Friday, October 26, 2012

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti



Cooking spray (I have the Olive Oil kind)
One 24 oz can of Hunts Pasta Sauce ( I used Traditional flavor)
16 oz Penne Pasta
About 2 cups Monterey Jack or Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
1 cup Water
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Spray the crock with the cooking spray.
Rinse the pasta with cool water in a colander.
Put in about 1/3 of the pasta (a couple of handfuls-ish), then spoon on some of the sauce (about 1/3 of the can), then top with about 1/3 of the cheese.
You get where this is going, dont you? Yeppers, just keep layering this way until you have 3 layers.
At this point I then took about 1 cup of water and put it in the sauce can, and swished it around to pick up the remaining sauce. Then I poured that around the outside edge of the pasta. {The reason I did this is because several of the recipes I researched said that the pasta had a few dry spots. I figured the water would help out a bit.}

**Confession time: I didnt have any ground beef, so I did put in some leftover cooked, shredded chicken in the first two layers.  If I had ground beef, I probably would have cooked up about a pound of it instead, and layered it in with the sauce and cheese.**

Plug in the slow cooker and set it on high for 2-3 hours. Because of our schedules today, I had to set it on high for 2 hours, and then 2 hours on low.

MMmm!, this is cheesy, creamy, and so simple! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

EASY Chicken Soft Tacos

Aloha! Since schedules are a bit different in this active household, I've sometimes had to cook ahead to accommodate when we eat.  Once again, I used the Crock Pot {slow cooker} to cook the chicken. It kept the apartment somewhat cooler, and right before assembling the tacos, all I had to do was shred!

Easy Chicken Soft Tacos
One pound of chicken {I used boneless, skinless thighs}
2 cups of water
Taco seasoning {I use a homemade one, but you can use what you like}
Lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, cheese
6 to 8 Flour tortillas {I used the medium size}

Place the chicken in the slow cooker and cover with the water. Plug it in. {why did I just put that in, any guesses?} Set to cook on high for 4 hours OR low for 6 hours.
An alternate way of cooking the chicken is to boil a pot of water on the stovetop, and cook the chicken for about 15-20 minutes. {In case you forgot to plug in the slow cooker!}

Shred the cheese {that is, if you're a penny-pincher like me and you bought a block of cheese. Skip this step if you went hog-wild at the store and bought the pre-shredded bag of cheese}.
Then, of course you will have to tear or chop up some lettuce, too. And the tomato will need diced. You know the drill... I dont need to tell you all of this, do I?

Once your chicken is done, you'll need to shred it. Here is a really cool way to shred your chicken:

Yep, its that simple. Just put the HOT chicken pieces into the mixer bowl, use the paddle attachment and it takes about 30 seconds to a minute. Mind blown? Yep!
Unfortunately, my DIL doesn't have a Kitchen Aid mixer {yet! Christmas is commin}, so I just shredded using 2 forks. The chicken was so tender, it was very easy.

You can add the taco seasoning at this time, if youd like. Add whatever amount makes you happy, but still makes your family happy, too. Around here, "less-is-more" so I actually went with none today.

To heat the flour tortillas, put a stack of 6 in between 2 dampened paper towels, and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Zap it for about 1 minute, flip the stack over, and give it another 1 minute zap. 
To make everyone happy, I put all the ingredients out in separate bowls and let them assemble their tacos to their own liking. {Three adults ate two tacos each, and they were satisfied.}

Blessings ~ Juju

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gooey Oreo Bars (No Bake!)


As I’ve promised, I am posting about the challenges of cooking in a teeny-tiny kitchen.   As you will see from the photos, there is basically one small counter to use to prepare food. There is no dishwasher, so the other counter has the dish drainer on it, which is in constant use…you can’t leave dirty dishes out in this warm tropical climate, the smell will overpower this small space within minutes. ‘Nuf said. On to the good stuff ~

Gooey No Bake Oreo Bars
1 (16 oz) package Oreo cookies (yes, you can use the flavored ones!)
1 bag Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows (about 5 cups)
4 Tablespoons Butter (or margarine, but not in this house!)
Extra butter, about 1 Tablespoon
Waxed or parchment paper

Butter an 8x8” baking dish.  Then, line it with some waxed paper or parchment paper, allowing some overhang. Butter the paper, too. You’ll thank me later.
Grind the cookies in a food processor until they resemble coffee grounds. I had to use my DIL’s small food processor, and do small batches, putting the ground up cookies into an extra bowl.
Put the marshmallows and butter into a microwave safe bowl, and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes (it will puff up!). Again, since the microwave is small, so I had to use a smaller bowl than I normally would, but I just kept an eye on it, so it didn’t puff over the bowl.
Immediately stir the ground cookies and the marshmallow mixture together. By hand. You’ll get a good 2-minute workout.
At last you can plop the mixture into your prepared dish, and using an extra piece of waxed paper, press it into the pan.
I put it into the fridge for about 15 minutes, but it doesn’t really get very firm. Cut into pieces; you can choose how big or how small you want to cut ‘em. I won’t judge.

It is oooey, gooey Oreo goodness! Enjoy!

Blessings, Juju

Thursday, October 18, 2012

{Slow Cooker} Mashed Potatoes




Serves 6 really hungry people



About 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (whatever variety you have: redskins or russets, I like the kind from Idaho.)
Enough regular ol tap water to cover them in the crock pot (about 4 cups)
Salt & Pepper
Milk  (non-fat or full fat, whichever you like or anything in between. Some people like Almond milk)
Butter  (real or fake-margarine-butter-tasting-spread stuff, your preference)

I like simple. And perfectly simple. So heres the simply perfectly simple recipe:
1. Peel & cube the potatoes. Toss em in the crock-pot. If you dont like the word crock-pot, call it a slow cooker. Cover them with water.

2. Turn the whatever-you-call-it on Low for about 6 hours, and then check the taters with a fork to see if they are soft enough to mash. If there is any water left in the crock, you will probably need to drain it off, unless of course you like watery mashed potatoes.
3.  Yep, you guessed itMash em. (Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew”….Name that kids movie!)
4. Now, add some butter, salt, and pepper so that theyll taste the way you like em. Thats what they mean by to taste.
  
5. Finally, add some milk to make em creamy, and at this point I would get the mixer out and whip em, whip em good.  Enjoy making this simple potato dish!
Blessings ~  Juju