Fall Food Fiesta Episode 3

I think this will be the last in this fall food series…sigh. Although I haven’t completely resigned myself to starting to cook winter type foods just yet. It feels more like I’m simply refusing to give up apples than anything else lol. Oh well. YOLO. (ugh…I’m THAT girl…)

Basically I’m just obsessed with apples…

In this post I’m sharing two gems with you that I’ve recently discovered…a dinner AND a desert. Boom.

The first I’m going to share with you is somewhat similar to this recipe that I made last year, which I really didn’t care for. So I tried again. Its another attempt at Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onions, Apple, and Bacon. So many things that I love…apples, cheese, caramelized onions, bacon…This time its all arranged in a way thats more delicious.

I won’t take too much time explaining how to make this recipe because I’ve done it a few times before. So I’ll just explain how to make it different from plain caramelized onion mac and cheese.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

To make this you basically just add the bacon and apples to the recipe I linked to above. It’s not difficult. It tasted good. My one note on it was that I used Maple Bacon…which in hind sight was a little off…I think that regular bacon would work best…or maybe smoked.

I also tried my first ever crockpot desert…Crockpot Apple Crisp. Because seriously…how can you not, right? It’s actually really easy to put together. Here’s the biz you’ll need:

  • ~5 granny  apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c butter
Apples on apples...

Apples on apples…Put your peeled and sliced apples in your crockpot and coat with lemon juice.

steps 2 and 3

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, oatmeal). Then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or some forks. Then top the apples with your crumb mixture.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

This recipe will make your house smell AMAZING. A substitution I made was to use about half the oatmeal and use cereal for the other half (Special K Vanilla Almond to be specific, but anything corn flake-like will do). I mixed the crumbs into the apples rather than let it just sit on top so it did make the consistency a little different (not much of a crunchy top) but it still tasted good. You can also add pecans like the original recipe calls for.

When I make this recipe again I will consider using one of those crockpot liners because this was a little bit of a pain to clean up…worth it…but still work.

FUN ACTIVITY ALERT: My lady pals and I had a fun adventure a couple weekends ago so I figured I’d share it. We went to our first ever Blacklight 5K. It was SO FUN. It’s basically the Color Run except its a night and the colors glow under blacklight. It was most definitely NOT 5K…I’d guess it was maybe like 1.5 miles and in terms of logistics it was a bit of a shit show but it was still super fun to walk (running for fun is not my jam) and there was a big dance party at the end and they were throwing tons of color into the crowd.

The Before and After shot

The Before and After shot

I think I may have gotten some color on me....

I think I may have gotten some color on me….

 

What fall foods will you miss most?

 

Its gettin’ hot in herrrrrrree…

Except seriously.

It is disgustingly hot out this week. It’s 6:45 pm as I write this and it is currently 90F. Annnnnnd this girl has no AC. So basically its the worst lol.

But it has inspired me to share a recipe with you that won’t turn your entire house into an oven. Hooray! and then we can catch up on what’s been new in our lives and reminisce about America’s birthday (happy belated bday Ammurica).

This horrible weather is the PERFECT weather for bustin’ out your crockpot. FACT. Because that biz doesn’t heat your house up AT ALL. I recently busted out mine and made some tasty Crockpot Chicken Fajitas. They are super easy and cheap to make which, in this heat, is a major plus. Also they taste great.

Here’s how you can whip some up for yourself-

Biz you’ll need:

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 4..but it depends on how much you want to make)
  • peppers
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fajita seasoning (or taco seasoning if that’s your jam)
  • optional add ons: black beans, corn, chilis, tomatoes, other veggies/beans
  • other stuff for eating: sour cream, cheese, rice, tortillas

Ok so you start by chopping up your veggies and putting them in the bottom of your crockpot.

I like to cut the veggie into big slices so they are more prominent in the fajitas

I like to cut the veggie into big slices so they are more prominent in the fajitas

Then add your corn/beans/tomatoes if you’re using them. Next place your chicken on the veggies and top with the seasonings.

Chicken and spices on top

Chicken and spices on top

Cook on low for 4 or 6 hours, or high for 8 or 10 (depending on your time frame).  Once done, shred the chicken with a fork. I like mine in bigger chunks so I didn’t shred much…but the chicken is so tender you can shred to your personal preference.

mmm...Fajitas!

mmm…Fajitas!

This ended up being a really great last minute meal planning adventure. I hadn’t decided what to make before going to the grocery store so I just figured I’d just throw something together. Notes on this recipe: its really customizable. I went really minimal with my ingredients because I didn’t plan on making them, so get crazy! Also, I had a lot of liquid at the end, so I did use the cover and sort of strain/dump the extra liquid.

Lunch!

Lunch!

I even brought some leftovers to work for lunch. It’s definitely something I’ll make again.

In other news…America just had another birthday…Yahoo! This time, rather than celebrate in Beantown with the gang like last year, I was in California with some fab ladies for our friend J’s WEDDING!!! I had been looking forward to this trip for months because the 5 of us haven’t all been in the same place since 2008….ew…I’m old. We go way back these ladies and I, we met when we became roomies during our semester abroad in Italy five years ago. Since then, life has spread us all over the place…Cali, Arizona, Boston and London. We rented a house for the wedding long weekend and had the best time. And given the nature of this blog I’ll share some of the food adventures as well as the reunion/wedding magic.

On the 4th we had a bitchin’ BBQ (shout out to grill master F) with carne asada, super spicy corn (that I was too chicken to try), homemade guac, roasted veggies, and tasty stuffed portobello mushrooms. After eating we headed to the fireworks!

Happy Birthday America!!

Happy Birthday America!!

The next day was J and D’s wedding! AHHH. It was so much fun! The bride was beautiful! and obvi I cried like sap lol. I was thrilled to be a part of the magic day and share in the start of the happy couple’s new adventure :) Also, the week I spent with these lovely ladies was a BLAST! It was awesome to get to see them again and catch up face to face on all the amazing things going on in their lives…and meet their special someones (who were such amazing sports during all the reunion craziness! love you guys!).

The Florence Girls <3 #viadelmoro4life

The Florence Girls <3 and Mr and Mrs B :)
#viadelmoro4life

I can’t wait to see everyone again!

I hope you all had an amazing holiday and behaved like true patriots (A’mmmuricaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!)

And good luck with this heat!

There’s Always Time for Chicken

Sorry for such a long break between posts. Things have been a bit hectic lately. I just started a brand new job and have been super busy catching myself up to speed on everything. Overall it’s been great so far and I’m much happier. Hooray for positive life changes!

My final two weeks at my old job corresponded with the Boston Marathon bombings and ensuing search and capture of the suspects. So needless to say it was a stressful period. And then I immediately started my new job…so I got a little overwhelmed and my time in the kitchen dropped significantly. I did make one interesting thing during that period that I wanted to share with you all. Better late than never I guess.

I was feeling broke and lazy so I was particularly interested in finding a crockpot creation. When in doubt I always turn to chicken…its pretty hard to screw up chicken. I did a quick search and settled on a recipe. Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken.

As a note: I didn’t turn to my trusty pals over at Google this time…I went directly to a great crockpot site called Get Crocked. I discovered this site a while back and it has HUNDREDS of amazing crockpot recipes.

I realized that I already had most of the ingredients so I figured it would be a smart try. Here’s what you need:

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

  • ~5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c brown sugar (packed)
  • 2/3 c vinegar
  • 1/4 c Sprite (or other similar soda would work too)
  • 2 -3 Tbs garlic
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pepper

Add the chicken to the bottom of the crockpot. Add everything else together, and pour over chicken. Now, I didn’t really pay attention to the directions (whoopsies) and I added everything separate…I don’t think it makes much difference but it may help to mix it first. Cook for 6-8 hours on high.

I cut my chicken breasts in half...I fit 5.

I cut my chicken breasts in half…I fit 5.

IMG_2296 IMG_2297

After 8 hours I had a lot of sauce…Corn starch thickened it a little.

So I have some mixed feelings about this recipe to be honest. A few things concerned me…such as the fact that mine looked very different from the recipe photo (take a peek here). The photo shows a piece of chicken with a sort of sauce coating. Mine was VERY liquid. I read through the comments (which is SOOO helpful sometimes) and realized that others had this problem too. I added some cornstarch to the sauce at the end to thicken it up. (add a few tbs of cornstarch mixed in water FIRST, then add it to the sauce).

It tasted okay. Its not a recipe I will likely rush to make again, but it wasn’t bad either. Next time I will definitely decrease the liquid ingredients. I served it over rice.

I Cook Turkey Whenever I Want…Take THAT Thanksgiving

So I love turkey. I may go so far as to say that is my favorite meat. But its not often that I get to get legit turkey. By legit I mean NOT deli meat…because deli turkey and oven roasted turkey are so different its weird they are both called turkey.

….Fade into a memory…..I spent two years in southern Africa and I can count on one finger the number of times I had turkey…ONE. I had dreams about turkey. My delightful grandmother (Hi Gram) offered to make me my favorite meal once I got home….she made me an amazing thanksgiving worthy meal in the middle of July. And it was AWESOME.

Flash forward to the present. I had yet to tackle a “whole bird” (chicken or turkey) in my crockpot so I decided that now was the time….and by time I mean Turkey Time.

*Let me preface this by noting that it was not just procrastination on my part that kept me from making a turkey. Availability is an issue. My grocery store almost never has the turkey breasts necessary for my cooking endeavors.  Until they finally did :)

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

So this guy is 6.5 lbs

I picked up a 6.5 lb turkey breast at good ole’ Stop&Shop. I could tell by looking that it would fit in my crockpot, but if you’re unsure you should measure before you buy. The one thing I really didn’t think about was Height. I had to hack a little piece off the top of the bird so that my cover could close tight…but that’s not a big deal.

I also cut up a small/medium onion and put it in with the bird, and about 2 cups of apple juice (about 2.5 juice boxes worth). Season with Salt and Pepper too.

Dump it and leave it.

Dump it and leave it.

Then you just put on the cover, cook on low for 8 or 10 hours and go about your business.

Look at this guy....Happy Thanksgiving...Said NO ONE.

Look at this guy….Happy Thanksgiving…Said NO ONE.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Look at all the tasty turkey meat.

Dinner time for this girl!

Dinner time for this girl!

I just whipped up some stuffing and had a yummy dinner.

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone!

I found a wishbone so obviously we had to make a wish!…I didn’t win..womp womp.

As a final note: this is SUPER EASY. I recommend it to everyone who wants to cooks a turkey or whole chicken but doesn’t have the time to sit home and wait…or its summer and you can’t bare to heat your house up!

Hearty Beef Stew to Warm Your Belly

Sandy oh Sandy. As I’m writing this the lightening is flashing and the thunder is booming outside my apartment. We were hit (more like open palmed slapped…half-heartedly) by Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and I figure this is some sort of aftershock-esque weather. I only had to work a half day at work because the T shut down at 2. But to be honest I was radiating with annoyance at having to go into work at all…there’s nothing I love better than a stormy day in my sweat pants. But whatever right? There are people with ACTUAL  problems resulting from Sandy so I’ll stop being a jerk.

this poor guy seems to be the only casualty on my street!

Anyways…I’ve been meaning to post this for like 2 weeks. So I’m sharing it with you now. A few weeks ago I busted out the ‘ole crockpot and whipped up some Beef Stew. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m really not a soup person; it’s just not my jam generally. But I wanted to branch out and give it a go…partly because the weather turned arctic…remember that week? brrrrrr!

It’s actually really easy to put together and you don’t need any other pots or anything…it’s mostly just layering. Here’s how the magic happens: (recipe from Get Crocked)

Hearty Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs. stew beef
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 lg. carrots, peeled & sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 lg. potatoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
  • 1 c. condensed beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1 lg. onion, sliced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  1. Layer potatoes on the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Next, layer carrots on top of potatoes.
  3. Place meat on top of carrots.
  4. Sprinkle meat with soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper & flour.
  5. Layer chopped onions evenly on top of sauce/seasonings.
  6. Combine beef broth & tomato sauce and pour over everything in the crock pot.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hrs. (or high 4 – 5 hrs. if pressed for time

    Now I changed it up a bit to suit my tastes…I added canned corn and a sweet potato as well.

This is an easy recipe for putting the freezer for later cooking, or just feeding yourself slash your family. I think it’s a good one to keep in your arsenal for this winter!