Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Slow Cooker: Mediterranean Chicken and Rice

I was recently struck with inspiration, which means I'm finally returning to making new foods. I've even decided to make a dinner menu for the week on Sundays with at least one new recipe each week. I've also decided that using the slow cooker is going to be my new favorite thing. Nearly a year ago I got a few cookbooks from my old neighbors, only of them focusing only on slow cooker recipes. We have 3 slow cookers, so it only makes sense to use one of them once a week. It'll be an adventure in cooking. And it'll be delicious. (I hope.)

This week's new recipe was for Mediterranean Chicken and Rice made in a slow cooker. I will rate the prep-time for this recipe as medium (prep-time meaning the amount of time it takes to prepare and throw everything into the pot). There isn't much you can do with this the night before, so everything will need to be assembled in the morning. It turned out good, tasted very Italian, and was a bit too oily. I will have to skim the oil off the top next time before stirring it.

Mediterranean Chicken and Rice

1 to 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup wild rice blend
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup capers, drained
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

First, wipe down the inside of the slow cooker pot to get any dust off of it. Then spray it with olive oil cooking spray. (This isn't 100% necessary, but is a good idea in general to make the cleaning process easier!)

Lightly pound the chicken so that all pieces have an even thickness. Apply salt and pepper to the chicken, to taste. (Don't literally taste it at this point. That's just unhealthy.)
Once seasoned, place the chicken into the slow cooker.

Add the rice, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers. (I used a wild and brown rice blend. As seems typical with the wild rice, some of it didn't cook at all.)
Smash the garlic. (Smashing garlic means to dice it and then smush it with the side of a knife. I did not know this during my prep. Tossing in crushed whole garlic cloves also works fine, but most likely results in a weaker garlic flavor.)
Mix the ingredients up a bit.

In a bowl, stir together the water, lemon juice, and oil.

Pour the liquid over the chicken and rice mixture. Stir slightly to cover ensure the chicken is covered.

Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 hours. Do not remove the lid. If you are curious about what's happening inside of the pot, use the flashlight on your cell phone to peek in.
After 8 hours, it should look something like this. (Feel free to check it with a meat thermometer at this point.)

Stir the ingredients together and then put some on a plate. (Recommendation: Skim off some of the oil before stirring things up.)


Recipe modified from the Crock Pot Chicken Cookbook. In case anyone was wondering, you cannot copyright a list of ingredients, only the directions.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spanish Rice

One of the most difficult parts of cutting dairy out of my diet is that most side dishes I like include cheese or milk. (Which means I can't eat them anymore.) I'm finding new foods to replace these, but it's a slow process. This rice is something I combined together after doing some internet searching and it goes very well with chicken.

The amounts listed below should work fine. The only things I don't measure are the peppers, onion, or taco seasoning. The amounts you use will depend on how much you like those flavors. I forgot to add the garlic while making the rice this last time. It is much better with the garlic, so don't forget the garlic. This recipe is also for one serving, which means you may need to adjust it accordingly. And finally, you can use white rice, but it's the same thing as brown rice, just naked.

Spanish Rice
1/4 C brown rice
3/4 C water (or go with what the bag of rice says)
2 T bell pepper, chopped
2 T onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T salsa
1/4 t taco seasoning
1/2 T canola oil

Chop up the peppers, onion, and garlic.
(garlic not pictured due to forgetfulness. peppers icy looking due to being frozen.)
Measure out rice, salsa, and water. Set aside.
(thought you might like to see some salsa)
Saute the peppers, onion, and garlic in the oil over medium low heat until the onion starts to turn translucent. (not pictured because my phone decided to restart at this point.)

Add the rice and saute until browned.

Pour in the water and salsa along with the desired amount of taco seasoning. Stir it all together and then bring it to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer according to directions on the rice bag. Rice should be cooked properly.

Caution, the rice will be very hot. I have not learned this yet and I keep burning my mouth.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Taco seasoning

While I haven't used this for tacos, it is a version of what recipes call for when they list "taco seasoning" as an ingredient. I suppose this could more realistically be called "Mexican seasoning" since it goes into a variety of Mexican style foods. I realized it was silly to pay around $1 for a packet of mixed spices when I had all of the spices in my kitchen, so I searched for recipes and created this based on my findings.

This is super easy to make and will most likely save you money over time. I tend to double the recipe whenever I need to mix more. Just be sure to keep the mixed spices in container with lid that seals. This recipe produces a rather mild seasoning. If you want it to be spicier, increase the amount of cayenne pepper.

Taco (Mexican) seasoning

1 T chili powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t ground red (cayenne) pepper
1/4 t oregano
1/2 t paprika
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Measure out all of the ingredients in a container that has a lid the seals.

Put the lid on the container and shake up the ingredients.

Now you have 2 2/3 Tablespoons, or 8 teaspoons of seasonings, taco seasoning!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

As you may know, chicken fajitas are one of my favorite foods. They are also the food which made me realize that any food made with chicken, peppers, and onions is probably delicious (as long as it's kept simple). Now that have a slow cooker (and the added benefit of someone being at home to tend to the slow cooker when needed), I've decided to find new recipes so I can use the thing. One of the first recipes I found to try was for a "mexican style chicken" which I modified to be more like fajitas!

I found this recipe during a random Google search. While not exactly fajitas, they are amazingly delicious (and they also seem healthy!). I'll include instructions for cilantro lime rice at the end since I can't have fajitas without rice. I like to use fresh veggies when cooking, but you can skip the first few steps if you buy them frozen. I do all the prep work for this the night before and place everything in the freezer or fridge. All of the ingredients in this recipe can be adjusted to taste.

As a final note, this reheats extremely well.

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas (cook time: 7-8 hours on low)
1 lb of chicken, frozen
1 to 2 C bell peppers, sliced and frozen
1/2 of a white onion, sliced and frozen
4.5 oz can of chopped green chilies
14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 C chicken broth
1 to 2 T taco seasoning

Clean and slice up the bell peppers. I suggest getting a mix of colors.

Clean and slice up the white onion.

Place the peppers and onions in a freezer bag and place in the freezer.

(One day I might use fresh tomatoes and chilies, but for now I buy them in a can.)

Spray the inside of the slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Pour in the chicken broth, tomatoes, chilies, and taco seasoning.
Stir up the contents, put the lid on the insert, and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

8-ish hours before you plan to eat, assemble the slow cooker. Add the frozen chicken, peppers, and onions. Stir the contents and turn the slow cooker on low.

After 6 or 7 hours (whenever the chicken is fully cooked), pull apart the chicken with a fork. You want the chicken to be shredded, not in chunks. (No pictures of this since I'm not the one who does it!)

Stir up the contents and let it cook for another hour.

Warm up some tortillas and scoop the chicken onto the tortillas. Enjoy!
(Note: The final product is a bit soupy, so you may want to strain the chicken before placing it on your tortillas. Or just eat it with a fork, like I do.)

I like to have this chicken with cilantro lime rice, so here is a recipe for that:

Cilantro lime rice
1 C water
1/2 C rice
1/4 lime
1 t cilantro (or to taste)
salt (to taste)

(Optional) Sauté the uncooked rice in oil over medium heat until lightly brown.
Add the water, heat until boiling.
Reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes (until tender and water is evaporated).
Remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork.
Add the juice of the lime, the cilantro, and salt. Stir.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Duncan Hines Simple Mornings muffin mix

This post is a quick review of Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Wild Maine Blueberry premium muffin mix. The verdict is that this box of muffin mix makes delicious muffins. I will be buying these again and recommend them to anyone who likes blueberry muffins.

A good muffin recipe seems to be a difficult thing to find. I have a few recipes that I use, but they are either too heavy or too sweet. Because of this, I occasionally buy packages of muffin mix so I don't have to go through all that work for inadequate muffins. A few weeks ago I found this muffin mix at the store and it immediately ended up in my basket. When I got home I made the muffins and ate 3 of them soon after baking.

When I bought this muffin mix I didn't realize that it included real blueberries, even though it says so right on the box. The blueberries were packed in a tin with water. They weren't overly squishy and were in decent condition.

The batter was easy to mix. Just add eggs, oil, and water. (I didn't see dry milk in the ingredient list, so that's an extra bonus for me. I can consider this a dairy free snack!)

It makes enough batter for 12 medium sized muffins or 6 large muffins. Possibly 24 mini muffins.

They baked nicely and the blueberries didn't sink to the bottom, which is always a worry when baking with berries!

I'm glad Duncan Hines made this new muffin mix and I hope the stores here continue to carry it. It isn't expensive and makes muffins that are much better than the ones I can buy at the store bakery! The box also has directions to make a quick bread out of the mix, but I haven't tried that yet.