Recipe: Cherry Almond Cookies (Jar Mix) | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop

Cherry Almond Cookies recipe with jar mix gift version (including printable recipe cards) by Underground Crafter | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop #craftycookies2016I’ve always been a big fan of cookies. As a kid (ok, well into my 30s), I would make individual batches of cookies for everyone in my family for Christmas. In recent years, a smaller oven and other factors have led me to stop baking at high production levels. I still enjoy freshly baked cookies, though!

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Over the years, my tastes in cookies have changed, too. For the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop, I knew I wanted to make a jar mix recipe. Even if you’re not a baker yourself, this is a great gift to bring to your host(ess) for any upcoming holiday. Jar mixes also make great housewarming, birthday, and “just because” gifts.

I wanted to be sure all the ingredients would fit into a quart-sized mason jar (since that’s the size I designed this cozy pattern to fit), so I adapted this recipe from Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix in a Jar. I replaced the chips with dried cherries, something I’m loving at the moment, and added slivered almonds and almond extract, which pair really well with cherries.

Since you may just want to eat a batch of these yourself, I’m including recipes for the jar mix and for making the cookies from scratch. I’ve also included printable recipe cards that you can attach if you gift the mix.

This recipe is part of the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop. Get more recipes and projects from participating bloggers here!(Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop! 9 recipes and 9 craft tutorials!


Cherry Almond Cookies Jar Mix

Recipe by Underground Crafter

Ingredients/Supplies (Makes 24-30 cookies)

For Jar Mix:

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried cherries (I used unsweeted, unsulferated sweet cherries) or cherry-flavored cranberries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Quart mason jar
  • Cherry Almond Cookies Jar Mix recipe card (see below for printables)
  • Drawstring Mason Jar Cozy (optional – get the free crochet pattern here)

For Cookies:

  • Jar mix ingredients through granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (0.75 cup, 12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Jar Mix Instructions

Cherry Almond Cookies recipe with jar mix gift version (including printable recipe cards) by Underground Crafter | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop #craftycookies2016

  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl.
  • Pour flour into quart-sized mason jar. Tap gently to flatten layer.
  • Add cherries, then almonds, then brown sugar, then granulated sugar, tapping gently after each addition.
  • Close lid to seal.
  • Print recipe cards on card stock and cut into individual cards. Add recipe card to jar with cozy, and you have a perfect gift!

Download printable Cherry Almond Cookies Jar Mix Recipe Card – Color

Download printable Cherry Almond Cookies Jar Mix Recipe Card – Black and White

Cookie Instructions

Cherry Almond Cookies recipe with jar mix gift version (including printable recipe cards) by Underground Crafter | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop #craftycookies2016

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl.
  • In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Stir in egg and almond extract.
  • Add flour mixture, cherries, and almonds to large bowl and mix well, wiping down sides and breaking up clumps.
  • Use rounded Tablespoon to portion out cookies. Drop each cookie onto ungreased cookie sheet, leaving several inches around to allow cookies to expand in the oven.
  • Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Cherry Almond Cookies recipe with jar mix gift version (including printable recipe cards) by Underground Crafter | (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop #craftycookies2016This recipe is part of the (Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop. Get more recipes and projects from participating bloggers here!(Inter)National Cookie Month Crafty Blog Hop! 9 recipes and 9 craft tutorials!

 

How To Cook A Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

How To Cook a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker recipe and tutorial by Underground Crafter

For the past year, MC and I have been looking for ways to save time (and money) while cooking without relying on packaged foods.

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As soon as I started cooking more often, I dusted off my trusty slow cooker. Even in my small kitchen, I’ve made room for a 5-quart slow cooker because I can prepare meals in the background while working from home, watching my favorite shows on Amazon Prime, or doing craft projects.  Last year, while perusing my cookbook collection, I learned the basics of cooking a whole chicken in a slow cooker from Beth Hensperger’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook. (Though I generally find the whole “not your (grand)mother’s…” device quite tiresome, this is actually a good cookbook!) This summer, when having the oven on was absolutely out of the question, we relied on our slow cooker to get chicken prepared without heating up the apartment.

Once the chicken is done, it quite literally falls off the bone, so preparing a whole chicken in the slow cooker ends up being cheaper than buying cut up parts and less laborious than taking apart a raw chicken. It also makes the most amazing stock which we use in other meals throughout the week. In the hopes that I can help you out in the kitchen, too, I’m going to share my tutorial for cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker.

How To Cook a Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Recipe/Tutorial by Underground Crafter

Ingredients and Supplies

  • One 3- to 4-pound whole chicken.
  • Salt and black pepper.
  • Slow cooker large enough to comfortably fit the chicken.
  • Meat thermometer.

Here are the answers to a few questions my friends have asked about this ingredients list.

  • Can I use a larger chicken? Absolutely! I’ve used the same recipe for a 5-6 pound whole chicken. It may take a bit longer to cook through, so be sure to check the internal temperature before turning off the slow cooker. (Also, be sure the chicken can fit into your slow cooker!)
  • How much salt and black pepper do I need to use? I would err on the side of caution because you can always season the chicken to taste once it’s cooked, but you can’t un-season it.
  • What type of salt and pepper do you use? I use sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns, but I’m sure all would be well if you substituted Kosher or table salt and ground pepper.

Instructions

  • Remove any giblets or packaging from the chicken’s cavity.
  • Wash the chicken thoroughly. Place the chicken in the slow cooker to prep.
  • Pat the chicken dry using a paper towel. Cut off any visible fat. Season with salt and pepper, being sure to rub under the skin and inside the cavity. (Don’t worry too much about getting the perfect amount of seasoning because you can add seasoning to taste after the chicken is cooked.)
  • Position the chicken with the breast side facing up.
  • Cover the slow cooker. Cook on low for approximately 6-7 hours, or on high for approximately 3-4 hours.
  • Insert a meat thermometer into the thick part of the thigh to check for doneness. (Be sure the thermometer isn’t hitting the bone.) When the chicken is cooked through, the thermometer should measure at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Using two forks or tongs, remove the chicken from the slow cooker. It will be falling off the bone, so be sure to have a bowl nearby to process it in.
  • Using a fork, remove and discard the skin and any visible fat. (The skin will be pretty soggy and unappetizing, but it keeps the moisture in the chicken while it’s cooking, so don’t remove it beforehand.)
  • Use the fork to shred the chicken, removing bones and cartilage as you work. You can also cut the chicken into smaller pieces if your recipe requires it. (We usually leave the pieces large to give us more flexibility in how we use it later.)
  • You’ll also have several cups of stock in the slow cooker. This can be used for soups, gravy, and other recipes. If you like to cook with chicken fat as we sometimes do, refrigerate the stock and then skim the fat off once it rises to the top.
  • Refrigerate any chicken or stock you plan to eat within the next few days, and freeze the rest for up to 3 months. (According to the USDA, foods can be safely stored in the freezer indefinitely, but after three months, you will notice a loss in flavor quality.)

How To Cook a Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker recipe and tutorial by Underground Crafter

Meal Ideas for Your Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

What’s your favorite way to eat shredded chicken?

Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie #recipe by Underground CrafterRecently, MC and I have gotten back into the habit of cooking more regularly. With a small apartment kitchenette, cooking meals from scratch can sometimes be a pain. (I shared tips for making the most of a small kitchen in this post, if you, too, have a tiny kitchen.)

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Lately, I’ve been coping by using the toaster oven for most of my baking. Using the oven to store pots and pans allows us to maximize our counter space.

This recipe has its roots back in 2003 when I was a member of a cooking club. Each month, a group of friends (and friends of friends) would gather at one of our apartments and bring food prepared according to the theme. Since I was (even then) ridiculously organized about lists and the like, I was in charge of making the “recipe book” after each month’s meeting. This recipe started as an Oreida Chicken Tot Pie (the original recipe is no longer online) for our “Budget Americana” theme.

Over the years, the recipe has undergone quite a few revisions. The tots were abandoned long ago and a pie crust was added. It has since turned into the perfect use for leftover chicken. I also make an annual Thanksgiving leftover version (because who doesn’t love turkey pot pie?). Now, we usually make this using chicken we’ve prepared in the slow cooker.

I’ve included some suggestions for customizing the recipe to make it your own, too. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe by Underground Crafter

Chicken Pot Pie #recipe by Underground CrafterIngredients

  • 2 frozen 9-inch pie crusts
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot or 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy soup (like creamy potato leek soup), or 10.5 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup and 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions

  • Take pie crusts out of freezer and set aside to bring to room temperature. (If using homemade pie crusts, add one crust to 9-inch pie pan. Set other crust aside.)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. (If cooking in the toaster over, preheating isn’t necessary.)
  • In a large frying pan, melt butter.
  • Add the potatoes and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes, or until slightly translucent.
  • Add carrots and stir to combine. Sauté for another 2 minutes, or until carrots are slightly browned.
  • Stir in shallots and garlic and heat for 5 minutes, or until both are softened and tender.
  • Add chicken, peas, creamy soup or condensed soup and light cream, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour mixture into pie crust in pan.
  • Top with other pie crust. Adjust the top crust and crimp together the edges to seal.
  • With sharp knife, cut several slices into the top crust to allow venting.
  • Bake pie about 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and you can hear liquid bubbling.

Variations

  • Skip the pie crust, ditch the fingerling potatoes, and use an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking dish to make a casserole version. Top with your favorite recipe for mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Substitute your favorite veggies for the carrots and peas. You can also use a frozen vegetable medley instead of fresh veggies.
  • If using 9-inch deep dish pie crusts, you can add about 3 cups of cooked chicken or turkey. You may need to adjust your liquids, too.
  • Use themed seasonings and veggies. For example, add cayenne pepper and corn instead of peas for a Southwestern theme.
  • If you don’t use dairy, we’ve also substituted water, coconut milk or coconut creamer, and almond milk for the light cream with good results.

Do you have favorite Chicken Pot Pie variations?

How to Cook Butternut Squash in the Slow Cooker

I am not much of a squash person in general, but butternut squash has always been the exception. My mom’s butternut squash soup is a Thanksgiving favorite, and I have quite a few pasta and one-pot dinner recipes that I like to add butternut squash to.

But… I have terrible knife skills, so the traditional “slice it in half, bake it in the oven” preparation method has always scared me off. Lately, I’ve been more budget concious, too, so spending extra to buy pre-sliced squash seems ridiculous.

I guess it’s no surprise that there would be a slow cooker solution. (It seems like the slow cooker comes to the rescue a lot when saving money is a priority.) While flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, Beth Hensperger’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, I discovered that butternut squash can be prepared in the slow cooker. Now I can enjoy my favorite squash more affordably without worrying about my fingers. (I need those to stay healthy so I can keep crocheting and knitting!)


Here’s my technique for cooking butternut squash in the slow cooker.

Start by selecting a squash that fits in your slow cooker.

I can fit two small to medium squashes in mine, so I usually prepare two at once.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground CrafterRemove the stem and place the squash in the slow cooker.

I just snap the stem off with my bare hands. Side benefit: It makes me feel super strong (unlike when I attempt to open a jar).

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground CrafterAdd just 1 or 2 Tablespoons of water for each butternut squash. Cook on LOW for 2-4 hours.

There is a lot of variation among slow cookers (and butternut squash), so your time may vary. When it’s fork tender, it’s ready.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground CrafterIf you plan to make a soup or another dish where you’ll puree the squash, you may want to keep it in longer so it can get even softer.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground Crafter

Allow the squash to cool, and then peel the skin off with a paring knife.

The skin should come off very easily at this point.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker by Underground Crafter 6Chop the long stem of the squash into pieces appropriately sized for your recipe.

If you’re not sure what you plan to make with the squash yet, I recommend dicing it into bite-sized pieces.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground CrafterCut the rounded bulb of the squash in half.

Remove the seeds. These can be discarded or used in recipes calling for squash seeds. Chop the rest of the bulb into pieces appropriately sized for your recipe.

How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker tutorial by Underground CrafterPrepared squash can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. I usually prep the squash on the weekend so it’s ready to go for a quick weeknight dinner. Enjoy!

Recipe: Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies

Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies #recipe by Underground Crafter | These cakey cookies are minty and chocolatey. I love making food gifts for the winter holidays. This year, I’ll be sharing some new recipes for holiday desserts that work well as gifts or as a bring-a-long for a pot luck. Today’s recipe is for the Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies. These cakey cookies pair well with a glass of milk. (In our household, that would be almond milk.)

This post contains affiliate links. Chocolate Dutch Mints were generously provided by Jelly Belly.

MC is a fan of the mint/chocolate combination, so every year I try to invent at least one new chocolate mint treat. This one took a bit of experimentation to get right (but we did have fun eating all of the “failed” batches).

Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies #recipe by Underground Crafter | These cakey cookies are minty and chocolatey. A little tip for baking with Chocolate Dutch Mints: placing them on top of each cookie before baking (rather than mixing them into the batter) is well worth the extra effort. These candies have a chocolate shell and peppermint filling, which boosts the minty flavor of these cookies. But mixing them into the batter will leave you scraping melted peppermint filling off of your baking sheets. (I learned this the hard way in test batch #1.)

Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies #recipe by Underground Crafter | These cakey cookies are minty and chocolatey. These cookies definitely pack a minty punch, but don’t skimp out on the mini chocolate chips, either, or they’ll taste more like mint cookies than Dutch chocolate mint cookies.

Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies

Recipe by Underground Crafter

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup/8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lighty packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Jelly Belly Chocolate Dutch Mints (Each 16 ounce bags makes about 5 batches of cookies.)


Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

3) In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars, and water until smooth.

4) Add egg and mint extract to butter mixture, and mix until combined.

5) Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed.

6) Drop by rounded Tablespoons (or use a cookie scoop) onto baking sheets, leaving several inches between each cookie.

7) Flatten cookies slightly and top with 2-3 mints.

Dutch Chocolate Mint Cookies #recipe by Underground Crafter | These cakey cookies are minty and chocolatey. 8) Bake 10-14 minutes, or until cookies have spread and chocolate Dutch mints have cracked slightly.

9) Cool completely on racks.

© 2015 by Marie Segares (Underground Crafter). This recipe is for personal use only. Do not violate Marie’s copyright by distributing this recipe or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the recipe, point your friends to this link: http://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2015/11/21/recipe-dutch-chocolate-mint-cookies. Thanks for supporting indie bloggers!