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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 23 : Party Meatballs

2 pkgs frozen meatballs
2 jars chili sauce
1 lg jar grape jelly

Combine all ingredients in Crock Pot.  Heat 2-3 hours on HIGH or until heated through. 

If you have never had this appetizer before, you are probably thinking it sounds strange...grape jelly?  I thought the same thing years ago when I made this for the first time.  But, rest assured- it has become a perennial favorite.  For a spicier option, feel free to substitute bbq sauce for the chili sauce.  You have plenty of options!  This is so easy and quick to prepare, and it is always gone in a flash.  Last minute Memorial Day invitation?  Don't worry, you have an idea!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Week 22 : Balsamic Pear, Chicken and Asparagus

4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced thin
1 lb asparagus, washed and trimmed
3 pears, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs apple juice
1 tea dried rosemary
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
2 Tbs dark brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Line the bottom of the Crock Pot with the chicken strips.  Layer the thinly sliced onions over the chicken.  Salt and pepper.  Place asparagus and pears next.  Whisk together vinegar, juice, rosemary, ginger and brown sugar.  Pour over pot.  Salt and pepper again.  Cook on LOW about 6 hours.

In honor of National Asparagus Day, I thought I would make a dish with this ingredient.  (OK, so I didn't really know it was National Asparagus Day.  I stumbled upon the recipe on, bought the ingredients and just happened to hear the strange coincidence on the radio the next morning!)  I have never used fresh ginger before and it is now my new favorite root!  When it came time to prepare the ginger, I was kind of at a loss of what to do.  I "gingerly" cut the peel off and then stuck a chunk in my garlic mincer.  This worked perfectly.  Not sure if that is how most people prepare ginger, but it worked for me!  The chicken itself wasn't bad.  Wasn't great, but it tasted good.  I was expecting more of a vinegar taste to it.  I also think the rosemary became a bit overpowering; maybe use less or leave it out.  This might be a recipe that is better in the oven than in the Crock Pot, as this recipe came out a little soggy.  A bit disappointing really.

I served this dinner with mushroom orzo.  This was a delicious recipe and a nice pair to the main dish.  I left out the cheese and parsley.  I also substituted the pearl onions for regular chopped onions.  Yummy!  (Could probably be served by itself as a meal!)  In fact, I went back for seconds!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 21 : Red Pepper Artichoke Dip

14 ou artichoke hearts, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup cream cheese, broken into small pieces
1/4 tea black pepper
1/8 tea crushed red pepper flakes
dash of salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
one bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

Mix all ingredients together in Crock Pot.  Cook on LOW about 2 hours, stirring frequently until cheeses are melted.  Serve with Wheat Thins, pita chips, veggies....

This came as a last minute decision for a last minute pot luck.  I accidentally ran out of the house without my camera, so, unfortunately, there is no picture.  (But you can imagine what it looks like- a dip!)  The red peppers are a nice addition and make this recipe surprisingly colorful.  This is a delicious, easy dip to make.  If you like things a little on the spicy side, as I do, add more red pepper flakes.  There is already a bite to this, but I would've preferred a little more.  You can also lighten this recipe up by using fat-free cheeses.  I just feel that the fat free cheeses never melt as well as the regular cheeses.  Also, if you are expecting a crowd, double the recipe.  Thanks to the Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook for this recipe.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Week 20 : Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Filling:
1 large can apple pie filling
1/2 tea cinnamon
3 Tbs brown sugar
handful of pecans
Cake Batter:
1 box yellow cake (plus 1/4 c flour for altitude adjustment)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 Tbs butter, softened
1/2 tea cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix ingredients for apple filling.  In a separate bowl, mix together cake batter.  Grease bottom and sides of slow cooker.  Pour half the apple filling mix into the bottom of the pot.  Spread half the cake batter on top of the filling.  Repeat.  Cook on HIGH about 2 hours.  Turn heat off and remove the lid.  Let cool about 15 minutes.  Invert cake onto a plate.  Serve with, well, COFFEE!!

Wow!  It worked!  An actual cake came out of my Crock Pot!  I used my smaller pot for this one.  The original recipe says it makes a cake about 3 inches tall.  Not sure what I did differently, but this cake is about the height of an angel food cake!  I cooked mine for about  2 1/2 hours and I think this was too long.  Some of the filling on the bottom/top of the cake got a little burned.  So, at about the 2 hour mark, insert a knife into the middle and see if it comes out clean.  Even though the cake doesn't quite look finished, check it.  Definitely make sure to use non stick spray (I prefer Baker's Joy) prior to cooking this.  I still had a few pieces that stuck to the inside of the pot.  Also, run a knife along the edges of the cake prior to flipping it over, just to loosen it from the pot.  Feel free to tinker with this one as well- I bet this would be fantastic with peach pie filling too!  Now, those of you who know my baking know that I would probably rather have it look pretty than taste good!  This cake came out surprisingly good looking and is definitely "company worthy!"  So, turn that oven off during these warmer days and bake a cake in your Crock Pot!