Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole

As you have probably figured out by now, I love to be able to throw something in the slow cooker and forget about it… I also love Mexican (or really Tex-Mex) type foods. A friend posted this one (one of those 30-second videos) on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I have been salivating about it ever since.

When I finally sat down and looked at the recipe, really it was all kinds of wrong. It had no building blocks of flavor. No onions (WHAT?)… chicken, cans of sauce, cheese and olives. Also, it had the chicken cooking for an insane amount of time. Unnecessary.

So when I went to the store to buy the ingredients, I stood in the Ethnic aisle and pondered. I decided to stick with the cans of enchilada sauce and I also picked up cans of green chiles (I opted for mild for the first go-round). I also grabbed an onion and went for 2 kinds of cheese. I nabbed some green onions and sour cream for garnish and decided that this would jazz this dish up to a whole other level.

Trust me, my friends (one in particular) will tell you that I am a suck for these videos but that even I will break my rule of following the recipe the first time when I know it is all wrong. Every great chef will tell you that you need the basics in any dish – and wether it is the French, the Spanish, the Mexican or even the Russians (okay maybe a bad example), pretty much everyone uses onions as a starting point. Take the time and give that dish some depth. This dish was still incredibly simple.

9servedYields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted From somewhere on the interwebs

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless
38 Ounce(wt)s enchilada sauce
1 Medium onion, white chopped
9 Ounce(wt)s chiles, green canned drained
11 Ounce(wt)s tortilla, corn, small cut into thick strips
1 Cup cheese, cheddar sharp grated divided
4 1/2 Ounce(wt)s olives, black sliced, drained, divided
2 Cups cheese, Mexican, grated
1/2 Cup sour cream for garnish
1 Bunch onion, green diced

Tools Needed:
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Directions:
Put the chicken breasts, onion, green chiles and the enchilada sauce in your slow cooker.
1chickenandonions
2withsauce

Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 6 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks and put the shredded meat back into the sauce.
3shredded

Cut the tortillas into strips and then cut the strips in half.
4choppedtortillas

Add the tortillas to chicken and sauce.
5addedcheese

Stir.  Add cheddar cheese and half the olives into the sauce and chicken mixture. Stir again until well combined.
6stirred

Flatten the mixture slightly. Add the Mexican cheese (2 cups) and the other half of the olives on top.
7topped

Cook on low for about 40 to 60 minutes longer.
8finished

Scoop into bowls and serve with sour cream and diced green onions on top.

Advertisements

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

IMG_2544Yields 4 to 5 servings
From Tasty.com

Ingredients:
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large onion, white sliced
2 Pounds chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut in half
2 Tbls seasoning, taco
6 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 Each lime
10 Ounce(wt)s tomatoes, diced, with green chiles drained (Rotel)
12 Each tortilla, flour, 8 inch
1 Cup cheese, Mexican blend
1/2 Cup sour cream

Directions:
Add half of the sliced peppers and onions to your slow cooker.

IMG_3944

Next, layer the chicken and coat all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, tomatoes (be sure to drain) and the juice from one lime.
IMG_4311

Add the remaining peppers and onions, cover, and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
IMG_7243

Remove chicken and cut/shred into slices (chicken left longer will tend to shred more – cook to your preference).
IMG_8276

Return the sliced chicken to the slow cooker to marinate in the juices for about 10 more minutes (on LOW) until ready to serve.
IMG_1617

If you find that there is too much liquid, you can remove till there is a desired amount before serving. Assemble Fajitas to your liking – we recommend topping with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole! Enjoy!
IMG_1080

 

Multi-Pan Lemon Parmesan Chicken and Asparagus

I’m always fascinated and intrigued by one-pot and one-pan meals and pin them every.single.time when I see them on Pinterest. I’m a sucker. Inevitably, I end up dirtying more pans and more implements trying to do these things than I would if I followed my chef instincts.

This recipe had so many flaws. For instance, 1 1/2 pounds of chicken and a pound of asparagus is never going to fit on a single pan. Ever. Second – it calls for you to mix up this butter mixture, then only use 1 tablespoon of it to coat said 24 ounces of chicken and then get the panko mixture to stick to it. Now if I were a beginner in the kitchen, I would have wondered what to do when that liquid bowl was empty after 4 tenders went through it. Luckily, I didn’t take any butter out of it and instead, made up my own sauce of the asparagus… I’ve saved you those headaches with my rewrite below.

Now I will say that this was delicious, and the original recipe is mostly in tact. I made 3 or 4 major changes, but the flavors are still there. You just cannot accomplish this on any sized cookie sheet. But you and your family will love this dish if you love lemon, honey and parmesan… and really, who doesn’t?

And me, I’ll continue to get sucked into the one-pan-wonders.

IMG_6159

Yields 4 servings
From Pinterest

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Pound chicken breast tenders, boneless, skinless
1/3 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 Cup breadcrumbs, panko
1 Cup cheese, parmesan, grated, divided
1 tsp parsley, dried
1/2 tsp garlic powder
5 Large lemons, divided (1 reserved for slicing)
8 cloves garlic, fresh minced, divided
8 Tbls butter, unsalted, divided
1/2 Tbls pepper, lemon
1 Pound asparagus
5 Tbls oil, olive, divided
3 Tbls honey

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Then line a small baking sheet, a 1/4 sheet pan, if you have one, and set aside.

Grab three bowls. Add the flour to one bowl.

Combine panko, 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, dried parsley, garlic powder, about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir.

In the final bowl, add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 cloves minced garlic, and 5 tablespoons melted butter. Stir. Set aside.
IMG_3943

If you would rather use chicken breasts for this, you can. Just slice chicken breasts to the size of tenders (about 1 and 1/4-inch strips).
IMG_1470

For this, use the left-hand-dry, right-hand-wet method. This way, you don’t end up coating your fingers at the same time you coat your chicken. To be successful, have everything prepped and ready to go!  Coat each tender in flour, then heavily dredge in garlic lemon mixture, and then coat in the Parmesan-panko mixture.

Place on prepared sheet pan. Use any remaining Parmesan panko mixture and sprinkle over tenders. Sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning over the tenders.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes and remove. Flip the tenders to the other side. If desired place lemon slices over the chicken (optional).
IMG_6222

Mix together 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons olive oil,4 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 cloves minced garlic and toss with asparagus. Place the asparagus onto the small baking sheet and place it in the oven.
IMG_3738

Return chicken to the oven and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.

Meanwhile, whisk remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 tablespoons honey in a small bowl. Add some pepper and parsley if desired.

Remove from the oven and top chicken with the honey lemon mixture and fresh parsley if desired and enjoy immediately. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the asparagus and toss with tongs; serve.

Chef’s Note: Do not top chicken breasts with the honey lemon mixture unless eating immediately and aren’t planning on having leftovers since it will make it soggy.

Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken

So the Cook90 Challenge continues and I ate up all my taco bowls, so it was time for something new. I needed to shop for the new week, so it was time to break out the Slow Cooker. If you have read my blog, you know I am a big fan. Yes, I own the Instant Pot, but my Slow Cooker is my jam.

This was super easy, but the original recipe was pretty poorly written as execution was a mess. I had to add water a couple of times to the recipe and was thankful I didn’t just leave my house with it running – and it was on LOW! I’ve fixed the recipe and made adjustments where needed. This recipe turned out great and frankly I felt it could use a big more vege for my tastes. So feel free to add a couple of bell peppers instead of just the one, or even throw in a couple of rainbow carrots sliced on the bias.

I went with regular jasmine rice for this one, but brown jasmine is also a favorite of mine.I also had both black and white sesame seeds, so I tossed them both in for color.

IMG_9870

Yields 6 servings
From the unknown interwebs, but edited to make it work

Ingredients:
2/3 Cups cornstarch
1/4 tsp pepper, black, ground
1 Pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless cut into bite sized chunks
2 to 4 Tbls oil, olive
4 Each pepper, ancho, dried asian peppers
2/3 Cups peanuts, roasted
1 Large bell pepper, red bite sized pieces
1 Large squash, zucchini sliced in half moons
1/2 Cup soy sauce, low sodium
1/3 Cup water
3 Tbls honey
3 Tbls hoisin sauce
3 Cloves garlic, fresh minced
1 tsp ginger root grated
1/4 tsp pepper, crushed red
2 Tbls cornstarch
3 Tbls water
2 Cups rice, jasmine (cooked)
2 tsp sesame seeds, white
2 Each onion, green chopped

Directions:

Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.
IMG_5194

In a large zip-top bag, toss in chicken, cornstarch and black pepper. Shake until well-coated.
IMG_3581

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Make sure to cook the chicken in at least two batches depending on the size of your skillet. Cooking too much of the protein at once will cool down the pan and cause the meat to steam. You want the meat to get a great crust on it.
IMG_0505

Transfer chicken into the slow cooker.
IMG_4245

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, water, honey, hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper chili flakes. Combine well.
IMG_3119

Pour soy mixture over chicken in the slow cooker. Add 2 cups water. Stir well.
IMG_6610

Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 4 hours or HIGH for 1 1/2 to 3 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir into the slow cooker if the mixture in the slow cooker is very liquidy – if not, then skip this step altogether.

Toss in the dried red chili peppers (if you cannot find these, just add another 1/8 tsp of crushed red pepper), red bell peppers, zucchini and peanuts, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened up.
IMG_3822

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onions and serve over zoodles, cauliflower rice, quinoa or your favorite rice.
IMG_5122

For meal prep
Divide rice evenly into lunch containers. Add chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds, cover and store in fridge for up to 4 days.
IMG_2386

Turkey Taco Bowls

Challenge proposed:

Cook every meal for 30 days: Breakfast!, lunch and dinner. Do not eat out, do not cheat and buy breakfast pastries, Lean Cuisines, etc. Cook. Every. Meal. #cook90challenge

Ummmmm, ok. Sure. This seems easy enough. Until I look at my work schedule and realize that I tend to work 10+ hours a day. Sure, I work from home and my office is nicely ensconced in my 2nd bedroom (which doesn’t have a bed in it) and is right upstairs from my kitchen. Easy pisy, right? Nope.

So I’ll do this modified. Twice a week, I’ll cook. I’ll meal plan, prep and cook 4 meals worth of breakfast (hello, when do I actually make time to eat breakfast… my cold brew coffee does NOT count), lunch AND dinner. I will make healthy versions of these things and I will not order take out when it turns out I have been head down configuring, data migrating or in BPRS for 6 hours straight (sorry Jimmy John’s, Door Dash, etc.). No eating out. Sorry Starbucks. No eating out. (Sorry to my bartenders, too). Sorry Yelp. Well, at least I can catch up on my backlog of reviews?

So here was my first lunch attempt. Even I was skeptical. I figured I would get bored of the same thing every day. No way – not with this one. Now, I did modify it from the original. A) Made is spicier and B) No where could I find only 1 pound of ground turkey. So I went a little crazy and ended up with 5 servings. More for me! This gets better every day as the flavors get more intense. And, this is a keeper!

img_6573

Yields 4 servings
From somewhere out there on the interweb

Ingredients:
1 Cup rice, brown
1 1/3  Pound turkey, white ground
3 Tbls seasoning, taco
1 Pint tomatoes, cherry quartered
1 Each pepper, jalapeño minced
1/4 onion, red minced
1/2 Each lime juiced
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher
12 Ounce(wt)s corn, canned drained and rinsed
1/2 Cup cheese, Mexican, grated
1 to taste taco sauce
1 Cup corn chips, yellow (optional)
Plastic containers with lids

Directions:
Cook brown rice according to package directions, adding the lime zest (of you can juice the other half of the lime) and salt to the cooking water.

Cook turkey over medium heat, tossing in the taco seasoning and breaking it up as you cook. Cook for 10 or so minutes, until cooked through.

img_1493

Add about 1/4 water and let it cook off. This helps cook in the flavor of the seasoning.
img_4159

Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, juice from the lime and salt and toss together. Set aside – this is your salsa.
img_5811

To assemble lunch bowls:
-1/4 portion of cooked rice
-1/2 cup corn kernels
-1/2 cup cooked taco meat
-1/4 portion of salsa
-1/4 portion of cheese
Top with a drizzle of taco sauce (I use Taco Bell available in a bottle at the grocery)

Store in the fridge until ready to heat and eat – about 1 to 2 minutes in a microwave. Top with a little sour cream (if desired) and extra taco sauce. Serve with chips on the side.
img_4074

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings – the great controversy. Are the dumplings supposed to be rolled or dropped?

Well, I think this is based on where you were raised, honestly. Funny enough, my family is from Ohio/Kentucky/Tennessee/Georgia and we are in the dropped camp. I’m sure this generated from the Ohio (Cincinnati to be precise) group originally – so that probably explains the dropped dumplings. In the true South, dumplings are typically rolled out, cut into strips or squares and then places in the boiling broth (think Cracker Barrel).

Funny enough, my niece and nephew refer to these as poof poofs. Why? Well, in their world, dumplings are neither dropped nor rolled. Dumplings are fillings wrapped in pieces of thin dough that are either steamed or pan-fried – well, they are half Chinese after all. As Maggie puts it, “they look like poofs, so they should be named that.” The brilliance of a teenager.

My grandmother originated this recipe (best I can remember) and my mother tweaked it over the years. The beauty of this dish, is the simplicity and how this is a great weeknight dinner. I know you are wondering how this is possible. It’s a lengthy process…right? Nope! Go to the store, buy a rotisserie chicken, bag of frozen veggies and you may have the rest in your pantry. Okay, maybe not, but the rest of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand for the future.

The hardest part of this dish is pulling the chicken from the bone. And if you buy good chicken stock, you easily get all day cooked flavor in just 30 minutes. I actually really like Swanson, whether salted, low sodium or unsalted. It tastes the meatiest and least manufactured.

15895779_10154813151552978_8130071898803528352_oYields 4 servings
From Eileen Fight Sparks and Nancy Sparks Frank

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cup chicken, cooked, white chopped or shredded
2 Quarts stock, chicken, low-sodium
1 Cup peas, frozen
1 Cup carrots chopped or frozen slices
1 1/2 Cup flour, all-purpose
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 Cups milk, skim

Directions:
Bring broth to a boil and add chicken and frozen veggies.

For the dumplings:
Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in center and pour in milk. Slowly incorporate milk into dry ingredients. It will look like wet biscuit dough.

Drop dumplings dough by teaspoon into boiling broth. Once you have covered the surface, use your spoon to drop the remaining dumplings below the fluffy ones on the surface.

Reduce heat so the broth is above a simmer at a low boil. Cover and stew about 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve.

Chicken Fajita and Rice Bake

Clearly, I’ve been in a mood for Mexican this week. I think that’s a constant state of being for me. I love the spices, plus cooking everything in one pot or pan certainly makes life easy.

My Dad was not a fan of one-pot dishes. For some reason he always referred to it as “Ladies’ Luncheon food.” Not sure why, as he loved Arroz con Pollo (I need to do that one soon). But overall, he was not one to make these kinds of dishes. So when he was traveling for work (IBM for 25 years), Mom would make things like this and I was always excited for them. Maybe it was because my veggies had lots more flavor, or maybe I thought I ended up with more starch to protein ratio? Who knows. But when I’m cooking, throwing one pan into the oven, or using the slow cooker is certainly easy after a long day of work.

This recipe spoke to me for many reasons, mostly because it gave me what I love – Mexican-type flavors in the form of fajitas, without the filling tortillas. Plus, I could do it with healthier brown Jasmine rice and not feel so guilty. So if making brown rice, follow the package instructions for the proper ratio of liquid to rice before trying.

15732433_10154780241917978_5164804981003318097_oAdapted from Tasty.com
Yields 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
1 Tbls chili powder
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper, cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbls salt, Kosher
1 tsp pepper, black, ground
1/2 Large onion, white sliced
1 Large bell pepper, green sliced
1 Large bell pepper, yellow sliced
1 Large bell pepper, red sliced
2 Tbls oil, olive
1 Cup rice, long grain white (I prefer Jasmine)
2 Cups broth, chicken
1 3/4 Pound chicken tenders, boneless, skinless

Optional Ingredients:
1 Medium tomato, beefsteak chopped
1 Small lime cut in wedges
1 to taste cilantro picked leaves
1/2 Cup cheese, Mexican blend shredded
1/2 cup sour cream

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Basics 3 Quart Glass Oblong Baking Dish

Tutorials:
First, let’s slice the bell peppers and the onions and remove the tendon ends from the chicken.

Bell peppers:

Slice the end off the bell pepper. Now it will sit flat on  your cutting board.
pepper_1

Slice downwards toward the cutting board and slice off the first side.
pepper_2

Turn a quarter turn clockwise and slice off the 2nd side. Notice you are leaving behind the center and ribs of the pepper?
pepper_3

Turn a quarter turn again and slice off the 3rd side. The last one is the hardest one…
pepper_4

Carefully, while holding the top of the pepper, slice off the 4th side.
pepper_5

Remaining in your hand is the top of the pepper (with the stem) and the guts of the pepper. Now you can easily slice your pepper. There is a bit more waste this way, but you are less likely to slice off a finger.

Now slice your pieces into thin strips – in this case 1/4-inch strips maximum. Finish by slicing the bottom of the pepper the same way.
pepper_6

Now you have a beautiful pile of pepper strips.
pepper_7

As for the onion, start by cutting in the onion in half and peeling away the dry outer layer. Now you have a safe flat surface to anchor the onion.
onion_step1

Slice downward town the cutting board – again in 1/4-in slices, until you reach close to the root end. Separate the rings.
onionslice_step2.JPG

As for tenders, there is this gnarly tendon running thru them. You can’t miss it, it’s white. My Mom would have you pull it all the way out, but really that isn’t necessary. But the top end is very chewy and not pleasant to eat. Make sure you cut off the top end very close to the chicken meat for each tender.
chicken_cutofftendon.JPG

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, combine spices to make fajita seasoning (chili powder through black pepper).
spices

In a large bowl, combine, onion, bell peppers, and chicken. Add oil and seasoning mix; toss until seasoning is fully incorporated.
veggies_spiced.JPG

In a casserole dish, add rice and chicken broth. Stir well.

rice_step2.JPG

Then lay down all veggies and chicken.
allinpan.JPG

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 50 to 55 minutes until rice is fully cooked.
allbaked.JPG

Serve with tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese, if desired.