Monday, December 30, 2013

Cranberry Salsa

Okay, so maybe you are an open-minded foodie and not even phased by the idea of cranberries as salsa. But if someone had come up to me five years ago and been like, "Hey, do you want some cranberry salsa?" I would have looked at them like they had just stepped off of Mars. Fortunately, I tasted this without knowing quite what it was. It was with a plate of crackers at a party. It was pretty. So I ate it. And then I loved it. I bet you do too.

It is punchy-ish, with a bit of sweet-ish. It's served with cream cheese, but good by itself as well. You can eat it with crackers (my favorite) or with chips. It's also pretty awesome on a leftover-turkey sandwich.

This is from the same friend who gave me the recipe for cranberry pomegranate relish. She says she can't even claim this salsa recipe anymore because so many people have asked for the recipe and make it for their own parties.

Cranberry Salsa
prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cost: $2.75
cranberries:  (Aldi prices) 1.00, onion: .15, peppers: .15, sugar: .10, cilantro: .15, ginger: .15, lemon: .05, cream cheese: 1.00

1 bag cranberries, rinsed and drained
1/4 C minced green onions
2 jalepeno peppers, cored, seeded, and minced
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C cilantro leaves, minced
2 Tbsp grated ginger
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 8-oz package cream cheese (don't mix this in--you serve it with the salsa)

Now you could just throw all this stuff into a food processor and have at it. But I didn't. I worried that by the time I got my onions and peppers small enough to not be offensive to anyone that I might have mushy cranberries. So I gave the onions, peppers, cilantro and ginger a good chop first (it only took a few minutes and gave me some piece of mind). Then I processed the cranberries in the food processor until they were somewhat chopped. Then I added the other ingredients and processed for a few more pulses until the cranberries are finely chopped but not mushy (we're not making jam here, although I'd bet with a little pectin, you probably could--hmmm) and the other stuff is well incorporated.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (You really must do this; it's not NEARLY as good straight off).

Place your cream cheese on a serving platter (I like to smush it up a bit, but you don't have to). Then dump the salsa over it and serve with crackers or chips.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mock Champagne (with raspberry option)


Sometimes people drink to loosen up (not at Mormon parties--there we play Qwirkle). But sometimes I think people drink just because it's hard to resist such a pretty drink in such a pretty glass.

Well, non-alcoholic-beveraged friends, now you get to join the pretty party. No more standing around with your Dixie cup, looking twelve while everyone else at the party/restaurant celebrates the season with important-looking stemware. Grab yourself a glass and ring in the new year.

This drink is intensely beautiful. It starts out a light amber color with the raspberries floating on top.

As it sits, a little blush starts to seep into the drink from the berries and over time it becomes redder and redder.

(You can see that this drink has been sitting for a while and is now quite red)

Tip: Get your glasses from a second hand store. They usually have a trillion and you can find a fun assortment or pretty ones for cheap. And then it won't matter if you, your kids, or your party-goers break one.

Note: I should tell you that I don't drink and therefore have no idea if this actually tastes anything like champagne. All I know is that it's bubbly and the color is right (before that raspberry color seeps in).

Mock Champagne (with raspberry option)
adapted from here
prep time: 1 minute
serves 20
Cost: $5.50 (this is about $.27/serving--ha! take that alcohol drinkers)
ginger ale: 2.00, grape juice concentrate: 1.50, raspberries: 2.00

2 quarts ginger ale
1 frozen white grape juice concentrate
raspberries (frozen or fresh)

Combine ginger ale and white grape juice concentrate.

Add raspberries if you wish.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yule Log with Vanilla Sponge Cake, Caramel Cream Filling, and Chocolate Frosting

Yup. Looks like a log. With yuliness.

I've never made a Yule log before. The whole idea of rolling up a cake has just always seemed too fussy and disaster prone for me to want to mess with. But when we got a cookbook called Baking with Kids from the library and there was a Yule log in it, well, after the kids saw it, I didn't have much choice.

And the fact is that I did everything within my power to mess up this dessert and it still came out tasty and log-shaped. By which I mean--if I can do it, so can you.

For this recipe, you're going to make a simple sponge cake. I realized something when I made it--sponge cake--sponge cake is what a Twinkie is supposed to be. Sure, a Twinkie is an Americanized, processed version of the sponge cake, but that's what it's supposed to be. Anyway, I'd never made a sponge cake before. It's an airy, yet dense-ish cake that uses a lot of eggs and is very very simple to make. On it's own, it seemed kind of European--by which I mean not intensely sweet. Don't worry. Because I'm an American, darn it. So I filled it with caramel cream. Which is definitely one of the best concoctions I have ever discovered in my cooking journey and the thing I would ask for in my stocking if a) it wouldn't be a crazy mess and b) it wouldn't cause me to gain 400 pounds. And then we frosted it with Kip's fudge frosting.

Now a few things are important to make this log successful. I'm going to give detailed instructions with the recipe, but let me give you a head's up. First, you need to roll the cake up (unfilled) while it's hot. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, but it works. You cover it with parchment paper, you roll it up. And then when it's cool and ready to fill, you unroll it and fill it and it rolls right back up because it's in a shape and it wants to be rolled. However, if you try to roll it when it's cool, well, you simply can't, so don't try.

Second, the caramel cream is not really firm enough to be the filling. I was really mad at Martha Stewart for this for a few minutes, but then I tasted it and sort of forgave her, but let me take a small minute to rant and say that celebrity chefs have NO excuse for turning out ANY recipes that absolutely do not work in every way that they are supposed to work. These chefs have money and staff and just everything. Their recipes should be perfect in every way. So when Martha simply tells me to fill my log, I don't expect it to ooze out the ends of the log. But it did. As a result, I had to plug my log. When you make your cake you need to cut off part of the end so you have two little bits to plug the ends of your log. Or find a different filling (the original book recommended Nutella and that would have been nice too--and easy), but I have to tell you that for all its ooziness, this filling is incredible. Incredible. Still, Martha, shame on you and your fake posed pictures of food that was clearly not made with this recipe.

Third. This recipe calls for an 8x12 jelly roll pan. I didn't have that and used a 9x13 inch pan and it worked fine.

Fourth: Everything has to have time to cool--the cake and the caramel for the filling. So don't try to whip this up in an hour or two. It won't work. You need to start 4 hours ahead of time so things get cool enough.

Yule Log with Vanilla Sponge Cake, Caramel Cream Filling, and Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Baking with Kids (cake) and Martha Stewart (filling)
makes 1 9x13 cake worth of logginess
Prep time: 15 minutes cake, 40 minutes filling, 7 minutes frosting
Cook time: 10 minutes (cake)
Cooling time: 4 hours
Cost: cake: $.80, filling: $2.50
sugar: .10, eggs: .40, butter: .20. flour: .10
cream: 2.00, sugar: .25, sour cream: .25

For the Cake:

1/2 C plus 1 Tbsp sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp butter
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400.

Spray an 8x12 inch Swiss roll pan or a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Then lay parchment paper over the bottom (note: if you skip the parchment paper, you will want to murder yourself).

Melt butter and leave it there to cool while you do the rest.

Combine sugar and eggs. Beat for about 5 minutes or until they're lighter in color and a bit thicker.

Add vanilla.

Add flour and baking powder and fold in. I folded it and my cake came out perfectly, but folding does take a while if you want to get the flour lumps out. I was very tempted to beat the flour in and I felt like it would have worked fine. However, try this at your own risk. You don't want to beat the air out of the eggs mixture.

Drizzle butter in and fold it in.

Pour into pan and bake for 9-10 minutes or until you press the cake and it springs back.

Take out of the oven. Let cool for 1 (ONE) minute. Lay a piece of parchment paper on your counter and dump the cake onto that parchment paper. (This will work fine if you put parchment paper in your pan; if not, you're going to want to start stabbing things.)

Peel the top layer of parchment paper off (this will be the parchment that was in the pan while the cake cooked). Now, roll up that cake with the other parchment paper (the new one you dumped it onto; yes, I should have taken pictures; I was just so sure it wasn't going to work, but then it did). Be gentle, but firm. I rolled mine long-ways so I had a long roll. Roll it up, then let it sit seam-side down and cool COMPLETELY.

Do you see how it's been rolled with that parchment paper around it? That will make it easy to unroll when the time comes. 

For the filling: 

Note: you can use Nutella and make your life easier. You can. No one will judge you. This filling is fussy and time consuming. But I cannot emphasize enough how thoroughly awesome it is. This makes too much for the log and you'll have tons leftover with which to sabotage any healthy lifestyle habits you have, so consider that a bonus if you wish. 

1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 C cream, warmed
1/4 C sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C cream, whipped (yes, another C cream--this one you will whip)

Pour water into a pan. Pour sugar into the center of pan in a mound. You can gently nudge the sugar into the water so it soaks it up. Cover pan and let the sugar melt and the water boil. Eventually it will start to darken. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to low. Let the liquid darken until it is amber-colored.

When you reach that point, whisk in the cream. It will bubble and may seize (harden) a bit, but just keep whisking. You'll have beautiful caramel. Let this cool in the refrigerator (I put it in a separate dish; I don't want it to keep cooking in the pan.) until it's cool.

Note: That was a best case scenario. I messed mine up, but it still worked out. If your sugar re-crystalizes, that's annoying (it'll look like clumps of sugar in your pan), but just stir it patiently and smash any big lumps until it melts, turning dark. If it seems to be darkening before all your clumps are melting, take it off the heat, smash the clumps, then put it back on and keep repeating that as necessary. (Yeah, it's a pain.) When I was done, I still had some good lumps, but didn't dare leave it on the heat longer because I thought it might burn. So I just strained out the lumps and all was well. I put in in the fridge and let it cool.

When it's cool, add sour cream and vanilla.

Leave this to sit for 2 hours (yes).

When you're ready, whip the last cup of cream and then fold that into your cooled caramel mixture. It will be awesome and any mean words you said while you were fussing with your caramel you will take back.

For frosting:

Kip's fudge frosting

To assemble:

Okay, so your log is thoroughly cool. Unroll it and peel that parchment paper off.  It will still be sort of rolled up. Cut about 1 1/2 inches off the end (this is the bit of cake you'll use to plug the ends of your log).

Plop in some of your caramel cream filling. When you get enough in that it's threatening to come out the ends, use some bits of the cake you cut off and put them into the ends to sort of plug the ends. It sounds crazy and it was slightly annoying, but I liked that caramel cream enough to get over it. Add more cream until it fills your log.

Put the log seam side down on your dish.

Frost it to look log-like.  I had a pretty little topper and used that. You can use powdered sugar sprinkled on to look like snow, or candles, or figurines, or whatever you want.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Banana Nutella Smoothie (with Spinach)

So every week my children consume several cups of raw, fresh spinach.

How, you ask, do I accomplish such a thing with the pickiest kids on earth? 

Answer: Nutella (and banana and milk). And, yes, apparently I've become one of those people who just throws Nutella into everything willy nilly. You can make a different type of green chocolate smoothie. It's delicious, but by using Nutella, well, everything is just so so easy. 

It's not a perfect solution for encouraging spinach consumption, I admit, but I actually only use a little Nutella (1/2-1 Tbsp per cup or so of spinach); the banana is the main sweetener. In fact, you can make this perfectly delicious without the Nutella or with some peanut butter instead--feel free if you think I'm a big pushover of a parent. But do let me say, in my defense, that each serving (1-2 C spinach) has only 1/2-1 Tbsp Nutella. That's actually just about 9 grams of added, non-natural sugar (yes; the banana also adds some sugar, but I don't count sugars from fruits and I don't think WHO counts them either in their daily sugar recommendations). If I gave my kids a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (which I regularly do), they would consume that much added sugar in a serving as well. And as far as I can tell there is no raw spinach in Honey Nut Cheerios. So, ha. 

For better or for worse, this is two of my kids very favorite smoothie and I'm just happy to have them eat it. I have to say though that this isn't one of those "hidden veggies" recipes. This smoothie is either very green or brownish-green, so, yeah, you may want to have them try it blind-folded first. We served it to some friends once and they looked at my like I was a crazy loon. But then they liked it and asked for it the next time they came. The end.

Banana Nutella Smoothie (with Spinach)
makes 1 smoothie
Cost: $.75
Nutella (generic): .15, banana: .15, milk: .15, spinach: .30

Note: This recipe is a template. You can use more or less Nutella, more or less spinach.

Note: The banana must be frozen for this to work well. When my bananas get too brown, I peel them and break them into pieces and throw them in the freezer (in a Ziploc bag--I don't just hurl them into the freezer). It's one of the best things I ever started to do. If you don't have frozen banana, you can freeze some quickly by slicing a banana into thin slices and putting them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.

1 frozen banana (must be nice and ripe)
1 C spinach (I usually use more, but try this for starters)
1/2-1 C milk
1 Tbsp Nutella (I use generic)

Put in blender and blend until smooth. If you're only making one serving (like this), you'll probably want a smaller blender. If you've only got a big one, double this recipe.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Really Easy French Toast Casserole

There are plenty of French toast casseroles out there right now--some decadent, some soggy, some fussy, some divine. I was searching for one because one week after church my three-year-old took a loaf of blah white bread that was leftover from the soup kitchen (um, I think--she sort of just showed up with this loaf of bread). And then she proceeded to whack it against things--the floor, the walls, her brother--whatever her little arms could reach. By the time it got home that poor loaf was nothing more than chunks and crumbs, but I'm pretty sure it's a sin to just waste the leftover soup kitchen bread that someone gave to your three-year-old. So I made the easiest French toast casserole ever. And I'm glad I did. Not only was it very easy, but it was also the perfect vehicle for using up leftover nubs of bread. You don't have to run out and buy challah or French bread or anything whatsoever. You just have to take that dry nasty slice that one of your children left on the counter and throw it in a big bowl to dry (or the freezer). You can make it healthier if you usually eat whole grain breads. Or not, if you don't. Also, when served it tastes a LOT like regular French toast. Not fancy or overly sweet, but very French-toasty. And nobody had to stand around by a hot skillet dipping bread in an egg batter for 20 minutes either (yeah, that makes me sound pretty lazy doesn't it?).

We ate ours as a breakfast-for-dinner with syrup and fruit on the side. But the next day. Oh, the next day. The next day I cut it and then pan-fried it in a bit of butter until each side was golden and, dear Hannah, it was completely amazing in every way (better than a donut people).

Really Easy French Toast Casserole
adapted from Taste of Home
makes 1 9x13 inch pan-ful
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40-50 minutes
Cost: $2.05
bread: .80, eggs: .80, milk: .40, other stuff: .05

Note: You can make this ahead and let it sit in your fridge overnight. This is what the instructions tell you to do. I made it just before dinner and let it sit 5 minutes and then baked it (rebel without a cause, that's what I am). It was not soggy in some spots and dried out in others. However, if you're using a dense type of bread, you're going to need to give it a longer sitting time, so it can soak up and then distribute the milk/egg mixture. My cheap white bread just soaked that egg up. Your nice challah and wheat combo might not. So let it sit until it soaks up most of the egg/milk mixture.

Note: Since it is that pumpkin time of year when we put pumpkin into everything, I subbed out an egg for 1/4 C pumpkin puree. Glad I did--I mean I was going to serve a pan full of white bread to my family and tell them they could put syrup on it. I'm sure some traces of vitamin A didn't hurt.

Note: Ideally your bread will be on the dry side. My mother always had a bowl of drying bread in the kitchen. We usually made bread pudding with it (this recipe is a lot like bread pudding, only with less sugar). However, if your bread isn't dry, no biggie.

1 loaf bread (or enough to GENEROUSLY fill that 9x13 inch pan)
8 eggs (or 7 eggs and 1/4 C pumpkin puree)
3 C milk
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt

Set oven for 350.

Grease your pan. Grease it, I say.

Place bread cubes into pan.

In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt (and maybe some pumpkin puree). Pour this over bread.

Refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours.  Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking (this is the type of step that makes me wonder why do the do-ahead step at all, but I think it works for some people). Alternately, you can skip the whole fridge thing and just wait till your bread has soaked up your egg/milk mixture.

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. The original recipe said to cover the pan. I missed that step and was actually happy with the crispy top I got. So, it's up to you--crispy top or not. Remove from oven when knife inserted comes out clean and the center seems set.

Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar or whatever your poison happens to be.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Nutella Cookies

And now our theme of EASE has spread into cookie land.

It's getting to be that cookie time of year. People will be posting elaborate cream-crispie-delicate-shatters-candy-sprinkles-painted-by-professional-artists-made-of-chipped-gold-and-frosting cookies, and perhaps some other delicacies. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes this time of year is also really really busy. (Or is it just me.) Sometimes there's an event that calls for a cookie and there aren't cookies lying about. Grocery stores make a killing off of this sort of thing because that's where we go when we need some quick holiday cookies for a dinner, church, or school event and we just don't have time to churn out one more home made creation. We buy either those ultra nasty cookies that come in plastic--the sugar cookies with the frosting and sprinkles. Ugh. (I really can't stand these things, so don't even try to defend them). Or we can get some type of pre-made dough, which is much better tasting, but still a little painfully tube-a-licious.

The following recipe is good for times when you need cookies fast. This can be just because you need cookies fast (because the chocolate crazed demons in your head say so). Or because there's an actual event for which they're necessary like the PTA luncheon.

They take two minutes to mix together. They taste delicious. They are chewy and soft. The Nutella prevents them from being 100% homemade, but then so do chocolate chips really (yeah, I'm making excuses, but if you want to be a Nutella hater, then fine--it'll be a lonely place). Speaking of Nutella-haters, I have always been a fan of Nutella, per se, but not always a fan of recipes that utilize Nutella. They just seem so cheatery--like putting ten gallons of colorful frosting on a cake--well, of course your child is going to pick that one. Nutella is similar--throw it into the title and half the world will pin it even if it's Nutella and Doodoo Casserole (um, please don't pin this under that caption). Also, it's not a whole food (though it can be homemade if you're not in a hurry), and it's just indulgent. It used to be a seasonal item. You could get it around Christmas-time. And it was a little pricey. And came in smallish containers. Not anymore, my friends--for better or for worse. Now you can get it year-round, Sam's carries a bulk version, and there are knock-off versions to be found. This is great for chocolate-crazed demons, but it can be bad for our waistlines and just a little less special special. However, it is still good news for your time-crunched cookies.

These can be served plain and yummy or they can be dressed up with white frosting and sprinkles. Or used as cookie sandwiches.

And then maybe rolled in sprinkles or colored sugars (homemade if you wish) or crushed peppermint sticks. Or miniature figurines of Santa Claus encrusted in pearled sugar and gemstones. But you see that I stumble into crazy territory. Go there if you dare, but know that you don't have to.

Nutella Cookies
adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time:
Cost: $1.30
Nutella (I used the Aldi knock off): 1.00, sugar: .10, flour: .10, egg: .10

1 C Nutella (or a knock off)
1/2 C sugar
1 C flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix ingredients together. Shape into 1 inch balls. Press down if you wish. (I didn't and they still worked out.). Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes (remember chocolate cookies don't always look done; don't burn them.)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cheater Tomato Cream Sauce (still a whole food, still awesomeness)

The theme of December is going to be ease. Say it with me now: "Ease." Ah, doesn't that feel good.

Does anyone else look at Pinterest these days and think the whole world has gone insane? I mean, if I see one more list of interesting, magical, and otherwise clinically insane things that one can do with their elves, I'm going to have to die of parental magic-impairment syndrome. That, or be convicted of it in a court of law. Recently, I saw a post about someone who did something like the elf (which at least has the excuse of coming at an over-the-top-magical time of year AND supposedly inducing your children to good works by watching over their wee shoulders). Except that it was with plastic dinosaurs. And not at Christmas. The dinosaurs would do all kinds of crazy things like make messes and get into trouble--whee. It's great to be a dinosaur. This post concluded with some comment about how they (the parents) were doing it to keep their children's imaginations alive. Back in my day, imagination meant that you--the child--took your plastic dinosaurs and played games with them. Now apparently it means that your parents do random things with them in the middle of the night (which include, but are not limited to getting into bowls of goop, which the parents--presumably--will at some point in the day have to clean up--it kind of blows my mind). But I've digressed.

My point is that my kids will obviously have to live through a magic-less childhood. Not only that, but I am also going to tell you how to cheat on dinner.

Here's how you make this sauce. You take your regular spaghetti sauce. And you add a block of cream cheese. You heat it and mix it and let it melt. The end. It tastes delicious. And fancy. And it's an excellent compliment for pasta with bacon, sweet sausage, seafood, or--my favorite--mushrooms (see above). Normal sauce is great and all, but it's just too acidic to go well with quite so many flavors. This can be part of a ten-minute meal, but it doesn't taste like it. I love that in a food.

Cheater Tomato Cream Sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: 2.50
tomato sauce: 1.50,  cream cheese: 1.00

1 can regular tomato sauce (or this delicious and easy homemade sauce)
1 8-oz block of cream cheese

Heat, mix, serve, eat.

PRINTABLE RECIPE--whatever--save yourself the paper; your elf probably made it into hundreds of tiny snowflakes anyway. He must be exhausted.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chicken de la Gaynor

(another night-time picture--please forgive)

Gloria Gaynor (as in "I Will Survive") has just released a new book that is a compilation of essays of people who have survived various struggles. I happen to have written one of those essays. My essay is about seeing my mother a few months before she died of a brain tumor.

So if you're looking for an inspirational read, check it out. It's called We Will Survive. You can find it here.

The publicist for Ms. Gaynor's book asked the contributors if they had any blogs, etc. where they could promote the book. I'd be happy to, I said, but I just have a food blog. Well, lo and behold Gloria Gaynor eats; she even cooks. They sent me this recipe for me to include in the blog. I thought that was pretty cool.

The even better thing was that the recipe was yummy and easy. It can be made whole food style or pantry staples style. It can be made in the oven or in the crock pot. It is very adaptable, as I learned by having not quite the right ingredients for one thing and accidentally forgetting to add something else (that's how dinner rolls around here).

It's a perfect little recipe for putting dinner on the table through the craziness that can be December.

Chicken de la Gaynor
from Gloria Gaynor
serves 6
prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Cost: $5.90
chicken: 4.00, cream of chicken soup: .50, mushrooms: .60, sour cream: .50, other: .30

2 lb chicken (Gloria recommends wings; I only had breasts, so that's what I used)
10 oz cream of chicken soup (I made my own chicken white sauce)
3 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (I had regular mushrooms, which I cooked in a bit of butter)
8 oz sour cream (okay--I managed to get that one right)
1/4 C whole milk
1/4 C cooking sherry (forgot; it was still delicious)

I cut my large chicken breasts into strips. You can just leave it at that and throw them in the oven with salt and pepper, but I like to brown mine in some olive oil or butter first. To do this: Heat olive oil in skillet, add breasts (with salt and pepper), and cook the breasts until they're browned. They don't need to be cooked through. They're going in the oven. (Note: You can totally skip all this browning and throw them in the oven, but I like to do this with chicken breasts because I think it adds more flavor).

Heat oven to 425. Throw breasts in the oven (you know in a pan and stuff).

While the chicken bakes, you're going to pour cream of chicken soup and sour cream in a pan and heat it. Then you'll add the milk, sherry, and mushrooms. When the chicken is just barely cooked through (20-40 minutes depending on how big your chunks of chicken are--I always just cut into the fattest one to check it). Pour soup mixture over chicken, return to oven, and cook fifteen more minutes.

We served it over rice with broccoli on the side and it was delicious. We ate all the chicken and the next day I just had sauce and mushrooms over rice, which was also delicious.

Potential adaptations:

Crock Pot: I have not done this, but I am 99.9% sure it will work. Just throw everything in the crock. Eight hours on low; 4 on high. Done.

Homemade: You'll notice above that I was missing several canned ingredients. It wasn't a problem. For the cream of chicken soup, I made a simple white sauce. Here's how: Melt 2 Tbsp butter. Whisk in 2 Tbsp flour. Cook one minute. Whisk in 1 C milk and 1 tsp chicken granules (one cube bullion). Stir until it just starts to boil and thicken.
-For the mushrooms, just slice and cook in butter until they're lightly browned.



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