Monday, February 8, 2021

Swiss Chicken Crockpot Casserole

 

Swiss Chicken Crockpot Casserole




Snowing here again this Sunday...not as much as last Sunday, but enough to make it a cozy day at home.  Last Sunday, during the storm, I made this recipe that I had not made for a long time.   The recipe came in the cookbook that came with a crockpot that I replaced several years ago.  Can I just say I love cooking in the crockpot?  I loved it when I was teaching and there was nothing like coming home after a long day, opening the door, and smelling that dinner was DONE!   But, now retired, I still love my crockpot.  I love getting everything ready early in the day and then...forget about it!  Now, when dinnertime gets close and I am right in the middle of a good book, or a good movie, or a long conversation ... I don't need to stop and make dinner.  IT IS DONE.   And, because it is just the two of us, there are always leftovers.  Or, as I call them, "planovers".  I am so glad we brought our small, upright freezer with us when we downsized and moved to our apartment home.  It fits perfectly in our laundry room and I keep it filled with soups, dinners, and baked goods to enjoy anytime we want.  So...we enjoyed this last Sunday, and there are two more dinners in deep freeze just waiting to be enjoyed.  Here is how to make it:

Swiss Chicken Crockpot Casserole
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 slices of swiss cheese
1 can of cream of anything soup...original called for mushroom, I use celery.
1/4 cup of milk...or cream...or water if you are out of everything.
2 cups of herbed stuffing mix - I use Pepperidge Farm that I buy at the local outlet.
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

Spray the crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crock pot.  Top with cheese, layering if necessary.  Combine soup and milk, stir well, and spoon over the cheese.  Sprinkle with the dry stuffing mix and then drizzle melted butter over all.  Cook on Low for 8-10 hours or High for 4-6.  Serves 6.

I was inspired to make this because our local grocery store had a sale on boneless, skinless chicken breasts ...
These chicken breasts were HUGE...


So, in the spirit of "portion control"  I cut each large breast in half...and I cut up the extra little hangover pieces and put them in a freezer bag for stir fry at a later date.

You can see how even cut in half these pieces fill up the crock pot.  
I used Swiss cheese from the dairy aisle...sometimes if I am buying other deli items I will look for a lower fat/sodium Swiss, but the deli was a zoo that day so I went with this...
I broke the slices in half and laid them all over the chicken...overlapping a bit...
I know there is a lot of talk about not using these creamed, canned soups...not too healthy...so I use the fat free version and figure I don't use them often...

Mixed the soup with skim milk ( see, I am being healthy)...
Then poured it evenly over the chicken and cheese...
You can see from the "red line" on this bag that I purchased it at the Pepperidge Farm Outlet.  There is a factory not too far from here, and that store is open on the weekends.  We used to live quite close to there and when we would take walks near the plant and they were baking you could smell the most delicious things in the air.  Now we live further away and there is an outlet store in a nearby outlet mall.   And...Tuesdays are Senior Citizen days when you get an extra 10% off your bill.  I stock up on healthy breads and rolls...once again, put them in the freezer.  And...sometimes I stock up on the not so healthy layer cakes ( COCONUT!!) and put them in the freezer in case of company dropping in.  Now with Covid, no company....

Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over the entire pot...I sometimes us more stuffing because I LOVE stuffing...

And then I use Squeeze Parkay on top...or I will melt Smart Balance.   Then pop the lid on and let it go all day....dinner is DONE!
I like to serve it with a big side of vegetables...a cheesy, warm comfort meal - perfect for these cold winter days!
Do you use a crockpot often ?  What are your favorite recipes for the crockpot ?  Thanks so much for stopping by Our New Vista today...please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.  Blessings and enjoy the winter!


Monday, February 1, 2021

Hello February !

 


Hello February !




February is here and 2021 is moving along.  I don't like to change my January decorations until the last minute...so I spent yesterday getting all my Valentine items out and ready for February 1st.  The best thing about February is that we got our Covid vaccines on Friday and are scheduled for our second shot later this month.  Such a great feeling of relief.  We had to drive over an hour to get the shot as there is not good availability in our area...don't know why???   Seems this whole roll out is messed up.  Luckily we enjoyed the ride and then enjoyed lunch in our car after going through a drive thru ...it was "a date" and we look forward to another lunch date when we get the next shot.

The wreath above is "vintage"...I purchased the straw heart form over 30 years ago for the front door of the first house we built.  I was trying to remember if everyone had wreaths on doors for all seasons before that...before then we lived on a dead end so nobody really saw our front door unless you were visiting our home.   But when we built a home on a corner lot where everyone driving past could see our door I started to make wreaths for each holiday/season.   This has had many new ribbons and hearts over the years, but the original straw is still holding up fine.

I found these fillers at Dollar Tree and used them in several places...


A very simple dining room table with some of the filler, a heart garland and some heart decorations...

I found these two heart plates at Ross years ago...I would love to get some more Valentine dessert/salad plates for when Covid is over and we can entertain again.  We love to have friends and family visit us for brunch, lunch, dinner...and the other day I realized this is the longest we have ever gone without having company!

A simple tray from Dollar Tree, some filler, and a few chocolate hearts on the coffee table...

My cozy corner...I should have waited to take this photo as now it is REALLY cozy because it just started to snow like crazy outside our windows....

Don't know where I found this pillow, but the sentiment is true...even being together 24/7 during Covid...life is wonderful!  Every year I pull this out and think..."what can I add to make this a little better...some red ribbon, some trim??? - then forget until I pull it out  again the following year!

Some heart shaped picks from Dollar Tree are stuck in most of our plants...the little snow couple was a Christmas ornament, but since they have hearts I keep them for Valentine decor...

There may be dark chocolate hearts in that tin...easy to snack on while making dinner....

A little more filler, and ornament tied with a ribbon...and a cute plate from Ross...

A little love on the wine rack...

Even though we are the only people seeing our foyer, I like to decorate for the season...

This printable quote was one of many you can get from Ann at On Sutton Place - and I follow Ann on her blog, so you can also see the link on my Following links.  Thanks, Ann - I love all the printables you share!

Last of all this beautiful red lantern that was a gift from a dear friend who passed away...I use it for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and patriotic decorations...for Valentine's I just added a silver heart with a ribbon.
Do you decorate for Valentine's Day ?  When do you put out the heart stuff...and how long do you keep it out ???   Please leave a comment below - it would make my day!  Thanks so much for stopping by Our New Vista - have a fabulous day and stay safe!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

2020 Favorite Buys

 

2020 Favorite Things


Before January slips into February it is time to look back on favorite purchases from 2020.  While I always liked shopping online and sometimes have "Primenesia" ( a package arrives from Amazon and I can't remember what I ordered!), this year was the biggest year for online shopping - due to Covid 19.  I like nothing better than going out and "dumming around" - as my mother called it - to look for bargains.  Not a good idea this past year.  So, here are the things I purchased this year that I am so glad I did...I love them  and would buy again! Note:  I did not receive any compensation for any of these items ( don't even know how to do that!) - these are just things I bought and love.

First up is "bottle bright" - Purchased from Amazon, these little tablets clean the gunk out of your water bottles or travel mugs.  Our Contigo travel mugs were yucky inside and no matter what I did I could not get them clean.  I actually used  a half of a tablet in each mug or water bottle and that did a great job.  Just fill with warm water, drop in the bottle bright, let it sit for a bit, and pour out all the gunk that was hiding in your containers!

We already had an Echo Dot in our bedroom and LOVE it for controlling the lights, alarms, and I even programed in emergency numbers so I can just tell Alexa to call them - but it did not have the time read out on the old one.  You can't see it here, but this one has a digital time read out, and counts down the time if you use it as a timer.  And..I can see that our nightstand that we have had for over 40 years needs some TLC...

Kasa Smart Plugs - also purchased on Amazon - and these are great.  Work so easily with Alexa.  I had one Amazon plug and 3 plugs from Tan Tan.  All of a sudden, after months of working great, 2 of the Tan Tan plugs were not operating.  Alexa kept saying she could not find them!  I tried EVERYTHING to correct the issue and then gave up and purchased these.  They were beyond easy to set up and have been working fine.  I have our living room lights on these and can just tell Alexa to turn them on or off.  Also have one on my bedroom nightstand light so I don't have to fumble for a switch in the middle of the night.  It was great to put our Christmas Tree in a plug and just tell Alexa to turn on the tree...now I am looking for other places I can use them!

OK...never thought I would buy or need a Dyson fan/air purifier  - but when we downsized and moved into this apartment the beautiful kitchen did not have a fan vented to the outside.  I bought this and have it here in the dining area, across from the kitchen - and it works great.  First, it is a nice cooling breeze when cooking or having the over on in the summer.  Second, it really does purify the air...takes all cooking smells away perfectly.  I like that it has a HEPA filter - and I downloaded the DYSON app and can monitor the air quality in our home.  I set it to VERY SENSITIVE and  AUTO MODE, so it automatically turns on when it senses something in the air.  I purchased it as a TSV on QVC at a good price and would recommend it highly.

Vacuum cleaners...in two previous homes we had central vac systems.  I like them...but for quick clean ups it was a pain to get that long hose out.  Last house we chose NOT to install central vac and got a great Simplicity Cannister Vacuum...which worked great, but was a pain to carry up and down the stairs...and to change heads from hardwood to carpet.  So, when we moved to our new place I purchased a Shark that could go from hardwood to carpet without changing anything.  The suctions was amazing...the upright unit was SO HEAVY!  I was considering buying another Simplicity since now we were all on one floor when I saw this Dyson V8 Animal on HSN.  I just LOVE it!  No cords, great pick up, goes from hardwood to carpet without me having to do anything.  It hangs on a charging station right inside the laundry room door and is perfect for a quick sweep of the kitchen after dinner - as well as deep, regular cleaning.  I am amazed by how much it picks up.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it !


A new hairdryer!  I don't need an expensive hairdryer...my short, fine hair dries in less than two minutes.  But my old dryer did not have enough setting and was too hot...

Found this one for a low price at Ross and love that I can have cooler air with lots of power...it works great and I love it.  It's by Remington and is an ionic kind..so it smooths your hair while you dry.

Had several of these "flickering" candles and they were expensive, and did not have remotes.  Everytime I wanted it on I had to pick the candle up - and we light it each night for dinner - and then I could never get the candle to sit straight the first time.  Bought this one for a little over 10 bucks on Amazon, with a remote, and it works great!

Replaced the standard faucet in the laundry room sink with this high, arched one that has a sprayer and a power spray.  Once again, found on Amazon for a ridiculous price of under 20 bucks, and it is great for cleaning out large items and filling buckets.

If you have visited Our New Vista before, you know I cannot throw out the carcass from a Costco chicken...I can hear my mother whispering in my ear that it would make good soup and be a sin to throw it out - You can read my chicken soup recipe here -
The problem was that I often had trouble sifting out the little bones from the broth.  Then I found these...I first found them in a kitchen shop near me but then found at a much better price on Amazon.  You can use for chicken soup, or seafood so you don't get bones or shells in the broth, or for veggie broth if you want the flavor and not the pieces of vegetables.  

Another 20 dollar life changing gadget!  Our shower is huge and walk in with no door...and I love the hand held adjustable shower that came with the shower, but thought it would be more spa like with another shower head ( we purchased this unit partially finished, if from scratch I would have added a rainshower head in the ceiling, but we loved the place so we grabbed it ( last one in the building) and are making improvements as we go along.  This was simple...just put the divider on the shower pipe and add another shower head.  Bliss! 

Well, that's it - some things I purchased this year that were well worth the money and I enjoy using almost daily.  What did you buy this year that you are so happy you did?  I would love to hear about your purchases and ideas.  Please leave a comment below - it would make my day to hear from you.  Until then, thanks for visiting Our New Vista.  Enjoy the remainder of January...and keep on shopping!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Organized Pantry

Organized Pantry 


January is a great time to reflect on the past year - and to get organized for the year ahead.  Since I am at home and still hiding from Covid, I have been enjoying organizing and purging my cupboards and closets.  It is a never ending process.  

Here is the BEFORE pantry....not bad.  I am so glad we chose the pull out shelves when we designed the kitchen, and I tried to keep "like things together" on the labeled shelves.  But things still go messy and I found myself buying items I already had...so it was time for a clean up!

First thing I did was empty out each shelf - then vacuum up any crumbs and wipe down each shelf. And, while I am not one of those people who obey "best by dates" on food items, I did have a few very old things hiding in the back of the pantry that were discarded.

The upper shelves do not have pull outs...at 5 feet tall I can only reach the front of the top shelf.   So, using the step stool I put Items that are "extras" on the very top shelf.  I had some bins from Dollar Tree and grouped things together.  All the extra tea bags ( I vowed not to buy ANY more tea until we use what we have!) are in a bin, as well as the colored sugar and toppings for cakes and cookies.  I don't use them often, so that is a good place for them.

The nuts and sesame sticks we use for evening snacks, and my husband can easily reach them...

I also put extra baking supplies up here as well...

And cleaned up the turntable.  Behind the turntable is a stacked shelf that holds extra spices and other little things...

I put everything I could in clear containers...and then labeled them.  I just love my label maker!

Then I turned the shelf risers that I had and put them horizontally at the back of the pull out shelf, then stacked like items together so I no longer will come home from the grocery store with more chick peas than we can eat...

I had two little metal baskets ( again, from Dollar Tree) and they were perfect to hold dried beans.

Did the same on the next shelf and used another metal basket to hold tuna and seasoning packs...

The bottom shelf holds produce, my "good apron", and my mother's "grabber".  I think of her when I use it!

I put a hook on the door for my "everyday apron".   I love wearing an apron...this one I made out of denim over 30 years ago.  It is starting to show wear so I may need to make a new one...for the next 30 years!
Having the pantry organized has really been a big help...I can find things much more easily and see what we need items we need to add to our grocery list.  I still drool over homes with big, walk in pantry areas - but since we downsized this is working out great.  We do have a large laundry room just around the corner that acts as an "over flow" pantry for bigger items.  Watch for a post on that in the future!  
Thank you so much for stopping by Our New Vista today...please leave a comment in the area below and let me know about your pantry organizing ideas.  I would like to learn how you organize, and how you KEEP it organized.  I vow, like always, that I will keep this area neat and organized.  Now...onto my baking drawer....another day of organizing.  Thanks again for stopping by - wishing everyone good health and a vaccine very soon!

Swiss Chicken Crockpot Casserole

  Swiss Chicken Crockpot Casserole Snowing here again this Sunday...not as much as last Sunday, but enough to make it a cozy day at home.  L...