Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix

Just about two weeks until the Super Bowl! Are you having a party? We’re going to one with some of our best friends and I’m super excited about it.

We’ve been chatting about the menu for weeks. Chili, a nacho bar, and pickle dip are all on the short list. This is a contender, too.

I made this up as a Christmas day munchie and it was well received. This is a great make-ahead option and it’s done in the slow cooker, which is awesome. I used a slow cooker bag for this to aide with cleanup (it was a breeze!) but I also kept the mix in the bag while it cooled, instead of spreading it on baking sheets. I just shook the bag/ mixed it around every few minutes until it was fully cooled. Super easy and it worked perfectly!

RanchChexMix

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix
(from Oh Sweet Basil)
Serves 8-10

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups mini pretzels
3 cups oyster crackers
3 cups Cheezit crackers
1 cup dry roasted, lightly salted peanuts

Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker bag or spray with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the butter, ranch mix, Worcestershire, sugar and corn syrup in a small bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients together in the slow cooker. Pour liquid mixture over and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every half hour. When finished, pour the contents onto large baking sheet sand continue stirring as it cools to avoid it lumping together. Store in an airtight container.

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta

‘Tis the season for comfort food. I’m not sure if it’s holiday stress or the weather getting colder but I now want all of my food to be warm and cheesy. Which totally does not agree with losing the baby weight. And knowing that I’m going to totally blow any good eating at holiday parties, I’ve been trying to be a little more careful with family dinners.

Luckily, I have some awesome blogger friends to lean on! This lightened-up comfort food dish from Prevention RD‘s cookbook totally hit the spot. This was warm and cheesy and perfect – without the guilt.

SkilletBBQChickenPasta

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta
(from Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking)
Serves 4-6

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red onion, diced
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz. whole wheat penne
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/3 cup cheddar, shredded

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add the chicken and onions and cook until chicken is cooking through. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, at the water, chicken broth, penne and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer 12-15 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed and pasta is tender. Stir in barbecue sauce and Greek yogurt. When well combined, stir in the cheeses and reserved chicken mixture. Cook until heated through. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

This meal was so easy! Are you sensing a theme around here? If it’s not quick and easy, I pretty much can’t handle it these days. Going forward, let’s just assume everything I post is quick and easy unless I say otherwise.

On top of being easy, this is freezer friendly. I prepped and popped it in the freezer – and then thawed the day before cooking. If you’re someone who likes to prep ahead, this is a fantastic option.

CranberryOnionPorkRoast

Slow Cooker Cranberry Onion Pork Roast
(adapted from New Leaf Wellness)
Serves 4

2 lbs. pork loin
15 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dried minced onion

Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

I love sweet potatoes. And I love that making them in the IP is so damn quick.

This is a great, basic method for cooking them. I served them mashed with cinnamon honey butter (yum!) but if you were baking them to top with pulled pork or cooking them to use for another recipe, this is the way to go!

IPSweetPotatoes

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter
(method from Add a Pinch)
Serves 4

4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 cup water
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place a steamer basket in the Instant Pot and add sweet potatoes. Pour 1 cup of water over. Cook on manual for 10 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, mix together the butter, honey and cinnamon.

Serve the potatoes topped with cinnamon honey butter.

Opa’s Gingerbread #FBLCookieExchange

My most vivid memories of my grandfather revolve around what he was baking for us. He was German and worked in a bakery and made the most beautiful, delicious treats. After he retired to Florida, he’d send up big boxes of Christmas cookies every year. BIG boxes. Like, 20 lbs. of Christmas cookies. These gingerbread cookies were always my favorite.

I shared these with a few of my fellow food bloggers during an early cookie swap last month, I figured that if they routinely survived the trip from Florida to New Jersey, they’d be the perfect cookie to mail.

OpaGingerbread

Opa’s Gingerbread
(a family recipe)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

16 oz. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
6 1/4 oz. light brown sugar
6 oz. butter
5 1/2 oz. unsweetened molasses
1 egg

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the molasses and egg until well combined. Mix in the spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out and cutting into shapes.

Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes.

Instant Pot Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken

Raise your hand if you bought an Instant Pot on Black Friday! I’m guessing there are quite a few of you because the requests for IP recipes have pretty much tripled in the last week.

I grabbed an Instant Pot a few months ago and I’ve been loving it for quick side dishes but I’ve been slow to use it for meals. That’s changing, though, as I’m forever forgetting to throw things in the slow cooker as planned. Mom brain is real, you guys.

This chicken was one of my first main dishes in the IP and man, was it a winner. The chicken was juicy and flavorful. We paired it with Hibachi Style Noodles and roasted broccoli for a great dinner.

BrownSugarGarlicChickenIP

Instant Pot Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken
(from Once a Month Meals)
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lemon lime soda
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. black pepper

Place chicken in the Instant Pot. Mix remaining ingredients together in a small ball and pour over the chicken. Cook on manual for 15 minutes, then release the pressure and serve.

Leftover Mashed Potato Waffles

Two days until Thanksgiving! I know you’re probably buried in turkey brine and pie recipes, so I wanted to put something a little different up – something to help you use up your leftovers.

Mashed potatoes are something we always seem to have a ton of and this is a great way to use some of them up.  These waffles are super simple but are different enough that you don’t feel like you’re eating leftover again.

MashedPotatoWaffles

Leftover Mashed Potato Waffles
(from Just a Taste)
Serves 4

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
3 Tbsp. chopped scallions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Sour cream, optional for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk and eggs until well combined. Mix in mashed potatoes until well combined. Stir in the scallions and cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the potato mixture and stir until just combined.

Spoon 2/3 cup of the mixture evenly into a preheated waffle iron sprayed with non-stick spray. Cook until golden brown. Serve topped with sour cream.

Caramel Nut Chex Mix

improvchallenge

The latest round of the Improv Cooking Challenge was Nuts and Caramel – so perfect as we’re going into the holiday season! I decided on a fun dish that could be either an appetizer or dessert – perfect for a holiday potluck or to make and give to friends and family.

CaramelNutChexMix

This snack mix is a super easy thing to make, even when you’re pressed for time. I added red and green M&Ms to make it festive for a holiday, but you could switch up the colors for any special occasion!

You can see the other Nuts and Caramel dishes bloggers cooked up here:

Caramel Nut Chex Mix
(from Butter With a Side of Bread)

3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 box corn Chex
2 cups salted mixed nuts
2 cups M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Combine the corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until the butter is melted. Whisk to combine.

In a roasting pan, combine the Chex and mixed nuts. Pour the sugar mixture over and stir to coat.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and stir as it cools – don’t let it just sit, it’ll become one big block! When cool, stir in M&Ms.

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

UncommonGoods – Holiday Shopping For Good

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but the opinions expressed are my own.

BeTheGood

This sign hangs in our house always. It’s a constant reminder of our family values and what we’re striving to be. We’ve always held this in our words and actions, but lately we’ve been working harder at doing this with our money, too, and trying to shop with companies that honor the same values. UncommonGoods is one of these companies.

I’ve been a fan of UncommonGoods for years – they’re stocked with quirky gifts for all kinds of people. Browsing their site is seriously like a rabbit hole for me – one I get started time just slips away. But, they’re so much more than off-beat gifts. They are a company that does good. Their lowest-paid workers start at 50% above the minimum wage. About a third of their products include recycled elements. With every purchase, they will donate $1 to the charity partner of your choice. On every front, they’re doing good. So good, in fact, that they are a certified B Corporation – meaning they’re using the power of their business to solve social and environmental problems. I’ll definitely be shopping with them this year, so I wanted to share a few gift ideas for the holidays.

To Stuff Your Stocking

FoodieDice

I feel like I’m always scrambling to find stocking stuffers at the last minute but UncommonGoods has so many fun ideas for things to stuff your stocking with. Trying to promote kindness in your home? They have an adorable, interactive kit for that. Want to get people to put down their phones and talk at the dinner table? They’ve got plenty of conversation starters to choose from. Constantly undecided about what to make for dinner? Toss the dice and get creative!

For the Hard-to-Buy-For Guy

TravelDiary

If you have a husband who has everything and wants nothing (like mine!) UncommonGoods will surely have something he didn’t realize he needed in his life. For the musically inclined, I’m obsessed with this punch that makes your own guitar picks. Travelers would love this organizer for trip mementos. Baseball fans would flip for cuff links made from their favorite stadium’s seats. They even have display boards that turn your beer bottle caps into art!

For the Foodie (aka, my wishlist!)

HerbKeeper

Of course, I’m always drawn to the kitchen items. The sentimental fool in my loves their take on the family cookbook. They also have the cutest measuring spoons I’ve ever seen. This table runner would be so much fun for dinner parties with kids. This produce keeper is beautiful and super functional. And I can’t help but covet the amazing wine glasses they have, especially the ones designed to play a musical scale.

See? Super fun stuff. I’m betting if you clicked on any of those links, you’ve found something you loved. And while there are so, so many things I love, what I love most is that when I buy them, I’m supporting a good company.

Skillet Chicken with Creamy Spinach Artichoke Sauce

I really love spinach and artichoke dip, so I think the idea of turning it into dinner is brilliant. I mean, yes, you can eat spinach and artichoke dip for dinner, but putting it over chicken breasts just seems way more adult.

The warm, cheesy sauce is pretty much begging to be sopped up with a piece of warm, crusty bread. So perfect for fall!

SpinachArtichokeChicken

 

Skillet Chicken with Creamy Spinach Artichoke Sauce
(slightly adapted from Cooking Classy)
Serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. flour
5 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
14 oz. artichoke quarters, drained and chopped
4 oz. cream cheese, diced
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup sour cream

Pound the chicken to about 1/2″ thickness and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil to shimmering. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning halfway, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

In the same skillet, melt the butter then stir in the garlic and flour. Cook for 30 seconds, then add in spinach and artichokes. Cook for another minute, until the spinach is wilted. Pour in the milk and scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Add in the three cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until melted. Stir in the sour cream and then return the chicken to the skillet.