Slow Cooker Chicken Cheesesteaks

Alot has been going on around here lately. A newborn baby, obviously. But also, a new house. We’ve been busy packing up our lives here for the past month, and we’re headed “down the county” for settlement this morning.

We’re taking the family back to where we started, Chincoteague Island. It’s a great house (that’s not cut up all funny as many old Eastern Shore homes are), with plenty of room for this growing family. A huge kitchen with three times the cabinet and counter space I currently have here. It was Jon’s best friend’s house growing up, in fact – Jon even drove a few nails into it when Ron (said best friend’s father) was building it. So, needless to say – we’re already feeling an emotional attachment to the place before we even move in.

Naturally, I also have many emotional attachments to this house. I brought all my babies home to this house, Christmases, Halloweens, first days of school, birthday parties, and neighborhood cookouts. I pretty much learned to cook (for real reals) in this house. Jon taught himself how to brew in this house. So many great memories here! I’ll miss our neighbors, fireflies (they don’t have fireflies on Chincoteague Island – the amount of salt in the air, maybe?) my lush backyard teeming with flowers from bulbs that were planted 50 years before we moved here, my fig trees, and my kitchen that we revamped. But, we’ll have a new version of those things in our new home, except the fireflies – and I’m excited about that.

house

Needless to say, dinner preparation has kind of fallen by the wayside the past couple weeks with everything getting packed up and whatnot. That’s where a slow cooker can come in handy! Now, I know most folks don’t associate a slow cooker with the summer months. But, it’s very versatile for preparing delicious meals year-round. And, it won’t heat up the house the way an oven does!

This takes just a few minutes to throw together, and the results at dinnertime are absolutely delicious. I seasoned chicken breasts (next time I’ll try boneless thighs in the mix as well) and seared them off, then sauteed some peppers and onions. Threw it all in the slow cooker with a bit of chicken broth and let it cook all day. At dinner time, I just shredded the chicken and threw it on some sub rolls, added some provelone cheese and toasted them in the oven for a few minutes.

They were delicious, satisfying, and super duper easy. The leftover filling was k-i-l-l-e-r in a quesadilla the next day for lunch. I know we’ll be making this one again very soon!

I know I’ve been slack on posts lately, but just bear with me. The slackage will probably continue through next week, until we get internet arranged in the new house, and my studio set up. Until then, later Pocomoke – it’s been real! Thanks for giving me such a great spot to call home and raise this little family of ours for 7 years!

Source: Adapted from Food Family & Finds via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes

I love making breakfast for my guys. Usually during the week it’s something quick – like oatmeal, or Nutella toast and yogurt. But on the weekends I like to do something special like biscuits and gravy, waffles , or these pancakes.

They’re absolutely perfect – basic ingredients (if you don’t consider buttermilk a basic ingredient – you should) that come together quickly in one bowl. The batter pours well and cooks up beautifully. It makes quite a few pancakes, but leftover pancakes can be frozen and reheated in a warm oven or the toaster for a quick, homemade breakfast.

Deliciously light, moist, and fluffy. Blueberries or bananas can easily be tossed into the batter for a fruity twist. Or, two words: chocolate chips. It’s easily one of our favorite breakfasts, and something that I think we all look forward to on the weekends. I know your family will too!

Source: adapted from Allrecipes.com

Chicken Paillard with Tomato-Olive Salad

I don’t know about where you guys call home, but it’s definitely starting to warm up around here. I try to keep the A/C off as long as I can, have the windows open – we live in an old home that gets great cross-breezes. On those evenings a really light dinner is a welcome change, not to mention one that can be cooked outside on the grill, to not add any more unwanted heat to the house.

This is another recipe that I came across and tried in the second edition of the Sopranos cookbook. I can just envision Carm, Rosalie, and Adriana sitting around gabbing over something at Vesuvios eating something similar to this. It’s doesn’t really get simpler – basically, a grilled seasoned chicken breast that’s served with a quick salad tossed with a vinaigrette on top.

Figure-friendly, yet still tons of flavor and delicious. Fills you up without bogging you down. And, is super quick. All of those things are welcome in the summer months around here!

Chicken Paillards with Tomato-Olive Salad

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme or basil, chopped

For the salad:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 cups salad greens
2 ripe medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup black olives(such as Gaeta or Kalamata), pitted and coarsely chopped

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Place a chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and gently pound the chicken until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining chicken. Place the pieces in a bowl and toss them with the oil, thyme, salt, and pepper.

In a large salad bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the salad greens, tomatoes, and olives to the bowl on top of the dressing – but do not toss until ready to serve.

Place the chicken breasts on the grill and cook for about 7-9 minutes on each side, depending on their size. You want an internal temperature of 165 and the juices should be clear. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes. You could also certainly cook the chicken breasts on a grill pan or skillet inside.

Arrange the chicken on plates. Toss the greens, tomatoes, and olives with the dressing. Place the salad on top of the chicken and serve immediately.

Source: barely adapted from Entertaining with the Sopranos

Skillet Baked Ziti

It’s been a pretty crazy past few days around here. Baby #3 (we’ve decided to call him Nathan from here on out!) ended up being a week overdue before he finally arrived late Thursday afternoon. He is a big boy, born at 9 lbs 11 ounces and a whopping 21 inches!

nathan

We didn’t home until Saturday night, and are using this week to really get into our new routines and the general “swing of things” with a new baby around. The boys are adjusting just fine, very interested and inquisitive about every detail of Nathan’s life. I feel so lucky to have all these boys to take care of!

Back to this pasta – a cheesy “baked” pasta that’s ready in just a few minutes and only uses one pan – is pretty much a gift sent from the Gods for the crazy nights we have coming up in our future. It was so darned good too, I found myself picking off pieces of pasta for “one more bite” before we packed the leftovers away!

The pasta sauce is easy to bring together, using pantry staples. It gets a heavy dose of flavor from the addition of pork sausage, and richness from the addition of a bit of heavy cream. And I’d imagine that any pasta shape would be fine – although I happen to be partial to the tubular pastas like ziti and penne for these kinds of applications. The pasta is cooked in the sauce on the stove, then when it’s al-dente it’s topped with a good amount of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese that gets melted and browned with a quick trip to the hot oven.

Served with a quick salad and a crunchy piece of garlic bread, it’s too good to be such a delicious and easy weeknight meal. Make this one soon, guys!

Source: ATK’s Pasta Revolution, via Pink Parsley