Well, it’s official, as of yesterday, Minnesota has had it’s first snow storm.  Welcome winter, I guess.  It’s really fine with me if I’m going to be stranded inside as long as I have warm, comfort food to keep me feeling cozy and satisfied.  Growing up, I don’t have a single memory of my mom using a crock pot and therefore, I don’t have a whole bunch of slow cooker recipes in my repertoire.  But I have been trying to change that lately because it gives me so much more freedom when I get home from work if dinner is already done, smelling wonderful and just waiting for me to serve up.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili {satisfymysweettooth.com}

This Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili made in the crock pot really blew me away.  I couldn’t believe how wonderfully tender and easy to shred the chicken was and the flavor of onions, garlic, green peppers with chili powder and cumin after the chili had been simmering away all day is really something special.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili {satisfymysweettooth.com}

The intensity of flavor that ingredients acquire after cooking on low heat for a long time is so much greater than if you were to just throw this soup together on the stovetop for example.  This Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili could be modified to include any of your favorite ingredients.  Corn and green chiles are top on my list of what I might add next time, although I loved this soup so much, I might not want to change it.  The chili powder and jalapeño give the soup just a subtle low burn of heat and the fresh lime juice added at the end together with the cilantro garnished on top of the chili is just perfection.

Easy Chicken Chili (Crock pot)

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I use low-sodium broth)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lime
  • lime, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, cheese for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place chicken into crock pot. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place onion, green pepper, garlic, jalapeño, and tomatoes into crock pot.
  3. Add chicken broth, chili powder and cumin.
  4. Turn crock pot on low heat and cook for 7 1/2 hours.
  5. Add black beans and juice of half of the lime and cook for another 1/2 hour.
  6. Serve with garnishes.

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Chili {satisfymysweettooth.com}

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Besides Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart, one other dish that I simply must have once summer has finally arrived is classic, fresh bruschetta.  Fresh from the garden tomatoes and basil combined with garlic and olive oil makes the most perfect combination.

I love to put twists on classic recipes like bruschetta and so this Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta is just different enough that you still recognize the flavors, but your tastebuds are pleasantly surprised by the slightly charred flavor that grilling the bread provides.

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta {satisfymysweettooth.com}

I started my Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta by dicing five vine on tomatoes.  To the diced tomatoes, I added two cloves of crushed garlic.  I like my garlic flavor to be strong, but if you would like it to be a little more mild, just add one clove.  Finally, I cut a small bunch of basil into thin strips.  All of these ingredients are combined in a bowl and get drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  I let the tomato mixture sit out on the counter while I prepare the bread by slicing a baguette and smearing one side of each piece of bread with a light coating of salted butter.

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta {satisfymysweettooth.com}

The key to the Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta is the grilled bread (duh), but if you don’t have an outdoor grill at your disposal, a hot grill pan will do the trick.  Heat your grill to medium-high heat and once it is good and hot, place the pieces of baguette buttered-side down onto the grill.

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta {satisfymysweettooth.com}

You will only need to have the bread on the grill for about 5 minutes or less, depending on how hot your grill is.  You just want nice, dark brown grill marks on the bread.  I then placed my grilled bread onto an old cookie sheet that I wasn’t worried about getting a little charred on the grill.  I topped the bread with the tomato mixture and a sprinkle of shaved parmesan cheese and then put the whole cookie sheet back onto the grill just until the tomato mixture was heated through and the parmesan was slightly melted.

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta is the perfect appetizer to bring on any summer booze cruise, which is what I did with it at the lake cabin or to serve as an appetizer before the rest of your grilled meal.

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta {satisfymysweettooth.com}

Grilled Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 16-20 pieces

A summer classic kicked up a notch by the slightly charred flavor of buttered and grilled baguette

Ingredients

  • 5 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • one baguette
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • shaved parmesan cheese (for topping)

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil in a medium bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Slice baguette and spread a thin layer of salted butter onto one side of each slice.
  4. Place bread buttered-side down onto the heated grill. Grill for about 5 minutes or until bread is lightly browned and has dark brown grill marks. Watch closely as the bread can burn easily.
  5. Place the bread, grilled-side up onto a cookie sheet. Top each slice with 1-2 Tbsp of the tomato mixture.
  6. Sprinkle each piece with parmesan.
  7. Place sheet onto grill and heat until tomato mixture is heated through and the cheese is slightly melted.

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Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by Le Creuset.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup is still one of my favorite comfort foods.  Yesterday, after a great first full day back at work for the fall, all I wanted when I got home for the night was a big bowl of comfort and some couch time.  While my craving is still the same as when I was a little girl, my version of this dish has grown up.  My tomato soup is a recipe from my aunt that is creamy and full of dill and dumplings.  The grilled cheese sandwiches have transformed into buttery, crispy, cheesy ooziness on hearty artisanal bread.  When my mom used to make my grilled cheeses, I loved the good old processed American cheese.  But now, I want a cheese that is made from real ingredients and doesn’t get completely lost in the bread.  Sargento offers real cheeses that are easily accessible in any grocery store.  Compared to processed cheeses, Sargento cheese has much more complex flavor and texture.  When it melts into my sandwich, it is soft and chewy but never rubbery like some processed cheeses can be.  And I feel good knowing that I am putting real dairy product into my body and contributing to my daily calcium intake.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was given the opportunity to sample some Sargento products and I chose the sliced Muenster for these sandwiches.  Before I knew it, I was full and content.

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Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by KitchenAid.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Do you ever wonder if our brains are more active today than in the past?  Lately, I find that I cannot only complete one task at a time.  I have to be multi-tasking.  I write my blog while I watch TV.  I check my email and Twitter while I am on the elliptical machine at the gym.  I write to-do lists while I listen to a seminar.  I am not proud of this multi-tasking.  Sometimes it makes me feel a bit dizzy.  Is this healthy that our brains are constantly whirling from one thing to the next?  Is it some form of an attention deficit that we have all developed due to all of the elements of society that compete for our attention at once?  Or do I just need to give up my morning latte??  What do you think?

Ok, let’s just focus on two things:  the upcoming holiday weekend and bruschetta.  Labor Day weekend is a great time to decompress from the craziness of summer and focus our minds to get geared up for the impending fall and winter.  I will be headed to the lake cabin for “one last hoorah” with the family.  I have spent all evening baking so that I have a hearty stock of treats to feed all of those sweet teeth.  An easy appetizer that I will make for the weekend that takes advantage of the late summer’s bounty of produce is classic bruschetta.  When I lived at home with my mom, all summer long she kept a jar of bruschetta ready-to-go in the refrigerator.  That way, if an unexpected guest stopped by, she always had something fresh to serve them.  As she would deplete the jar or tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil, she would chop and mince a few more ingredients and add them back to the jar.  To me, nothing tastes like summer as much as tomatoes and basil.  And for the perfect cocktail to accompany this simple appetizer, Emily’s exquisitely refreshing Champagne Mojitos are a must.

 

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I was a little green yesterday.  With envy, not with a tummy ache don’t worry.  I was talking with a friend who was raving about all of the wonderful produce that her garden has produced this summer and how she has so much she doesn’t know what to do with it.  Boy, that’s a tough problem to have, isn’t it?  I live in a condo in the city with no outdoor space for a garden, but I can’t wait to someday have tomatoes and herbs growing out of my ears!  I think it must be such a wonderful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to go out to your garden and pick the ingredients for your meals, come inside and wash them and just enjoy the clean, organic splendor of your own produce.  Someday sweet teeth, someday.

As for now, I love to support our local farmers’ markets.  Last week my mom and I bought all of the ingredients for salsa and spent a few hours of fun in the kitchen.  Again, I love that canning gives you the ability to capture the flavors of a season and enjoy them all year long.  Do you ever get attached to your ingredients or final products as you are baking or cooking?  For example, my imagination went wild while I was treating each tomato for the salsa with care.   In my mind, first, my tomatoes got to enjoy a few minutes in the hot tub (blanching them in hot water), then they were submerged in a refreshing pool (ice bath), then I gave their skin a peel (literally peeling the skin off) and massaged the little babies (crushed them with my hands to break them up).  I hope my tomatoes enjoyed their day at my spa and I think I have officially divulged way to much information about myself to you!!!

Canned Salsa

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: snack side vegetarian vegan vegetables

Ingredients (6-7 quarts or 12 pints)

  • 13 pounds tomatoes
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 6 green peppers, diced
  • 5 jalepeños, diced
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (12 oz.) can tomato paste
  • Special Equipment: canner, jars, lids, rings, candy thermometer

Instructions

Clean jars with hot water and boil lids before processing.

Fill large stock pot with water and heat to a boil. Place tomatoes into water and blanch until skins begin to split. Remove tomatoes and place into ice bath. Peel, core and remove any blemishes from blanched tomatoes, then crush tomatoes by hand into large pot that salsa will be cooked in.

Add all other ingredients to pot with tomatoes and stir. Place candy thermometer into mixture and heat on medium until temperature reaches 180º. Once mixture reaches 180°, simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and cook another 10 minutes.

Turn off heat and pour salsa into prepared quart or pint jars. Seal with boiled lids and rings and process in boiling water for 15 minutes.

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 blanch tomatoes in boiling water until skins split

place blanched tomatoes into ice bath

peel, core and remove blemishes from tomatoes

dice and mince other vegetables

place all ingredients into large pot

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