Savory Crockpot Chicken and Mushrooms

With school getting started again, this has been a busy couple of weeks.  Sometimes, I need something I can just throw into the crockpot, let it simmer for a few hours, and have it taste like I spent hours on prep!  This is one of those things.  🙂

Start with a large package of chicken thighs.  Small if you don’t want to deal with leftovers.  😛

Brown the thighs in a nonstick pan.  Brown, not cook!  The thighs will juice out enough fat that you really don’t need to begin with oil or butter.  Browning chicken is a beautiful thing, I think.

 

While the chicken browns, dig out the crockpot or large heavy skillet like a dutch oven…if you’ll be home and have to fears about the stovetop being on all afternoon.  I use 1 package of Lipton mushroom and onion soup mix with 1 cup of white wine.  Yes, I know it seems I must combine alcohol with all meals somehow!

Place the beautiful brown chicken into the pot.

 

 

Use the residual chicken fat/oil to brown some sliced mushrooms.  Don’t they just look beautiful all golden and crispified?

 

 

Put the mushrooms on top of the chicken, no need to drain.  Use a slotted spoon so you don’t get a lot of grease, but a little will only add flavor!

 

Chop an onion, and add that also.

 

Leave it alone for about 4 hours on low, and just let the pot do its thing.  If the chicken is still standing like a mountain out of the liquid after a couple of hours, stir a bit to get everything down into the liquid.

 

After 4 hours or so, the chicken will just fall off the bone.  I like to peel off the skin at this point, and remove any obvious bones.

Let it simmer along for about another hour then remove the remaining bones, and serve.  I put it over the orange wild rice, and it was totally awesome.  Looked pretty too!  😀

 

 

I make a large package of thighs, so there are leftovers.  After all, there’s only three of us to feed!  The awesome thing about this…I can do anything you like while it’s cooking.  Like…play World of Warcraft with Hubby!  😛

Chicken Taco Solutions

So I had some leftover grilled chicken breasts hanging out in the ‘fridge, along with some pico and a hunk of cheddar cheese.  I had been reading “My Brother’s Tacos” on Pioneer Woman earlier this week…fortuitously it would seem.

When Rat Boy gave his hungry almost man-call I lept into action.  Actually, I went and stood in the door of said fridge, shopping around.  And saw the chicken.  Miracle moment for me…thankfully.  And I’ve never been so glad that I started reading other people’s food blogs.  (and that Aggie turned me on to the whole blog scene)

I hauled out a small saucepan, figuring that I’d only be making a couple of tacos.  Blessings to the inner voice that said at the market yesterday, “Just throw a bag of tortillas in the cart…they might come in handy”.  So a thin layer of oil to start.  Thankfully, I had something besides olive oil on hand, so I went with canola, which really seems the better of the two for frying.  🙂

Shredding the meat from the already cooked and chilled breasts was SO easy…usually I’m leaping around the kitchen waving my burnt fingers, LOL.  Then I stirred in the pico, and voila!

Yes.  All that remained was to slap some into a corn tortilla and throw it into the hot oil.  Not literally, it’s just a way we Texans have of exaggerating some things.

Really, they look and smell awesome.  Brown, and turn, and brown, and drain.  Using paper towels.  LOTS of paper towels.  It really helps when removing the finished tacos from the pan if you hold them at an angle to let the most oil run out of the taco at that time.  If you want to live dangerously, it can run out onto your hand later.  I am not responsible.

After draining, add cheese, guacamole, sour cream, or whatever floats your taco boat.  A couple of tacos turned into four, then the entire bag of tortillas was gone.

Rat Boy let me have a bite.  They were great!  🙂

Orange Chicken

Monday, I had some boneless, skinless chicken breasts hanging out in the fridge.  I didn’t really know what I was going to do with them, but they needed to move along.  So I threw them in Tupperware with about a cup of orange juice.  I figured that would at least give them some flavor, and maybe some juiciness also, and me some time to figure out what the heck to do with them.

So last night, after yoga and pilates and mostly conquoring the HUGE basket of laundry that Rat Boy dumped in my laundry room (I really wonder if he had ANY clean clothes left in his room but  that is a story for another universe time)…after all that, I realized I hadn’t made dinner.   And it was 9 PM!!!  Hubby leaves for work about 10-10:15.  CRISIS MODE!!!

Then, I remembered the chicken and started rummaging to see what else I could find.  I had an onion.  A red bell pepper was hanging out in the back of the produce drawer.  I always have rice and pasta.  And I located some broccoli that looked like it was ready to get up and leave the room.  On its own.

I started by slicing the marinated breasts pretty thinly.  Pretty unimpressive looking raw chicken.

 

I have an electric stove 😦 so I don’t use a wok.  Instead I started the large skillet heating, and drizzled some basil infused olive oil into it.  When it was hot…REALLY HOT, I tossed in the chicken to brown.

You want this to cook quickly so it doesn’t dry out, and stir frequently, so it doesn’t cook unevenly or stick.  Non-stick is my friend.  🙂

 

Keep tossing until all the pieces are nicely browned.  Mmmm…browned chicken is so pretty!  🙂

Then thinly slice an onion and toss that in also.

 

The chicken will juice as it cooks so keep up the heat and the stirring.  Add red pepper flakes to taste.  We like it HOT!

 

Keep stirring!  While some of the liquid was steaming off, I started thinking sauce.    I just had to use the orange juice, so I whisked that together with about 1/2 cup of light soy sauce, a couple of dashes of rice wine vinegar, and a tbsp of corn starch.  I ❤ corn starch…since I finally moved out of the Dark Ages and started using it!  Add all the liquid to the pan and stir, stir, stir!

 

Add the other veggies you want to include.  Last night it was red bell pepper and broccoli.  Nice red/green combo!  And, yes, that’s basil.  Don’t tell Hubby.   🙂  Had to trim the plant yesterday…again.

 

You’ll want to turn down the heat and stir until the sauce thickens, then cover the pan, and let the steam work on the last veggies so they aren’t completely lifeless and wilted.  I totally hate soggy broccoli!

 

You’ll note everything has a nice glaze to it.  That’s the corn starch at work.  If you stop stirring too soon, it WILL burn and stick, creating the gooey gelatinous mess from the Black Lagoon, which by the way, IS actually in Texas.  East Texas.  A whole different world out there.  I know.  I have relatives.

Back to the chicken.  I decided to serve it with rice, as it had taken on a distinctly Oriental flavor in the creative process.  The basil was a nice, slightly peppery addition.

 

And Rat Boy went nom nom nom nom…and then he came back to see if there was any left.  And went nom nom nom again!  Success!  And I really only had to wash the one pan.  (And one for rice, but it’s small.)   😀

I didn’t use any garlic, but I’m sure it can do nothing but improve any dish, so I’ll probably add some next time, and maybe some real hot peppers if I have them.  This didn’t turn out too spicy, regardless of the quantity of red pepper flakes I used!

Basil Gone Wild!!!

A couple of months ago we got a new neighbor.  She is really great, and has a son the same age as Rat Boy (the resident 15-year old zombie killing expert), who is also homeschooling.  She also has plants…LOTS of plants…a veritable explosion of plants on the tiny back porch.

Not to be outdone, I pulled out looked for brushed off my green thumb.  Thinking about how many times I’ve run down to the market to grab some fresh herb that I just had to have, I decided (after lengthy browsing at Lowe’s) to plant a container of basil and thyme, the two herbs I most often use.  A couple of weeks later, I was back, looking for a larger pot 😛

The basil has grown like it’s on steroids!  It’s taking over the pot, the porch, and soon I fear the kat will vanish while taking her evening constitutional on the porch.  Something had to be done!!!  SO…I trimmed, and trimmed, and then trimmed some more, until the bushy basil resembled something under control.  Then I washed and dried the fruits of my labours, which was a considerable pile of fresh basil 😀

I’d read that the best way to dry and store fresh herbs is to rinse in cool H2O, then lay flat to dry on a paper towel, after which refrigerate in a ziplock.  So I did that with about half of the stems, until I ran out of room on the counter for the paper towels and leaves.  The other half I rinsed and stood in a glass of water, like a flower arrangement.  The standing basil dried in about half the time, I didn’t need to fluff or turn it.  Actually it’s still sitting in the glass, looking fresh and crispy and quite decorative.  The detached leaves did finally dry, and are now safely ensconced in the fridge.

Yesterday, after the lawn work 😛 I pulled out some leftover chicken, which had been grilled on the bone and then deboned for convenience in storing. I rough diced the chicken and a couple of stems each of green onion and celery, a couple of roma tomatoes, and basil. Threw all of this together with a little mayo, some brown mustard, a bit of basil for garnish (it is SO pretty) and voila…Yum-tastic!  Cool, easy, and bye-bye leftover chicken 😀

I put mine on little cocktail rye slices.  Hubby had his on Ritz.  Either way, great nibbling without having to turn on the oven 🙂  And when you live in Texas, and the temp is holding steady at an early 100+, oven avoidance is an art to cultivate…even if you have AC!

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