Salsa Chicken Bowls

Never go to the grocery store without a list…especially after you have a baby.  I couldn’t remember the ingredients for a new recipe to save my life, and I just got lucky with what I had on hand with this one!  And I was still missing the cilantro.  But, it still tasted great, but the bowl would’ve tasted better with some cilantro and other fixin’s.  My inspiration for this one was the chicken rice bowls at Taco Bell.  I haven’t had one in years, but I thought I could recreate my own chicken rice bowl at home.

One app that we’ve found very helpful is called OurGroceries.  It was shared with me by my awesome sister-in-law.  There are plenty of “To Do” and grocery list apps out there, but this one is by far the most helpful.  You can link/share the list between as many people as you’d like.  So Nate can add items to the list and I can see the same list on my phone.  No matter who goes to the store that day, we both have THE LIST!  Easy peasy.

Spicy Chicken Bowls - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife


Ingredients
1 lb of chicken breast
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 jar of salsa
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups of rice
2-3 tablespoons Taco Seasoning (I concocted my own blend)
1 cup sour cream

Optional Ingredients
Cilantro
Green Onions
Shredded Cheese
Corn
Peppers
Lettuce

Directions
-Add raw chicken to crock pot and pour the soup and salsa over the top.  Sprinkle your taco seasoning over the sauce, and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.

-Shred the chicken at the end and add the sour cream.  Stir to combine.

-Serve over rice and beans, and top with whatever fixin’s you like!

Sweet and Sour Pork

Source: Coleen’s Recipes

I asked Nate what he thought about this dish and his exact comment was “It tastes like Chinese takeout…only better?” and then he told me to be sure to make it again.  And he was right, it did taste like Chinese take out only better.  Most of us who love Chinese takeout, love to not think about how it was prepared.  But, lets be honest people, Chinese takeout is NOT good for you.  You could argue that it is good for the soul and good for comfort, but eventually suffering a heart attack doesn’t comfort me at all!  Well, here is a great alternative!  Serve it on top of brown rice and again, you’re skipping the fried rice you may have opted for at the takeout counter.  I’m also thinking, this sauce would be great with chicken and/or shrimp.  Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Pork - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
2-3 pound lean pork roast
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup white vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained


Directions

-Brown the pork roast on all sides and place in crock pot

-Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Then pour into the same crock pot.

-Cook on low for at least 4 hours or until tender (I went for 5!).  Spoon the sauce over the meat every so often, but not needed.

-At the last 30 minutes, add some corn starch to thicken the sauce (I added 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water)

-Brown the pork roast on all sides and put it in your slow cooker. Mix everything else and bring it to a boil, then pour it over the meat.
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-Cook on low for 4 hours or until very tender (spoon the sauce over the meat every once in a while).
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-Serve over rice.

Crock Pot Corn on the Cob

Source: Practical Stewardship

Crock pot corn?  Yea you heard me.  This is my new favorite way to prepare corn on the cob.  I can’t wait to experiment with the seasonings to go with it!  The corn turned out tender and juicy, and was a sinch to make.  And unwrapping the corn from the foil was like opening up a present! Ahh, this is making me crave more corn.
Crock Pot Corn on the Cob - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
-6 corn on the cob, shucked
-4 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 tablespoon garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon italian seasoning
-6 sheets of foil

Directions
-Shuck the corn.

-Mix butter, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

-Place each ear of corn on a sheet of foil and fold the sides up so when to pour the butter mixture over, it doesn’t spill out.

-Drizzle a spoonful of the butter mixture over each ear of corn.

-Wrap the foil around the corn so that the juices won’t run out and place each in the crock pot.

-Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

Chicken Cacciatore

Adapted from:  Skinny Taste
 
Chicken Cacciatore, such a classic and comforting meal.  Which got me wondering, what exactly is cacciatore?  It turns out, “cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian.  And preparing a dish “hunter-style” includes tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and wine (optional of course!).  If you are from north Italy you’d use white wine and if you are from south Italy you’d use red wine.  But this is America, so I’m going to use whatever is in the fridge.  And considering my dude loves to hunt and fish, this could be the perfect meal to convince him the crock pot is magnifical!


And it was.  He didn’t say it, but silently going back for seconds…almost as large as the first portion is all the validity I need!  And another chef pal was over at the house, tried a spoonful of this goodness and said it was pretty tasty.  I know I’ll be making this on many cold nights this winter!

Chicken Cacciatore - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients

4 large chicken breasts (I also added a pack of chicken legs just because)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 

1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp turmeric
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions
Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to slow cooker.

Add the tomatoes, onions, peppers, oregano, basil, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to the crock pot and give it a little stir.

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Remove the lid, give it another little stir, and cook for an additional hour on high to thicken the sauce.

Enjoy over pasta, rice, or with a side of bread.

Top with Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, etc.

Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Source:  All My Great Ideas Are Really From Pinterest

Nate accuses me of being a sauce hoarder.  I love sauce, so sue me!  He also pointed out that we had 2 half bottles of Franks Hot Wing Sauce in the fridge, and asked me to explain.  I told him I was already a step ahead of him and had a recipe I was making THAT night to use them both up.  See what I did there? Girls ARE smarter than boys.

So I went to Pinterest and found a quick recipe for buffalo chicken something, and came across this gem.  There is really nothing too it.  And you could do it with any favorite sauce, for all you other sauce hoarders.  You could make a large batch of the chicken to use for wraps, buffalo enchiladas, buffalo mac n cheese, etc.

Buffalo Chicken Wrap - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Buffalo Chicken Wrap - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ingredients
3 lbs chicken breasts
1 12 oz bottle of wing sauce
1 packet of Ranch Dip Seasoning
tortillas (used whole grain tortillas for health factor)

Optional Ingredients:
shredded cheese
leafy greens
sour cream
tomatoes
salsa
jalapenos
cilantro
ranch or blue cheese

Directions
Put the chicken in the crock pot and pour wing sauce over the top.  Sprinkle the ranch dip mix over the top.

Cook on high for 4 hours.  Open the crock pot and shred chicken with a fork.  Stir the shredded chicken around in the sauce and cook on low for at least another hour.

Then assemble your wraps how you please!

Ruth’s Pork Ribs and Beans

Both of my grandmothers are excellent cooks and their styles are completely different.  My grandma’s style of cooking is from Wisconsin/Illinois and has a strong German influence.  My granny’s style is southern with a concentration in baking.  Of course they can both cooking anything and everything and it always tastes amazing.

This rib recipe is from my grandmother and these are what I grew up eating.  Slathered in sauce and the meat falling off the bone, to me, no restaurant ribs could ever compare.  These are sweet and tomato-y instead of your usual barbecue flavor.  Her original recipe call for soaking and baking in the oven, but I thought I’d give the crock pot a whack!  And thank goodness, they turned out perfect!
The only hard part was convincing Nate to try the ribs and the beans.  Because of where he works, the most unappetizing foods for him are pork and beans.  But he is an expert, and I had to have his blessing.  So he agreed to eat a whole rib and try the beans!  He said they were both delicious 🙂
 

Ruth's Pork Ribs and Beans - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ruth's Pork Ribs and Beans - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife

Ruth's Pork Ribs and Beans - The Not So Desperate Chef Wife
Ruth’s Pork Ribs

Ingredients
3-4 pounds of baby back ribs, seperated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cup ketchup
1 cup water
2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoon vinegar
4 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces

Directions
In a medium-size bowl, mix all of the ingredients together minus the rib meat.

Add the ribs to a large crock pot and pour the sauce over the top.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

The Beans
My friend Amanda had us over for dinner one night.  Which is something that rarely happens to us because people tend to be nervous about cooking for a chef.  Can you blame them?  But she was a brave one!  The whole meal was delicious and if I remember correctly, we each went back for thirds.  Ever since, I’ve fallen in love with her baked beans.  These were the perfect side for the ribs and potato rolls to slop up the sauces is the cherry on top!

Ingredients
1 1lb can of baked beans (any flavor, I used original by Bush)
1/2 a jar of medium salsa (I used Pace Picante Medium)
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Add all the ingredients to a 9×9 baking dish (recipe can be doubled and fit in 9×13)

Cover with tin foil and bake for at least 1.5 hours.  The edges should by bubbly and starting to caramelize.

Crock Pot Honey Chicken

Source: MMM…Cafe

Here is a quick one for you.  I was able to run home for lunch, throw this into the crock pot, and come home later to a delicious dinner for 2.  There were actually leftovers for another night, but someone left the tupperwares out on the counter all night…not me, just saying.  What was extra great about this recipe is, if you good at guessimating proportions, you don’t need a measuring cup or spoon.  I just eyeballed all of the ingredients and the sauce turned out great!  Sweet and savory.  Next time, I may give pork a try.  Thank you Pinterest!

crock pot honey chicken

Ingredients
1.5 lb pound chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup chopped onion (or 1/16 cup onion flakes)
1/8 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon. vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Directions
In the crock pot, stir all the ingredients minus the chicken.
Add the chicken to the sauce, and spoon the sauce over the top to coat the meat.
Cook on low for 4 hours.
Remove chicken breasts, cut into cubes or shred.  Add the chicken back to the crock pot and stir with the sauce.
Serve over rice, noodles, or even couscous! 

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff


I had a wicked craving for beef this week and came across this recipe on the one and only, Pinterest.  The first time I try a recipe, I like to follow the directions exactly.  Unless something just doesn’t make any sense.  So that is what I did with this one.  The flavor was warm, hearty, and delicious, but I think it could be kicked up a notch.  It satisfied my craving, and that was all I needed it to do.  I’m thinking about adding a packet of onion soup mix, a bay leaf, or something. The stroganoff was a little too liquidy, so next time, I will only use half the amount of broth…maybe.  But, when I asked the chef if he liked it and if I should keep the leftovers, he said “Yep.” 

Oh yea, speaking of him.  I may have mentioned before that he HATES the crock pot.  It really grinds his gears.  His argument is, any dish you prepare in a crock pot, he can make taste so much better using a pot or a pan. While he is right, he can make anything taste better, he is missing the beauty of the crock pot.  The convenience factor outweighs the lack of flavor and texture.  I’ve already had a premature “I told you so” moment.  I told him, I was willing to bet, once this baby is on the outside of my womb, he will think the crock pot is a lifesaver.  He thinks not, I am sure so.  Mark. My. Words.

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff


Ingredients
1-2 lbs cub steak, cut into one-inch pieces; or 1-2 lbs stew beef, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (no substitutes!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 14 oz can beef broth
8 oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
 Directions
Add the following ingredients to the crock pot and stir together: meat, soup, onion, worcestershire sauce, mushrooms, salt, pepper, and beef broth.
Cook on low for 5-6 hours -or- on high for 3 hours.
When you have 30 minutes left to go, stir in the cream cheese and sour cream.  Stir every 10 minutes until finishing cooking.

Serve over egg noodles, rice, or orzo.

I was so excited about my noticeable (to me) bump that I had to show Nate.  He poked the top of my belly and asked “Whoa, what is that?!” and my response…”Beef Stroganoff.”

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Today is Nate’s day off and we are going to see Spider Man tonight at the I-Max, double score!  I’m not sure who I’m more excited to see Andrew Garfield or Emma Stone.  Who doesn’t love Emma Stone?  Even though she has become more and more glammed up recently, I still like the girl-next-door look about her.  All that is keeping me from tonight is…well…my job!

On Friday I had a raging craving for homemade spaghetti sauce.  I think I even dreamed about it the night before.  So as soon as I got off work, I drove to the store and picked up some ingredients.  I haven’t cooked much…at all… since I’ve been pregnant.  Nothing is appetizing right now unless I’m craving it.  So it made sense to me to make a HUGE batch of sauce.  That way, I could freeze a ton of leftovers to later on.

Everyone has their own spaghetti sauce recipe that they love and I have made several sauces that were all fine, but wasn’t what I was looking for.  I finally nailed it!  I’ve got MY spaghetti sauce recipe.  I couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls of it out of the pot while it was simmering it was so stinkin’ good!

When I was adding the ingredients and popping the wine cork I couldn’t help but sneak a swig.  BIG MISTAKE…it was so delicious!  I had to force Nate to drink the rest of the bottle so I wouldn’t be tempted to have 10 more swigs that my blob would not appreciate.  (I know, I’m a terrible wife for forcing my husband to drink some wine 🙂
Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

Two-Timing Spaghetti Sauce

**This recipe makes about 12 cups of sauce, so feel free to half this recipe!

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb ground sausage (I mix 1 package of hot and sweet sausage)
2 cups of red wine
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
2 6 oz tomato paste
2 28 oz whole peeled Roma tomatoes, crushed
2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
-In a large stock pot or sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the carrot, celery, garlic, and onion.  Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until the onions are translucent.

-Add the ground sausage to the same pot and break it up with a wooden spoon.  Cook and stir together with the veggies until the meat is cooked through.

-Pour in the red wine and stir together with the meat and veggies.  Scrape the bottom of the pot with the back of your spoon and let the wine cook for 1 minute.  Then add the tomato paste, whole-peeled tomatoes, parsley, and basil.  Stir together and bring to a simmer.  
-Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer for at least 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.  **The longer you simmer the better, I simmered for 1.5 hours.

FYI about Whole-peeled Roma Tomatoes – When shopping for a can of whole-peeled roma tomatoes it is easy to be fooled.  Some cans say “Whole-peeled Roma shaped Tomatoes”…which of course means, the tomatoes are not roma.  Feel free to buy these as well because they are cheaper, but just know they aren’t roma tomatoes. Also, do not take the common short cut of buying diced tomatoes.  They actually add more chemicals to the can to “preserve” the diced shape.  So when you add it to the sauce, the tomatoes don’t melt into the sauce like whole-peeled does.  Tricksters.  How do I crush and squeeze my whole tomatoes?  I dump the can(s) into a bowl and reach my  hand into the juice and squeeze each tomato submerged in the tomato juice.  I find if you do it this way, juice doesn’t squirt everywhere.

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken source: Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen

Every year it never fails, it’s funny really.  I can not wait to decorate the house for Christmas, and when New Years is over with and I am busy putting away all the decorations I always say “I am NOT decorating next year! This is nuts.”  But, it would be safe for you to bet $10 that I will decorate my house for Christmas next year!


Hope everyone rang in the New Year with a bang!  A friend and I went for a fancy hamburger and hot dog dinner at a local joint.  It was a sight to see…2 girls dressed in sparkles and heels, scarfing down hot dogs like it was 1999…and a brownie, and a turnover, and some french fries.  While everyone else was probably eating out at a fine-dining restaurant or at home with a pot-luck, my Weight Watcher’s booty was more than thrilled with our dinner spread!

After dinner we spent the rest of the night drinking mimosas, a jack & coke (yep, just 1) and hanging out at a bar downtown.  To our surprise, Raleigh now has a ferris wheel downtown.  When we first drove up and saw all the main streets were blocked off, we were annoyed.  But when we saw it was because of a ferris wheel, oh man!  It was pretty cool though.  Except when their fancy lights pattern flickered a certain way, it looked like a giant boob!



What is your opinion on cooking with crock pots?  Love’m or hate’m? I love’m!  Nate always complains about the texture of the food that is cooked in a crock pot and all I say back to that is, the point of a crock pot is convenience and flavor.  So I am always trying new crock pot recipes to try and convert him over.  Not sure if this one did it, but I didn’t hear one complaint, so I am considering this a success!

I found this recipe on pinterest and followed it mostly with a few changes to the proportions and directions.  The sauce it self is to die for…it’s teriyaki for crying out loud.  The sweet and saltiness combined makes a near perfect sauce.  And the hint of ginger gives off a fresh aroma that can’t be ignored.  And of course, because it is prepared in a crock pot, this recipe is so simple.  The hardest part is cooking the rice!  Hope you enjoy and convert other crock-pot-critics!


Servings: 8
WW Points Per Serving: 11

Ingredients
3 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic (I used garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 teaspoons cornstarch
5 teaspoons cold water
Hot cooked long grain rice

Directions
Place chicken in a 4 qt. slow cooker.  

In a medium size bowl, combine the sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic and pepper (out of habit, I added some salt because I forgot the soy sauce had been added.  I had to throw out the whole bowl and start over!).  Pour over chicken.  

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until chicken is tender (mine may have been ready well before 4 hours, so it really depends on your pot!).  

Remove the chicken to a plate, let cool for a few minutes, then cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks.  

Pour the liquid from the crock pot into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  

In a separate small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth.  Gradually stir into liquid and stir until sauce is thickend.  

Add the chicken to the sauce and stir to combine.

Serve over rice.