Saturday, October 1, 2011

Apple Cherry Cobbler

Fall is officially here!

What better way to welcome it than with crock pot apple cobbler?
Apple Cherry Cobbler
I used this basic apple cobbler recipe with a couple of tweaks. (I just can't seem to follow a recipe without changing it a little bit.) I added a handful of dried tart cherries, eliminated the ginger and some of the white sugar, and used 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup oats for the topping. The oats added a little more texture to the crust. Cooked it in the crock pot on low for about four hours. The house smelled wonderful and it tasted amazing!

I will definitely be making this again. The hardest part was peeling all the apples. Now I know why they sell those apple-core-peeler apparatuses. If I keep making apple desserts I might have to invest in one.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Easy Chicken N' Dumplings

I can't take full credit for this recipe. I got the basic idea from a comment on a crock pot website. However, the original used cream of chicken soup, which I can't have, so this is what I came up with. It was really easy and really good!

Easy Chicken N' Dumplings

2 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
1 large (32 oz) natural chicken stock
½ large white onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbs dried parsley
About a tablespoon fresh Thyme*
About half a teaspoon fresh Rosemary*
Salt & pepper to taste
Garlic salt to taste
4 Grands Biscuits

Stick everything, except for the biscuits, in a crock pot. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

After cooking time has elapsed, take a fork and break up the chicken into pieces. It should fall apart. Now, cut the raw biscuits into 9 pieces (thirds one way, then the other). Stir into hot chicken and continue to cook for 30 minutes on high. Serve hot!

*Fresh herbs are optional. I used them because I had them in my garden boxes. You could substitute dried or just use the parsley. 

Notes: 
My crock pot runs very hot. The chicken was done in about 4.5 hours. I shredded it, then turned the crock pot on serve until about an hour before we were ready to eat. I was afraid that if I left it on high the chicken would get rubbery. An hour before dinner I turned it back to high, then added the biscuits once it had heated up. It worked great - the chicken stayed nice and tender. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall Semester

School has started so my blog posts will probably be less frequent and/or shorter. Fall is right around the corner. The nights here are already starting to cool down. Soon it will be soup season! This is my first fall in Chicago. I have a feeling it's going to be beautiful!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wedding

For those of you that do not know, I am getting married in less than 10 months. My goal is a low key, down to earth, small, stress free (or mostly stress free) wedding. To accomplish this I am trying to do as much planning as possible now. I have a feeling the next 9 months are going to fly by between going to school full time and the holidays. I am attempting to nip my usual procrastination in the bud.

I have to admit I have an amazing supporting cast for the wedding prep. My father does wedding flowers and my sister is amazingly creative. She is going to help me with invitations and some other fun crafty projects. Not to mention the numerous other family members who are willing to listen to me jabber on about wedding ideas.

There are so many great websites and blogs with wedding resources. The Knot is probably the most well known. They have all sorts of budgeting tools and checklists to keep you on track. You can also create a free wedding website through their site.

Now, I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by all the info when I first began planning. However, as time continues, the pieces are beginning to fall into place. It's a lot of fun to see ideas start to come together. I know that we are going to have an amazing, unique and personal wedding.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dill, Bacon, & Green Bean Potato Salad

I guess you could say that this post is Dill Weed - Part 3: YUM! I honestly wasn't planning on doing a Part 3, I promise. However, after I used the dill sour cream from Part 2 for this, I decided I had to share!

Like I mentioned in Part2, I was planning on throwing the dill sour cream over potatoes for a quick potato salad. I went to the grocery store to get dinner (pork tenderloin), potatoes and green beans for a side. From there I decided to mix the green beans in, for connivence, then it grew from there. This is the result. Simple, not so healthy, but super yummy!

Dill, Bacon, & Green Bean Potato Salad
4-5 Slices Thick Cut Smoked Bacon
12 Ounces Fresh Green Beans (chopped into 1" pieces)
1 lb 12 oz Potatoes (sliced into small pieces)
Dill Sour Cream (from Part 2)

Directions:
Cut bacon into 1/2" pieces and fry until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside to drain. Fry potatoes in bacon grease (See health note below!) until tender. Blanch green beans. Mix green beans, cooled potatoes, bacon pieces and dill together. Refrigerate.

Health Note:
This is obviously not the healthiest recipe as is... but I love bacon. I figure moderation is the key. I wouldn't serve this with every meal. However, you can also easily make this recipe healthier. Here's how:
1. Throw out the bacon grease and boil your potatoes.
2. To make it even healthier, in addition to boiling your potatoes, use turkey bacon instead of regular bacon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dill Weed - Part 2: The Loot

Now, what to do with all that dill? One thing about growing your own herbs and veggies is that sometimes you end up with a lot of one thing all at once. A good example of this was the dill I harvested a few days ago. Extending the shelf life of these items seems to be key.

I did a little research online and came up with a few things to try. First, I froze a bunch of it. Second, I made dill sour cream (which I will probably throw over some potatoes for a quick potato salad. Whenever I think dill, I think dill and potatoes. They just seem like a match made in heaven.) Third, dill butter.

Frozen Dill
Cut off the stems and put it in a freezer bag. I envisioned it turning into a mushy dark green mess. However, after frozen it still looks same, just a bit darker. Online it said to use it within two months. I'll let you know how it goes.


Dill Sour Cream
Mix dill, sour cream, a little garlic powder, a little onion salt, and pepper in a food processor. (I used my mini one again.) Use it as a dip or dressing.


Dill Butter
Mix dill, softened butter (used unsalted so I added a little salt), and pepper to taste. Use food processor to blend, adding just a little vegetable oil to make it spreadable. Store it in the fridge until you're read to use it. Enjoy on toast or corn on the cob. We had it on our toast this morning... very tasty.

Dill Weed - Part 1: Growing Dill

I love dill! I decided to grow some in our garden boxes this year. It grew like a weed in the Chicago humidity. I'm guessing this might be why they call it Dill Weed. (I'm so clever, I know.)

It stretched up, up, up, and then bolted. Bummer. For those of you that aren't familiar with the term bolting, this is when an herb, or lettuce, starts to flower. The plant is usually doomed after this happens. Certain herbs, like dill and cilantro, bolt quickly. You can usually get two to three harvests out of them before the plant throws up flower spikes and is done growing. (My cilantro will be the next one I chop off.)

The dill lasted about a month and a half. I planted it June 2nd and chopped it July 17th. I spent $3.99 for a 4.5" pot. My final harvest, pictured above, is a LARGE amount of dill. I would have paid much more than $3.99 to buy the same quantity of fresh dill at the grocery store. I got my money's worth out of this plant even though it didn't last long.

Bolted Dill

Chopped off Bolted Dill

I left the chopped off part to see if, by some miracle, it would defy nature and start to grow again. So far it's simply turning yellow and starting to look like death. Oh well. My motto with gardening is "you never know for sure until you try!"

Stay tuned to find out what I did with all of this dill...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trifle!


This is one of my favorite summer gathering recipes. Our families always request it! Here's the link to the recipe. I do alter it a bit by using seasonal fruit instead of the fruits listed. I usually use strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I've also experimented with different flavors of Jello Instant Pudding like cheesecake and french vanilla. I bet it would be good with chocolate, banana cream, or even Oreo. It's a great fresh dessert that is not too sugary sweet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm Hungry

Tom was gone tonight and I had a lot of studying to do so I decided to whip up a quick meal for myself. This is what I call a pantry meal. It arrives without any sort of recipe and is derived from items I have on hand. After rummaging through the fridge I decided on pasta with homemade pesto. Pesto is one of the easiest things to make! I promise.

Basil & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Ingredients: Basil (from my patio garden!), sun dried tomatoes
(from Trader Joe's garden), toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a little salt.


Directions: Place ingredients in a small food processor
(LOVE this thing... you can get one for around $15 at Target.) and process...


Add a little olive oil until you get the texture you want.
I used about a 1/4 cup. (I would use less if your
sun dried tomatoes came packaged in oil. Mine where dried.)
... and presto - it's pesto!


It really couldn't be easier. I made it in less time than it took to boil the water for the pasta. Once the pasta was done I tossed it with some spinach, the pesto, and a little goat cheese... yummy!


This is a great vegetarian meal or side dish. However, you could easily throw some chicken on the grill and pile it on top for a more carnivorous main course. In fact, I might just do that with the left overs for tomorrow night's dinner.