Also written on my flights from Long Beach to Orlando on Wednesday.
My last day of work in 2014 was the day of the annual holiday potluck. My favorite day of the year! This meant that I wasn’t very productive closing out the year, but at least I was well fed. It was awesome. Due to the craziness that was December I didn’t commit to making anything complicated for the potluck. In fact I was so unimaginative with my offerings that I simply repeated my menu from 2013 – hot chocolate for breakfast and mulled apple cider for lunch. Simple, tasty, and very little effort required on my part. Not too long ago I shared my first attempt at Crockpot hot chocolate, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with the results. My co-workers really liked it, but the chocolate chips didn’t melt properly so I knew there was a better option out there. And this year I found it! Look no further, this is the world’s best hot chocolate. It was so popular at the potluck that my co-workers drank every drop and several asked for the recipe. I didn’t even follow the exact directions in the original recipe because I was lazy and didn’t think it made a difference. Luckily I was right. I just dumped all of the ingredients in my slow cooker at 6 AM, heated the hot chocolate about 2.5 hours, and stirred it every 30 minutes or so. And it was perfect! Rich, creamy, and chocolately. I am definitely going to make this again soon!
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c cocoa powder (I used half regular, half Hershey’s Special Dark)
1/2 c sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Add this to the list of easiest recipes of all time. Simply combine all of the ingredients in your slow cooker and whisk to combine. The cocoa powder won’t mix too well with the cold milk and cream, but that will change as it heats up. Cook on low for 2-3 hours, whisking/stirring occasionally. Serve with marshmallows. Enjoy!
Based on No. 2 Pencil’s Slow Cooker Hot Cocoa.
This recipe is long overdue since I made this Crockpot hot chocolate for the annual holiday potluck at work last December, but it’s worth waiting for! I made the hot chocolate as my contribution to the potluck breakfast buffet. It was fantastic for something that I just dumped into the slow cooker and let heat up for a few hours. The only downside was that the chocolate chips didn’t melt completely so it wasn’t as smooth as I was hoping. Either I didn’t let the mixture cook long enough or the chocolate I used wasn’t the best quality (how does Nestle rank on that scale anyway?). An immersion blender might have helped if I’d had one handy. But the hot chocolate was still really rich and everyone at the holiday potluck loved it, even with little bits of unmelted chocolate in their glasses. I’d like to try a slightly different version that uses cocoa powder and sugar instead of chocolate chips to see if that fixes the problem. Maybe for this year’s holiday potluck!
1.5 c whipping cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
6 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c (11-12 oz) chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet)
Get ready for some complicated instructions. Ready? Stir together the whipping cream, condensed milk, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and the chocolate chips are melted. Make sure to stir well before serving. That’s it! Enjoy!
Based on Mrs. Happy Homemaker’s Creamy Crockpot Hot Cocoa.
I made this slow cooker BBQ chicken for last year’s annual holiday potluck (my favorite day of the year, remember?) and it was a huge hit. It was so good that one of my co-workers went back for thirds. This recipe is insanely easy – and very similar to my delicious pulled pork. But that shouldn’t be too surprising since the two recipes come from the same cookbook, Slow Cooker Revolution, which hasn’t ever steered my wrong. So if you have some chicken and some sauce, you can very easily whip up some delicious BBQ. Give it a try!
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sweet paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (I used breasts)
Barbecue sauce (I used Bull’s-Eye Original, which the book recommended)
In a small bowl, mix chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the chicken then transfer the chicken to the slow cooker. Pour enough barbecue sauce into the slow cooker to just cover the chicken, a 1/2 c or less. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours (or on high for about 3 hours). On a plate, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces with two forks and then transfer it to a large bowl. Add up to 1 c of additional barbecue sauce until the chicken is your desired level of sauciness. Serve as sandwiches or all on it’s own. Enjoy!
Based on Shredded Barbecued Chicken from Slow Cooker Revolution.
Today was the day I wait for all year. You guessed it – our annual holiday potluck! Traditionally this means I eat my weight in mouthwatering homemade scones before noon (they really are that good and I just have to try every flavor), but this year I held back a little to try and maintain my girlish figure. This means I only had two scones for breakfast…and stashed another four in my desk for future consumption. I admit it, I’m obsessed with these scones. But I don’t feel guilty about hoarding them because there were plenty, so it’s not like I was depriving anyone else of delicious scones. I even introduced three of my co-workers to the wonders of the scones and and I think they are all now converts. Just doing my part! Lunch was an impressive spread this year that had to be served out of two conference rooms because there was so much food. I went a little overboard and made two dishes (Moroccan spiced chili, an old favorite, and a new recipe for BBQ chicken) as well as two kinds of cookies (classic peanut butter blossoms and a new recipe for peppermint candy cane blossoms). I filled my own plate up with Chinese chicken salad, BBQ meatballs, and jambalaya. The jambalaya was a bit spicier than my wimpy palate could handle, but it was out of this world. I had to eat it slowly to avoid burning out my taste buds, but it was too delicious to pass up. I skipped dessert after eating all of that, but it was worth it (especially since I’d already had my weekly allotment of sugar in scone form earlier). My BBQ chicken was extremely well received which made me really happy. I got the recipe out of my Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook (same as the Moroccan chili recipe, funny enough). It was incredibly easy to throw together and very tasty. I’ll have to post the recipe sometime. I made way too much chili so I brought quite a bit of it home with me. This means I’ve got dinner covered until I leave for Florida on Saturday! Yes, today was a good day. Now I just have to wait 365 or so days for the 2013 holiday potluck. Luckily I still have four scones in my desk waiting for me tomorrow!
The potluck at work today was a big hit. Everyone seemed really excited to get together a week before Thanksgiving and share a meal together. It was like a work Thanksgiving since we won’t be spending the actual holiday together (thank goodness!). As far as I could tell, folks enjoyed themselves so I was really happy with the outcome. And the food was pretty amazing too! I tried three different kinds of salad and two kinds of meatballs that were all delicious. It’s a good thing that I don’t eat this well every day! The food I brought was pretty popular too. I still can’t believe I pulled off making two main dishes and two cakes yesterday, but I’m glad I did. The two cakes were completely devoured (especially the white Texas sheet cake which everyone loved), but I brought some pulled pork and teriyaki chicken home with me because there were so many other tasty options for people to choose from. This should explain part of why I am completely exhausted tonight. It’s not going to be long before I climb into bed to get some much needed rest. Unfortunately I have to get up early again tomorrow, but luckily it’s Friday. I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend.
The potluck I was so excited about yesterday was fantastic. The day started badly, though. My flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles on Monday night was delayed so I didn’t get home until two hours later than I was scheduled to. This meant that I went to bed too late, didn’t get enough sleep, and was still tired when my alarm went off the next morning. So I decided to sleep in a little and just stay at work later to make up for it. No big deal, right? Well, as I was walking out to my car at 8 AM I got a phone call reminding me that I was supporting an event and informing me that I was supposed to be there already. Shoot. Luckily I was already on my way and being a half hour late didn’t end up making that much of a difference. Unfortunately work kept me really busy so I had to sneak out a couple of times under the guise of a bathroom break to fill a plate with food from the potluck buffet. It was worth it. The scones were just as good as I remembered and I tried every flavor – chocolate chip, blueberry, raspberry lemon, orange cranberry, and cinnamon. I don’t know which was my favorite, but I ate five of them between 8:30 and 11:30 AM with absolutely no shame. So good. And for lunch I had a plate of melt-in-your-mouth homemade meatballs and Chinese chicken salad. After eating all of that I was pretty uncomfortable for the rest of the day, but I have no regrets. My co-workers make some really great food and I don’t get a chance to eat it every day. And I think my brownie bites and snickerdoodle blondies were a hit because I didn’t have a single one to take home with me at the end of the day. That was nice. However, the holiday celebrations aren’t over – in fact, they’ve just begun! Here’s my schedule for the next week. Yikes!
Thursday, 12/15 – Holiday lunch with my co-workers at Ruby’s
Friday, 12/16 – Another potluck (I’m making several batches of cookies)
Friday, 12/16 – Arthur Murray Christmas party (I’m making a pecan pie)
Monday, 12/19 – Deadline for mailing my annual holiday care packages
Wednesday, 12/21 – Yet another potluck (I’m making chili for this one)
Thursday, 12/22 – Holiday lunch at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant
Friday, 12/23 – First day of the Boeing holiday shutdown