Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chicken and Noodles

Hey ya’ll! Welcome to The Hill Country Cook UNPLUGGED again!!

We have now passed the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and I have been PRAISING every extra minute of sunshine we get every day!

In the meantime, ya’ll will have to deal with my kitchen light.

Sorry. You still love me, right?

I made chicken and noodles this week. Based on a recipe from our favorite blogger, Ree. You can see P-dub’s post here.

Right after I made chicken and noodles, my fridge went out.

Good Ol’ Murphy came a knockin’…. at 10:30 pm.
Murphy’s Law, folks. Of course it would happen at 10:30 pm.
However, I am very thankful that I noticed it before I went to bed, and not the next morning in the rush to leave for work.
I am also forever indebted to my wonderful neighbor, who let me unload the contents of my fridge and freezer into her spare fridge.

Pssst, today is her birthday, so let’s give her all a shout-out!


Do you know that woman has also brought me breakfast and lunch since our fridge went out? The first couple days I went to the gas station and was trying to choose a healthy breakfast, but somehow that little pack of donuts snuck their way into my little hands.

Gaaah, after feeling sick of donuts and peanut butter sandwiches, my neighbor brought me breakfast, and a homemade sandwich, hard-boiled egg, and some Fritos.

**Love her.**

So, back to the story, the chicken and noodles has been sitting in her fridge, and she can eat on it as she pleases.

This has become another one of my go-to rotissiere chicken recipes, this came together SO FAST!



As soon as my fridge is fixed, I’m making another batch.

Start by roughly chopping a few celery stalks and a few carrots.

Drop a piece or two on the floor and see if your beagle will eat it.

If not, cover it in peanut butter and attempt again.

Then, take all the chicken off one rotissiere roasted bad boy, or girl.

Get out your big ol’ dutch oven.

Throw in a bunch of chicken broth, and your veggies. Simmer for 30 minutes on medium, the veggies will take a while to get soft.

Add in salt, pepper, sage, and turmeric (thanks for the tip P-dub).

Turmeric adds color, and depth of flavor.

Then the noodles.

I’ve read many people swear by these. Just as good as homemade!

They’re in the freezer section. I’m sold. I need to find more recipes with big, thick egg noodles.

I ended up having to add more broth and water. I wanted a thick stew, but the noodles absorb moisture as they cook, so add enough until the noodles are plump, and you can still stir the pot.

Add in some chopped zucchini if you’d like!

I love zucchini.

I’m sorry zucchini. I’ll never say I’m sick of you after a bumper summer and zuchhini recipes coming out of my ears again.



~Peace, Love, and Noodles Ya’ll!

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Chicken and Noodles

Yield: Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes


1 rotissiere chicken, meat removed from bone
3 celery stalks, chopped, leaves on!
2 carrots, chopped
2 zuchinnis, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sage
12 oz egg noodles, frozen


In a dutch oven, add your chicken broth, carrots, and celery. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes to soften the veggies. Add the chicken, and seasonings. Add egg noodles, adding more liquid if necessary until noodles have absorbed liquid and expanded. Add zucchini last so that it does not turn to mush. Heat until mixture is thoroughly heated, another 30 minutes approximately. Serve with a hug.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Peanut ~Better~ Balls

Don’t let the name fool you! These are my favorite holiday Peanut Butter Balls, just made a little healthier. You’ve got to make choices this holiday season, and these still have all the flavor, minus a few of the calories.

In fact, I would even go so far as to say these are….. healthy!

You know, peanut butter is a good fat, so it counts.

Just smile and be happy. And eat one.


P.S. I can already see how my picture taking ability has improved. I took this picture last year. It’s a little dark, and not enough natural light. Eh, progress is good.


So, as the holiday season is quickly appr- scratch that – the holiday season is HERE! Whether that elicits a feeling of jubilation and joy, or makes you run hiding under your bed in between dust bunnies and rolls of wrapping paper – it’s true. In fact, Walmart in Marble Falls started wrapping their lane number lights in wrapping paper – before Halloween. BEFORE HALLOWEEN PEOPLE! What is the world coming to? After I graciously step off my soapbox, I do enjoy the warm, fuzzy feelings growing inside me once the holidays arrive. It’s the middle of November, it’s 80 degrees outside, and yet I’ve bought the Douglas Fir Glade air freshener, and melted my Holiday Sleigh Ride wax cubes all week.

This means it’s time to start gathering recipes, ingredients, cute little boxes and tags for those delicious holiday candy boxes. My goal is to attempt caramel this year. Homemade. Caramel. Made from scratch. I suggest you risk burning off your fingerprints and giving homemade caramel a whirl – it’s worth the risk. In the meantime, I have an easier, and somewhat heathier, recipe for you. My favorite Peanut Butter Balls growing up were the ones my grandmother and mother made. Peanut Butter, Powdered Sugar, Rice Krispies, all dipped in chocolate. MMM. My mouth is watering as I think of their crunchy, homemade goodness. But, sadly, as I approach the downward spiral of thirty, I must begin making wiser choices. (I’m giggling to myself now.) These peanut butter balls are BETTER; they consist of oats (HELLO whole grains), honey (heals the body!), peanut butter (use reduced fat, and it’s a healthy fat!), and nonfat powdered dry milk. I got this recipe from one of my top three favorite blogs, Southern Plate.

This is a great recipe to do with the kids. This makes a good number of peanut butter balls, so I make mine in a big dishpan, and let that hand mixer work overtime. Or, dishsoap standing nearby, you could let the kids mix it with their hands. ~This may be dangerous if you care at all about the sticky factor of your countertops and cabinets.~ These also freeze great! I use a melon baller or a cookie scoop to scoop them out, and freeze them in a large ziploc bag. So, add this to your arsenal of holiday goodies, feel good about it, and get them made weeks ahead of time.

Peace, Love, and Peanut Better Balls Ya’ll.


Are you ready for how simple these are?

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Peanut Better Balls

Yield: 100 balls

Total Time: 60 minutes


2 C honey or corn syrup
3 C creamy peanut butter
5 C dry milk powder
6 C quick oats


Mix all together with a kitchen aid, a hand mixer, or little hands! (I meant kids) Form into balls with a melon baller, a cookie scoop, or your hands, and freeze!

Some people place them on trays first to harden, I just throw them right into the bag and freeze.

Store in your freezer in gallon ziploc bags.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Okie Dokie Artichokie Dip

Howdy! Funny story, I have the best artichoke dip to share with y’all, adapted from the Taylor Daily Press’ very own – Gail Bell! I first tried this artichoke dip in September at a monthly Chit Chat.

I fell in love.

I love artichokes.

I love cheese.

I love, love, love hot and spicy.

It had all three! I was smitten at first dip!

I love this recipe most of all because it’s so easy – it’s made in the crock pot! Artichoke dip can be dangerously easy in my opinion. If something tastes that good, and is that easy to make – be prepared to get it out of your house, before you eat it!
I first made this dip for a retirement party – Woot! Woot! Happy Retirement Coach Potts! Served Taylor for forty some odd years! I emailed with Gail a few days back and forth, until I got the recipe down – it’s easy folks, one step! Well, two if you count “turn the crock pot on.” I was so proud to bring this delicious dip to the party, all of us ladies set all our covered dishes on the patio table, making everything pretty….. And people began to serve themselves as we mingled. The best part? My colleague thought it was some potato side dish concoction!

He was eating it by the spoonful!

I kid you not, I didn’t have the heart to tell him, so I let him think it was potatoes au gratin.

And, the rest of us ate it on chips. But now you know, it’s that good.
Have I teased y’all long enough? Are you ready for the recipe? All you need is a pair of scissors, a spoon, and a crock pot. I would offer step-by-step photos , but there’s only one step – DUMP! So, after you dump your ingredients in the crock pot, give it a stir, and set it to low. Time to get the party started!
This is another great adaptable recipe because you can heat it up or cool it down, depending on your preferences. You can also prepare this as a low-fat version by using reduced fat cheeses. I hope y’all enjoy this tasty dip, and remember, pass the recipe on!
Hey, speaking of passing recipes on – it’s October, and that means the holidays are right around the corner….. which means we’ll all be scrambling for our best recipes. So, let’s start collecting! Send in your best holiday dessert and appetizer recipes and maybe we can feature a few!

~ Peace, Love, and Crock Pots!

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Okie Dokie Artichokie Dip

Yield: serves 12

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes, until hot

Total Time: 40 minutes


2 cans (14.5oz) quartered artichokes
1 bag (8oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bag (8oz) shredded jalapeno jack cheese
1 brick (8oz) cream cheese
1 small can diced Hatch green chiles
Jalapeno juice or hot sauce, optional


Place all ingredients in the crock pot, stir, and add hot sauce to taste. Turn crock on low for 30 minutes or until well heated throughout. Serve with Triscuits or cubed sourdough bread.