Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chocolate Granola

My friend Christine posted her version of this recipe on facebook.  I was SO intrigued by the idea of chocolate granola!  Granola is a staple breakfast and snack food at our house, but I'm always open to new ideas!

Very artistic picture taken by Eric.  Men are so useful.

I changed Christine's recipe around a bit, using what I had and what my family likes.  Feel free to interpret liberally, making sure your "dry to wet" ratio of ingredients stays about the same.

Oh, and the best part?  This cooks in the crock pot!  For about 5-6 hours on low!  Handy as can be!

Chocolate Granola

7 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted, raw)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix well and cook in crock pot on low for 5-6 hours, stirring once or twice.

Cool slightly and stir in:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken & Mushroom Pot Pie

I love using my crock pot on Tuesdays.  That's my "running around day" and it's nice to put dinner together in the morning, knowing it will be ready even when I'm behind schedule.  And then my family gets something that looks like I slaved.

Today it was 50-something degrees in Minnesota.  That means melting snow, and mud.  Our woods are full of mud, there's a lake forming in the yard in front of the compost bin, I can smell the warm mud in the garden, my children and dog are wet and muddy, and I need a laundress, stat.

The windows were open, the crock pot was humming, and the kids got to play outside until I hollered for dinner.

The recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  It would be sad to substitute breasts, because you'd lose a lot of flavor, and chicken breasts get hard in the crock pot, I think.  The "crust" topping is a baked round of frozen puff pastry dough, and placed on top of the filling in individual bowls, right before serving.  You could easily substitute your favorite biscuit or pie crust round.  Veggies are up to you, but hey, where there is chicken, cream, wine and thyme, you really ought to use mushrooms.

After cutting out the 8 pastry rounds, there was some dough leftover (trimmings).  It went in the fridge and tomorrow it will be rolled out and filled with chopped apples and baked for a treat.

I cooked this for about 6 hours on low.  It finished just right.  The cream and peas get stirred in right at the end, just warmed through before serving.  Easy as pot-pie.

This recipe served my family of 8 for dinner, and one leftover portion for Eric to take to work tomorrow.  I skipped the pastry round on mine - girlish figure nonsense or something.

Crock Pot Chicken & Mushroom Pot Pie

12 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms, quartered
8 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
2 cups frozen peas
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a 4-6 quart crock pot, place the mushrooms, carrots, onion, flour, thyme, bay leaf and wine.  Stir to combine.  Place the chicken thighs on top, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Set on low for 6 hours.

30 minutes before serving, cut 4 inch circles from the puff pastry, place on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

Right before serving, stir the peas and cream into the crock pot.  Taste for seasoning.  Turn up to high for 10 minutes until heated through.

Serve in individual bowls with a pastry round on top of each.