Orange (Or more yellow) Chicken

This dish is my first failed attempt as my roommates say – the first time the crock pot food was unedible.

Orange chicken is a dish that I happen to enjoy very much, but the grocery shopping proved to be ablready challenging. First of all the recipe I decided to follow called for orange segments. I thought that perhaps this ment dried orange pieces, so I went to aisle labeled Asian Spices and looked for some dried orange segments. No dried orange segments were there (this is after 10 minutes of reading everything on the shelf). As it turns out, the segments did not need to be dried because the segments that the recipe was refering to were the segments of an orange. Then came the next question: does this include a rine or no? I decieded to go with no…this lead to a not so hot reciepe of orange, more like yellow, chicken.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium peeled and 1/2 inch cut carrots
  • 2 green bell peppers 1/2 inch cut
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger
  • 4 chicken breasts cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 oz of frozen orange concentration
  • 2 cups of orange segments

The prep of this dish happened pretty quickly and seemed to go off with out a problem until I read in the recipe about the frozen orange concentration. I was prepping this meal while I was at work (I am lucky enough to work in a place with a lovely kitchen), and realized I had forgotten to bring the frozen orange concentration. So as I had everything except for the garlic (because yes I had forgotten that as well – it was smooth, real smooth) and the frozen orange concentration, so every other ingredient sat in the crock pot in the fridge for 3 hours. And when I mean sat, I mean sat in the crock pot part that does not get hot in the fridge.

Once I got the other ingredients in (after being transported in the car and all strapped in), I then put the crock pot on high for 1 hour and then low for 2 hours. Next, I put it back on high for an hour. Perhaps this is why the dish turned out so poorly, but I doubt it. During this time I prepped the rice, which I didn’t burn, and it was time to eat.

Review:

Honestly, this was my first serious crash and burn. The dish lacked any flavor. The chicken was juicy, but other than that I really didn’t like the dish. And I was so frustrated, because I had followed the recipe to a tee. I have been told (and I know) that I can follow instructions very well, but for some reason this dish turned out horrible. I literally threw it out and made eggs to replace my dinner. Such a bummer!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours and 45 minutes
  • Serving size: 5 – 6 people

Pesto Mozzarella Mashed Potatoes

So this is a recipe that was made on a complete whim and I received a lot of help from my logical roommate aka she advised me on every step because I was so nervous.

During Thanksgiving, ever since I could remember, our mother always made the kids bring something they made to the table. I was usually in charge of something that would be pretty hard to screw up like pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie or apple pie. My brother always made the mashed potatoes, so my experience mashed potatoes – non-existence. 

Pesto Mozzarella Mashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • Pesto (1/4 of a cup – eye balled)
  • Mozzarella block (we eye balled about 2 1.5 in tall x 1.5 in wide x 0.5 in thick)
  • Milk (we estimated around 1/2 cup – but this was again eye balled by my roommate)
  • 1/8 cup of butter
  • 2 cubes of frozen garlic

After the Potato Skins (look at the post below), we had 12 potatoes insides left over to use. We had already baked the potatoes for an hour, so we decided to stick the potato insides into the crock pot with some pesto, butter, cubes of frozen garlic, and the cubes of mozzarella as we headed out to yoga. 

The best part of this whole story is that we never actually attended yoga, because my roommate misread the class schedule. Instead, we went grocery shopping for more food for the apartment. Instead of having the mashed potatoes sit on low for 3 hrs, we had the mashed potatoes sit on low for 2 hrs before bumping it up to high for 30 minutes. Upon first looking into the crock pot, we realized we may have been a bit (extremely) heavy handed with the mozzarella. So note – the less the better  – something I never thought I would say when it came to cheese. I love cheese. 

After being on high, my roommate told me we could finally add the milk. She had to explain to me (multiple times) that if we added the milk to early it may curdle. For some reason, I doubted her (and I still kinda do, so I may just make something with milk to see if it happens). However, as we added the fat free milk – the only healthy part of the meal – the mashed potatoes turned from a lumpy mess to a creamy milky way. 

Review:

Big hit with my friends slash we may or may not have finished the whole thing in one sitting (there were four of us, just to make myself feel better). 

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $0.00 – we used all left overs in the house
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total time – 2 hrs and 45 minutes
  • Serving Size: 4 – 5 people 

Super Bowl Special – Caprese Salad on a Stick*

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*No crock pot was used in the creation of this appetizer

This is a recipe that my older sister introduced to me, and it has quickly become one of my favorites! She got it at a theme cooking contest, in which the theme was balls…and this was a delicious and some what more healthy alternative to the other appetizers on Super Bowl Sunday!

Caprese Salad on a Stick:

Ingredients:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella (the balls are better because they are soaked vs. the block)
  • Basil Leaves
  • Skewers (tooth picks are better, but I forgot them and we had these at home)
  • Pesto
  • Balsamic

So this is a quick and easy make. First my roommate washed the tomatoes as I cut the skewers to be as long as a tooth pick. I had forgotten tooth picks and we had skewers in the house from a barbecue we had over the summer, so those became our new tooth picks. I highly suggest wearing protective eye wear when cutting these skewers, because the pieces fly everywhere. Also, try to create a point with one of the sides so you can skewer the tomatoes and cheese.

First, I put a cherry tomato on the skewer, then a piece of mozzarella, a 1/4 inch part of basil leaf, and then a half of a cherry tomato. A piece of mozzarella means either a mozzarella ball or a piece of a block of mozzarella (our roommate had made eggplant parmesan the night before and had a lot of mozzarella left over, so we also used the block. The block is much cheaper, but you miss the moistness of the mozzarella balls – tehehehe). The longest part was the assembly. We put all of the caprese salads on a stick on a plate and drizzled it with pesto. One of my roommates- Jess- had read that we need to thicken the balsamic. We both thought that thickening the balsamic seemed very logical, but after about 10 minutes of trying to thicken the balsamic on a stove top in a small pot, there was absolutely no change. So perhaps you cannot thicken balsamic on a stove top, but we were not about to find out because of a time crunch and a lack of patience. Instead, we just pour the balsamic on top which added some great flavor.

Review:

Not the most popular dish at the Super Bowl get together, but still was good/people ate it!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00
  • Prep/Total Time: 25 minutes

Super Bowl Special – Potato Skins*

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*No crock pot was used in the creation of this appetizer.

The Super Bowl. Or as I have come to find it – Super Time to Eat as Much as Possible in One Sitting While Other People Exercise. Ever since college, I have spent most Super Bowls surrounded by bros, eating wings and drinking beer. This year, I had a pleasant change of pace and attended a Super Bowl party that  female was hosting (and we could come in our yoga pants!! Way too exciting). The only requirements: you have to bring something to share. So my 3 friends and myself decided to bring some left over beer and 2 appetizers – Potato Skins and Caprese Salad on a Stick (look to the post above for this description).

Potato Skins This recipe was much harder than I anticipated.

Ingredients:

  • Gold Yukon Potatoes
  • Sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  • Turkey Bacon
  • Sour Cream
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola Oil

After doing some research (aka looking at as many recipes as we could 2 hours before we were leaving for the party), we scrubbed the potatoes, put olive oil on them and put them in the oven at 400 for 1 hr. During this time we started making our Caprese Salad on Stick, but more on that laters.

After 45 minutes, we made the bacon. This was my first time making bacon, and that was super easy. Did you know you don’t even need to add oil? Cause now I do. As the bacon was getting done, we took out the potatoes and cut them into halves or fourths depending on the size (the bigger ones were cut into fourths). The potatoes were very hot, so I did use the oven mitt to hold the potatoes as they were cut – there were many comment made about my roommates worrying I would cut my fingers off, but no worries nothing as such happened. Then came the very challenging process of trying to shell out the potatoes. At first, we tried a spoon – epic fail (broke the skin). Then, we tried forks – this worked much better, but our skills at trying to clean out the potatoes was still limited. In the end we did loose some potato skins (broken skins, too thin, etc. – it was a struggle for us), but we added the broken ones to the insides for some pesto mash potatoes for later.

Once we just had the shells, we put a little bit of canola oil on the top and bottom of the potato shells. At first we were not sure how to do this, but then we decided to use our turkey baster. (This turkey baster was originally bought for gin bucket party, and has only been used one other time since then – while making slow cooked pork – so we have to say it was a pleasure being able to use it one more time.) This proved to be a great use of the turkey baster. After cooking still at 400 for 5 minutes on each side, we took the potatoes out and filled them with the sharp shredded cheddar cheese. Because of dietary restrictions, only half were filled with bacon bits (one of our roommates cut up the bacon – and as she would tell you – it was much harder than people make it look). At this point we then put the potato skins back in the oven on broil for 20 minutes.

Reviews:

Huge hit with my friends and I! Sour Cream was added as people liked, but we had an amazing Buffalo Chicken dip at the game, which I added to the potato skins which proved to be awesome! Takes a lot of work, but worth it!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $35.00
  • Prep Time: 1 hours
  • Total time: 2.25 hrs

Party Jambalya

I still am not sure what the difference is between gumbo and jambalaya, but we (meaning my roommates and myself during the days of the Polar Vortex 2 in Chiberia) found this recipe http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Shrimp-Jambalaya/Detail.aspx?evt19=1 and decided to make it. This was a group effort!

Making the Jumbalya:

Ingredients:

  • ~ 1 lb of boneless chicken thigh
  • 1 medium green pepper
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 garlic gloves (minced)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 can of tomatoes (14.5 oz) and a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large turkey sausages
  • 2 spoons of sugar
  • a big dash of Italian seasoning
  • a small dash of Cayenne pepper
  • a dash of salt
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • Orzo (3 cups)
  • a Trader Joe’s Bag of Shrimp

The prep time for this meal was one I as surprised to find took so long, the majority of the reason being that I am not as quick of a cutter of objects as I would like. First I washed and cut the celery into thin pieces. Then, I cut the onion into 1/2 inch pieces. Then I minced the garlic, followed by cleaning and cutting the chicken into 2 inch pieces (I bought a packaged that said 1.76 lbs and I used all but 2 thighs, I think that made it to 1 lb). Once all of this was in the crock pot, I then added the tomatoes and cut in some cherry tomatoes. Because of our lack of table and teaspoons in the apartment, I decided to use a spoon, as in a normal spoon. I did two spoon scoops of sugar, followed by two dashes (as in I shook the container up and down twice across the crock pot) of Italian seasoning, one dash of salt, and one small dash of Cayenne.

At this point, I left the crock pot on what I believed to be low and ran out to take Zen (our stray cat that thinks she is a dog) to the vet. Upon returning, I walked in to find my very logical and most sane roommate holding the plug of the crock pot laughing and plugging it in. Yes, I forgot to even turn on the crock pot. So, we made a decision to plug it in and put it on high for the next 2.5 hours. Then we put the jambalaya on low for the next 5.5 hours. After a total of 4.5 hours (this includes the time at high and the time at low), we added the two turkey sausages. Now the addition of turkey sausage was not because the recipe called for it, but more that we had invited friends over and realized we would not have enough food if we just did the shrimp. So in a complete moment of “uh -oh spaghettios”, turkey sausages were added in (we wanted chicken but couldn’t find anything being Super Bowl weekend).

The final and last steps happened after the whole 8 hours of cooking in the crock pot. On low shrimp was added to the jambalaya mix. As the shrimp was mixing in, Orzo was being made on the stove. I am gluten free due to stomach issues, and that day I learned that Orzo was made from a wheat. So, usually this is included in the jambalaya, but because I cannot eat it, we kept it all separate. My roommate’s, the one who found my un-cooking crock pot early in the day, boyfriend stepped up to the task of making the Orzo. At this point, all of the females in the apartment were getting ready for the evening, so he did a great job (and I have no idea how much he used because I was getting dressed) at making an amazing Orzo that accompanied the jambalaya.

Reviews:

This was the first dish I made for others, and I got very positive reviews.  Mind you, the crowd was eating food I made on my birthday so… would they have criticized it?

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Spices – in the house (one of my roommates actually cooks)
  • Total Cost: $65.00
  • People served: 8
  • Preparation: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 10.5 hrs – This includes all of the hiccups I encountered

An Attempt at Pulled Pork

So – this is a recipe that since we have had a crock pot, I have wanted to attempt. However, my experience with pork is very limiting. In fact, I only started eating pork after living in Santiago, Chile my junior year of college.

My first attempt:

I was so excited about making pulled pork, that I just went to the store and bought some pork. Pork chops that is. After doing some research, I found that I bought the wrong piece of pork. Pulled pork does not come from pork chops but from either pork shoulder or pork butt. I also had bought barbeque sauce (a sweet one at that), and after looking at some recipes I found, that you were suppose to use more of a spice rub. Whoopsies!

My Second Attempt:

This time I bought the right kind of pork – a pork shoulder of 4 lbs. I kept the barbeque sauce, because honestly I liked it. So the ingredients I used were:

  • 4 lbs of pork shoulder
  • 1/2 of a medium white onion
  • 1 bottle of barbeque sauce (I used Sugar Ray’s Barbeque Sauce, but you don’t have to)
  • 4-5 dashes of garlic powder

After reading a lot of recipes about pulled pork, I was told to put onions on the bottom of the pot to ensure that the pork does not burn. So I lined the bottom with onions (which is not as easy as one would think because onions are curved and the bottom of the crock pot is relatively flat, so be prepared for some open spaces. I had taken it very literally and spent a good extra 5 minutes trying to figure out how to flatten every piece of onions so the bottom was covered. I gave up in frustration and then realized that the onions didn’t have to touch every part of the bottom of the crock pot.) and then I covered the pork shoulder in 1/4 of the barbeque sauce. I put the crock pot on low for 8 hours. I left the house during this time – The best part of cooking in a crock pot! After 8 hrs, I left the pork fall of the bone (I was and am pretty pumped that my pork came right off the bone – it was AWESOME!!), I added the rest of the barbeque sauce, put the pot on warm and then left it over night. In the end, I had pulled pork for days! It was really delicious and I had it with some mac and cheese and broccolini – a great addition to a great meal!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00 – Pork was the most expensive at $8.10
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total time: 16 hrs – This depends on if you want to let it soak in the juices overnight

Why a blog about Crock Potting?

As I have begun to explore the world of cooking, I have found that I am not very strong suited at baking or grilling etc. However, I have had friends who have talked about the glorious crock pots in their homes and the great meals that they make easily weekly or daily. Now, I have decided to join the fans of crock pots everywhere and start creating new dishes (not necessarily new in the world, but new to me). In this blog, I will be documenting the recipes I make in our lovely crock pot! Please read, enjoy and leave comments!