Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken!



Evidently, there are many different recipes for sticky chicken out there and everyone's mother or grandmother did it somewhat differently.  Sticky chicken is a southern classic...I guess, but to be perfectly honest, I don't think it is in Kentucky.  My mother, that I can remember, didn't make sticky chicken.   It might be more of a deep south dish.  I have found that we really like this recipe and it works in either the slow cooker or the oven.  Today I made it in the slow cooker, since it was 105 degrees and adding heat to the house by turning on the oven long enough to bake a chicken seemed sort of crazy.   You can also use a whole chicken, like I did or use chicken pieces...most recipes use legs and thighs, but chicken breasts would work also.  


I used the same foolproof method of cooking that I used for my regular The Perfect Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken.   Roll up some foil into enough balls to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.  You then place your chicken on top  of the foil and it keeps it up out of it's juices so that it roasts instead of stewing.

Mix the brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, catsup, vinegar, and chopped garlic.  Place in the microwave for about 3 minutes or until boiling. Stir really good after it boils. This sauce will thicken up as it sits after you boil it.


Wash your chicken inside and out and remove the bag of giblets, if it has one, that they put in the cavity.  I knew somoene once, who when they cooked their first turkey for Thanksgiving left that in there...yuck.  Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning...I used Tony Chachere's.  If you don't like spicy, go light on the Cajun seasoning.  Pour about half of the sticky marinade over the chicken making sure all of it is covered, legs, wings, breast.  Save the other half for later.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for a total of about 4 hours.  You will need to pour the other half of the sticky marinade over the chicken at 3 hours.  This works best on the high setting for the shorter cooking time instead of on low for 8 hours. 

At the end of the cooking time, carefully lift the chicken out of slow cooker to a carving board. It will be very tender so use a large spatula to lift it out.  Let it rest for about 10 mintues and then carve.  The outside will be nice and sticky with the sauce.  Dip some of the sauce out of the slow cooker and drizzle over the meat after it's carved.  The sauce is really good.


Sticky chicken, fresh green beans cooked with red potatoes, sauteed squash, and fresh corn on the cob!


Ingredients:

4-5 lb chicken
1 cup catsup
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup honey
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
salt, black pepper, and cajun seasoning to taste





Sante Fe 7-Layer Pasta Salad!

 
In the south, we love a good 7-layer salad.  Usually such a salad will be made with shredded lettuce, a layer of green peas and topped with a concoction of mayonaise mixed with a little sugar, some shredded cheese and bacon bits.  Everybody has their own little spin on it, some use Miracle Whip instead of the mayonaise, some use frozen peas, some use a can of Le Seur baby peas...most make it like their mama or grandma probably made it 30 or 40 years ago.  It's a staple at church potlucks, family reunions and sometimes holiday dinners.  We call it 'pea salad' in my family and my mother always makes pea salad when my sister and her family are coming to visit, because my sister and nieces love pea salad.  This 7-layer salad is a twist and a half on the traditional 7-layer 'pea salad', but it is so good also.  This salad is actually a meal all by itself.  It has lots of chopped chicken, beans, corn, pasta...it's pretty filling.

I love Tex-Mex food of any kind and this salad has a definite Tex-Mex flavor.  It's perfect for a light lunch or a potluck or even a night when you are having other Mexican foods and it's really easy to put together and can be made ahead of time.  Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped chicken ( I cooked three extra chicken breasts when I made the  Rotel Chicken Pasta Bake, but you could use a rotisserie chicken if you want to save time)
1 can Ranch Beans, rinsed and drained (can use chili beans or kidney beans)
3 cups uncooked pasta ( I used bowtie, but penne or rotinni would be great also)
1 cup Vidalia onion (If you do not have Vidalia in your area any sweet onion will work)
1 cup chopped red or green pepper
2 cups corn (I used frozen but canned is fine also, drained)
2 cups shredded chedder cheese
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1/2 cup taco sauce

Dressing Ingredients:

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonaise
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk or milk
2  Tbs. taco seasoning mix

If you are watching fat or calories, you can substitute light mayonaise, light sour cream or plain greek yogurt, and use low fat buttermilk in the dressing ingredients. 



First, make the dressing by mixing the ranch dressing mix with the mayonaise, sour cream and buttermilk or milk.  Add the taco seasoning and blend well until it has dissolved completely.  This makes a really good salad dressing for other salads also.  I put a dash of Tabasco sauce in this, but it's up to you how hot you like things. Place this in the refrigerator to thicken up and chill while you get the other ingredients ready.








Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box minus about a minute so that it is al dente.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.


Chop a cup of onion and cup of red or green pepper ( I used a little of both for the color)

Chop your chicken in bite size pieces.
After you have drained and rinsed the beans, place them as your first layer in a trifle dish or a glass salad bowl.  A clear glass bowl will show the layers and really looks appetizing.
Layer the chopped Vidalia onion over the beans.
Next, the corn.  If you are using frozen corn, don't cook it.  You don't really even have to thaw it actually.  If you are making this ahead of time, it will thaw by the time you serve it.  If you are using canned, be sure to drain it well.

Mix the pasta with about 1/2 cup of the dressing, just enough to moisten it, then layer it as the next layer.
Next, layer the chopped chicken and drizzle the taco sauce over this.
Spread the rest of a the dressing over this layer sealing to the edges of the bowl.

Sprinkle the 2 cups of cheese over next.  I used a cheddar/monterey jack blend.  Use whatever you like or have on hand. 
Sprinkle 2 cups crushed tortilla chips over the top for the last layer.  Fritos corn chips would also be really good if would rather use those.   You can serve this immediately or make it ahead of time and refrigerate.  If I were making it the night before, I think I would wait to put the tortilla chips on right before serving so they stay crisp.  I garnished with some fresh cilantro, but you could also add some chopped green or ripe olives or even some salsa or some good pico de gallo would be good.   Actually, it's good just as it is and even your picky non-salad eaters will probably eat this.

 Santa Fe 7-Layer Pasta Salad!














Rotel Chicken Pasta Bake!


This is one of our new favorite casseroles.  Even my husband who is not always crazy about a casserole, loved it! The basic recipe is one that has been around for a while, but I took it and jazzed it up a bit. I think the tweaks to it worked very well and it's one of the easiest pasta bakes I have ever made.  It's also very budget friendly and the leftovers are even better the next day.  That's a winner in my book.   Here is what you will need:

Ingredients:
3/4 of a 16 oz. box of pasta ( I used rotinni, but penne, bow tie or elbow would work fine also)
4 - 5 boneless chicken breasts depending on size, about 4 cups chopped chicken
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I used regular, but if you don't like spicy, use the mild ones)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1 pkg taco seasoning ( I used Old El Paso, but any would work)
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Tabasco sauce (optional)


Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil or vegetable oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt, black pepper and the taco seasoning (reserve 2 tsp. of taco seasoning for the pasta).  Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 35-40 minutes or until done but not dry.  Let it cool while you prepare the rest of the casserole, the chop in bite size pieces.

Saute onion and green or red pepper in the half stick of butter.
Cook the pasta as directed on the package just until al dente, just under cook it by about a minute.  Drain it thoroughly in a colander and then add it back to the warm pot. Add the soup, cubed Velveeta, Rotel tomatoes, sour cream, milk, onions and peppers, black pepper, seasoned salt, and the rest of the taco seasoning.  Let it sit for a few minutes so the warm pasta sort of melts the Velveeta.  It doesn't have to be completely melted because it will melt more as it bakes.  The consistency is actually better if it isn't totally melted when it goes in the oven. Gently fold all of this together, careful not to mash up your pasta. If it doesn't seem moist enough add another 1/2 cup of milk. 


Add the chopped chicken and fold that in. 


Pour this mixture in a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 -45 minutes.  When it has been in the oven for 30 minutes, sprinkle the top with the crushed tortilla chips. Return to oven for the last 10 - 15 minutes.  It should be hot and bubbly when you take it out and the tortilla chips will just be starting to brown.
Serve with a salad and bread and dinner is served!











Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie!


 
It is hot and dry here in Kentucky and the thoughts of being in a hot kitchen over a hot stove are not good right now.  This pie doesn't require any heat and it is cold and refreshing to eat, so it's just perfect for this time of year.  I love strawberry lemonade to drink so the idea of putting it in a pie worked for me.  This recipe makes two pies, so you can share with a loved one or neighbor also.  The ingredients are pretty simple:
 
Ingredients:
2 graham crack
er crusts
1 can sweetened condensed milk
16 oz frozen whipped topping
1 12 oz. can frozen lemonade
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)


With an electric mixer whip the condensed milk and the frozen lemonade together until it's thick. Do not thaw the lemonade beforehand. Blend in the whipped cream.  Only thaw it enough so that you can blend it in.  Keep it as frozen as possible.  I added a couple drops of red food coloring at this point.  Go easy on it though or your pie will resemble Pepto Bismol...not a good look for pie!

Mix in the confectioner's sugar and then the strawberries.
Fold in the nuts and coconut.  These are optional, if you don't like either one, leave it out and the pie is still really good. They do add something to it if you like them though.
Pour into two graham cracker crusts, cover and place in a the freezer at least 6 hours or overnight.  Remove 30 minutes before serving.
 




Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie!  Garnish with more whipped cream and sprig of KY mint!

Sweet Tea....The House Wine of the South!


 
I originally didn't think I would write a post on sweet tea, because to be honest it has been covered by every southern food blogger out there.   However, people still ask about how to make sweet tea and since the name of my blog is 'Sweet Tea and Cornbread' it is only right that I post a sweet tea recipe.  Also, when I started really thinking about the role sweet tea plays in the life of most southerners and in my growing up, I felt I owed it some respect.
 
I really don't remember when sweet tea wasn't part of my life. I am not sure when I started drinking it, but I am pretty sure it was more than likely before I could walk.  It was always what was served with our night time meal which we usually call supper.   There is a food blog that I have followed for  a few years now and sometime ago I was reading her post on sweet tea, she said that the first time she was allowed to eat at  a girlfriend's house, she was stunned to see that the children were not served tea, but big glasses of milk. I had the exact same experience...well sort of.  My experience got a little more involved than just the realization that not all kids got to drink sweet tea with their supper.  Do you feel a story coming on here?  I will try to make it short!

When we were kids, we played all over our street, up and down, next door, in the big field behind our houses...which my father and some other neighborhood men turned into our own softball field.  It was back when kids could still be kids and have some freedom.  We rode our bicycles to the store, we walked to school, we travelled from yard to yard, driveway to driveway...playing basketball, softball, doing gymnastics, and having all day monopoly marathons. 
 
 With all of this freedom there were two things we were told not to do...1.) Do not go into anyone's house for anything.  If you had to pee, you trucked your little butt home and hoped you made it.  It took special permission or an act of congress to be allowed to play in anyone's house for a day. The mothers or fathers had to confer on such an event.  2.) You did not eat at anyone's house, as in sit down and eat, when they stopped to eat their lunch or supper.  Even if they begged you, if it was time for them to eat, you came home.  There were a couple of exceptions to this rule...if you were asked to spend the night and congress approved it or if the mother called your mother (or father) and they discussed it. Usually when I asked to eat at someone else's house, my mother would ask why I wanted to, we had perfectly good food at our house? Mama seemed like she didn't really get it sometime, but then just when you thought she was so dense, she turned out to be right. I always hated that...lol.    

I finally got my first approval to eat with my best friend's family when I was probably in the third or fourth grade.  It was exciting, but made me nervous also, because eating at someone's house other than a relative or a church family without my parents was a big deal.   Church folks were a different thing all together and I seemed to get to do a lot of things with them, but looking back I realize that was almost like family.

When we sat down for my first dinner with my friend, everything looked like it would be alright.  There was nice roast cooked with carrots and potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls...it all looked pretty good to me.   Anytime I visited anyone the food was  big concern for me, because I  had been around enough to know it wasn't always good or not as good as Mama's.  I spied a big pitcher of sweet tea on the counter...that works.  Then, the milk comes out of the refrigerator and 5 big glasses of it was being poured.  Surely, these people did not drink 'milk' with their supper!  Nobody informed me of this when I accepted the invitation.  You see, I didn't like milk.  It actually made me feel sick at times and I certainly never drank it with supper.
 
I ate my food and never touched my milk, which I thought nobody would be rude enough to mention...wrong.  Suddenly, everyone at the table was discussing the fact that I wasn't drinking the milk.  I had six sets of eyes all trained on me and being a very insecure child in a new situation, I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.  The father decided I might have one of those 'milk allergies'.  My mind quickly decided that a milk allergy would be good to have...I bet that was it!  Was there also a liver allergy because that stuff made me gag also.  This allergy thing could come in handy for so many detestable things we were made to eat.   However, suddenly the oldest girl, who was supposed to be my best friend, announced "She does NOT have a milk allergy!  She gets in trouble every day at lunch for not drinking her milk. Even the cafeteria lady comes out and gets on her about it!"  So much for best friends and all of that.  Then the youngest child, a little boy about 3 or 4 started doing a sing song about me being a 'bad girl'.    This whole thing ended with them pouring me a big, cold glass of... guess what....ice water!  And guess what was for dessert?  Ice cream with chocolate syrup on it!  Guess who didn't get any because they might have that pesky milk allergy?  

Needless to say, I didn't eat at their house again for about a year.  It took that long to get over it.  I was never so glad to eat at our own table in our kitchen the next night and drink my big ole glass of sweet tea.
 
Now, this is how I make my sweet tea and there are as many different methods and rituals and recipes for sweet tea as there are for biscuits and cornbread, so if you don't make it this way it's not a big deal.
This is my little tea pan.  I have had this pan ever since I got married. I think it was part of my first set of cookware.  I only use this pan for my tea. I fill it about 3/4 full of cold water (not warm) and put a family size tea bag in it.  If you use the small single serving size, use 4 of them.  I use Lipton tea.  I know most southern food bloggers use Luzianne for some reason and I have tried it, but my mother always used Lipton and it's what I prefer. Use what you prefer.




Bring the water to a boil and as soon as it boils, turn it off and cover it with something.  This is called steeping the tea and makes all of the difference in the world.  If you steep your tea, you do not have to use as much tea.  I just cover this pan with a little plate. I lost the top to it long ago somehow.  My mother always covered her pan with a tin pie pan.   She now makes her tea in the microwave and wants me to tell you that is the way to go these days. It's ok, I guess, but I still make mine on the stove.  Steep the tea for at least 30 minutes and an hour is even better.  Tea should have some color to it, not be almost clear.  It should be the color of good KY bourbon, but not as lethal..lol.




Put 1 1/2 - 2 cups sugar in a glass 2 quart pitcher and pour the tea, which even after an hour will be warm, over the sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Fill the pitcher to the top with water and stir again.  Sweet tea tastes better made in a glass pitcher and I prefer it served in glass.  For me,  I also prefer it best when just made, not refrigerated.  Pour it over ice and serve with  wedge of lemon.   The amount of sugar is something people vary on, and most recipes I see do not call for enough sugar, but you sweeten to your liking.  The tea must be sweetened while a little warm, not after it is cold, because the sugar will not dissolve in cold tea. I do think the farther south you go, the sweeter the tea gets, and even though I am from Kentucky and not the deep south, I think I really belong in the deep south when it comes to tea!




Cheesy Sausage Crescent Wraps!





This is a really easy breakfast idea I made for breakfast this morning.  It's like a sausage biscuit but in a crescent roll.  Crescent rolls are so versatile and good for so many things.  I did use the Big Buttery crescent rolls for this recipe.  The crescent rolls that are 50% bigger, but you can use the regular ones also. The bigger ones do hold the filling better.  Here is all you will need for these yummy wraps:



Crescent rolls, cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, and sausage.  I used the precooked sausage crumbles that Jimmy Dean makes, but you can also crumble and brown a roll of sausage.  I felt like I was cheating on my favorite sausage maker...Purnell's, but as far as I know they don't make these crumbles and I had a coupon for them and they were on sale...is that enough excuses.  These crumbles are handy for pizza, quiches, breakfast casseroles and such.  A good idea is to brown up a couple of rolls of sausage (Purnell's) and let it cool, then put it in Ziploc bags and freeze it just for these type of recipes. 




I just softened the cream cheese to spreading consistency by popping it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Spread a thin layer on each crescent roll, sprinkle some of the sausage over each one, and then sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese. 





Roll each one up as you would a crescent roll.  Place on a cookie sheet or pizza pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 13 -15 minutes or until lightly browned. 

You have a delicious breakfast sandwich in less than 30 minutes!



Cabbage and Zucchini Stir Fry!



Several people have asked for some recipes to use up some of their zucchini that is so plentiful right now.  This stir fry is really very easy to do and it is so delicious.  I used cabbage, zucchini, green and red pepper, and onion, but you could add some yellow squash, mushrooms or asparagus and they would be great also.

First, I just fried some bacon in a skillet until crisp.  I used 3 pieces but you can cook more if you want more protein or are making it this for more people.
Once the bacon is crisp remove to a plate and put the diced peppers and onion in the drippings left in the pan.  Saute for just  few minutes.
Slice a medium zucchini or two small zucchini into thin slices and add to the pan.  Toss with the other vegetables. Add a Tbs. of minced garlic or a tsp. of garlic powder.
Slice a half head of cabbage and add to the mix.  Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper or something like Nature's Seasoning to taste. 
Toss over high heat just until the vegetables are crisp tender.  It won't take long...maybe 2-3 minutes.   Put 1 Tbs. soy sauce and 1 Tbs. sesame seeds overall.  Crumble the bacon and sprinkle over the top.

Cabbage zucchini stir fry, fresh corn on the cob and fried hoe cakes...the perfect summer lunch!

Ingredients:

3-4 strips of bacon
1/2 head of cabbage
1 medium zucchini or 2 small zucchini
1 medium Vidalia onion or any sweet onion
1/2 cup green pepper
1/2 cup red pepper
1 Tbs. minced garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 Tbs. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste





Cheese Stuffed Meatballs!



I love a good homemade meatball and I have experimented with many different recipes and cooking methods, but I think these are some of my favorites.   Pizza Hut with their cheese stuffed crust pizza has nothing on these meatballs because they have a hunk of mozzarella stuffed right in the middle of them.  This makes them really moist and yummy and if you have your kids help making these, they love to 'hide' that cheese in the middle.   These are perfect for spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, or even cut in half and used in pizza casserole or lasagna.   Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. ground chuck (ground beef is too fatty)
1/2 lb sausage (Italian or just breakfast sausage, you can also just use 1/2 lb ground pork) 
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing mix
2 tsp. dry basil
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup pasta sauce, tomato sauce, or ketchup
8 oz. block of mozzarella cheese cut in bite size cubes

Since I have a ton of fresh basil and oregano, I substituted about 1/4 cup of each of the fresh herbs that I snipped in small pieces with my kitchen shears.  You have to use more of the fresh herbs than the dried ones.  The dried herb's flavor is more concentrated.

For the pork, I used my old standby Purnell's medium flavored breakfast sausage.  Italian sausage would be great also, but guys don't like the taste as well.  Purnell's make an Italian sausage packaged just like the breakfast sausage also which would work great in these, but this is what I used:


Best sausage on the market...I promise! 


 
Beat your eggs slightly in a large mixing bowl.  Crumble the ground chuck and the sausage over the eggs.  Add all of the other ingredients except the fresh herbs and the mozzarella cheese cubes.  Mix it all up lightly to combine, but don't over mix.  Put your snipped herbs in and incorporate them.  If you are using dried herbs, you can just add everything at once and mix.   When you mix meatballs, use a light touch.  You want them mixed but loosely...don't pack them tight or mix them to death, because it will result in a tough too dense meatball. You do have to mix them to a point though or they will fall apart. 





This is what your mixture will look like.  You really have to use your hands to do this.  If that makes you queasy, get you a box of gloves to wear in the kitchen.  It's more sanitary and keeps it off of you.

I use my smaller ice cream scoop to scoop the meatballs up.  It helps to keep them uniform in size.  I don't like a huge meatball so these are a little smaller than a golf ball.  You do have to scoop enough meat to cover the cheese cube.

Cube the mozzarella cheese into bite size cubes.  Make sure the cheese is cold, it cuts better and it is less likely to  not cook out of the meatball.

Roll your meat ball and then stick a cheese cube in the center.  Wrap the meat around the cube to completely cover.



Place these on a cookie sheet or pizza pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  I lined mine with nonstick Reynolds wrap...best thing ever invented.   You can slide these back in the fridge until you are ready to cook them or cook them right away.  I do think that the cheese stays in the middle better if they are chilled.  Place these in a preheated 400 degree oven on the top rack for 30 minutes. 
Halfway through the baking time, take a spoon and turn each meatball over to brown on the other side.  If you don't do this, you will have a meatballs with one flat side and one rounded side.

You can put these right in the spaghetti sauce you are using once made or just put the number people want on each serving of spaghetti and then cover with the sauce, which is what I do. They are great for meatball subs also.