Monday, February 27, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Creamy Chicken Chili

Jana here with a recipe that the whole family absolutely loved!  Add a garden salad, and some whole wheat bread, and you have a delicious meal!  This is also made in the slow cooker, so it is very low maintenance, and easy to prep!  I found the recipe that I based this on here.  For a quick meal on a busy day, you will definitely want to try this!

Creamy Chicken Chili

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cilantro
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 chicken breast halves, or 1 cup shredded chicken

1. Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add beans, corn, and tomatoes on top. 

2. Add ranch mix and seasonings on top, and stir with the beans, corn, and tomatoes to combine.

3. Put the block of cream cheese on top of the mixture, and cover.

4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

5. Stir cream cheese in, and shred the chicken. (if you have used chicken breast halves)   Mix together, and serve.


Friday, February 24, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Ground Beef Risotto

Jana here with a {Thrice Favorites} recipe!  I originally posted this recipe several years ago, and it is one that I have made many times since then!  It is easy to make, the kids love it, and it's healthy!  If you give it a try, leave a comment and let us know!

Ground Beef Risotto

1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup uncooked rice (I used brown rice)
3 1/2 cups beef broth (from 32 ounce container)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. In a medium skillet, cook beef, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper over medium heat.  Cook until the beef is browned.  Drain if necessary.

2. Stir in rice.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in broth, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in carrot. Cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, or until most liquid is absorbed.

5. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in cheese. Cover, let stand for 3 minutes.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Rainy days always make me want to bake.  Am I the only one?  I hope not!  :)  One of my sons is 4 years old, and mixing up muffins is a perfect recipe for him to help with!  He loves practicing using the measuring spoons, dipping them in the flour and other things, and pouring them into the mixing bowl!  A little bit of patience on the parent's part goes a long way!  I can already see him improving in the past year!  Maybe in a few years, he will be baking muffins for us on his own!

I found a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins on a food website, and modified it some to fit our family's preferences.  These turned out very good!  They are moist, but are slightly firm on the outside, which I enjoy!  This recipe will make 18 regular sized muffins, or 12 regular, and 12 mini as we did!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 cup mashed)*
1/3 cup natural applesauce (can use coconut oil instead)
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose, if you prefer)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a muffin tin.

2. Place the mashed bananas, applesauce, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixer. Mix on low speed until well combined.

3. Add the dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt), and mix well.  (do not over mix!)  Add the chocolate chips, and mix just to stir them in.

4.  Fill approximately 18 muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. 

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure a toothpick can be poked in and out without having batter on it.

Happy Baking!

*Whenever we have fresh bananas that get too brown before we can eat them, I have a method for saving them to use later.  First, I peel the banana.  Then, put it in a ziploc bag.  You can usually fit several in a sandwich size bag.  Then, mash the banana, and freeze it for later!  It is really easy to pull a bag of mashed banana out to use at a later time!

Monday, February 20, 2017

{Instant Pot} Coconut Curry Chicken and Rice

Jana here with a new Instant Pot recipe that will definitely be on repeat at our house!  I got the inspiration from this Instant Pot cookbook that I own, and enjoy! The flavors are mild (not spicy), and the end result is a creamy, delicious meal that my whole family really liked.

{Instant Pot} Coconut Curry Chicken and Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds bone-in chicken (thighs or drumsticks - skin on is fine)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounce)
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cups rice (basmati, jasmine, or whatever you have on hand)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cilantro
salt and pepper to season

1. Add the oil to the Instant Pot (IP) , and select Saute on the Instant Pot. Add the onion, and let it saute for 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Continuing to stir, add the garlic, curry powder, turmeric, and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and water. Close and lock the lid. Select Manual, and cook for 13 minutes. (high pressure)

3. When cooking is done, use a quick release and open the IP. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and allow to cool slightly.

4. Add the rice, cilantro, and sugar to the IP, and close the lid again. Choose Manual, and cook for 4 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken, and take the chicken off of the bone.

6. When the rice is finished cooking, select Cancel and let it NR (naturally release) for 10 minutes. Release any remaining steam, and open the lid.

7. Add the chicken back to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to your preference.


Friday, February 17, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Slow Cooker BBQ Ranch Country Ribs

Jana here with a slow cooker recipe that completely surpassed my expectations!  So I decided to try this recipe from Picky Palate.  The ribs were falling apart when I took them out of the slow cooker, and were so tender!  It was so good, and everyone in my family was asking for seconds! 

Slow Cooker BBQ Ranch Country Ribs

2-3 pounds country style ribs (boneless)
1 packet of Ranch dry seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups Ketchup*
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt

1. Turn slow cooker on high heat. Place ribs in slow cooker, and sprinkle Ranch dry seasoning mix on top.

2. Place remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and mix well.  Pour BBQ sauce over ribs, making sure to cover all.

3. Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours.

*I prefer to buy Simply Heinz ketchup.  It doesn't have corn syrup, and only has a handful of natural ingredients, unlike most standard ketchups at the store!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Jana here with a recipe for delicious Apple Butter!  If you're not familiar with apple butter, it is a spread typically used on breads. (toast, sandwiches, biscuits, etc)  It is sweet, and can be used as a jelly.  Although it has the word 'butter' in the name, butter is not one of the ingredients.  After doing some research, I learned that the name comes from the spread's thick, soft consistency.  The ingredient list below will yield approximately one pint of apple butter.  You can store the apple butter in a sealed container in your refrigerator, or freeze the apple butter. If you choose to freeze the spread, make sure you leave space at the top of the container to allow the spread to expand as it freezes. I used Gala apples to make mine. You can use any variety of apple, although I would recommend using a sweet(ish) apple.  I used this recipe as my starting point, and then changed several things.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

2.5 pounds apples, peeled, cored, chopped finely
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Once apples have been prepared as described above, place in a slow cooker.  Mix remaining ingredients together in a small bowl.  Pour the sugar mixture over the apples.

2. Cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 9-11 hours.

3. Once the cooking time has passed, check the mixture for the following things: it should have thickened considerably, darkened in color to a dark brown, and most of the moisture should be gone.  If these things have happened, it is done cooking. If not, cook for an additional hour in the slow cooker with the lid removed.

4. Put the apple butter into a blender or food processor, and blend until it has a smooth consistency.


Printable Version

Monday, February 13, 2017

{Instant Pot} Black-Eyed Peas

Jana here with another Instant Pot recipe!  I have been trying to buy more dried beans, rather than canned. Like many other things, they are a better value, and can be healthier.  Once I have cooked the dry beans, I like to portion them into glass jars, and freeze them for future meals. I use mason jars for this, or other glass jars that I save from foods like salsa or pickles. Using a funnel will make pouring the beans into the jars a much easier process. Also, make sure to leave plenty of empty space at the top of your jar to allow for expansion once the beans are frozen.  I also like to put a label on the lid of the jar so I remember what exactly is in the jar. While soaking beans ahead of time is optimal, I typically forget to do that. So my recipe below will be for unsoaked beans. This is a base recipe, but you could easily add in some chopped ham, or chopped onion!

{Instant Pot} Black-Eyed Peas

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
6.5 cups water  (or chicken broth)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Rinse the dried beans, and place in the Instant Pot. Add enough water to cover, plus 1-2 inches.
Season with salt and pepper.

2. Put the lid in place, and make sure the top knob is turned to "sealing". Set on Manual mode for 20 minutes.* Once they have cooked, use Natural Release before opening.

3. At this point, I like to taste the beans, and add seasonings from there. Sometimes, I add in a packet of real bacon pieces, or 1/2 cup cooked/crumbled bacon. I also like to add spices such as paprika, thyme, garlic and onion powder. If you are unsure about amounts of each seasoning, start with 1/2 teaspoon, and go from there.

*I find that people's preferred softness for beans can vary quite a bit. The suggested 20 minutes cook time is a middle of the road approach. If you know you prefer a very soft bean, I would suggest going to 25 minutes. Likewise, if you prefer a firmer bean, I would decrease to 15 minutes.


Printable Version

Friday, February 10, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Creamy Mexican Chicken

Jana here with a delicious slow cooker meal that is super fast to prepare!  This is a great meal for a day when you only have a few minutes to spend on dinner.  One of the things I love about it is the finished product is very versatile!  We ate it the first night over brown rice.  The second time we had it, we put it in tortillas, added salsa and cheese, and had a yummy burrito!

Creamy Mexican Chicken 

2-2.5 lbs frozen chicken breasts
1 can corn, drained
1 package cream cheese
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro (optional)

1. Place frozen chicken breasts in your slow cooker.

2. Add remaining ingredients on top.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring every few hours if possible.

About halfway through the cooking time, I used a fork to stir and shred the chicken.  It did so very easily, and made it where the chicken could absorb the flavors and moisture of the sauce even more!  This would make a great freezer meal also!

Printable Version

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Jana here with a recipe that my family really enjoys!  After eating at an Indian restaurant last year, I discovered that I really enjoyed the flavors of the food we ordered!  I came home, and decided to start making different forms of curry. This recipe is so delicious, and you can make it as spicy (or not!) as you prefer!   I found the recipe here, and followed it fairly closely.  I hope you'll give this a try, even if it's different from what you normally cook!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or tenders)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
cayenne powder (to taste)

1. In the bottom of the slow cooker, mix together the coconut milk, broth, tomato sauce, curry powder, salt, and cayenne.

2. Add chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes. Gently toss ingredients to evenly coat.

3. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Serve over rice. (I found Basmati rice at my local store, and it was delicious!)


Printable Version

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sloppy Joes

Jana here with a quick weeknight dinner you can make in under 30 minutes. It's a great recipes for children to help with also. My 8 year old son made this, with minor supervision from me. We found a recipe for Sloppy Joes in our Better Homes and Garden cookbook, and modified it to make this recipe. Sloppy Joes are traditionally served with a bun or bread, but I think serving it over quinoa or cauliflower rice would be good as well!

Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef, venison, or turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet pepper (any variety)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, onion, and peppers until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain off any fat.

2. Stir in tomato sauce, water, chili powder, and garlic salt.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.