Amaretto Poached Peaches

slow-cooker-amaretto-poached-peaches-03082016
PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

slow-cooker-chicken-cacciatoreNobody likes to worry about cooking dinner after getting home from work on Monday night.

The weekend was a non-stop whirlwind of activity.  Kids games, recitals, activities, parties, chores, and maybe some adult beverages have left you with no energy to plan a meal after your first day back at the grind of the work week.

Thankfully Cooking Light Magazine has come to the rescue with a YouTube video to guide us all through a “fix it and forget it” healthy and hearty weeknight meal that will bring the whole family to the table and make you look like a SUPERSTAR!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 8 (6-oz.) boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in a 6-quart electric slow cooker, stirring with a whisk
  2. Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms)
  3. Add chicken thighs to stock mixture; submerge in liquid
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours
  5. Remove chicken
  6. Add oil and pasta to slow cooker
  7. Cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done
  8. Stir in spinach until wilted
  9. Divide pasta mixture among 8 shallow bowls
  10. Top evenly with chicken
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

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Weeknight Steak Chili

steak-chili-with-red-kidney-beansThe wind is cold and it’s finally time to pull the jeans and sweaters out of the back of the closet.  It’s also time to let a pot of chili welcome the boys home after a long day.  This time it won’t have to cook all day, I have my handy dandy pressure cooker, which doubles as a enhanced slow cooker, to cut the usual cooking time in half!  If you don’t have a pressure cooker I’ve put the alternate instructions in red where they differ.

Pressure Cooker Steak Chili

  • 1 pound trimmed Chuck roast ( I buy mine Organic from Sprouts) chopped into 1/4″ chunks – it’s easiest to chop raw meat if you freeze it for 30 minutes or so
  • 1/2 of a medium onion chopped
  • 1 block XLNT chili con carne
  • 1 small can S&W low-sodium red beans drained of most of the liquid
  • 1 small can Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can store brand dark red kidney beans drained of most of the liquid (my store didn’t carry a large can of S&W)
  1. Turn your pressure cooker on to the brown setting and toss in the onions.
  2. For non-pressure cookers: heat a Stock Pot to medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil and add the onions, then follow the instructions below through #8.
  3. Allow to cook for about 2 minutes then give them a quick stir.
  4. Add chopped meat to the pressure cooker.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes.
  6. Add the block of chili.  If thawed, stir into the meat and onion. If frozen, skip this step.
  7. Add both cans of beans and the can of tomatoes.
  8. Stir the mixture, getting chili block to the bottom if it’s frozen.
  9. Close the pressure cooker.
  10. Set to slow cooker setting (mine has one) – mine defaults to 2 hours of cooking time.  At the end of 2 hours my kidney beans needed a little bit more time, so I added an additional 30 minutes and they were perfect.
  11. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can finish cooking 1 of 2 ways: Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for about 4 hours (or 1 hour on high and 2 on low); or you can finish this chili on the stove top in your stock pot.  You will need to add some more liquid, in which case I would go with a beer and make sure that you are cooking it low and slow – you’ll need to simmer and stir occasionally for about 4 hours.

tjbsI grated some white cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top and grabbed a package of Trader Joe’s Cheesy Bread Sticks that toasted up perfectly in the oven in 6 minutes. No one was in the mood for a salad, but if you wanted a perfectly rounded meal a salad would do the trick!

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Rainy Day Delight

It’s such a rare occasion in Orange County, California to have a cold, rainy, stormy day that I was excited to see a wet patio outside my window when I got up this morning.  WOO HOO!  I am SO getting the slow cooker out and making some chili!

white-chili

Not my usual rip-off of Mom’s XLNT Brick of Chili Con Carne based chili with ground beef, cubes of left over steak, canned crushed tomatoes and red beans.  Nope!  Today’s a White Bean Chicken Chili day.

It’s a ridiculously easy recipe and practically cooks itself.

Rainy Day White Bean Chicken Chili

  • 1 Can Diced Ortega Chilis (Mild or Hot – your choice)
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – about 1 1/2 lbs (Frozen or Thawed)
  • 16 oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 – 16 oz Bag of Dry Great White Northern Beans
  • 2 tsp Dried Cilantro Flakes
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Devil’s Dust (or any Smoked Chili seasoning you use)
  • Sour Cream and Chopped Fresh Cilantro to serve (if desired)
  • 1 Ripe Avocado Chopped (if you have one)

In a large stock pot, 6 to 8 cups water on to boil.

Using a large colander, rinse and drain the white beans.  Pick out any icky ones and then add to the boiling water.  Boil the beans for about an hour then turn off the heat, cover and let stand for another hour.

While the beans are soaking get the other ingredients going in the slow cooker set on low heat.

  • Empty the can of diced green chilis (undrained) into the bottom of the slow cooker
  • Put the frozen chicken breasts on top of the chilis
  • Pour the chicken broth over the breasts
  • Dust the tops of the breasts with the spices (ending with the cilantro)

When the beans have finished soaking, empty them into a colander and then transfer them to the slow cooker.  Stir just enough to mix everything together and leave it the chili to cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.

About 4 hours into the cooking time, shred the chicken beasts with  forks and mix the chicken back into the chili.

When the cooking time has completed taste the chili, adjust the spices and serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro on top.  If you’re lucky enough to have a ripe avocado on hand, do yourself a “flavor” and chop it up to put on top of your bowl of chili!

You can speed this recipe up, making it one you can throw together in 10 minutes or less when you are leaving for work so it can cook all day, by substituting 3 cans of white beans from the grocery store.

I can’t wait for dinner time!

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Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili

It’s the first week of October and, after a few “cool” days in the low 80’s, it’s headed back up into the triple digits in perpetually sunny Southern California.

I’m not complaining at all, except that I do have serious weather envy about this time of year when the leaves are turning and there’s a chill in the mornings and evenings.  The forecasters “promise” that we will be seeing rain and cooler temperatures “soon” but I’m not holding my breath.

To get out of the never-ending summer blah’s I will just crank the thermostat down to 70 degrees, put on a light sweater, pull out the slow cooker and throw together something that just might fool the family into thinking it’s really fall!

Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili

  • 1 – 16 oz pkg Dry Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 – 8.11 oz jar La Costena Diced Chipotle Peppers in Sauce
  • 2 – 14.5 oz cans Diced Tomatoes with Onion
  • 1/2 – 12 oz bag Fresh Spinach
  • 3 – Large Carrots Peeled & Cut into Chunks
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 1 TBLS Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Fresh Ground Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 3/4 lb Chicken-Spinach Sausage (Or any other flavored fresh chicken sausage you prefer)

Rinse and pick the red beans in a strainer.  In a medium saucepan put the beans and about 1/2 the pan of water over medium high heat until it just reaches a boil.  If you are preparing the beans and soaking the night before, remove from heat, cover and set pan aside.  If you are “quick soaking” the beans, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 2 hours.

Cut raw chicken breast into 3/4″ to 1″ chunks and sausage into 1/2″ slices.  Spray a medium skillet with olive oil spray and brown the chicken and sausage over medium-high heat.  It’s not necessary to cook the chicken through, it will finish in the slow cooker.

Place the carrots and 1/2 cup water in a 2 quart microwave safe bowl and microwave on high 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Carrots should be fork tender but not mushy.  Adjust time for the strength of your microwave.

In food processor/Vitamix container add undrained tomatoes, the carrots, chipotle peppers with sauce, the fresh spinach, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Process until well blended but not entirely smooth.  Taste the sauce add a few grinds of salt & pepper and adjust the rest of the spices as necessary.

Put beans, chicken and sausage into your slow cooker then pour the sauce over the top, making sure you scrape as much as possible from the container.  Stir until just combined.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

I love this recipe because I get to hide vegetables in the sauce and it can be as healthy as you want it to be.  I like to add some fresh avocado chunks and a bit of cheese to the top of mine and serve it with crusty bread and a salad for a hearty dinner that easily feeds 8 and packs 40g of protein in each serving.

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Tomorrow’s Post:  Tailgating on Thursday Nights Sucks!

Slow Cooker Taco Tuesday Carnitas

carnitasUsing pork as your base is an easy way to treat your family to “Taco Tuesday” without the mess and long prep time if you marinate your pickled vegetables and make your chipotle cream sauce the night before.

Chipotle Cream Sauce   Mix 1/2 cup sour cream, 3 tsp minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and 1 tsp lime juice in a small container.  Mix well and taste. Add more adobo if you like yours spicier, or more sour cream if you need to tone it down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

pickledcarrotjalapenoPickled Carrots, Onions, & Peppers  Combine in a sealable container:  3/4 Cup apple cider vinegar, 1-1/4 cups water, 1-1/2 TBLS sugar, and 2 tsp kosher salt, mixing until sugar and salt dissolve. Add 1 thinly sliced red onion, 4 sliced jalapenos (seeds in), and 4 peeled/chopped carrots, seal container and make sure all vegetables are covered in marinade.  Put in refrigerator and serve with tacos after pork has cooked.

Slow Cooker Taco Tuesday Carnitas

  • 1 – 4-5 lb pork shoulder trimmed of all fat & cut into 3-4″ chunks
  • 1 TBLS oil
  • 1 Bottle of beer
  • 1 Large white onion, diced
  • 5 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Canned chipotle in adobo chopped + 1 tsp sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. In a cast iron skillet over high heat, heat the oil. Add in the pork and sear until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  2. Place the pork in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the onion, beer, chipotle, garlic, and seasonings, and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Starting at 6 hours, check your pork. When it easily shreds with a fork, remove from the broth and shred.
  4. Preheat the broiler and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Scatter the pork around the baking sheets and ladle about ¼ cup of the broth over each sheet of pork.
  5. Place one sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, then toss the pork and ladle another ¼ cup of broth over. Broil once more, until crispy but not overcooked, and then ladle another ¼ cup broth over the pork. Repeat with the second sheet.
  6. When the pork is done, make tacos in toasted corn tortillas with the chipotle cream and pickled onions, carrots and jalapenos. Sprinkle with cotija cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

blackbeansServe with an ice cold Mexican beer like Corona, Pacifico, Dos Equis, Modelo, or Tecate; cilantro lime rice and black beans for a great meal!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood