Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches via Slow Cooker

Pulled BBQ Chicken

Pulled BBQ Chicken

Pulled barbecue chicken sandwiches – Very Easy! Fast Prep!

Yield: 12+ meaty sandwiches

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 6 hrs

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts + 1 pound boneless, skinless thighs
2 cup (16 oz) barbecue sauce (a flavor you like)
2/3 cup Italian dressing – good brand
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons chicken broth (I have used water too but chicken stock is more flavorful)
additional barbecue sauce, if desired
rolls, for serving as sandwiches
bread and butter pickles, optional

Directions:

1. Place chicken in the slow cooker.  You should enough meat to cover the bottom layer of your cooker.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

2. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and chicken broth (or water). Stir it into the sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until the sauce is thickened and heated through (10 to 15 minutes). Meanwhile, use two forks to shred the chicken. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and stir. Add additional barbecue sauce if more sauce is needed or desired. Cover and continue cooking on low for 45 minutes. Serve chicken piled onto rolls. Add pickles, if desired.

tips:

*The brand of barbecue sauce that you use can make a big difference in the flavor of the chicken.  Many people on line like Sweet Baby Ray’s!

Source:  RecipeGirl.com (Adapted slightly from All You)

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Close Up Look

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Getting ready to freeze leftovers.

Slow Cooker Turkey Lasagna – Yes it is possible

I love Barefoot Contessa’s (Ina Garten) Turkey lasagna but it is a lot of work and worse a lot of cleanup.  So when this slow cooker recipe was posted on Williams-Sonoma website a few years ago I was intrigued.  I own and love the Williams-Sonoma’s All-Clad 7-Qt Deluxe Slow Cooker.  It is so versatile. You can brown anything with the insert on top of the stove, and the insert can go into the oven to finish off a dish like this.  This is a serious advantage when it comes to clean up.
 
 
 
So could a lasagna baked in a crock pot have the taste and texture of a typical oven baked lasagna?  My opinion after making this recipe absolutely yes; however, I am not sure the success would be as good in your typical crockpot that does not have a removable insert that can go in the oven.  You also need an above average slow cooker capacity for this recipe.  I think the final broil step on this dish adds a lot to the texture and appearance of the dish.
 
 
 
Could prep and clean-up really be improved versus a typical lasagna without sacrificing taste?  Again I would say yes.  The dish easily peels out of the slow cooker and you are left with two easy to clean bowls (the temporary dirty bowl and the cheese bowl) and a cutting board if you took the time to add the mushrooms and carrrots.
 
 
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed  – I use turkey sausage
  • 2 jars (each 24 oz.) tomato sauce – I typically use Wegman’s or Wholefood’s 360 brand to save time but sometimes I use homemade.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 18 ruffle-edged lasagna noodles (not no-boil noodles)
  • 1 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 3 carrots in small diced form (my add in for more nutrition)
  • Small container of your favorite mushrooms, cleaned and chopped in small pieces (my add in for more nutrition)
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish

Directions:

Prep your carrots and mushrooms if using.

In the stovetop-safe insert of slow cooker over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Saute the carrots and mushrooms if using for about five to seven minutes until soft.  I usually add the carrots first and halfway through add the mushrooms.  When they look close to done but not quite, add the sausage and cook, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a simmer. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl.

In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the slow-cooker insert. Cover the sauce with a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (about 3), breaking the noodles as needed to fit. The noodles do not need to be perfect.  Spread about 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with about 2 cups of the sauce, then sprinkle with about 1 cup of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the layering 4 more times, starting with the noodles.

Transfer the insert to the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the noodles are tender and cooked through, about 4 hours (WS recommended time).  My best results have been stopping early at 3 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours 50 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to broil.

Transfer the slow-cooker insert to the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes (Williams-Sonoma recommended time). DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PRIZE IN THE BROILER.  FIVE TO SIX MINUTES WILL LIKELY BE PLENTY.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO OVER-BROIL.

Let the lasagna rest for 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil and serve immediately. Serves 12.

This dish says it serves 12, I think it can stretch further.   Freeze leftovers in desired portion sizes.  Defrost overnight and rewarm on 325 until warm throughout – 15-20 mins.
 
 
Suggest serve with homemade garlic bread:
1 good French loaf bread sliced in half (horizontal cut)
 
Dice a few cloves of garlic very tiny or do a quick swirl of whole cloves in a mini food processor- saute them for 2-3 minutes on low heat with oil if you have time.
   Or just buy a jar of already crushed garlic to save time and spoon a teaspoon
 
Melt 8 tablespoons of butter.  Add garlic to butter.
 
Using a pastry brush or pouring – put the butter mixture over the bread.
(Sprinkle some parm cheese on top for a nice touch – optional)
 
Place bread on lined alumimum foil sheet pan.   (I have sometimes prep the bread as much as 2-3 hours in advance and covered with foil.  It can get a little soggy if sitting out much longer than that).
 
Broil on high for about 1 1/2 – 3 minutes.  Do not take your eye off the oven.
These can burn quick.   Nothing like piece of fresh garlic bread to go with this lasagna.
 
 
 
 
 
Recipe Link
 
Slow Cooker Link
I am not being paid in any to recommend this slow cooker.  I have had it for about 5 years.  I use it often and have been incredibly pleased about every feature.

Fresh Homemade Cherry Pie From Scratch

I am sorry I don’t have a great photo but this pie is worth every bit of effort to make it.  Crust recipe is incredibly forgiving even for a novice.  I got it from a friend of mine and use it for all my pies.  The cherry filling piece of the recipe came from another friend.  Lastly I credit Mark Bittman for general baking instructions.

Double Crust 9-Inch Pie Crust

Will work with a deep dish 9 or low 10 inch

Make in Cuisinart with regular dough blade

Key is to keep all the ingredients cold. Even put the dry ingredients in the freezer for a few minutes before starting…but especially important that the butter and shortening are chilled.   (cut butter and then chill, measure Crisco).  For me keeping cold was about 20-30 minutes.

Crust Ingredients

–       2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

–       1 tsp salt

–       2 tbsp sugar  (will also need a little sugar to sprinkle on top pie crust)

–       1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled

–       12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces

–       6-8 tbsp ice water

–       note need a little milk for top of second pie crust

Directions for Pie Crust

Mix dry ingredients in a food processor, then add shortening (about ten seconds). Then cut the butter into the flour mixture until pale yellow, coarse crumbs. Pulse the processor to do this. Then add ice water until dough sticks together. Add little bit of ice water as needed to make dough stick. Divide the dough into two even balls and flatten into 4 inch disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour (up to two days) before rolling. Roll out on well dusted surface to prepare the crusts.

Ingredients Cherry Filling

–       5 cups pitted cherries (slice the larger ones in half) – try to drain and keep as dry as possible.  William Sonoma sells a Cherrymat Cherry Pitter for $29.95.  I have a seen a similar one for slightly less.  This gadget works incredibly well and if you plan to make this pie a few times a year, suck it up and buy it.  It will save you oodles of time.  Freeze any unneeded cherries and consider making a fruit topping for waffles/pancakes.

–       little less than 3/4th cup sugar

–       1/3 cup flour

–       1 generous tablespoon of cornstarch

–       2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces

Directions for Filling

Toss lightly all but the butter

When ready to make pie – preheat oven to 450

1)   Roll out first dough (if from fridge, let sit for 10-15 minutes max) from center out

2)   When close to 10“ check diameter large enough with upset down pie plate

3)   Transfer first crust – fold in quarters, move, then unfold

4)   When dough is in place, press firmly in the bottom, sides and junction of bottom and sides

5)   Trim excess dough to about ½ inch all around, then tuck under edge of plate

6)   Fill the pie with the cherry mixture – little heavier in the center of pie

7)   Dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter throughout.

8)   Place second crust on top of pie dish (using quarter method above)

9)   Trim if necessary

10)  Decorate edges of pie crust with fork

11)  Place pie on a baking sheet and brush top lightly with milk.  This step saves your oven from becoming messy.

12)  Sprinkle with sugar throughout lightly

13)  Use sharp paring knife cut to to three 2 inch long vent holes in top crust for steam escape

14)  Place in oven 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 40-50 minutes (mine was ready at 40 minutes exactly).  Pie should be golden brown.  Do not underbake

15)  Cool on rack before serving warm.

 Fresh Whip Cream Ingredients and Directions

–       Put  mixer bowl and whipping beater in freezer for 20-30 minutes

–       1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not pull out of fridge until ready to make)

–       1 tablespoon + of sugar to taste

–       Slowly bring heavy whipping cream (no sugar) up to high speed for a few minutes

–       Before starting to near the consistency of peaks you should add 1 tablespoon of sugar and keep beating

I serve the whip cream on the side versus placing directly on the pie.

Delicious!!!!!!!!!!

Barefoot Contessa’s Crab Strudel – Luxury Appetizer or Entree

When I saw this in Ina’s Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I was attracted to the small number of ingredients, 20 minute prep time, and the ability to freeze the dish and bake-off at a later date.  I was secretly also hoping to get a wow factor from the crowd, and I had success.  The good news indeed the ingredients are easy to find in a store.  The bad news is that 20 minutes of prep is not realistic.  I would say if you are prepping this solo, count on 30-40 minutes unless you are proficient with pastry dough.  In addition you need to plan ahead before making the dish.  The dough needs to defrost for 8 hours or overnight in your fridge.  Then it needs to rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.  I suggest you gather all your ingredients, then take out the dough, and start your timer and complete your prep work.  The sheets needs to be soft but not too soft.  Yes you might have time to kill waiting for the dough to get just right, but you can always start cleaning up.  Once you start working with the sheets you need to cover the unused sheets with a damp dish cloth (non fluffy type that won’t stick to dough).    Finally my experiment freezing went well but I thought the dish tasted slightly better when baked immediately after prepping vs the frozen but not enough for your guests to likely care.  Her yield says 6-8.  If it is a main entree I think that sounds about right.  But I served a half a recipe for 6 people as an appetizer and it was a perfect quantity.

In terms of difficulty, I upped this to medium because pastry dough is tricky.  However in reality if you just read the box directions and the directions in the recipe, I think it is hard to mess this recipe up.  I used Wegmans Ready to Use Phyllo Pastry Sheets.   http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=713431&storeId=10052&langId=-1  Our store carried two sizes and I used the larger size but the smaller size would be fine.   My recipe yielded 4 meaty size loaves.  I got the crab at Wegmans too.  The brand was called Graham & Rollins Inc. Crabmeat, Jumbo Lump.  It came in a one pound container and I never saw one shell and the crab tasted great.  Downside is that the container costs close to $30.00.  At Wholefoods it would be significantly more.

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided   (2 tablespoons + 10 tablespoons)

3 scallions, chopped (use whole of scallion cut into small slices)

2 garlic cloves, minced (I hand diced small)

1 teaspoon curry powder (I think you could add a touch more (extra half teaspoon?) and have a more favorable result.  In the website many wrote in they used Old Bay.  I think that would be fine too but give a different flavor for sure)

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm) – I used Wegmans brand and 20 sheets (4 rolls, 5 sheets each)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs – I used a half cup at least and would measure at least that amount out.  (I used Panko style)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder (or old bay) and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper.   She then says add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.  I found it easier to add the scallion mixture to the crabmeat bowl.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.

TIP:COVER YOUR DOUGH WITH WET CLOTH WHILE YOU PAINT WITH BUTTER AND SPRINKLE CRUMBS – CAREFULLY MOVE THE SHEETS TO YOUR WORKSPACE

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  (My sprinkles caused me to end up using 1/2 cup total).   Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

If you are using a previously made batch from the freezer I had success pulling it out of the freezer 1 hour before cooking and resting at room temperature.  I remelted some butter and painted the tops again before baking.  Make sure your score marks are deep enough if you are using previously frozen dough so you get a good chance at the crab evenly warming.  At the same time, you don’t want to score all the way through or the dish will fall apart.   I had to bake closer to 18 minutes on the frozen logs.  The straight to the oven pieces needed 12 minutes max.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/crab-strudel-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

Below are pictures just before going into the oven and as it came out as well as the crab mixture.

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Awesome Oatmeal Waffles – Kid Helpers Welcomed


IMG_5357Today my daughter wanted oatmeal but wanted something creative.  I said how about we look for some oatmeal pancake recipes and she said what about oatmeal waffles.  I never heard of oatmeal waffles but figured with Google an arm’s length away- sure I said.  30 minutes later, I was super excited to have stumbled upon this healthy recipe.  It was a great  switch up from our regular Bittman waffles.  It came from the tasteofhome.com website (I website I had never seen).  The recipe says it will make 6 waffles – our batter produced 7 good sized waffles.  Prep time was about 10 minutes and  I was cleaned up before waffle 3 was out.

6-7 Waffles Servings Prep/Total Time: 30 min including cooking waffles and cleanup

Before you start mixing, plug in your waffle iron and melt your butter in the microwave to get cooled

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour – dry
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats – dry
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder – dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon – dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional – dry – I would at least use a pinch or full 1/4 – dry
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Assorted fresh fruit and yogurt of your choice

Directions

  • In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  • In small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter and brown sugar.
  • Add to flour mixture; stir until blended.  (This is a pretty wet waffle batter)
  • Pour batter into a lightly greased waffle iron (amount will vary with size of waffle iron).
  • Close lid quickly; do not open during baking until your waffle iron beeps done.
  • Use fork or knife to remove baked waffle if stuck.
  • If not using right away, cool on a rack and freeze uneaten waffles once cooled.
  • Top with fresh fruit and yogurt.
  • Yield: 6 -7waffles.

Picture of batter; uncooked batter in waffle iron; fully cooked waffle

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http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/oatmeal-waffles-2/print

Nutritional Facts: One serving equals 1 bread, 2 fats; also, 176 calories, 223 mg sodium, 65 mg cholesterol, 21 gm carbohydrate, 5 gm protein, 8 gm fat.

Simple mustard fish recipe; Will surely delight the crowd

I have Ina Garten to credit for this recipe, and I have made it many times and it has never disappointed.  Here is a link to one version of the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/mustard-roasted-fish-recipe.html

I love this recipe because it truly is foolproof, requires few ingredients, and takes no time at all to prepare.

I find it best with white fish, but it will work with a good piece of salmon.

Prep takes 10 minutes, cooking takes about 15-20 minutes, and cleanup is simple if you use parchment paper on your rimmed cookie sheet.  Basically you only need to clean a few measuring spoons and a small bowl along with the cookie sheet.  I think this dish would be more messy on a non-rimmed cookie sheet for clean up.

Ingredients:

4 – 8 oz servings of fish fillets such as snapper – I have tried this with many white firm fish types from Whole Foods and usually prefer asking them for one large 3-4 pound fillet, making sure it has been picked over for bones.  I specifically ask them to hunt for major bones before taking the piece home.   Usually if I call late in the day with 2 hours notice they will have the fish waiting for me.  Ina in her show and book never mentions salmon and I am not sure why, as this works well on salmon as well.

Kosher salt and pepper (have ready 2 teaspoons of each but you won’t use it all)

8 ounces of creme fraiche (I never heard of creme fraiche before making this recipe.  It comes in a round tub like a cottage cheese or whipped cream cheese and usually is found near the fresh cheeses at your store.  I have only seen it come in one size.)

http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=375620&storeId=10052&langId=-1

3 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard (recommend using both types and I usually go heavy when measuring)

1 tablespoon of Whole Grain Mustard (recommend using both types)

2 tablespoons minced shallots 1-2 shallots depending on size (do not skip as it adds a lot of flavor)

2 teaspoons of drained capers (I never add the capers because I find most people don’t like the taste as much as me)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line sheet pan or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or can use ovenproof baking dish.  I find the cookie sheet with parchment makes cleanup a breeze

Place the fish skin side down on the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper to your taste

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers if using, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in small bowl.

Generously spoon sauce over fish.  I recommend mixing the ingredients in the quantity above but just using about half to three quarters of the sauce.  It is rich enough in half the quantity. Unfortunately I have found little use for the other half so usually I toss it down the drain.

Cooke the fish 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish until barely done.  Do not overcook it.

Serve hot or at room temp with the sauce of the pan spooned over the top.

I will upload a picture later this week when I make the dish!  You will be impressed with how professional the dish looks.

I usually serve it with Ina’s roasted root vegetables.  See separate posting.  That too is easy to make.

Quick and Easy Homemade Waffles by Mark Bittman

This waffle recipe is easy.  You will never want frozen waffles again!

I have never had it fail and I have made it at least 50 times.   I always make one extra set of the dry ingredients which I set aside in a large zip lock bag.  I label the outside of that ziplock well and then inside in a small separate plastic bag I put a note card with the wet ingredients to add.  This way me or my husband can whip up a batch quick.

Effort to make 1 batch – 10 minutes plus time to cook the waffles.  To cook a full batch allocate 30 minutes.    I love my waffle iron which came from William Sonoma.  It does not have any bells and whistles but it does the job well.  The only choice is the doneness setting.  Usually I cook on setting 2 (out of 10).

Before starting the mixing, turn on your waffle iron, and put the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour (dry)

1/2 teaspoon salt (dry)

2 tablespoons of sugar (dry)

3 teaspoons of baking powder (dry) (underlined to make sure you measure this precisely and that you use powder not soda).

1 1/2 cups of milk

2 eggs

4 tablespoons or 1/2 stick of butter melted and cooled – I use the microwave cutting the butter into a few pieces before setting it to 40 seconds.

1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract (worth adding but is labelled optional in Bittman’s recipe)

Preparation:

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the eggs into the milk (I usually separately scramble the eggs before mixing with the milk).

Add to the smaller bowl the cooled butter and vanilla if using.

Add the wet smaller bowl to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed well but not obsessively well.

If the mixture is dry add a little more milk but if you measured correctly additional milk should not be necessary.

Spread batter into center of your waffle iron (using a large spoon, poured from a measuring bowl, or using a ladle).

Bake until waffle is done 3-5 minutes – my waffle iron beeps and turns green when done.  There is no guesswork.

Carefully peel waffle off iron and pour in more batter until done.

I like to lay the done waffles on a cooling rack to keep crisp and get air below the waffle.  If I am serving a few minutes later I reheat on a cooling rack laid on top of a cookie sheet.

Once cooled I freeze all leftovers in a freezer bag.  They last well in the freezer for at least 2 months.  I have not tried longer.

I defrost the night before if I remember and  then just place in the toaster in the morning.  Even without defrosting one toast or a preheated toaster at 325 for 5-10 minutes warms the waffle right up.

This recipe is super easy and doubles perfectly.  I almost always make a double batch if I have time and freeze as many as possible.

DO NOT MAKE THE BATTER THE DAY BEFORE THINKING YOU WILL SAVE TIME IN THE MORNING.  Results will be sub-par.  If you need to save time, set aside the combined dry ingredients the night before on your counter and pre-measure the milk and vanilla and leave those two ingredients in the fridge.   Then cut your butter and place in the bowl you will put into the microwave but return the butter back to the fridge as well.   This will save you 5 minutes out the 10-15 minutes it takes to make the whole batter start to finish.

If you have a kid helper, ask them to measure all the dry ingredients and place in the bowl.   Ask them to help stir the wet ingredients as well.

Apple Spice Muffins (Kids Helpers Welcomed) – Very Easy

Today I made a batch of these.  The recipe was on the back of StonyField LowFat French Vanilla Yogurt.  I was worried we were not going to finish the yogurt and did not want it to go to waste.  Everyone liked these: Mom, Dad, and especially our 4 year-old.  I had the muffins in the oven in less than 15 minutes and was completely cleaned up before they came out. They looked and tasted great.  I froze the extras and presume they will taste fine in the future but will report back.

Kids can do the sifting, mixing, and scooping into the tins.

Equipment

12 muffin tin regular sized

Sifter tool

Wax or Parchment Paper (if you have it; if not just sift into the dry ingredient large bowl)

Preheat oven to 375, & melt and get your butter cooled before doing anything else!  

Ingredients

2 cups flour (dry)

1/2 cup sugar (dry)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda (dry)

2 tsp cinnamon (dry)

2 eggs

1 cup Stonyfield Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt or some other brand

1/4 Cup butter melted and cooled (This is 4 tablespoons, or half a stick).    I cut the butter into 4 pieces before starting the microwave.  Then I melt the butter in the microwave for about 45 seconds.)

1 apple if large peeled and diced small

Steps:

Preheat oven to 375

Sift the first four dry ingredients after wax or parchment paper and pour into a large bowl

Crack two eggs in a small bowl and scramble (remove any shells if needed)

In medium bowl mix eggs, yogurt, and cooled butter.  I stirred around 20 times quickly.

Pour this wet mixture over your dry mixture, add apples and stir.

Do not panic at first this batter will seem hard to come together and you will think you have too much dry ingredients.  However after a minute or so of stirring I got all the ingredients easily incorporated.

Pour the combined batter into the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  In my oven they seemed done at 21 minutes but I pulled them out at 23 minutes.  I let them stay in the tins for about 10-15 minutes and then let them cool on a cooling rack outside the muffin tin pan.  Clearly they can be served pretty soon coming out of the oven if needed right away.

I forgot to take a picture but they had a nice brown color with pieces of apples sticking out !

Mini Meat (or Turkey) Loaves – Kid Helpers Welcomed

This is a simple dish for a novice to make.  You need one regular size muffin pan.  This dish can be in the oven within 20 minutes and clean up takes about 10 minutes max if you throw everything (muffin pan included) in the dishwasher.  This recipe was adopted from C is for Cooking Recipes From the Street by Susan McQuillan.   This is a kids’ cookbook I skeptically bought but turns out I would highly recommend it.  (It can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sesame-Street-Cooking-40th-Anniversary/dp/0470523077/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1391978718&sr=1-1&keywords=c+is+for+cooking.  I receive nothing for this mention).

Equipment: Muffin Pan (12 cups), Small Bowl, Large Bowl, measuring items)

Kids can help with all the measuring and my 4 year old loves making the balls for the tins.  I mix the ingredients in the bowl though initially to make sure the consistency is good.

PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 pound turkey ground turkey (I like a combo of thigh and breast; however any type of ground meat is fine- chicken, beef, pork etc)

1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Extra Thick Rolled Oats which can be found at Wholefoods)

1 small onion (or half large onion) – diced very small

1 or 2 carrots depending on size (shred with a grater)

1/3 cup ketchup and 1/4 Heinz Chili Sauce (sold near ketchup at most grocery stores)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I buy this pre-grated to save time)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt (I use half this but recipe calls for full one)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Topping – (original recipe calls for ketchup; I make my topper below)

1/3rd cup Heinz Chili sauce,  mixed with 1 very generous tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar

Steps:

Lightly spray cooking spray in 9 muffin tins (sometimes you get 8, sometimes 9)

Crack egg in tiny bowl, remove any shells.

In large bowl combine chosen meat, oatmeal, onion, carrot, egg, ketchup, chili sauce (if using), parm cheese, salt and pepper

Mix with your CLEAN hands or use plastic baggies over hands.

Once well mixed, scoop up a ball and place in muffin tin, patting the top down to be smooth.

Brush with topping if using (again I think the Chili Sauce with a little sugar is the way to go)

Bake 20-25 minutes until center not pink (I usually cook it the full 25, but they usually seem done after 22-23 minutes).

Remove from oven and keep in muffin tin for ATLEAST 10-15 minutes so the muffins continue to set.  If they are not set, this recipe will not come out as desired.

After you patiently wait, carefully with a knife lift up muffins (they should be completely stuck together – see pictures) and place on a rack to cool if not serving right away.   I freeze these all the time, and defrost the night before I want to use them.  For a kid under 7, one muffin as a main dish is more than enough.  My husband will eat two at a time.  One would not be enough for him.  For me, one is fine.   Hence I often double this recipe and we eat a few and then we have lots to freeze later.

View after putting on the topping but before being baked.

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View before the topping.

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Done and now resting on a rack after staying in the muffin pan for 15 minutes.

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Kids’ Cooking Project for School – Spaghetti and Meatballs

I like this project for a class lunch for ages 3-8.  I recommend making one set of meatballs ahead of time to speed up the process.  Have the teacher bake the meatballs the kids made during lunch time and save for afternoon snack later that week.  I like to use turkey meat and think dark or white breast meat is fine.   I have tried both many times.  For ease of class project, I recommend measuring the spices ahead of time and just bring baggies or little cups that the kids can toss in.   Otherwise I find the kids are fighting over helping each other with the measuring spoons and pouring and you get a mess.  Start the jumbo pot of water ahead of time and lightly salt it.  Use extra water if you think some of the water will boil down.  You want a lot of water for the pasta.

Class Spaghetti and Meatballs – February 2014

 

Check List of Items Needed

1 Cookie Sheet for baking meatballs

Aluminum foil to line baking sheet

Cooking oil spray to spray foil on top of cookie sheet

Very large bowl for meatball mixing , small bowl for egg

Plastic bags for mixing meat initially by hand

Large strainer for pasta

Heavy duty large mixing spoon

Very large pot to cook pasta

Small pot or fry pan for heating sauce and already cooked meatballs

Spoon for tossing sauce as it is heated

Bring spaghetti serving fork to school if you have one (I only attaching this link because it is a good picture.  You do not need to spend $32 for a pasta serving fork.  However look for a utensil that is firm on the bottom vs a cheap plastic one.  You will have better success and it will hold up better in the dishwasher.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/9915919/?catalogId=8&sku=9915919&bnrid=3120901&cm_ven=Google_PLA&cm_cat=Cooks’_Tools&cm_pla=Cooking_Utensils&cm_ite=All-Clad_Stainless-Steel_Professional_Pasta_Fork_%7C_Williams-Sonoma&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=34-136177943-2

Food Needed

Bag of spices already measured (see below**)

Few tablespoons of milk

1 Egg

Pinch of salt for the boiled water for pasta

Already made meatballs (to speed up project) –

(can save other meatballs for later after cooking)

Ground turkey meat (1 to 1.5 pounds) for hands on kids mixing – you should easily be able to make 20 meatballs

Box of spaghetti – Break sticks in half before cooking

1 jar of sauce

½ Cup Panko bread crumbs or some other brand –  Wegman brand good too

Parmesan Cheese for Topping

Optional fresh broccoli stalks cut small

Reminders for teacher 

Get water boiling early before start project with kids

Spaghetti needs 11-13 minutes on per box direction – start the timer once the water reboils and watch pot that it does not overflow

If using, toss in broccoli with about 5-6 minutes to go;  strain pasta/broc.

Meatball Making – likely to take 15 minutes with kids and then needs to cook

Pre-heat oven to 400 for meatballs before starting project with kids.

Lined Rim Baking Sheet with alum foil and spray a little oil

NOTE: each kid can add in ingredients below – suggest parent mix meatball batter, then hand a little meat to each kid to form meatball

–       In large bowl- stir  bread crumbs (1/2 cup) and milk (3 tbsp) and let stand 5 mins

–       ** Add oregano (1/2 T) , dried onion (1/2 t), salt (1/2 t) , pepper (1/4 t)

–       Crack egg in small bowl and lightly beat

–       Add egg to large bowl of breadcrumbs

–       Add in the meat and make meatballs

–       Bake about 11-13 minutes

Warm Sauce on medium low  along with already cooked meatballs; serve with spaghetti and sprinkle with cheese.  Plan for ten minutes for sauce and already cooked meatballs to get warm