Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

I’ve been working nights so slow cooker suppers have been a life saver when it comes to making sure my boys get a good meal. Needless to say I’ve been scouring the net for new crock pot ideas. I came across this idea and fell in love with it. Anything I can throw into the slow cooker and know that the boys are going to like it, works for me. All they had to do was assemble their sandwiches when they were ready to eat.

chixparmsammy

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans (15 oz. ea.) tomato sauce

1 can  (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice

12 oz. tomato paste

2 cups sweet, yellow onion, finely diced

1 T (or 2 cloves) garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

4 T fresh basil, chopped fine, or 1 tsp dried

salt & pepper, to taste

sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

6 hard rolls

1. Start slow cooker on low heat and spray with cooking spray. Place chicken inside.

2. Mix together tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, paste, garlic, onions, and herbs. Stir until well combined. Pour over chicken and turn to coat.

3. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 6 hours.

4. Shred the chicken using two forks. Replace back into slow cooker and stir everything well.

5. Slice hard rolls and lightly toast, if desired. *They’re awesome with a little bit of butter. Use tongs or slotted spoon to portion out the chicken onto the rolls, tapping off excess sauce. Top with cheeses.

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Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

This was soooooo yummy.  Hubby and I like to eat meatless so this was actually great by itself for a meal, but it makes an awesome side dish as well for those who want a more rounded-out dinner.  The boys liked it, too, though they aren’t crazy about chunks of tomato.  A regular caprese uses fresh, delicious mozzarella, so by all means use it if you’ve got it.  However, I didn’t have any so I used goat cheese instead.  It was awesome!  This dish came out tasting like warm, comforting, creamy tomato soup with some chew.  Delicious.

caprese quinoa

Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup pasta sauce

2 T tomato paste

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Mozzarella (or 4 oz. goat cheese)

2/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved*

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cook the quinoa- 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth.

2. In a saucepan heat up the pasta sauce and tomato paste. Once warm, stir in the cream, parmesan, salt & pepper, half the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the mozzarella or goat cheese. Stir until heated through and everything is melted and smooth. *I didn’t have grape tomatoes so I diced up a large one.

3. Spray a baking dish (I used a 4×7 but you can go up to an 8×8 or 9×9). Pour in quinoa mixture and top with remaining tomato and mozz/goat cheese.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for an additional 2 or 3, until cheese is gold and bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with the remaining basil ribbons.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce

We like to eat a lot of fish around here but sometimes it gets boring. Eating fish two times a week is highly recommended for anyone wanting a healthier diet and lifestyle, and since we primarily eat only salmon and tilapia as our main sources of fish, we like to try new ways to prepare them. This sauce has a little fattening-boost to an otherwise healthy dish, but man, does it make it good! If I’d had any fresh spinach this dish would have been excellent on a bed of wilted greens. However, as it turned out it was just as good served with roasted brussels sprouts (see this post for a great recipe) and parmesan cous cous.

basil cream sauce & salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon in Browned Butter with Basil Cream Sauce

3 or 4 salmon fillets, or a 1.5 lb cut

3 T butter

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese, room temp.

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp lemon zest

salt & pepper

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped, divided

1. In large skillet heat the butter until it is lightly sizzling. Season salmon with salt & pepper and cook both sides until lightly browned. Set aside.

2. In small bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the basil.

3. Deglaze pan with the wine. Simmer a few moments to reduce the liquid by half. Add in garlic and let cook 1 minute.

4. Stir in cream cheese mixture and heat through.

5. Serve salmon with a spoonful of cream sauce and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

This is one of those quick week night meals that tastes like you’ve put a bit more effort into it than you really did. If you’re crunched for time and want a hearty, quality meal, then keep this one on file. All you need are some basic staple ingredients in your freezer/pantry and you can make this in no time.

tuscan pasta

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

1 (20 oz) pkg refrigerated or frozen *cheese ravioli

1 (15 oz) jar sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce

2 T white wine

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 tsp basil**

Parmesan cheese

Empty the sauce into a saucepan and use the wine to collect the rest of the sauce in the jar by covering the top and shaking.

Add in the drained tomatoes (or 2 fresh ones, diced) and the basil. **If you have fresh it’ll be about 1/2 cup. Also if you don’t like basil as much as I do and are using dried, you may want to start of with less than 2 tsp, but really, who doesn’t love basil??

Allow all of this to simmer for a bit, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Cook your pasta according to directions. *I bet mushroom ravioli would be divine in this! 🙂

Drain the ravioli from the pasta water and fold the tuscan sauce into the pasta. Plate it up and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and extra basil on top.

Enjoy!

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Spinach & Goat Cheese-Tilapia Roulade with Tarragon Bechamel

Truth is some dishes just don’t photograph well, which is why although I HAVE attempted some of the recipes on the last two menu plans such as Greek Chicken, Pear & Pecan Muffins, and Chicken Pad Thai. None of them came out all that great and definitely weren’t photo quality. However, that is not the case with these tilapia roulades. The picture may not be ideal, but the taste was pretty delicious. (Even Number Two ate it up. Bonus!)

This recipe started out as one for stuffed salmon. It sounded awesome but I didn’t have any salmon handy. Then I had another recipe for an herb & veggie stuffed sole (rolled up), but alas, I didn’t have half of those ingredients either. What I ended up with was an improvisation using what I had on hand, using the two other recipes as a guideline. Usually this kind of innovative  cooking does not serve me well, but this time I have to say it was pretty darn good.

tilapia roll1

Spinach & Goat Cheese Tilapia Roulade 

4 filets tilapia, thawed and room temp.

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out

8 oz. goat cheese, divided

6 oz. sour cream

salt & pepper

1 tsp basil

1 tsp chives (I used dried)

Preheat oven to 350*. If fish fillets are thick you can slice through them and make two fillets out of one, which make them roll much easier.

In a bowl combine 6 oz. of the goat cheese, the sour cream, spinach, herbs, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spoon and spread mixture on top of fish and roll each piece up. You can use toothpicks to keep the rolls together.

Place into a baking dish (spray dish or line with parchment paper first) and cover.

Bake about 25 minutes, or until fish is done.

tialpia roll2

Tarragon Bechamel

2 T butter

2 T flour  *Cornstarch for GF

4 T heavy cream or milk

1/4 cup chicken broth (plus more if needed for consistency)

salt & pepper

2 tsp tarragon

This fish definitely needed a sauce. As usual when I’m cooking I do a lot of it by eye. I try to make the measurements accurate for you, but with something like this it’s easy to eye-ball it and thicken, or thin, as needed. Bechamel is good for so many things but I find it rather bland and not quite worth all the extra calories. Hence, the tarragon. Believe me, it just makes it awesome.

Get the milk or cream and chicken broth bubbling in a small saucepan with the last 2 oz. of the goat cheese. Make sure the cheese melts and blends in. Add the tarragon. Make your roux and add it slowly, as needed.

*You can start out with your roux (1 part melted butter to one part flour) and add the cream and broth to it. It might actually be better to control your thickness this way, but what the heck, I always do things the hard way. Just make sure you allow time for the tarragon to get in there and do its thing 🙂 After that it’s all just about combining, whisking, (and not burning of course) and getting the sauce only as thick as you want it.

Serve it over the fish roulades.

I also put my roulades over some fresh garden tomato slices. Heaven!

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Tomato Cucumber Bread Salad

I love a good bread salad. It is so easy to bump it up to a one-dish meal by adding some grilled chicken or tuna. Bread salads can have whatever you desire in them but they typically include tomato and cucumber as a base. This particular one was made up of what I had available in the house and it made a great side to my Grilled Marinated Salmon. The great thing about using grilled bread in place of croutons is that they absorb the juices of the salad without getting all mushy.

bread salad

Tomato Cucumber Bread Salad

1 cucumber, cut*

3 tomatoes, cut*

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut

1 baguette or ciabatta roll

EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar

salt and pepper

Extra Salad Ingredients you may like: red onion, sliced; black olives

1. Preheat grill to medium heat and split roll in half. Drizzle cut sides with EVOO and grill cut side down, covered, until crispy (about 5 minutes). Cut bread into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

2. Cut cucumber and tomatoes. *Slice into thick 1/2 inch slices and then cut into fourths, creating large 1-inch pieces.

3. Place cucumber, tomato, garbanzo, feta, and basil (and any other ingredients you choose) into a large bowl and toss with about 3 T EVOO and 1-2 T balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Fold in the bread pieces and serve.

4. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Tart with Basil Cream

I love this tart. In fact I just plain ol’ love pastries so any tart is good for me. The best thing about something like this is that the ingredients are minimal and as long as you keep some refrigerated puff pastry in your freezer you can whip something like this up quickly and customize it to whatever fruit you have on hand. I am a sucker for fresh basil so that’s why I made this particular tart but you can mix fresh mint into your cream, or go wild and experiment with spices and flavors. For example, I see an awesome banana tart with fresh cream whipped with cinnamon and nutmeg and drizzled with some caramel or chocolate sauce (or both!) See how easy that was? Now it’s your turn 🙂

strawbasil2

Strawberry Tart with Basil Cream

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

1 cup heavy cream

4 or 5 T powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 pint strawberries

strawbasil1

Preheat oven to 350*. Roll out pastry sheet on a floured surface until thin, about the size of a square foot. I do this because I have a great 14-inch square-shaped baking sheet, but you can do a rectangle shape if you like. Trim about an inch off the edges of the sheet and use a little water to build the edges up a bit.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place the sheet on top. Make sure you prick the pastry with a fork so the air can flow. If you’ve ever missed this step you’ll know the pastry will balloon up. It’s fixable for this tart but not ideal.

Bake for 20 minutes then allow to cool completely.

While the pastry sheet is cooling you can whip up the cream using a mixmaster or electric beaters with the powdered sugar until it’s set and just beginning to form soft peaks. Gently fold in the basil (save some for sprinkling on top of the tart).

Spreading the cream might be a little hard if it gets too stiff (mine did) and especially if the shell wasn’t pricked with a fork prior to baking and is breaking up (guilty), so I used a small ice cream scoop to place blobs of the cream all over the pastry. Then I used a slightly wet silicone spreader to gently spread the cream out. Mine came out pretty thick but I really liked it anyway.

Slice the strawberries and place them all over the top of the tart. I put mine in rows, overlapping each edge, covering the whole thing. You can put your strawberries on however you like.

Sprinkle any remaining bits of fresh basil on the top.

Enjoy!


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Bruschetta

I have said it many times: I love Bruschetta. But I realized that I’ve never actually posted it before. This recipe is a staple, especially in the summer months when tomatoes and fresh basil abound. I could literally eat this for days. All I need is a yummy, crusty baguette and I’m good to go.

Now that the weather is turning a bit cooler, I don’t know how much more basil my plant will produce, so I snipped off what was there and made what might very well be the last Bruschetta of the season.

Unfortunately this isn’t the kind of recipe that I have measurements for. It’s strictly a taste-test kind of thing. If I am making a small bowl of Bruschetta just for myself (because the boys don’t like raw tomatoes) then I will cut up just two large romas and add the rest of ingredients by eyeing and tasting it. This recipe was much larger since we had guests in for part of the weekend.

Bruschetta

6 large roma tomatoes, diced

2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 T EVOO

salt and pepper

1/2 cup fresh, chopped basil

I like lots of basil! You may prefer less. A standard recipe would call for less vinegar, oil and basil, and possibly even garlic. It’s all a matter of taste. If you researched Bruschetta recipes you may even find instructions to parboil the tomatoes and peel off the skin. This is a waste of time if you ask me. I like everything in it and I like my flavors strong. Perhaps what I like about the Bruschetta the most is the freshness of the tomatoes- it just screams summer and refreshing to me.

Chop the garlic and combine it with the vinegar and oil. Pour over the diced tomatoes and toss until everything is mixed well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the flavors blend. Taste and add more vinegar, salt and pepper, and garlic as necessary.

Toast and slice a baguette and top with the Bruschetta. Yum!!