Amber’s First Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Dinner

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.52.20 AMHi everyone! My name is Amber Dietrich, and I’m the VP of Market Operations here at Artizone. I am also a loving mom, a wife (yes, also loving), a runner, a reader and a lover of travel. What am I not? A cook.

Like many other people my age, my parents divorced when I was young and my mom had to work full time to take care of us kids. That didn’t leave her much time to teach us skills in the kitchen. Fast forward to today, and I’ve found myself in a job where I’m surrounded by the most amazing food you can imagine. I’ve also got a hungry two-year-old and a desire to cook great meals for my family.

Monday through Friday is often a blur, so I have committed to making one new recipe every weekend. If you’re also new to cooking, follow my posts and learn with me. If you’re a seasoned veteran, leave me some comments and help me get better!

Crock Pot Chicken & Roasted Carrots*

*Adapted from

As far as recipes go, this one is about as easy as it gets. There are very few ingredients, it all comes together quickly and it’s fall-off-the-bone delicious once it’s done. Serve with a side of simple roasted carrots, and you’ve got a meal for the entire family.

Ingredients for Chicken:

1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs)
1 medium yellow onion,
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for Carrots:

1 bunch organic carrots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Step 1

To start, remove giblets from inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat it dry with some paper towels. Put all the spices in a small container with a lid and give it a few good shakes (if you’re like me, you can choose to sing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift as you do this). Mix your seasonings together and rub them all around the outside of the chicken. Chop the onion and put the pieces in your slow cooker.

Step 2

Place the seasoned chicken breast side down on top of the onions. Do not add liquid—the chicken will produce enough juices as it cooks. Set your crockpot on high and let the chicken and onion cook for four to five hours, depending on the size of the chicken.

Step 3

If you are cautious about cooking meat, insert a meat thermometer into a meaty part of the chicken and make sure it reads at least 180° before you take it out of the slow cooker.

This is what the chicken will look like when it is done:

Finished Chicken

Now get ready for the best carrots you have ever had in your life. First, preheat your oven to 400° and wash your organic carrots. The ones I chose were so beautiful that I didn’t peel the outer layer off, but you can peel yours if you prefer. Cut the carrots in half and then into equal parts so they cook as evenly as possible.

Ingredients Cropped

In a bowl, combine oil, salt and pepper. Toss in your carrot pieces, and coat them on all sides with your hands. Lay them out flat on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are brown and tender.

2nd Carrot Pic

When they are finished, place them in a bowl and serve them along side the chicken. A warning: these carrots are so good, your family will ask for more. You may want to make a double batch.

Last Carrot Pic

What I would do differently next time: My chicken was just over four pounds and it cooked for four and a half hours before I first checked it. It read close to 190° on the thermometer, so next time I would check it right at four hours.

Bon Appétit!


Posted in Community, Company News, Dallas, Entrees, Food Products, Grocery, How-to & Tips, Meat & Seafood, Produce, Recipe Contributor Profiles, Recipes, Specialty Items, Weekends with Amber | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five ways to elevate your apple pie

apple piesIt’s true that a classic never dies. Take the Little Black Dress. It’s said that every woman should have one in her closet. But if you’re like us, you’re thinking, “Just one?” Mini, midi, maxi, halter, V-neck, bateau, strapless, sleeveless, wrap—we’ll take one of each, please.

We feel the same way about apple pie. Don’t get us wrong: We love a classic flaky crust, a warm, cinnamon-y filling and a scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream, but sometimes we like to take our apple pie for a walk on the wild side. And because apple pie is one of the most popular desserts served this time of year, we’ve got five ideas for five very different apple pies.

In this recipe for Tennessee Fried Apple Pies with Vanilla Bean and Bourbon, tart apples get the Southern treatment with sweet brown sugar, fresh vanilla bean and smoky bourbon. Frozen pie crust—you also can use refrigerated biscuit dough or frozen puff pastry—takes much of the work out preparing these turnover-like treats.

If you can’t get enough of those salted caramel lattes, you’ll have to give this recipe for Four and Twenty Blackbirds Salted Caramel Apple Pie a try. Here you’ll be making everything from scratch, including the salted caramel. It will be so worth it, though, when you take that first bite of gooey goodness.

For another take on the sweet-and-salty profile, check out this recipe for Cheddar-Crusted Apple Pie. Cheddar, with its full, sharp flavor, is a well-known complement to the crisp tartness of the Granny Smith apple.

Those planning a brunch or special breakfast will want to look into this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie. Much like the fried apple pies, this recipe makes use of refrigerated cinnamon roll dough, which makes throwing it all together considerably easier.

And if you’ve never been able to choose between apple and pecan pie, this Topsy-Turvy Apple Pie recipe promises the best of both worlds. The bottom crust is bejeweled with pecans and brown sugar, and the pie is turned upside down on a serving plate just before serving so that the bottom crust becomes the topping.

Posted in Bakery, Community, Dallas, Desserts, Food Products, How-to & Tips, Recipes, Specialty Items | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halloween treats for adults

Trix might be for kids, but that doesn’t mean trick-or-treating is the sole province of the pint-sized set. Well, sort of. We’re not suggesting you throw on a costume and hit up your neighbors up for fun-size candy bars, but with so many Artizone artisans creating special confections, there’s no reason you can’t stock a second candy bowl for the grownups.

Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate uses locally sourced ingredients for her decadent dark chocolate products. Her Loco for Coco chocolate bar, with its notes of honey and coconut, hits a sweet spot, while her Albatross truffles incorporate dehydrated blue cheese for an unexpected acidity that rounds out the dense and creamy fudge.

pic 1Chocolate Secrets is known for its beautifully elegant chocolate creations. The Ancho Chili artisan chocolate bar is a sweet and spicy blend of all-natural and organic ingredients created in small batches and hand-painted with a festively fiery design. For the ultimate palate pleaser, a box of bonbons offers a jewel box of color in unique flavors you’ll be pleased to share … or savor on your own.

At Dallas Caramel Company, Rain McDermott crafts small-batch caramels using fresh, all-natural ingredients. In addition to perfecting the classic caramel, McDermott delights in experimenting with unique flavor profiles such as chipotle caramels, whiskey caramels and, just in time for fall, pumpkin caramels.

For a two-bite indulgence, check out Jaime Wiggins’ Amazeballz. Devotees of the Reese’s peanut butter cup will have to give her chocolate peanut butter cake balls a try.

Pumpkin Cakeballs ScaryIsabelle Albert of Isabelly’s Sweet Treats serves up a different take on cake balls. We’re especially loving her pumpkin cake balls, which are coated in white chocolate and then dressed up with orange sprinkles to look like sweet little pumpkins.

And if you’re planning to stay in Halloween night to hand out candy, you can sweeten the deal for parents on trick-or-treat duty by stocking a bowl with a variety of airline-size bottles of alcohol. You can be sure yours won’t be the yard that gets TP’ed later in the evening.

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Amazeballz Cake Balls, Bakery, Chocolate Secrets, Community, Company News, Dallas, Dallas Caramel Company, Dude, Sweet Chocolate, Food Products, How-to & Tips, Isabelly's Sweet Treats, Specialty Items | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrate National Pretzel Month with Gnarly Knots

Did you know October is National Pretzel Month? To celebrate, today’s blog post is guest written by Funi Daniels, co-owner of Gnarly Knots:

Guten Tag and all that rot. It’s October, and that means that it’s National Pretzel Month! It’s a magical time when the world (or anyone who understands the vast importance of bread baked to perfection) comes together to celebrate and EAT!!!

My name is Funi Daniels, and I am the co-owner of Gnarly Knots Pretzel Company. We specialize in the very best bread product on the planet: Pretzels! Today, I am here to counter the myths over the ease of making the perfect pretzel. I am here to tell you that it is no easy task, but aspiring to perfection is so darn worth it! We’ve worked years to perfect our craft. We’ve lost sleep, laughed, cried and wept over (of all things?) bread! But when we finally got it right, well….it was a thing of beauty.

Matt Finn (the partner and all around awesome beau) and I got our start in the Pretzel game as part of a ‘Iron Chef’ competition we used to do with friends in Seattle where we met. It was a German Theme and Tomato and Tenderloin were the secret ingredients. We decided to try our hands at making Pretzel Tenderloin Sandwiches with a Sundried Tomato Mustard. They were AMAZING!!!

I love the history behind the pretzel. It dates back all the way to 610 A.D. The famous man who made it all happen was a simple monk rewarding children for saying their prayers. He took scraps of bread dough and twisted them in a way that children back then used to pray. That is where the pretzel shape came from…as for the flavor? Well, that was another story. One that involves a clumsy apprentice in the kitchen, who tripped and dropped a tray of ready to bake dough onto the used ash on the floor.

Instead of getting rid of the dough, he baked it, and low and behold found that the ash brought a whole new element to the baking process that had never been seen (or tasted) before! Today, pretzel makers use this same process, but instead of using soot, we use Sodium hydroxide to dip our dough into, thus causing the same chemical reaction.


The products that we provide for artizone, our Pretzel Chips, are all started with the basic core of a baked pretzel. We take all the elements of making a pretzel: making the dough, letting it rise, portioning it, rolling it into the fabulous pretzel shape, letting it rise again and develop a skin, dipping it in lye and baking it to golden loveliness. Then we take those perfectly baked pretzels and slice them only to be rebaked into a wonderful crisp chip!

We have four flavors to date: Original (all Pretzel, twice baked!) Cheese (an awesome combination of Monterey Jack and Asiago Cheese), Caramelized Onion (we do slow cook onions until they are caramelized, then grind them down into a slurry which we dip each chip into before baking) or Sofrito.

The Sofrito is my favorite and in fact an old family recipe. My family hails from Puerto Rico. Any Puerto Rican worth his weight in rice has a family Sofrito recipe and mine is no different. The core flavor of Sofrito is Onion, Pepper and Garlic.

Watch our spot on Chicago’s Best, where you can see how we run our operation, including the illusive question on how to twist a pretzel and how to ‘stuff’ a pretzel! Know that we love our product so much that we often lose sleep over it. We want our pretzels to be the very best you’ve ever tasted, whether it be soft and lovely or crisp and delicious. Thank you for reading and Gluchliches Oktoberfest!!

Posted in Gnarly Knots | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Artisanal Halloween Treats and Eats (as featured on WGN)

Yes, you need to stock up on a ton of traditional candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters. However, there are lots of opportunities to get creative (and maybe even a little spooky) with your food in anticipation of Halloween. We partnered with Selena Kohng of How About Cookie fame to feature our artisanal products as inspiration for creative Halloween treats and eats that you and your kids can make at home together.

Tune into WGN Midday on Friday, October 24th. We’ll be demoing these Halloween treats and talking how-to. Check out the shopping list for each creation below and pick up everything you need to make these goodies yourself at home. 

Macaron Jack-O-Lantern:



1. Cut 3 triangle shapes and a smile shape using kitchen scissors. Apply with a dab of your binder to make them stick onto the macaron. Cut a small piece of apple for the stem and stick into the macaron filling.


Cookie Bats:



1. Cut bat wings using half of a heart-shaped cutter for the top arch, and the curve of the heart for the bottom two. Alternatively, use kitchen scissors to cut freehand.

2. Using tweezers, melt a white chocolate chip one at a time, pointed side down, on a pan over lowest heat. As soon as the pointed side melts to create a level disc, transfer to the cookie; the melted chocolate will cool and stick.

3. Repeat with a second chocolate chip for the second eye. Using a small circle fondant cutter, cut circles out of the fruit leather and stick onto white chocolate chips with your binder to finish the eyes. Alternatively, use mini chocolate chips.


Marshmallow Ghosts:



1. Prepare hot chocolate using package directions. Use the same chocolate chip melting method as the one for the cookie bats for the eyes and mouth of each ghost. Use “ghosts” in hot chocolate, or stick with skewers to dunk in hot chocolate or make homemade s’mores.


Haunted House:

photo (1)



1. Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or steam them for a quicker cook time.

2. Meanwhile, make two large pancakes according to package directions. Use online images as a guide to cut a haunted house silhouette with kitchen scissors. The more uneven your lines, the better! Lay the house shape on your late.

3. Cut windows and door from dried mango slices using kitchen scissors.

4. Use a circle cutter to cut a moon from the cheese and lay on the plate. Once the potatoes are done, slice in half, then cut 1/2″ slices and add small cuts to create cloud shapes. Lay them on the plate, some overlapping the moon.

Posted in Chicago | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment