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Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

The night of the first presidential debate, Craig and I were flipping through the few channels we have (we recently got rid of cable) to see if there was anything worth watching on t.v. before the debate.  We came upon the new show Guys With Kids.  You probably saw a ton of commercials for it if you spent any amount of time watching the Summer Olympics this year.  It definitely had some funny parts that cracked us up.  After we watched the debate, as we were getting ready for bed, Craig and I found ourselves quoting funny lines over and over.  The episode we had watched that evening was apparently the third episode of the season, so we decided that we had to give the first two episodes a chance.

The next night, we sat at our dinner table as the ultimate judges.  We had to decide whether we thought Guys With Kids had just one funny episode or if it was a show that we may continue to watch some in the future.  At the same time, we had to decide what we thought of the new recipe I was trying: slow cooker cashew chicken.  When I make something new, I like Craig to give me a definite response about exactly what he thinks of it.  That night, I wasn’t interested running the risk of Craig being too distracted by the show to tell me precisely what he thought of dinner, so I made in taste the meal and give me his detailed opinion before I would actually turn on the show.  He told me he loved the meal, but twenty minutes or so into the first episode of the t.v. show, I realized that I actually wouldn’t have had to make Craig give me his reaction in advance.  The fact that I had to keep pausing the computer so Craig could go get more helpings of dinner told me what he thought.

This meal definitely has a solid kick to it, but I enjoyed having a little variety from the sweeter tasting chicken meals I normally make to go with rice (honey sesame chicken and sweet and sour chicken).  The blogger who originally posted this recipe said that she got it from her brother-in-law after he lived in Thailand for a couple of years.  It has kind of a zesty-savory taste with a kick.

Oh, and we also decided that we think the show Guys With Kids is pretty funny in general; it wasn’t just the one episode that made us laugh.  🙂

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Recipe From: Six Sisters’ Stuff

Ingredients

  • 2lb boneless, skinless chicken thing tenders or chicken breast tenders
    • I just had chicken breasts, so I cut them into strips to make “tenders.”  Then I decided that I wanted to have more surface area covered by the sauce, so I went on to cut them into about 2-inch pieces.  Cutting them into smaller pieces also meant I would need to lower the cooking time by a little bit, so that was good for me since I got a late start on making this that day.
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar/rice wine vinegar
    • I used seasoned rice vinegar because that was what I had.
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of cashews
    • I actually used about a cup or maybe even a little more than a cup.

Directions

  1. Combine flour and pepper into a zip-lock bag.  Add the chicken, and shake the bag to coat the chicken with the flour-pepper mixture.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
  3. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Mix together, and pour over the chicken.  Also, I would say that you definitely need to double the sauce recipe, and perhaps triple it depending on your preference.  I tripled it.
  4. Cook on low for 3-4 hours (I only cooked my little chicken pieces for about 2-2 1/2 hours).  Add cashews and stir.  Serve over rice.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Marsala

Slow Cooker Chicken Marsala

After a week of Craig being sick, he finally (mostly) got over it (except for the runny nose) just in time for his study/test week.  His first big M2 (medical school year 2) exam is next Friday, so he has a TON of studying to do.  I mean, he would have a ton of studying to do, anyway, but considering that we had my family in town over Labor Day weekend followed by a week of Craig being sick, he now has a TON of studying to do.  See the difference?

Anyway, just when I thought I was totally home-free from getting sick from Craig, I woke up Thursday morning with a throat that was absolutely on fire.  It was painful to talk, and my whole body was aching.  I slowly dragged myself out of bed and made the painstaking trek to the kitchen so I could make Craig’s lunch while he got ready for his long day of class and studying.  After making his lunch, I settled on our couch with my pillow and a fleece blanket.  I wanted to go back to sleep, but I knew I had to work that day.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been as thankful for a job that allows me to work from home as I was on Thursday.

When Craig returned home that evening and gently asked if I happened to know what we were having for dinner, I gave him a look that said, “Do I look like someone who has thought about what we are having for dinner tonight?”  He was happy with leftovers and snacking, and I was happy with a snack and sleeping more.  I did offer to brown some meat for pasta, but Craig insisted that I just rest, so I was not going to argue with that.  He’s a good sport.  🙂

After some more sleeping and what was probably somewhere around my 237th cup of tea (exaggerate much?), I regained some energy and decided that I should at least see what we had in the kitchen for Friday’s dinner.  After all, this weekend is the start of Craig’s study week, so I wanted to start it off right.  Considering how I was feeling at that point, I was thinking that I would still not be quite a hundred percent by the next day, but that I would be well on my way to a full recovery.  I figured that, if anything, I could at least throw something into the slow cooker.  My, how I love our slow cooker!

I decided on this chicken marsala recipe that I had made once last year.  The first time I made it, I followed it exactly.  This time, however, I made  a few changes (Craig called them improvements) based on other recipes I had read.  Last time, we both enjoyed the slow cooker chicken marsala.  It was easy and pretty tasty.  This time, we LOVED the chicken marsala.  I don’t know the last time I saw Craig eat that much in one serving.

Oh, and for anyone who was worried, you will be happy to know that by the end of the day on Friday, I was actually feeling great!  I can’t believe how quickly I got better.  Thank you, immune system!

Recipe Adapted from: Food.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, fine chopped
  • 1.5-ish lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 cup marsala (cooking) wine
  • 3/4 cup (low sodium) chicken broth
  • 1 tbs butter or margarine, broken into small pieces
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Update: While I didn’t seem to have this problem the first time I made this (or didn’t notice), the sauce had been a little more liquidy than I wanted the last few times, and I ended up adding more flour at the end.  The last time I made this, I went ahead and doubled (or just short of it) the dry ingredients (flour, salt, pepper, and dried basil).  It turned out great!…just a little thicker than before.  It’s really up to your personal preference, but I wanted to offer that as an option, as well.  🙂

Directions:

In the slow cooker, spread the oil and chopped garlic evenly over the bottom.  Lay your chicken breasts in the slow cooker on top of the oil and garlic (try not to have them completely overlapping).  Mix the flour, salt, pepper, and basil together, then sprinkle over the chicken.  Combine the wine and chicken broth together, and then pour into the slow cooker.  Dot the butter over the chicken breasts, and then dump in the mushrooms.  Cook on low for 6 hrs.  When six hours are up, pull the chicken and put on serving dish.  Stir the sauce and mushrooms and little and then spoon it over the chicken.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve over pasta, rice, or even mashed potatoes (though pasta is our favorite for this particular meal).

Sweet and Sour Chicken

So, I have a confession.

I am intimidated by chicken.  I mean, have you seen my recipes?  I’m all about throwing chicken in the crock pot, because with crock pot, I can prepare everything else, and it basically does all the work.  If I’m not using the crock pot for chicken, I am usually using our George Foreman grill.  We like to buy chicken breasts on sale and put them in baggies with marinade before freezing them.  That way, when we pull them out to thaw, they already have the marinade on them and we can just put them on a George Foreman grill.  So easy.  If we are having chicken that is not from the crock pot or George Foreman grill, then I didn’t make it.

At least that was the case until this past Monday.

It’s true.  I decided it was time to conquer my fear.  I was determined to make chicken that took preparation and effort.  Not a lot, but some.  I was going to try something new…I was going to use both our stove and our oven to cook chicken.  Until Monday, I used the stove to brown ground beef, and I mainly used the oven to bake.  I don’t know why cooking chicken intimidates me so much.  It just does.

Or at least it did.

You can go ahead and give me a round of applause.  No need to wait until the end of this post.  Not only did I make chicken for dinner on Tuesday (without the use of the crock pot or George Foreman); I made sweet and sour chicken on Tuesday, and it was good.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to come off as a chicken-cooking hero who took on my fear without a second thought.  I was very scatter-brained and basically going crazy for the length of the entire meal preparation.  I even felt overwhelmed by it at times.  But I did it, and now that I am looking back, it was actually not difficult.  So now, not only am I providing you with a great sweet and sour chicken recipe, but this also means that more recipes are to follow, for I have opened the door to a whole new world (cue Aladdin song) in cooking.

Recipe Adapted From: Made It. Ate It. Loved It.

Ingredients:

Chicken Breading:

  • 3-5 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

Sauce:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 tbs (same thing as 1/4 cup) ketchup
  • 1/3-1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
    • amount really depends on personal preference
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt

Directions:

Rinse chicken, trim off fat, and cut into 1(-ish) inch cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken into cornstarch, coating completely, and then into the eggs.  Heat oil in skillet.  Cook until browned (most certainly does not need to be cooked through).  Place in baking dish (try to use a dish big enough that you can for the most part fit all the chicken in one layer).  Whisk the sauce until smooth and pour over chicken.  Turn chicken pieces so that the sauce gets both sides.  Put in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.  Turn the chicken, and then continue cooking for another 15 minutes.

We ate our sweet and sour chicken over rice, and it was great!  The recipe itself doesn’t make a ton of sauce by the time you are done baking, so if you like a lot of sauce (for the rice, vegetables, etc.), I would suggest making a double batch.  However, if you do make a double batch, you only want to pour half of it (being the amount listed in the recipe) on the chicken for cooking, or else the chicken may get soggy while cooking.  Before the chicken is done baking, heat the second batch of sauce up in a saucepan or microwave (make sure to stir it throughout heating).

Besides just having this as a sweet and sour chicken meal, Craig and I both think that this also makes a great finger food.  It would be fabulous for a football game or New Year’s party, with some toothpicks next to it and maybe a small bowl with the second batch of sauce for dipping.  A certain party favorite!

Slow Cooker Honey [Sesame] Chicken

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Slow Cooker Honey [Sesame] Chicken

So I found one version of this recipe last year on Pinterest, but I wanted to look into some other recipe versions before I committed.  Well, I realized that all the recipes are essentially the same, or very similar, so it really didn’t matter which one I used.  The only real difference is whether you like more or less of the sauce with a given amount of chicken.  My personal opinion is that you can never have too much.  If you end up having leftover sauce after you have eaten all the chicken, you can just pour some on rice later on as a tasty leftover…and I am ALL ABOUT making leftovers stretch as long as they can.  🙂

This recipe is so easy and insanely delicious.  It has definitely become a slow cooker staple in the McKinney household!

Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs canola/vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp cornstarch dissolved into 6 Tbs water (You don’t need this until the end.)
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

Season  both sides of the chicken with the salt in pepper, and place in the slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine and mix the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pour honey mixture over the chicken and cook on low for 3-4 hours (I do 3 hours) or high for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours (I do 1 1/2 hours).  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, leaving the sauce. In a bowl, dissolve 4 tsp of cornstarch into 6 Tbs of water.  Combine this with the sauce in the slow cooker.  Shred or cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put it back in the slow cooker to mix in with the sauce for a few minutes.  Serve over rice or noodles, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you wish.

Whether or not I put sesame seeds on top really just depends on whether I remember or not.  I clearly forgot tonight.  We usually have ours over rice, with either broccoli or peas as a side.  Tonight, we followed it up with some delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  What a delicious evening!

Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

A couple of years ago, Craig and I had a realization.  While he may have an intolerance to cow dairy protein, the proteins from goat milk are not at all the same thing.  That means that Craig can eat goat cheese!  Now don’t get me wrong, because this was obviously great news, but there is definitely a downside to it: Goat cheese is WAY more expensive than cheese made from cows’ milk.  So even with the knowledge that Craig can in fact eat goat cheese, we really don’t splurge on it that often.  It is mostly reserved for special occasions.  Luckily for Craig, I was a wonderful enough wife to put his 24th birthday into the “special occasion” category…especially since I made certain that my 23rd birthday was in the category.  😉

The truth is I’m really not what you would call a “cheese person.”  I mean, cheese is alright, and I like it on some things, but if I’m ordering a sandwich somewhere, I will most likely make a point to ask for no cheese.  For me, it really doesn’t add too much to life (except for macaroni and nachos!), and I’d survive just fine without it.  Craig, on the other hand, LOVES cheese.  He would have probably been more willing to give up just about any other food in the world than cheese.  So he was of course thrilled when I gave him a few goat-cheese-filled meal options that I was willing to try to make Craig-friendly, and he took his time deciding exactly which one would make the perfect birthday dinner.  Finally, Craig decided on chicken, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese lasagna.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it is from a blog called Closet Cooking.  Of course, as with most meals I prepare, I had to make some changes in order to make this lasagna Craig-friendly.  I was pretty nervous when I began, because I’m really not a big fan of trying “Ashley-edited” or “Ashley-created” recipes out for the first time for a special occasion…I’m still not entirely confident in my cooking abilities.  Thankfully, this turned out AMAZINGLY…I mean it was absolutely splendid!  I know that some people think that goat cheese tends to overpower other flavors in some dishes because it is so strong, but the spices and other ingredients in this recipe balanced it out perfectly.  It was so delightful, and I would absolutely recommend this recipe (regular or Craig-friendly version) to anyone!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
  • 1 handful parsley (chopped)
  • 6 lasagne noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
    • I used almond milk, but I also think regular soy milk would probably work well.
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
    • I definitely say you should add it if you have it!
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 large roasted red peppers
    • I used two 12oz jars of roasted red pepper from the store, but if you are interested in roasting your own, you can check out some directions here from the original author of this recipe.
  • 1 cup feta (crumbled)
    • I just used a little extra crumbled goat cheese.
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
    • I used the mozzarella type of Daiya Cheese Alternative.  It is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy -free.  It tastes good and melts pretty well compared to other fake cheeses…and I am quite particular about not eating nasty smelling, weird textured fake cheese, so it’s saying a lot if I am willing to eat this without a problem.

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken and parsley and set aside.
  7. Start cooking the noodles as directed on the package.
  8. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
  9. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
  10. Mix in the milk, nutmeg and goat cheese and heat until it thickens.
  11. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  12. Place a layer of noodles* followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the roasted red peppers followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.

* To form one layer of noodles in the 8 inch square pan, cut two noodles 2/3 of the way down and use the 2 1/3 noodles to make a full row.

I recommend letting it sit for about 15 minutes or so before trying to cut and serve it, or it will fall apart like this: However, it tasted equally good either way, and Craig and I were SO ready to eat by the time I finally finished (I got a late start on dinner that night).  Yum!

You have GOT to believe me when I say that my sorry camera did not even come close to doing this meal justice.  It was amazing! I also wouldn’t be surprised if Craig began making up a lot more “special occasions” in the future so he can have more goat cheese delightfulness like this!  😉

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken

To my excitement, this weekend was one of very few since Craig’s and my marriage that it was really just us and Jada.  No company in town and no traveling.  While we love seeing our family and friends, it’s nice to get a little down time every now and then so we can take a deep breath and simply enjoy each other’s company.  Of course, a weekend alone never really means a weekend alone, as Craig’s med school studies are absolutely determined to be our third wheel everywhere we go, but we know that’s just the way it’s going to be for quite some time.

Craig had to be up before 7:00am on Saturday to get an early start on studying before the Gamecocks game, so I decided to get up with him and make myself productive, as well.  While I did not get nearly as much cleaning done as I had hoped, I did get the chance to try a new slow cooker recipe: Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken!

I found one version of this recipe at Slow and Simple, and I think what made me want to try it is the interesting combination of ingredients.  I really did not know what to expect, but I was excited to try something new!  I made a few changes based on reviews and to suit Craig’s and my taste.  Craig and I both thought it was pretty good.  We enjoyed this chicken over rice and with some broccoli on the side.  It has a bit of a tangy taste to it, and maybe a tiny bit of a kick.

2-4 chicken breasts – whatever suits your family’s needs (We used 4 so we could have leftovers.)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda (We used Sprite.)
2-3 Tbls minced garlic
2 Tbls soy sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1+ cups cornstarch

Place chicken in crock pot.  Combine everything else, except the corn starch.  Mix well, and then poor over chicken.  Cover crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.  I cooked it for 6 1/2 hours and then turned the crock pot to warm while I prepared everything else.  I’ll probably try to cook it for closer to 6 hours next time.  Remove the chicken and add cornstarch crock pot to thicken the juices to your liking.  Mix well, and then poor the juice over the chicken and rice (if you have it with rice) and enjoy!

Now all I have to do is wait!

Dinner time!

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Chili

I was so excited to see that bread bowls were on sale at Publix last week.  I didn’t even know you could get them outside of restaurants!  To celebrate, I decided I needed to make some sort of new soup.  Unfortunately, I am sometimes bad about letting things bubble up to the point of overflowing on the stove because I’m not standing there watching it and stirring the whole time.  The slow cooker is a great solution.  I was able to throw the stuff in and move on with my day, cleaning around our apartment and trying to check things off of my to-do list.

I found this recipe on the Crockin’ Girls website.  Craig and I both thought it turned out really well.  It was super easy to make, had a great consistency, and had just the right level of spiciness.  Cutting up the avocado and throwing that in as we were eating it also added a lot, and Craig told me that adding his (fake) cheese added a lot, as well.  I’m not a huge cheese person, so I didn’t have any cheese one mine, but I imagine that people who like cheese would thoroughly enjoy some cheddar cheese sprinkled on top to melt.

1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans (I used pinto beans b/c that’s what we had.), rinsed and drained
1 can hominy or 1 can whole kernel corn (I used the whole kernel corn.)
1 package taco seasoning
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 med onion, chopped
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, about 2-3 breasts (I used 2 and that was plenty.)

Put everything except the chicken into the slow cooker and stir it all together very well.  Then, just place the uncooked chicken breasts on top.  It’s so easy!  The directions said to cook everything on high for 8 hours, then take the chicken out and shred it, mix the chicken back in, and then let everything cook for 30 more minutes.  Craig and I were hungry, so I pulled the chicken out at 7 1/2 hrs, shredded it and mixed it back in, and then I just let it cook for about 5 more minutes.  Honestly, we could have done it even sooner.  I think the chicken would have been a little dry if we’d let everything cook the full amount of time, but I don’t really know.  The point is, this was easy and delicious!

The finished product! Delicious, and the perfect meal for watching South Carolina beat Tennessee tonight!

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