Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crockpot Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew

I love fall colors and flavors. There’s something about the warm colors of the trees and food around this time that is so comforting. One of my favorite foods in the fall is squash. I love all squash, whether it be pumpkin or anything other type. I’m so glad that Gary likes it as well, so it’s not hard to convince him to eat recipes using squash or pumpkin.

When I first showed him this recipe, he thought it would be a winner. While he was eating this, he asked me if I was going to add this to our favorite recipes box.

The original recipe called for using beef stew meat, but neither of us are big red meat eaters, so I used chicken instead. I also omitted the mushrooms because I didn’t have any on hand even though I thought I did.

chicken butternut squash stew

Crockpot Chicken and Butternut Squash Stew
adapted from:
printable recipe

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 small butternut squash
1 large onion, sliced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (I omitted, since I didn’t have it on hand) 
4 ounces baby carrots left whole (about a handful)
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano

Peel and halve the butternut squash. Deseed, then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Add squash, vegetables and chicken into a 4 or 5qt crockpot.

Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and oregano.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through.

Serve over rice or eat as is.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Manhattan Clam Chowder

I’ve always been a tomato based soup person. Gary on the other hand has always been a cream based soup person. Needless to say, he loved New England clam chowder, whereas I would favor Manhattan clam chowder.

Well, since Gary no longer eats dairy, it worked in my favor. I get to make my favorite version of clam chowder, and he ends up eating it! He probably still misses the cream based version, but until I find a way to make a dairy free version, this will be the clam chowder I will be making most of the time.

I had a few adaptations based on what I had on hand. I used clams in pouches instead of cans, regular potatoes instead of red, and turkey bacon.

manhattan clam chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder
adapted from: Better Homes and Garden
printable recipe

3 slices turkey bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil or cooking oil (use if not enough drippings)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped carrot (1 small)
2 (3.53-oz) pouches of whole baby clams, juice reserved plus water to make 1 cup
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice or 1 cup chicken broth
3 large potatoes, cubed
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

Separate clams from juice, add enough water to reserved clam juice to equal 1 cup. Set aside.

In a large saucepan cook bacon until crispy. Remove from oil and reserve drippings. Chop into pieces and set aside. Add celery, onion, and carrot in bacon drippings (or oil) until tender.

Stir in the reserved 1-1/2 cups clam juice and the 8 ounces clam juice. Stir in potatoes, thyme, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Bring to boiling then reduce heat. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, clams, and bacon. Return to a boil then reduce heat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until heated through.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homemade Bagels

Can I just start off by saying that there is just no excuse for putting off making bagels for this long. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for almost 2 years. Sometime last year in May, I printed it out with hopes to make them. Well, a year and a half later here they are!

Store bought bagels are pretty much a staple in my house. Gary has to have his daily fix of Thomas’s bagels every day. His favorite are the cinnamon raisin ones. I’ve mentioned making bagels before, but never actually did them.

Since I had a few hours before Gary was home from work one day, I decided to make these to surprise him. I started off making plain ones to see what I need to adapt to future recipes. At first taste, they were really good. Nice and crunchy outside with a chewy center. He did notice that there was a bit too much salt in it, so I took note. I thought it was a bit much when I was adding it in the first place.

I slightly adapted the recipe to use instant yeast and made larger bagels instead of the mini snack sized ones the original recipe made.

Next up, cinnamon raisin!


Homemade Bagels
adapted from: Baking Bites
printable recipe

1 tbsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt (I would use less next time)
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 egg, for egg wash

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar, flour and salt. Start mixer and slowly add water. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.

If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400° F.

When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the piece of dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.


Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes. (I didn’t do this…I missed this step…I guess that’s why mine were a little wrinkly.)


Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on the first side, then flip and boil for an additional minute. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to a clean towel to drain for a moment, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.

bagels boiling

Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (a pastry or bbq brush is a good tool for this) and bake for 22-26 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

Slice and toast to serve.


Store in a tightly closed plastic bag, up to a week, or slice and freeze.

Makes 8 sandwich sized bagels.