Cauliflower And Carrot Soup…

Take it from me, if you’ve not been in the habit of making homemade soups you’re missing out on something special. I don’t know why it took me so long to get with the program, but now I’m a homemade soup junkie! I guess I never realized how incredibly easy it is to make homemade soup. Plus you can control everything that goes into it and I am a big fan of that.

Let me give you a little backstory regarding how I came about making this particular soup. A little while back, here in Colorado, we were forecast to have a blizzard. We were being told we could get anywhere from 4 inches to a foot of snow with blustery winds. As the day got closer it looked like we might be spared the heavy stuff. So at first I wasn’t overly concerned.  In my mind 4 inches of snow could hardly constitute a blizzard. But I was wrong.

I found out an interesting piece of information regarding blizzards. Blizzards are not forecast due to the amount of snow that falls. They are forecast due to heavy winds that accompany a snowfall. When you think about it, that makes sense. Regardless of the amount of snow if the winds cause white out conditions that is extremely dangerous. And so, a blizzard we did get with wind gusts up to 80 miles an hour but only 4 inches of snow. Some areas got almost two feet!

So, knowing that I would be home bound for at least a day made me go into full test kitchen mode. What a great way to test some recipes and get them in the queue for publishing. And that’s exactly what I did – and cauliflower soup was one of the recipes I played with on that day.

So let’s talk Cauliflower and Carrot Soup:

Lesson Learned 1- The cut size of the vegetables is key: I used a 2 1/2 pound head of cauliflower and two cups of sliced carrots. It is important to cut up the cauliflower into small florets. If you don’t they won’t cook in time. I also took baby carrots and sliced them thinly on the diagonal. I wanted to make sure the carrot pieces were not overly thick so they would also cook in the allotted time. The picture below gives you some idea of the cut sized I used. They cooked perfectly in the time allotted.

Carrots Onions And Roasted Garlic

Lesson Learned 2 – Take the time and roast the garlic: Have you ever roasted a head of garlic before? It’s really quite easy and the result is fabulously sweet, flavorful garlic. The process is extremely simple. Cut off the top of the entire garlic bulb about 1/4 – 1/2 inch down, place the bulb in foil (do not remove the skins), drizzle the top of the bulb with olive oil, cover it with foil (I recommend adding an additional layer of foil to protect against oil leaking out of the wrapper) and roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. When you take the garlic out of the oven you want the individual garlic cloves to be fork tender – that’s how you know it’s done.

I roasted my garlic in the toaster oven and put it on a foil lined sheet as extra protection from leaking oil. Once the garlic cooled I merely turned the cut side down and squeezed. The soft delicious cloves popped right out. I then coarsely chopped them and added them to the cauliflower and carrots. Preparing the garlic this way versus sauteing them raw with the onions gives the soup a much richer flavor. It is worth the extra step. But, if for some reason you don’t have the time, mince two large cloves of garlic and add them to the onions once they’ve caramelized. Continue to saute for about a minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the vegetables and follow the recipe from that point.

Cut The Top Off The Garlic Bulb

Place In Foil And Drizzle With Olive Oil

Roasted Garlic Cloves

Lesson Learned 3 – Take the time to cook the onions to a golden brown: Onions are more flavorful when you take the time to caramelize them. So do yourself a favor and take that time. Just be aware that it can take about 20 minutes to get them to that beautifully warm color. But in the end, it also makes a big difference in the flavor of the soup.

Lightly Caramelized Onions

The rest of the process is pretty basic and within about 40 minutes or so you have this delicious homemade soup. Give it a try and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear how you did with this recipe.

Cauliflower And Carrot Soup...

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


2 1/2 pound head of cauliflower, cut up into small florets

2 cups thinly sliced baby carrots (sliced on the bias)

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 head of roasted garlic cloves, chopped (or two raw cloves, diced)

3 Tbs. flour

4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

6 oz. of grated white cheddar cheese

Salt and Pepper To Taste

Olive Oil for roasting the garlic and sauteing the onions


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top of a bulb of garlic. Place the bulb in foil and drizzle with olive oil (approximately one tablespoon). Wrap the garlic in foil (I recommend wrapping it twice) and let it cook for 45 minutes to one hour or until the cloves are fork tender. Unwrap the bulb and set it aside to cool. Once cool, turn the cut side down and squeeze the bulb from the sides until the cloves pop out. If a few a the cloves are stubborn, don’t worry. What pops out will be sufficient for the soup. (If you do not have time for this step simply mince two raw cloves of garlic and saute them with the onions after they have caramelized. Once the garlic is fragrant you can add the vegetables and proceed from there.)

Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat and add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onions and saute until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the onions are sauteing, prepare the carrots and cauliflower florets. (If you roast the garlic, chop the cloves and mix them with the vegetables.)

When the onions have caramelized, add the vegetables to the onions and saute for a few minutes. (You can add a little more olive oil, if needed). Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and mix well. Add the chicken stock while stirring the vegetables.

Cover the dutch oven with a lid, leaving a small crack for the steam to escape. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the vegetables for desired consistency. If need be, let them cook for a little while longer until the desired consistency is achieved.

Stir in the heavy cream and cheese. Stir until thoroughly combined. Take off the heat and serve. (Optional: You can garnish with some croutons and some shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese).




Chicken, Carrot and Fried Onion Casserole

I just love casseroles. During the winter months there’s nothing better than having a casserole baking away in the oven. The smells, the hot and bubbly goodness and the combination of flavors is simply comfort food heaven. And, if you know me, you know I also love chicken. So what can be better than a chicken casserole? Well, there is one thing and that’s a chicken casserole topped with fried onions – yummo!

I really do try to balance what I eat and so I’ll warn you up front this recipe has the potential to be an artery clogger. But I also know that the key to good living is moderation so every once in a while you can walk on the wild side with something like this. Plus this recipe is versatile, especially where adding vegetables is concerned. And making this is a good way to get come of those vegetables into your children – they are beautifully masked in the deliciousness of the casserole and fried onions.

So let’s talk chicken, carrot and fried onion casserole

Sauteed Carrots

Lesson Learned 1: I used carrots but you can be creative where the vegetables in this recipe are concerned: My husband prefers eating carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash and cauliflower – that’s why you’ll see me using a lot of them in my recipes. But you can use a variety of vegetables.

I chose fresh baby carrots and chopped them into 1/4 inch coins. You can add them to this recipe as is, but I chose to saute mine in butter before adding them to the other ingredients as my husband likes his carrots soft. The cooking time for this recipe will not achieve soft carrots (they will be crisp tender) so I had to give the carrots a head start. But if you like your carrots crisp tender just add them to the other ingredients and skip the sauteing part. The key is cutting them small enough so they’re not rock hard when the casserole is done baking.

You can also use frozen vegetables. Using frozen carrots or frozen mixed vegetables would work very well with this recipe in the allotted cook time. So do what your family loves or what you want your family to eat.

Shredded Chicken

Lesson Learned 2: This is a great recipe for using precooked chicken: Whether you’re trying to think about how to use some of your leftover cooked chicken, or buying a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, using precooked chicken makes this recipe a breeze. My grocery store actually sells portions of precooked white meat chicken and I used that a lot in my recipes. You can either cut up the chicken into bite size pieces or shred it like I did. Either way will work.

For a quick and delicious week night meal you can’t beat this recipe. You can even assemble it the night before or before going to work and pop it in the oven when you get home. If you do that, I would recommend taking the casserole out of the refrigerator asap and letting it sit on the counter for about a half an hour before putting it into the oven. That will remove some of the chill. You’ll have a better chance of cooking the casserole in the allotted time if it’s not ice cold when you put it in the oven.

Ready For The Oven

Enjoy this one. It’s a keeper!

Chicken Carrot And Fried Onion Casserole...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


4 cups cooked shredded chicken

2 cups sliced carrots (cut into 1/4 inch coins)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 can cream of chicken soup

1-6oz. can of french fried onions

1 Tbs. butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 (365 high altitude)

In a large skillet melt the butter and saute the carrots for about 10 minutes, flipping them at regular intervals. Remove them from heat and set aside.

While the carrots are sauteing, mix together in a large bowl the cheese, sour cream, chicken soup and mayonnaise. Once the carrots are cooked and slightly cooled fold them into the sour cream mixture along with the chicken until combined. Taste and add any salt and pepper as needed.

Spray a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray. Add the mixture to the pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Once the casserole is hot and bubbly add the fried onions on top and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Let the casserole stand for 5 minutes and serve.

The Cooked Casserole

Garlic and Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin and Potatoes…

The one thing I really love about Fall is cranking up the oven again. I do a lot of grilling over the Summer and I love that too. But those smells in the house when something is roasting in the oven just can’t be beat. It makes a house a home.

So I decided to crank up the oven the other day. I haven’t had pork in a while and I thought I’d try that. More often than not when I make a pork roast I use a pork loin. The meat is so tender and I perfected roasting it so that it’s cooked but not dried out. And if you want my secret for roasting a perfect pork loin every time just click on my blog’s tips and tricks post and you’ll never have a dry pork loin roast again.

But although pork loin is moist I find it always needs a little help in the flavor department. And whether you marinate it or use some sort of rub, that’s usually enough to up the flavor factor. And that’s exactly what this recipe does.

I also like this recipe because for all intents and purposes it is a one pot meal. You can also make your potatoes and carrots in the same roasting pan and I’ve always liked that convenience. You just have to follow a couple of tips in order to make sure they cook properly.

So let’s talk garlic and rosemary balsamic roasted pork loin and potatoes…

Lesson Learned 1: Slightly par boil your potatoes before roasting them: I don’t know about you but I’ve found that roasting potatoes can be tricky. I usually wind up with hard or semi hard potatoes that are not cooked through. In this recipe it is important to cut the potatoes as evenly as possible (mine were approximately one inch squares). Once I do that I put them in a pot with water, bring the water to a boil and boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes or just until they start to turn tender around the edges. Then I drain the potatoes and let me cool slightly in the strainer. I’ve found when I do this my potatoes come out perfectly when making this recipe. After I strain off the water I transfer them into a bowl so that I can coat them with the balsamic mixture before putting them in the roasting pan. It’s a little extra work, but definitely worth it.

The same rule applies for when I use sliced potatoes in a casserole. I used my mandolin slicer to get even slices. Then I par boil them just for a couple of minutes before adding them to a casserole dish that is ready to go into the oven. Try this little trick and you’ll have beautifully roasted potatoes all the time.

Lesson Learned 2 – This recipe roasts the carrots to crisp tender: Carrots are also tricky to cook and although I prefer mine to be crisp tender, some people prefer their carrots to be soft. If soft is your preference roasting them this way will not give you that consistency unless you either cut them into thin rounds or use small baby carrots. I cut my carrots into about 2 inch chunks, cut each chunk into half and then half again. This produced a somewhat softened crisp tender carrot, which I love.

You can also do the par boiling trick described above for larger carrots if you want them to be soft. That might be a little too much muss and fuss for one recipe. But it’s totally up to you. Just something to think about…

Lesson Learned 3 – Browning the pork loin is totally your preference: Some recipes call for browning your pork loin before roasting it. It helps to seal in the juices. The reason I say this is totally your preference is that if you cook your pork loin according to my directions you will always get a juicy pork loin without browning it ahead of time. Plus when you add the balsamic mixture you cannot tell if the roast has been browned or not. So why bother. The choice is yours.

Lesson Learned 4 – Make the balsamic mixture in your mini food processor: This is really the easiest way to ensure all the ingredients are well combined. Combine them in the processor until the mixture becomes paste-like as seen below. Then you’re ready to go…

And that’s it. This recipe is a Fall classic. Try it and tell me what you think…

Garlic & Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin & Potatoes...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print


1 1/2 pound boneless pork loin

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch square pieces (can also use 2 pounds of baby reds)

3-4 large carrots cut into chunks, then halved and halved again (or 1 bag of small baby carrots not cut)

1/4 cup good olive oil, plus 1 Tb. for the carrots

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

5 large garlic cloves (or 10 small), smashed

1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1 tsp. Herbs De Provence

Cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 375. Peel, chop and par boil the potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a food processor until it forms a paste.

Coat the pork loin on all sides with the balsamic mixture. (You will have some left over for the potatoes). Lightly grease a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Place the pork loin in the center of the roasting pan. Coat the potatoes with the remaining balsamic mixture. Place them on one side of the pork loin.

Coat the carrots with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper and Herbs De Provence. Place the carrots on the other side of the pork loin.

Roast for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and cover with foil for 5 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board, slice and serve with the potatoes and carrots.




Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin With Vegetables And Apple Butter Gravy…

I’ve been offline for a little bit. I was having technology issues and found out that my trusted Mac has now become so old that it cannot support html 5 which is the platform now used by WordPress. Oh well… but I’ve developed some work arounds and should be fine now.

Summer is in full swing, and that includes those warm summer temperatures. During Summer I like to grill but not every day. But what do you do when it is so hot and you don’t want to heat up the house when making dinner? That’s when I rely on my trusty slow cooker. You can have a great meal and never create more heat in the house.

I am a big fan of pork loin. Like beef tenderloin, it is the the most tender, flavorful and versatile cut of pork. Cooking it in the slow cooker is so easy, but you need to pay attention not to overcook it. So let’s talk pork loin with vegetables and apple butter gravy…

Lesson Learned 1 – Brown the pork and potatoes before putting them into the slow cooker: The slow cooker cooks food but doesn’t create crust or color. If that is not a big deal for you than you can skip this step. But I’ve always espoused that you eat with your eyes first and so I like to provide that extra step to make the meal even more pleasurable.

I put a little canola oil in a cast iron skillet and browned the pork loin – about 4-5 minutes on each side. Doing that gives it a nice brown crust as you can see from the picture above. I also brown the potatoes a little. I don’t brown the carrots. I don’t think that’s really necessary. The potatoes also take about 4-5 minutes per side and I usually do two sides just enough to give it great color.

Lesson Learned 2 – Cut your carrots small or use baby carrots: This recipe will only cook for 6 hours on low so you need to consider how tender you want your carrots. If you want them crisp tender you can cut them in larger pieces. If you want them fork tender you will need to cut the pieces small or use baby carrots. I like to use the larger sized carrots and I buy only what I need for the recipe, about 3 carrots. If the carrot has a thick base, I cut it into a log and then I cut the log in half down the middle. That way I minimize the thickness and the carrots come out fork tender. When you come down to it, it all depends on how you like your carrots.

Lesson Learned 3 – Do not cook this for more than 6 hours on low: That is plenty of time to cook the pork loin without drying it out. And the sauce made with apple butter is a great accompaniment to the pork.

This is a great meal that is easy to prepare and will not heat up your kitchen on these warm Summer days. Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin With Vegetables And Apple Butter Gravy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 1/2- 2 pounds pork loin

4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks

3 large carrots, cut into small chunks (you can use baby carrots as well)

I medium size yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 9.5 ounce jar of apple butter

1/3 cup dijon mustard (you can mix dijon with seeded mustard)

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 cup beef broth

1-2 Tbs. canola oil

Non-stick cooking spray

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a large cast iron skillet. Add 1 Tbs canola oil. Salt and pepper the pork loin and put that side down in the hot skillet. Salt and pepper the other side of the pork loin. Let the pork loin sear for 4-5 minutes. Turn it over and sear it on the other side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Check to see if the skillet needs more oil and add it if it does. Place potatoes in the pan being careful not to crowd them. Let them sear for 5 minutes and flip them to another side. Let them sear for an additional 5 minutes and remove them from the pan.

Spray the crock of the slow cooker with non-stick spray. Add the onions, potatoes and carrots into the crock. Place the pork loin on top of the vegetables.

In a small bowl whisk to together the garlic, apple butter, mustard, soy sauce and beef broth. Pour the mixture over the pork and vegetables.

Cook on low for six hours. Remove the pork and vegetables from the crock. Slice the pork and plate it with the vegetables. Taste the gravy in the crock and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pour the gravy over the pork.


Slow Cooker Ground Beef Stew…

It seems that lately I’ve been obsessed with my slow cooker. You have to admit it is a major convenience, especially when you have a busy day planned. Which was the case with me last week. But even when my calendar is full I still want to have something good and home made for dinner (unless I’m so exhausted I suggest we just go out to eat). The beauty of the slow cooker is that you get it ready early in the day when you have energy so that later in the day you go home to amazing smells and a dinner that is ready to serve without a lot of time and effort on your part. I just love my slow cooker!

I’m always experimenting with basic ingredients and I’ve really never used ground beef as the main protein in one of my slow cooker meals before. So I thought, what the heck, why not give it a try. And I have to say I really, really liked this meal. It’s hearty, flavorful and all you need do is serve it with some crusty bread, or corn bread or a salad and you’re done.

So let’s talk slow cooker ground beef stew…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use a lower fat ground beef in this recipe: I used 93% lean ground sirloin for this recipe. There are some recipes that I prefer a larger fat content but for this one you don’t. You don’t want the crock to be swimming in grease when it’s done. Believe me, it’s worth it to go higher end on the ground beef for something that is cooking for 7 hours.

Lesson Learned 2 – Partially cook the ground beef before putting it in the slow cooker: Many times I’ve talked about the importance of browning meat before you put it in the slow cooker. Slow cookers do not brown meats and so your meat can wind up looking grayish if you don’t brown it first. If that doesn’t bother you then just dump the meat in. But I say you eat with your eyes first and so you want the dish to look pleasing as well. Just cook the meat so there’s only a little pink left. The slow cooker can then handle the rest.

Lesson Learned 3 – Cut your veggies and potatoes into large chunks: I know I’ve said this over and over but it’s worth repeating. If you don’t you cut your veggies into large chunks they will turn into mush. Think about it. The veggies are cooking for 7 hours. Unless they are of substantial size they will break down. Below is the picture of my potatoes and veggies before I added the meat. You can see they are nice and chunky and that’s what you need in order for them to stand up to the cooking process.

Lesson Learned 4 – You can use any kind of potato you like: When I made this I used yukon gold potatoes. Yukon golds have a very thin skin so you don’t have to peel them. I always peel them because my husband has a hard time with the skins. Whether you do or not is totally your preference. You can use red potatoes or russets. I would suggest peeling either one of those if you decide to use them.

Lesson Learned 5 – Seasoning is very important when using a slow cooker: If you don’t season the ingredients well your food can turn out bland. You’ll want to salt and pepper the ground beef when you’re browning it. You’ll want to salt and pepper the onions, carrots and potatoes after you put them in the slow cooker. After you mince the garlic sprinkle it over the veggies and potato.  Add the oregano to the tomato sauce. Making sure you season this way will give you a flavorful result.

I will admit I wasn’t too sure about this recipe and I was very pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. Plus it provided some delightful smells in the kitchen will it was cooking. For a simple, no fuss, easy meal the recipe more than fits the bill. Try it and let me know what you think.

Slow Cooker Ground Beef Stew...

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground sirloin

2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced in large chunks

3 large carrots, cut in chunks

I medium yellow onion, sliced in chunks

2 garlic cloves, minced

1- 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil cooking spray


In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef until there is only a slight bit of pink left in the meat. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the tomato paste and sauce. Stir until completely combined and smooth. (This should give you a nice thick sauce). Add the Worcestershire sauce and oregano and stir to combine.

Spray the inside of the crock with cooking spray. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the minced garlic over the vegetables and potatoes. Add the meat on top. Pour the tomato sauce over the meat. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 7 hours. Do not lift the lid during the cooking process. Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.




















Slow Roasted Chicken And Rice…

My last blog was about my favorite carb “taters”. This blog is about my favorite protein, chicken! I kid you not, I could eat chicken every single night of the week. Nothing tops it in my book. So, as with “taters”, I am always on the lookout for new chicken recipes and the easier the better.

Let me tell you, nothing can be easier than this one. It is pretty much a retro classic and so good to make when you have little time to prepare something. The only glitch is it takes 2 1/2 hours to roast in the oven, but it’s one of those recipes where you prep it and forget it.

This recipe relies on canned soup, cream of chicken and cream of celery, and with a little water, rice, poultry seasoning and carrots you have an entire meal in one pan ready to serve all at the same time. Plus it creates a fabulous aroma in your kitchen. You can’t beat that.

So let’s talk slow roasted chicken and rice…

Lesson Learned 1 – Buy chicken breasts with skin and ribs and debone the chicken yourself: You want to do this for a couple of reasons. First it is much less expensive to buy chicken this way. Second by leaving the skin on it keeps the breast nice and moist during the slow roasting process. Invest in a good boning knife and regularly maintain it with a hand sharpening tool like the one pictured to the left. It is surprisingly inexpensive and will keep your knife nice and sharp for a long time and boning the chicken breasts will be a breeze. These days it’s pretty hard to find boneless breasts with the skin still on so this may be the only way to do it.

Lesson Learned 2 – Use a rice mixture for an extra flavor boost: Go ahead, be adventurous and use a rice mixture instead of just plain white rice. You can use wild rice, basmati rice or the mixture that I use which is a combination of white, brown, wild and red rice and pictured to the right. You’ll be amazed at how it punches up the flavor volume and makes the dish even more interesting.

Lesson Learned 3 – If you use thick carrots cut them in half lengthwise: I found the best way to make sure that the carrots are soft roasted is to cut them in half lengthwise if they are an inch or more thick. If they’re thick and you simply cut them in chunks they will not be as tender. If you like a little more body to your carrots you can certainly roast them without cutting them in half. With this recipe I prefer the carrots soft roasted and found the best way to achieve that is cut any that are overly thick. The decision is totally yours.

There are not a lot of lessons learned to share on this one as it is so darn easy to make. I love this recipe because it is a great blend of convenience and good flavor and cooks in one pan. Try this one and I know it will become a staple in your home…

Slow Roasted Chicken And Rice...

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 10 ounce can cream of celery soup

1 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup

5 – 10 ounces of water (the more water the creamier the rice)

3/4 cup of rice

1 Tbs. poultry seasoning

4 small or 2 large boneless chicken breasts with skin on

4-6 carrots sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks

1 tsp. McCormick Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl combine the soups, water, rice and poultry seasoning. Chop carrots into chunks.

Spray a 9  x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the soup mixture across the bottom of the pan. Place chicken breasts on top of soup mixture. Arrange carrots around the chicken breasts. Sprinkle the top of the chicken breasts with the rotisserie chicken seasoning.

Cover with foil and roast in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not remove the foil during the entire roasting process. Remove from the oven and uncover. If using large breasts, cut them in half before serving. Serve immediately.

Soup Mixture Ingredients

Arrange The Ingredients In A Prepared Pan

Cover With Foil And Roast

Serving Suggestion

Slow Cooker Honey BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches…

If you are looking for an easy, and I do mean easy, meal to prepare look no further. I served this meal a couple of times now and it always turns out perfectly and it’s always super delicious. I have to admit I was initially skeptical about how this would turn it, but it was absolutely fabulous. When you know you’re going to have a busy day and you still want to have a good meal at dinnertime, this recipe is the answer to that dilemma.

So let’s talk slow cooker honey bbq pulled chicken sandwiches…

Lesson Learned 1 – Try to use chicken breasts with the skin on: I normally buy chicken breasts with the skin on and rib portions attached. First they are cheaper when purchased that way and second it’s easy to remove the rib portion and you’re left with a skin-on breast. Chicken can dry out very easily in a slow cooker and often can get overcooked. With the skin on it gives the breast meat more moisture during the cooking process and that is what you’re looking for. But sometimes you just can’t find them that way and that’s ok as well. Both times I made this recipe I had skinless breasts in the freezer and so I used them. But in my experience with other recipes, skin on breasts are preferred when cooking them in a slow cooker.

It’s also important to season them as well. I seasoned mine with kosher salt, pepper and McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken seasoning blend. I really like this blend as it gives the chicken a great rotisserie chicken flavor. Try it and I’m sure you’ll agree.

Lesson Learned 2 – Use a slow cooker liner for this recipe: The sugar and honey in the bbq sauce can cause a mess that is very hard to clean up if it burns into your ceramic crock. Personally I am not a fan of slow cooker liners but I use them for this recipe. If you use one, clean up is a breeze and you don’t wind up with burnt bbq sauce all over your crock.

Lesson Learned 3 – Don’t overcook the chicken: I know, easier said then done, but most people overcook chicken breasts no matter what cooking method they are using. Chicken breasts can be moist as well as cooked through but there is a fine line between when that occurs and dried out chicken.

My rule of thumb is I never cook half breasts (and the ones I used were quite large) for more than 6 hours on low in my slow cooker. A lot of recipes say to cook chicken between 6-8 hours. In my opinion a two hours difference in cooking times is huge. Whenever I’ve cooked chicken in a slow cooker for 8 hours it always turned out dry. But the other variable is your slow cooker. Not all slow cookers are created equal. Know your slow cooker and if for some reason you can cook chicken for 8 hours and it does not dry out that’s fine. But I bet if you cook it for only 6 hours you’ll get a much better result.

Lesson Learned 4 – You can cook a veggie with the chicken if you want to: The first time I made this recipe I only cooked the chicken in the bbq sauce mixture. The second time I added carrots. When it came time to shred the meat I just pulled out the carrots, put them on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray and kept them in a warm oven until dinner was served. Make sure you use cooking spray on the foil as the remnants of the bb sauce on the carrots will stick to the foil and you don’t want the carrots sticking. Also make sure you don’t use overly thick carrots – they won’t cook through in six hours.

Lesson Learned 5 – Serve the chicken on good sandwich rolls: The sandwich rolls are also important. I served my chicken on brioche buns. I found them at Whole Foods and I have to admit they were a little pricey, $4.99 for six rolls, but boy were they worth it. They were just the perfect compliment to the bbq chicken. I’m not saying you need to invest that much in dinner rolls, but make sure they are fresh and soft. It makes a difference. I served the sandwiches with cole slaw and sliced tomatoes and the meal was a hit!

An easier, more delicious recipe you’d be hard pressed to find. Try it and let me know what you think…

Slow Cooker Honey BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches...

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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3 large chicken breasts, skin on preferred

1 18-ounce bottle of bbq sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1-2 Tbs. Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken seasoning

2-3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch logs (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste


Line the slow cooker with a slow cooker liner. Place chicken in slow cooker. (Place veggies in with the chicken). Season with salt, pepper and rotisserie chicken seasoning.

In a separate bowl combine bbq sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over chicken. Place lid back on top of the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 6 hours. If cooking veggies, remove them onto a foil lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Keep in a warm oven until serving.

Remove chicken, take off any skin and shred the breasts using two forks. Place shredded chicken back in the slow cooker and cook on high for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. Serve on dinner rolls.

Slow Cooker Turkey and Dumplings…

We are still in the midst of a major kitchen renovation and although I have a brand new stove sometimes it’s just easier to throw things into a slow cooker and let it do all the work. And that’s what I did the other night.

I am particularly proud of this recipe for a variety of reasons but mainly because this was the first time I actually experimented with a process in a slow cooker and it turned out great. In the past I had been the type of slow cooker girl that would never open the slow cooker during the cooking process. But I found that you can and still achieve great results, probably even better results if you are not afraid to walk on the wild side.

By itself, this recipe is pretty traditional using canned soup for the liquid that braises the meat. But by thickening the soup with some flour and water it made the juices turn into a thick creamy gravy. The other trick I used was taking store bought biscuits in a can and using them for the dumplings. I just cut them up and put them in the slow cooker for the last hour. They cooked to a perfect dumpling consistency much to my surprise.

So let’s talk slow cooker turkey with dumplings…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use flour and water to thicken your sauce: At the 4 hour mark I took out the turkey tenderloins to shred them. I noticed that the liquid in the slow cooker was very thin. Right before I added the meat back in I mixed together about 2 tablespoons of flour with about 1/8 cup water and stirred it into the liquid. Then I added back the shredded meat and the biscuits, stirred the mixture, covered the slow cooker and cooked the turkey and dumplings for another hour. The result was fabulous. I guarantee you I would not have gotten such a thick sauce had I not added the flour and water.

Slow Cooker Turkey And Dumplings

One clarifying point – it is extremely important that you mix the flour and water together thoroughly before adding it to the juices. I normally mix flour and water in a glass measuring cup. Once I think I’ve gotten the mixture correct I put my finger in and scrape it along the bottom of the glass. If I can feel any clumps of flour at all I continue mixing until they are all gone. That is very important. You don’t want to wind up with a clump of flour in your gravy.

Lesson Learned 2 – Adding whole garlic cloves to the slow cooker: I discovered that if you add whole garlic cloves at the beginning of the slow cooking process you infuse garlic into your ingredients. And, since slow cooking on average takes 4-6 hours, the garlic literally breaks down into the food so there is no worry of biting into a garlic clove. And if by chance a clove survives, it would be nice and tender, just as if you had roasted it. It’s a great trick to use in a slow cooker.

The VeggiesLesson Learned 3 – Cut large slices of your veggies: Whenever I slow cook I always cut my veggies on the larger side. I find that after cooking for 4-8 hours I’m left with veggies that still have texture and flavor versus veggies that have been completely broken down by the long cooking process.

Lesson Learned 4 – Using refrigerated biscuits for your dumplings: What a great surprise this was. I took butter flavored refrigerator biscuits, flattened them out with the palm of my hand and cut them into slices. I added them during the last hour of cooking and voila, I wound up with dumplings. This is a great trick. Try it!

Refrigerated Biscuits Cut Into Strips

I am really excited about this recipe on a variety of levels. First, it tasted great. Second, it looked great (remember you eat with your eyes first). Third, I experimented with some new techniques and they worked out fabulously. You’ve got to try this one. You will love it!


  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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1 large onion, cut into quarters and separated

4 carrots, cut diagonally in 2 inch slices

2 large garlic cloves, whole

2 large turkey tenderloins

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

1 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 Tbs. poultry seasoning

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup frozen peas

1 can refrigerated biscuits, separated, flattened and cut into slices

2 Tbs. flour

1/8 cup water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Flat leaf parsley for garnish, optional


Line the bottom of the slow cooker with the onion slices, carrots and garlic. Place the turkey tenderloins on top of the vegetables. Salt and pepper the ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine thoroughly the soups, parsley and poultry season. Spread over the tenderloins. Pour the stock over the top of the tenderloins. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

At the 4 hour mark, remove the tenderloins and cover the slow cooker. Shred the tenderloins using two forks. Open the refrigerated biscuits. Flatten each one with the palm of your hand and cut them into slices. (depending on the length of each slice you can also cut the slices once again in half). Mix together thoroughly the flour and water.

Uncover the slow cooker. Pour in the flour/water mixture and stir until combined in the liquid. Add back the shredded turkey and sliced biscuits. Gently stir to break up the biscuits. Cook for another hour on high, adding the frozen peas during the last 15 minutes of the cooking process.

Turkey Tenderloins

Turkey Tenderloins

Gravy Mixture

Gravy Mixture

Cover With Soup Mixture

Cover With Soup Mixture

Slow Cooker Turkey With Dumplings

Slow Cooker Turkey And Dumplings

Serving Suggestion

Serving Suggestion

Crock Pot Turkey And Dumplings


Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots…

This recipe could not be any more basic but it produces a side dish rich in flavor. Whenever you caramelize something it produces a sweetness that is awesomely delicious. And because this blog is dedicated to those beginning to feel their way around the kitchen, this recipe is perfect because it produces spectacular results with very little effort. If you’re looking for something to boost your confidence in the kitchen, this one’s is for you!

So let’s talk garlic butter roasted carrots…

Lesson Learned 1 – Use lots of garlic: I used 4 big cloves of garlic in this recipe and you can even add more if you want. Just be aware that the garlic will turn dark in the oven but that’s ok. It will still infuse the carrots with great garlic flavor.

Saute the cloves in the butter for a good 3-4 minutes and just when you start to see some slight browning on the edges, remove the mixture from the heat and pour it over the carrots. Make sure the carrots are evenly coated with the butter/garlic mixture. Use your hands if you have to to make sure they’re coated all over.


Lesson Learned 2 – Cut the carrots in one inch chunks on the diagonal: One inch chunks work well for this roasting time. Cutting them on the diagonal makes them look prettier.

Lesson Learned 3 – Make sure you flip the carrots during the roasting process: You want to make sure the carrots caramelize on all sides so check them after 15-20 minutes and flip them over so the other side can caramelize as well.

When I first took these carrots out of the oven I thought perhaps I had browned them too much. I was wrong. These carrots had such a wonderful sweet flavor and the darkened areas were rich and sweet. The main thing to remember is to flip them so they caramelize on both sides.


I have to say I could not believe how sweet and delicious these carrots were. This is a great recipe for when you want to impress but also want something insanely easy. Enjoy!

Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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4-6 large carrots, cut in 1 inch lengths on the diagonal

5 Tbs. butter

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Flat leaf parsley for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a saucepan melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 3 – 4 minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Put the carrots in a large bowl and add the butter/garlic mixture. Toss until all the carrots are completely covered.

Spread the carrots out on a prepared baking sheet (I covered my sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it lightly with olive oil cooking spray), making sure they are not crowded and that all the butter/garlic mixture is poured onto the sheet.

Roast for 30 – 40 minutes making sure to flip them half way through the roasting process. Remove the carrots from oven and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with flat leaf parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Garlic Butter Carrots

Old Fashioned Pot Roast…

Was there ever a comfort food that will chase away the blues on a cold, snowy Winter day better than a simple pot roast? Making a pot roast reminds me of home, with great smells in the kitchen and the anticipation of that roasted goodness that only comes from cooking something low and slow.

le-creuset-signature-7.25-qt.-flame-round-french-ovenThere are various ways to cook a pot roast. Although I’ve made them several times in a slow cooker, I prefer to use an enameled cast iron pot (I use Le Creuset but there are many different varieties out there). I find that enameled cast iron provides an even, controlled heat and I think that consistently  allows for a more tender pot roast.

I also find enameled cast iron to be easy to clean, especially after something has been cooking for a long period of time. The main drawback with enameled cast iron is that it is heavy. I mean after all, it is cast iron. So just be prepared to flex your muscles a little bit and you will be fine. Enameled cast iron can be expensive, but I’ve had some of my pots for over 20 years and although the enamel may be slightly stained, they still work like a charm. In the end, you only get what you pay for…

The beauty of making pot roast is that it is so simple to make and your entire meal winds up being in one pot. The oven does all of the work and you are rewarded for your patience with one of the best comfort food meals of all time. So, here are some lessons learned that will make you a master at making the perfect pot roast:

IMG_2702Lesson Learned 1 – Brown the meat and veggies before putting them in the pot: The cooking method used for making pot roast is called braising. When you braise something you cook it for a long period of time in liquid. In the end, this technique does not provide eye pleasing color although it renders deliciously moist meat and vegetables. Taking a few minutes to brown the meat on all sides and to brown the vegetables will provide something that not only tastes divine but is also eye pleasing. It is worth the time to do it. Remember, you eat with your eyes first.

IMG_2711Lesson Learned 2 – Cut the veggies into big chunks: Regardless of the size of the pot roast, you will be braising the dish for several hours. You don’t want your veggies to fall apart in the process. Make sure you cut them into big chunks. That way the will stand up to the braising time.

Lesson Learned 3 – THE ONLY WAY IS LOW AND SLOW: The only way to wind up with a tender, moist pot roast is to cook it low and slow. Pot roasts are tough cuts of meat (I used a chuck roast in this recipe) and if you don’t take the time to slowly break down the fibers in the meat you will wind up with a tough, uneatable meal. Most recipes that I researched called for cooking a 4-5 pound roast for four hours. I’ve also seen cooking temperatures vary from 275 to 325. I live in high altitude and I’ve learned the hard way that everything takes longer to cook here. I cooked my pot roast for 4 hours at 275 and the last hour I raised the temperature to 300. The pot roast texture turned out perfectly.

The pot roast will tell you when it is done. If you go into the pan and stick your fork in the roast and it does not go in and out easily, the pot roast is not done. I tried this trick after 4 hours of cooking and the fork did not go into the meat easily. After 5 hours the fork went into the meat like the meat was butter. At that point I knew it was done.

I prefer cooking the roast at 275 and cooking it a little longer. I find the lower temperature and the longer braising time does not annihilate the vegetables. Everything turns beautifully.

Lesson Learned 4 – Braise with red wine and beef stock: Once again I’ve seen various suggestions on the type of braising liquid to use with pot roast. I can tell you from experience that nothing beats a combination of red wine and beef stock. This combination not only gives you fabulous drippings from which you can make a homemade gravy, but it also fills the house with the most delightful smells during the cooking process. Part of the comfort of making a pot roast are the smells you get while the roast is braising. Use red wind and beef stock and you won’t regret it.

When you braise a roast you fill the pan with liquid until it reaches half way up the sides of the meat. Don’t cover the meat completely with liquid. If you do, you will poach the roast and not braise it. You don’t want to do that.


All of these tips will help you make the most delicious pot roast you’ve ever tasted. If you’ve never made a pot roast before, try to be a little flexible in your cooking time until you figure out the time and temperature that works for you. I highly recommend you keep your oven temperature at 275. If you live at sea level, a 4-5 pound roast may only take 4 hours to braise. That did not work for me in high altitude. I will include both of these recommendations in the recipe.

Try this one the next time you are in need of some old fashioned comfort food. It truly hits the spot!

Old Fashioned Pot Roast

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


1 4-5 pound pot roast

1 large sweet onion peeled and cut into quarters

4 carrots peeled and sliced into 2-3 inch pieces

4 parsnips peeled and sliced into 2-3 inch pieces

3-4 red potatoes (depending on size) washed and cut into large pieces

1 cup dry red wine

3 cups beef broth

2-3 Tbs. of olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil)

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

dried (or fresh rosemary) 1 tsp. or 2 sprigs


Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat a large cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the pot roast. Once the dutch oven has heated, add the oil and make sure the bottom of the pan is completely coated. Sear the roast on all sides for about a minute or two. Remove the roast from the pan and set aside.

Add more oil to the pan if needed. Add the carrots and parsnips to the pan and sear until lightly browned on both sides, about a minute or two. Remove and set aside. Add the potatoes to the pan, flat side down and sear for a couple of minute until tops are lightly browned and slightly crisped. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the wine to the pan. Stir with a whisk to remove all of the bits from the bottoms of the pan. Once that is done add the roast back to the pan. If using dried herbs instead of fresh, add to the beef stock and combine.  Pour in the beef stock into the pan making sure that the liquid only goes half way up the sides of the meat. Arrange the carrots, parsnips and potatoes on the side of the roast. Place the onions on top of the roast.

Cover and roast for 4 hours (if high altitude roast at 4 hours at 275 and one more hour at 300).  The roast is ready when it is fall apart tender and a fork inserted into the meat goes in and out easily.


Browned and ready to go into the oven…


A beautifully braised pot roast…


Serving suggestion…