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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Pizza Buns

Clearly I have a thing for versions of pizza, but who doesn’t love pizza?? As long as I continue to find different ways to put the same ingredients together the boys will not get bored with their lunches, and so today I have yet another pizza idea for you.

pizzabuns

Pizza Buns

1 package pizza crust*

pizza sauce

mozzarella cheese**

turkey pepperoni

1. Roll out the pizza dough on a heavily-floured surface. *I found some awesome pre-made pizza dough balls at Trader Joe’s in the meat and cheese section. This is way better than the canned stuff if you can’t make homemade dough.

2. Spoon some pizza sauce over the surface of the dough, then place pepperoni all over- as much or as little as you like. (Too much will make it hard to roll up the dough. Mini pepperoni seem to work best but turkey pepperoni only comes in regular size that I’ve found.)

3. Place about a 1-inch squared piece of mozzarella near the bottom of the dough, **or sprinkle shredded cheese over the bottom 3/4 of the dough.

4. Carefully roll up the dough and seal the ends over.

5. Cut into 1-inch slices and place in greased muffin tins.

6. Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes, or until browned. Makes a dozen buns.

7. Serve with extra pizza sauce on the side.

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Pot Roast Sliders with Creamy Chipotle Sauce

AH.MAZ.ING.

And super easy because it’s all done in the crock pot. All you have to do is put everything in and just …..wait. And smell. And expect to be very, very hungry by the time it’s ready because this stuff will tease you. Seriously.

Okay, I have to confess something. You know how slow cooker recipes will give you an approximate cooking time for low vs high heat? Well, in the case of slow cooking poultry I have to say that it’s almost always on target. But for beef roasts and the like, well, when I give a cooking time in my recipes, they really are more of just a guideline. And I’ll even tell you why. When I cook a beef roast I always, ALWAYS opt for the lowest setting. This makes for the tenderest meat. This is especially important when you’re aiming for meat that falls apart, which I usually am. I don’t know about you but a lot of the time my recipes aren’t ready in 6 to 8 hours, and sometimes not even in 8 to 10. Of course, sometimes it just depends on the cut of meat, but case in point,  I literally had to leave this in the crock pot for about 15 hours until it was tender enough to shred with two forks. And it was worth it. So don’t be afraid to let it simmer all day.

*UPDATE 11/6/13: I’ve since made this with a venison tenderloin cut into medalions, served over brown rice and it was *~*AWESOME*~* (imagine me singing that) Also, I made the creamy chipotle sauce for those of us who wanted to stir it in….yeah….it was fabulous. So if you’ve got deer meat, don’t be afraid to try this recipe- you will not be sorry!

 

potroastsliders

Pot Roast Sliders 

3.5 – 4 lb. beef roast

1 envelope Italian dressing mix

1 envelope onion soup mix

1 envelop au jus mix (or 2 T beef boullion)

1 cup water

1 cup salsa

swiss cheese, sliced

Small rolls (I used mini kaiser buns)

1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray and place roast inside. Combine the 3 envelopes of mixes with the water and salsa well and then pour over the meat. Set on low and give it at least 8 hours. Turn the meat every 2 hours or so, allowing each side to simmer in the juices.

2. Once the meat is tender enough, shred it and return to the slow cooker.

3. To assemble the sandwiches, split a hawaiian roll, or bread of your choice. On the bottom half place a slice of swiss cheese. On the top half smear some creamy chipotle sauce, then place desired amount of shredded beef in between.

4. Nom nom nom.

Creamy Chipotle Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp sriracha chili sauce

1 tsp horseradish or horseradish sauce

 Combine these ingredients well and allow time to chill in refrigerator. Make extra if you like a lot of sauce 🙂

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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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Pizza Tarts

Is it silly for me to say how excited I am about these little pizza tarts? Seriously, I am.

First of all, they are one of my newest lunch box recipes and I am positive they have been a HUGE hit with the boys. And secondly, they were simple to make and smelled amazing coming out of the oven. It was super hard not to gobble them up right then!

It’s too bad blogs don’t offer scratch and sniff screens…..

pizza tarts

Pizza Tarts

1 sheet refrigerated pie crust, rolled out to desired thickness

turkey pepperoni

shredded mozzarella cheese

pizza or marinara sauce

WARNING: While I did get the idea from a magazine, I do not have specific measurements so hopefully my directions won’t be too scattered for you. But really, this wasn’t hard at all. Just eyeball it, have fun, and use your imagination.

1. Preheat oven to 375*

2. Lightly grease a muffin tin and place circle cut-outs of pie crust that are about 1/4 inch in diameter larger than the bottom of the muffin tin. I used a glass with a wide mouth (about 3 – 3.5 inches) which made a good sized circle to fit in the bottom of a regular sized muffin tin.

3. Cut up veggies or meat of choice and place in the bottom of the pie crusts. I used turkey pepperoni, about 2 little slices for each tart.

4. Spoon on some pizza or marinara sauce. It won’t take much, about 1.5 – 2 T of sauce.

5. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.

6. Now for the mozzarella cheese. I’d guess about 1 T of shredded cheese. I didn’t have any on hand, only slices, so it came out to about 1/4 slice per tart, cut up.

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

You can enjoy these right away or refrigerate and pack for lunches the next day. Enjoy!

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Crunchy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

I love fish tacos- but if you’ve been reading long enough you already knew that. There are so many ways to put together a fish taco starting with the type of fish you use and how it’s prepared. Then there’s the shell (soft corn or flour tortillas, or crunchy shells) and then everything that goes in between. Some of my favorite toppings are shredded cabbage, cheddar cheese, tomato and avocado.

But the star of this show isn’t the taco. As you can see I just used frozen fish sticks (sometimes you just gotta have that crunch). The main attraction in this post is the Cilantro Cream Sauce that is made for any kind of fish tacos…and you can thank Yvonne for this one 🙂

cilantro sauce

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Frozen fish sticks

Corn or flour tortillas

Tomato, diced

Avocado, diced

Cabbage, shredded

Shredded cheese

Cilantro Cream Sauce

1/4 sour cream

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

fresh pepper and salt, to taste

lime juice, to taste

Mix together ingredients and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

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FEATURED AT SIMPLE SUPPER TUESDAYS #26!

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

I’ve noticed a few Facebook and Pinterest re-posts going around for something very similar to this. It seems to happen occasionally that I’ll put something on my menu plan and several weeks later when I’m finally getting to it it’s already hit the blog circuit. Does this mean I have awesome food instincts??

Yeah…unlikely, I know.

Well, whatever it is, I can’t be too far off the foodie path, I just wish sometimes that I had something with a little “wow” factor. Hopefully this will make someone happy, as it did me. I found this recipe through TLC’s Take Home Chef, but I had to adapt it quite a bit as I’ve noticed that chef Curtis Stone likes to really stretch his culinary skills and I’m just a bit of an underachiever most days 🙂

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

1 T EVOO

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp basil

salt & pepper

extra zucchini, chopped*

3 zucchini

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated or shredded mozzarella

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

pepper

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1. To get the ragu started it’s best if you have about an hour. First saute the onions in the EVOO, then add it to the diced tomatoes, extra zucchini, and the wine, with 1 tsp thyme and the bay leaf, over medium-high heat and reduce it by a third. Sauce will be thickened. (20-30 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds. If the zucchini are still a bit hard inside just run a sharp knife down each side and score it a little. This will help when scooping out the seeds. *Also, if your zucchini are different lengths, you can cut them all the same and chop up the excess for the ragu, other wise I highly recommend you chopping up a fourth, smaller, zucchini to add to the sauce. It’s just a tomato sauce without it, and while it’s still good, the zucchini really adds something to it.

3. Combine the tomato sauce to your ragu along with the remaining tsp of thyme and the basil. Salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350*. Combine the three cheeses together in a small bowl using a fork. Season  with pepper, and mound the cut-side of the zucchini with the cheese mixture.

5. Lightly spray a 7 x 11 baking dish. Spoon the ragu into the bottom of the dish and place the stuffed zucchini on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for an additional 10 minutes. Zucchini will be tender but if you prefer them more cooked through try pre-cooking them a bit before assembly or leaving it in the oven at 250* for an extra 15-20 minutes.

I served this over Parmesan Couscous and it was amazing. A very satisfying vegetarian and, if you serve it with rice, a gluten-free meal.

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Beef Filet with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

This was really delicious.The most time consuming part was making the reduction. Someone please tell me there is an easier way to do that!? Also, I used cuts of London Broil instead mignon because Harris Teeter had a ridiculously awesome BOGO sale the other day and I couldn’t pass it up, but ideally the filet would work best.

I pan-seared the meat and served it atop wilted spinach with mushrooms and caramelized onions, and of course, the wine glaze. It was pretty awesome. I apologize now about the pictures. It was too dark by dinnertime to take any decent pictures and most of the meal was eaten, so there’s no spinach to show how beautiful the plate really was (hence the peas), and what’s left over of the filets is more crazy-medallion-like slices. So…just use your imagination 🙂

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Beef Filet with Red Wine Mushroom Sauce

4 (5-7 oz.) filet steaks

salt & pepper

1 medium onion, sliced thinly

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (any kind or blend)

1 clove garlic, minced

4 T EVOO, divided

1 tsp thyme

2 bay leaves

3 cups red wine

2 cups beef broth

12 oz. baby spinach leaves

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1. salt and pepper your filets and set aside.

2. Heat large skillet and put in 2 T EVOO. Saute garlic and onion for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the red wine, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over high heat. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until liquid has reduces and resembles a glaze.

4. Add the beef broth/stock and bring back to a boil. Simmer for another 30 minutes, until the liquid reduces again by at least half.

5. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and add them to the sauce. This will only take a few minutes to cook them down.

6. Strain and reserve the sauce from the mushrooms, onions, and herbs. Keep it all for serving.

7. Heat up a heavy skillet with 1 T EVOO and sear all sides of the filets. This should be about 4 minutes per side, until the steaks are golden brown.

8. Pour the sauce over the meat and deglaze the pan while the filets are finishing up. Then remove the steaks and let rest. Let the sauce continue simmering.

9. Heat 1 T EVOO in another skillet and wilt the spinach; about 3 minutes.

10. Plate some spinach, top it with a filet and some mushrooms and caramelized onions. Spoon some of the glaze over the top and around the plate.

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