Crockpot Action

I did not always feel this disorganized.  I am not sure of the exact moment when it happened but somehow I believe that the word ‘kids’ was definitely involved.  It has become a never-ending struggle to balance all of the things I should be doing with all of the things I want to be doing.  Lucky for me, I live in the Age of Pinterest.  It is here, in the digital age that I can pin ideas to boards for inspiration of all kinds, from caring for apples trees to zebra photography.  It is here, in My Pinterest World that I keep seeing pins for Crockpot recipes.  I had actually pinned a few to my food board.  Last week I decided that passively pinning crock pot meals was simply not good enough.  I endeavored to take action on one of my pins and do what the pin suggested.  I read over this post and printed off the grocery list.  I had many of the items already residing in my pantry which made me feel fortunate and as if I might actually have some things together at the Anderson household.  This was only a fleeting thought as I navigated through a mine field of Legos and My Little Ponies to safely reach my pantry.  (In case you were wondering, I made it!)

The tag line that caught my eye on the pin?

“Spend 1 hour in the kitchen preparing 5 meals for the Crockpot and you only have to clean up 1 mess!! Recipes for: Garlic Honey Chicken, Beef Burritos, Chicken Fajitas, Hawaiian Chicken, and Teriyaki Pork Chops.”

So, I got the goods, made the meals and it was all as easy as the pin suggested.  (Yee-haw!)

To have five meals resting in my freezer was a bit like winning free dinner for five nights.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly free but it gave me freedom from trying to figure out what to make for dinner five times.  Five times!

The tip for placing the Ziploc bag inside the blender to mix the marinade was exactly what a girl like me needed.  Genius.

Because our tater tots are three and five, they don’t consume a whole lot of dinner which gives us the added benefit of leftovers.

Would you like to give your freezer and your family five easy dinners?  Click Here for the Printable Recipes & Grocery List

You are the next contestant on I Can Use My Crockpot! 

Special thanks and promotional consideration to Janell at Saving You Dinero

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Turkey Tetrazzini

If you know me at all, you know I love pasta. It makes my heart go pitter-patter. The discovery of this recipe is a true gem for me. It makes twelve servings which means there is plenty to share, which is just one of the reasons that I love it. Combine pasta and the generosity factor with wine, mushrooms, and creamy sauce and the swoon factor deepens. Plus, there is bacon for the men in your life. The first time I made this, my husband couldn’t believe that I was planning to serve it to his parents. My husband protested that his dad was never going to like this. (My father-in-law stems from the meat and potato generation and the meat and potato gender so you can imagine what I was up against and why my husband thought I was clearly insane.) But when both my husband and his father reached for second and third helpings, I knew the Tetrazzini was a hit with the men. I also did a little happy dance for a successful pasta conversion. Of course, I knew beforehand that it would be a hit with the women. The love of pasta runs deep in our veins.

Of course, the fact that I retrieved this recipe from the one and only Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) only adds to the splendor of this delightful pasta. I will warn you that it is a labor of love. Preparation and assembly of the ingredients will take about an hour of your precious time. But in return, you will receive twelve beautiful servings of pasta goodness with which you can do whatever you like. Have a dinner party and share it all.  Feed your family and freeze the rest. Make little gift dinners for your loved ones.

I discovered that it makes very good sense to prepare all the ingredients first when making this pasta. The first time I made this, I just started going along with the instructions and cutting and measuring as I went along. My counters were a disaster and my mind in disarray. So, I highly recommend taking the time to cut everything up and measure things out before you begin. Also, the pasta begs to be broken up ahead of time and placed in a bowl. Listen to the pasta. I promise that your kitchen and your brain will thank you.  (Or go for the chaos. Who am I to tell you what to do?)

Ree’s recipe is for Turkey Tetrazzini, which she posted around Thanksgiving. It makes wonderful sense for your leftover turkey after the holiday. I just grab a rotisserie chicken and use that in place of the turkey. Ree has gorgeous step-by-step photos. I highly encourage you to check out her site.

I served this with a French baguette with rosemary herb butter, pear gorgonzola salad, and of course wine. (Some of you may be thinking “you had me at french baguette”.  You are my people.)

Cheers to the lovely baguette, delicious pasta, and wine!

Turkey Tetrazzini

Click here for the Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1-½ pound Thin Spaghetti, Broken In Half
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 pound White Mushrooms, Quartered
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup White Wine
  • ⅓ cups Flour
  • 4 cups Turkey (or Chicken) Broth
  • 1 block 8 Ounce Cream Cheese
  • 3 cups Cooked (leftover) Turkey, Shredded Or Diced
  • 1 cup Finely Chopped Black Olives
  • 1-½ cup Frozen Green Peas
  • 4 slices Bacon, Fried And Cut Into Bits
  • 1 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Extra Broth For Thinning
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta until not quite done – al dente according to package instructions (it will finish cooking in the oven.) Drain, rinse, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add mushrooms and salt, then saute for a couple more minutes. Pour in the wine and allow it to cook with the mushrooms for several minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half.

Sprinkle in flour, then stir the mushrooms around for another minute. Pour in the broth and stir, cooking for another few minutes until the roux thickens.

Reduce heat to medium low. Cut cream cheese into pieces and add it to the pot. Stir it to melt (don’t be concerned if the cream cheese remains in little bits for awhile; it’ll melt eventually!) Add the leftover turkey, the olives, the peas, the bacon, and the cheeses. Stir to combine, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Add the cooked spaghetti and stir it to combine. Splash in more broth as needed; you want the mixture to have a little extra moisture since it will cook off in the oven. If it’s a little soupy, that’s fine! Add up to 2 more cups of liquid if you think it needs it.

Pour the mixture into a large baking dish and sprinkle the top with Panko crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown.

Chicken Vegetable Pie

Today’s overall mood has led me to comfort food and this Chicken Vegetable Pie.

That’s right. Pie for dinner.  I said it.  It feels a bit naughty and rebellious.

That might be why I like it.

This recipe takes some shortcuts to make it EASY.  I like to use Rotisserie chicken for convenience and flavor.  (If you use chicken breast or your own cooked chicken, be sure to season it up well.)  Frozen veggies equal no chopping.  Potato soup, you are welcome to join the mix (again, no chopping and the cream sauce is basically done!).  The pie crust is so simple and can be used universally for fruit pies, tarts, etc.  My dearest friend Beth graciously introduced me to the pie crust recipe and I offer up my whole-hearted thanks (Thank you Beth!) as I use it often and am so glad to have it in my arsenal.

Chicken Vegetable Pie

Pie Filling

Mix and combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken (shredded or cubed)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, onions or whatever you prefer)
  • 2 cans cream of potato soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste

Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten (to brush on top of pie before baking)

Mix pie crust ingredients together until dough forms.  Divide in half.  I like to do one half a bit bigger to use for the bottom.  Roll out ‘bottom crust’ between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper.  Transfer to pie plate.  (I use a glass pie plate – if you use a dark, metal pie plate I would reduce baking temp to 375 degrees)

I like to salt and pepper crust a bit, then add pie filling and salt and pepper the top.  Roll out the ‘top crust’ and place on top.  Pinch together all edges, brush top with beaten egg, and cut slits in top of pie for air to escape.  (I don’t use the whole egg mixture, just enough to cover the crust.)

Bake at 400 degrees for one hour.  Let cool a few minutes, cut and serve.