Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014

Whoops!  I missed last week...with this weather we've been having I am going to blame it on hibernation.  I want to snuggle under a blanket on the couch and read for the rest of the winter - no more cooking in my test kitchen!  But after a few days of that I would certainly be pulled back in to the kitchen.  I am happy to report that we did test a few recipes this week, and we have 2 keepers!

The first was a slow cooker pork roast.  Combining all of our school, sports, work, and general life schedules leads to the slow cooker getting quite a bit of use these days.  Add to that sub-zero temperatures (before the wind is even factored in) and this counter-top appliance is definitely calling my name and continuing to earn its spot in my limited cabinet space.  One night this week we had a volleyball game, compounded by soccer practice, a night out with friends, and homework.  Putting a boneless pork shoulder in the slow cooker in the morning and being able to eat when we walked in the door was fabulous.  We shredded it and then offered it with rolls, tortillas, a variety of condiments, and everyone at the table was pleased and satisfied.  Definitely a keeper, and likely to be part of the regular rotation.  It also provided enough leftovers to freeze the rest which will allow us to just thaw and reheat in the future.  Excellent!

The second dish to earn keeper status was Stuffed Ranch chicken.  I clipped this recipe back in the spring of 2006!  I love using these kinds of recipes - it reinforces why I started this project and blog in the first place.  I've been collecting recipes for ages and ages, and they are in recipe boxes, 3 ring binders, and stacked on a shelf in my kitchen.  I love incorporating these into the meal plan and finally deciding their fate; is the recipe good enough to share or shall it hit the recycling?  In any case, this stuffed chicken was a keeper, and I even forgot to add the bacon!  Just imagine how much more we will love it when we add that to the stuffing!

As I mentioned, this week has been super chilly.  We've been having soup and casseroles in addition to the new keeper recipes listed here. One of our favorite soups, un-stuffed pepper soup, makes enough for two dinners! We enjoy it the night we make it and then I freeze the rest to be used in the future.  I love those kinds of meals; one time effort, two times enjoyment!  What have you been feeding your family to keep warm in this bitter cold?  And if it isn't cold by you - have you grilled anything of late?  Let me know and I can live vicariously through you!

Happy Cooking!

New Recipes
Stuffed Ranch Chicken
All Purpose Pork Shoulder

All Purpose Pork Shoulder

* 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder
* 1 tbsp kosher salt
* 2 tsp ground black pepper
* 1 onion, roughly chopped
* 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Pat the pork dry and then rub the salt and pepper all over.  Place it in your slow cooker.
2. Scatter the onion and garlic all over the pork and in the slow cooker bowl. Add the wine.
3. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.
4. When the meat is ready, remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Serve with any sauce of your choosing, on a roll or tortilla, or just heaped on a plate!

Super easy - and so versatile.  Some used BBQ, wing sauce, or mustard.  The meat was eaten on a roll, in a tortilla, and with a fork from a plate.  We will definitely make this again!  We had enough for dinner and then froze the leftovers for dinner in the future.

Stuffed Ranch Chicken

* 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin and cut into portions that can be stuffed and rolled
* 3 tbsp ranch dressing
* 2 bacon strips, cooked crisp and finely chopped
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
* 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
* 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
* 6 tbsp evaporated milk
* 2 tsp cornstarch

1. Ensure the chicken is pounded thin and cut in such a way that you will be able to spread the filling on it and roll it up.
2. Combine the ranch dressing, bacon, mushrooms, pepper, and green onions in a small bowl.  Spread this evenly on each of the pieces of chicken.  Roll each piece of chicken and secure with one or two toothpicks.
3. Place the chicken in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, and cook for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  The chicken will be done when the chicken juices run clear.
4. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.
5. Strain the liquid from the 9 x 13 pan into a bowl or measuring cup. 
6. In a small saucepan, combine the evaporated milk and cornstarch until smooth.  Stir in the pan juices.  Bring this mixture to a boil over medium high heat; cook and stir for one minute or until thickened.
7. Serve the chicken (before to remove the toothpicks!) and pass the sauce.

We were glad that the recipe called for the sauce to be passes separately from the chicken, because not everyone loved the gravy.  However everyone did agree that this was a keeper dish, and I forgot to add the bacon!  So if you like this recipe but don't have bacon on hand, you can still give this chicken a try!