Category: Slow Cooker


Good grief, it’s been almost a year. A year!! SO MUCH has happened in that year, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to come back. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t been in the cards until now. I wasn’t sure if anyone would even care at this point if I came back. But I’ve heard from a few loyal readers (I have loyal readers! I had no idea!) and they’re asking for more. That is so incredibly gratifying, you guys. Seriously. It almost made me cry. I’ve always said that if my blog helps one person enjoy food a little more, I’ll keep going. So here I am, in the kitchen again, with recipes to share. I have some truly amazing food to show you, starting next week 🙂

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So after being informed by my BFF that the print feature I added awhile back actually prints the entire blog post instead of only the recipe like I wanted it to, I have (with a little help from a more experienced blogger) figured out how to make only the recipe in each post printable. Yay! So from now on you will be able to print only the best part of each post: the recipe! And when I get time here and there I will go back and add the feature to all of my other posts (which number 72 as of today, so it may take me a little while to get it done). Thank you all for sticking with me thus far! ❤

Hot damn; I’m bloggin’ again! I can’t tell you how many times in the last 6 months I’ve said to myself “I really want to blog… but I’ve got nothing.” You may ask “Why nothing?” To which I answer “because of the kitchen from hell with which I was making do.” See; when we moved to South Dakota I was in Colorado with the kids and my husband was in the Dakotas/Minnesota area working and it was almost impossible, as the new guy, to get time off to go look at places to live. So we went down to the wire and found the mobile home that would be ours with only a couple of days left before he came back to Colorado to get us. The mobile home was AWFUL but it was what we could get. Unfortunately, the worst part was the kitchen. My stove couldn’t boil a pot of water reliably (I’m not joking), the oven turned out to be incredibly finicky, and I had almost zero counter space. I literally had about a 3 inch width of counter space to work with most of the time, otherwise known as “the counter in front of the sink”. I’m perfectly serious; that’s all I had to work with. The tiny amount of counter to the right of the sink was constantly full of drying dishes and counter top stuff that could go NOWHERE else, the stove had hot spots over the pilot lights for the burners; if you weren’t careful, just setting something on the stove would melt it and I burned myself  a few times by forgetting those hot spots were there. All this to say that as the days wore on and I tried to cook and bake I was met with failure after failure. I’ve cooked in inadequate kitchens before. I started this blog cooking in one, in fact. But the kitchen in that mobile home was totally and completely unusable for anything beyond frozen pizza and what could come out of the microwave. I went back to buying nearly everything premade. Our budget suffered because that stuff is way more expensive than homemade and our waistlines suffered because it’s also far less healthy than what I make from scratch. I haven’t blogged because there was not a single thing coming out of that kitchen that was blog worthy. It was awful. It was depressing. AND IT’S OVER!!!

If you’ll notice, I have been using the past tense in my explanation. We’ve moved! Yes; again. But not only that… We’ve bought a house! It’s in beautiful Northern Wisconsin and in desperate need of interior updating (meaning it’s a very sound house, but the previous owners seem to have not updated the inside since the late 70’s/early 80’s), but it’s ours and at a crazy low price! That means we can afford to make the aesthetic upgrades it needs.

Kitchen

Yeah. Definitely needs some upgrading. But it’s actually MINE! I’m not borrowing it from family or renting it from a landlord. And, get this, the kitchen has crazy amounts of storage space! It may not look like much, but there’s plenty of counter space and very nearly my whole kitchen has been unpacked into it and I have cabinets and drawers left empty! Seriously!! I have never had enough space in my kitchen so this is amazing!!

But, the kitchen not withstanding, I still have a lot of work to do unpacking the rest of our stuff. This being the case, I’m trying to make sure I cook easy meals with as little clean up as possible so I can do what I need to do in the rest of the house. I’ll have plenty of time for kicking around the kitchen after our stuff is unpacked. So this week I’m re-sharing my recipe for Crock Pot Caesar Chicken. It’s quite possibly THE easiest recipe I have in my entire repertoire. It truly is almost as easy as ordering takeout, it tastes fabulous, and there is a very small amount of cleanup. It’s also versatile: serve it as a sandwich, a wrap, on a salad, or even just on Triscuits or crackers!

I’m hoping to start blogging regularly once again. But if I can’t make it every week for awhile, please forgive me. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sticking with me thus far! ❤

Crockpot (Slow Cooker) Caesar Chicken

Crockpot Caesar Chicken

 

 

I’ve had some requests for a “print recipe” feature, so I looked around and found one of those! You can now find a new button on each post. It’s labeled “print and PDF” and it can be found at the very bottom of each post along with the sharing buttons. You’re welcome and thanks for your continued support! ❤

I’ve never been one to keep my opinions on the costs of store bought foods to myself. I fully believe that with a few basic ingredients, the know-how, and a little time, you can make those things at home- usually with better results. There are few departments in the store that illustrate that better than the average supermarket deli, specifically  the meats (and veggies) that come pre-stuffed, pre-marinated, and/or pre-cooked. One of the easiest things to replicate at home is the rotisserie chickens that you can buy in the deli- and that is one of the items with the biggest markup. Here in my little corner of the world a whole deli rotisserie chicken sells for $8-$10, depending upon whether or not it’s on sale. That is absolutely ridiculous!! It’s robbery! Grocery stores must think I’ve completely taken leave of my senses to charge that much. I can make the same thing at home for $4-$6, depending on what kind of sale is going on for whole chickens. And I know that it’s freshly cooked and hasn’t been sitting under a heat lamp for who knows how many hours. AND I can use my oven or my slow cooker. So I can have “rotisserie” chicken year round, without heating up my house too much in the summer! (I’ll put the instructions for that at the end.)

This really isn’t a recipe, it’s more of a method. This is all you need:

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FOUR ingredients. That’s it! Now, you can play around with the flavorings as much as you like. You could use lemon pepper, garlic and herb, ranch, just about anything you can dream up. So play around with it a bit!

First, mix the steak seasoning and the paprika together. You’ll end up with a pretty fair amount.

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That’s a full 1/4 cup of seasoning. It’s more than it looks like, really. Next, take 1 tablespoon of the seasoning and mix it with the butter. A fork works nicely for the job.

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You just made compound butter- well done! A little extra for you: you can roll this into a log using parchment or plastic wrap, freeze or refrigerate it (wrapped well), and cut off pats to put on top of cooked steak. It’s FABULOUS!! Ok, back to the task at hand… Now you need to work on the chicken a bit. This butter needs to go under the skin of the breasts. To do that, you need to create a pocket for it to go into. And to do that, you need to carefully put your index finger under the skin and separate the membrane from the meat- like so:

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Very gently work your finger all the way down the breast. The skin may tear a little, but that happens. Just try to keep that to a minimum. Do this on both sides of the breast.

Next, take half of the butter and create a somewhat rectangular patty. Something like this:

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That butter needs to go under the skin, of course. Gently push the butter into the pocket you created and then massage the outside of the skin to get the butter all the way down the breast. You should end up with the chicken looking like this:

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Repeat on the other side and you’re ready for the next step, which is seasoning the rest of the bird. Take about half of the remaining seasoning and sprinkle it all over the inside of the body cavity. That works best if you hold the chicken vertically (sorry I don’t have a picture of that- not enough hands). The rest of the seasoning goes all over the outside of the chicken.

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I didn’t exactly get it evenly on the outside. Whoops. I’m not perfect. We knew that. Moving on! Put this beautiful bird in the oven and roast it for an hour and a half OR until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165-170. Once you reach that temperature, take the chicken out of the oven, tent the pan with foil, and let the whole thing sit for about 20 minutes to rest.

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Isn’t that pretty! Do you see how the skin split on top? That is why you want to be as gentle as possible when creating the pockets under the skin. I created a tear (you can see it above) and the skin tightening made the tear much bigger. This chicken is fine- but any bigger a tear would have had bad results for the meat.

Now take the chicken out of the pan and put it on a platter or large cutting board and either carve it to serve as a meal or let it cool enough to handle and debone it. I made this specifically to use for other meals; I wasn’t planning on serving this to anyone as dinner. I just took all of the meat off the bone. Here’s what I ended up with:

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I kept the legs whole because my daughters love them. The rest will just go into the freezer, divided into portions to use in other meals (casseroles, soups, pot pies, etc.). I should note that I’m not great at stripping the meat off of carcasses. I cannot stand to eat gristle or a lot of fat. So yes; there was meat left on the bones that I didn’t bother with because I just can’t stomach it. Other people will probably get more meat than I did. Either way, this is still WAY cheaper than buying a rotisserie chicken from the store. And the flavor is worlds better than store bought! Not to mention the amazing aroma the roasting chicken sends through your home 🙂

The Recipe:

1 Whole Chicken, 3-4 Lbs.

3 T Montreal Steak Seasoning

1 T Paprika

1 Stick Butter, softened

The Method:

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

*Mix seasonings together.

*Stir 1 T seasoning mixture into the butter. A fork works well for this.

*Create pockets under the skin of the chicken breasts, gently working your index finger under the skin on each side.

*Divide the compound butter mixture in half. Form a flattened rectangular shape out of each half and slip one rectangle in each pocket you created.

*Carefully massage the outside of the breast skin to spread the butter all the way down each side of the breast.

*Turn the chicken so the cavity hole is facing up (the chicken will be vertical)  and sprinkle half of the remaining seasoning all over the inside of the chicken.

*Lay the chicken down in the roasting dish again, breast side up. Rub the rest of the seasoning all over the outside of the chicken.

*Roast the chicken until a thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165-170. It usually takes an hour & a half to an hour & 45 minutes for my oven, but those times vary; the thermometer method is safer than just timing it.

*Once that temperature has been reached, remove the chicken from the oven, tent the pan with foil, and let the whole thing rest 15-20 minutes.

*If serving as a meal, carve and serve.

*If using for other dishes, remove the chicken to a platter or large cutting board. Let cool until easily handled, and debone. Divide the chicken into proper portions (according to the dishes you plan to use it in), store in freezer appropriate containers (I use plastic and then foil), mark said containers with the date and contents, and freeze. Use as desired.

*When using in other dishes, keep in mind that this chicken will add flavor to the dish. You will need to adjust the salt and pepper of the final dish accordingly! 

*For the Slow Cooker:

*Prepare as above.

*Spray or otherwise lubricate the crock of a large slow cooker (mine is 6.5 quarts and the chicken fits perfectly with no extra room on the sides. A smaller crock would be too small).

*Fold an aluminum, disposable pie tin into thirds and place on the bottom of the slow cooker. This is to keep the chicken off of the bottom of the crock. Alternatively, you could make large balls of aluminum foil to put under the chicken. If you have a roasting rack that fits in your crock, that’s fine too. The point is: keep the chicken off of the bottom of the crock for this method!

*Place the chicken on the tin (or whatever you used to hold it up), put the lid on the crock, and set the slow cooker to high. 

*Cook the chicken 4-5 hours, until the temperature reads as stated above. Remember: when you take the lid off of a crock pot you add about 30 minutes to the cooking time. So do this judiciously. 

*Once cooked, continue as stated for the oven method. 

I’ve certainly made no secret of my love for Autumn here on this blog and in life in general. However, that love doesn’t carry over to the sports that come with it. Well, one sport in particular: American football. It’s not that I’m against sports entirely; I’m not. Rugby is awesome, soccer is pretty damn cool, and jai alai just rocks. But American professional football… BLECH!! I despise it. The players are GROSSLY over paid and mostly they’re a bunch of thugs in tight pants made into (undeserving) idols. Thankfully I can pretty much ignore football season. I have several die hard football fan friends on Facebook, but I can either just ignore the posts or hide them if they get too numerous. In fact, I did such a good job of ignoring football the last couple of years that I didn’t even know who was playing in the Superbowl until a day or so before the game! HOWEVER, all that being said, I do have to admit that I like cooking for people who watch football. Cooking fun, comforting food for a group of people is always right up my alley and football watchers definitely require that! So while I know (and care) very little about the rules of the game, I certainly know what the game obsessed like to eat and I enjoy supplying the food they’ll eat and providing a fun atmosphere 🙂

One of the best football watching/fall foods is chili… well, anything really. Chili dogs, chili cheese fries, chili nachos, chili mac, the list goes on. You can put chili on just about anything. But this isn’t chili such as you would eat out of a bowl with some cornbread on the side. Actually, I don’t care for that chili much. I think it’s the cumin- I’ve never really liked cumin as a defining flavor. That’s the version of chili you find in the Western US. What I like is the Eastern US’s version of chili: no beans, no cumin, and it’s usually served over spaghetti (look up “chili 5 way” and you’ll find an interesting meal!). This chili is more of a condiment than a meal in itself. And it’s incredibly easy to make. (You can also make this in the crock pot, but I’m doing the stove top version. I’ll put the crock pot directions below.) We’ll start with what you probably already have on hand…

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See? I bet you don’t even have to run to the store for any of that, do you? I love it when that happens! Oh- and I can hear you now “The Humble Food Snob is BUYING garlic in a jar?!?! Isn’t that contrary to what you’ve been saying all along about knife skills and economy?!” Sigh… Yes; it is. Under normal circumstances, I disdain jarred garlic. But under normal circumstances I have access to great garlic at one store or another. Large heads of garlic with nice big cloves and no green shoots in the center… what a fond memory. And that’s all it is; a memory. Because in my current locale, all that’s available at the 2 grocery stores are tiny heads of garlic about 3/4 the size of an egg with pathetic little cloves that are more work than they’re worth to peel. AND every head I’ve purchased so far has been growing already, which means I have to dissect the tiny cloves to remove the bitter shoots. So until I can grow my own garlic, I will be buying jarred garlic. Thankfully they offer it at a decent price here.

Anyway… You may notice that the amounts in this picture and the amounts in the recipe below don’t jive. I know that. I went from a normal sized freezer plus a stand alone freezer to store things in at my last residence, to just a tiny freezer in a small, 30 year old fridge. That means it’s also got an inch of frost taking up room. Is being in our own home and away from the awful situation we were in worth it? A thousand times YES!! Does it mean I have to change the way I do some things? Yes again. And that’s ok. So instead of the full batch I’m making a half batch. (And incidentally, a recipe I found that helped inspire this makes double what’s below! 😮 )

So brown your ground beef. You can also use ground turkey or chicken, but you’ll need to make sure there is about half a cup of fat of one kind or another to soak up the flour to make the roux. It can be olive or vegetable oil, or you could use bacon fat- that would be a great addition! While the meat is browning, dice your onion. Don’t drain your meat. Like I said; you’ll need the fat. Add the onions and cook until they’re soft- about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. You want the flour to cook but not burn. It should look almost like there is no flour:

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Now you can add the water and the tomato sauce. I usually add the sauce first and then put the water in the can and swish it around to get the last traces of the sauce out of the can. Why waste it? Along with the water and tomato sauce, add the spices. Give it a good stir, and you’ve got this:

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Put a tight fitting lid on this and bring it to a boil. Give it a stir, lower the heat until it’s at a slow simmer, replace the lid, and go do something else for awhile. You’ll need to come back and stir the pot about twice an hour, but other than that you’ve got 2 hours to kill. I’d suggest watching something with Robin Williams in it. Never forget what it feels like to laugh with your whole body and soul- the world needs more of that. The Birdcage is my particular favorite of his 🙂

Once 2 hours have ticked by, take the lid off, give the pot another stir, and let the chili simmer for about an hour without the lid, stirring every 15 minutes or so. It may take a little more or less than an hour. Just keep an eye on it. You want to end up with a chili that is very thick.

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I know; it doesn’t LOOK a whole lot different. But it has reduced by about two thirds to half. Go ahead and give it a taste and adjust the salt and/or pepper. Don’t add too much pepper though- now is when you add the red pepper flakes if you want a milder chili. If you’re looking for spicy chili, add the red pepper flakes with the rest of the spices before you simmer the pot.

I was supposed to have a wonderful money shot for this post: A plate with hot dogs smothered in chili with melty cheese on top. But then I went and landed myself in the urgent care. I’ll be ok. But it cost me my blog picture. So sadly, I do not have a great shot of this tasty chili in action. But I do have a tip for freezing the leftovers. Here you go:

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I prefer to have thinner, wrapped packages of food that I can stack several packages high instead of plastic containers that limit my storage and break when I inevitably drop one. So I line plastic food storage containers with plastic wrap and divide the (completely cooled) food into them. Each of these containers will make one meal’s worth of chili dogs.

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Put these in the freezer, come back in a couple of hours, lift the sides of the plastic to remove, wrap the food, and you’re good to go! I usually do 2 layers of plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil, like so:

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Make sure you mark the package with the contents and the date it was made. That way you don’t have to unwrap your packages and try to guess what’s in them.

So there you go: a jumping off point for lots of hearty recipes to get you through the fall and winter; from watching sports on TV to tail gating to coming in off the slopes or the sled hills.

As promised, Here is what you need to do to make this chili in a crock pot (slow cooker):

– Brown the meat, saute the onions and garlic, and add/cook the flour as described above.

– Transfer the mixture to the crock of the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients.

– Remember to not add the red pepper flakes until after cooking unless you want SPICY chili.

– Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

-Here’s the caveat to making this chili in the slow cooker: you need to let it cook with the lid off for about the last hour, just like the stove top version. And you need to stir it a few times. When it’s the consistency you want you can take it out. This is a deal breaker for some, because they want whatever is in the slow cooker to be ready when they get home from work or wherever. If that’s the case, I’d advise making it on a day off and reheating what you have set aside. You can’t tell it’s been reheated, so it’s not a problem.

The Recipe:

2 Lbs. Ground Beef

2 Onions, diced fine

4-6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 C + 1 T All Purpose Flour

29 Oz. Can Tomato Sauce

8 Oz. Water

2 t Salt

2 t Seasoned Salt

2 t Pepper (Black or White, doesn’t matter)

1/4 C Chili Powder (don’t let the amount scare you- it’s not really spicy at all)

1/3 C Sugar

1 t (or to taste) Red Pepper Flakes (this is what will make it spicy)

The Method:

*In a large soup or stock pot, brown the ground beef. Do not drain!

*Add the onions and saute 3-4 minutes, until the onions are fragrant and soft.

*Add the garlic and saute 2-3 minutes.

*Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine, cooking 3-4 minutes. Don’t let the roux burn!

*Add the tomato sauce and the water, swishing the water in the sauce can to get the remnants out.

*Stir in the spices (adding the red pepper flakes now only if you want spicy chili).

*Cover the pot and bring the chili to a boil.

*Stir, lower the heat to a slow simmer, replace the cover and cook 2 – 2 1/2 hours, stirring a couple of times per hour.

*Uncover the pot and continue to slowly simmer for about an hour, until the chili is very thick.

*Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and/or pepper if needed.

*If you haven’t added them before now, stir the red pepper flakes in.

The weather has been blissfully cool and gloomy for the last few days. I’ve been in heaven! And today… Oh, today! It’s cool with a tiny breeze and the sunshine has been gentle and golden; today is a perfect early autumn day. By the time you read this, a few days will have gone by and we could very well be in the 80’s again. So I am enjoying every second of today. We had fire grilled steak for a leisurely lunch and for dessert after an equally leisurely dinner I have apple crisp planned. No, the oven is still not fixed. I have decided to start finding alternative methods of dessert production. As it turns out, the slow cooker is actually pretty fair at making desserts. I have found several recipes that I will be trying and, probably, posting here. I have been craving apple crisp terribly and decided to try it in the slow cooker. It worked really well! You just have to plan ahead a little more than you would with the oven version because it takes about 4 hours to cook in the slow cooker as opposed to only an hour in the oven. This would be perfect to start in the morning on a weekend day, go do whatever the day has in store, and then come home to for lunch. The smell is every bit as awesome as the oven version and so is the taste! The only difference is the topping. It doesn’t actually get crispy like it does in the oven. But that is really the only “down side” of using the slow cooker.

The ingredients are the same for the slow cooker version as they are for the oven version…

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I prefer to use a mixture of tart and sweet apples for crisp. The flavor of the end product is delightfully intriguing and you get the added bonus of not needing to use as much processed sugar because of the sweeter apples that are included. The apples I chose this time are Granny Smith and Galas. You have to make sure you choose nice, firm Gala apples for cooking or baking. Sometimes Galas can be mealy and those won’t hold their shape when cooked; they’ll just turn to mush. To find a firm Gala apple, give it a light flick. If the flick produces something akin to the sound you get when you bite into a crisp apple you’re in business. If the flick produces a sound akin to a dull “thump” then you have a soft and/or mealy apple that you don’t want to use.

Start by getting as big a bowl as you can manage and fill it about halfway with cold water- use a stockpot if you have to because you need ALOT of room for the apples. Add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the water and you have acidulated water. This is perfect for keeping your apples from turning brown as you work with them. Now peel your apples and put them in the water. After you’re done peeling them all, core and slice them into 1/4 inch slices, taking one apple from the water at a time and returning the slices to the water. Set the apples aside and move on to the topping. Here is your new best friend when it comes to cutting butter in to flour in just about any recipe:

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Yep. A grater. Normally I would use a box grater, but as mine is packed this is what I use when I need a grater. Make sure your butter is frozen, then grate it using the larger holes. Be careful as you grate the butter- it’s a fat so it can get slippery. I use the wrapper to hold the butter for as long as I can as I grate it. Here is what you end up with:

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Little pieces that are SO much easier to work into flour with the cutter! Now you can mix the flour, part of the brown sugar, and the oats together, then put them into the bowl with the butter. Mix the whole lot with a fork to get the butter off the bottom of its bowl and then use a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour. (If you’re using the knives, use butter knives and hold one in each hand so that it looks like you are trying to cut something on a plate, only with 2 knives instead of a fork and a knife. That is also the basic motion you’re going for- overlap the knives side-by-side in the middle and “cut” away from each other.) Cut the butter in until you get a crumbly texture with pieces the size of small peas. Like so…

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Once the topping is done, butter or grease the crock of a large slow cooker. I use butter because I’m trying to get away from cooking sprays & other nasty things. Use whatever you like. Now drain the apples in a colander, put them back in the big bowl, and add the rest of the sugar and the spices. Stir the apples & sugar together and then pour the mixture into the crock. Put the topping on and press down gently so that it’s slightly packed, thusly…

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Put the lid on and cook the apple crisp for about 4 hours. If you’d like, you can take the lid off for the last 20 minutes to firm up the topping a bit, but it’s not imperative. It will be tasty either way!

The result is awesome! So long as you don’t cook the crisp any longer than about 4 hours, the apples will have great texture and the flavor is wonderful. The only “problem” I have with this method is that you end up with a little bit of runny liquid in the final product. With the oven method the syrup or juice boils down into a nice thick pie-filling type thing. That can’t happen in the slow cooker. There isn’t a lot of it and if you stir the apple crisp up in the bowl you eat it out of you really don’t notice it. But if that’s a turnoff for you, you could just add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the apples when you mix in the sugar & spices.

Like most other people, I like to serve my apple crisp with ice cream. But UNlike most other people, I like to serve mine with butter pecan ice cream. The flavor and richness it adds is almost obscene 😉

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Now that Autumn is officially here I am so excited to start eating the foods of the season- and this is the perfect way to start! Next week I will be bringing you another quintessential food of fall; pumpkin! But I promise you: this is NOT the typical pumpkin treat. This will take pumpkin pie to a whole new level- and make it perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast! And no; it’s not yet ANOTHER muffin or bread recipe. Stay tuned!

The Recipe:

8 Large Apples ( a mix of tart and sweet), Peeled, Cored, and Sliced to 1/4″

1 t Cinnamon

1/8 t Nutmeg (don’t omit this just because it’s a tiny amount! It will add a wonderful flavor!)

1 C Brown Sugar, Divided

3/4 C Flour

3/4 C Old Fashioned Oats (NOT quick cooking)

1/2 C Butter, Frozen, Grated

The Method:

*Butter or spray the crock of a large slow cooker (mine is 6 quarts. Anything smaller than 4 or 5 quarts is too small).

*Combine the flour, oats, and 3/4 C of the brown sugar.

*Cut the butter into the flour mixture and set aside.

*In a large bowl, combine apples with the remaining brown sugar and the spices.

*Spread the apples evenly in the crock, followed by the topping.

*Pack the topping very slightly onto the apples.

*Cover with the lid and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

*If desired, leave the lid off for the final 20 minutes of cooking to firm the topping up a bit.

*Garnish with ice cream (seriously- butter pecan is incredible with this!), whipped cream, or eat as is.

The food snob part of me has always abhorred the idea of “10 minute dinner recipes” or- even worse- “5 minute dinner recipes”. I’ve always felt that if you consistently have only 5 or 10 minutes to prepare your dinner then you need to reevaluate your schedule. It means your schedule is so full on a regular basis that you don’t have time to eat real food and that means you’re eating processed junk, spending way too much money on pre-cut and/or pre-cooked food from the deli department, or spending way, WAY too much money on eating out multiple times a week. This type of lifestyle is not only unnecessarily hard on your wallet but also on your body. It means you’re going so fast so often that you can’t use meal times for their original purpose- recharging your batteries. Let’s face facts: if you have only 10 minutes to make dinner you really don’t have much more time than that to eat it either and that is not good for you- body or soul. But really this post isn’t about taking more time to cook your meals. Even with all I just said I have found that there are days every now and then that I have so much to do that I really do have only 5 minutes to put dinner together. This is one of the dinners I make when things are going to be crazy- like yesterday. We have one large grocery trip each month when we go to Sam’s Club and King Soopers on the same day. We usually have more to do than just going to the store so those days are pretty hectic. (For the record, we do small trips too for milk & the like. It’s just easier for us to do one big trip a month.) So on the big shopping day each month I use an easy dinner recipe in my menu plan. It has to be fast, easy to prepare, and have a minimum of cleanup involved. Crockpot Caesar Chicken fits all 3 requirements and is really good. So here’s one more to add to your “quick meals” file, which- hopefully- you are not using every single night :.)

This recipe has 4 ingredients. That’s it. Four. It’s seriously that simple.

I know- it looks like 5. It’s not. The bowl on the left is the strained liquid from the chicken. That would be the Crockpot part. You put the chicken in your Crockpot on low (with no extra liquid) in the morning and leave it all day. I even put my chicken in frozen. There is some debate as to whether or not putting frozen meat in the Crockpot is safe. Personally I think it’s fine for some kinds of meat. Putting frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts or similarly sized pieces of frozen meat in the Crockpot is fine with me. What I will not do is put a whole roast, chicken, or other large piece of meat in if it’s frozen. Then you really are inviting bacteria to come and make you, your family, and your friends violently ill. So go ahead- put the frozen chicken breasts in the Crockpot, turn it on, and leave for the day if you’re comfortable with it. If not- use thawed chicken.

After slow cooking the chicken for at least 7-8 (or 5-6 if using thawed chicken) hours take it out of the juice, shred it (it will be so tender that all you have to do is mash it a bit with a fork), and set it aside. Strain the juice leftover in the Crockpot and reserve it. Put the chicken back into the Crockpot and turn it on low. Add about 3/4 of a cup of the reserved liquid, then about half a bottle of your favorite Caesar salad dressing, give it a good stir, put the lid back on, cook for about another half an hour, add 1/2 a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and serve over Romain lettuce. That’s it- you’re ready to eat. OR you can serve it right after you add the dressing. Just add the cheese at the same time and serve.

Doesn’t that look tasty? It was- I assure you. I serve this on a Kaiser roll but any soft roll or bread will do. Or you could serve it on the lettuce alone as a salad and it would be equally delicious. The cold leftovers are just as good as the original- maybe even better. And all the prep combined totals about 5 minutes- a little more if you have to chop the lettuce. I bought mine pre-chopped because it was the best looking stuff at the store at the time. So here you have it; “5 minute recipe” convenience, great taste, and pocket-book friendly. What more could you want?

The Recipe:

1 Lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

1/2 Bottle Caesar Salad Dressing

1/2 C Parmesan Cheese, shredded

Romaine Lettuce, chopped (amount depends on if you’re making this into sandwiches or salads)

The Method:

*Cook chicken in Crockpot at least 7  hours (6 if using thawed chicken).

*Remove and shred chicken.

*Strain remaining liquid.

*Add chicken and 3/4 C reserved liquid back into Crockpot along with the dressing and stir to combine.

*Cook on low at least 30 minutes.

*Take off heat, add the cheese and serve over the Romaine as a sandwich or salad.

*OR Add cheese along with the dressing and serve immediately. The chicken will still be great, it just won’t have time to take on the flavor of the dressing as much as if it had been allowed to continue cooking.