Potluck Chicken

Some people call them basket dinners, others fellowship meals, but our church calls them potlucks and we have one the last Sunday of every month.

We love them!

But I’ve struggled through the years finding something to bring. The oven at church was always full – so it needed to be something in a crock pot.

It also needed to be fast, cheap, and easy to make.

And – after that one embarrassing potluck when my meatballs where raw in the center – it had to be fully cooked.

Enter – Potluck Chicken!

I developed this recipe one Saturday afternoon in desperation. It proved to be a big hit – especially with the kids – and has become my signature potluck dish.

The ingredients are simple – just thawed chicken legs and some Montreal seasoning (I use my homemade version which can be found here).

The secret is time management.

The night before, I line a sheet cake pan with aluminum foil. This helps with clean up.

Then I take the thawed chicken legs and sprinkle them liberally with the Montreal seasoning mix and lay them on the tray.

I cover the tray with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight.

First thing the next morning, I remove the plastic and put the pan of chicken in the oven at 350 while I shower, eat breakfast, and get dressed.

Then – Just before I leave for church – I take the chicken from the oven and put the legs and any juice in my crock pot on warm. I throw away the aluminum foil and quickly wash the pan.

That’s it!

The chicken legs bake for about 90 minutes to 2 hours and are fall of the bone tender.

They could be eaten immediately, but will stay warm and wonderful for hours in the crock pot.

You could bake them immediately and skip the whole refrigerator step, but there’s something wonderful that happens when the spices sit on the chicken overnight!

Either way they are yummy!

Enjoy!

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

DSC_0399‘Tis cold my friends.

There’s frost on the pumpkins in the mornings! Oh wait – there are no pumpkins in my garden because those evil squash bugs killed them!!

But I digress.

It is cold enough to start craving some tummy-warming soups, like this family favorite Chicken Tortilla Soup. (Especially after a cold day outside cleaning up the remains of the pathetic, pumpkin-less garden! :))

I was able to use some of the bits and pieces of remaining garden produce to make this already cheap meal even cheaper.

For the can of crushed tomatoes, I took the skin off some fresh tomatoes and quartered them.

For the can of chile peppers, I used fresh jalapenos and sauteed them with the onion.

I added more chicken broth in place of the water for more flavor.

It’s a great way to use up some left-over chicken and can be made in advance and kept warm in a crock pot!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 pound chicken, cooked and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 can (10.5 ounce) chicken broth
1-1/4 cups water
1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional but yummy!)
1 package corn tortillas

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cut corn tortillas into strips. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Watch them carefully!

To serve, scoop the soup into bowls and top with corn tortillas. You may also add sour cream, cheddar cheese, onion, peppers, or even black olives.

This is really yummy over a pile of rice, or with a hunk of homemade bread!

For you THMer’s  – this would be a solid E with either the baked corn tortillas, a side of brown rice or a piece of plan approved bread. Substitute 0% fat free yogurt and a wedge of laughing cow cheese for the sour cream and cheddar.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with the THM Tuesday at Gwen’s Nest.

Pizza Soup

SoupaWith yet another snow storm expected tonight – I guess winter isn’t quite done with us yet!

There’s still time to put  some hearty and warming soup on the menu.

One of our favorites is this very easy pizza soup.

Just a few ingredients to stir together and heat up, either on the stove top or in the crock pot.

It’s warm, satisfying, and really yummy.

We love it with a green salad, fresh rolls, Italian bread sticks, or even grilled cheese sandwiches.

Pizza Soup

1 pound ground beef or sausage
2 cans (26 ounces each) condensed tomato soup
6-1/2 cup water
1 jar (28 ounce) spaghetti sauce (I use one quart of homemade)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1- 16 ounce bag rotini noodles
2 cups cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef or sausage. Drain the grease.  Add to soup kettle or Dutch oven with the tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce, and Italian seasoning.

Bring to boil. Add the package of rotini noodles. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 15 minutes,  stirring often.

Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Serve warm with additional cheese to garnish.

You can make this soup in the crock pot – just add the browned meat, tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce and Italian seasonings to the crock pot. Cook on high for three hours. Then you can either add the noodles and cook for another 30 minutes, or just cook the noodles on the stove and stir them in just before serving.

To spice things up – add some pepperoni, a can of mushrooms, or some  Canadian bacon pieces. Or throw some diced onion and green pepper into the meat while it’s browning.

Need it gluten free? Use your favorite gluten free pasta or omit it altogether and add extra meat or veggies.

It’s as flexible and versatile as pizza!

Enjoy!

Barbeque Baked Beans

BeansIt’s a cold, blustery day outside today.  But inside there’s a cinnamon candle burning on my table, a Focus on the Family radio drama in the CD player, a yummy supper cooking in the crock pot.

On the menu tonight – barbeque baked beans – a stick to your ribs comfort food that is fast and cheap – especially when you use dry beans that you cooked yourself.

Tonight we added a pound of fried sausage to the beans to make it even more hearty.

It took about 10 minutes to throw together and is sending the most delicious smells through the house!

Barbecue Baked Beans

1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup tangy barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons mustard
3 cup canned white beans
salt to taste

Mix the ketchup, barbecue sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, honey and mustard.  Bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add beans and salt to taste.

Transfer to a greased casserole dish and bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Or put in a greased crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. The crock pot version won’t be as thick – but just as delicious!

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Last week-end was hot. And humid. And busy.

I had just gotten home from a trip to town and was putting away bags of groceries…

And several garage sale treasures…

And 4 dozen rolls of toilet paper…

And purple plates and napkins for graduation…

When Angel Girl reminded me that the older kids had a Youth Group Hot Dog roast that night.

And they needed to bring something to share.

In my weariness I sheepishly offered, “A bag of chips?”

I guess not.

I closed my eyes and frantically searched my tired brain cells for any sign of inspiration.

It was a blank slate.

No wait – wait – I think I have it – there it is – yes – it came to me – mac and cheese in the crock pot.

So what if we had never made it before.  I found the recipe in my Taste of Home Slow Cooker Cook Book, handed it to Angel Girl and went to the couch with a large glass of ice water.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a teen in the house. 🙂

She made it.

She brought it.

The kids devoured it.

Success.

Slow Cooked Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese 3

1 – 16 ounce package elbow macaroni
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 – 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 – can condensed cheddar cheese soup – 10-3/4 ounce  (we substituted cream of mushroom)
1 cup milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Cook macaroni according the package directions and drain. Place in a large bowl and toss with the melted butter.

In a bowl combine the eggs, evaporated milk, soup, milk, and three cups of cheese. Pour over the mixture and stir to coat.

Pour everything into a 5 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook 15 minutes longer.

Sprinkle with paprika. (We forget this step – the kids never noticed.)

Although the cheddar cheese would have added even more cheesy goodness – the mushroom soup was tasty and the teenagers didn’t seem to mind.

Enjoy! 🙂