Full Chicken Crockpot

My older sister is by far my biggest fan of this blog. She is constantly sending me recipes to try, and each one proves to be more delicious than the next one. This time, she presented me with a challenge of cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot based off of this recipe she found while scouring the internet. And this proved to be delicious and has lasted me the whole week.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 2 small onions, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 medium red potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on spice preference
  • 4 pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry with giblets removed

This recipe seemed pretty straight forward, but some how I managed to really mangle parts of it. First of all, the recipe calls for the chicken to be rinsed, patted dry with the giblets removed. I have never removed giblets before. I have seen my mom do it, but to be honest, I had no idea that giblets came in chicken. I thought that giblets only came in turkey, so I didn’t do anything like removing the giblets. I just left the good stuff in when it came to cooking the chicken. I did rinse and pat it dry, but I am not sure how dry it really turned out to be considering that once the dish was done, there was a puddle of water around it making the dish more like a soup than chicken and vegetables.

Moving on, after preparing the chicken, I cut the vegetables and put them in the bottom of my crockpot. Now, my peeler is misplaced, so instead I peeled the carrots using a knife. That was not an easy task. Once all the vegetables were cut and put in the crockpot, what I failed to realize was that the chicken would not fit in my crockpot. But, that was the only crockpot I had, so I stuffed the chicken in there and honestly hoped for the best.

Before I could put the top on the chicken, I had to put melted butter on top and then the seasoning.

Since I really didn’t want to have to do more dishes than necessary, I decided to eyeball all of the seasoning and put in what I thought was the right amount. In the end, I don’t think that really mattered because the seasoning still tasted delicious.

(The chicken before putting the top on.)

The trickiest part was cooking the chicken considering the top would not close on the top of the crockpot. Instead, I had to wait for the vegetables to cook, so the lid could close properly. Also, because of this challenge, the spice stuck to the top of the lid of the crockpot, so some of the chicken’s spice was removed. To combat these slight issues, I decided the chicken would need to cook for longer. I put the crockpot on low for 3 hrs, and then high for 2 hrs. This worked and by the end of it the chicken was cooked. Only downside was that due to the water still in the chicken, the dish was much more of a stew than a chicken dish.

Review:

A little bit spicy but good once all of the liquid drained from the dish. I decided to remove the chicken from the dish and take all the meat off the bone. The chicken was well flavored, and tender. Unfortunately, not all of the chicken was cooked, so I did have to cook some on the stovetop. But I would make this dish again in a heartbeat, just using a bigger crockpot and actually pat dry the chicken.
The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $15.00 (I had a majority of the ingredients)
  • Total time: 20 minutes prep, 5 hours to cook. 5.2 hours total
  • Serving Size: 4 – 6 people

Cheesevat!

I decided that I needed a snack for girl’s night and wanted to make cheese dip. However, I was having trouble finding a dip that would fulfill the requirements of vegetarian and gluten free, so I had to revamp another version of cheese dip.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16-ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup salsa (this was eyeballed)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bottle of gluten free beer
  • 12 oz of blanco cheese Velveta
  • 24 oz of cheese Velveta

As I stated earlier, the challenge with this recipe was making sure that it was gluten free and vegetarian. So when I was at the store, I had to search the shelves for beans that are in fact vegetarian. Did any one know that most beans are cooked in bacon? I only found this out after searching through all the cans in the store to find the very selective/one version of vegetarian beans.

Then came the beer issue, I had to use gluten free beer. The major issue I have with gluten free beer is that most of it tastes horrible. In fact, I actually prefer not to drink gluten free beer because I don’t like the taste that much. Instead, I stick to ciders and wine. I ended up using a bottle of Omission – Lager, the only gluten free beer that I actually enjoy.

Cooking/making the cheese dip was pretty easy, expect for the fact that I ended up forgetting the salsa, and I had to run home for it (I was making the dip at work). First I put in the refried beans, green chilies, oregano, cumin, and garlic powder in the crockpot while it was on warm. Then after running home and grabbing the salsa (both mild and hot), I added the salsa (about 1/2 cup of mild and 1/2 cup of hot), bottle of beer, and cheese. The original recipe called for a Progresso Four Cheese Recipe Starter, but I could not find these at the store, so I went with the typical version of cheese dip: Velveta. Because the original recipe called for a Four Cheese mix, I decided to mix all of the types of Velveta cheese that were present at the store, cheese blanco and regular Velveta. Once that was all stirred, I set the crockpot on low for 2 hrs.

While the cheese dip was blending together, I was working so I could only stir the cheese dip every 45 minutes instead of every 20 minutes. Some of the cheese turned to be a little bit more burned, especially around the top/edges. Because the crockpot was on low, the amount of burnt cheese was quickly removed before serving.

Review:

Delicious! Personally, I am not a fan of Velveta, so this cheese dip is not my favorite, but was overall a crowd favorite. I would make this dip again, if I could add some chili to it. It was a little bit too bland for me.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $12.00
  • Total time: 10 minutes prep, 2 hrs cooking. 2.1 hours
  • Serving Size: 20 + people

Shredded Chicken for Twenty

As a coach,I find myself making enough food for a crowd at least once a season and my go-to dish are tacos. For a previous team, I made multiple types of meats, but for this team I made only chicken, and enough for 20 people to eat as a pre-game meal. This is the moment that I really do appreciate my crockpot, because I could prep the meal throughout the day and I had the meat cooking by 10 am.

I followed a recipe, but adapted it to fit my needs of cooking 10 lbs of chicken in three crockpots.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

(This is serving size for one crockpot – I made 3)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 2/3 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

When cooking for a large group, one needs to have an idea about how much that group can eat. When cooking for a sports team, just assume they can eat. I ended up using this recipe for each one of the crockpots I made, and the proportions varied in each crockpot.

I decided to make it so each crockpot had its own level of spiciness, or so I thought. In the first crockpot, I followed the recipe to a tee. Mixing 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika as my major spices. In the second crockpot, the chili powder got away from me and I accidentally ended up putting in much closer to 3.5 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tsp of cumin and about 2 tsp of paprika. In the last crockpot, I put in 2.5 tbsp of chili powder, 2 tsp cumin and 1.5 tsp of paprika. Honestly, I don’t really think that there were any differences in the spices of each crockpot, but hey at least I tried. All of the other spice measurements stayed the same, as well as the onion (I used sweet onions, relatively small) and garlic.

Now when it came to cooking it all, I will be honest and admit that yet again I did not read the directions so instead of sautéing the onions and garlic before putting them in, I just threw everything in the crockpot and let it cook for 6 hrs on low and the chicken just fell apart with the help of a fork.

The original recipe called for putting the chicken in the crockpot with the tomato sauce, and then for the last hour adding in the spices, onions and garlic. I think my method of mixing it all together and letting it cook for 6 hrs made it more flavorful, but I can’t really compare the two considering I didn’t make the chicken the original way.

Review:

The team loved it and devoured the chicken. I even got some request to do some catering from the girls (all in good fun). I later made the left over chicken into a nice breakfast of scramble eggs, chicken, homemade guacamole on a tortilla. This chicken is bomb and will be lasting me through the week. SUCCESS!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $45.00 – for 10 lbs of chicken
  • Total Time: 30 minutes to prep, 6 hrs of cooking – 6.5 hrs in total
  • Serving Size: 22 people with each having 2 tacos

White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

This is a late post, because I was out of town for a bit, and just realized I never posted this delicious option that rounds out the winter recipes. (I’m crossing my fingers that it is in fact springtime!) This stew was the winner of all of the stews I made this past winter, proving to be both filling and delicious.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried great northern beans
  • 14 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium and gluten free chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 6 oz. container of Baby spinach

When I was looking to make this dish, I was lucky enough to have a great resource to answer all my ingredient questions. For example, I always thought that beans had to soak over night, but as I read the recipe before hand (yes this actually happened this time) it said that I did not need to soak the beans overnight. So I turned to my cooking guru for this recipe and asked why this could be. He explained that because I was cooking the stew for so long, the beans would soak then. I also asked my cooking guru about Kielbasa and what the heck that stuff was. He explained it as the long sausages in a certain section of the food market, so when I went to the store, I just went to the section he suggested and grabbed a turkey version. To be completely honest, I am not sure that it was the right kind of meat, but it sure did taste yummy.

When it came to cooking the recipe, all I did was mix everything together. I had no major mistakes at this point, because stews are easy to make and I read the instructions beforehand. After my gumbo situation, I learned that reading is good and I should do it more consistently in regards to cooking. The only ingredient I did not add at the beginning was the spinach, because the original recipe required that the spinach be added right before serving. So I put the spinach in about 10 minutes before serving.
Review:
Success! This is going to be my go to winter dish.Filling and delicious, this dish had more flavors than I thought it would have considering how few ingredients I used, but it was really good. The beans reminded me of BBQ beans, just soaking up the juices and absorbing the flavor of the meat. One of my friends ended up having about 6 servings of this dish because he enjoyed it so much.
The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $15.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes prep time, 7 hours cooking –  7.25 hours
  • Serving Size: 12 – 14 small bowls, 6 – 7 large bowls
ounces
baby spinach (6 cups)