice hickory bacon if you can find it, cut into small bite sized hunks (you can also opt for turkey bacon if you are cutting calories)

1 shallot, chopped small

1 c. arborio or risotto rice

a nice dry white wine (a few glugs, maybe a cup?)

about 4-5 cups of low sodium chicken broth

a few handfuls of parmesan cheese, plus some to top it off with.


preheat your oven to 400. Get out a nice mid-sized pot with a heavy bottom for the risotto to cook in. Pour yourself a glass of white wine to enjoy whilst standing over the stove for the next 25 minutes!

Prepare a baking sheet by putting down a layer of aluminum foil and then coating that with cooking spray (I’m lazy, this makes one less dish!) If you didn’t already, chop your squash into small bite sized cubes and throw into a bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and sage, toss to coat evenly. Spread squash out in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about a half hour. Halfway through, take out and give it a shake to keep things from sticking. If you want the squash cooked even further, you can bake it an extra ten minutes or so. I liked it with a little bit of bite, but mike said it could have cooked a few minutes more, so it’s up to you! When the squash is ready, just take it out of the oven and let it sit to cool on the baking sheet until you are ready for it.

While the squash is baking, start the risotto. Heat up the heavy bottomed pot with a medium flame and throw in the bacon. Cook bacon, stirring it frequently, until it is crispy and brown, about 5 minutes (it might have been more, I was drinking wine, who knows!?). When bacon is ready, drain out extra grease, but leave a tiny bit in the pan still with the bacon. Add the risotto and toss with the bacon, lightly cooking the risotto for about 2 minutes. The rice will become slightly translucent. Now deglaze the pan with the wine. Stir rapidly, scraping up all the burnt on bacon bits.

Warm up the chicken broth in a measuring cup in the microwave, about a minute or so. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you have an idea of when to check your rice for done-ness. Add the chicken broth to the rice as soon as the wine is absorbed ONLY ONE CUP WORTH AT A TIME. If you add more than a cup at a time, the rice will not cook correctly and will end up watery and gross! Adjust heat to medium to low and let the broth cook out, stirring occasionally. As soon as the broth is absorbed, add another cup of broth and microwave some more for the next round. Keep adding warmed broth a cup-full at the time until the 20 minutes is up (this usually takes me only four cups of broth but you might need a fifth) . At this time, take a tiny taste of the risotto. If it is a tad hard or crunchy, add the last cup of broth. If it is nice and chewy and sticky, it is perfect! Add that butternut squash that is  roasted and waiting to be eaten, stirring it in and letting the rice cook an extra minute or so. Turn off the flame, add the parmesan and stir. Serve immediately in pretty bowls with extra cheese on top. Pour yourself some more wine too, because you just made super fancy food and it didn’t even take that much time! Enjoy!


Easy Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Cheese Pasta January 16, 2010

Filed under: meat,pasta — frappqueen @ 9:52 am
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Oh man, this was really easy to make and really delicious! I found it on the Cooking Light website, and it’s really yummy and only has 10 grams of fat! whoo hoo! I ate it for lunch today as well and it reheated just perfectly. You would think that making a tomato sauce from scratch would be awful and time-consuming but this one is so simple, it makes  you feel good that you took the ten minutes to throw it all together! I did alter this recipe just a bit, so below is the way I made it!

Fresh Tomato, Sausage and Pecorino Pasta from Cooking Light

8 ounces of uncooked penne

8 ounces of sweet Italian sausage (or spicy if you’re a spicy kinda guy or gal!)

2 teaspoons olive oil (you can really just do nonstick cooking spray if you want)

1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

about 5 or 6 medium sized tomatoes, chopped

6 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, divided

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c. torn fresh basil (mine rotted before I could use it! boo! had to use dried but it was still good)


Boil a large pot of water, add penne and let it cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large nonstick pot over medium heat. Remove the casings from the sausage. Add oil to the pan, and then the sausage. Cook the sausage about 4 minutes, so that it crumbles and is browned. Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Let the dish cook, stirring at times, for about 5 minutes til the tomatoes begin to break down slightly. Remove from heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, salt, pepper and half the cheese, oh and the basil! Don’t forget the basil!

Spoon into fun bowls and top with the rest of the cheese. Enjoy with some fine red wine, or I guess water if you’re on a diet!