Slow Cooker Smothered Chicken and Gravy!

 
 
This "Slow Cooker Smothered Chicken & Gravy" is one of my easy peasy recipes and when I say easy peasy, I am not kidding!  This is so easy anyone can make it and it will turn out fork tender and so full of flavor every time!  This recipe does for chicken what the Mississippi Roast recipe does for a beef roast!  This makes a wonderful gravy that is so good served over mashed potatoes or rice!  Here is what you will need:
 
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
black pepper
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can of cream of chicken soup
1 (10 1/2 oz.) can of cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
16 oz. sour cream (do not use light)
7-8 strips of bacon fried crisp and crumbled
4-5 green onions sliced thin including some of the green blades (optional for garnish)
 
Spray a large slow cooker with nonstick spray.  Lay the chicken breasts in the bottom.  Sprinkle them with black pepper to taste.  You really don't need to salt them, because of the sodium in the soups.  If you are using frozen chicken breasts, you don't even need to thaw them.  They will cook just fine. 
 
In a separate bowl, mix the two cans of soup and the dry onion soup mix until blended.  If your family doesn't care for mushrooms, you can use two cans of cream of chicken soup instead.   Spread the soup mixture over the chicken breasts.  Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. 
 
During the last hour of cooking, add the sour cream.  I like to temper the sour cream before I add it by adding some of the hot liquid to it gradually until the sour cream is no longer cold.  When it's warm, it won't break when you add it and will incorporate smoothly with gravy! 
 
When it's time to serve, sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the top and the green onion if you are using it.  I think it gives the dish some nice color.
 
This is wonderful served with mashed potatoes or rice and there is plenty of gravy to spoon over them.




Hungarian Goulash!


 Growing up, my mother made two very different dishes she called goulash.  One was the classic Southern Goulash which is made with ground beef, tomatoes, and macaroni and the other was this Hungarian Goulash, which has tender chunks of stew meat, green peppers, onion and carrots and is served over egg noodles!   We had the first one the most, probably because it was less time consuming to make, but when Mama said we were having goulash, I hoped she meant the Hungarian version.  It was always one of my favorite meals.  

I am sure this recipe is not authentically Hungarian, because I don't remember even knowing anyone Hungarian growing up.  However, I do know this is delicious.  This is just sort of a southern spin on Hungarian Goulash.  Here is what you will need:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. stew meat or to round steak, cubed
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/3 cup oil
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced large
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can beef broth
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black paper
1 Tbs. paprika
1 bag baby carrots
1 cup sour cream

If you are using precut stew meat, trim all of the fat off of it.  If you are using top round, just cut it in good size cubes.  In a shallow dish, a pie plate works well, combine the flour, 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1 tsp. paprika.  Coat the beef cubes on all sides in the seasoned flour. 

Heat the oil and bacon drippings in a heavy Dutch Oven on the stove top. If you don't have bacon drippings, you can leave them out, but they add so much flavor to this. 
 In batches place the floured beef cubes and brown on all sides well.   Don't place them all in at once or they won't brown.  Once they are all browned, add the onion and the green pepper and saute them just a little.  Add the minced garlic after the onion and green pepper starts to get tender and cook it just  minute or so.  Garlic burns easily so don't over cook it.  Use can of beef broth to deglaze the pan.  Scrape all of the browned bits up from the bottom.  Those browned bits are full of flavor and if you don't deglaze this will tend to stick which you do not want.

Add the tomato sauce and the stewed tomatoes.  Break the stewed tomatoes up some if they are not already.  Add 1 tsp. seasoned salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1 Tbs. of paprika.  I use a sweet paprika, but if you are using a hot paprika, you might want to cut this amount back come.
Bring everything up to a boil, then turn the heat back to medium low, cover and cook for 1 hour.  Check about half way through and stir to be sure it's not sticking. After one hour add the baby carrots and cover and cook for 1 more hour.  Again check half way through and stir so that this doesn't stick.

After two hours, the meat should be tender and the gravy should be nice and thick.  If at any point, it seems too thick, add some water.  Temper the sour cream by adding a little of the hot gravy to it and stirring it in to slowly warm it.  Once the sour cream is warm, add it all to the pan and stir until it is incorporated.  If you don't temper the sour cream and just add it cold all at once, it will break and won't incorporate into the sauce smoothly.  Just heat through, don't allow this to boil once the sour cream is added.

Spoon over wide eggs noodles and serve!  You can garnish with a dollop of additional sour cream and a little green onion or chives!  This is one of my favorite meals and smelling it cooking brings back good childhood memories for me! 



Cornbread Salad!


 
Only in the south would we take something like cornbread and turn it into a salad and since my blog name is Sweet Tea and Cornbread, I thought this was a very appropriate recipe.  And in addition to all of that, it is delicious.  When I first heard of this salad, I thought it sounded sort of weird, but I gave it try anyway and it was huge hit.   It's also very pretty and it's  perfect for a cookout or summer party. 
 
Here is what you will need:
 

1 pan of your favorite cornbread or you can use a box of Jiffy cornbread mix prepared, 1/2 cup vidalia or sweet onion, 1/2 cup green pepper, 1 can ranch or chili beans (drained) or kidney beans will also work, 1 can niblets corn (drained),  5-6 slices crisp bacon, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese,  1 pkg ranch dressing mix blended with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup sour cream to make the dressing.  Be sure you blend these together well. 
 
Take 1/2 cornbread and cut in cubes.  Place in the bottom of a tall trifle dish or a big glass salad bowl.  A clear bowl just looks prettier because the layers show.  Drain the beans well and put over the cornbread layer.  Next put half the onion and half the green pepper. Pour half the dressing over this layer.  Cut the rest of the cornbread in cubes and do another layer of cornbread.  Drain corn well and put it over this layer.  Sprinkle the rest of the onion and green pepper over this. Finish the top with the rest of the ranch dressing mix, the grated cheese and the bacon crumbled.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.  This is best made early in the day and refrigerated for several hours to blend the flavors.  I wouldn't make it the day before though because it could get soggy.   This will be  big hit! 

 
Ingredients:
 
1 recipe cornbread
1 can niblets corn
1 can ranch beans, chili beans or kidney beans
1/2 cup sweet onion diced
1/2 cup green pepper diced
2 cups cheddar cheese grated
5-6 slices bacon fried crisp
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise

Microwave Peanut Brittle!

 
 
I love good peanut brittle, but really good peanut brittle can be hard to find.   This "Microwave Peanut Brittle"  is so easy you won't believe it and it tastes amazing.  It's so much better than anything you can buy.  This would be perfect for gift giving and it is also not nearly as expensive to make as some of the other homemade candies can be.  Here is what you will need:
 
 
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1  1/2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
 
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a glass bowl and mix.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Stir in the peanuts and the butter.  Put this back in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.  My microwave does this fine in 4 minutes.  If you have a lower wattage microwave, you might need to go 5 minutes.  The mixture should be bubbling and turning a caramel color.   Add the baking soda and the vanilla.  Stir until the foam is gone.  If the children are helping make this, be very careful at this stage, this is so hot it will burn you really bad if it gets on you! 
 
Immediately spread on a cookie sheet you have lined with either parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray or nonstick foil.  I used nonstick Reynolds Wrap.   If you have read many of my recipe posts, you know I love the stuff...lol.   It's great for so many uses.   You have to spread this fast because it starts to set up.  Use a spatula, you have also sprayed with nonstick spray to spread this thin.   Let it sit out to dry and firm up for about 30 minutes. 
 
Break it into pieces and it's ready to dive into.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature and it keeps for several weeks, but it won't last that long!  You could place this in decorative tins for perfect little gifts! 
 
 




Roasted Rosemary Parmesan Chicken and Veggies!

 
 
I love what I call 'one dish' meals, because they are so easy on the cleanup when you have a lot going on.  This "Roasted Rosemary Parmesan Chicken and Veggies" is a one sheet pan meal. This all cooks on one large sheet pan and it tastes amazing!  Everything turns out so juicy and full of flavor.   You will love the ease of it.   I am going to start trying to create one of these 'one sheet pan meals' once a week or at least every other week. This recipe is not only delicious and easy, it's also fairly healthy.   Here is all you need:
 
3/4 cup olive oil
1 envelope of dried Italian dressing mix
2 Tbs. snipped fresh rosemary (you could use 1 Tbs. dried)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
seasoned salt
3 cups mini potatoes, cut in half or you can use something like Yukon Golds quarted
2 cups baby carrots
1 bunch of asparagus
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 
In a bowl whisk together the olive oil and the next five ingredients.  Whisk in the juice of 1/2 lemon until the mixture is emulsified or blended.  
 
Cover a large sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.  I like to use the nonstick Reynolds wrap.    Place the chicken breasts on one half of the sheet and drizzle both sides with the seasoned oil mixture. Sprinkle lightly with the seasoned salt.  It just gives them good color. 
 
 Place the rest of the mixture in a gallon zip lock bag.   Put the potatoes and carrots in the bag.  Seal and toss them around to coat with the oil and herbs.   Using a large spoon, take the out and place on the other half of the sheet pan.  You need to use a spoon for this, because you will need to do the same process with the asparagus and if you just dump it you won't have enough left in the bag for that.
 
Leave some room at the bottom of your pan for your asparagus, which will be added later. Place the chicken, potatoes, and carrots in the oven.  Roast for 25 minutes.  At this point add the asparagus to the pan.  Asparagus cooks really fast, so if you add it with the rest, it will be over cooked. Once the asparagus is added.  Sprinkle chicken and all of the veggies with the parmesan cheese.  Place back in the oven for 15 minutes.
 
That's it, dinner is served and you have one sheet pan to cleanup!  Could it get any easier and it's delicious and healthy!



Cheesy Breakfast Scramble!

 
 
This "Cheesy Breakfast Scramble" is one of the easiest complete breakfasts you can make, because it cooks all in one skillet.   I even took a shortcut and used refrigerated hash browns.  You can add some buttered toast or even better biscuits and gravy and voila...you have a great and filling meal.  I call this a 'breakfast scramble', but it would be good any meal of the day.   Here is what you will need:
 
1 lb. breakfast sausage
1 medium sweet onion or about 1/2 cup, diced
1/2 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 (20 oz.) bag of refrigerated hash browns (could use frozen ones that are thawed)
6 large eggs
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning ( I used Zatarains)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
dash of hot sauce (optional)
2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
 
Crumble and brown the breakfast sausage in a deep skillet, with a lid.  Add the onion and bell pepper and cook with the sausage.   When the sausage is just browning, add the potatoes.  Toss to get the potatoes coated with the drippings.  Cover and cook for about 10 - 15 minutes. 
 
I used these that have a little steakhouse seasoning on them.  You can used the cubed or the shredded, which cook  a little faster.
 
Uncover and turn the potatoes!  Cook until they start to get a little brown.  Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and pour over all.  Turn the heat down to medium low and lightly toss. Sprinkle in the Creole seasoning, black pepper and dash of hot sauce!  Toss just until the eggs are set.  Don't over cook them.  Add 1 cup of the cheese and toss again.  Sprinkle the top with the other cup of cheese. Cover just for a few minutes to melt the cheese.  You can cut the heat off at this point so the eggs aren't over cooked. 
 
Plate each serving!  I garnished with a little cilantro!
 
I also added some diced tomato!  Some sour cream and salsa would also be good! 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Asparagus and Mushroom Stir Fry!

 
 

 
This "Asparagus and Mushroom Stir Fry" is a really easy side dish with just a few ingredients.  This compliments almost any main course or could be served as a vegetarian main course.  I love fresh asparagus and I am always looking for new ways to use it.  I think it is very under used in southern cooking. Here is what you will need:
 
2 Tbs. oil (vegetable, canola, or olive oil works)
2 Tbs. butter
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms ( I used white mushrooms)
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce (I used Kikkoman)
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
juice of half of a lemon
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. cornstarch
 
Place the oil and butter in a deep rounded skillet or wok and heat to medium high.  Add the diced onion and cook until just softening.  Add the garlic and saute for just a minute or two.  Garlic can burn so don't cook too long. 
 
Break the woody ends off of the asparagus.  If you just bend the ends, it will natural break the tough woody part off.    Cut the asparagus on the diagonal in 1 inch to 2 inch pieces.   Place in the skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and saute with the other ingredients for about 2-3 minutes more or until just starting to soften.   Add the teriyaki sauce, salt and pepper to taste, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.  Squeeze the lemon juice over all and toss.   In a separate bowl, mix the water and 2 tsp. cornstarch until smooth.  Pour over all and heat until the sauce thickens a little.
 
This is so good with beef, chicken or pork or can be a vegetarian main course! 

 


Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake!

 

If you have ever had the classic chocolate "Texas Sheet Cake",  you know it's moist and so scrumptious.  This takes that basic recipe and just spins it in a peanut butter form, which for the peanut butter lovers is also really delicious.  This is an idea my mother came up with and the results were wonderful.  It's also pretty easy.  Here is what you will need:

2  1/2 cups self rising flour (White Lily, preferably) ***
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (do not use margarine)
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
 
***If you are unable to get self rising flour in your area, use all purpose and add 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt to it.
 
Icing
6 Tbs. half and half cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
In mixing bowl sift the flour and sugar together. 
 
In a heavy saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup butter, oil, buttermilk, peanut butter and water to a boil.   Once it boils, pour over the dry mixture in the mixing bowl, eggs,  baking soda, and vanilla.  Stir to combine it all.  Don't over mix this.  Just use a large spoon or whisk.  Pour into a 9"x13" baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray.  I prefer Baker's Joy for this, but whatever you have works.   Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  A pick inserted in the center should come out clean when it's done.
 
 During the last 10 minutes that the cake is baking, make the icing, because as soon as the cake comes out, you ice it.   Place the half and half cream, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Melt this all together and stir until smooth.   Turn the heat to low.  Stir in the confectioners sugar and the vanilla.  Stir until smooth.    Immediately pour over the cake just out of the oven.  Spread evenly over the top.  Sprinkle with the finely chopped peanuts and press them into the warm icing with the back of a spoon.  A food processor is great for chopping the peanuts.

Slice and serve!  This is so good while the icing is still warm!


Creamed Peas with New Potatoes!

 
 
These "Creamed Peas and New Potatoes" is a familiar dish with many of us who grew up in the South.  Maybe they eat the in the North also, I don't really know, but I do know that so many of you Southerners have mentioned them.  Any time I post the salmon patties, I always get comments about creamed peas.   It seems that every southern mama decided creamed peas just go with salmon patties and they do go well together.  I think most children don't really love the green peas, but I was odd I guess, because I always did.  My mother almost always dressed them up with a cream sauce or even took them to another level when she added just a little cheese to the sauce.  I will discuss that further in the recipe. 
 
We were lucky enough to have fresh green peas for this dish, but you can use frozen peas or canned peas also.  Here is what you will need:
 
1 lb. small new potatoes, peeled and quartered or halved if very small
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups fresh shelled green peas (or 2 10 oz. bags frozen peas or 2 (15 oz.) cans green peas, drained)
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
2 cups half and half cream (could use whole milk)
fresh dill for garnish
***1 cup diced Velveeta cheese (optional ingredient)
 
Place the potatoes in a sauce pan with enough water to just cover.  Add salt to water.  Bring to a boil and the simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the peas and simmer for an additional 15 -20 minutes.   The fresh peas won't take long.   If you are using frozen or canned peas, just cook about 5 minutes.  Just make sure your potatoes are tender.  Drain most of the water when they are done.
 
In a microwave proof bowl melt the butter.  Add the flour, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.  Microwave for just about 30 seconds.   Whisk in the half and half cream and microwave for about 3 minutes.   These times will vary according to the wattage of your own microwave.  Whisk well until the sauce is thick and smooth.   You can also do this on the stovetop, just be sure to stir constantly to keep it from sticking.
 
If you want to make the Cheesy Peas, add the cubed Velveeta to the white sauce and microwave for another minute.  Whisk until melted and smooth. 
 
Pour the sauce over the peas and potatoes and toss to coat. 
 
You can garnish with a  little fresh dill!  These are really good with Salmon Patties!