Friday, January 27, 2012

Easy, money saving, Healthy and Chemical Free way to make Microwave Popcorn

Pop Corn evokes such wonderful memories for me.  If you've read my blog Russian Tea, with reflections of how smells can bring back a memory, then you'll have seen my comment about "popcorn in a paper bag with cheese, yum".   

Years ago, I let myself get a little overweight.  Turns out, that eating a biscotti with a cup of hot chocolate every night, and drinking a strawberry milk shake everyday makes ones clothes shrink. A lot. Couple that with a love of popcorn covered in butter, and you've got yourself a fast track to Sumo wrestler-ville. I went on a weight loss challenge.  I bought a cd-rom that would load a food, drink, calorie, and calories burned tracking program on my computer.  I kept a food journal to find out where those little hidden calories were coming in to play.  I wrote down everything I ate, drank and snacked on.  Including a piece of candy, gum, mint, cookie, everything.  I found out that a gumball has 25 calories, I found out I don't drink nearly enough water, and I found out that doing some exercise is better than not doing anything. This program even tracked housework, sweeping, dusting, and the like.  It was great.  By keeping the food journal, I was able to see that most of my calories were consumed at night, while I watched t.v.  I noticed, that I ate even when I wasn't hungry.  I ate out of boredom, or habit.  My solution?  I joined a health club, and walked on the stair master from 8-9 pm, every night.  The club had a t.v. in front of every machine, so I plugged in my ear phones watched my favorite shows and worked out instead of eating.  It took about a year to finally get down to the weight I wanted to be.  This time I did it the healthy way.  I was very happy with myself.  Once my weight and eating were under control I had to find out how to enjoy my favorite foods in a healthy way.  There's not a very healthy way of enjoying biscotti and hot chocolate.  My plan, if I worked out all week, ate healthy foods, drank enough water, and didn't snack on junk, then on Saturday I could indulge in one or two treats.  Generally I chose to eat a small cup of ice cream, but sometimes I would have some microwave  popcorn.

One day I was reading an article about the dangers of microwave popcorn.  It was so long ago, I can't place the article, but it was about the chemicals they put into the popcorn.  The article stated that most people love to breathe in the steam of the popcorn when the bag is opened, and that is dangerous as they then inhale chemicals that are basically poison.  If you search, "Dangers of microwave popcorn", this link to  ""  comes up which relates to chemicals in microwave popcorn linked to cancer and other things.  I don't like the thought of anything I eat causing cancer.  Triclosan is an edocrine blocker, a carcinogen and is used in pesticides, it's also found in toothpaste and antibacterial hand soaps, along with a host of other products "safe" for humans.  Once I found out about that, I cleaned the house out of anything with Triclosan or with the description of Microban.  Did I stop eating microwave popcorn? Of course.  

Now I was left with a problem.  Popping the popcorn on the stove was too much bother and mess. Although I felt a tinge of guilt because that's how I enjoyed the popcorn my "other dad", Jonce, makes it.  He then puts the popcorn in a giant paper bag, brings out a plate of cheddar cheese for us all to enjoy. Oh well, maybe there's another solution?

My kitchen, at the time, was way too small to keep a hot air popper on the counter.  What to do, what to do.  I wonder, will pop corn kernels pop in the microwave without all the chemicals?  Only one way to find out.  I got a paper lunch bag, left the bottom of the bag folded then poured some popcorn kernels in it along with a pat or two of butter.  Folded the top shut, placed it in the middle of the microwave just like I did with the store bought stuff, pressed the popcorn button and held my breath.  IT WORKED!  Extremely messy, not a lot of butter flavor, greasy bag full of freshly popped popcorn!  I poured it into a bowl, cut a serving of Colby cheese and ate with a giant smile on my face.  

The next time I popped my chemical free popcorn, I didn't add butter, just plain old pop corn kernels and a brown paper lunch bag.  The white ones get holes in them and tear easily, so I don't use them.  I then melt a tablespoon of butter, drizzle over the top add salt and enjoy with a serving of Colby cheese, cut into bite sized squares.  Handful of popcorn, bite of cheese, heaven.  

Delicious, Healthy and Chemical Free Popcorn:

Purchase 1 pack of brown paper lunch bags (about $3)
Purchase 1 jar of popcorn kernels (about $4)

3 Tablespoons of popcorn kernels
1 Brown paper lunch bag 

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt
1 serving of Colby cheese squares

Keep the lunch bag folded at the bottom
Pour in 3 tablespoons of popcorn (any more than that and it wastes the kernels as they will not all pop)
Seal the top with one fold and use fingernail to seal it very well
Place folded side down in middle of microwave
Press the "popcorn" button (or 3 minutes) on your microwave (all are different test to find your microwaves perfect popcorn time)
As with the store bought kind, listen until the popping is less than 3 seconds between pops so it doesn't burn.  

Melt the butter and pour over top, shake well then add salt, shaking to evenly coat.  
Serve with your choice of beverage and the cheese, it's a treat plus you've saved money and are not breathing nor eating dangerous chemicals.

Another good idea is to hold off on the butter, and cheese.  Instead use your favorite bite sized candy or sweet cereal with the popcorn.  In church camp, we watched a movie late one night and decided it would be fun to add candy to our popcorn.  We were right, fun and fantastically pleasing to the taste buds including the sweet tooth. 

Mini Chocolate chips
Mini boxes of cereal

I chose Fruit Loops and skittles, I can't say I've ever had better popcorn.  The combinations are endless, just remember two words; "Serving Size".  You'll do fine, if not, take an extra workout to burn off those calories!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slow Cooked Burgundy Beef Meatballs

Several years ago I discovered Rachel Ray.  Not literally, as in, I'm who found her and made her famous.  I mean, I found her show, "30 Minute Meals", on the Food Network.  I learned how to cook from her, mostly.  I did learn some things from my Mom and  Sister, but at a young age I was not interested in cooking, so foolishly, I didn't seek to learn from them.  Now, I want to  learn from them, from Rachel Ray and from anyone who is willing to give me recipes along with some instructions as needed.  One of my favorite, "30 Minute Meal" recipes is the Beef Burgundy, or Beef Bourguignonne, as is the official title.
Recently I was looking through a cook book and found a lovely slow cooker recipe for Meatballs in red wine.  That started the wheels turning, and I have combined the two recipes to come up with Burgundy Beef Meatballs.  My son liked the egg noodles, but not the meatballs.  He likes the regular meatballs with spaghetti sauce, but not so much the burgundy meatballs.  He is, after all, just 4 so I wasn't too surprised the flavor's didn't appeal to him.  My husband and I, however, devoured them, last night as well as tonight.  They taste even better when allowed to sit over night.  The meatball recipe I will give makes a lot of meatballs, so I used some for the spaghetti dinner one night then froze the remainder of them.
For the slow cooker, or crock pot, recipe you'll have to plan on eating this the next day.  The reason being, the meatballs need to be frozen in order to be able to cook them all day without turning them into golf balls.  It's worth it, trust me, I'm the queen of not wanting to take more than a few minutes or an hour to cook, much less one whole day, but you'll be glad you did!  Apparently, I'm also the queen of run-on sentences.

I'll give an alternative at the bottom though, if you don't want to wait.


2 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups regular bread crumbs
11/2  teaspoon cilantro leaves
1 large shallot finely diced
1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 strips thick cut bacon
2 tablespoons flour
Beef stock

Mix the all the ingredients together (except bacon, flour and stock)
Line a baking dish with foil
Shape into 'golf ball' sized balls, you'll want about 30 meatballs for the slow cooker
Place in prepared pan (no need to grease or use oil)
Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle

While the meatballs are baking:

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy
Remove and place on paper towel lined plate
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease
Keep heat on medium, add the flour and stir until combined and a lovely shade of light brown being careful not to burn
Add the beef stock 1/2 a cup at a time and stir with whisk until there are no lumps and the gravy starts to thin a bit
You don't want a very thick gravy
Crumble the bacon into the gravy
After the meatballs are cooked through, add them to the gravy and let them cool
Once cool, place the meatballs AND gravy in a zip lock baggie, or freezer safe container and place in the freezer overnight

The next day, or whenever you are ready to make the Burgundy Beef Meatballs, place the frozen meatballs with the gravy in your slow cooker and add the following:

1 bag Pearl Onions
4 sprigs of Thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Bay leaves
2 1/2 cups red wine
1 1/2  tsp dried Oregano
1 cup Sliced mushrooms (preferably not from a can)
2 cups of beef stock
1 cup water

Cook on high for 4 -5 hours or on low for 8 hours
Serve with egg noodles

If you don't want to wait overnight then simply add the above ingredients into the skillet with, a very thin, gravy. Add the meatballs, allow to simmer together for about 30 minutes, watching carefully that the gravy doesn't burn, or thicken too much.  Serve over egg noodles.

Store left overs together with the egg noodles, overnight in the fridge, you will love the way the flavors melt into each other.  Divine!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Classic Swiss Fondue with Kirschwasser

Classic Swiss Fondue with Kirschwasser

My sister, as I've stated before, is a wonderful cook as well as a contributor to this blog at times.   She creates many of her own recipes and re-creates many other recipes.  She is featured on  WDRB Fox News a lot during the Holiday's and various other times because of her expertise.  Click on the above link to see the segment.
I happen to enjoy going to the Melting Pot to eat, one of my  most favorite fondue is their Kirschwasser Fondue.  I never thought to ask my sister if she knew how to make that fondue. In fact, it never occurred to me to make it at home, at all.  I was pleasantly surprised when she shared this recipe on one of her segments titled, "Hosting a fondue party with Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen.  Of course I made it, of course I loved it and of course I've made it again to take to a dinner party, where everyone loved it as well.  

Classic Swiss Fondue:

Serves: 4-6


1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed
2 cups dry white wine, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, or my sisters favorite Halbtrocken Reisling
6 cups grated Swiss cheese; suggested 3 cups Jarlsberg and 3 cups of either Gruyere or Emmentaler
1-1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Kirsch


Rub garlic clove over sides and bottom of a large saucepan.  Pour in white wine and heat over medium high until small bubbles are visible (do not simmer or boil).
Meanwhile, toss cheese with cornstarch
Add handfuls of cheese to warm wine
Stir constantly to melt the cheese
When cheese is fully melted, add the next handful
Continue until all the cheese is added and melted
Never let the cheese boil
You may have to adjust the burner Temp during this process to prevent boiling

Add Kirsch to melted cheese 
Stir to incorporate
Grate a light dusting of nutmeg over the top then stir in

Pour into fondue pot
If mixture thickens, stir in a small amount of warmed wine

Serve with a variety of fresh veggies cut into bite sized pieces
Toasted French bread
Apples, grapes
Roasted beef or pork tenderloin cut into cubes

If you have any fondue left, my sister advises to pour it into a square container and place in the fridge.  The next day the cheese can be sliced and placed on bread for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.  Try placing sliced apples with the sliced Kirsch cheese and melt.  Delicious.

Are you wondering what Kirschwasser is?  Please see the link below for an in depth definition and history.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Australian Hamburger with pineapple and beets....

Australian Hamburger Picture
When I graduated from college, I moved to the beach.  I had a lot of fun and met a whole bunch of people from all over the world.  One person I met was from Australia, his name is Paul.  We were room mates with 3 other people.  Paul was an amazing fellow, very nice, although we had our moments where we didn't quite see eye to eye.  Isn't that the way it is with room mates?  One thing Paul could do was cook.  He introduced me to the Australian Hamburger.  I will never forget him working in the kitchen, then laying newspaper all over the floor (we didn't have any furniture, we were young!!).  He brought in a roll of paper towels and instructed me to sit on the newspapers.  He tucked several paper towels in my collar and brought me out the biggest hamburger I had ever seen.  He wouldn't tell me what was on it, until I had taken a bite.  Once convinced it was the greatest hamburger I'd ever tasted, which wasn't hard because it WAS and IS the greatest hamburger I'd ever tasted, he then told me the ingredients.  The ingredients included, pickled beets, cheese and an egg, over easy.  No, I am not kidding.  Yes, it was messy.  My Mom called midway through the burger.  Paul, who was seated on the floor laughing his head off at the sight of me covered in beet juice with egg yolk running down my elbows, answered the phone and told her I'd have to call her back since I was covered up, literally with dinner.  That is one of my best memories of Paul.  I never had another Australian Hamburger, but thought of them often.  I finally decided it was time.  I invited my friends John and Leslie over to try them with us.  The verdict, wonderful, fantastic, delicious, messy, get the idea. Next time I make them, I will use a "press" to keep the burger meat flat.  It balled up and made the burger so hard to eat that we all ended up eating it with a fork and knife.  Still delicious, but not the result I was actually looking for.  A meat press is cast iron, it is placed on top of bacon, hamburger patty's to keep them flat.   My son even enjoyed his version of the burger, which was basically bun, mayo, tomato and cheese with a little bit of meat.  He's not much of a meat eater, must be a recessive gene .  

Australian Hamburger:

1 lb Hamburger meat
1 package pork sausage
2 tablespoons butter
1 Large onion
4 eggs
4 pieces Canadian bacon
4 pineapple rings
8 slices Cheddar Cheese
1 large tomato
1 jar beet root, sliced
4 large pieces of Romain lettuce

In a large mixing bowl, mix the hamburger and sausage until well blended
Pat into nice round hamburger patty's
Cook until well done
use a "meat press" to keep the burger from becoming a big lump

Slice the beets, tomato, and prepare your lettuce

Use the same skillet for each of the following steps: 

1) Slice the onion into round slices, then separate each ring so you have a nice pile of  individual onion rings
    Melt the butter in a large skillet and caramelize the onions in the butter 
    Remove the onions and place on a paper towel, cover with foil to keep warm

2) Fry Canadian bacon
    remove and place on top of onions

3) Fry the eggs
    remove and place on top of bacon

4) Fry the pineapple ring

while the pineapple rings are frying, toast the buns and put mayo, mustard on them.

When the pineapple rings are warm and look a little golden brown, remove and put them on the bun along with the sliced beets.

Place the eggs, then bacon, then onions a slice of cheese, the hamburger patty and another slice of cheese and lettuce.  

Have plenty of napkins at hand, a large plate, a knife and fork in case the bun can't hold the burger.  ENJOY!!

Picture borrowed from "Burger Edge": "Burger Edge is one of Australia's fastest growing gourmet burger franchises."  The recipe is not from them. It's personal. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One Pot Chicken Pot Pie

I love this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.  I use to hate pot pies, with all the crust and meat, it was all too much for me. When I was a kid, I hated pot pie.  I didn't think there was anything good about serving a kid a pie crust filled with meat and vegetables.  I hadn't eaten a pot pie since  my Mom had served me the last one when I was a kid.  Here I am, several (cough) years later and I am in love with Chicken Pot Pie.  Another cook book received last Christmas, gave me the idea for this super easy, super fast recipe.  I modified it, of course.  My whole family adores this recipe, the Chicken pot pie does not last long in this house.

I have a 10" enameled cast iron pan that I cook/bake my pot pie in.  I posted a recipe for,Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken and this is what I did with the left over chicken.  There are only "so many days" one can eat the same thing.  Chef Michael Symon was commenting on his FB page about food waste, so I'm trying to keep my food waste down and join the  Food Network tackles food waste. In that spirit, I chopped up the remainder of the Lemon Chicken and added it to the pot pie recipe.  YUM!

Chicken Pot Pie:

1 Can Chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
Reduced fat milk
3 tbl spoons butter
2 shallots chopped
3 Carrotts chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
2 cups left over veggies you would like to use
1/3 cup flour
2 cups cooked chicken
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbl spoon cilantro chopped
1 frozen pastry pie crust

Melt butter in the same pan you will be baking the pot pie in and sautee the veggies until soft, sprinkle the salt.
Add the flour and slightly brown

In a measuring cup pour chicken broth and milk to make 2 cups add to the veggies and cook until the mixture boils and thickens.
Take the pie crust out of the tin and place on top of the pot pie.
I invert the tin and push it onto the mixture.  I don't  smooth it out because once it gets into the hot oven it will form to the pie.
With a sharp knife slice some steam vents in the crust.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown

Slow Cooked, Lemon Chicken

Last year I was given a large Crock Pot for Christmas, or slow cooker.  This year, I was given a fantastic cook book to go along with it.  It's called "Fix-It and Forget-It, Christmas Cookbook, 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes."  I am really enjoying this cookbook. There is nothing better than the smell of slow cooked meals permeating the house.
My husband picked out the Lemon Chicken recipe and I modified it a bit to suit how I like to cook.  I don't like to cook things before I, well, cook them.  So if a recipe calls for braising, or browning, I usually won't.  Such is the case with this recipe.

MY NOTES:  I did not brown the chicken pieces.  I used about 7 lbs of pre-cut thighs with the skin on.  I also didn't thaw the lemonade I just put it on top of the chicken and I added lots of pepper.  I love lemon pepper chicken.   I also added the cornstarch to the slow cooker at the beginning.  I got a little ahead of myself, as I just realized I was suppose to add it at the end.  While I was typing it into this blog to be exact.  It didn't make too much of a difference.  This recipe is delicious and could even be used as a BBQ for the summer.  The chicken is so tender it falls off the bone and most of the above ingredients are found in sweet BBQ sauce. I suggest adding some "red pepper flakes" for some kick and serving with baked beans and cole slaw.  A very versatile and delicious dinner!

"Lemon Chicken
Judy Newman
St. Mary's Ontario Canada
Fix-It and Forget-It by Phyllis Pellman Good
Good Books, Intercourse, PA 17534

Makes 10-12 servings

Prep. Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 5 qt.

1/4-1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
5-6 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces
2-4 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

  1. Combine flour and salt in a shallow bowl.  Dredge chicken pieces in it, one at a time.
  2. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet.  Brown several pieces of chicken in oil at a time.  Be careful not to crowd the skillet, or the chicken will steam and not brown.  Continue until all pieces are browned on both sides, adding more oil as necessary.
  3. As you finish browning pieces of chicken, place them in slow cooker.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together lemonade concentrate, brown sugar, ketchup and vinegar.  Pour over chicken 
  5. Cover.  Cook on High 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove chicken, place on platter, cover with foil and keep warm.
  7. In a small bowl blend cold water into cornstarch.
  8. Stir into juices in slow cooker until well blended. Cover and continue cooking juices several minutes, until thickened and bubbly.
  9. Spoon some of thickened juice over chicken to serve.
  10. Place remaining juices in serving bowl and pass as topping for chicken and cooked rice....."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Handmade Alpaca Wool winter hat & scarf, and a beaded faux collar

I found this beautiful beaded necklace in a box of my Omi's jewelry.  Mom had passed it on to me after Omi died.  I wasn't able to look through everything, it was just too hard.  I decided to make myself sit down and look, Omi's been in Heaven since December of 2006.  It was full of the lovely pins and things Omi loved.  As a young woman in Germany she had been a costume jewelry designer.  She loved to work with beads, needle point, cross-stitch, knitting so many creative ways to use her hands.  She still did her needle work until just before her death when her shaking hands made it difficult to yield a needle accurately.  It turns out, this beaded necklace belongs to my Mom but she never used it. I took one look and knew that I would put it to use.  What a creative way to dress up a plain sweater.  It's a necklace, but looks like a lace collar.  I just love it.  

Growing up I learned to crochet, cross-stitch and sew. I really enjoy making things, but mostly in the winter time.  I'm not very "crafty" in the spring or summer for some reason.  To me, there is nothing better than sitting in my recliner in front of a fire, with a nice cup of coffee reading or creating something.  I also like to see results pretty quickly, so crocheting was fun but it took so much time to make anything that it is a little frustrating for me.  It took me about 3-4 weeks to crochet my little boy a hat and scarf out of  Baby Alpaca wool, a little longer for the hat.  I wasn't very happy with the scarf but the hat I really like.

I have also made many Patchwork Stockings. I usually sew them by hand, but more recently I've gone to sewing them on the sewing machine.  I enjoy sewing, but with a small child it's nearly impossible to sit for any length of time in order to get anything done.  Sewing things together requires lining up the material and sewing in a straight line.  It's very hard to accomplish this when you pick it up, the put it down to do something, then pick it back up again.  Most of my time would be spent straightening it up, as well as, disentangling the thread.  Not fun.  Here are some examples of the stockings I've made.  The two on the sides I used a photo material to print off pictures and sew them into the stockings.  The middle stocking I started cross-stitching but realized 1/4 of the way through that it was off center.  My German grandmother, Omi, was the only person I knew that could fix it and enjoy the challenge of it.  Omi finished it, them my Mom completed it by sewing in a liner and the cuff.  It's very special to me, as you can imagine.

I decided to try knitting.  My friend Ana knits and makes a lot of things, quicker than I ever could crocheting.  While Mom was here, Ana came over and to everyone's surprise, Ana and Mom knit the same way.  What's so surprising about that?  Apparently there are different knitting methods, Mom referred to hers as "The German way", when she showed us, Ana told us that's the same way she knits.  The lady I now buy my Alpaca wool from knits the "American way", which looks much to complicated to me.  Between my Mom, Ana and a couple other sources, I have learned to knit.  Their method is relatively quick and easy.  I love it.  Here is one of the hats I've knitted.  I can knock out a hat in 2 to 3 days of knitting an hour or so a day.  I have found that Alpaca wool is very nice to knit with.  It seems to be easier and not so prone to knots as synthetic or blended yarns.  I have been knitting a scarf out of polyester and wool, it is taking me forever, it knots easily and doesn't seem to "flow" as nicely as the Alpaca wool.   I used a worsted weight (tan) and a sport weight (black) in this hat.  The sport weight was too fine for me to knit a hat for a man. It would have been good for a woman, but to dainty for a man's hat.  So I used them both.  It's a very soft and warm hat.  My husband has a tan one, and this one is for his co-worker who asked me to knit him one also.  They are outside a lot and these hats are so warm without being itchy.

I used circular needles to knit this hat.  A key to knitting with circular needles, use small needles with a circumference smaller than you want the hat to be.  Otherwise the yarn will stretch and the hat will be misshapen.   I wasn't sure how to finish the top of the hat, so while at the Alpaca farm I asked Mary how she did it.  She told me to use "double-pointed" needles.  I didn't want to take up any more of her time, so I went to the craft store, bought a small "learn to knit" guide, some double-pointed needles and went home.  The instructions were a little confusing, so I figured it out myself.  I kept dropping stitches trying to knit with the end of each double-pointed needle.  I found using an empty needle to knit onto is easier.  I knit this hat to the very last stitch on top then tied it off, using a crochet hook to work the tail of yarn into the hat.
No recipes today, maybe some advice.  If you feel like you don't have anything to do, find something.  Knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, puzzles.....just keep your mind active in a positive way.  If you don't know how to knit, look on "you tube" there are many very nice instructional videos to be found on there.  I found a site that shows, step-by-step, how to crochet lovely flowers....I can't wait to get started!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Slow Cooked, White wine & Plum Chicken Breasts

I got a Slow-cooker cook book for Christmas.  It is super!  I found a delicious recipe for slow cooking chicken breasts.  The only problem, I didn't have some of the ingredients.  I didn't want to go back out to get them so I created my own recipe with the help of my Mother-in-law, Susan.  When I was listing the ingredients I would be using, she suggested using the dried plums, or prunes.  It added a really nice flavor undertone.

Slow Cooked, White wine & Plum Chicken Breasts:

4 large frozen Chicken Breast (skinless)
Fresh Ginger root
10 dried plums (prunes) *see note
2 cups White Wine
1 can of Chicken Stock
1 package of French Onion Soup mix
3 crushed garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a slow cooker, place the frozen chicken breasts
Pour wine & Chicken stock over the chicken
Sprinkle the dry soup mix on the moistened chicken so it sticks a little
Peel the ginger-root then cut about 10 thin slices of ginger and place in the cooker
Add the remaining ingredients
Cook on Low for 3-4 hours

*Note: I must say it turned out very well, just one note of caution.  The fruit absorbed the taste of the alcohol and ginger, so I wouldn't recommend eating it.