Eggplant Lasagna

Since I am about to go into full on anti-social mode – aka season as a coach, I decided to really branch out of my crock pot zone and create an eggplant parmesan. In all honesty, my experiences with eggplant is very limited. In fact, I have never made it before today. So I went to my favorite resource, Pintrest and researched how to make eggplant – after I had already made the Eggplant Lasagna

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 container of kale
  • 3 tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 piece of vegan mozzarella cheese
  • garlic powder

 

Preheat the oven to 425, and put the sliced eggplant covered with olive oil and garlic powder into the oven for 15 minutes. (I did not do this, and I very much regret it. My eggplant was very tough and needed more time to cook. So next time I will precook the eggplant).

While the eggplant is in the oven, slice the tomatoes, and rinse the kale. Once out of the oven, in a pan about 9″ x 9″, layer your sliced eggplant, then tomato and then kale and repeat. Once you have reached the top part of your pan, evenly pour on your balsamic vinaigrette across the towers. Then put on your mozzarella and cover with tin foil. Let the whole dish sit for a few hours in the fridge. (This is not necessary, but what I had to do because I had to go to work that day. Otherwise you can pop it straight into the oven).

Put the dish in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes with the tin foil on. Then remove the tin foil, and broil the dish for 2 – 5 minutes so the cheese melts and get a bit brown. Serve hot.

Review:

Since I straight up had no idea how to make eggplant, I would say my dish was a bit al dente. My friends disagreed and said it was great. But I think they say that so I keep making them food. I want to make this dish again, but with having the eggplant actually cooked through.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $10.00
  • Total Time: 50 minutes, 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking. Longer if you let the dish chill in the fridge
  • Serving Size: 6 – 8 pieces

Salsa Chicken in a Sweet Potato

imageMy roommate deserves full credit for this post. She taught me an amazing trick for this crockpot dish, and the main reason for me posting such an easy recipe, is I really like my food photo I took to go a long with the post. (Thanks Instagram!)

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package, ~ 3 lbs of chicken thighs
  • 1 jar of mild salsa, 12 oz. (whatever spice level you want works here)

That’s it. Literally, put the chicken in the crockpot, add your jar of salsa. Put the crockpot on low for 5 hours, and you are done.

Once the chicken was done, I added black beans, red onions, and cut up cherry tomatoes to my chicken and put it on a baked sweet potato with some melted cheese. The chicken is a great base for any dish you need to make. Could work for tacos, quesadillas, or just on top of a salad! Thanks roommate!

Review:

Delicious! This will become me week go to!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $12.00 – chicken and the jar
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Serving Size: 6 meals

Christmas Dinner Part 3: Chicken Korma 

This dish proved to be the most difficult dish to cook, with way more time than I allowed per usual. I really thought that this time I had read the recipe enough to know how much time was needed. But nope. Per usual, that did not happen. Instead, I made it work. (Thanks Tom Gunn).

Recipe: 

Ingredients:

For chicken:

  • 3 lbs. chicken thighs and breast
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. Garam  masala 
  • 2 tbsp. Curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper

For sauce

  • 2 white onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tsp. Curry powder
  • 2 tsp. Turmeric
  • 2 tsp. Garam masala
  • 1 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 3 tbsp. Olive oil 
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 small chile
  • 1 tbsp. Brown sugar

To prep for this dish I again had all of the spices ore made before the trip to the mountains, which was a huge time saver and great for blending everything together. As instructed, this time I actually put the chicken in the fridge with the spices over night to really let the chicken soak up the flavor. I would love to use these spices again on chicken in general. Actually, the only spice I think that I really like is Garam Masala. I think I just want that spice on everything!

After the chicken marinated, I cooked the chicken in a skillet and olive oil for about 10 minutes, just until cooked. I removed the chicken off of skillet pan, and reduce the heat to medium, where I sautéed the onion, tomatoes and garlic. Once those had browned a little bit, I added the spices, and everything else. I let that all simmer for 15 minutes (it was suppose to be 30, but I did not have that kind of time). I then put in my bite size pieces of chicken into the sauce, almost  causing for the whole pan to overflow. Well it kind of did while I let the whole thing simmer for about 5 minutes before I served the whole dish with Nann (1/2 cup gluten free flower, 1/2 cup ground almonds, 1 cup coconut milk and cooked like a pancake). 

  

Review:

The better of the two dishes, and much better the next day. In fact, I really wish I had let it simmer the full time to get the full flavor! It was good, not as creamy as the restaurant style, but good none the less. The chicken tiki masala from last year was better, but I am glad I made this dish and I’d try it again!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: ??? Thanks Mom and Dad
  • Total Time: 15 prep, 45 cooking – 1 hour
  • Serving size: 6 – 12 dishes 

Egg and Veggie Bacon Baskets

When I was left alone for a weekend, I got to cooking. And by cooking, I mean making way to much food for just one person. My biggest accomplishment of the weekend were inspired by these bacon baskets. Truthfully, I found making these challenging and time consuming, but I was also crafting away working on my Christmas gifts for my family, so the breaks helped to keep me on track with my other project of the weekend.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1 carton of small or medium eggs (Large will not work for this dish)
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup of spinach

With few ingredients, one would think little challenge. False. The first coming in cooking the bacon so that it is halfway cooked so you can bend it around the inside of a cupcake pan, but not so raw that it will not cook through later nor burn. This seems like a very detailed explanation, I still found the idea very vague, probably because until this year I had never made bacon. However, once I had successfully fried my bacon on a skillet and let it cool on a paper towel, then came the process of making a basket.

I used some coconut oil, and sprayed the heck out of the muffin pan, because I really did not want to have a broken yolk on me when it came to getting these baskets out of the case. When it came to making the bacon baskets, I found one strip could be the outside, where as about two small pieces of bacon made the bottom. I put the bottoms on first, and then the bacon around the edge.

With the baskets made, I put in my sauteed mushrooms, onions and spinach in the bottom of the basket. I topped the basket with an egg. The most difficult part of putting the eggs in was ensuring that it did not cause an overflow. Stopping the eggs whites from overflowing became a really fun game for myself. Just use your eyes.

Then I put the cupcake pan in the oven at 375 for 12 minutes.

  
Review:

Since I ate a majority of them, in fact all of them. I will say – very good indeed! I would love to make these again for a brunch (since it was relatively painless and I now know how to make bacon halfway cooked). Also, I would love to try this made with scrambled eggs instead of the eggs baked.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00 – for all fresh produce, eggs and bacon
  • Total time: 30 minutes prep, 12 minutes cooking. 45 minutes total
  • Serving Size: 12 Bacon Baskets

 

Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Meat Balls in a Cassoulet Pan

My roommate and I are on the Whole 30 diet trying to better our eating habits and she came across a recipe for spaghetti squash and sausage balls. I went to the store and found the sausage balls in the recipe called for beef, which did not fit our requirements, so instead I went with ground turkey and I was pretty happy with the meat. The spaghetti squash on the other hand was not what I wanted. Recipe: Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound of ground Turkey
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, I used a 14 ounce can. (All the tomatoes sauces I found had extra sugar in there, so I went with organic diced tomatoes)
  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, whole.
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (Oregano, Basil, Thyme)

Shopping was a little difficult for this dish, because I had to adhere to the new diet. The most difficult part was getting the right spaghetti squash, because the store had two versions. I went with the one closest to the one in the picture, and hoped for the best. After that, finding the right kind of tomatoes proved to be hard because most cans of tomato sauce had sugar. In stead I went with a can of diced tomatoes, which was a great replacement. Lastly, I was looking for hot pepper relish, but couldn’t find anything that worked. Instead I ended up cutting up half a jalapeño, which added a nice kick. Done with the shopping meant it was time to cook. The set up was easy, until the part of “putting both cut halves of the spaghetti squash in the crockpot.” Cutting the spaghetti squash in half proved hard, and emptying out the seeds took some effort. The real challenge came with trying to figure out how to fit the spaghetti squash into a more cylinder crockpot. The website had said the crockpot should be able to fit 6 quarts, which this one did, but was not a wide on the bottom of the pot. So I had to turn to plan B: Google how to cook a crockpot recipe in the oven. That’s when I found a website that told me how to convert any crockpot dish so it can be made in the oven. So I transferred my tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, olive oil, and jalapeño into the cassoulet pan. (I had to look that up since that a fancy name for a pot roast pan). After putting in the two spaghetti squash halves, I added the ground turkey balls into the sauce around the squash. Then I put the pan into the oven for an one hour and 15 minutes. The cassoulet pan ready to go into the oven. After the meal had completely cooked, I ended up letting the dish cool down for about 30 minutes/continue to cook. I think at this point I made my mistake. Instead of removing everything from the cassoulet pan within 15 minutes, I waited till the spaghetti squash had cooled down enough to handle. I think this lead to the reason why the spaghetti squash was not really spaghetti, but a cooked squash. Also, the spaghetti squash soaked up all of the left over liquid, adding to the mushiness. I have yet to master making spaghetti squash. I’ve decided it’s much harder than anyone described. Not an easy item to cook. The final product. Almost looks like spaghetti and meatballs. Review:  Not my favorite dish because the spaghetti squash did not come out well. Also the dish was pretty bland. In the end, we ate the meatballs, but not a lot of the spaghetti squash. I would not make this dish again. The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total cost: $15.00
  • Total time: 20 minutes prep, 1 hr and 45 minutes cooking. 2 hrs and 5 minutes total
  • Serving size: 6-8 people

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

Citrus Taco Chicken

After last week’s successful shredded pork tacos, I decided I wanted to do tacos again this week for lunch. Instead of going with a traditional chicken taco mix though, I found this recipe which gives a different take on the traditional chicken mix by having some oranges and lime juice.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 oranges – squeezed so it’s just the juice
  • 2 limes – squeezed so it’s just the juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Overall, this was a very smooth recipe that I literally threw together and let cook. After prepping the chicken (removing any and all excess fat), I put it in the crockpot. Then I squeezed two oranges worth of juice into the crockpot. Now squeezing fruit is much more of an activity than I thought. Honestly, it took me a couple of minutes per each half of orange just to make sure I got all of the juice out of it without using a machine. The limes, now that’s a different story.

Did you know that limes can dry out? I don’t know if scientifically it can, but one of my limes would not squeeze out juice. I had to squeeze out each individual part of the lime. This took forever, and not a lot of juice came out of the lime. In fact, maybe a teaspoon worth of juice from each half.  I literally felt like I was trying to squeeze out a baseball or something. Nothing was working. So I think that this recipe could have had more of a citrus/lime flavor, if I didn’t have one dried out lime (I only had two limes and I didn’t want to go back to the store for another one, so I just made it work).

The rest of the recipe went down without any issues. Minced garlic, (not chopped because I didn’t read the recipe right), chili powder, cumin, oregano (leafy oregano because I don’t know what the difference is between oregano and leafy oregano), salt and pepper. I put the crockpot on low for 6 hrs, but after 5 hrs the house smelled too good to not check on the recipe and the chicken was ready.

For the last step, I separated the chicken and put it on a baking sheet. Then I poured 1/4 cup of juice onto the chicken and put it in the oven under the broil for 5 minutes. Then I flipped the chicken, poured 1/4 more cup of juice over the chicken and put it back under the broiler for 5 minutes. Then I put the chicken in a container with 1/4 more of a cup of juice. The product – a nice and juicy chicken option for tacos.

Review:

A good chicken mix with tacos. The hint of citrus is really nice, and pairs well with some orange bell peppers, red onions, avocado, cheese and cilantro. I enjoyed it! I will be making this again for chicken taco mix because it did not require a pre-made taco mix, making it cleaner and more natural (because one can control how much salt goes into the mix).

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $23.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes to prep, 5 hrs to cook, 15 minutes to crisp – 5.5 hrs.
  • Serving Size: 12 – 16 tacos (at 2 tacos per a person) so 6 – 8 tacos.

IMG_0025
The final Product, crispy chicken tacos.

Taco Carnitas

In preparation for the week, I decided to make meat that I could mix with different things all week – carnitas (or pork).The recipe I picked out made enough pork to last for days worth of leftovers, which is great since I haven’t had time to cook much this week. Also, this recipe requires more than just using the crockpot, upping the level of difficulty.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 (3.5 lb.) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 8 oz. beer
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

First thing first. The original recipe calls for 1 Tbsp. of chipotle powder, but apparently I didn’t have it, so I made my own. What I didn’t realize at the time was that chipotle powder comes from chili’s, dried out, crunched up chili peppers, so instead what I really made was more chili powder, not chipotle powder. Whoopsies!

I cut up the pork into 3 inch pieces then browned the pork. Using the 1 tbsp of oil, I browned the pork for about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. While the pork was browning, I cut up the onion into diced pieces and minced the 4 big pieces of garlic. I put all of this into the crockpot. To be honest, there was a lot of pork in my crockpot. I am not sure I could have fit anymore, even though the original recipe called for 4 – 5 pounds of meat.

IMG_1273

Before 6 hrs in the crockpot.

Next came all of the spices, including the blend I made myself. Then I let the pork sit for 6 hrs on low after mixing in the spices, garlic and onion.

Once the pork was ready, I pulled about 1/4th of it out, pulled it a part with fork (it fell apart without even trying), and then put it on an aluminum covered baking sheet. After putting some juice on it, I put it under the broiler in the oven for about 5 minutes. The original recipe called for it go through it twice, but after the first time through the boiler, the pork was really crispy and ready to eat. I ended up making about 1/4th of the pork this way, and left the rest in the juice to eat for the rest of week, letting the pork soak in all of the juice for the rest of the week.

IMG_1274-0

After 6 hrs in the crockpot and broiled to a crisp.

Review:

Really good, and makes enough pork for the week. The pork has a really nice kick to it, but I do wonder what the kick would have been like had it been chipotle powder instead of a mix of paprika and cayenne pepper. I would make this again! Everyone liked the dish who had it!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $24.00 – the pork was the most expensive
  • Total time: 25 minutes for prep, 6 hrs for the crockpot, 10 minutes for after prep – 6 hrs and 35 minutes total
  • Serving Size: 10 – 14 people

Honey Garlic Chicken

I have slowly but surely been working my way down this list from the Huffington Post. Now, this dish is something I threw together in a short amount time. Instead of giving it the full day to cook, I made this dish in 2 hours and as my friend told me, it was still amazing. We are literally obsessed with this Honey Garlic Chicken and trying to think of when we can make it again since we both liked it so much and found it very filling.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 large bone-in, skinless chicken breasts (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup low sodium gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup blackberry jam
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of corn starch
  • 3 Tablespoons of cold water

This whole recipe began with the grocery shopping. Finding bone in skinless chicken breast turned out to be an adventure in and of itself. I was able to found the bone-in chicken breasts with skin, so that’s what I bought. Next came finding hoisin sauce. I had no idea what that was, so I began my search in the salad dressing aisle, before using my Google machine to learn that it is a spice used in Asian food which made my search much easier in the store. Then came the blackberry jam. Here is one thing that I have never fully understood: what is the difference between jam and jelly? On the shelf in the store, jam was more expensive than the jelly, and because the recipe called for jam I bought the blackberry jam. However, is there any difference?

The cooking/making the meal part was very easy. After removing the skin from the chicken breasts, I placed them in the bottom of the crockpot and put it on high. Then I whisked together the honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, olive oil and garlic and put it on top of the chicken.

After two hours on high (the original recipe calls for 4 – 5 hours on low), the chicken was moist and had cooked all the way through. At this point, the only mistake I made at this point, was that I didn’t think to separate the chicken breasts to allow for the sauce to get in between the breasts and to really soak the meat. Looking back at the original recipe, I realize that the author stated that the chicken breasts should not be touching. There was simply not enough room in my crockpot for that to happen, so next time I will simply lift up a breast to let the sauce reach all parts of the chicken. In the end, the lack of the evenness of the sauce really did not matter because I poured the thickened sauce over the chicken.

After removing the chicken from the sauce, came the shredding of the chicken. The easiest method I found to do this was to use two forks and to pull the chicken apart. This took more time than I anticipated, so I kept the sauce in the crockpot on high for longer than anticipated. The sauce remained very soupy throughout the whole crockpot/cooking process, so after removing the chicken I combined the sauce with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in a saucepan at medium heat. Once the sauce had thickened (after about 10 minutes of stirring it in the saucepan), I poured it over the shredded chicken and the quinoa (what we, my friend and I, had decided to serve it over). The original recipe called for green onions and sesame seeds, and honestly I forgot those, but the dish was still delicious.

2015/01/img_1249-0.jpg
The finished product!

Review:

AMAZING! That was all my friend could say. We have been texting non-stop about when we can make it again and who else we can make it for. Yes, it is that good. Everyone make it now! A real crowd pleaser!

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $20.00
  • Total Time: 30 minutes prep, 2 hrs in the crock pot, 30 minutes to shred the chicken/thicken the sauce – so 3 hours total
  • Serving Size: 4 people
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Chicken Sausage Stew

Now this recipe was one that was made for the mountains. But before I get into the recipe, I have to give a shout out to the old school crockpot that I have been cooking my past three meals in. This is a 1970s original that belongs to my father, and is the definition of vintage. I sent this photo to some of my friends, and one even asked if it was safe to cook in, which it is. The colors are what make this crockpot seem dated, but it works just as well as the more recent models, just missing some newer modifications like the fact that the pot part of the crockpot can’t be removed.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/ab5/63708718/files/2014/12/img_1153.jpg

But onto the chicken sausage stew.

Recipe:

Ingredients:
– ~ 2 lbs of chicken (breasts and thighs)
– 12 oz of chicken apple sausage
– 2 tbsp olive oil (This would be because I had a mistake, it should really be 1)
– 1 large onion minced
– 6 cloves of garlic minced
– 1 tbsp tomato paste
– 1/2 tsp dried thyme
– A pinch of red pepper flakes
– 3 tbsp gluten free flour
– 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth (low sodium, reduce fat and gluten free)
– 2 Bay leaves
– 1 29 oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
– 8 oz spinach thawed and drained
– Parmesan for serving

This recipe also called for me to use a skillet (I am really beginning to broaden my horizon when it comes to my crock pot skills apparently). So lets get my first uh-oh out of the way. I am not used to having to use a skillet when making my crockpot concoctions, so when I read that I needed a tablespoon of olive oil, I automatically put it in the crockpot. That’s when I read that I was supposed to put the olive oil in the skillet, so whoopsies.

Again, reading the recipe before cooking is important. So then I actually followed the recipe, and put the other tablespoon in the skillet. Next I seared the chicken, browning all sides. This made me begin to think, in a lot of my other recipes I have not been browning my chicken, but was I suppose to be? I have found (through both internet research and personal experience) that chicken thighs cook very well in a crockpot and if chicken breasts are cut into smaller pieces, they remain juicer than not. So I am a bit confused as to why I need to brown chicken for this recipe and the one posted before. And then I realized that I usually cook most of my crockpot dishes with chicken for 8 hours, but these past two dishes have called for 4 – 6 hours of cooking, so the chicken needs to be pre-cooked/prepped.

Moving on, I cut up my onion into minced pieces (and man oh man were my eyes watering, to the point where I had to ask for help from my mom) and minced the garlic previous to cooking the chicken, because immediately post chicken I needed to put in the onion. I added the onion with some more olive oil until the onions became slightly browned. Then I added the tomato paste, garlic, dried thyme, red pepper flakes and flour. Quick side note, who knew that there were so many ways tomato could be made ie into paste, puree, sauce, just plain tomatoes? I really wonder who made all of these forms of tomatoes available for cooking and how, but that is for another time. At this point, I made a sauce that smelled really delicious, but to be honest I was not sold on the taste, as it looked very thick. The original recipe called for either 1/2 cup of dried wine at this point or chicken broth, and I opted for the chicken broth for two reasons: 1) one less item to shop for and 2) it got me out of the store quickly, which was what I needed the day I was shopping (what I called in a previous post as the Christmas Eve Rush). So to loosen up the “sauce” (I’m not sure what the formal name would be for this mixture), I added half a cup of broth slowly to the simmering sauce. After a couple of minutes, I poured in 1 cup of broth and stirred that in, making sure to get all of the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet and poured this all into the slow cooker.

Once all of it was in the slow cooker, I added in the last two cups of chicken broth, the bay leaves, and the cannellini beans and put the slow cooker on low for 6 hours. I made this dish without the intention of eating it right away for two reasons: 1) we had reservations that night and 2) because the chicken was going to go bad soon. So I put this in the crockpot before my parents were having a party as this was the only time I had to cook the dish that day, and truthfully I forgot about it for about 6.5 hours. That’s when I finally remembered the dish and added the last two ingredients of thawed and drained spinach and the chicken sausage. The only thing I was worried about was the sausage. I have learned that most sausages are pre-cooked, so I just added the sausage without pre-cooking it. Thirty minutes later, I turned off the slow cooker and let it cool. Once at room temperature, I transferred the stew into a bowl to sit in the fridge over night to be eaten at a later date.

Review:

Huge hit! Literally everyone loved it. Great for the family, and ample amount of food for a post- ski lunch!

The Nitty Gritty:
– Total Cost: $35.00
– Total Time: 30 minutes prep, 7 hours cooking, 7.5 hours
– Serving Size: 8 – 10 bowls