*EASY* Crockpot Chicken Stew

EASY CROCKPOT CHICKEN STEW:

I wanted something warm, hearty, and soothing on the tummy for dinner the other night, and thought about making stew, but wasn’t in the mood for beef or pork, so I decided to try & come up with a chicken stew recipe on the fly via the crockpot (It was a Tuesday: Scout night for our family, which meant I had no time to cook unless it’s done ahead of time… dear God I love my crockpot on Tuesday nights!)

What I ended up with made my eyes literally close in delight and my family RAVED about it, sooooo onto the blog it goes!  🙂

Ingredients:

6-8 red potatoes, chopped

4 c. fingerling carrots

1 can corn, strained

6-8 chicken breast tenderloins (I threw mine in frozen)

1 can cream chicken soup

1 can cream mushroom soup

2 cans water (use the ones from the soup)

1 tablespoon garlic & herb Mrs Dash

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Put potatoes, corn and carrots in bottom of crockpot.
  2. Dump out soup mixes onto veggies, pour in 2 cans water.
  3. Add all seasonings.
  4. Mix it all up.
  5. Push chicken tenderloins down into veggies, set crockpot to cook for 4-6 hrs.
  6. Stir about halfway through the cook time to make sure all potatoes are getting cooked nicely.ENJOY!

Ice Cream on par with Stone Cold…

homemade ice cream with fresh blackberries

I got this… stone cold. (sorry, couldn’t resist) 😛

My family loves ice cream. When I say that, I don’t just mean in the normal context of “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”.  I mean: my family are ice cream snobs of the first order, extremely picky, and would (if I let them) consume gross and vast quantities of ice cream daily. Lucky for their waistlines I don’t let that happen, but I do think ice cream now & then on a hot summer day can be THE BOMB, especially when it’s homemade & you’ve poured a little labor & love into it & top it with fresh fruit.

Knowing this, my family bought me an ice cream/sorbet & gelato machine for my birthday this year. (Personally I think that was their very sly and wicked way to bribe me to make ice cream. LOL)  The box said “Frosty frozen treats in 20 minutes!” Between you & I, I am going to call a big fat, whopping, hurking load of B.S. to THAT nonsense right here & now. Not ONE recipe in the book the machine maker provided offered a recipe that could be ready in 20 minutes. NOT ONE. Yeah, I was a tad irritated by that. LOL!

Sooooo, fine! I will play their silly little game and test out the new machine with one of the recipes in the book. Only, by now, you are starting to realize I never really cook recipes exactly as they as written, so I’m giving you the instructions of how I made it, not how it was written originally. HAHAHAHA!  😛  Now, it should be noted here that the prep time was about 5 minutes, the cooking time (yes, you read that right: cooking time – it’s a frozen treat, there should be no cooking required my stubborn brain insists!) anyways, that was about 20 minutes, the mixture had to then cool in the fridge for about two hours. Then I FINALLY, FINALLY! got to add the mixture to the canister I’d prepped in the deep freezer the prior 24 hours. The machine did it’s work in about 35-40 minutes, and then the whole batch had to “ripen” in the freezer for another 2 hours.  I don’t know if you’re keeping track here, but from the moment I opened my box with the intention of making ice cream to the moment we all actually got to roll our eyes in heavenly oblivion, a whopping 27 hours had passed. Let me just say by the time I closed my lips around that spoon I was ready to swear off making ice cream recipes that required cooking for all time. That is, until my taste buds actually came in contact with the ice cream we actually made. I will still search for other no-cook ice cream recipes, or maybe even simpler ones to try in the machine so we don’t have to wait 27 hours for a batch of pure decadence, but for the days we feel like taking a side trip floating on clouds of decadence and supreme taste-bud heaven, I will be making the following ice cream recipe:

Be warned: this is not waistline friendly, but damn it’s good. SO good, that my younger son Garrett said it rivals Stone Cold ice cream. Yeah. You read that right.  Enjoy!

2 c. Whole Milk

2 c. Heavy Cream

1 c. Granulated Sugar (divided in half)

1 pinch salt

1 whole Vanilla Bean, halved & seeds scraped

5 large Egg Yolks (no whites)

1 1/2 tspns pure Vanilla Extract

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together the milk, cream, half of the sugar, salt and the scraped vanilla bean (including the pod). Bring the mixture just to a boil.
  2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed (or a whisk), beat until mixture is pale and thick.
  3. Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stire the mixture constantly over the low heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. This mixture must NOT boil or the yolks will overcook – the process should only take a few minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, discard the vanilla pod and bring to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours until completely cool.
  5. Turn on your ice cream maker, pour the mixture in, and let mix until thickened per your machine’s instructions.*  The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in your freezer for at least 2 hours to allow the ice cream to “ripen” and firm up. * I wanted to note here that my machine’s instructions indicated it should be at this point by 20 minutes… it wasn’t. It took more like 35 minutes to reach that ultra-dreamy phase. You’re looking for soft-serve ice cream consistency (or firmer) BEFORE you pop it in the freezer.
  6. Wait. Wait some more. This is the hard part. Wait some more.
  7. SERVE! (add fresh berries if you have them or any other treat you like)

Mediterranean Chicken

This is a crockpot meal… I don’t know about you but I *LOVE* cooking with my crockpot on busy nights. I’ve been cooking a lot of mediterranean food lately… must be a phase I’m in, but it’s expanding my cooking “daring” quite a bit. I started with a basic recipe, and in my usual manner I did the “this looks and smells good but I think I know how to really kick it into overdrive for the tastebuds”… and sure enough, we ended up with a dish that just rocked the socks off my oldest daughter who was visiting & the rest of the family. What follows is how I cooked it; try this one, it was a yummy change and surprised even my picky kidlets and hubby! 🙂

We’re cooking MEDITERRANEAN CHICKEN today.

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly chopped
  • 14 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can olives, drained and chopped
  • 6 Tblspn. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tspn minced garlic
  • 1/2 tspn. black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tspn. garlic & herb Mrs. Dash
  • 1 tspn. herbs de provence
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 packet Knorr Parma Rosa Sauce mix (dry)
  • 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese (divided in half)
  • 1/4 c. grated 3 cheese blend (pecorino romano, parmesan, asiago) You can get this at Albertson’s or Kroger stores.

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken, 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, and packet of Knorr Parma Rosa. Mix all the ingredients together with a fork.
  2. Place chicken in cooker, pushing down into vegetables and sauce until it’s about half buried. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with the Parma Rosa packet & finish pressing down into the vegetables until it’s as covered as possible.
  3. Cover, and cook on low 4-6 hours in the crockpot.
  4. Serve over toasted baguette bread OR serve over noodles of your choice boiled & strained separately.

Destiny said to tell you it’s not just good, it’s “O”h my gosh good… LOL! I don’t know that I’d go quite that far but it is pretty spectacular & beats trying to figure out what to make for dinner at the last minute on a night we have parent meetings, scout night, cheerleading practice or any other number of things. 🙂

Enjoy!

Happy Birthday to who? Shrimp Tortellini w/ Newburg Sauce

August 25th may be my birthday, but I’ve decided to share with you all my family’s ALL TIME FAVORITE recipe. It is disgustingly easy and quick, which makes it one of my favorite recipes, and is OMG yummy which makes it a recipe that family I haven’t seen in months comes out of the woodwork for… (that last bit is true btw LOL)  The recipe is SHRIMP TORTELLINI in newburg cream sauce.  Now, down to business!

First, I am going to give you the way I personally make it, and then I’m going to tell you a perfectly good “cheater” way to make it…  Try both… tell me which you like better, I’d love to know!

Shrimp Tortellini

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons shallots, minced, or finely minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons brandy or dry sherry
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 packet Knorr Parma Rosa Sauce mix (dry)
  • 1 c. milk

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 family size package cheese tortellini (we like cheese & garlic)
  • 1 lb frozen, peeled shrimp  (not the tiny shrimp cocktail shrimp, use standard size shrimp or a little larger)

Instructions:

In a large pot filled about 2/3 rds full of water, start the water to boil. While the water is heating up, in a normal/large frying or saute pan, you’re going to start the sauce.

Melt butter in saute pan. Add the shallots or onion and saute over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the paprika and sherry, and saute for 2 minutes longer. Stir in the tomato paste.

The water should be boiling in the pot by now, add the tortellini to the water and cook per the instructions. When the tortellini looks ALMOST done, add the peeled shrimp to the pot. You only want the shrimp to cook for 2-3 minutes, do not overcook it!  ***If you want to add a vegetable, I love adding a bag of frozen broccoli crowns at the same time I add the shrimp, it’s a really nice addition to the dish.***

Add the brandy or sherry to the saute pan, the Knorr Parma Rosa dry mix, the milk and cook a few minutes longer. Add the thyme, and cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes more.

The pasta & shrimp should finish a minute or so before the sauce, strain the tortellini and shrimp, then place BACK IN THE WARM POT. Take the finished sauce & pour over the tortellini and shrimp.
Salt & pepper to taste.  Mix & Serve warm.

If you’ve done this right, the whole process with both pans only takes about 8-10 minutes from start to finish and both pans finish just about the same time, making this a REALLY fast dish as there is NO PREP TIME REQUIRED. This makes a large pot that feeds my family of 6 and allows my boys to get seconds because they are just pigs when it comes to this dish. LOL  🙂 It’s really great to save any leftovers if you can scoop them aside without the family knowing, because this makes a fantastic lunch for work also.

Now… the cheater version:

This makes more of a basic cream sauce, not the Newburg sauce like the recipe above. Both versions take about 10 minutes, cook w/what you have on hand.  🙂

Ingredients:

2 family size package cheese tortellini (we like cheese & garlic)

1 can cream of asparagus soup

1 can cream of celery soup

½ c.milk

1 lb frozen, peeled shrimp  (not the tiny shrimp cocktail shrimp, use standard size shrimp or a little larger)

1 bag frozen broccoli bits

Instructions:

Boil the tortellini per the instructions, usually around 8 minutes I think.  The last two minutes, place the frozen shrimp and the broccoli bits in the boiling water with the noodles.  The hot water not only defrosts but cooks the shrimp in the two to three remaining minutes.  Strain the noodles and shrimp.  Put the noodles and shrimp back in the warm pan and place it back on the burner but turn the burner off.  The residual heat of the burner as it cools is perfect for this next step.  Empty the soup and milk over the noodles.  Mix everything together, and make sure the noodles and shrimp are coated nicely with the sauce.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEE! :)

MJ’s got three games she is cheering at tomorrow at the Jamboree. What better way to spend your birthday than with your kids and having fun? 🙂

Getting ready to spend the day playing with my kidlets at the Jamboree at Aloha High School tomorrow.   Li’l Bit is cheering for three games, Cody is helping at the Rock Climbing wall, Garrett is helping at the Bounce House & the Dunk Tank & I’ll be selling tickets & wristbands to all the fun!  It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy… time with those I love is the number one gift I want most years for my birthday.  😀

Reservations are set for summer @ Camp Kern 2013 in California!

I can’t even *begin* to tell you how excited I am about the upcoming summer camps planned!  This coming year, we are spending a week on Huntington Lake in California at the EPIC Camp Kern!!! The boys voted two weeks ago and reservations have been set for summer 2013! Our boys do a three year rotation of summer camps. One year locally in council, the second year somewhere in the WESTERN U.S., and the third year is a NATIONAL camp. Summer 2014 is one you don’t want to miss the voting for, because right now for the National trip is including places like SEA-BASE in Florida, Campbell River Alaska area, and the US Virgin Islands. Uhm… I don’t know about you, but I am ok with ANY of those options!!!

Now… how are we going to PAY for this you ask? GOOD QUESTION, and to that I say: WE GOT THIS!!! Our troop has been blessed with being able to man/attend/run a parking lot that corners up to the local FARMER’S MARKET. Each Saturday we have customers that pay $5 to park their car in our private lot right next to the market. We have a GREAT time doing it, and our boys make money to pay for summer camp and other activities throughout the year.  🙂  National trips take a bit more financing, which is why we plan 2 years ahead for those trips, and boys save up funds for those.

I am adding a link to a video on you-tube about Camp Kern… I hope you enjoy it, and if you’re interested in joining us, we meet every Tuesday at 7pm at Fir Grove Elementary School in Beaverton. We love seeing new faces & meeting new people, stop by & see us when you get a chance! 🙂

http://vimeo.com/35486483  This is the video to check out Camp Kern!  :)

When canoeing, it’s critical to know how to get back in the boat…

This July, our troop spent 7 days at Timothy Lake, Oregon. This is a most beloved annual campout our troop makes (this was the 24th anniversary!) teaching canoeing, personal watercraft, and boating skills and techniques. Once the boys have learned basic stroke skills for paddling, the very first lesson/drill we teach is how to “right” the canoe once you’ve tipped it… for arguements sake we’re going to assume you did that accidently unless you’re playing TORPEDO, and then all bets are off.  😉 Our scouts have canoed to Little Crater Lake, around Timothy to see the abundant wildlife, across the bay to pick huckleberries & competed in water-based scout olympics.

One of the hallmark moments of this year’s trip was the 10 mile hike that was done… now 10 miles may not sound like a lot to you, and it may sound like A LOT to others, but for some of the guys in this trek, it was… well, transforming. Michael hadn’t been on a hike of any major length since he’d ruptured his achilles a few years back so this was a MAJOR test-run for him. Some of the boys had never been on a wilderness hike more than 1/2 mile or so… needless to say, that all changed, there was some character building that occurred, only one blister was started (let’s take the opportunity to teach about using Mole-Skin!), some pretty sights were seen, and the best part of the hike was when one young man who truly didn’t know if he was going to be able to make it, got to the flag arch just outside camp at the end of the hike and whispered, “YES!!! I DID IT!” and did a little fist pump, a-la-Tiger Woods style… After all, isn’t that what these outings are really all about in different ways? Giving yourself opportunities to try new things, accomplish things you truly don’t know if you can do (but having the guts to try anyhow), and then being so thrilled with yourself when you achieve what you had only hoped to do?  THAT is why I am a scout leader. I believe in hope, I believe in daring yourself to try new things, and I believe in building self-confidence through experience.

If outings like this sound like fun, come see us on a Tuesday night at Fir Grove Elementary School in Beaverton Oregon at 7pm! We love seeing new faces & meeting new people.

Summer Camp: Camp Pupukea, Hawaii

Raising the flag in the morning, lowering it at night and being given the tremendous honor of being allowed to sleep overnight on the USS Arizona on Independence Day was an amazing gift our scouts will treasure forever!

Let me ask you this… Of ALL the places you’ve thought of going to summer camp, have you ever thought of going to Hawaii?  Well WE DID, and after two years of planning & fundraising, our troop went to summer camp at Camp Pupukea in Hawaii and it was a BLAST! Our boys were given the incredibly special honor of doing the morning and evening flag cermonies at the USS Arizona Memorial, and then they were given the incredible opportunity to sleep overnight there, making amazing and special memories our scouts & leaders will carry with them for a lifetime.

Lest you think the fun all stopped there, they spent the week exploring the volcanoes, rainforests, beaches, spent time snorkeling, scuba diving, and sea kayaking as well. One of their favorite encounters with wildlife was quite literally *almost* tripping (accidently) over a whole group of sea turtles who had come to shore to lay their eggs. This was something boys and leaders who were there will tell you about with a soft voice, almost reverently recounting…

While rock hopping at the beach, be careful you don’t accidently hop onto a sea turtle instead! 🙂 This whole group had come ashore to lay their eggs!

This coming summer (2013) we are planning on spending a week at CAMP KERN in the Sierra Nevada mountains at Huntington Lake sailing, scuba diving, zip lining, riding horses, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing & more… STAY TUNED FOR DETAILS, or better yet, coem to a troop meeting any Tuesday night at 7pm at Fir Grove Elementary School in Beaverton, Oregon. We love meeting new people & seeing new faces, so come see us soon!  🙂