Christmas Dinner Part 2: Vegetable Vindaloo

So the story of making Christmas Dinner continues, and most of this I did without the help of my Sous Chef. I decided to take a meat recipe – this Chicken Vindaloo Recipe and make it vegetarian style by only cooking veggies. However, I learned along the way that I definitely need to do a few things differently.



  • 1 head of broccoli cut up
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut up
  • 1 potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 container of mushrooms
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger grated
  • 3/4 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground hot pepper
  • 1 tbsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (I ended up adding closer to 2 cups)
  • 1 cinnamon stick

The major Uh-oh of this recipe was when I read for how long the crock pot was suppose to be on with the chicken, I needed 5 hours at low and I only had 3 hours before I wanted dinner on the table. So I quickly put all of my veggies (I had them pre-cut) into the crock pot with all of the spices, olive oil and tomato sauce. I had pre-measured out the spices, which turned out to be a blessing, because there were so many spices, and the grocery store in the mountain town I was staying in had a limited selection. Also, having the meal pre-blended helped in even distributing the spices.

As the crock pot went to work on my veggies, I realized I was going to need to put the crock pot on high for the 3 hours. However, I was worried if the vegetables would cook enough to be almost steamed and edible. What I learned, is no. That also may have been due to the part that 1.5 hours in, I turned the crock pot to low and added 1 extra cup of tomato sauce. I’m not sure. Maybe I really did need the 5 hours on low to cook it all. Next time, so my vegetable vindaloo is not so crunchy, I plan on steaming my vegetables before and actually cooking the dish for the whole time the recipe recommended. Whoopsies.


I liked this dish, but again the vegetables were very crunchy. However, I really like the pairing of the vegetables with the spices. Also, I think I need more time with the crock pot. People liked the dish, and the spices made it better the next day. The longer the vegetables sit in the sauce the better.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: No idea – Thanks Mom and Dad!
  • Total Time: 45 minutes to prep, 3 hours to cook. 3.75 hours.
  • Serving Size: 6 – 12 people

Scottish Eggs

This recipe was beyond my abilities. Seriously, it was the hardest thing I have made in the kitchen, yet every recipe I read about it was that this way of making eggs is oh so easy. Malarkey. First of all, a soft boiled egg is impossible to make without breaking the yoke or having extremely soft hands. That’s just the beginning. I followed the easiest recipe I could find, yet still struggled to do all required since I realized I switched recipes about halfway through – more on that later.



  • 8 soft boiled eggs – peeled
  • 2 lbs. ground pork
  • whatever season you like: 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • Almond flour to roll the eggs in
  • 2 extra eggs to roll the meat in before rolling in almond flour and “frying”

As I stated earlier, soft boiling eggs. Now this was a whole other google search. Before this post, I did not know there was any other kind of way to boil eggs besides making them hard boil eggs. Not true. In fact, I found a very helpful table that clarified to me how long to boil the eggs for: Soft Boil – 3 – 4 Minutes,  Medium Boil – 5 – 7 minutes, Hard Boil – 8 + minutes. Now you start counting the minutes once the water starts to boil. Most would believe that to be common sense, but to me it was not. I lost a few eggs to trying to peel seriously undercooked whites and yolks.

Then came the peeling of the eggs. Let’s all be honest with our selves. Peeling hard boiled eggs is hard enough with a yolk that is fully cooked. Somehow, part of the white always end up on the shell of the egg – which in of itself is broken into many tiny pieces that you can barley grab with your fingers, so you rely on the flick it with your finger nail trick. Now, attempt to do this with a yolk that is very much in a liquid state and wants to escape out of it’s circular form. One pull wrong on the white of the egg and you have a yolk explosion down the side of your arm.

After about 20 minutes of removing the shell of the eggs, I took a break. I needed a brief moment of relaxation before attempting move to the next step, wrapping the fragile eggs in meat. Since I stepped away from my Pinterest, this is when the switching of recipes happened. I returned to find my recipe had disappeared (aka I had forgotten to pin it), so I found one that I thought was the same. However, this recipe was only more difficult that the first, because it required the wrapping of the eggs in meat, then rolling the meat in egg, and then almond flower, and frying the whole thing.

Let’s all take a second and re-read the statement above.

I could barley peel eggs successfully, the next steps seemed even more of a stretch, but I attempted. (Attempted being the key word). Putting meat around a soft object is very hard. Each egg took about 4 minutes. My patience was more than tested. After the 4th eggs, I said screw it. I rolled the four I had completed in the egg, then the almond flour and then “fried” them.  I call it “fried” because in order to really fry something, the object must be fully covered by oil. These Scottish eggs were so large, they could not be covered in oil. So I “fried” them by just flipping the eggs multiple times. Again cursing myself over getting splash with oil, constantly. I realized after this dish, no more frying for me.

The other four went into a cupcake pan that had the meat as the outside of the cupcake, and the egg in the center, with the meat kind of closing on top (aka the eggs was totally exposed, but I want to pretend that the egg was fully covered). This seemed easier, and it was, but not Scottish eggs. Not one bit.


Not an easy dish to make. But good. I don’t think I will make these again, but it was very filling and a great addition to a salad or with fries. Good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, too hard to make. Next time I will have them when at a restaurant.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Costs: $20.00
  • Total time: 55 minutes (this does not include my break)
  • Serving Size: 8 eggs so 4 – 8 people
Again, Instagram – the reason my food looks so good. 

Back on Track – Not Just Crockpotting Any More Folks

IMG_5469Even with my long hiatus – 6 months to be exact, do not worry all – I have been cooking. Actually, my amount of time in the kitchen has increased exponentially. (Not sure if that is because I enjoy cooking more, or if I am just trying recipes way out of my league. Also after almost two years of blogging – I still cannot spell recipe the first time I try. I have to use spell check every time – #typical). I no longer use just one instrument, but I have graduated into some baking, and other cooking realms. Truthfully, I have not gotten any better at reading recipes, but I am constantly working at that. Aka. Reading.

Due to my free time around the Holiday season, with a break from grad school and a self break from work (aka procrastination), I will be updating this blog over the next week as much as possible to show you all how much I have improved over the past 6 months. In fact, I hope to post about 6 posts – 1 per a month I was gone!

Facebook feed to become flooded with me! Merry Christmas to all!

Minty Fresh Fudge

So dessert should be everyone’s favorite dish, and if it’s not then, this dessert should be. I decided to mix it up a bit with my desserts and made Andes style fudge thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction. I owe a lot of the success of this dish to my friend, Sara, who helped me melt the chocolate and put the dish together (aka. showed me the ropes).


  • 2.5 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 – 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups of white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp of peppermint extract
  • 2 second poor of food coloring
  • 1 tsp shortening
  • Andes to decorate the top!

To be honest, this kind of cooking is not my forte so I really relied on my mentor in the kitchen with making desserts. My friend Sara is the one who introduced me to Sally’s Baking Addiction; my new favorite website to make desserts.

First came melting the bottom layer of chocolate by putting 1.5 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a saucepan on low with 3/4 cups of sweetened condensed milk. We stirred this mixture until there were no more chips apparent aka until the chocolate was smooth. Once silky, I poured the chocolate into an 8″ by 8″ pan so it would cover the bottom. Then we placed the pan in the fridge for 5 minutes while we melted the white chocolate in another saucepan.

After the white chocolate became smooth, we added in the peppermint extract and the food coloring. The original recipe called for 2 drops of green extract, but we got a little bit excited and added more. In the end, our green turned out to be a bit more leprechaun green than minty green, but it still looked good!

Once the green layer was poured onto the bottom layer of chocolate and chilled, we added the last layer of chocolate. This layer we made by melting 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1 tsp of shortening in the microwave in 30 seconds increments. We poured this chocolate to top off the fudge and lastly, we put broken-up bits of Andes on top. Then we chilled the fudge for 3 hours in the fridge.


A fan favorite, and it was really easy to make. I was glad we had two people in the kitchen to help keep the melting moving and grooving. Also, I was glad to have a more experienced baker in the kitchen! I would for sure make this again, but with more peppermint extract to give it a bit more flavor and maybe dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes prep with two hands, 3 hours chilling – 3.25 hrs
  • Serving Size: A party size – enough for all to have many squares!

Pesto Avocado Chicken Salad (Best Match with a Pita)

After taking a break from crockpotting due to season for work, I am back at it with this delicious twist on chicken salad. I was looking for a dish that everyone at girls night could eat, which means healthy, gluten-free option and filling after all of our long days and working out. This dish proved to be the solution I was looking for, while of course I made it my own.



  • 1.5 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 8 large dashes of garlic powder
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 large dash of pepper
  • 1 large dash of italian spices
  • 3 tbsp gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 – 7 oz. container of basil pesto
  • 2 avocados peeled and chopped
  • Whole wheat Pitas (as much as you would like)
  • Butter Lettuce

This dish proved easy to throw together, but the biggest issue came from me not having my crockpot. I had lent my crockpot to friend and she had not returned it yet, so instead I had to use my roommates. Thank goodness we have two in the house!

First I put in the chicken thighs, after removing all of the fat,then chopped onions and red bell peppers, spices, and chicken broth. The original recipe calls for 4 cloves of garlic minced, but again I misplaced my garlic at my new place from cooking the evening before. So I went with the next best thing I could find – garlic powder. The garlic powder replaced the salt and garlic, but not anything else in the spice section.

After seven hours on low, the chicken fell apart in between two forks. Then I removed the chicken, pieces of red bell pepper, and chopped onions from the crockpot using two forks into a bowl. I kept as much of the juice in the crockpot as possible to keep the consistency of the chicken salad more solid than not.

Next, I added mayo, pesto, and cut up avocados. After the chicken salad was all mixed together came the assembly. For those who can eat gluten, open the pita, put in the butter lettuce and some Havarti cheese (the original recipe called for 1 cup of cubed Havarti cheese, but I just forgot to cube it at all). For those who can’t eat gluten – just make it a lettuce wrap.


So GOOD! Everyone wanted multiple servings! In fact, many wanted the recipe right away! I will for sure make it again/eating all of the left overs possible. I am debating for next time I should add pine nuts to get it a bit more crunch.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $30.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes prep, 7 hours cooking, 15 minutes post prep – 7.5 hrs
  • Serving Size: 6 – 8 people


I decided that I needed a snack for girl’s night and wanted to make cheese dip. However, I was having trouble finding a dip that would fulfill the requirements of vegetarian and gluten free, so I had to revamp another version of cheese dip.



  • 2 (16-ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup salsa (this was eyeballed)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bottle of gluten free beer
  • 12 oz of blanco cheese Velveta
  • 24 oz of cheese Velveta

As I stated earlier, the challenge with this recipe was making sure that it was gluten free and vegetarian. So when I was at the store, I had to search the shelves for beans that are in fact vegetarian. Did any one know that most beans are cooked in bacon? I only found this out after searching through all the cans in the store to find the very selective/one version of vegetarian beans.

Then came the beer issue, I had to use gluten free beer. The major issue I have with gluten free beer is that most of it tastes horrible. In fact, I actually prefer not to drink gluten free beer because I don’t like the taste that much. Instead, I stick to ciders and wine. I ended up using a bottle of Omission – Lager, the only gluten free beer that I actually enjoy.

Cooking/making the cheese dip was pretty easy, expect for the fact that I ended up forgetting the salsa, and I had to run home for it (I was making the dip at work). First I put in the refried beans, green chilies, oregano, cumin, and garlic powder in the crockpot while it was on warm. Then after running home and grabbing the salsa (both mild and hot), I added the salsa (about 1/2 cup of mild and 1/2 cup of hot), bottle of beer, and cheese. The original recipe called for a Progresso Four Cheese Recipe Starter, but I could not find these at the store, so I went with the typical version of cheese dip: Velveta. Because the original recipe called for a Four Cheese mix, I decided to mix all of the types of Velveta cheese that were present at the store, cheese blanco and regular Velveta. Once that was all stirred, I set the crockpot on low for 2 hrs.

While the cheese dip was blending together, I was working so I could only stir the cheese dip every 45 minutes instead of every 20 minutes. Some of the cheese turned to be a little bit more burned, especially around the top/edges. Because the crockpot was on low, the amount of burnt cheese was quickly removed before serving.


Delicious! Personally, I am not a fan of Velveta, so this cheese dip is not my favorite, but was overall a crowd favorite. I would make this dip again, if I could add some chili to it. It was a little bit too bland for me.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $12.00
  • Total time: 10 minutes prep, 2 hrs cooking. 2.1 hours
  • Serving Size: 20 + people

Shredded Chicken for Twenty

As a coach,I find myself making enough food for a crowd at least once a season and my go-to dish are tacos. For a previous team, I made multiple types of meats, but for this team I made only chicken, and enough for 20 people to eat as a pre-game meal. This is the moment that I really do appreciate my crockpot, because I could prep the meal throughout the day and I had the meat cooking by 10 am.

I followed a recipe, but adapted it to fit my needs of cooking 10 lbs of chicken in three crockpots.



(This is serving size for one crockpot – I made 3)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

When cooking for a large group, one needs to have an idea about how much that group can eat. When cooking for a sports team, just assume they can eat. I ended up using this recipe for each one of the crockpots I made, and the proportions varied in each crockpot.

I decided to make it so each crockpot had its own level of spiciness, or so I thought. In the first crockpot, I followed the recipe to a tee. Mixing 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika as my major spices. In the second crockpot, the chili powder got away from me and I accidentally ended up putting in much closer to 3.5 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tsp of cumin and about 2 tsp of paprika. In the last crockpot, I put in 2.5 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tsp cumin and 1.5 tsp of paprika. Honestly, I don’t really think that there were any differences in the spices of each crockpot, but hey at least I tried. All of the other spice measurements stayed the same, as well as the onion (I used sweet onions, relatively small) and garlic.

Now when it came to cooking it all, I will be honest and admit that yet again I did not read the directions so instead of sautéing the onions and garlic before putting them in, I just threw everything in the crockpot and let it cook for 6 hrs on low and the chicken just fell apart with the help of a fork.

The original recipe called for putting the chicken in the crockpot with the tomato sauce, and then for the last hour adding in the spices, onions and garlic. I think my method of mixing it all together and letting it cook for 6 hrs made it more flavorful, but I can’t really compare the two considering I didn’t make the chicken the original way.


The team loved it and devoured the chicken. I even got some request to do some catering from the girls (all in good fun). I later made the left over chicken into a nice breakfast of scramble eggs, chicken, homemade guacamole on a tortilla. This chicken is bomb and will be lasting me through the week. SUCCESS!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $45.00 – for 10 lbs of chicken
  • Total Time: 30 minutes to prep, 6 hrs of cooking – 6.5 hrs in total
  • Serving Size: 22 people with each having 2 tacos

White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

This is a late post, because I was out of town for a bit, and just realized I never posted this delicious option that rounds out the winter recipes. (I’m crossing my fingers that it is in fact springtime!) This stew was the winner of all of the stews I made this past winter, proving to be both filling and delicious.



  • 1 pound dried great northern beans
  • 14 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium and gluten free chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 6 oz. container of Baby spinach

When I was looking to make this dish, I was lucky enough to have a great resource to answer all my ingredient questions. For example, I always thought that beans had to soak over night, but as I read the recipe before hand (yes this actually happened this time) it said that I did not need to soak the beans overnight. So I turned to my cooking guru for this recipe and asked why this could be. He explained that because I was cooking the stew for so long, the beans would soak then. I also asked my cooking guru about Kielbasa and what the heck that stuff was. He explained it as the long sausages in a certain section of the food market, so when I went to the store, I just went to the section he suggested and grabbed a turkey version. To be completely honest, I am not sure that it was the right kind of meat, but it sure did taste yummy.

When it came to cooking the recipe, all I did was mix everything together. I had no major mistakes at this point, because stews are easy to make and I read the instructions beforehand. After my gumbo situation, I learned that reading is good and I should do it more consistently in regards to cooking. The only ingredient I did not add at the beginning was the spinach, because the original recipe required that the spinach be added right before serving. So I put the spinach in about 10 minutes before serving.
Success! This is going to be my go to winter dish.Filling and delicious, this dish had more flavors than I thought it would have considering how few ingredients I used, but it was really good. The beans reminded me of BBQ beans, just soaking up the juices and absorbing the flavor of the meat. One of my friends ended up having about 6 servings of this dish because he enjoyed it so much.
The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $15.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes prep time, 7 hours cooking –  7.25 hours
  • Serving Size: 12 – 14 small bowls, 6 – 7 large bowls
baby spinach (6 cups)

Seafood Gumbo (with Okra)

Last week, I was sick and having soup at least once a day, so I decided to make soup for the week. I had not had sea food in weeks, so this seafood gumbo seemed to be the answer to what I was craving. I am going to be honest – this recipe proved to be my first recipe with major hiccups in a while, so let’s see if it fulfilled my craving.



  • 1/2 lb of sliced bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup of celery stalk
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 lb large shrimp
  • 0.75 lb of Cod
  • 0.5 lb lobster imitation
  • 1 10 oz. frozen chopped okra

The recipe proved to be so difficult – especially because I decided that reading the directions was not a priority at 8 am in the morning on a Sunday. Man, this is exactly like the first time I attempted to crockpot.

Let’s start with the grocery shopping: who knows what okra is? Not me! So that proved to be an issue before even going to the store. The other issue was that I don’t like crab, and the original recipe called for crab, so at the suggestion of a friend I bought cod. While I was looking through the fish section, I saw imitation lobster and I have never had it before, so I thought why not throw that into the mix considering I don’t have enough cod to replace the whole pound of crab.

Now onto the cooking: The first ingredient I read was the 1/2 lb of bacon. I only eat turkey bacon, so I chopped up the bacon and put into the crockpot. I thought it was a little bit weird that the ingredients did not call for cooked bacon, but I was trying to not over think it. (I should have known that all I needed to do, was look down at instructions to find the answer to that question – yes I was suppose to pre-cook the bacon till it was crispy. But as my boss told me, the crockpot hit 165 degrees, so the bacon was cooked even though it was just not crispy. Don’t worry about it.)

Next, I put in the rest of the ingredients in. My confusion came when it said to slice the onion, chop the green pepper, and mince the garlic. I have written about the definition of mincing and how I have had trouble in the past in deciding what all of these terms mean. So this time I decided I was going to put my questions to rest and look up the definitions.

Sliced – “A flat, usually thin, piece of food cut from a larger piece. Also the process of cutting flat, thin pieces” (

Chopped – “To cut foods with a knife, cleaver, or food processor into smaller pieces.” (

Minced – “To chop food into very fine pieces, as with minced garlic.” (

Now, knowing that, I was able to sliced my onion, chop my green pepper and mince my garlic successfully. Then came the spices. The only one of these that I got right was the amount of Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoons. Then my dyslexia really got the best of me, and every time I read teaspoon I somehow managed to fill up the tablespoon. So I added WAY more salt and thyme than the recipe wanted…my bad.

When it came to the cooking part, I apparently gave it way too much time in my head and put all of the ingredients in at once. The gumbo only needed 4 hrs to cook and then I was suppose to add the meats. Instead, I put everything in at once (again, this is because I decided that only the cool kids read the directions – so obviously that did not include me on a Sunday morning before work).

To compromise for the 4 hrs of cooking everything else and the 1 hr with meat, I decided to cook the whole thing for 5 hrs. However, I returned home to put the gumbo on warm after 5.5 hrs and then it went straight in the fridge (my day got away from me again – I am going to thank my boss for getting me super distracted).


My roommate had it first, and as she said, “It’s different. I’ve never had anything like it. It’s not bad, just different.” My opinion, a bit salty but good. Different than a jambalaya (that has sausage as well as the seafood). Next time, I would put less salt in and make the bacon crispy. This was a good attempt, but I don’t know if okra is really my jam so for that reason alone I don’t think I would make the dish again.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $30.00
  • Total time: 30 minutes of prep, 5.5 hrs of cook time – 6 hrs total
  • Serving Size: 12 – 15 bowls with rice

BBQ Pulled Chicken

After 3 weeks of straight pork, I decided that it was time for some chicken. That’s when I found “The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken,” and really wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, the day got away from me and I kept the chicken in there a little bit too long. Regardless, the meal still tasted delicious when I paired the chicken with coleslaw and potatoes (baked and broiled with some seasoning).



  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

This recipe was very straightforward. The hardest part: finding everything to be gluten free. Grocery shopping took the longest time, because not all BBQ sauce and Italian dressings are gluten free. I probably spent about 20 minutes looking at the labels just trying to make sure that what I did end up buying was 2 things: 1) gluten free and 2) not extremely expensive. Now, while I was grocery shopping, I remembered that I had some chicken breasts at home so I didn’t buy any – mistake!

The recipe called for 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and apparently in my freezer were only 1.29 lbs of chicken. I think this made the chicken to sauce ratio a bit off, but in the end I don’t think that it was a big issue, because I left the chicken and the sauce in the crockpot for close to 6 hrs instead of the 4 hrs that the recipe originally stated.


The chicken was a bit dry, and the sauce was a bit burnt from being in the crockpot for way too long. The group consensus was that it was good, but for sure over cooked. Next time, I will cook it for less time and find a gluten free bun to make it with. The coleslaw was a nice pairing, but needed more flavor so instead of mayo, I recommend putting in ranch or celery seed. Also, next time I would cook the potatoes on the skillet, instead of in the oven.