Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Over Polenta


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I realize that if I emphatically tell you to make everything because of how fabulous it is that I will begin to sound like a certain boy who cried wolf, but this one really is worth a try.  For those of you who like flavor, wonderful results despite simplicity, and slow cookers, this is a home run. 

I found it on kraftfoods.com and I might have been introduced to it through e-mail or just a search.  Surprisingly, this was not a Pinterest find, though I did pin it to my food board for later such experimentation. 

The recipe is easy, nutritious, and, because the slow-cooker does at least 90% of the work, pretty time efficient.  Most importantly, it'll make your eyes roll back in your head and you may just lick your lips after a bite.  Some of you might illicit an "mmmmm."  I made changes to the original recipe, so I'll post the link to the original but write it as I made it.  I didn't deviate too far.

One of the biggest changes I made was to serve the cacciatore over creamy polenta instead of rice.  I am not crazy about rice, so I recommend the polenta or even mashed potatoes or egg noodles in place of rice.  Your choice- just make whatever "base" absorbent!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
inspired by this recipe from Kraft Foods

feeds 6-8

3-4 Tb olive or vegetable oil
3 lb chicken leg quarters or mixed pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs
8 oz small mushrooms, sliced
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and Pepper
4 cups polenta, rice, or mashed potatoes (polenta recipe to follow)

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Drizzle 1-2 Tb. oil in pan.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown chicken on all sides. 

In bottom of slow cooker, place all vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place chicken on top of vegetables and top with the tomatoes and thyme/other herbs. 

Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  Serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. 

feeds 2 (ratios will be included to feed more people)

1/2 cup dry polenta
2 cups total liquid- recommended 1 cup milk, 1 cup water.   (4:1 ration liquid to polenta)
Pinch salt
Pat butter
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese

Bring liquid to a boil in a small pot over high heat.  Add pinch of salt and stir.  Slowly stir in polenta and stir until thickened, about 60 seconds.  Turn down heat and allow mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes until polenta is thickened and desired consistency.  Add pat of butter and 1/4 cup parmesan or parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Roasted Broccoli



I came across this recipe while taking a Pinterest break at work.  It originally comes Ina Garten's book Back to Basics via the Amateur Gourmet blog.  Being that the Amateur Gourmet titled this "the best broccoli of your life," I thought this recipe was worth a pin and try.

Eh.  It's not the best broccoli of my life.  My eyes did not roll back in my head and I didn't swoon, BUT it is an inventive and tasty way to prepare and consume broccoli, so I feel good sharing this with you.  To its credit, the broccoli remained firm (translate: not mushy) and the taste was reminiscent to me of kale chips.

The preparation is simple, and the dish would make a great side to any meat, and I just thought about how it might be fun tossed with pasta and served as a main dish, being that there are also lemon, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic involved. 

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Pine Nuts
from amateur gourmet

4-5 lb broccoli, cut into florets
7 Tb Olive Oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
zest and juice of a lemon
3 Tb. toasted pine nuts
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tb. shredded basil

Preheat oven to 425.   Put the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Toss with 4-5 Tb olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add garlic cloves.  Roast in the oven 20 to 25 minutes, until “crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.”  When it’s done, take it out of the oven.  Zest a lemon over the broccoli, squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli, add 1.5 Tbs more olive oil, 3 Tbs toasted pine nuts, and 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Finish with the 2 Tb. shredded basil. 

  • I bought some broccoli from Aldi, and therefore have no idea my starting weight.  I eyeballed everything accordingly. 

Roasted Garlic Pasta (Salad)


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I would have sworn I had more pictures, such as ones of the roasted garlic or the mixing, but I can't find them.  Oh, well.  Continuing on the Pinterest kick, I found made this recipe, which lasted about 6-8 meals.  Drew didn't eat any of it, which is why I'm sure it stretched a little further.  I would and did tweak it for future use, and that'll be discussed in the notes section. 

I do recommend this recipe for anyone who likes pasta salads and pre-made lunch items.  With a little preparation can come a big payoff, and this recipe proves that.  It's also budget conscious.  It's easy and relatively quick, so why not? 

I'm posting this recipe as I made it.  Click on the recipe title for the original recipe. 

Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad
from Budget Bytes

1 chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1- 5 oz container of spinach or arugula (or a mix)
12 oz. seashell or oricchette pasta
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1- 15 oz container ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 head garlic, roasted
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Tb. basil, shredded. 

Roast the garlic in the oven if you haven't already done so.  The link "garlic, roasted" above will show you how to do that.  While the garlic is roasting, it's a good time to cook and cool/cube your chicken.

As the garlic cools and the chicken is now prepped, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Generously salt it and add the pasta, cooking until al dente, about 8-10 minutes.

While pasta cooks, pop the garlic cloves out of their papery shells and mince them.  Place the garlic, along with the ricotta cheese, pepper, and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water and stir until smooth. 

Turn off the burner, drain pasta and return it to the pot.  Add the chicken, spinach, ricotta, and tomatoes and stir to combine.  Now add your parmesan cheese and basil and stir well. 

Serve warm or cool.

Cook's Notes
  • I would likely decrease the pasta to 1/2 lb.  I just felt that the ratio of other ingredients to pasta was a bit off.  That does, however, stretch it.  You decide!
  • To beef it up, I'd add another chicken breast. 

Pinterest find- Key West Grilled Chicken


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Isn't it fascinating the way social media changes the way we learn and discover things?  Following Snookie on Twitter may not be the type of learning you want to foster, but Pinterest and the blogosphere open up a whole host of new material- recipes to try, books to read, DIYs to attempt.  I love the creativity and adventurousness of others!  For a long time I personally resisted Pinterest food pinning because they weren't trusted sources, but now the food board is probably my biggest or my most used board and I'm slowly working my way through recipes I've pinned and will share them here. 

Today's post is Key West Grilled Chicken (no longer pinned), and as the unofficial end to summer has passed and the days shorten, our grilling days may be numbered, but this one is a good recipe to have in your repertoire.  I doubt it'll ever be a superstar, but it's a good base marinade to have on hand, and if you're the deviant type who plays around with recipes, you will find lots of ways to tweak this one.  I made it pretty much as is, except that I used chicken thighs rather than breast meat.  It's also an affordable recipe, coming from grocerybudget101.com.  Next time I'm adding some spice to the marinade- both Drew and I agreed that a little heat from crushed red pepper or cayenne would benefit this.

Aside from its baseline goodness and adaptability, the recipe is quick and affordable.  From fridge to plate in less than an hour, and that includes marinating time!

Key West Grilled Chicken
from this site

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tbs. honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Juice of 1 Lime
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes. If you prefer kebabs, as are pictured, cut the chicken into large chunks, skewer onto bamboo sticks that have been soaked in water for 5 minutes, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

For a slightly zestier version, add a teaspoon of Freshly Chopped cilantro to the marinade.

Grill on medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear. Serve with fresh salad, steamed veggies, baked potato or any of your favorite sides. For variation, try marinating shrimp, (which will take 2-4 minutes to grill in all!)