Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Well, as promised in my last post, here it is. A chicken you can make in your crockpot that will taste like a rotisserie chicken. I was inspired to try this when I was browsing the spice aisle at my local grocery store and noticed a bottle of spices called "rotisserie." So, I went home and googled the spice combination and came across a recipe for a crockpot rotisserie chicken on A Year of Crockpotting. It looked easy enough, and I decided if it turned out well, it would be a lot more economical than buying rotisserie chickens at the grocery store to use in various recipes.

I hope you like this recipe. It couldn't have been easier and came out so tender and delicious. It didn't taste exactly like the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but it was very close, and the meat was even more tender. I'd make it again in a minute.

Please try to ignore how bad this picture is. Thanks.

Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken
From A Year of Crockpotting, adapted slightly

1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs)
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of chili powder
4 whole garlic cloves (optional)
1 small onion, quartered (optional)

In a bowl combine all dried spices. Rub the mixture all over the bird, including inside the cavity.

If desired, place the garlic and onion inside the cavity.

Place the chicken in your crockpot, breast side down. Do not add any liquid. Cook on low for about 8 hrs.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indian Butter Chicken

I recently dabbled into making curry. I don't know why, but for some reason, making Indian food seemed a little out of my reach. I don't know what changed my mind. I think I figured that if so many people like curries, they can't be that hard to make. I know that logic doesn't exactly follow, but go with it, OK?

Given that my husband has some different tastes than I do, I decided that Chicken Makhani, or Butter Chicken, was the safest bet for the two of us. Sort of as I suspected, I got mixed reviews. I thought it was great, but my husband thought it was OK, but had the same spicy/sweet combination he doesn't like in Chinese food. I think that's crazy, but to each his own, I guess. I didn't get that at all from this recipe, but if you do have those same issues with Chinese, this recipe may not be for you. If you don't have those issues, I suspect you'll love it, too.

Chicken Makhani
Recipe from FoodNetwork, adapted
Serves 4-5

Prep Time - 5 minutes

Cook Time - about 30 min


Spice Blend
1 tsp garam masala seasoning*
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

3 TBSP butter
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 skinless rotisserie chicken, pulled & cut into small chunks**
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup heavy cream

Hot basmati rice, for serving
warm Naan bread, for serving

Spice Blend
Stir the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add garlic, tomato paste, and spice blend, and cook about 1 minute. Stir constantly.

Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir well.

Add the chicken pieces and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is warmed through. Stir frequently.

Serve over hot, buttered basmati rice with warm naan bread.

*The original recipe calls for 1 TBSP of garam masala seasoning and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon in addition to the spices listed. This smelled almost exclusively like cinnamon to me, so I omitted the cinnamon and reduced the amount of garam masala. I would do this again.

**I made a rotisserie spiced chicken in my crockpot. It was super simple and delicious. I will post that recipe soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spaghetti & Meatballs

When I was growing up, spaghetti was always a jar of Ragu or Prego mixed with some ground beef browned with some salt & pepper, and mushrooms. We're Swedish - Italian food really isn't our forte. I loved my parents' spaghetti when I was a kid and didn't know any better, but as I've grown up, my tastes have grown a bit as well, and I now love a nice plate (or bowl) of spaghetti with meatballs, in a nice homemade marinara sauce. In fact, if I order any kind of spaghetti in an Italian restaurant, that's what I'll order. However, I'd never made them at home. I'm not sure if it never dawned on me or if I was somehow intimidated by the Italian spiced meatball, but I finally got over whatever my issue was, read a few different recipes to get an idea of the general ingredients, and made them.

They were great. And as an added bonus, the leftovers make excellent meatball subs.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Serves 4-5
Prep & Cook Time - about an hour

1 lb ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 TBSP tomato paste
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6-7 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
Marinara sauce
1 lb spaghetti, cooked to al dente.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Roll the mixture into small balls. Place the balls on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until meatballs are fully cooked.

Meanwhile, start your marinara sauce. I usually make mine by combining some canned tomato sauce or crushed tomato with lots of garlic & basil, until it tastes good. This recipe is excellent.

When meatballs are fully cooked, remove from the oven and add to your marinara sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Serve on a bed of cooked spaghetti noodles. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Best Chocolate Cheesecake. Ever.

Like the title says, this is the best chocolate cheesecake. Ever. I first made it when I had to make dessert to bring to dinner at my in-laws about a year and a half ago. But that time, I sort of cheated and bought a pre-made crust. I've made it several times that way and it's always delicious. However, when I decided to make a cheesecake for dinner with my mother-in-law recently, I decided to stop cheating and make it in an actual springform pan.

I was quite pleased with the results, even though the only chocolate wafer cookies or graham crackers I could find happened to be teddy grahams. But the teddy graham crust was my little secret.

You'll really love this cheesecake. Give it a try - you won't regret it.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Recipe by Emeril Lagasse

Serves 12-ish

1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1 cup plus 3 TBSP sugar
3 TBSP butter, melted
2 1/2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
8 oz melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
Fresh strawberries or raspberries, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 TBSP of the sugar, and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of springform pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy, but do not over-beat.

Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well, but do not over-beat.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Again, make sure you do not over-beat the mixture.

Meanwhile, prepare a water bath by making a water-tight seal around the spring form pan with aluminum foil.

Pour the batter into prepared pan. Place the pan in a large roaster and place warm water in the roaster about 1/2 way up the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake remain in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Toasties & Chips

The Toasted Special, or the Toastie, is Irish pub grub, in my opinion, at its best. It's a simple sandwich that you can find anywhere, it's cheap, and it's always satisfying. I think I ate one every single day on my last trip to Ireland. In short, it's a toasted ham & cheese sandwich with onion & tomato, usually served with some thick fries. Unfortunately, they're virtually impossible to find in any Irish pub I've been to in the United States.

The good news is that they're super simple to recreate at home in your oven or toaster oven. So what's stopping you? Go make one already.

Toasted Special
Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices white bread
3 slices deli ham
thinly sliced cheddar cheese (enough to cover the bread - 3 did it for me)
Red onion slices, to taste
2 slices thinly sliced tomato

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Assemble sandwich in the following order: ham, cheese, onion, tomato.

Place the sandwich in the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted and almost oozing out the sides.

Cut diagonally into four triangles.