Pulled Turkey & Gravy

“…and remember, an apron is just a cape on backwards!”

This is an incredibly easy-to-cook and easy-to-eat recipe. The author is Courtney O’Dell at sweetcsdesigns.com … I pretty much stayed with her exact recipe except that I substituted Smoked Paprika for regular paprika and I added an additional hour of cook time plus extra gravy because my bird was almost 7 lbs.

Seasoned and in the pot


Ingredients:

One 5­ – 7 lb turkey breast, on the bone
One tbsp coarse sea salt
One tbsp fresh cracked pepper
One tbsp oregano, fresh or dried
One tbsp dried cilantro
One tbsp rosemary, fresh or dried
One-half tsp paprika
Two 18.3 oz cartons ready­made turkey gravy, divided (I used Swanson in the box-carton)

Ready to serve


Instructions:

1. In a large crockpot, apply cooking oil spray to the bottom to prevent sticking.
2. Season turkey by rubbing herbs/seasonings onto the skin.
3. Roll up two sheets of aluminum foil into balls.
4. Place the balls of foil on each side of the turkey, propping it up so the bony cavity is at the bottom and the fat
is up top (this helps baste the bird in it’s own juices).
5. Cover and cook on high two and a half hours.
6. Remove foil.
7. Add one carton of gravy gently pouring it over the bird.
8. Cover again and cook another two and a half hours.
9. When turkey is 175 degrees internally, and a bright opaque white, turn off the crockpot and remove the turkey into a large pan or baking dish … it may be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice in a bowl where a skimming ladle can be used to remove excess fat. Always allow the liquid to rest and cool for several minutes, so the fat will rise to the top.
10. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot along with the de-greased gravy.

Served over cornbread dressing


11. Add remaining carton of gravy to the crockpot and let simmer on low until ready to be served. Sprinkle with a little paprika just before serving.
12. Great over cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, in sandwiches, over rice, or on it’s own!

Beef & Mushroom Stew

“Nourish the body, feed the soul.”

This will likely be my last post for 2016 but the timing is perfect. Much of the country has been hit by a cold front so what better time to prepare a hot, rich beef stew. I first saw this recipe several places on the Internet and I believe I’ve tracked it’s origin to Campbells.com and this was my inspiration. Of course, I made a few small changes on my recipe!

Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef bottom round (rump) roast or chuck pot roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Adobo seasoning (or substitute Kosher salt)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed French Onion Soup

Beef & Mushroom Stew


1 cup Burgundy or other dry red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
10 ounces mushrooms, cut in half or sliced (about 3 cups)
6 ounces baby carrots, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup water, divided

Directions:
1. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag add the pepper and Adobo to 1/4 cup of flour. Place the beef in the bag and shake it to coat with the flour. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned, stirring often.
2. Stir the beef, soup, wine, garlic, Italian seasoning, mushrooms, carrots, shallot and potatoes with 1/4 cup of water in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or until the beef is fork-tender.
4. Stir the remaining flour and water in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth. Stir the flour mixture in the cooker. Increase the heat to HIGH. Cover and cook for 15 to 30 minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens.

Our Black-Eyed Peas

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

This really isn’t OUR recipe but since my wife discovered it and I ‘fine-tuned’ it, we are calling it Our recipe! Actually, my wife heard about this recipe on a TV gardening show and the host made it clear that he knew the ingredients but not how much of each. I experimented with the measurements on two batches and finally came up with this recipe which we really enjoy served over fresh, hot cornbread.

Our Black-eyed Peas

Our Black-eyed Peas

The secret, or success, of this recipe is to use a smoked turkey wing instead of the traditional salted pork or bacon. This recipe should be easy to modify to serve two people or twenty.

Ingredients:

    24 oz. Black-eyed Peas, frozen or fresh
    32+ oz. Chicken Broth, enough to cover the peas
    1 Turkey Wing, smoked
    1 tsp Adobo (Mexican powdered seasoning)
    1 tsp Garlic powder
    1 tsp Onion powder
    1 tsp Canola Oil
    ¼ tsp Red Pepper flakes, crushed

    Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings and oil with a cup of the Chicken Broth. Mix well and set aside.
2. Place the Turkey Wing in a pot or large pan and cover it with the peas.
3. Pour in the seasoning mixture and enough Chicken Broth to cover the peas by about a half inch.
4. Cook on a low heat for 2 to 3 hours carefully stirring occasionally to ensure that the peas don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
5. Using a slotted spoon and tongs, remove the bones, skin, and other waste from the Turkey Wing and discard. Leave the turkey meat and shred it into chunks with two forks.
6. Serve as a side dish or even as an entrée over cornbread or even rice.
7. Serves four to six.

Crockpot Pulled Chicken

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.”

This recipe is basically identical to that for Crockpot Pulled Pork except we use a whole chicken instead of a pork roast. Being the same recipe, I must therefore give Brian Gray at www.UrbanBohemian.com credit for kindly giving me permission to use his recipe as the inspiration for mine (which differs only slightly). I’ve made this recipe many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser. I usually compliment it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce and serve it on Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls or stuffed in steamed corn tortillas…some folks opt to eat the meat alone with no bread.

Bird in the bag.

Bird in the bag.


It is important to note that the MarTex Dry Rub (recipe below & elsewhere) gives the pulled chicken a savory taste … definitely not sweet. I prefer my pulled chicken savory so if you prefer sweet then I would suggest that you find a sweet dry rub and use it instead of the Texas Chicken Rub … you might even consider using the sweet version of Brian’s Butt Rub listed on the Pulled Pork recipe.

This recipe typically will serve 8 people and you’ll still have leftovers … sooo, if you are only feeding 4 to 6 people then you might want to use a smaller chicken!

Crockpot Pulled Pork with MarTex Dry Rub

Bird in the pot!

Bird in the pot!


1 6-8 pound whole Chicken fryer
2 medium Shallots cut in half long-wise
1 batch of MarTex Dry Rub (see recipe below & elsewhere)

After removing the neck and giblets (if applicable) use cold water to rinse the chicken and then dry it with paper towels. Although really messy, use your hands to coat the chicken evenly with the dry rub. Depending on the size of the chicken it may take 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry rub. Place the four pieces of shallot in the chicken body cavity.

Place the chicken in one of those really large zip-lock bags (or cover in plastic wrap) and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and, if possible, overnight is even better.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.


Remove the chicken from the bag and place it in a large crockpot with the cavity hole pointed upwards or in such a way that the pieces of shallot don’t fall out. DO NOT ADD WATER OR ANY LIQUID. Cook on high for 3 hours. After this initial period of cooking use two large forks and turn the chicken over in the crockpot (don’t worry about the shallot falling out now). Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 3 hours.

Turn off the crockpot and remove the chicken into a large pan or baking dish … it will be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot. Depending on how moist you want it, pour some of the juice back over the shredded chicken. Return the crockpot to the low setting and serve the pulled chicken warm.

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

MarTex Dry Rub

Ingredients:
3 T Smoked Salt (regular or Kosher can be substituted)
1/2 T Black Pepper
1/2 T White Pepper (substitute Lemon Pepper if for Chicken)
1/2 T Chili Powder
1/2 T Oregano
1 T Smoked or Spanish Paprika (reg. Hungarian can be substituted)
1 T Onion Powder
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (more if you like really spicy)
1/4 tsp Ginger

Optional Ingredients if you desire slightly sweet:
3/4 C Turbinado Sugar (Lt. Brown Sugar can be substituted)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground

Add all the ingredients to a small zip-lock plastic bag and shake it until the contents are well blended. What you don’t use can be left in the sealed bag for months.

Ranch White Chicken Chili (CrockPot)

“Warm thoughts. Soup puts the heart at ease…” A. Escoffier

In Texas, and for that matter most of the U.S., we’ve been experiencing a really miserable cold spell so I’ve been trying to eat as many “keep you warm” dishes that I can find and this is one of them. Although recipes similar to this one are available on dozens of websites, I chose as my inspiration Stacey Little’s recipe on his site named Southern Bite and I was so pleased with it that I changed very few of his original ingredients. Stacey has hundreds of unbelievable recipes (including a great cookbook offer) on his site and I strongly encourage you to give him a look-see.

Prep Time: 30 min – Cooking time: 5-7 hours
Serves 6

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds chicken breasts or tenders, boneless, skinless
• 2 – 15 oz. cans white Great Northern beans, drained
• 1 – 11 oz. can of white shoepeg corn, drained (or 1 ½ cups of frozen white corn)
• 1 medium shallot, minced (orig. recipe called for onion)
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 package ranch dressing mix
• 1 – 4 oz. canned chopped mild green chiles
• 3 – cups of chicken broth
• 2 – tsps cumin
• 2 – tsps oregano
• 2 – chicken bullion cubes
• 1/4 – tsp smoked salt
• 1/4 – tsp white pepper

Toppings:
• Tabasco, optional topping
• sour cream, optional topping
• chopped fresh cilantro
• shredded Monterrey Jack cheese or cheddar
• tortilla chips

White Chicken Chili (made in a crockpot)

White Chicken Chili (made in a crockpot)


Directions:

1. In the crock of a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine the broth, shallot, garlic, cumin, oregano, bullion cubes, salt & pepper and ranch dressing powder. Add the chicken breasts to the broth, cover, and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
2. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and add the drained beans, chilies, and corn. Add additional (but carefully) salt and pepper to taste. Return the lid to the slow cooker and cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken, beans, and corn are heated through. Serve with a dollop of fresh sour cream, grated cheese and fresh cilantro.

Crock-Pot Ranch Mushrooms

“Annoying the cook will result in smaller portions.”

I grew up living a rather limited cuisine-wise life which was mostly my fault for being so picky (because my mom was a very good cook). Anyway, I never ate a mushroom until I was approaching the age of AARP eligibility!  Now, I eat mushroom dishes almost every chance I get and I especially love this simple recipe. I wish I could credit the recipe’s creator but that would be almost impossible because it appears on literally dozens of cooking websites and blogs.

Raw, washed Mushrooms in the Crock-Pot

Raw, washed Mushrooms in the Crock-Pot

Ingredients:

½ cup Butter, melted (one stick)

16 oz Mushrooms, whole, white or brown, small to medium

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing or dip dry mix (1 oz)

Instructions:

First some discussion … (a) Fresh mushrooms usually have to be cleaned and it isn’t an easy task. I fill the sink with several inches of cool water and pour the entire box of mushrooms into it and stir them around with my hand for several minutes. Then, I take a small soft-bristle paint brush and use it to brush off the specks of dirt from each mushroom while holding it under running water from the faucet. Once clean, I place the mushrooms in the crock-pot. (b) it is your call, but it is not necessary to trim off the mushroom stems. (c) Depending on your preference, you may want to slice the mushrooms before cooking them … I like to do this if we plan to eat them served over steaks. (d) Hidden Valley Ranch makes dressing mix and they make dip mix … either will work fine with this recipe. (e) This is supposed to be a recipe for four servings but considering that the mushrooms reduce down during the long cooking time, the four servings end up being a bit skimpy … for this reason, I usually double the recipe or, at least, add to it by half. Okay, let’s get to cooking ….

Cooked, just out of the Crock-Pot

Cooked, just out of the Crock-Pot

  1. Using non-stick spray, lightly spray the inside of the crock-pot bowl and place the cleaned mushrooms in the bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl combine the melted butter and dry mix and whisk until well blended.
  3. Pour the butter mixture over the mushrooms in the crock-pot.
  4. Set the crock-pot to LOW and cook for 4 hours (5 won’t hurt). Although it is unnecessary, I often start occasionally stirring the mushrooms after about 3 hrs but this is only an excuse to eat a few!
  5. What are you waiting for … it’s ready … go eat!

    On the plate, ready to eat!

    On the plate, ready to eat!

 

Chili

“Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule, or a cook.”

Chili is the official state dish of Texas. Although considered a cold-weather favorite, it is a year round staple for millions of Texans. Many folks make their chili from scratch and I respect them for that … I, on the other hand, am a lazy cook and I prefer to use a mix that is acknowledged as being one of the best in Texas. Agnor Chili Mix is simple to prepare and cook and is always a crowd pleaser.

I met Albert Agnor when I was a youngster and I remember enjoying his chili when I was in high school. While away at college I regularly used to receive bulk size packages of Agnor’s mix in boxes labeled Aggie Care Package … I can’t tell you how many starving college students fed on that chili we cooked in pop-corn warmers.

Pot Of Chili

Pot Of Chili


On the advice of Albert Agnor himself, I make my chili a little different from the package label instructions … I use beer instead of water. I’m kind of wimpy when it comes to spicy food so my chili might be a bit mild for some. If preferred, you can add hot sauce, sliced jalapenos, chopped onions, chiles, Cilantro, etc. Although thought to be blasphemous in Texas, some people (not my family) add beans to their chili.

I like to eat my chili in a bowl mixed with corn chips and grated cheddar cheese and maybe a dollop of sour cream. Crushed saltines are a good substitute for chips. Chili can be served atop most any food … hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, rice, hot tamales, enchiladas, and the list goes on and on ….

Ingredients and Instructions:

1. Brown 2 ½ lbs. of lean ground meat (use beef, venison, turkey, or any combination of them … I typically use ½ beef and ½ venison). Drain and pour into 4-qt Crock Pot.

2. Add One 1 lb. 12oz. can of crushed tomatoes

3. Add 18 oz. regular beer … that’s 1 ½ cans so you can drink the remaining half can

4. Stir in the contents of the 4 oz. Agnor Chili Mix package

5. Cook in Crock Pot on low setting for 6 to 8 hours

Some notes … All the alcohol in the beer cooks away so don’t worry about it. Although it won’t have the same body, you can substitute water for the beer. If you are in a hurry, you can cook this recipe in a large soup pot on the stove top at a steady simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours or on the high setting in the Crock Pot for 3 to 4 hours.

Agnor Chili Mix might be a little difficult to find in some areas. You can CLICK HERE to order it online. If you are in dire straights, there are several packaged mixes that are almost, but not quite, as good as Agnor’s … there’s Shelby’s, Fowler’s, and Williams.

Tortilla Soup (In a CrockPot)

“Soup is the song of the hearth … and the home.” L.P. De Gouy

Thanks to my wife’s suggestions, I am finally beginning to use Pinterest and already I’m convinced that it is an ideal way to discover new and exciting recipes. I am trying to eat a little healthier while remaining true to my Texas heritage and this recipe meets both goals. Although I’ve altered it a bit, the recipe remains pretty close to how Jennifer Miller originally posted it on her Miller Musings website. I encourage you to visit her site, she has some really great recipes … unfortunately, as of March 2015, I can longer find a link to the site.

Ingredients

1 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 10oz can of Ro-Tel (I like the Mild)
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes (I prefer Hunt’s Fire Roasted)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, undrained
1 med. Shallot, finely chopped or minced
2 14.5oz cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 pkg of Taco seasoning (I prefer Old El Paso, low sodium)
½ T dried cilantro

Toppings

tortilla chips (packaged in strips)
sour cream
shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
fresh cilantro
avocado pieces (optional)

Instructions

Cooking in the crockpot

Cooking in the crockpot


Put everything but the chicken and the toppings into the crockpot and stir to mix. Put chicken tenders on top of mixture and make sure they’re covered by the liquid. Cook on high 6 hours or low 8-9 hours. Before serving remove the chicken from the soup using tongs or a slotted spoon and shred if they haven’t already fallen apart. Return chicken to the crockpot, stir to combine.
Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup


To serve put a few tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl, ladle soup over the tortilla chips, top with shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. I like to add small pieces of fresh, ripe avocado as they really add to the flavor of the soup.

Makes 6 Servings

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

“Keep calm and crock on.”

The original recipe that inspired this one came from the website, skinnyms.com. I replaced their chicken breasts with chicken thighs and their onion with a shallot. They recommended serving it over angel hair pasta but I thought there was way too much liquid so I served it over rice the first time and orzo pasta the second time … both were very tasty. Folks, this is an unbelievably fantastic meal and involves so little effort on the cook’s part!

Ingredients:

Balsamic Chicken over Orzo pasta

Balsamic Chicken over Orzo pasta


6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 40 ounces)
2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 medium to large shallot thinly sliced (not chopped)
4 garlic cloves
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil, and rosemary
½ tsp thyme
ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions:

Pour the olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker, add the chicken after you salt & pepper each thigh, put the sliced shallot on top of the chicken and then add all the dried herbs and garlic cloves. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and then top with the tomatoes.

Cook on low for 8 hours, serve over rice or orzo pasta sprinkled with fresh parmesan.

Sweet Creamed Corn

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” Julia Child

This is the perfect side dish for holiday dinners and also pot-luck dinners and should appeal especially to anyone with a sweet-tooth. Easily reheated, it is just as good the second time around as a leftover. About the frozen corn … avoid using packages with their own butter sauce as it will make the final dish much too liquidy.

Sweet Creamed Corn

Sweet Creamed Corn


Ingredients:
32 to 36 ounces corn, frozen
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (brown sugar can be substituted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:
Pour the frozen corn into crock pot (if thawed, be sure to drain it first). Add sugar. Add melted butter. Cube cream cheese into 1 inch pieces and add it to the crock pot. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Add salt to taste before serving.