Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chicken and Green Beans Skillet

I actually followed this recipe for Chicken Green Bean and Rice Skillet Dinner from Moms Who Think pretty accurately! I did substitute actual rice for instant rice because my rice cooker easily cooked the rice I needed while everything else was cooking on the stove. (Two cups of rice takes about 20 minutes.)

Also, as you can see when comparing my photo with the above linked page's photo, my chicken pieces were smaller (we had bought tenders rather than full-sized breasts), which made it more of a bowl dinner than a plate dinner. And I skipped the French-fried onions because meh, nor did I serve with rolls and corn. I don't think we had any veggies (yeah, yeah, corn is a grain) with this other than the green beans that are part of the dish, which is really what attracted me to this recipe in the first place. I like meals that are all-in-one. Quick, easy, healthy, and compact. I love casseroles.

I highly recommend both this skillet dish and the website from whence it came. I've pulled a few recipes from their list of Quick and Easy 30 Minute Chicken Meals. There is also a section for slow cookers, casserolesfreezer meals, and more! I am not sure how I came across this site. Pinterest might be to blame. (Or thank. I think thank in this case.)

So this hasn't been a very involved update. I hope I have passed on a great resource, though. I like sharing resources as much as my kitchen follies, which have become less frequent lately. I must be improving!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Almond Chicken in the Slow Cooker


Funny thing about this dish. It's called "Almond Chicken" and we totally forgot to put the almonds on it! Oops! Obviously, it didn't need them, though I would like to make it again and include them to see what it is supposed to taste like. (We still have the almonds; they're unopened in the cupboard.) Anyway... This is another easy recipe from 200 Slow Cooker Creations (the same book as last week's Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken). 

Ingredients:

1 14oz can of chicken broth (or turkey if you're me)
2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (again, turkey if you're me)
2 T butter
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup dried minced onions
1 4oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 T soy sauce
1/2 tspn salt
1 1/2 cups diagonally sliced celery (optional)
Cooked rice
1 cup toasted slivered almonds (or not - oops!)

Instructions:

"Combine all ingredients except the rice and almonds in a greased 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice and sprinkle with the almonds."

Easy, right? And very flavorful, even without the almonds! Of course, our version with the turkey broth (Greg is allergic) and turkey bacon (I can't digest most pig products) is automatically going to taste different than the original recipe. I really don't think this detracted from the end result. The almonds would give it a nice crunch. Slow cookers aren't really known for adding crunch to things, unless it overcooks and things burns. We opted for the celery, which I enjoyed, but was definitely not crunchy after cooking for so long in broth. 

As I said, I'd make this again. 3 to 4 hours is really not very long in terms of slow cookers, so I don't even need a lot of time to plan for it. I'll have to check 200 Slow Cooker Creations and see what other goodies it has for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken

Between my two hourly jobs in a bookstore and a gift shop, I am surrounded by all manner of fun and interesting cookbooks. Also between said jobs and writing for the Journal, this blog, my fiction, and working on the house, I'm kept pretty busy. And until recently, Greg has been on mandatory 6 days a week, so neither one of us has a lot of time, and one of the things that can suffer as a result is dinner. This is why we make frequent use of our slowcooker! This recipe comes from the book 200 Slow Cooker Creations which I found at Catching Fireflies.

Creamy Black Bean Salsa Chicken (makes 3-5 servings)

Ingredients:
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth*
1 cup salsa
1 15oz can corn, drained
1 15oz can black beans, drained
1 envelope taco seasoning (or use homemade)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

*As usual, we substituted turkey broth for chicken because Greg is allergic to chicken broth. 

This is the first recipe I have seen that has advised me to grease my slowcooker before adding ingredients. Right on! Next, you put in the chicken breasts and "pour the broth, salsa, corn, beans, and taco seasoning all over the chicken." Put on the lid and cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours or 3 to 4 hours on high.

Once cooked, "remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a serving dish. Add the sour cream and cheese to the sauce in the slow cooker and then pour over the chicken." Greg ended up just putting the chicken with sauce onto plates, then putting on the cheese and sour cream there (or just cheese in his case because he doesn't like sour cream). If it were me, I'd do what the recipe instructs and mix the sour cream and cheese into a creamy sauce, which is more or less what ended up happening on the plate as we ate anyway.


Super simple, this recipe was full of flavor. We dipped tortilla chips in the leftover sauce, which is when it occurred to us that if we made this again and shredded the chicken, it would make an excellent dip! We may make this again soon, even with Greg off 6 days, because the slowcooker doesn't heat up the kitchen nearly as much as the oven or stove do, and we avoid using the air conditioning as much as possible (haven't turned it on once yet this summer).

It will be nice to be in the house where there is a window in the kitchen to let built up heat escape through (what a novelty!). We also want to install a ceiling fan to help circulate air as the house does not have air conditioning at all. I can't wait to cook our first meal in the house! There will probably be lots of pictures. Wait for it.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Breakfast Shake

I have no idea where this recipe comes from. I wish I did because I'd like to find more! I was going through random scrap papers one day - old receipts, notes to myself, lists of books to read - and found this recipe scribbled on one of them, which means it probably came from one of the many books we carry at one of my two hourly jobs. Which does not narrow the source down. 

Here is a picture of the recipe:


I use 1 small banana or 1/2 of a large one because bananas can have a really strong flavor sometimes, especially when very ripe. I also use peanut butter because I like it, and it is cheap. Obviously, sun butter or another kind of butter can be substituted, as well as non-dairy milk alternatives (almond would be nice) to make this shake more allergy friendly. I also use medjool dates 1) because that is all the Meijer in Belleville carries and 2) they are stupid delicious. I eat them on their own now when I am feeling a sugar craving. Nature's candy? I think so. 

There is one other ingredient I have started adding that is not listed: chia seeds. Yes, like a chia pet. Like flax seeds, chia seeds are high in omega-3s and fiber. Unlike flax seeds, they are not obnoxiously crunchy and kind of disgusting. (I tried flax. I stopped.) Chia seeds actually turn into teeny tapioca-like globules, kind of like the pearls that I don't like in bubble tea. (Do people still drink bubble tea?) In a smoothie like this, the chia seeds turn into gummy pellets, thickening the shake, and go largely unnoticed.

I layer the ingredients in my blender in the order listed in the recipe (unlisted chia seeds last) because there is no real reason not to. I have learned starting with the milk, at the very least, is best since my blender has cup markings on it and if I add the banana first, as has happened, I screw up my measuring of the milk. My blender is old (from before grounded electrical outlets), but it works amazingly well. Better than a modern smoothie maker that my mother gave me when she didn't need it anymore. (It smoothed nothing.) 

If I measure correctly, I can get two servings out of this. What I end up doing a lot of the time is pour what will fit into a 12 oz glass container that, in a former life, was home to Nantucket Nectars Grapeade. The rest I put into a cup and drink on the spot. I find the glass bottle very useful for storing the shake in the fridge for later use, or, more often, taking with me to work since I often don't eat breakfast before heading in as I am not usually hungry first thing in the morning. (Probably because we don't eat dinner until very late most nights.) I once made a double batch, enough to ensure I had breakfast for that day and the next two. The blender did not explode chocolate everywhere. (Lucky!)

I really like this shake, and I drink it for more than breakfast now. To avoid buying things like Caramel Ice Dragons and Pringles from Sweetwaters while at work, I bring this shake with me. It helps! I just need more glass bottles to store them in. Maybe it's time to wash out some old mason jars and start matching up lids. Which means it also might be time to make some refrigerator oatmeal, a delightful summer breakfast that I discovered last year. (This is also where I got the idea to add chia seeds to this shake.) It's good to vary up a routine, right?