Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Turkey Veggie Chili

Now that’s a mouthful! This recipe is a staple ’round these parts because it takes just minutes to assemble, practically cooks itself, and satisfies bellies with its hearty southwestern flavor. I get a little help from a store bought spice packet but I ratchet things up a notch by adding additional spice, liquid smoke and half a can of beer! You can’t go wrong on a cold night with a warm bowl of chili and chips…

Ingredients: Feeds 6 – 8

  • cooking spray
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey, browned
  • 1, 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I use “fire roasted” tomatoes)
  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium Bermuda onion, medium dice
  • 1 Tex-Mex Chili seasoning packet (I use McCormick’s)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 6 oz of beer (I use Corona)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Brown the ground turkey in a skillet on the stove.
  3. Combine tomatoes, beans, chopped peppers, onion and seasonings in the slow cooker. Add the turkey, beer and liquid smoke. Mix well.

4. Cook on LOW for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed.

5. Serve over rice or with tortilla chips. Garnish with fresh cilantro, sour cream and/or shredded cheddar cheese.

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Crock Pot Curry

This crock pot curry is a no-brainer; throw everything in, turn it on and walk away! Your house will smell amazing and dinner will be on the table in a few short hours. It’s the perfect Monday Night meal or whenever the weather calls for warm and cozy curry!

Ingredients: Feeds 4 – 6

  • cooking spray
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, chunked
  • 2/3 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 8 oz baby spinach
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1, 15 oz can lite coconut milk
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup green curry paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Spray inside of your slow cooker or Crock Pot with cooking spray.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes and lentils to the pot. Cover with spinach, sprinkle jalapeño over the top.
  3. Place the chicken thighs on the bed of spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients including the coconut milk, chicken stock, curry paste, garlic and ginger. Next, the pour mixture over the chicken.
  5. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours, stirring contents half way through cooking time. Reduce heat to LOW, stir once more and cook for another hour.
  6. Taste, adjust seasonings if needed. Serve as is or over white rice with fresh chopped cilantro and lime wedges!

*Adapted from Paula’s Pantry, “Chicken, Spinach and Lentil Coconut Curry”

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Worth the effort, for sure! These mini pot pies put a smile on everyone’s face, every time!

Ingredients: Makes 4 mini pies

  • 4 disposable mini pie tins or similarly sized ceramic ramekins
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into coins
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 refrigerated pie crusts

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep skillet melt the butter over medium heat.  Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the flour and mix well.
  3. Begin adding small amounts of milk and stock, alternating between the two and stirring constantly. Mixture will begin to thicken, reduce heat to low.
  4. Add the peas and the chicken, and mix to combine.
  5. Add the salt, pepper and thyme.
  6. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings if needed and let cool.IMG_6286
  7. Meanwhile, roll out a pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Using a pie tin or ramekin as a template, cut a circle from the dough that is approximately one inch wider than the dish; this will be the bottom of the pie. Cut another circle that is the same size as the dish for the top of the pie. You may need to use a rolling pin to re-roll the dough or combine scraps with a new crust.
  8. Place the larger circle in the bottom of a pie tin or ramekin. Fill to the top with the cooled pot pie filling. Top with the smaller piece and crimp the edge with a fork to seal it. Carefully poke a few small holes in the top of the pie to create vents.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 to make 3 more mini pies.
  10. Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Let stand five minutes before serving, contents will be hot!

Notes:

  • Instead of rotisserie chicken, I often use baked, bone-in chicken breast which I cube after cooling. Two large breasts produce enough chicken for 4 pies.
  • Recipe doubles easily!
  • Pot pies can be frozen prior to cooking; cover completely with foil and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake from frozen, bake at 400 for 30 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden.

*Adapted from the Today Show, Freeze and Bake Chicken Pot Pies

Spiced Crumb Cake

This… perfect for a stormy Saturday morning! Enjoy.

Ingredients: Makes one large sheet pan cake

  • 1, 10 x 15 disposable sheet pan with 1″ sides
  • cooking spray
  • 1 box of spice cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray your sheet pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil and milk. Pour batter into the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, spices, salt, butter and vanilla.
  5. Remove cake from the oven and cover with topping using your hands to “crumble” it. Gently press the crumbs into the cake. Take care as the cake will be hot!
  6. Return cake to oven and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cooled and serve!

Note:

I made two smaller cakes this time around; saving one for our family and sharing one with a friend! I used the same recipe, just divided the batter and crumbs between two smaller pans.

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Easy Slow Cooker Broccoli Mac-n-Cheese

This recipe is all my own; created out of love for both macaroni and cheese and my slow cooker! I used chick pea pasta for added protein as well as broccoli to help get more nutrients into my kids! My version of slow cooker mac-n-cheese is super creamy, delicious and sure to please! Enjoy.

Ingredients: Feeds 6 – 8

  • cooking spray
  • 12 oz frozen broccoli florets
  • 8 oz uncooked pasta (I use Banza chick pea pasta)
  • 1, 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/4 lb of butter sliced into 4 – 6 pats
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of paprika
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Place the frozen broccoli in the bottom then add the pasta.
  3. Nestle the block of cream cheese in the center and place pats of butter throughout.
  4. Pour milk and stock over the mixture and sprinkle with seasonings.
  5. Spread the shredded cheese on top, keeping it from touching the sides of the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on LOW for 2 – 3 hours or until pasta is cooked to your liking. One hour into cooking, give everything a good stir. Stir once more before serving!

Note:

  • Chick pea pasta can get mushy… quickly, and in this recipe tends to lose its shape/consistency. If you want your mac to remain intact/whole I suggest you use regular pasta!

Sorta Light Pumpkin Muffins

Inevitably, as the weather changes and the air cools, so do my cravings and my habits in the kitchen. Not only do I yearn for soups and stews, roasts and gravies; I also want to bake things! Now I’ve said this before, I am much better at cooking than I am at baking, primarily because I hate to measure. Baking is a science and if you don’t measure properly your muffins/pastries/cakes/cookies simply don’t turn out right! With cooking (you need to measure of course) I feel like there’s a little more wiggle room and the opportunity to go off script. Bottom line; not staying the course when baking can be disastrous if you’re not mindful to the changes/chances you’re taking!

I originally found this recipe for Pumpkin Maple Loaf in Cooking Light magazine and it intrigued me because the author found a way to take a classic fall favorite and lighten it up a bit! But by sheer stubbornness I needed to find a way to make it my own and go off script! First, I decided to make muffins with the batter versus a loaf. Second, I didn’t have access to dark maple syrup or dark brown sugar so I used grade A syrup as well as a brown sugar/stevia blend as substitutes. Lastly, the original recipe called for roasted pepitas to top the loaf; I know it defeats some of the purpose of “cooking light” but, I decided to mix in chopped pecans and white chocolate chips instead! Regardless, these somewhat lightened-up, twist on pumpkin loaf-style muffins are the bomb!! Enjoy:)

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Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins

  • cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar/stevia blend
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine buttermilk and oats, let sit 15 minutes.
  3. Whisk together pumpkin, syrup, oil, sugar, extract and eggs and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl mix together flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add the oats and buttermilk to the pumpkin mixture and stir. Then add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and combine.
  6. Gently fold the pecans and chips into the batter.
  7. Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes.

*Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, Lighten Up Pumpkin Bread

 

Meatball Marinara with Gnocchi and Burrata

This is a semi-homemade, one skillet, made in under 30 minutes masterpiece that will wow everyone at your dinner table! Simple shortcuts make is quick and easy while still maintaining authentic flavors and textures. This will make you feel like it’s Sunday at Grandma’s (when it’s only Wednesday night)!

Ingredients: Feeds 6 – 8

  • 18 – 24 prepared meatballs (I used Shady Brook Farms All Natural Turkey meatballs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1, 15 oz can diced tomatoes, do not drain!
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1, 25 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 16 oz mini gnocchi potato pasta
  • 8 oz burrata, chunked

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Directions:

  1. In a large, shallow, enamel coated saucepan with lid, heat the oil over low – medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown them for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.IMG_5442
  2. In the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic until soft and then add the tomato paste. Mix in the diced tomatoes and spices and let simmer for a few minutes allowing flavors to develop. Add the marinara, mix well and allow it to heat up.
  3. Next, add the uncooked gnocchi to the sauce and stir to distribute them evenly. Add the meatballs back in, nestling them evenly as well. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring gently half way through.
  4. Turn heat off and right before serving, drop the chunks of burrata into the mixture, in and around the meatballs and gnocchi. Close the lid one more time and allow them to melt, taking approximately 2 – 3 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately in bowls with crusty bread and a green salad.IMG_5446