Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I adore this dish. From the second I saw this recipe on the cooking board I frequent (it's a very popular recipe there) I knew I had to try it. Doug and I love Mexican food and salsa, chicken, and cheese are some of our favorite ingredients. Not to mention the very strong love I have for my crockpot. So this recipe was made for me.

This is probably one of the easiest recipes ever. I literally throw everything in the crockpot in about 2 minutes, turn it on, and I'm done. And if I can manage this at 6 am anyone can do it.

This also is excellent as leftovers, I think it's one of those recipes that gets better the next day, and it makes quite a bit. I love making this and having it for lunches for the next few days.

Also, I'm breaking one of my own rules here and am posting this without pictures. I swear I took one but I think maybe the camera ate it. So I figure I'll post this now and next time I make it I'll get a picture and add it.

Salsa Chicken

Adapted. I don't know where this originated, so let me know if you do!

4-6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts - Fresh or Frozen (I buy a bag of frozen breasts from the grocery store when on sale and throw the whole bag in still frozen)

1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Cup Salsa of Choice (I use mild)

1 Packet Taco Seasoning (I have a big container of it and just sprinkle it over the chicken)

Taco Shells, Nacho Chips, or Rice to put this on and your favorite taco toppings. I put this into shells and top with Sour Cream and Shredded Cheese.

Place chicken in bottom of crockpot.

Cover with taco seasoning.

Combine soup and salsa, spread over chicken.

Cook on low for about 7 hours or until chicken is done. I usually cook this for 8+ hours while I'm at work and it's always perfect. Just make sure your chicken is fully cooked since crockpots cook differently.

Shred chicken - I use two forks to tear apart the pieces until they resemble what a BBQ pulled pork sandwich looks like. Stir to make sure the chicken is well coated in the sauce.

Eat however you like.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tater Tot Casserole

So I have two confessions with this recipe.

The first is that I'm so late in posting this that we actually ate this when it was cold out. And it was a perfect meal for a cold night. I'm sure it's probably just as good now, but I haven't made it in about 3 months (at least).

And second, I have to confess my inspiration for making this. It's the Duggar family. You probably know who they are. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle and their 18 kids (and one daughter-in-law and one grandbaby-bun-in-the-oven), who live in Arkansas. They had a number of specials on TLC and now have a regular 30 minute show (18 Kids and Counting). Plus, and this is part two of this confession, they have a book out(The Duggars: 20 and Counting), and I just read it last week.

I find the Duggars pretty interesting. I'm not totally sure why that is. I don't think I have a lot in common with them really. But I could totally see myself hanging out with some of those Duggar girls, maybe they could even give me some hair pointers. But whatever it is I get sucked into that show. As a matter of fact I got sucked into the two episodes on this past Tuesday when I was packing. Luckily Doug doesn't know who the Duggars are, because I'm pretty sure that he'd make fun of me if he did.

Anyway, it was the Duggars who inspired me to make this meal. They talk about it on one of their specials, apparently it is a very popular meal amongst the family and I can see why. It sounds really good (to me at least). So when Doug came home one day and said that a coworker had been eating tater tot casserole and it smelled good I knew I needed to make this.

I should address that, yes, this has Cream of soup in it. Like I've said before, this doesn't really bother me. We eat things with it very rarely and I always make sure to get the low sodium/fat kind. Plus I'm pretty sure there are worse things out there for you than this.

Also, this reheats incredibly well. I was really impressed with this as leftovers. And it makes a lot, so you will have leftovers! Enjoy!

Tater Tot Casserole
Inspired by the Duggar Family

1 Pound Ground Turkey
2 Small Cans Cream of Chicken Soup*
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Small Bag Frozen Tater Tots

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Brown turkey, season to preference (I usually use some garlic powder and season salt).

Combine turkey, 3/4 cup of cheese, and soup in a large bowl, stir well. Place mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 pan, spread to cover the whole pan.

Cover mixture with bag of tater tots (still frozen).

Follow directions on the tater tot bag for how long to cook.

Add remaining shredded cheese and place back into oven until cheese melts.

Let sit for a minute to cool (it gets really hot!), serve and enjoy.

*You could also do one can of Cream of Chicken and one can Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Cheese.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some Announcements

Did you have daily announcements in school? In high school we had them at the start of 7th period and the principal would always say "we're rolling into 7th period" and we always wondered why we were "rolling" into it.

Um, wow, can we say tangent? Anyway it's time for some announcements that have to do with Central Cooking.

- I'm way behind on updates. I promise I really do make more than TWD recipes, we eat real meals - I promise! So I'm hoping to get caught up with these soon and get them set to post every few days (this has something to do with another announcement too).

- There's a new (I think) baking group out there I'm thinking about joining, so be on the lookout for that.

- Central Cooking is on Twitter now (you may have noticed the addition to the side bar)! I decided to follow the lead (read - copy) some of my favorite food bloggers and create a page. So you can now follow me on there at @CentralCooking.

- I started a new all-things-not-cooking blog (you might have seen this on the side bar too). I've got some other exciting things going on in my life now (see the next announcement) and didn't want to clutter up CC with them, but still wanted to blog about them. So I created Something To Crow About (STCA). It seriously covers everything that isn't cooking, whatever random thoughts pop into my head, what I'm reading now, what I'm currently obsessed with, my workouts, it's all there. So check it out!

- And finally, the biggest news of all: we bought a house! After looking for a few months Doug and I finally found an awesome little house and had an offer in and accepted before said house had been on the market for 3 days. You can read all about house hunting, the new house, packing, and (coming soon) moving over on STCA. We close on July 24th, so really soon!

I'm sure that you all are curious about the kitchen. Well, it's awesome! After what I've been cooking in for the last almost 2 years this kitchen is fit for a queen! It's nice and open with lots of cabinets and counter space. It needs some paint but that's really it. So, after we get moved in I'll be sure to post some before and after pics (the rest of the house will be on STCA). I'm thinking that I may also do some posts about packing up a kitchen and then organizing one, because I know those are topics I've been hunting for lately.

This is also why I'm so eager to catch up on my posts. I figure I have another week of cooking in our current place and then it will be mostly sandwiches for a while (we also have a trip to Indianapolis at the end of this month, so there will be some yummy meals there). So hopefully I can get a lot of posts written up and set to post over the next couple of weeks.

So, what does this mean for Central Cooking? It means great things, that's what! I'm already dreaming of all the things I'm going to be able to make now that I didn't have the room to before, such as cinnamon rolls, bread, candy, etc. Also we will have an extra fridge/freezer and a deep freeze, so expect to see some make ahead freezer meals pop up from time to time, as well as some bulk cooking. Plus I'm already thinking of all the treats I can make for the holidays since I won't be limited on counter space and table room (there's tons of room to set up extra tables for things to cool/set up on if needed). Last Christmas I was really limited and actually had to rotate cookies around our house to find room for new batches, not anymore!

So, expect great things from Central Cooking in the future, and thanks for hanging in with me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD: Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies

I actually made these a while ago, which is a very good thing because we had a slight electrical issue in our kitchen at the end of last week and it threw the kitchen into shambles. So, I don't have a picture but I can attest that these are very good.

So, check out the other TWD bakers to see their yummy brownies.

This week's recipe was picked by the winner of the contest to design the new TWD logo, Lisa of Surviving Oz. Check out her site for the recipe.

Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 96-97.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mastering the Basics: Omelettes

One of my kitchen related goals for this year is to master what I consider to be cooking basics. These are things that I think make up the basis for a great kitchen repertoire and a very happy cook. I'm really late in getting started with these posts, but expect to see them over the rest of the year.

The first basic I decided to master is the omelette. I love omelettes. I order them pretty much whenever we eat breakfast out. And I'm a total purist when it comes to what I want in mine, just a couple of items is all I want, I like to still be able to taste the eggs and enjoy whatever is in the omelette. So, with as much as I love these breakfast menu mainstays, it is rather surprising, at least to myself, that I've never made one before. I mean there was even a recipe for an omelette in my cookbook for kids I had growing up. But for some reason I always went with scrambled eggs when I wanted a break from plain ole eggs.

But not anymore! Now that I've made this awesome item at home it is definitely going to become a kitchen regular at our house!

First Attempt

When I decided to make these I turned to my usual source for enlightenment, the Internet. I ended up reading a number of omelette recipes and then just going into the kitchen and throwing things in a bowl. This is my take on an omelette.

Second Attempt

Simple Omelette

3 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Water

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fillings of Choice

Mine had: a little more than 1/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese and 2 strips of bacon, crumbled

Doug's had: the same amount of Cheddar cheese and 3 strips of bacon, crumbled

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and put over medium heat.

Whisk eggs and water until thoroughly combined, add salt and pepper.

Pour into skillet and let cook until the egg mixture is firm and not runny (some cooks swear by keeping the egg just a tiny bit runny and shiny, but I'm a bit of an egg freak and like to make sure mine are completely done).

Place toppings on one side of egg, fold other side over.

Leave alone for just a minute or two.

Carefully slide out of pan and onto a plate.

I topped Doug's with salsa, which he said was great.