Sunday, August 31, 2014

Simple Slow Cooker Green Beans & Chicken

My sisters and I are working on the next version of our best selling cookbook, Simple Slow Cooking. This next cookbook will feature new and super easy slow cooker recipes. Look for it in 2015. Here's a recipe that will appear in that cookbook:

Green Beans and Chicken
Note: This takes a little while to prepare everything, depending on how fast you are, but once prepped, everything goes in at the same time and you're done until you serve it. I made this in a
5 quart slow cooker.

3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large clove shallot, peeled and diced
4 - 5 medium potatoes (Yukon or Russet), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, divided (more if you like more pepper)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each cut into 3 or 4 large pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into approximately 2 inch pieces

  1. Prepare all the vegetables and chicken; set aside
  2. In a 5 quart slow cooker, place chicken broth, carrot, and shallot
  3. Next, layer the potato and top with half the white pepper
  4. Then, place the pieces of chicken, arranged in a single layer
  5. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle on the paprika, salt, the remaining half of the white pepper, and thyme
  6. Finally, spread the green beans over everything
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Veggie Salad

We went to a potluck party today. With about 15 people there and no pre-planning, there was a fully balanced meal with no duplicates! Amazing when this happens. We had meatballs, potato salad, taco salad, creamy orange Jell-o salad, ambrosia salad, veggie salad (recipe below), kale salad, a bowl of huge blueberries, Brie encroute with apricot preserves and almonds, cheesecake, chocolate cupcakes, donuts, no-bake cookies, and a variety of beverages. We ate, chatted, played croquet, and horseshoes, and had a great time. I love potlucks because you never know what's going to be served, and I love the creativity and traditional recipes from others.

Veggie Salad
This is a very flexible salad to make; feel free to omit vegetables you don't like for those that you do or add other veggies that you enjoy. The beets, carrots, and cabbage make for a very pleasing-looking salad, the veggies all have a nice crunch to them, and the dressing is light and refreshing and doesn't overpower the veggies. All in all, a very pretty, delicious slaw-type salad.
1 red beet, peeled and shredded
1 golden beet, peeled and shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 large stalk celery, sliced thinly
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and shredded
1/4 - 1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered 
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or leafy parsley
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  1. In a serving bowl, gently toss the prepared vegetables, apple, sunflower seeds, and cilantro until well-mixed
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, water, sugar, and white pepper until well-mixed
  3. Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently until well-coated
  4. Cover and chill at least 1 hour
  5. For serving, the salad can be either chilled or at room temperature

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Furry Friends' Fundraiser

Today, I participated in a fundraiser for the Sunny Sky's Animal Rescue and Shelter in Puyallup, WA. I had a vendor booth, where I sold our CB Cooks cookbooks (titles below), handcrafted wooden cutting boards and trivets made from reclaimed forest wood, and some kitty toys. For the toys, I knit some small squares and rectangles, rolled them into tubes, and put catnip on the inside. One of my cats loves them; he cuddles them, sucks on them, and drools until they're dripping wet. I also made some without catnip, but made from alpaca yarn instead. My other cat goes nuts over these - they must still carry some alpaca scent, though I don't smell it. And I made some feather kitty teasers - always a hit with my guys.

Back to the cookbooks. For those of you who don't know, my sisters and I write and publish cookbooks, geared for the home cook. We're very proud of these and have several more in the pipeline for our burgeoning publishing empire. Our daughters have been involved by creating recipes, proofreading, creating our logo, and designing our book covers. It's a family affair. Here are the cookbook titles:

Simple Slow Cooking
Ethnic Slow Cooking
Eating Out
More to Celebrate
Girls Just Wanna Have Fudge!
mm-mmm Muffins
Scandinavian Smorgasbord

For more information about our cookbooks, email me at

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew

Last Thursday was one of those crazy days, starting with water volleyball at 6:45 AM, ending with knitting with friends at an alpaca rescue ranch and fiber shop, and filled with all sorts of errands in the middle of the day. Thank goodness for slow cookers!  I decided to make Chicken Barley Stew. This recipe is extremely quick and easy to get into the cooker, fills the house with yummy smells, and tastes wonderful. On top of all that, it's a pretty healthy dish. The longest part of the prep will be the vegetables, so chop quickly - or even dice the veggies ahead of time and keep in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until you want to use it.

Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew
Makes 2 - 4 servings

2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup pearled barley
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme
2 stalks celery, diced, including leafy tops
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Optional Ingredients:
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup green or wax beans, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup corn niblets, fresh, frozen, or canned
1 small rutabaga or turnip, peeled and diced
1 medium Yukon or Russet potato, peeled and diced
any other vegetable that won't turn mushy being cooked all day

  1. Place the chicken broth, barley, and chicken breasts in a slow cooker
  2. Sprinkle white pepper and thyme on top
  3. Add celery, carrots, onion, tomato, garlic, and any other vegetables you'd like to use
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Comfort Food

This past week, a few of us were discussing comfort food. The first thing we noticed was that  each of us could name several comfort foods without any trouble. The next thing we noticed was that each of us had different ideas of what comfort food is and came to the conclusion that comfort food is what comforts me - it's very individual. Some of us thought about food that was ethnic, such as lasagne, smothered enchiladas, or noodles in broth. Others of us described foods from our childhood and because we're different ages, those foods were also different and related to the decade we were children, such as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Malt-o-Meal, Spaghettio's, or Pirate's Booty.

We then got even more specific and described the comfort food our Moms made when we were sick. These resulted in "Eww," or "Really?" or "Oh, yum!" Here are some of the comfort foods we crave when we're not feeling well:

  • Make a grilled cheese sandwich using white bread and American cheese. Tear grilled sandwich into pieces and place in a bowl. Pour hot cream of tomato soup over the sandwich pieces.
  • Make strawberry Jell-o with a lot of bananas sliced into it; make sure to use very overripe bananas. Serve chilled with whipped cream from a can such as Reddi-Whip.
  • Make chicken noodle soup with chicken, celery, carrots, and extra-wide egg noodles.
  • Make sandwiches from Graham crackers with peanut butter on one side, Marshmallow Fluff on the other side, and chocolate chips in the middle.
  • Break saltine crackers into large pieces and put into a bowl. Pour hot milk over the crackers and top with sugar.
  • Cook some white rice and when cooked, stir in applesauce and ground cinnamon.
  • Make creamy mashed potatoes and near the end of mashing them, add shredded cheese.
  • Heat a bowl of your favorite ice cream in the microwave until it's completely melted.
  • Peel, core, and slice tart apples. Saute them in butter, sugar, and cinnamon until very soft. Serve plain, or with vanilla ice cream, or with whipped cream.
  • Warm dark chocolate pudding.
  • Warm homemade cookies (especially chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin, or ginger snaps) and serve with ice cold milk.
  • Yogurt with your favorite topping such as chocolate syrup, maple syrup, caramel syrup, sugared and mashed berries, etc.