Slow Cooker Chicken & Mixed Mushroom Casserole

I couldn't find this recipe from my favorite slow cooker cookbook anywhere on the Internet, and while I usually just find one that's similar enough to share I didn't want to risk it with this one.  I've had too many bad casseroles in my life (sorry Mom, but you have to admit they were always bland, sticky, mushy, high calorie/fat messes!), but the reason I wanted to try this one is because of the relatively unique mix of ingredients and seasonings that made me confident it would be delicious and healthy. Adapted from the cookbook "Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever"   Serves 6-8
Slow Cooker Peach Sage Pork Loin (DIY)
This is a newly created dish based on some random ingredients I had in the house that I wanted to use up...but it came out pretty delicious so I thought I'd share!  Really easy and straightforward as long as you start it first thing in the morning.  This is the approach I took, but in the spirit of DIY feel free to experiment based on whatever ingredients you have on hand!
Root Vegetable Tagine with Spice Roasted Chickpeas

This was a new recipe for us (from Bon Appétit’s Oct, 2010 issue), but it sounded like a delicious and hearty vegetarian Sunday supper so we gave it a try.  I say it’s a Sunday supper, simply because it is labor intensive...about 2 hours from start to finish (including 35-40 minutes simmering time).  It’s the type of recipe that scares off a novice cook just based on the long list of ingredients and multiple steps, but in reality it is all very easy...just takes a bit of time to do all of the chopping and seasoning steps. Stay organized and prep everything (like your own little mise en place) before you start actually cooking and it will go just fine!

One shortcut is to use pre-ground spices...but for the ones it recommends toasting, feel free to still do that with the powder (just really keep an eye on it since it will burn super quickly) to really enhance the flavors.  Also, the spiced chickpeas are a must...do not skip those!  I found that they could use a bit more seasoning though so feel free to go heavy handed.  A dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt on top of this dish would be a nice addition as well. 
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter & Bittersweet Chocolate

The one big, perfect ravioli!

This is one of our favorite pasta recipes...we’ve been making it since 2005 when I think I first saw it on Michael Chiarello’s then Food Network Show.  Over the past years though it has become even better because we’ve started making homemade pasta (with my fancy Kitchen Aid attachment...makes homemade pasta so easy!  We honestly never buy any flat noodled dry pasta anymore). But don’t fear, you certainly don’t have to go that far to make this dish a winner, feel free to buy pasta sheets.  The filling is sweet, rich and complex while the sage butter sauce is rich and savory (put lots more sage than it calls for if you like sage...it’s so yummy in this dish).  And then finishing it off with shavings of bittersweet chocolate is pure genius!
Giada’s Osso Bucco with Cheesy Polenta

So Osso Bucco seems like something that shouldn’t be on a regular recipe rotation, but ever since I first made this recipe two New Years Eve’s ago I’m looking for every excuse I can to make it again!  And Giada's Cheesy Polenta, while certainly not healthy, is absolutely to die for! This Sunday I'm using the excuse of welcoming Christian’s mom here after she flies in from Massachusetts to make this indulgent dish again.
Chicken & Dumplings

This is a DIY day recipe!  So feel free to be creative and create your own recipe, go on-line and find a new recipe or make something else entirely.  That’s the beauty & flexibility of DIY Days in the Menu.

However, if your curious here is my general approach for this dinner when I make it...I grew up eating this so it has evolved from my mother’s recipe over the years:
Gnocchi with Radicchio, Pancetta, Pine Nuts & Rosemary
I love making gnocchi...especially on a cloudy Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine in hand, fun and relaxing.  The one trick is that you really do need a potato ricer to get the gnocchi to be the right consistency.  I’ve tried other methods and shortcuts before, but finally had to give in and get a potato ricer and it’s worth it (great for uber-creamy mashed potatoes as well!).  This flavors in this recipe from the December 2010 Bon Appéitt are divine...but I don’t know how you go wrong with pancetta and rosemary.
Julia Child’s Coq au Vin

What can I say...it’s Julia Child’s Coq au Vin!  Cognac flaming, wine bubbling, careful and precise sautéing of onions and mushrooms....all resulting in an amazingly delicious Sunday dinner (I know the menu said Friday, but we got a little busy and had to switch things up). To be fair, it’s a bit of a labor intensive dish, but most of Julia’s classic dishes are and the payoff is well worth it.  Flavorful and succulent chicken, melt in your mouth onions and mushrooms, and a sauce that you’ll be tempted to lick off your plate!