Saturday, May 22, 2010


I was introduced to carnitas by my father-in-law, who brought it home from the store one night for dinner. Turns out, this is one of my husband's favorite things, so when I stumbled across a crockpot recipe for it, I was very excited.

What's Needed:
1 2-lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
Ground black pepper
1 T. whole black peppercorns
2 tsp. cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
3 bay leaves
2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
2 T. lime juice
12 6-inch crisp corn tortillas
Your choice of salsa and sour cream

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place in crockpot.

2. Make a bouquet garni by cutting a 6-inch square from a double thickness of 100%-cotton cheesecloth. Place peppercorns, cumin seeds, garlic, oregano, and bay leaves in the center of the square. Bring up the corners and tie with clean 100%-cottom kitchen string (or, tie the ends of the cheesecloth together--that's what I normally do). If you don't have cheesecloth, use a coffee filter.

3. Add bouquet garni to the crockpot and pour broth over meat.

4. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or on HIGH for 4.5-5 hours.

5. Using a slotted spatula, remove meat from slow cooker. Discart bouquet garni and cooking liquid. Using two forks, pull meat apart into shreds; discard any fat.

6. Sprinkle meat with lime juice; toss to mix. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, and salsa.

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus: 10 (about 5 oz. of meat and two corn tortillas)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Breakfast :)

It was my grade-level's turn to make breakfast for the hungry teachers at school. My donation to the cause was this totally easy, very scrumptious strata. It was a cinch to put together the night before. In the morning, all I had to do was stick it in the oven while I got ready for work! I wish I had taken pictures, because they looked as good as they tasted.

What's Needed:
1 1-lb. loaf cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 eggs, slightly beaten
2 C. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 21-oz. can pie filling (either apple, cherry, or peach)
1/2 C. slivered almonds, toasted
Powdered sugar

1. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Place prepared bread in pan; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and almond extract. Stir in your choice of pie filling and half of the almonds. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread in the pan. Press down lightly with the back of a wooden spoon to moisten all of the bread. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 325. Bake, uncovered, about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Sift powdered sugar over. Makes 8 (rather big) servings

Co-workers rating: (based on the comments I received) A
PointsPlus: 10

Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens: 9x13 Pan That Can

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

This is what's left of dinner tonight. Everyone loved it :) What could be better than spaghetti and meatsauce in pie form?

What's Needed:
4 oz. dried spaghetti
1 T butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. ground beef
1/2 C. chopped onion
1/2 C. chopped green sweet pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 C. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Cook spaghetti; drain. REturn spaghetti to hot saucepan and keep warm.

2. Stir butter into hot pasta until melted. STir in egg and Parmesan cheese; set aside.

3. In a medium skillet, cook ground beef, onion, sweet pepper, and garlic over medium heat until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat. STir in tomato sauce and oregano; heat through.

4. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press spaghetti mixture onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Sprinkle with 1/2 the mozzerella cheese on the bottom and up the sides of the pasta crust. Spread meat mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle top with more cheese.

5. Bake in a 350 oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubly and heated through. To serve, cut into wedges.

Husband's Grade: B
PointsPlus: 8 points per wedge

Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

Greek Chicken (better than the first)

My first attempt at Greek Chicken (with the orzo pasta) turned out less than satisfactory. This attempt...marvelous! This uses potatoes instead of orzo pasta and was almost every bit as good as my favorite Greek chicken dinner from Yorky's!

What's Needed:

6 medium-sized potatoes, quartered
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large onions, quartered
1/2 C. water
1 T. olive oil
1.5-2 T. Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning
A dash of garlic powder

1. Place potatoes in bottom of crockpot. Add chicken and onions. Sprinkle a dash of garlic powder and a dash of the Greek seasoning over everything.

2. In a small bowl, mix water with the rest of the Greek seasoning.

3. Pour water mix over chicken and potatoes. Top with oil.

4. Cover. Cook on HIGH 5-6 hours or LOW 9-10 hours.

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus: 6 (1/2 a chicken breast and 2-3 potato quarters)

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Back to my German roots with this meal. I love Sauerbraten, but this is the first crockpot recipe I've ever found for it.

What's Needed:

4 lb. lean beef rump roast
1 C. water
1 C. vinegar
1 lemon, sliced but unpeeled
10 whole cloves
1 large onion, sliced
4 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
2 T. salt
2 T. sugar
12 low-fat gingersnaps, crumbled

1. Place meat in a deep glass bowl.

2. Combine water, vinegar, lemon, cloves, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and sugar. Pour over meat. Cover and refrigerate for about 12 hours (if you do this the night before you're ready to cook it, that's perfect!) Turn meat several times while marinating.

3. Place beef in slow cooker. Pour 1 cup marinade over meat.

4. Cover. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Remove meat.

5. Strain meat juices (I used a colander over a deep cooking pot to do this). Return juices to pot. Turn crockpot to HIGH. Stir in gingersnaps. Cover and cook on HIGH 10-14 minutes, OR until gravy thickens.

6. Allow meat to rest for 15 minutes. Slice. Pour finished sauce over meat to serve. Serves 12.

Suggestion: Serve with mashed potatoes.

Husband's Grade: A
PointsPlus: 6 points (without potatoes)

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Boeuf a la Bourguignonne

Wow--Julia Childs I am not, but this was perfection. After Julie/Julia came out in the movie theater, I was determined to actually sit down and look at the one Julia Childs cookbook I had. I decided that I was not skilled enough as a cook to master what she had written, so I gave up. Cue my new crockpot recipe. It was easy enough to make me feel like I could accomplish a good dinner without wasting food, and impressive enough to serve to company :) I would definitely change a few things next time (like not forgetting to top the dinner with the bacon I had fried up, and using the mushrooms instead of opting to leave them out), but all and all, this was delicious.

What's Needed:
3 slices turkey bacon, corasely chopped
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 stems fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/4 bag frozen, cut carrots
2 C. frozen small whole onions (pearl onions)
3 T. quick-cooking tapioca, crushed
1 C. Burgundy wine
1/2 C. beef broth
1/4 C. brandy
1 T. tomato paste
Mashed potatoes

1. In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet. Cover and chill bacon until serving time.

2. Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes. Heat drippings over medium high heat. Cook half of the meat in drippings until browned; remove from skillet. Add remaining meat, chopped onions, and garlic to skillet. Cook until meat is brown and onions are tender. Remove from heat. Combine all meat in skillet.

3. Make a spice bag out of an 8-inch square from 100% cotton cheese cloth. Place parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and peppercorns in the center of the cloth. Bring up the corners and tied using clean 100% cotton kitchen string. Set aside.

4. In crockpot, combine carrots and whole (pearl) onions. Sprinkle with tapioca. Spoon meat mixture over that in the crockpot. Add spice bag.

5. In a small bowl, whisk together wine, broth, brandy, and tomato paste. Pour over mixture in crockpot.

6. Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve beef over mashed potatoes.

Husband's Grade: A+
PointsPlus: 9 points per serving

Inspired by: Better Homes and Gardens The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coq au Vin

What a beautiful dinner this turned out to be. I highly suggest serving it with egg noodles. I served it with wheat penne. It was still good, but I think egg noodles would be better.

What's Needed:

4 slices turkey bacon
1 1/2 C. frozen pearl onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C. dry red wine
3/4 C. fat-free chicken broth
1/4 C. tomato paste
3 T. flour

1. Cook bacon. Crumble after cooking.

2. Layer ingredients in slower cooker: onions, crumbled bacon, garlic, thyme, pepper, chicken, wine, and broth.

3. Cover. Cook on LOW 5-6 hours.

4. Remove chicken and vegetables. Cover and keep warm.

5. Ladle 1/2 C. liquid into bowl. Turn slow cooker to high. Cover.

6. Mix removed liquid, tomato paste, and flour until smooth.

7. Return mixture to slow cooker. Cover. Cook 15 minutes or until thickened.

Husband's Grade: C (I thought it was about a B)
PointsPlus: 6

Inspired by: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly