Monday, January 30, 2012

Giveaway Winner Announced!

And the Valentine's Giveaway winner is..... 

 Kathy Schoenherr!! Congrats!

Kathy, I will be contacting you via Google Friend Connect since I don't have an email for you! Respond back so I can get your address to send you your goodies! 
If prize is not claimed with 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Thanks so much for entering and all your love and support, you guys are the best!

Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

Recently I have been experimenting more with crock pot meals. Why, you ask?

1. At a "favorite things" party over Christmas, someone mentioned Crock Pot liners and I am now converted. You can buy them at the grocery store, 4 for about $1.97. Use them and throw them away and you don't have to wash your crock pot, amazing! Since I hate washing the crock pot more than anything, this motivates me to use it more often :)

2. I am starting a full time job today and I know that now I will be doing a lot more crock pot meals! 

--

Anyways, this recipe was one I have wanted to come up with for a long time. 

It is simple recipe that is the perfect base for all kinds of foods. I think of using it in the same places I would a rotisserie chicken.

Simply cook your chicken in the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours. The chicken will become very tender and just fall apart. All you need is two forks to shred it up and you are done! So easy!

The chicken does not have a strong flavor since the point is you can use it for anything. I usually want to be able to use it for very different foods like chicken salad sandwiches but also nachos so I don't add any specific seasonings. If you know you will be using it for all Mexican food, add in some salsa, chili powder, cumin, diced chiles, etc. Or for Italian food, add basil and oregano and a can of diced tomatoes. 

I will be giving you some recipes in the coming weeks to spice the chicken up both while its cooking in the crock pot and once its cooked out of the crock pot.
We have used this chicken as a base for chicken salad, nachos, enchiladas, soup and pretty much anything else you could want! 

This recipe is also great because you could cook up as many chicken breasts as you wanted, just be sure to increase the liquid and seasonings as well and you would be all set!

 
Basic Crock Pot Shredded Chicken 
The Apron Gal

Ingredients
2 pounds chicken breasts [3 large]
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 onion, sliced
Directions

Place chicken breasts in crock pot. Add chicken broth and seasonings. Cover.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4. 

Once cooked, remove from crock pot to cutting board and shred using 2 forks.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frosting Cookies aka Funfetti Cookies

Have you entered my Valentine's Giveaway? Cute apron, dish towels, and cookie cutters up for grabs! Go enter!

 ------
I stumbled on this recipe, on Pinterest,  while looking for treats that went with a "fireworks" themed event that I was helping with at church. Although they look nothing like fireworks and didn't work for the event, they were delicious!

Adding frosting to the cookie batter instead of butter is simple, but genius. It gives the same consistency but instead of pure butter its additional butter and sugar so it gives this rich sweet addition to an already good cookie.

The inspiration for this recipe from its original baker was to use up extra homemade frosting from cupcakes or whatever else. That is a great idea and I am definitely doing that sometime.

However, this time, I wanted these cookies the minute I made them and I didn't want to make homemade frosting and then make cookies. Plus as it turns out, 2 batches of these uses exactly one frosting can, coincedence, I think not! So feel free to use whichever frosting you have available at the moment you crave these :)

Also, the addition of melted white chocolate and sprinkles add an extra layer of richness and makes them look cute too!

Now just to be clear, I call them funfetti because I think they look like funfetti...but I also think you could use funfetti frosting and no sprinkles and would get a similar and very cool cookie. Someone try it, [Caroline!?] and let me know. Plus if it fails, I better take that off of here...

Anyways, I had no problems with these, they baked up perfectly and were awesome. And that is saying a lot for me because most of my "awesome" favorites include chocolate. I think these are a wilder sugar cookie so that's why I like them. :)


Frosting Cookies aka Funfetti Cookies
slightly adapted from What's Katie Baking

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup vanilla frosting [homemade or 1/2 of 1 frosting can]
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (4 ounces) white chocolate, melted
optional but awesome: 2 tablespoons sprinkles

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. 

Grease cookie sheet or use parchment paper.

Melt white chocolate in microwave. 

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. 

In a separate bowl cream together frosting, egg, vanilla and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. 

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture [or vice versa] and stir until well combined. Once combined, slowly drizzle in melted chocolate while mixing. 

Finally add sprinkles if desired, but don't overmix.

Drop cookies by rounded tablespoons or using a cookie scoop. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes. For softer cookies bake 10 minutes. For cookies with a lightly golden edge and slightly more crunch, 12 minutes.

I recommend for those you are eating straight out of the oven the longer time, but for those you are storing or serving later, the shorter time so they stay soft.

Let cool at least 5 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to wire racks and gobbling them up.

Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Valentine's Giveaway!

Ok, remember how last week on Facebook I was having a horrible day? Well part of me cheering myself up was some shopping. And when I stumbled across this adorable Valentine's stuff I couldn't pass it up for my readers.

So some of you may be saying, "Another apron?!" Well I like aprons and this one is particularly cute and you could wear it year round, not just over Valentine's. Also, I am The Apron Gal, so there.
Anyways, in case you hate aprons, the next giveaway will be something normal like a gift card, I promise!

Ok so here are the goodies:

yes I realize that apron needs ironing, but I'm being lazy. It's still cute right?
  • Adorable Heart apron with 2 pockets! [so practical for phone and camera]
  • 3 cute dishtowels. Again, 2 of the 3 are usable at other times than Valentine's.
  • Wilton 4 piece heart cookie cutter set
  • Chocolates-required for anything Valentine's
So here are the rules:
Giveaway is open from Monday January 23, 2012 until Sunday January 29, 2012 at midnight. Winner will be announced on the blog [and contacted via email] Monday January 30 and hopefully receive their goodies by February 2nd! Giveaway open to US residents only, sorry.

To enter, please leave a separate comment for each entry:

Mandatory entry: Follow The Apron Gal on Pinterest

Additional entries:
Become a public follower of The Apron Gal [use widget on sidebar]
Subscribe to The Apron Gal by email [use widget on sidebar]
Subscribe to The Apron Gal via RSS feed
Like The Apron Gal on Facebook
Follow The Apron Gal on Twitter
Follow The Apron Gal with Bloglovin'
Add my button to your blog [code on sidebar]
Tweet, Facebook, shout from rooftops about this giveaway, 1 extra entry per shout out 

Love y'all!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

      One time my mom went to Costco and she came home with this amazing Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. We poured it over cream cheese, ate it with Ritz and thought we were in heaven. 

Whenever I came home, it was a requirement that she had this sauce on hand. She kept a few bottles in her food storage and I gladly ate it up. 

Then the day came where we ran out of our supply. Naturally we went to Costco to restock and as you may have guessed, they no longer carried it. 

We were in shock-how could they stop carrying this delicious sauce?

We looked for it at other stores and finally my mom found a pretty good knock off at Pirate O's, but at $7.00 a small bottle it was a tad overpriced to stock up on.

So last Christmas, I decided to find my own recipe for this delicious sauce and can it for holidays gifts. And I did it! The sauce was great and everyone loved it. But I borrowed the canning supplies from a friend and I no longer had access to them when it was time for the Books and Bows baby shower.

So I decided to make it again from scratch-the non canned version. And guess what? It was perfect too!

So now I never have to worry about finding it in store again, although I did see that a lot of stores now do carry it.
----

Anyways, we eat this over cream cheese with Ritz crackers. You could also pour it over pork for a great marinade/sauce. Or find all kinds of uses for it!

The recipe only requires 4 ingredients and the trickiest part is understanding the adobo sauce-the sauce that comes in a can of chipotle peppers. Our Best Bites does such a great job of explaining it-where to buy it, how to use it and how to store it, I will let them explain it much better than I could. So just remember you can increase or decrease the amount of chipotle based on your preferred crowd. I used 1.5 teaspoons and it was the perfect amount of zip, but if you like things with more kick up it to 2 teaspoons or 2.5. [And if your wimpy-the same applies, 1 teaspoon has a very mild spice].

You may also need to decrease or increase sugar levels based on the tartness of your raspberries. 

But the recipe below is a great starting point and it made enough to cover 2 cream cheese blocks or plenty to cover a pork tenderloin.

This could be a great appetizer for any party or the upcoming Super Bowl! 


Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
The Apron Gal

Ingredients
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1.5 teaspoons adobo sauce [the sauce from a can of chipotles explained here]
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
 7 tablespoons sugar

Directions
Combine raspberries, adobo sauce, and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and gradually add sugar by tablespoon until the bitterness and bite from the vinegar and raspberries has subsided. [My batch used 7 tablespoons, but sweeter raspberries would require less sugar]

Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened and reduced. [The flavor warm is not nearly as good as the flavor once chilled-it will mellow substantially].

Let cool until room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use. 

Pour over cream cheese and serve with crackers or use as a marinade or sauce with pork.

Stores in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days. This recipe is NOT canning appropriate as is! 

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Books and Bows Baby Shower

My friend Cami was recently pregnant wit her second little girl. My friend Stephanie and I still wanted to throw her a little gathering just to celebrate her as our friend and have an excuse to party, of course.

We came up with the theme, "Books and Bows," just to encourage people to bring smaller gifts like a book with a bow since it was her second girl. 

Steph and I had tons of fun brainstorming what to make and how to decorate and I think it turned out beautiful!

First, decorations. 


We took the theme along with the color pink very seriously! Steph tied pretty pink ribbon around the flowers, forks and water. It tied everything together so well. 

 Steph also handmade these shredded crepe ribbons, how awesome are those?

 I framed this little welcome message for the guest of honor and reminded guests of the theme as they entered. I also bought some cute hair bows and put them under that small cloche with a ribbon around it. Finally I propped the frame on a favorite childhood book of mine to tie it all together. 

 Did I mention those pink doilies were handmade by my grandmother
and my mom just gave them to me over Christmas?

I think they added the perfect feminine touch to the stacks of books
we used to add height and stick with the theme. 

Although Stephanie definitely had the vision for putting everything together so well.

 I tied my books up with bows and flowers...
I think it looked better in person, but maybe not ;)

 Bows

 Pink Lemonade with lemons in a beverage dispenser with chalkboard signs. I got those cute chalkboard signs 2 for $3.50 at World Market. I can't find them for you online but I have seen them in store or I am sure you could find similar ones somewhere else too. 

Stephanie just being beautiful. 
We used red paper straws [they look more like hot pink] with the decor. 

I got a box of 144 at Sur La Table for $5.95 so I still have 125 left for future parties. 
That is a steal if you have ever tried to buy paper straws before!

Ok, onto food.

Clockwise: Raspberry Chipotle Sauce over cream cheese, grapes, vanilla cupcakes, mini cheesecakes, veggies and banana nut mini muffins [Artichoke dip not pictured, sorry!]

Everything was delish-Steph did the cupcakes and artichoke and 
I did the cheescakes and dip.

I also made these cookies. My pride and joy.
Took me all day, glad you were worth it cookies. 
These were the gifts for guests to package up in clear bags with ribbon. 

 I couldn't find any bow cookie cutters so I decided on these cute duckies
and added bows by hand. That part was fun, I admit.

Both cookies used the Our Best Bites cookie and glace icing recipe and I baked the cookies the minimum time so they were soft, per my friend Allison's suggestion. I also let the first layer of glace dry before I added the embellishments on both cookies.

I also couldn't find a book cookie cutter so I found a large square and then cut off some cookie from the top to make it look like a book. 

Then I added frosting for the words and sprinkles just for some sparkle.

I thought they turned out cute! Do you think they look like books?

 Cami, our guest of honor and Steph, our gracious hostess.

Hostesses with the mostesses. 
Did anyone notice I have a bow headband in my hair? I am so witty. hehe.

We had a blast eating, chatting and playing the match the celebrity with their baby picture game. [Another awesome thing Steph put together]

What do you think? Did you like the theme? Any other cute ideas?


 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chow Mein Haystacks

It has been far too long without me posting a dessert recipe!

We should all be out of that sugar coma from Christmas right? It's January 16th already...time to break keep those New Year's Resolutions, right?

Well at the very least make these for your kids, neighbor or fellow blogger friend :)

This is an easy one: only 3 ingredients, you can't mess these up, I promise! Plus they are one of those great desserts that are crunchy, sweet and salty. What more could you want?

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These require chow mein noodles, those crunchy things you get in salads. Don't worry they aren't actually noodles! You can normally find them  in the Asian food section at your grocery store. I bought the bigger bag so I could make a few batches or use these as a topping in Chinese Chicken Salad.

Chow Mein Haystacks
The Apron Gal 

Ingredients
*2-3.5 cups chow mein noodles
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanuts [optional]

Directions

Measure out chow mein noodles and place in large bowl. Melt peanut butter and butterscotch in microwave until smooth. Pour melted mixture over chow mein noodles and stir until all are evenly covered, if desired add more noodles.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, make round "haystacks" on a parchment lined cookie sheet in whatever size you prefer, for more haystacks use a smaller cookie scoop, for fewer larger haystacks use a larger cookie scoop.

Allow to set completely in the refrigerator at least one hour or until coating is hard and no longer sticky to the touch.

**Note: The first time I made these I used only 2 cups of noodles resulting in them being more covered [more peanut butter butterscotch to noodle ratio]. The second time I thought there weren't enough noodles so I upped it to 3.5 cups noodles. Start with 2 cups and keep adding to your preferred coverage.I liked both batches equally well so its more about your preference!

Enjoy!

 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

I have always wanted to cook "fingerling potatoes" for many reasons:

Reason #1 Who doesn't want to try a food called a fingerling? Kind of sparks your interest doesn't it?

Reason #2 I love anything in mini form and I think fingerling potatoes are kind of "mini potatoes" and therefore they are cuter than other potatoes.

Reason #3 I feel like they are fancy. I'll have the fingerling potatoes with the prime rib. Just sounds cooler than I'll have the baked potato. Right? 

I might think about potatoes just a little too much but hey I did marry a boy from Idaho. I guess it just runs in the family :)

Anyways if my 3 above reasons didn't convince you to make these already, they are also easy. And because they are colorful and mini they don't need a lot of other sprucing up. I only did coarse ground salt and pepper on mine because my other vegetables were served with herbs.

You can eat these plain with butter, salt and pepper or smash them more like a baked potato and smother them in whatever you prefer.


 
Fun facts about fingerling potatoes:
  • They get their name cause they are longer and skinnier than regular potatoes and look like fingers [duh!]
  • They can be used for scalloped potatoes or potato salad but are not recommended for mashed potatoes since they have less starch than normal potatoes. 
  • They have a slighter sweeter and more buttery flavor than regular potatoes
  • Look for them in a bag at the grocery store-not all stores carry them however and they are usually more expensive than Idaho or red potatoes. 


Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
The Apron Gal

Serves 4-6 as a side
Ingredients
1 bag fingerling potatoes [roughly 1 pound]
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt like sea salt or kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
*additional herbs if desired [rosemary, thyme, sage etc.]
Directions 

*Preheat oven to 400. Cover a cookies sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Wash potatoes and halve the larger ones to allow for even cooking. 

Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Coarse ground salt and pepper are preferred but not essential. Pour potatoes onto cookie sheet in a single layer.

Bake at 400 for 25 minutes before removing to flip potatoes over and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness with a fork. You want them to be tender when pricked but not turn to mush.

Serve as an accompaniment to any meal with steak, pork, chicken or a salad. Or anything really!

*Cook's note: To gain more of a "roasted/crunchy" texture, increase heat to 425 and cut potatoes in half lengthwise. These will get a crunchier texture while cooking.

Enjoy!

 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls in the Waffle Maker

You are probably thinking that is a weird title for a blog post instead of "Cinnamon Roll Waffles" but I wanted to clarify that these are literally cinnamon rolls from the can in a waffle maker. 

I found these on pinterest and decided to try them. My husband has been hooked ever since. He thinks it the perfect sweet tooth fix with minimal effort, so sometimes we open a can and save them for a few days, just making 1-2 at a time.
 
So let me explain the really hard directions, here it goes, I hope you can handle it. 

Open the can.

Place the cinnamon roll in the waffle maker. 
Cook for 2 minutes or until lightly golden. Drizzle with included frosting. 

Consume. 


Cinnamon Roll Waffles
recipe via Pinterest from A Hen's Nest

Since these are small and compacted by the waffle maker, I would allocate 3-4 waffles per person.

Ingredients
Tubes of refrigerated cinnamon rolls. 

Directions
Preheat your waffle maker. Place cinnamon rolls in waffle maker and cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden. Keep an eye on them since every waffle maker could be different.

Drizzle with included frosting. 

*Note: I think you could dust with powdered sugar too, or even real syrup or make your own homemade icing that you could actually make more of a frosting syrup. The possiblities are endless. 

**Note note: I just ate these with my hands cause they were so portable but you could use a fork too, I guess.
Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baked Chicken Tenders

One of my favorite go-to dinners are these baked chicken tenders. 

They are flavorful and crunchy but baked, not fried. They definitely satisfy that chicken nugget craving for adults!

Serve them with your favorite sauce: barbeque, honey mustard or ranch and you're all set!

Our recipe feeds just the 2 of us so I doubled it for 4 people. These little tenders are addicting so make sure you make enough for everyone!


Baked Chicken Tenders
The Apron Gal

Serves 4

Ingredients
6 chicken breasts
1 egg
2/3 cup Bisquick or flour
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions
 
Preheat oven to 425.  Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. 

If using chicken breasts, cut into thin strips/tenders. Beat egg in shallow dish. Mix remaining ingredients in separate dish. Dip tenders first in egg and then in flour mixture. 

Place tenders on baking sheet. 

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and flip tenders. Bake for additional 10 minutes or until tenders are done. [Baking time will vary depending on the size of your tenders]. 

If you want a little extra crunch, broil the tenders for 2-3 minutes on each side once finished baking. 

Serve with preferred dipping sauce. [And something green, of course!]

Enjoy!




Monday, January 2, 2012

Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes in the Crock Pot

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I don't know about you but I have had enough sweets and fast food to last me for a long time! Since our holidays included Texas, Utah and Idaho we definitely had some time in airports and the car that required some fast food and the hubby and I definitely feel like we just want some clean homecooked food now that we are back home. 

This pot roast seems like the perfect solution since you can just let it cook in the crock pot and come home to a delicious meal!


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Start with a rump or chuck roast. Here is what Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association says about pot roasts:

"Pot roasts come from the fore- and hindquarters. These muscles are more heavily exercised and contain more connective tissue, making them less tender. Moist-heat cooking takes more time, but the results are worth waiting for. The beef becomes fork-tender and develops a savory depth of flavor unique to slow-cooked beef.

Pot roasts from the chuck have more fat, and thus more flavor, than those from the round, but many beef chuck and round cuts can be used interchangeably in pot roast recipes, requiring only slight adjustments in cooking times. Take advantage of this fact when the cut specified in a recipe is not available, when certain cuts are on special or to accommodate family preferences.

For everyday family meals, casual gatherings, and for the health-conscious, the round and bottom sirloin cuts are leaner and economical. Moderately priced roasts include tri-tip, round tip, rump, bottom round and eye round."

So I used a bottom/rump roast because that is what I found. But you could also use a chuck roast or a round roast. 



I recommend a 3-4 pound roast for 4 generous adult servings or 6 average adult servings. 


Next you want to trim the fat off of your roast. See that thick white layer on top? That is fat and its usually easy to cut off. 


Once the fat is too close to the meat you can leave it like I did below. That is very little fat and will give it some flavor too.

 

Add your roast to the crock pot and then add the peeled and cut potatoes and carrots as well as one onion. 

Then add your cooking liquids and spices.


  If you have room you can add more vegetables if desired. 


Cook on low for 6-7 hours for 3 pound roast. 7-8 hours for a 4-5 pound roast. The meat and vegetables should be tender when finished. 

Use the sauce from the crock pot for a gravy. If you prefer a thinner gravy, use the sauce as is. My recipe is for a thicker gravy with just a little flour added for thickening.


Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes in the Crock Pot
The Apron Gal 

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
3-4 pound chuck or rump roast
1 can Campbell's French Onion Soup
1 package Au Jus mix 
3 cups water
1 tablespoon garlic powder
4 tablespoons worchestire sauce
3-5 large carrots
1 onion
4 potatoes
Directions

Trim fat off roast. Peel and cut onion, carrots, and potatoes. Place roast and vegetables in crock pot and cover with liquids and spices. [If room, add more vegetables if desired]

Cook on low for 6-7 hours for 3 pound roast  or 7-8 hours for a 4 pound roast. 

Cut up roast and serve with vegetables and rolls. 

To make the gravy:
Save liquid from crock pot and place in a saucepan on the stove over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons flour and cook for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Add salt to taste to gravy. 

Enjoy!

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