A Chicken in Every Crockpot!

Karen's Kitchen Adventures

Focaccia from Scratch! February 27, 2010

Filed under: breads — frappqueen @ 11:46 am
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After making pizza last week and reading all about the adventures of a baker, I really wanted to try making yeast doughs by hand. Usually when I want bread I just toss it all in the bread machine and enjoy the delicious smell and wait for it to beep, but I must say, making bread by hand is really quite fun and soothing! Who knew?

We had a mega snowfall yesterday and as a result, I was not going anywhere! So I figured trying to make Focaccia was as good a plan as any. This recipe comes from that awesome book I recently read, Confections of a Closet Master Baker. She says you can use the basic dough to make rolls or pizza as well as the focaccia. The recipe I made is for a basic rosemary focaccia but you can add any other topping you like…sun dried tomatoes, carmelized onions, whatever floats yer boat! It was really easy to make and oh man, does it taste good! We ate ours with my famous pasta fagioli and it was fantastic. Soup recipe to come soon, don’t worry!!

focaccia!

Focaccia

one 1/4 oz. package active dry yeast (2 2 1/2 tsp)

5 c. all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

1/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus extra for bowl and pan

2 1/2 tsp table salt

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp coarse sea salt

Method:

Stir together 1 2/3 c. lukewarm (105 degrees to 115 degrees) water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let stand until foamy, five minutes. *Uh, mine didn’t really foam, but I proceeded and it still worked so its probably okay!

Add the flour, 1/4 c. of the oil and table salt and beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough begins to form. Switch to the dough hook attachment (which was exiting for me as I’ve never used it before!) and knead at low speed until the dough is soft, smooth and sticky…about 3 minutes. DON’T OVERKNEAD!

Lightly oil a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand another 1 or 2 tbsp of flour. Knead it for another minute (it should be slightly sticky), and transfer to the bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with the oil in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot in the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 or 1 1/2 hours.

Generously oil a large cookie sheet. Press the dough evenly into the pan, but try not to make indentations at this point or it will not rise again! Cover the pan completely with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm corner of the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425. Stir together the rosemary and remaining oil. Make shallow indentations all over the dough with your fingertips, then brush with the rosemary oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the focaccia and bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 20 to 23 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool a bit on a rack. You can eat this warm or at room temperature. It’s great dunked into soup!

 

crockpot chicken cordon bleu

Filed under: crock pot,poultry — frappqueen @ 11:14 am
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This is one of the very first recipes I ever made!! When I was still in high school I bought myself a crock pot. Reading over that sentence, I sort of sound like a freak! But, I really wanted one! And so, I bought it. I had no real clue what to do with one, and so I searched the internet for a good recipe. I wanted to try something fancy, and chicken cordon bleu just SOUNDS fancy, right? The result was the one I still use today!

It’s actually very very easy to make, so it is perfect if you are just starting to get into cooking, particularly crock pot cooking. I must admit, it doesn’t look all that gorgeous, but trust me, it is deliciously tasty! It also has a very short cook time, so you can decide you want to eat it at 4pm and still enjoy it by 6:30 or so!

Crockpot Chicken Cordon Bleu

package of thin chicken cutlets, or regular chicken breasts, flattened

5 slices of ham

5 slices of swiss cheese

about 4 tbsp flour

about 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

can of cream of chicken soup

whatever white wine you’ve got (you will fill the can with it, roughly 1 cup)

1 tbsp olive oil

toothpicks or kitchen string

Method:

Rinse off the chicken breasts. If you could not find ones that are already thin, flatten them with a heavy pot. Wrap them in plastic and smack them til they are thin and even. It’s fun to work out your aggression, though I usually just buy the flat ones these days, they always have them at my supermarket and they cost the same as the chubby guys.

Lay out the chicken breasts in a row and make an assembly line to add the cheese and ham. WASH YOUR HANDS once the chickens are laid you…you don’t want to contaminate the cheese and ham! I usually set up the correct amount of cheese and ham first though and put away the remainder just in case, you don’t want nasty chicken toxins on your lunchmeat! Layer one slice of cheese followed by one slice of ham on each chicken…if the chickens are thin you can sort of break the meat and cheese to fit right, you don’t want to have anything hanging over the edge of the meat! Roll each chicken up tightly and secure shut with a toothpick or some twine.

In a small bowl, prepare the coating. Mix the flour, parmesan , salt and pepper together. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan with high sides to prevent splattering. Roll each chicken bundle in the flour mixture, coating evenly and add to the hot pan. Sear each side of the chicken for a few minutes, until they are browned. Remove from the pan and add to the crock pot.

In the crock add the can of cream of chicken soup and a half a can of water. Fill the can one more time with whatever white wine you have lying around. If you are like me and prefer blush, you can use that too! I’d probably not add red wine though, that sounds gross, but if you do, let me know how that goes for you! Stir the soup mixture up, cover the crock and set it to cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 hours.

Serve over white rice, rice a roni or some tasty mashed potatoes. You can thicken up the sauce with a little bit of flour too at the end if you like: just remove the chicken, add a tablespoon of flour and whisk it for a minute or two, then let it continue to cook for a few more minutes until it is thick. Add more flour and repeat if you want it thicker. I like the gravy watery so I don’t generally bother with this step, but it’s there if you like!

Serve to people you want to impress and pretend you took hours to do it!

*Mix it up option! Sometimes I make the chicken with prosciutto instead of regular ham and I sometimes switch out the cheese too. Asiago, provolone and even mozzarella are all delicious, though of course then they aren’t quite french anymore, but who cares?!


 

Turkey Chili February 25, 2010

Filed under: one dish,poultry,soup and stew — frappqueen @ 7:42 pm
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This is one of our standard go-to recipes for weeknight dinners. It’s quick, easy, decently healthy and really tasty! I use the same general recipe that I stole from a Rachel Ray cookbook, plus I add a few of my own ingredients.  It calls for a can of diced tomatoes and what’s fun with that, is that you can switch it up a little bit. Sometimes I just use regular diced, sometimes if I can find fire roasted, I use those. This last time I used a can of Rotel- you know, the kind with diced tomatoes and little bits of chili peppers. It gave a nice extra kick of zest!

Turkey Chili

package of ground turkey (about 1.5 lbs)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped (I use a red onion, it makes it prettier!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels

1 can (32 oz) diced tomatoes (any kind will do!)

3 scallions, chopped

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder (I don’t ever use that much!)

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 chili packet (you can find it by the taco stuff or by the packetted spices- I use the low salt kind)

salt and pepper to taste

shredded cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream for toppin’

Method:

In a deep saucepot over medium high heat, saute onion in oil for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add turkey and brown, about five minutes. Add bell pepper, corn , tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, as well as the spices. Bring to a bubble, stir in the scallions and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 10 minutes, though I can never wait that long, I usually make it to 8 minutes or so! Top with cheese, sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips. Dig in!

 

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup! February 23, 2010

Filed under: one dish,poultry,soup and stew — frappqueen @ 9:34 pm
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Sometimes, like when you are horribly congested for two weeks, and must take steroids to reduce the swelling and your throat hurts and you are sneezy and blowing your nose for forever…sometimes you just really want some nice comforting soup. Like chicken soup! And sometimes, you want some chicken soup that is a tad fancier and more interesting than regular kind. In case you haven’t figured it out, both these cases are referring to me! I am actually FINALLY feeling better, which is just lovely, but I had been rather miserable for awhile there. I made this soup on Sunday night and it really hit the spot. I also think it really helped me finish out being horribly sick, so I will consider it my super special cold ending soup as well as just plain delicious. It’s a Rachel Ray recipe, and the orzo is nice with all the veggies, but really its the lemon that gives it just a touch of extra fancy. It’s not too lemony, it’s just a surprising burst of flavor. Delicious!

soup's on!

I just had to post the above picture so everyone can drool and be envious of my favorite cast iron Martha Stewart pot. It’s ice blue! It matches my mixer! It would be more awesome if it were Le Creuset, but I’m not made of money you know!

Anyway, back to the soup!

Toasted Orzo Chicken Soup:

32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken stock
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pieces or tenders
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup orzo pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 small zucchini, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

Method:

In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock and chicken to a simmer. Lower the heat and poach the chicken for 12 minutes.

Heat a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the orzo and cook, stirring, until deeply toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or bowl

Add the oil, 2 turns of the pan, to the dutch oven. Add the zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, shallots and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Return the orzo to the pot.

Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim and discard the fat from the stock; transfer the stock to the dutch oven. Chop, dice or shred the chicken and add to the soup with 2 cups water. Bring the soup to a boil and cook until the orzo is just tender, 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat; stir in the parsley and lemon peel. Serve immediately.

 

Chicken Francaise a la Mrs. Anderson February 22, 2010

Filed under: poultry — frappqueen @ 6:34 pm
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I made this recipe based on one from one of my lovely co-workers. She is 100 percent Italian (I think?!) so of course its awesome!! Chicken francaise is one of those dishes that I really like to eat, but sometimes it gets annoying. I mean, you have to fry it all up and be sure the chicken is cooked through and then you want the sauce to be good but you want it to be coating the chicken and well, it tends to be something I rarely make as it’s a tad complicated. Her recipe really makes it simple and she’s a genius- pan fry for a few minutes and then BAKE IT. Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?! I did change it a tiny itty bit as I like to add white wine to my sauce and I added some lemon zest cuz zest makes everything better! But other than that, I followed it exactly and the results were delicious!

Chicken Francaise
2 pkg. thin chicken cutlets
Flour, salt, pepper, paprika (for color)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 10.5 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 stick butter (plus more to cook chicken in)
3 lg. lemons plus zest

I added: 1/2 c. white wine
Mix enough flour, salt, pepper and paprika to dip the chicken in. Dip chicken in egg and flour lightly. Brown chicken in large, buttered skillet. Remove chicken and place in large baking pan in a single layer. In the pan, melt the  butter in the chicken broth and add the zest of two of the lemons. Squeeze the juice of 2 of the lemons into the mixture (remove pits), and add the white wine to deglaze the pan and add some zip! . . Pour the broth mixture over the chicken, slice one lemon and place in pan. Bake covered in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Serve over white rice, oh man, so easy and so delicious!

 

Book Report! February 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — frappqueen @ 12:01 pm
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Yes I am aware this blog is about cooking and baking in my own kitchen, but I just have to share this book I finished reading! It was great!

This is the memoir of a woman who was originally a Hollywood executive and hated it; would go home and bake and cook as it was the only thing that kept her sane. Eventually she realized it was her real dream and she and her husband move to Vermont and open up a bakery! Amazing! Even neater is the fact that she is apparently Sandra Bullock’s sister, which is fancy in the sense that Sandra helped her open the bakery on her first few days. Weird!

I liked this book a lot because its always been a secret dream of mine to open up a coffee shop with delicious pastries and she totally did it. She didn’t go to cooking school either, she taught herself. However she does recommend not doing that part as she had a hard time learning as she went, and I can see that. I just really liked the way in which she talks and describes baking, and the fact that she includes some amazing recipes at the end of each chapter. She just sounds like an awesome person even though she claims to hate people and is a big grouch. I like, want to drive to Vermont and make her be my friend, but she probably wouldn’t like that so much!

At any rate, if you are in the market for a good book, and want to read an uplifting read about real life laced with awesome tales involving chocolate, go right ahead and get yourself a copy! Or take it out of the library as I did, but please return it on time…don’t lose it for two months before you even read it like I did! Whoops!

 

Deep Dish Chicago Pizza February 19, 2010

Filed under: eat your vegetables,meat,Uncategorized — frappqueen @ 9:28 pm
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I made this deep dish pizza from a recipe over at Cooking Light. It was a fun cooking experiment, but eh, not sure I’d make it again. I guess I should back up a bit…I’ve had a TERRIBLE congested head cold for over a week! I’ve been so congested that I ended up having to get mild steroids from my allergist to make everything stop being so inflamed and awful. But, I’ve been so congested that I can’t overly taste anything either.

So, back to the pizza. I saw this recipe for a low fat version of deep dish on my fav. low fat cooking site, Cooking Light and thought, hey, why not!? It was a bit involved: you have to make the dough from scratch, meaning take the yeast, mix it with water, let it sit…add flour and oil and etc, roll and kneed it, let it sit til it doubles, punch it down, etc. etc. So I saved it for this week as I’ve got off from school and no life, so plenty of time for pizza making!

The dough part was actually a LOT of fun and rather nice stress relief. I enjoyed it so much, I think I’m going to try my hand at home-made pecan rolls or something soon. I just read an awesome book all about a woman who quits her job in Hollywood and opens up a bakery in Vermont, and she put recipes from her bakery at the end of each chapter! One of them is for the pecan rolls and so I must make them! But, I digress. Back to the pizza!

I’m not going to put the whole recipe here, you can just click on the link already posted. Its really long and wordy and well, here is the gist of it:

Make dough. Let it sit. Punch it down. Roll it out and push it into a baking dish, making sure it goes up the sides. Chop up chicken sausage and bell peppers (they also tell you to add mushrooms but I did not do this), layer cheese, meat, veggies and top with chopped up roma tomatoes outta the can. Top with extra cheese and some italian spices and bake for about 20 minutes.

The result as I said before, were okay for me. Mike liked it a lot so I can’t tell if it just seemed bland due to my illness or he just didn’t mind that it was bland? If I made it again I think I’d want to add some garlic salt and parmesean cheese and maybe another type of meat, but I guess then it wouldn’t be quite so low fat, eh? Oh well, perhaps some things are just meant to go FULL FAT!

At least it looked pretty!