Ladies and gentlemen - we have water!!! 🚰 I'm happy to report that we finished up week 4 of our kitchen remodel with a fully functioning faucet and sink.. with a garbage disposal! I've never looked forward to washing dishes in the kitchen so much in my life. 😅 You don't realize how much you take the accessibility to water in the kitchen for granted, until it's taken away.
Restoring the water was a big step in our kitchen remodel project. And I'm excited about ticking some of these big things off the list because that means that we're getting closer and closer to having a fully useable cooking space again. But while we wait (patiently🥴) on our new and improved space to be finished - we're trying to make the most of our time. The busy holiday season will be here before I know it so I'm doing my best to embrace the calm before the storm. 😂
I have to say that our contractor has made our remodeling process as painless as possible. When I start to feel overwhelmed, he kindly reminds me that the chaos and clutter are both necessary and temporary. Going through this process has also taught me that taking a break from the construction zone by leaving the premises is a necessary component to maintaining my sanity. So... we escaped the Georgia mountains last weekend. The weather was glorious, the company was exceptional and the food and wine were extraordinary. 🍁 There's no better time to visit the mountains than on a crisp, Fall day. ⛰
I can see the finish line on this kitchen project and I'm getting anxious to start using my two ovens and stocking my new, and improved, pantry. I can almost taste the pies that will soon be baking in the ovens. 🥧 There will be no pies this week though - we've all had to evacuate and let the floor guys take over the space and work their magic. 😁
Since we can't even be in the house this week while they sand and stain our floors, there won't be any cooking going on so I thought I'd share a recipe from a few weeks ago. This slow cooker enchilada pasta was a huge hit with my family. The recipe called for orzo pasta - and my orzo had been packed away so I substituted this ditalini pasta. And I'm just going to go ahead and blame the lack of cilantro on the remodel, even though I really just didn't have any of that either. 😜
Slow Cooker Enchilada Pasta
14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
10-ounce can mild enchilada sauce
4.5-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup corn kernels, frozen
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
2 cups uncooked pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Pour mixture into slow cooker. Top with cream cheese.
Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.
Uncover and stir in orzo. Cook on high 15-20 minutes. Add more broth if needed to adjust consistency.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips - if you have them. 😉
Get ready friends - It's finally September and I'm about to unleash the dozens of apple and pumpkin recipes that I've been holding in my que for months. 🤣🍎🎃 I'll do my best not to overwhelm you, but honestly, I'm downright giddy over here just thinking about all the Fall treats that I have ready to share with you.
For those of you who might be new to my food blog, I want to be completely transparent. I don't hide the fact that I make most of my blogged recipes well in advance of when I actually post them. Because of the time that it takes to write out step by step directions, prepare and photograph each recipe - it's almost impossible for me to post recipes on the same day or even the same week that I make them. ⏰
Now that you know that, you'll understand why I've been making apple and pumpkin recipes for my family for months. We endured hearty Fall soups in the middle of July and Autumn Harvest Bowls in August. You don't know what you're missing until you've experienced Spicy Lentil Curry on a 100 degree day. 😅 Before you start to feel bad for us though - just remember that we also start eating Christmas cookies in October. 🍪🤣
This summer I made Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls, Fall Harvest Granola Bars, Pumpkin Muffins, Cinnamon Crunch Bread and Slow Cooker Apple Butter. The food blogging gig does have its perks. 🤣 All pumpkin muffins taste good in October but the true test of a great pumpkin muffin is how it tastes in June. The same is true for apple butter. 🍎We absolutely gobbled this apple butter up in the middle of the summer so you KNOW it was good - and I'm guessing that it's even better now that we're entering apple season in Georgia.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
5 pounds mixed apples, peeled and cored
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Cut apples into 1-inch cubes; place apple cubes and 1 ½ cups of the sugar in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours.
Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining 1 ½ cups sugar. Cover; cook on LOW until apples are very soft, 4 hours.
Use and infusion blender to process until smooth.
Spoon into containers and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
I don't know who came up with the idea to make apple butter in the slow cooker - but I've gotta say -- genius. I mean, wit just makes sense. It's the perfect way to slow cook apples to their most tender, buttery state.
This recipe does make a lot of apple butter but you'll be surprised at how fast it gets eaten. And if you happen to end up with extra - check out these amazing Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls! They're amazing and you will want to eat these every weekend this Fall.
Make sure that you subscribe to my email list so you don't miss this amazing recipe. It's a great way to find out when I post new recipes to the blog. Thanks guys and Happy Fall!!!
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
I couldn't agree more. I have to remind myself of this every morning when I get up and put on my sneakers. 👟 I don't belong to a gym where I can go to workout and get motivation from trainers and friends. Somedays I have to dig deep (like really deep) to find my own inspiration to work myself into a puddle of sweat. 😅 You'd hardly know it from looking at me, but I push myself to work my muscles past the point of comfortable on a daily basis because I know that the pain and effort that I put into my workouts is ultimately good for my body. 💪🏻
The key for me is to figure out if the time and effort that goes into something is worth it in the end. The extra time and effort that goes into working out - worth it. The time and effort required to make homemade pasta and ragu - definitely worth it. 🍝The time and money that is required to make homemade marshmallows - definitely NOT worth it. (Some things you have to figure out the hard way.) 😂
Sometimes I feel like a significant investment of either time or money into a recipe, makes it even more appealing. I also feel like I've eaten more than my share of really bad meals just because I felt like I had too much time invested to scrap it completely and start over. 😖
There's no question that homemade ragu is an investment in time. It's head and shoulders above anything you can buy in the grocery store. The slow cooker takes all the hard work out of the process. Most of the prep time is hands off so get it started and then just sit back and wait for the amazing smells to start filling your kitchen.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 pounds sweet Italian sausage
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Serve sauce with the pasta of your choice. I chose an egg pappardelle to go with my homemade ragu. What is your favorite pasta? I like to buy the most unusual, obscure and hard to pronounce dried pasta that I can find in the grocery store. 🤷🏻♀️ I guess we all collect different things. 🤣
I have a burning question tonight. Do you cook with good wine or do you save the good wine for drinking and cook with the cheap stuff? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your opinions about cooking wine. 🍷 This is what my brain dwells on - food and wine.
There are professional chefs that swear that your finished dish will only be as good as the individual ingredients that you add. I can only assume that they believe that inferior wine will result in a less than superb product. Can a cup of two buck Chuck really ruin a good batch of meaty marinara or Coq au Vin? I really don't know and before I mess up a perfectly fine batch of short ribs, I need to find out.
Maybe the answer isn't as black and white as I'm trying to make it. Perhaps there are some recipes where expensive wine is necessary and others where boxed wine would suffice. White wine used as an ingredient in the sauce over fresh mussels might require a higher quality wine than the red wine in beef stew, for example. As for me, I use whatever wine I happen to have open on the day that I need it for a recipe. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I've even been known to swap a white for a red in a recipe if I"m trying to use up the last few drops in a wine bottle. 🤷🏻♀️
This recipe for Pork Ragu only calls for 1/2 cup of red wine which seems like an insignificant amount but it plays a really crucial role in how all the flavors of this dish come together. The pork, the tomatoes, the pancetta, the wine and the herbs all have to marry together in perfect harmony to create a tasty dish. Altering just one of the ingredients can throw off the whole balance of flavors and really lead to a displeasing result. So do I roll the dice and take a gamble on a cheap wine or go all out and use a full bodied red wine?
Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound cooked pasta
Stir in parsley. Toss with pasta and top with parmesan cheese.
I know that you're all waiting with baited breath to find out exactly what type of wine I used in my Pork Ragu. 😂 It was a half cup of my dad's homemade red wine. I'm 60% sure that it was a cabernet but to be honest, the sharpie markings that my dad uses to identify his different wines had been rubbed off the neck of the bottle. Soooo - whatever it was - it was good. Both in the ragu and in my wine glass. 🍷
It's supposed to be cold and rainy here all weekend. (Hello, crock pot dinner and football games!) I love my slow cooker but I don't use it nearly as much as I think I should. It would certainly save me valuable time doing dinner prep but I just don't pull it out of the cabinet very often. Part of the reason that I don't use it very often is that when I think slow cooker - I think pot roast and potatoes and pork shoulder. And that's not really my jam. 😂
This Chicken and Corn Chowder recipe was a great reminder that crock pots are good for more than just roasts. 🥣 Fall is soup season and this is the perfect transition from salads to hearty, warm winter soups. I scooped out my bowl of soup before adding the cream to save on calories but the rest of my family loved the rich, creamy Chicken and Corn chowder recipe as written.
Whether you've got a football game to watch this weekend, a yard full of leaves to rake or just a weekend of relaxing on the couch, this recipe is perfect. It comes together quickly and you can just sit back and enjoy the amazing aroma of chowder while it simmers in the slow cooker all afternoon. The hardest part of this whole recipe was NOT lifting the lid on the crock pot every hour to take in the amazing aroma.
There's nothing better than having a meal ready to eat at 6:00 without last minute prep work. I'll admit that it still feels strange to prep dinner at 10:00 AM but I'm determined to get in the habit of using my slow cooker more so I better get used to it. Believe it or not, I managed to get this chowder in the crock pot while I was simultaneously making french toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast. (It's actually kind of amazing that we didn't end up with celery in our eggs.) Whatever works.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 slices pancetta, diced
1/4 cup minced celery
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups frozen corn
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Season with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh parsley.
If you like a creamier chowder - stir cream into chowder.
Check out all of my other slow cooker recipes using the categories side bar on my blog. There are awesome recipes like Mediterranean Chicken and Farro and Acorn Squash. If you've got a great recipe that you make in your slow cooker - I'd love for you to share it with me. I love new recipes.
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