Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Around this time of year, everyone seems to be coming down with a cold. Even my little guy caught his first cold last week, which was not fun for any of us (especially with a sick hubby, too). And what’s the first thing people always seem to tell you to eat when you’re sick? A good ol’ bowl of chicken soup. Penned as “Jewish Penicillin”, there’s something super comforting about it when you’re under the weather. But, who has time to whip up a pot of chicken soup from scratch? That’s why I was really happy to find this slow cooker recipe for a traditional chicken noodle soup. Throw all the ingredients together in the morning and come home to a freshly made, hot soup. Even works for the man-cold. I should know.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from food.com

8 cups water or 8 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup onions, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 teaspoons salt ( to taste – reduce if using all chicken stock because it tends to be salty)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 (3 1/2 lb) roasting chickens
3 cups wide egg noodles, uncooked

In 4-1/2 to 6-quart slow-cooker bowl, combine water, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, 4 t salt, 1/2 t pepper. Place whole chicken on top of vegetables. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs on low setting 8 to 10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Discard bay leaves. Add noodles to slow-cooker; cover with lid and cook (on low or high) 20 minutes. While noodles cook, remove and discard skin, fat and bones from chicken; shred meat. Skim fat from soup and discard. Return chicken to soup to serve.

 

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Seriously Delicious and Insanely Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I know, I know. I haven’t posted in 10 entire days. I have no excuse, other than the fact I was sick for much of last week, and then there was Thanksgiving. Ah, Thanksgiving. My favourite cooking holiday. This year, however, I had a little bit of a turkey disaster. Basically, the 16 pounder we had purchased went bad in the fridge somehow, and we only discovered this at 11pm the night before. So we were left desperate and turkey-less – where the hell were we going to find a turkey on thanksgiving eve?? All we could find were frozen birds at the 24 hour grocery stores, and I didn’t have enough time to defrost one (and frozen, really?). I had a mini meltdown and started planning my no-turkey thanksgiving (a tragedy in and of itself).

Somehow, however, my ever-resourceful father-in-law managed to find a turkey at a local grocery store that had been defrosting for the past 24 hours. He dropped it off the next morning, and damn – this thing was scary looking. I’m pretty sure that someone killed this turkey, plucked the feathers out, then stuck it in the freezer. No, really. The neck was still attached and there were feather roots still intact. The legs were spread eagle (slutty bird), and it was completely different than the lovely, organized prepared-for-roasting turkeys I’ve grown accustomed to. Oh, and I had to spend the entire morning defrosting the rest of it in the sink.

After thawing it out and performing minor surgery, I somehow managed to remove the neck (while I contemplated vegetarianism), and got the troubled bird ready for stuffing. All in all, it still turned out okay, but definitely not as juicy as a fresh turkey. Here’s a pic of how it turned out:

Not too bad, considering, Anyway, I have a bunch of thanksgiving recipes to post but for now, I wanted to share a delicious and simple pulled pork recipe. I made it tonight and oh my goodness – you need to make this ASAP. It’s so easy and made in the slow cooker, so you barely have to do a thing. I’ve been wanting to make pulled pork since my post about pulled chicken, but my grocer never had pork shoulder/butt. Admittedly, for this one, I used pork shoulder blade steaks, but they turned out amazingly well. Kind of like pork back ribs, but shredded. So, so good.

Seriously Delicious and Insanely Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pork shoulder/butt roast or shoulder blade steaks
Bottle Root Beer (or any carbonated beverage. I haven’t personally tried with others, but I hear beer works well, as does regular club soda)
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Bottle of your favourite BBQ sauce

Place pork in your slow cooker. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides. Pour root beer over the pork, making sure to cover well. Cook on low for about 8 hours (6 hours if using steaks), or until meat starts to fall apart. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Discard the remaining liquid. Replace the pork into the slow cooker, and pour your BBQ sauce over top (I used only about half the bottle for my steaks, but for a roast, you may need to use the whole bottle). Cook for another hour on high, or 2-3 hours on low. Serve on toasted buns with caramelized onions (optional). Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend,

-Monica

Delicious and Simple Whole Roasted Spiced Chicken

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ImageYesterday I featured a Thanksgiving staple – the turkey. Today, I’ve got a great, simple recipe for another whole bird – one you may be a bit more familiar with – the chicken. I absolutely love roasting a chicken whole – the crispy skin, the juicy inside, and different parts to suit everyone’s tastes. The leftovers are also great for chicken salad for lunch the next day.

When I first saw the combination of spices in this recipe, I thought it might be a bit too ‘gingerbreadish’, but they work so well together. I also added some of my own choice spices, because God forbid I leave a recipe alone. There is a bit of effort involved during the roasting process, but I guarantee it will be worth it.

Whole Roasted Spiced Chicken
Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 whole chicken (4 pounds or so)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 small onion or scallion

In a bowl, mix the salt, sugar and spices. Rub the chicken with the mixture. Cover chicken, and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours (I’ll be honest, I only had two hours and it was still amazing).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Stuff the chicken cavity with the garlic and onion or scallion. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), and continue roasting 15 minutes. Baste chicken with pan drippings, reduce heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C), and continue roasting 30 minutes, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Turn the chicken breast side up to serve (you’ll have some nice ‘grill marks’ for presentation.

This is so yummy and will definitely become a weekly special at your home like it has ours. Enjoy!

-Monica

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Maple Butter Roast Turkey/Best Turkey You’ll Ever Eat In Your Life.

ImageAs I promised you guys last week, today’s blog post is all about my famous Maple Butter turkey. I say famous because I cook it exactly twice per year (Thanksgiving and Christmukah dinner), for crowds of 12-25 people, and each one of those people claim it’s the best turkey they’ve ever had. I’m really not exaggerating here – this turkey is everything turkey should be but usually isn’t – moist and juicy (I’m not kidding when I say that you need to be careful when first carving it, as the juices will squirt out at your face), flavourful and delicious with an amazingly sweet gravy.

Now, you’ll have to excuse the photos as they’re from last Chrismukkah (yes, that’s Christmas and Chanukah rolled into one), but I will update them after this Thanksgiving. For Canadian folks like me, we’re just about one week away from Thanksgiving, which means ORDER YOUR TURKEY! Oh, and bookmark this recipe because if you’re hosting this year, you’ll need it.

Now I have to warn you, this is a not so lazy lazygirl recipe, but it is 100% worth it. I promise. The trick is to thoroughly coat the inside and outside of the bird with the maple butter – I mean, you’re gonna have to get super personal – and baste the bird about every 30 minutes. The smell in your house alone will drive you crazy.

If this is your first time cooking a turkey and you’re nervous, don’t be. The first time I made it, it was amazing, and it has been consistently amazing every time after that – you just can’t really mess it up with this recipe. So go on, take that bold step and volunteer to cook a bird this year. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s the recipe:

Maple Butter Roast Turkey/Best Turkey You’ll Ever Eat In Your Life.
Adapted from allrecipes.com

2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup real maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3/4 cup butter, softened
salt and pepper to taste
1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2 cups chopped onion
3 cups chopped carrots
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
Your favourite stuffing

Combine apple cider and maple syrup in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until reduced to 1/2 cup, then remove pan from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon marjoram, and lemon zest. Stir in butter until melted, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate until cold.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place rack in lower third of oven. Place turkey on a rack set in a roasting pan. Reserve 1/4 cup maple butter for gravy, and rub the remaining maple butter under the skin of the breast and over the outside of turkey (like I said, get intimate with this turkey and make sure every nook and cranny is coated in the maple butter). Spoon the stuffing into the cavities, careful not to overstuff. Arrange onion, carrots, turkey neck and giblets (if desired – I usually omit the giblets because they scare me) around the turkey. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon marjoram over vegetables. Pour 2 cups broth into pan.

Roast turkey for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Cover entire turkey loosely with foil. Continue roasting for about 2 1/2 hours, basting the bird with the drippings/broth every 30 minutes. The turkey is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Once done, transfer turkey to platter, and let stand 30 minutes.

Strain the pan juices into a large measuring cup, and then remove any excess fat. Add enough chicken broth to pan juices to measure 3 cups. Transfer liquid to a saucepan, and bring to boil. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup maple butter and 1/3 cup flour until smooth. Whisk flour and butter mixture into broth mixture. Stir in remaining thyme and the bay leaf. Boil until reduced to sauce consistency, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, I like to grill some apples sprinkled with cinnamon and arrange them around the turkey, along with extra stuffing. The gravy is amazing alone over the turkey, but I also like to spoon on some cranberry sauce – the flavours are incredible together.

Get ready to become a rockstar at your holiday dinners from now on, because after you make this turkey, you will be known as the official turkey maker of your family/friends/workplace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Monica

Slow-Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken

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I’ve been completely MIA this past week and I apologize – September is always so busy between the Jewish holidays, my sister-in-law’s birthday, my birthday and my dad’s birthday, I barely have time to do anything else. So expect more of me next week when things slow down a bit (definitely come visit next week, when I’ll share my recipe and tips for my famous, absolutely delicious turkey for thanksgiving. 

Last week, I finally tried a crock pot recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a while now; honey-sesame chicken. It turned out absolutely delicious. I got the recipe from The Comfort of Cooking blog, and barely changed a thing (an unusual feat for me). And c’mon, it’s made in a slow cooker -it couldn’t get any easier (or quicker). I also liked that even the process of thickening the sauce happens in the slow cooker, so you don’t need to transfer it to another pot (less to clean!). 

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken 
Serves 4 

4 chicken breasts (you can also use thighs, but we don’t like thighs around here)
Salt and pepper 
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup honey 
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water 
1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds

Place chicken in Crock Pot and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, combine onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oil and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or high for 2 hours. Remove chicken to a cutting board, leaving sauce. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside. In a small bowl or cup, dissolve 4 teaspoons cornstarch in 1/3 cup water; add to crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Cover and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes, or until slightly thickened.

I also made asian-style fried rice (let me know if you want the recipe!), and served the chicken over it, then spooned the sauce over everything. Top with sesame seeds. Yum!

Enjoy!

-Monica

Man Pleasing Chicken

ImageI keep meaning to post this recipe, because it’s seriously the easiest, quickest tastiest chicken recipe out there. It’s so flavourful and tangy yet savoury and sweet all at once. I originally got the recipe from the witty in the city blog, who calls it ‘Man Pleasing Chicken’, and I’ve been sharing it with my friends ever since. I use chicken breasts instead of thighs because D hates thighs – err..chicken thighs. They’re amazing with chicken breasts, probably better than thighs (for us, anyway).

This recipe takes literally a minute to throw together, and 30 minutes in the oven will do it (40 minutes for thighs).

Man Pleasing Chicken

6 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup of dijon mustard
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of rice/rice wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary (or dried if you don’t have fresh)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the dijon mustard, maple syrup and vinegar and set aside. Place the chicken in a foil-lined, oven-proof baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Pour your maple mustard mixture over them, making sure both sides are covered by turning them in the sauce. Cook thighs for 40 minutes, and breasts for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken once they’re ready, and serve with rice (with more sauce!). Garnish with rosemary. Enjoy!

-Monica

5-Layer Magic Squares

Photo from tastebook.com

Happy Friday! Today, I posted my weekly blog for Flyerland.ca – today’s recipe is for 5-layer magic squares. They are so amazingly rich and delicious, and the ultimate lazygirl recipe (People will think you worked really hard on these, I promise). Check out the recipe here.