my first meatball

 

So somehow I have gone my whole cooking “life” without ever making a meatball. It has literally never even crossed my mind. Strange, huh? I’ve had loads of delicious bbq meatballs at parties on toothpicks and loved them and never thought to ask for the recipe. And if I ever wanted spaghetti and meatball(s) I’d call up the road for some take out with a big bowl of garlic knots (yum! and I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because that wonderful place does one BIG meatball….mmm…). So after 3 days of having a fever and eating ‘cup of noodle’ 3 meals a day (ironically while watching a marathon of Worst Cooks in America BTW…woops…) I decided it was the time to treat my sweet hubs and myself to some real food courtesy of my own personal chef  slow cooker.

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what rhymes with tortilla?

There is beer in this recipe. I want to put that out there up front so those sweet, apple pie stay at home mom’s out there reading this don’t get all the way to the grocery store before realizing that there is—oh no not that!—beer on the ingredients list. I’m sure you can substitute chicken broth to make this more kid friendly, but for those of you adults who just don’t normally drink beer I challenge you to be bold—just trust the recipe. You don’t really taste the beer outright, but I think it adds something to the flavor that really makes it complex and delicious (and it smells amazing!). And of course the chicken breasts, cooked in the crockpot for several hours, are as always fall apart tender and moist. It’s always, hands down, the best way to cook chicken. In fact, at the end of this recipe you are supposed to remove the cooked chicken breasts, place them in a bowl, and shred. Well I tried to stick them in the middle with a fork and lift them out and they literally fell apart. It was beautiful. The best kind of cooking failure, when you can’t shred your chicken in a bowl as the recipe calls for because it shreds itself. And wonderful, moist chicken aside, this was just delicious. It definitely climbs to the top of my slow cooker recipes. It’s cheap and simple and makes SO much food. My husband and I literally have been eating it for a week, which is okay with us because its delicious and reheats like a dream. Add a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips–crunched or used to scoop–and you’ll be set. I’d recommend this recipe for when you’re having people over for a quick and easy solution. And if you’re going to tortilla chips anyway, do it right and get the ‘hint of lime’ chips. So delicious.

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the un-coleslaw

 

 

My husband doesn’t like coleslaw. I am not one to go out of my way to stick it on a menu or wrestle my way to the bowl when I see it at a barbecue, but I do eat it and normally enjoy it alright now and then. Recently I’ve been exhausted everyday after work and found this wonderful recipe for slow cooker bbq pork, which meant the lovely crock pot fairy would be cooking dinner instead of me– God bless her! I wanted a fresh, healthy side to go with to keep in light and summery since the pork would be so savory. Coleslaw is a traditional topper of pork sandwiches at bbq places, but since we’re not coleslaw crazy I went a less traditional route. Broccoli slaw, which I’ve seen in stores but never known what it’s for, was the perfect answer. We love broccoli and it was so crisp and fresh, perfect for summer. The big difference was the avoidance of the standard mayo and vinegar that really gives coleslaw its flavor. Instead, I did a light honey-dijon dressing which gave it the coleslaw feel but with a totally different and delicious flavor.  I highly recommend trying out this new twist on a classic summer side dish—it is sure to please everyone, coleslaw lovers and not-so-lovers alike!

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slow buffalo

I took a trip. A week long work conference in Vegas (I got wild and took a picture in front of a slot machine! lol) and of course what would my poor sweet husband do without me all week long? Who would watch him play video games and eat pizza all night long feed him and make sure he gets to bed okay?? So I perused the wonderful world wide web for an easy slow cooker recipe that screamed out man-meal (yes, okay, there are recipes like that. They usually involve some combination of cheese, bacon, sausage, and as seen here—buffalo sauce never hurts). I was not surprised and secretly excited when I came home to find he’d been eating fruit and vegetables a large pizza for days and I would get to make this recipe myself. I was a little skeptical about lasagna in the slow cooker and also about the idea of mixing buffalo and marinara sauce—are there Italian cowboys?–but bleu cheese and buffalo flavors are one of our favorites and they sure didn’t let us down. I love a good twist on a classic and this was awesome and so tender and thick, cooked to perfection as I walked through the door after a long day which is awesome because lasagna normally involves an hour of pressing your face up against the oven door and watching the cheese slowly bubble for an hour or more. Subtly classic, with a true flavor kick. Try it out and then give your slow cooker a hug!

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the most in your roast

I don’t know how I did it, but until recently I had never made pot roast. I have eaten it plenty, it’s always the dish of choice when we are invited over to eat at someone’s house and it’s always well loved for it’s ease and almost foolproof assembly. Whether you add a little or a lot, it will always be good. And boy is it the perfect meal for a chilly day. I love coming home after work to find that those slow cooker fairies have done it again—filled my home with a wonderful, savory smell and prepared a delicious meal that I’m sure I couldn’t have made on my own. This version is my own mix and match from several different recipes and friends. It packs a lot of flavor easily with a few packets from the condiment aisle—-it really makes a difference for bringing it up a notch from a traditional style. Throw it all together in the morning and by the end of a long work day you have yourself a wonderful, welcoming meal that is served best with a blanket and a good movie. This will stay on our favorites list for a long time, I just wish we had chillier weather to enjoy it with more frequently.

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hey there dumplin’

With the winter weather finally visiting us here in Florida, now come the marathons of crockpot recipes. I probably don’t need to explain why I love crock pots, but I’m going to do it anyway because there is just something wonderful about unlocking the door after a long day to be greeted by the most welcoming smell of magically cooked, hot food (thank you crockpot fairies!). And down south we like our chicken and dumplings, so here’s a delicious recipe that whips up a whole pot full of creamy, gravy goodness with the perfect doughy dumplings.

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oh. my. please try.

I only post the good recipes. I know I must sound silly in entry after entry, raving about each recipe as if it were the best thing since the last recipe sliced bread. But I want you to know, there are recipes that don’t make it. There is the occasional recipe that just lacks flair, doesn’t cook quite right, or just isn’t as good as it sounded. I figure these aren’t ones to share with friends, I want to build a collection that is the best of the best–to develop a great resource for myself and others to feel like any choice is a good choice.

Now, that being said, the meal we had tonight was really one of the best we’ve made. We’ve had our share of good meals, impressive and flavorful. Tonight’s meal has earned its rightful place at the top of our favorite meals ever. I honestly am not exaggerating, I hope that you will consider trying it out—-it’s sooo amazing. I’m glad my husband and I were the only ones in the room when we ate it because the whole time we were making noises and exclaiming how amazing it was, and he kept telling me that from now on he wanted this meal to be his special yearly birthday dinner (replacing the long time favorite of corn dogs and mac n’ cheese). It was easy and just wonderful for this time of year—a wonderful spin on the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup. Buffalo and blue cheese—-a wonderful flavor combination, in happy balance. Once you try it you’ll understand. It is remarkably good. A new favorite for sure.

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chili for the chilly

I used to work at the University of Florida Digital Library. At first I spent my days scanning old newspapers into a computer, and later graduated to cropping and brightening these images. Let’s just say it’s not the most stimulating activity so you tend to start reading the articles, looking at pictures….perusing a little to keep your mind going. In between the obituaries and ‘Dear Abby’ columns (uh—‘my husband likes to wear my underwear, what do I do?’) I stumbled across a few strange pictures and this recipe I have saved as little souvenirs, clips from a time in my life in college. I have tweaked the recipe over the years to what I consider to be a delicious, unconventional chili I go back to every year for it’s simplicity and great flavor. I like to throw it in the crock pot at lunch time and am always greeted with a wonderful scent when I walk through the door after work. I have recently discovered that Ritz makes a version of their classic cracker with a touch of honey which pairs wonderfully with this recipe and probably has influenced that extra scoop of chili I put in my bowl this time around. Double the recipe to make enough for the troops, or share the regular size with your hubby for a few nights—-it’s easy on the wallet. And good in your belly : )

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