Favorite Fall Recipe

I am linking up again with Taylor and Helene for

The Daily Tay Blogtober14
Today’s blog prompt is to share a favorite fall recipe.  When I think of fall recipes I think of chili, soups and stews.  Trying to pick a recipe to post here was really hard for me.  As much as I love to cook, I rarely make the same recipe twice.  I don’t have a huge arsenal of “tried and true” recipes, because I’m always trying new ones.   So, I’m cheating and posting two recipes.  Neither of the below recipes are “fall” recipes. However, they are definitely comfort food, so I thought it fitting.  They are also both quick and easy which I know we can all appreciate.
So, as I mentioned, I rarely make the same recipe twice.  This is one of the few exceptions.  I can’t count how many times that I’ve made this recipe.  It is a whole chicken cooked in the slower cooker.  For a family of four, this usually gives us a minimum of two meals.  The first night I make it, we will eat it right out of the slow cooker with some type of potato side dish (you can try the potato recipe I shared below!).  Then I (okay, my husband, a.k.a. the Weekend Chef) will take the rest of the chicken off the bones and I will then use it later in the week in another recipe (casserole, tacos, etc.).   And just to note, usually when I make this I don’t do the last step of moving the chicken to a baking dish and broiling.  However, I recommend if you like a crispy chicken skin!
Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker
recipe adapted from The Little Kitchen, originally adapted from food.comIngredients:

Rub Ingredients
4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs roasting or fryer chicken
2 garlic cloves

Directions:
Combine rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove chicken from packaging and remove neck and pouch with organs. Discard or reserve for later use in another recipe. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

Rub garlic all over outside of the chicken. Put garlic inside the chicken. Rub the rub all over the outside and inside the chicken. Place chicken in slow cooker and cover. Cook chicken on low for 4-8 hours. Cook until the internal temperature of the leg is at 160 degrees F or use a pop-up thermometer as the original recipe calls for (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the chicken).

Remove chicken and place in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Place baking dish in the oven under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes. Allow chicken to rest after removing it from the broiler for 5-10 minutes.

This potato side dish is so simple, using only a handful of ingredients, but it’s so tasty (IF you love blue cheese!).   This is not a “light” recipe, since it uses a cup of heavy cream but it’s definitely worth the splurge.   When I make this side dish I almost always cook it in my cast iron skillet.  I also want to note that leftovers of this aren’t as good the next day…..incentive to have “one more bite!”
Potato and Blue Cheese Gratin
Gourmet, December 2005Tender, rich, and browned on top, this easy potato gratin gets loads of flavor from a very minimal amount of blue cheese that is added at the last minute.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb medium yellow-fleshed potatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (1 oz)

Directions:
Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Peel potatoes and slice 1/8 inch thick, then toss with cream, garlic, salt, and pepper in skillet. Cover with foil and roast until potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and preheat broiler. Remove foil and sprinkle potatoes with cheese. Broil until top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Also sharing with:

If you decide to try either of these recipes please let me know how you like them!  They both rank five stars in our house!

The Weekend Chef “Dishes” – Book Review: Food: A Love Story

“The Weekend Chef” a.k.a. my husband, will hopefully be making regular guest post appearances.  This first post of his is a book review for a book that we received through a program called “Blogging for Books.”  As we are a family of book lovers, I thought that this program was very fitting for us.  When I was perusing the books available, this book below was the first one that caught my eye.  The Weekend Chef is a fan of Jim Gaffigan, and he was literally just listening to his comedy sessions on Pandora a couple of nights before I requested this book.  He’s always looking for reading material for his train ride commute to the city so I thought this book would be perfect.  I told him he’d have to write a review of it though for the blog!  So, without further ado, I introduce you to “The Weekend Chef.”

Hey there. Weekend Chef here. I thought I would start with a quick intro of what exactly is a “Weekend Chef”? Well, I spend quite a bit of time throughout the week not cooking at all. I’m also not very good at menu planning, or cutting coupons, or actually knowing where in the kitchen we’re hiding things, or if we even have any pantry items in stock at all….Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah. So anyway, I’ve been informed at least once that I’m in charge of locating food for the family on weekends and it had better not be takeout every meal. So my plan is that generally there isn’t one and I go to the store and pick up stuff that looks good and is probably also on sale. This isn’t a 4 star establishment, don’t ya know. But I do enjoy the accomplishment of getting inspired by whatever is fresh and seasonal, cooking a full meal that a 6 and 8-year-old enjoy and generally not using a recipe. I would like to think of that as a small victory. And then I can continue to not try very hard with the planning ahead part if it all comes together in the end.

So this ties into our first book review, appropriately enough about food from a comedian who doesn’t cook at all, unless you count things from the microwave or hot dogs.

Food:  A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
352 pages
published by Random House
3 stars

I’ve enjoyed Jim Gaffigan’s stand up act for a few years now. Food is a big part of his act. I recommend checking out some of routines after you read the book. In my opinion, I was a little distracted while reading, trying in my head to make it sound like him on stage. First, there are quite a few sections of the book that he’s already used in his act and I was familiar with them already. Second, he has a pretty unique delivery where he makes a joke or two and follows it up with a comment/ critique as if he was a member of the audience in a slightly higher pitched voice. It’s difficult to explain. It’s probably most similar to a ventriloquism act where you get to basically argue with yourself.

Jim has been on the comedy circuit nationwide for many years and has been exposed to a lot of road food, airport dives and a decade of living in Manhattan with his wife and 5 children. As a whole, he aims to take advice on the must-eat local restaurants/ specialties in the cities he travels to, but it doesn’t stop him from eating the most mundane franchise food. He’s not the type to skip a meal and he’s sure to tell us that he’s not a foodie, he just like to eat.

I enjoyed Jim’s take on every imaginable variety of types of food around the country and the world. Eating is clearly what drives many of the actions he takes including making his wife and kids wait impatiently for a hour for the “best” BBQ. If you’re a food snob or a fan of vegetables, this may not be the book for you. For everyone else, this is a fun trip through the eyes and stomach of a man on the road.

** We received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  However, all opinions are our own.

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Epic Mommy Adventures

Fall Family Bucket List: Apple Picking

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Last weekend, it pretty much rained all day Saturday.  We ended up taking advantage of the nicer (but chilly!) weather on Sunday to go apple picking.  We have gone apple picking every year since we have had children.  This year, The Weekend Chef and I were debating on whether we should go this year.  Believe it or not, we still have cut up apples in our freezer from last year!  But when creating our Fall Bucket List, apple picking was the first thing that BOTH kids said they wanted to do.  I told my husband that we couldn’t deny them this experience.  So, off we went.  There are several orchards near our house.  We opted not to do the whole day “hulabaloo” experience, as I call it, that we’ve done in the past.  We chose Wilkins Fruit Farm, located only fifteen minutes from the house.  We planned to get to the orchard at 10 AM when they opened.  We weren’t the only ones who had that idea!  The parking lot was already to starting to fill up when we got there.  We paid 25 cents for a bag that held half a peck (approximately 5-6 pounds) of apples.  We took a tractor ride out to the orchard and got to picking apples!  The “ready for picking” apples were McIntosh and Empires.  I think the kids ate about four apples each!  After filling the bag we walked back to the orchard entrance and paid $20 for filled bag of apples.  Although it was a bit cool, walking around and picking the apples warmed us up.  Before leaving, we headed to the bakery to pick up some of these…….I mean, this is the main reason The Weekend Chef and I like apple picking….the apple cider doughnuts!

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Unfortunately, these were not warm, right out of the fryer doughnuts, so I was a bit disappointed.  It wouldn’t be a trip to the orchard without them though.   When we got home that afternoon “A” and I whipped up this Crockpot Apple Dump Cake.  I see a lot of baking with apples in our future!

Have you been apple picking this fall?  What is your favorite apple recipe?

 

 

 

 

 

Five For Friday: Pizza Edition!

Pizza

photo via

Did you know that October is National Pizza Month?!  Pizza is an almost weekly meal at our house.  And I’m not talking about the kind from the pizzeria.  We buy pizza dough at the grocery store and for a fraction of the cost of take-out pizza we have healthier and usually tastier pizza!  So, in honor of National Pizza Month, here are five pizza recipes that we have enjoyed.  The first four pictures/recipe links below link up to my old food blog The Busy Mom Café.  While I don’t post there anymore, feel free to check out the recipes that I’ve made over there.

1.  Bacon, Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese Pizza – Usually if I make a specialty pizza like this one, I also make a plain
pizza that I know the kids will eat.  This pizza has some of my favorite ingredients – bacon and
goat cheese.  Yum!

2.  Peach, Basil, Mozzarella, & Balsamic Pizza –  I know it’s not peach season, but this was such a tasty pizza that I’ve
made that I had to post.  Again, when I made this one, I also made a plain pizza for the kids.

3.  CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza –  If you’re not sure what CPK stands for….that’s California Pizza Kitchen.  And if you’ve never
been…..I hope you get to try it soon!  We haven’t been in awhile, maybe even pre-kids!  But
when we have gone in the past, The Weekend Chef and I will split a pizza and a salad.  We’ve
tried this one and we also really like their Thai Chicken pizza.

4. Prosciutto-Mozza Pizza – This pizza is only 5 ingredients but super tasty AND super quick to make!  And it’s a pizza that
we ALL enjoyed!

5.  Baked Pizza Burritos – Have you ever had a hot pocket?  I used to love those things when I was in high school.  It’s
actually been years since I’ve eaten one.  But after making these recently, it totally brought hot
pockets to mind.  This is like a homemade pizza hot pocket….but much healthier and super
tasty!

Linking up with Amanda @ Meet at the Barre and

 

 

Is it Really Reading?

books♥

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that I LOVE to read.  Fortunately, my children, especially my daughter “A”, are quite the bookworms.  However, we’ve run into quite a dilemma in our house.  Unfortunately, our local library has been closed for renovations for quite some time now.  You cannot go into the library and look around for books but you can put books and other materials on hold via an online account and go and pick them up.  Every week I go and pick up the things that I’ve put on hold, including picture books and reading books that I’ve requested for the kids.  Sometimes they put in special requests for a particular book that they want to read.  Other times I put stuff on hold based on recommendations, new releases etc.  Now that school has started, “A” can bring home three books from the school library and several books from her classroom library.  Let’s mix that in with books that we already own in the house (too many to count….I was a former school teacher!) and the five books that she brought home from her last visit to her grandparent’s house (and their local library).  That’s a LOT of books.  Which isn’t necessarily a problem.

The problem is that she has started reading every single one of the books.  Every….single…one.  I find half read books all over the house.  Then the books need to be returned and she hasn’t actually finished reading any of them!  We actually got into an argument earlier this week when I brought home a pile of books from the library, which included a book that she had requested.  I told her I wasn’t going to give her the book until she had finished reading some of the other books that she already was in the middle of reading.  Am I the mean mom, that she told me I was?!!!  I tried to explain to her that the whole point of reading is to start AND finish a story.  I questioned how she can enjoy reading only parts of a bunch of stories.  I think in her mind, there’s just so many books out there that she wants to read (which I totally get, really!!).  I think she also feels pressured since she knows she’s borrowing a lot of these books and they have to go back.  I told her that she can always renew a book or return it to the school library and I can get it from the town library for her.  So yes, she’s reading words in a book, but is she REALLY reading if she’s not actually finishing anything?  I jokingly (but a little serious) told her I’d have her write a book summary about what she read)!  If she’s enjoying herself and okay with her “reading” methods, then should I be?!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Been Cooking in My Kitchen Wednesday!

We are a food loving family.  Prior to going back to work full-time, I attempted to start a food/cooking blog.  I don’t update it anymore but you can check it out here.  I still attempt to cook dinner almost every weeknight but have called weekends off.  That is where the name “The Weekend Chef” came from. The Mr. loves to cook but gets home too late from work during the week to do it. So, he gets weekend cooking duty.  (Although I joke with him that he really doesn’t have to all that often since we’re usually out and about on the weekends and eating out!).  Instead of writing out the menu for what I’m cooking for the current week, I thought I’d post what I cooked the week before so I can give you reviews of what the family thought about the recipes.  I have to tell you I won’t be taking a lot of photos of the dishes….I tried to do that with the food blog but getting good food photos at 6 PM isn’t easy.  I will always link up to where I found the recipe though (when applicable) so you can have quick and easy access to it.  I subscribe to a bunch of food blogs and am never at a loss of new things to make.  Oh yeah, have I mentioned that I rarely make the same meal or recipe twice?  If it’s a recipe repeat, then it has to be something quick and tasty!!

Life's great questions

via

So, without further adieu, here’s our menu from last week:

Monday:    Chicken Korma (from foodnetwork.com – courtesy of Food Network Kitchen) I had high hopes for this recipe
and have had it bookmarked for awhile.  I have to admit that I didn’t add the ginger since I really don’t like the
flavor.  And I had to take out the mini food processor which I dislike using, since I have to wash so many extra
pieces.  Besides that, the recipe was fairly quick and easy to make.  However, I didn’t the flavor was all that
great.  In my opinion, the best part of the meal was the pita that I had bought to serve the mixture on!  Family
Rating:
2 1/2 stars

Tuesday:   Ham and Noodle Casserole (from Allrecipes.com) Usually when a recipe calls for condensed cream
of  “anything” soup I don’t make it.  We really don’t like when you can taste the “it came from a can” super salty
flavor.  I thought I’d give this recipe a try though and discovered that you don’t get that flavor at all!  This was
a comfort food type dish.  I used one of those mini ham steaks that are always on sale at the grocery store.
The dish itself was quick and easy to put together (especially if you can find shredded swiss cheese – which I
couldn’t!).  Unfortunately, it does need to cook for about 40 minutes in the oven, so not a super quick and easy
meal.   Family Rating:  4 stars

Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Potato and Corn Chowder (from blog Damn Delicious)  I LOVE using the slow cooker.
Especially now that the cold weather is coming.  The Weekend Chef actually put this together in the morning
before work and I added the cream and butter before serving.  I substituted regular peeled and cut potatoes
for the red potatoes, since that’s what I had.  I have to say this chowder ended up being pretty tasty!  The
Weekend Chef commented that if we threw a couple of cans of clams in it would make a tasty clam chowder
too.  The kids liked it so much that “C” who is my picky eater has been asking when I’m going to make that
“Potato and Corn Soup” again!  I served this with some Pillsbury biscuits.  Family Rating: 4 stars

Thursday:   Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes (from blog Crazy for Crust) This ended up being a meal that I cooked with
the kids.  You can check out the post here.  The kids LOVE breakfast for dinner and they even helped make
these.  Definitely a winner of a meal!  Breakfast for dinner is usually super quick and easy too, as was this
recipe, so double score.  I served these with breakfast sausage.  Family Rating: 4 stars

Friday:        Peanut Butter Panko Chicken with Coconut Noodles (from blog Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice) This is
not a quick and easy meal.  I realized this when meal planning for the week and purposefully planned to make
it on Friday.  The negatives:  I feel like I used almost every pot and pan in the house trying to get this meal
together. Like I mentioned, this was not quick and easy to make.  The Pluses:  It was very tasty.  Everyone
loved the peanut sauce.  My son so much that he was dipping his broccoli in it!  When my son, “C” who’s not a
big meat protein eater (chicken, steak, pork etc.) asked for seconds I know it has to be pretty good!  I had
never cooked pasta in coconut milk and discovered that it added a lot of flavor!  Family Rating: 3 1/2 stars

I’ve linked up with Organized 31 “Inspire Us Thursday” link up.

To Booster or Not……That is the Question

My daughter turned eight in April.  According to New York state law,she doesn’t need to use a booster seat.

According to the New York State Occupant Restraint Law published on the New York DMV site,

An appropriate child safety restraint system:

  • Is required for all children until their 8th birthday and,
  • Must meet the size and weight requirements for the child based on the Federal requirements and the recommendations of the manufacturer, and
  • Can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle seat belt or latch system, but not the vehicle seat belt alone, and
  • Should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle.

If the child is eight years old and is under 4’9″ tall or weighs less than 100 lbs, it is recommended that you continue to use a child restraint system.

I have heard from people from both sides.  There are some moms I know that got rid of the booster seat once their child turned eight.  I also know some moms that have their eight year olds in five point harness restraints.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seat Information for Families for 2014 school-aged children should use a belt positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet nine inches, which is typically between the ages of eight and twelve.  I asked the kid’s pediatrician at our last visit a few weeks ago what she recommended.  She said the law is once they are eight they don’t have to.  As long as the seat belt is snug across the chest and her feet aren’t hanging over the edge of the seat, then “A” doesn’t have to use a booster.  There are so many varying opinions on this issue, but as long as your child is over eight it seems pretty subjective.

I want my daughter to be the safest she possibly can while riding in the car.  Although she is eight, she is still under 100 pounds.  She hasn’t asked not to use the booster, which is a plus.  There are a handful of times when her booster seat is left in “The Weekend Chef’s” car (usually on the weekends when we have to split up the driving of the kids to different activities and errands!) and she rides in the car without it.   For now though, we are keeping her in her booster seat.  For us, it’s safety first!

Is your child eight or older and still using a booster seat?