bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crockpot Tapioca Pudding

I've always liked tapioca pudding, but for some reason I haven't been able to make a tapioca pudding that I've been happy with.  I've tried the recipes on the packages (a couple times), and I tried making it in the crockpot one other time.  It just didn't turn out the way I thought it should. So, obviously, I haven't tried all that many times...

This time, I was going to make my husband his favorite chocolate pudding - there are only the two of us, and we don't go through a gallon of milk quite as quickly as we used to when the kids were living at home, so there was milk that needed to be used - but I really did not have time to stand over the stove and stir that pudding.   That's when I remembered the tapioca pudding my friend Brian made last month, and his turned out quite good, so I thought it was worth another try.  I definitely had time to throw the ingredients in the crockpot and stir it once in a while, in between all the other things I was trying to get done.

It turned out great!  This is the recipe - good flavor, good consistency, and so easy.

Crockpot Tapioca Pudding
adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup small pearl tapioca
Directions:
  1. In 5-6 quart crockpot, beat eggs.  Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in milk and tapioca.
  2. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours (or Low for 6 hours), stirring occasionally.  (Every 1/2 hour for the first 1-1/2 hours and then every 15 minutes for the last)

I'm not sure what recipe I used the last time; this is just one I found when I searched online for one.  I took the recipe and incorporated some of the suggestions from the reviews - adding a bit of salt and some vanilla.  And that was it.  Super simple.  Oh, and the recipe is basically 1-1/2 times the original because I needed to use the milk, and it was a better amount for the size of my crockpot.

For me, I think the key to a good tapioca pudding is stirring it enough that the tapioca doesn't clump up in big clumps, while not stirring it so much that the tapioca breaks down completely.  So, start out stirring every half hour, but as soon as you notice the tapioca starting to clump, make sure you stir it more often - and even get a bit aggressive with it to break those clumps up.  Not too much because you still want those fun little clear balls that make tapioca pudding special.  Did that make sense?  I used a silicone scraper which seemed to work really well.


Also, this got quite thick.  I may cook it a little less next time to see if I can get it to be just a bit creamier.  I don't know that will work, but I think one of the reviewers on the original recipe mentioned it.  Stirring a bit more often toward the end will help with keeping an eye on it and knowing when it's at the right consistency.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Greens

It's a good thing we like salad, because there is a whole lot of lettuce out in the garden.  Last year's lettuce went to seed, and so we have a lot of new lettuce this spring.  I also followed some advice I read from an old friend and scattered some seeds in the garden sometime in early March on the chance that some of them would survive the freezing and thawing and come up.  You guessed it - more lettuce.  And some radishes.

I've also got a couple chard plants that somehow survived the winter and are growing like crazy.  So, I have chard and radish greens to use, too. The other night I sauteed some of the greens with garlic and olive oil, added a bit of balsamic vinegar, and then fried a couple eggs to go on top - over easy so the yolks could run down into the greens.  It was incredible easy but oh so tasty.  (and I didn't think to take a picture until after I'd savored every last bite)


 The next night I added a bit of rice to the greens and served them with grilled chicken.  (Yes, I had this two nights in a row.)  Both were really yummy and a great way to use all those happy spring greens. I'm throwing radish greens in my salads, too - so good!

Sauteed Spring Greens

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped greens - Chard, radish, spinach, whatever you have
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cooked rice (optional)
Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet;  add garlic and saute for a minute or two.
  2. Add greens and cook until softened and tender, stirring often.  You may need to add a bit of water as the greens cook.
  3. When greens are cooked, add salt & pepper and drizzle with a bit of Balsamic vinegar.  If using rice, stir it in and cook until heated through, stirring.
  4. Serve topped with fried eggs or grilled chicken. 

Seriously, super simple.  And I didn't really use any measurements, just tossed things in the skillet.  Just remember that greens cook down a lot, so you'll want quite a bit of greens to start with.  And they're good for you, so you can eat as many as you want.


I pushed the greens to the side of the skillet and fried the eggs right beside the greens, and I suppose you could actually cook your chicken in the same skillet, too.  But I seasoned mine and grilled it on the George Foreman grill.  I used a boneless thigh, but if you prefer breasts that would work just as well.  And, I'm sure there are plenty of other things that would be good on a nice bed of greens.  Any ideas?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Crockpot Chicken with Apricot Mustard Sauce

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is Life on Food, an amazing blog written by Emily.  Emily is new to Group A this month, so I'm excited to get this first chance to check out her blog.  She lives in Connecticut with her husband and their little one, and her blog features food that they eat on a regular basis.  But just because we're talking about everyday food that is simple to prepare, do not think that has to mean boring.  There are so many amazing-looking recipes on Emily's blog!

The very first recipe that caught my eye was Emily's latest for these wonderful looking Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies.  I was seriously tempted to stop looking right then and head to the kitchen.  But then I scrolled down and found this recipe for Easter Rice Pie which really intrigues me.  Is it a dessert or is it a side dish?  And who knew you could use rice in a pie?  I definitely must try this.

Then I found the perfect recipe - Cinnamon Sugar Almonds.  I have been meaning to try something like this for ages.  However, since the recipe is a previous SRC post, I will have to save the it for later.  And these super fudgy brownies.

And then I found this recipe for Apricot Mustard Chicken which really had my mouth watering.  All those flavors just sounded so amazing!  There's also a recipe for Crock Pot Applesauce Chicken and Crock Pot Coconut Curry Chicken and Crock Pot Pad Thai Chicken.  They just all sound so good. But I decided to stick with the apricot chicken.



Crockpot Chicken with Apricot Mustard Sauce
from Life on Food

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp Apricot preserves
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into pieces
  • Toasted coconut
Directions:
  1. In bottom of crockpot, mix together preserves, mustard, and spices. Mix in chicken, cranberries, and apricots.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. (Stir a couple of times if you're around)
  3. Serve with rice or couscous.  Garnish with toasted coconut.

Emily left her chicken breasts whole, but I figured I'd just cut them up in the end, so why not before?  I also added the dried cranberries and apricots to the mix.


It didn't turn out as pretty as Emily's, but the flavors were just as amazing together as I thought they'd be.  We both really liked it, and I will definitely make this again.  I am thinking that next time I want to try using boneless thighs instead of the breasts, just to see how that works out.



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

I made this a couple weekends ago.  It was very simple and tasty.  Because there are only two of us, I only made a half recipe, but it would be just a easy to make the whole recipe, and it would be great if you have a house full of people to feed.  You put everything into the crock pot the night before, and you have a fresh hot breakfast ready and waiting the next morning.


Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
adapted from Everyday Dishes

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sliced mushrooms
  • fresh spinach
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 30 oz. bag frozen hash browns
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
Directions: 
  1. Brown sausage with onion and garlic; add mushrooms and brown.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  Set aside.
  2. Beat eggs in bowl.  Add milk and seasonings.
  3. Grease 4 or 5 qt crock pot.   Pour hash browns into crock pot and then add eggs and sausage mixture.  Stir together and then add 1-1/2 cups cheese.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  4. Cover and cook on low overnight.

The original recipe was to be mixed up and refrigerated overnight and then baked in the morning.  I wasn't sure how it would work in the crock pot exactly so I doubled the milk.  I think that was just about right.  I also added a bit more cheese, because it seemed like the right thing to do.

I'll definitely make this again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Crock Pot Chicken w/ Potatoes and Green Beans

I've seen pictures of this recipe (or a similar one) going around on Facebook or Pinterest (I'm not sure exactly which), and it looked easy and tasty.  I had never actually looked at the recipe until I went searching on Pinterest today.  Why not, right? 

There are quite a few variations of this recipe out there, some of them are baked in the oven and some are for the crock pot.  The yard really needed mowed this afternoon because it has been raining so much and the grass has been growing and growing - and today was the only day all week that didn't call for more rain.  The grass probably would have been knee high by the next time I could have gotten to it.   So I needed something I could throw into the crock pot in the morning and be able to have dinner tonight.


I really liked that this recipe uses a fresh homemade sauce to cook the chicken and vegetables.  But don't let that scare you away, because it's really simple - olive oil, lemon juice, and some seasonings.  Yum!  Put the chicken and vegetables into the crock pot, pour the sauce over the top, and come back at dinner time for a delicious meal.

Crock Pot Chicken w/ Potatoes and Green Beans
adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker

Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups diced red potatoes
  • 8 oz. green beans (fresh or frozen)
Directions:
  1. In 1 cup glass measuring cup (or small bowl), mix olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic with whisk.
  2. Put sliced onion on bottom of 5 to 6 quart crock pot.  Put chicken in the middle with potatoes and green beans on either side.  Pour seasoning mixture evenly over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours (or High for 4 hours).  
  4. Shortly before serving, slice chicken breasts and allow to sit in the broth for a few minutes.  Enjoy.

I didn't really change a lot from the original recipe.  I threw some sliced onion in the bottom of the crock pot, and I used frozen green beans because I didn't have any fresh ones.  The chicken breasts were also still pretty much frozen when I put them into the crock pot.

I used a bit more lemon juice than the recipe called for.  The juice from one lemon wasn't quite enough, so I squeezed another one and that was too much.  I really should have checked after squeezing the first half of that second lemon.  But I didn't think about that until after I'd squeezed the second half.  It turned out really good, extra lemon juice or not.  Just be sure to use fresh lemon juice and not the stuff that comes from a bottle.


Fun fact: if you measure the olive oil into the measuring cup and then squeeze the lemon juice on top, the lemon juice will go to the bottom, allowing you to measure it, too.  Did that make sense?  I really should have taken a picture, but I didn't think about it.  Maybe next time.


I really love how simple and flavorful this is.  It's definitely my kind of recipe.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Amazing Skillet Potatoes

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is Adventures in All Things Food.  Andrea lives on a large fruit and vegetable farm in Oregon with her husband and their three adorable kids,  She and the kids grow some beautiful produce in their backyard garden, and she loves good food without a lot of fuss.  Because, obviously she is extremely busy, but still wants to feed her family well. 

Quite a few of Andrea's recipes caught my eye.  Here are just a few:

When I saw these skillet potatoes, I knew I had to try them.   There is just something about the combination of mushrooms and spinach that I am a bit addicted to, and these just looked so good.  The only thing I changed about this recipe was to add an onion, because everything needs an onion!  But really, I think these potatoes would be wonderful with or without the onion.


Amazing Skillet Potatoes
adapted from Adventures in All Things Food

Ingredients:
  • olive oil
  • 4 russet potatoes, cubed (pre-cooked and chilled overnight)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 T butter
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 grated cheddar cheese
 Directions:
  1.  Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Drizzle some olive oil into skillet and saute onions and mushrooms until tender and starting to brown.  Add spinach and allow to wilt.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
  2. Drizzle a little more olive oil in skillet and add cold cubed potatoes to skillet.  Allow potatoes to brown on the bottom and then add the butter.  When butter starts to melt, turn potatoes and allow them to crisp up on the other side.  Once they are nice and golden, stir the mushroom mixture back in.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Turn the heat off; sprinkle cheddar on top, and cover with a lid until the cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

I've often relied on fried potatoes as an easy dinner when I don't know what else to fix.  Heat some oil in a pan and toss in some potatoes, onions, and sometimes peppers, and you've got a yummy and satisfying meal.  These particular potatoes don't quite work that way.  Oh, they're definitely yummy and satisfying, and they are awesome for dinner.  But they do take a little planning ahead because the potatoes need to be cooked ahead and refrigerated, so when they go into the skillet all they really need to do is warm and brown instead of cook completely.  That extra step is most definitely worth it.  The flavor is wonderful.

And when I added the butter to the skillet?  Over the top, heavenly smells in my kitchen!  These potatoes were just wonderful.  Even after I was stuffed from eating so much, I just could not stop picking individual pieces of potato out of the skillet and eating them.  So good.  And then the leftovers?  Just as good.  I heated them up and then scrambled some eggs with them, and added some additional cheese to the top.  They were perfect!

I will definitely be making these again.




Friday, April 1, 2016

Sourdough Chocolate Cake w/ Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

I've made bread and coffee cakes and pancakes with my sourdough starter, but until now I've never made a chocolate cake.  Did you know there was such a thing as a sourdough chocolate cake?  I had never even thought of such a thing until recently when I came across a recipe for one.  I'm not even sure where I saw that recipe so I just did a quick search to find one that sounded good.  And then I read the reviews and adjusted a few things.  Of course.


Let me just say that I love this cake!  It's dark and dense and not too sweet and may just be my favorite chocolate cake ever.  Just, so good.

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or soured milk)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1-1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 to 2 tsp. instant coffee powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
Directions:
  1. Mix sourdough starter, buttermilk, and 1 cup flour together.  Let sit several hours or overnight, until bubbly.
  2. When ready to mix and bake cake, preheat oven to 350°.  Generously grease 13x9" baking dish.
  3. In large bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar with electric mixer.  Add cocoa and instant coffee and mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition then mix in yogurt and vanilla.
  4. Add sourdough mixture and mix well.  Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and then mix into batter.  Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool before frosting. (see recipe below)
Enjoy!

 Since I was making this cake to take for a potluck, I also made a couple cupcakes so we could taste it.  I figured that would be better than taking a cake with a couple pieces already taken out.  Though, judging from some of the other desserts, it's a perfectly acceptable and expected practice to get into your dessert before bringing it to the potluck.   But the cupcakes were perfect.


There was still plenty of batter for the cake. This recipe makes a lot of batter; be sure to use a large bowl to mix it.  It will be full.


Some of the reviewers on the original recipe page mentioned a cream cheese frosting on this cake.  Since I added the instant coffee powder to the cake, I decided to add some to my frosting too.  It turned out really yummy.

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting
from Perfectly Sprinkled

Ingredients:
  • 4 T butter, softened
  • 4 T cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 to 1-1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Directions:
  1. Mix butter and cream cheese together and then add instant coffee.  Allow mixture to sit for several minutes and then mix again to incorporate coffee.  Stir in vanilla.
  2. Add powdered sugar a bit at a time, mixing well until frosting reaches desired consistency.  Spread over cooled cake.

For best results, store this cake in the refrigerator.  I learned that from the reviews, too.  I don't know if it's because it tastes better, or if it's just to make it last longer because it will be harder to get into.  Either way, this cake will not last long.  It's just that good.

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