Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

The first time I met the Fox family was at Mythbusters Live. I’ve lived in Kansas City for about 15 ½ years. I barely ever run into people I know out and about. But since I met Jeremiah, it seems like we run into people he knows everywhere – Sam’s Club, the grocery store, dinner, and yes, even at shows. I think we also ran into an old coworker of his at Mythbusters Live.

Travis is the brother of Kelly (mentioned in a previous post). Jeremiah has been friends with the Fox brother since they were little kids. It’s actually really cool because everyone seems to get together around the holidays to celebrate Layla’s (our own niece) birthday. Travis and Molly’s son Lex is pretty close in age to our nephew Aiden. It’s nice to see a second generation of kids playing together.

I’ve made chicken and dumplings before but this is my favorite recipe. It’s easy-peasy since you can cook it in the slow cooker.

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings by Travis and Molly Fox
IMG_0179
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 T. butter
2 cans cream of chicken
1 can chicken broth
2 T. dried onion
1 T. parsley
4 Grands biscuits

Put chicken in Crockpot with butter. Add soups, broth, onion, and spices. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

After it’s cooked, shred chicken and add back to soup. Cut biscuits into 9 pieces. Stir into soup. Cover and cook on high for 1 more hour.

Notes:

  • I used 2 T. of Lipton’s dry onion soup mix.

Tortilla Chicken

72b2b6a5-cc89-4230-bfe7-7021e7fe9d55On our honeymoon in San Antonio, Jeremiah and I took a day trip to Gruene. The locals call it Green because that’s what the German word means. We were surprised to learn about the rich German culture in the area. And without a doubt, Gruene was probably our favorite part excursion. This is little town is filled with wineries, restaurants, music performances, and adorable shops.

Our first stop was the Winery on the Gruene. Jeremiah and I always like to ask the locals where they like to eat. We were told people always go to Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar but we should checkout Gruene River Grill. The woman said the food was just as good (if not better), the wait would be shorter, and they have air conditioning. AC in Texas July – I was sold. Jeremiah ordered the Pan Seared Redfish and loved it. I ordered Queso Chicken. This dish was something I thought I might be able to recreate at home. The recipe below was Jeremiah and my attempt to recreate. I think we got close on the chicken but I can’t come anywhere close to the best black beans and rice I’ve ever eaten. We used Vigo Black Bean and Rice because they are pretty good.

Tortilla Chicken by Amber Bourek
IMG_0169.JPGBoneless skinless chicken breast
Salsa Verde
Crushed tortilla chips
Queso salsa

Marinade the chicken in Salsa Verde. Then, roll in crushed tortilla chips coating both sides. Place in a sprayed baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Top with queso and return to the oven for 5 additional minutes.

Notes:

  • You can make salsa verde from scratch. We used a jar.
  • The original recipe also had Monterey jack cheese on the chicken and topped with pico de gallo.

Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

A few ago weeks, I was going through my Pinterest account looking for some new recipes. This is a new one we tried and really liked. I hope you like it took.

Smothered Bacon Ranch Chicken Penne Pasta from Laugh with Us Blog
img_1185One package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 lb. chicken breast
2 garlic cloves
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. penne pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 package ranch seasoning mix
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. water

In a large bowl, mix garlic, ranch seasoning, cream of chicken, sour cream, pepper, and water. Place chicken in Crockpot and cover in sauce. Cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high. About 30 minutes before it’s done, add cooked pasta and bacon.

Notes:

  • I used reduced sodium cream of chicken soup and light sour cream. 
  • I substituted a spiral pasta. 
  • Instead of mixing in the bacon, I cooked half a package and just sprinkled on top with parsley.

 

Chicken Biryani

For a house warming gift, my boyfriend Jeremiah’s sister bought us a box of food from Hello Fresh. She was telling us about it a few months back because her mother-in-law had bought them some as a Christmas gift. If you aren’t familiar with it, they are one of those companies where they ship you all the ingredients to make a couple of recipes. The focus is on fresh ingredients.

With Hello Fresh, you can select from 2 or 4 servings. They have two boxes to chose from – regular or vegetarian. Each comes with three recipes and all the ingredients you need to prepare those recipes (except oil, salt, and pepper). Each of the three recipes comes in its own individual box. At the bottom of the large box is all the fresh meat. All the recipes have similar ingredients. That means sense from a cost prospective. They also work it so you can reuse ingredients like chicken stock concentrate to cook peas and make gravy. They are pretty simple recipes and often increase less common ingredients like ginger, golden raisins, and parsnips. All the recipes called frying the meat. Since this isn’t how we normally cook our meat, we modified this recipe by baking the chicken.

This particular recipe had fresh peas in it. I hate peas. Jeremiah asked if I wanted to not include them. They looked very fresh so I said we could include them. I decided if I hated them, I could always pick them out. That’s normally what I do with fried rice. To my surprise, I did not hate them in this recipe and ate all of them. I think the sweetness of the golden raisins helped. I’m sharing this recipe because it was the most complex and flavorful of the recipes we prepared. We kept the recipe because Jeremiah wants to make it again. Although this recipe was supposed to be just two servings, we ended up with a lot of extra rice. We ended up added preparing a little more roasted chicken breast and getting two more servings out of it. The leftovers were pretty good too.

If you would like to check them out for yourself, I did see a Groupon for them last week. I’m not sure if it is still available but I think you were able to get a two serving box of three recipes for $40 – or about $6.50 per serving.

Chicken BiryaniCrispy Chicken Biryani by Hello Fresh
2 Chicken Thighs (bone in, skin on)
¾ c. Basmati rice
4 oz. fresh peas
1 red onion
1 plum tomato
1 lime
1 jalapeno
1 ginger root
2 cloves of garlic
¼ oz. cilantro
1 oz. golden raisins
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garam masala
1 packet of chicken stock concentrate
1 tsp. oil

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Coat a pan with oil and cook chicken. Meanwhile, prep remaining ingredients. Dice the onion and tomato. Peel and grate the ginger. Mince the garlic. Cut jalapeno (remove seeds for less spice). Chop cilantro. Slice lime into wedges. Remove chicken from pan but leave the leave the oil in the pan. Add onion and jalapeno to pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Then, add garlic, ginger, garam masala, and cumin. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato, rice, raisins, chicken stock, and 1 ¾ c. water to the pan. Season the pan with dash of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12-14 minutes. Stir in peas. Cook uncovered for 3-5 additional minutes. Squeeze with a few lime wedges and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with remaining lime wedges.

Let the SNAP Challenge Begin

Since I am going to be out of town next week, my boyfriend and I started the Harvesters SNAP Challenge on Monday. I have to say, I hope the first day was the hardest.

6:10 AM – I’m up early on my day off. I’m making Jeremiah’s coffee, breakfast, and packing lunch. This gives him a few extra minutes to get ready. I run his K-cup through the Keurig twice – once at 6 oz. and once at 10 oz. This gives him two full cups, all be it watered down, coffee.

6:50 AM – Breakfast is over. I’m disappointed that the ingredients to make 12-16  inch pancakes has resulted in 11 – three inch pancakes. We ate six of them. I’m wondering if this will keep us full until lunch. We normally eat an English muffin for breakfast with 8 grams of fiber. I usually combine mine with a bowl of cereal or an egg.

7:47 AM – As I’m leaving the post office, all I can think about is food. I’m thinking about that little girl in the documentary “A Plate at the Table” who said she couldn’t concentrate  in class because all she could think of when she looked at her teacher’s head was a giant hamburger. I’m nervous about my day off being in an apartment full of food. I normally cook a lot of recipes on my day off. Will being surrounded by food all day entice me?

8:30 AM – Doing laundry. This should help keep me busy.

8:52 AM – I walked into the club house at my apartment complex to put money on my laundry card. I am immediately tempted by a bowl of candy. I know I can’t take any because it isn’t in my budget. Not everyone on SNAP has a bowl of free candy accessible to them.

9:20 AM –  I found a coupon for a free Sobe flavored water at HyVee. I’m so excited because Jeremiah loves these and they are off limit this week. Even buying them at Sam’s Club for about $.90 each we still can’t afford them in our budget. I told Jeremiah I needed a box of saltine crackers ($1.34 for 154 crackers) to get me through hunger pains. He didn’t pick his guilty pleasure item yet.

9:38 AM – This may be the cleanest my kitchen has ever been. All food and cookbooks have been put away. (This includes the three boxes of Thin Mint cookies is just got from a Girl Scout last week). Out of site, out of mind.

M&M9:45 AM – I almost reach for a few M&Ms as I walk into my apartment from doing laundry. I immediately cover the bowl with Saran wrap. (These are my real guilt pleasure.)

10:10 AM – Those noises my stomach has been making all morning are starting to feel like real hunger. I’m wondering if I can get four pancakes per serving out the mix for the next four days.

10:15 AM – I just took out recycling. Suddenly, those empty food containers are very noticeable. As soon as I come back in, I notice this week’s ads starring at me.

10:38 AM – Downing a glass of water. Will this help fill me up?

10:40 AM – I’m finding myself contemplating pulling out my yoga mat. It will be good for me. Perhaps I can meditate and “drop the story line”. Or maybe I should pray to God. Perhaps he can help me with these hungry feelings. But wait, what if he wants me to feel hungry? Maybe I need to feel this to better explain food insecurity to others. Jeremiah and I are like so many of the people we serve at Harvesters – hard working. According to the last hunger study, 49% of people served by Harvesters have at least one person in their household working. Additionally nearly 50% of the people who receive food are children, seniors, or disabled.

10:55 AM – I’m taking myself back to my days as a volunteer with an addictions group at the Jackson County Jail. We all have addictions and mine is food. I remember an Addiction Therapist Valencia saying when you have a craving it takes only about 45 seconds to figure out how you are going to feed that craving. But if you can distract your mind in that time by doing something, you can get your mind off it. I find myself now watching the dryer count down from five minutes singing the words to “Pump up the Jam” while marching in place. Seriously, I might be losing my mind!

11 AM – I’m debating about turning on the TV. I don’t have DVR which means I’ll either have to watch TV or put in a DVD. Rachel Ray is out today. I can’t watch a food show when I’m hungry and can’t eat. I decided to watch How I Met Your Mother. Do you know how many commercials there are during this show for Olive Garden, Chili’s and Red Robin? I’ve never been so excited to see a commercial for Dance Moms or Little Women: LA in all my life. I decided to mute the commercial breaks.

11:23 AM – I find myself laughing. It takes my mind off food for a few minutes.

11:30 AM – It’s Jeremiah’s lunch time. Normally, he would be eating out with his coworker Dan. They eat out every Monday and Friday. I’ve thought about texting him a million times this morning. I don’t want to bring up how much I’ve been thinking about food though if he isn’t.

11:37 AM – Laundry is done. Debating about going to the gym since I’m worried about working off too many calories.

11:42 AM – Drink my third glass of water. It’s free and will hopefully fill me up.

11:55 AM – I break down and eat five crackers and drink a fourth glass of water.

Noon – While driving to the gym, I notice every fast food restaurant on my block. I have to keep focused looking straight ahead so I don’t think about it. My gym shares a parking lot with Margarita’s which isn’t helping. It’s sunny but cold outside so I try to focus on this instead. Maybe I’ll drive home through a residential neighborhood.

12:20 PM – I stop feeling sorry for myself by reading the closed captioning on the news. It’s so depressing watching stories about how people in Tennessee are without power from an ice storm and terrorist are plotting attacks on malls.

12:50 PM – Ran to HyVee to get another can of chickpeas. Jeremiah was right, the hummus recipe wasn’t enough for 10 servings. I pretend I have on the goggles on that Ted wears on How I Met Your Mother so we don’t see the score of the Super Bowl game before they watch it on DVR. I’m laser focused on the aisle with the canned veggies.

1:15 PM – Lunch is ready. I’m now regretting my decision to buy no salt added garbanzo beans or to not make more chips. I’m also wishing we had sampled the food we were cooking on Sunday night.

5:15 PM – The afternoon has gone smoother. I took a shower, ran to Target, balanced my checkbook, paid bills, and worked on my blog. Jeremiah has just called to let me know he is leaving work a little late. That’s good because I haven’t left for his place yet.

pasta5:55 PM – Jeremiah and I start cooking dinner. Jeremiah focuses on grilling the chicken while I get the noodles boiling for Chicken Penne Pasta with Salsa con Queso. This wasn’t on our first menu. The recipe makes a lot, doesn’t contain very many ingredients, and fills us up. Thanks to whole wheat pasta being on sale for $.88, we can afford to make this recipe. Our cost is $6.19 but it makes six servings. That’s $1.03 per serving, very friendly on our $4.50 per day budget. I also made Jiffy corn bread for our dinner on Tuesday and Thursday. We had enough we decided to have a slice for dinner Monday through Thursday.

7:34 PM – After dishes, we finished off the night with a cookie (and a cup of coffee for Jeremiah).

I asked Jeremiah how his day went. He said the pancakes wore off around 10:30 AM. He agreed that the hummus needed some seasoning. He was also a little surprised at how little tuna was in his sandwich. He was wishing we had budgeted more for tuna. I promised him that I would double check our budget to see if he could have some of the leftover servings from dinner for lunch.

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

Since Monday is usually my one day off from both my jobs, I usually bake a Crockpot recipe for dinner. I’ve seen a lot of chicken and dumpling recipes but I decided to cook this one. I thought it turned out really good. You might also enjoy it without the biscuits. It could be served on mashed potatoes.

Chicken and DumplingsCrockpot Chicken and Dumplings from Pinterest
2 chicken breast
Top with two Tablespoons of butter
2 cans of cream of chicken
14.5 oz. can chicken broth
½ diced onion
1 T. dried parsley

Bake on high for 4-5 hours or 8-9 hours on low. Dice chicken and add back to mix. Dice up four refrigerator biscuits into nice pieces each and add to mix. Cook for one more hour.

Notes:

  • I used the healthy version (less sodium) version of cream of chicken and chicken broth.

No Fuss Chicken Dinner

Who doesn’t love a simple four ingredient recipe? This Crockpot recipe only takes about 5 minutes of your time to make.

Lemon ChickenCrockpot Lemon Chicken from Pinterest
3-4 T. butter
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 package of Italian seasoning
lemon juice

Cube butter and place on the bottom of a Crockpot. Top with chicken breast. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Drizzle with lemon juice. Bake on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla

Recently, I spoke at Heritage United Methodist Church about hunger. For lent, they are doing a huge food drive for where I work. At the end of the presentation, they gave me a thank you gift that included a church cookbook. As you know, I love these cookbooks because people always share their best recipes. Here is the first one I tried.

Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla Heart Healthy Chicken Quesadilla by Gina Gile
1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
2 c. chopped cooked chicken breast
¾ c. reduced fat Mexican style shredded cheese
¾ c. no fat sour cream
8-10 fat free tortillas or whole wheat tortillas

Mix first four ingredients in a bowl. Spread ¼ c. in a tortilla and fold over. Cook in a frying pan or George Foreman Grill. Top with salsa or guacamole.

Notes:

  • I halved the recipe.
  • I’m not a huge fan of Mexican cheese so I used 2% cheddar cheese.
  • I add some cilantro to the mix. Another option might be some veggie bacon.

Doritos Crusted Chicken Fingers

I like to buy Doritos occasionally when they are on sale to bake new recipes. This one is a great alternative to fried chicken. Quick, delicious, and healthier.

Doritos chicken stripsDoritos Crusted Chicken Fingers from Pinterest
4 chicken breast, cut into slices
1 bag of Doritos
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
4 eggs

Place chicken in a gallon sized baggie and add buttermilk. Refrigerate for two hours. Food process Doritos. Place crushed Doritos in a shallow dish. In another dish, whisk eggs. In a third dish, pour flour and cayenne pepper. Line up dishes in this order: chicken, flour, eggs, and Doritos. Take chicken through each dish coating both sides. Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Note:

  • I halved the recipe. I used probably about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag of Doritos. It was just perfect for five chicken tenderloins.
  • I didn’t have time to coat the chicken after work so I put it in the bag of buttermilk to soak while I was at work. Great time saver.
  • I cooked for 20 minutes.
  • Cut calories by using egg substitute. Not sure how it would cook with Baked Doritos but I bet it would work too.

National Soup Month

When I think of Beer Cheese Soup, the first thing that pops into my mind is Lazlo’s Brewery. It’s a restaurant in Lincoln, NE. The original location is located in the Haymarket District. When I was in college, my friends and I used to walk down there to eat a lot. To this day, I could still tell you what everyone would order. Dan would get the Lazlo Burger and an Empyrean Amber Ale (made in Lazlo’s owner’s brewery). Rob wasn’t a drinker. He always got the French Dip but added Swiss Cheese and sautéed onions. He also ordered a side of ranch dipping sauce for his fries. Lazlo’s makes these great fries. They are crinkle fries with seasoning salt. And Ben always ordered a cup of Beer Cheese Soup. Ironic because Ben was the baby of the group – just 17 years old his first few months attending college.

After college graduations and break-ups, I ended up working for the owners of Lazlo’s. I worked in their neighboring restaurant entitled Jabrisco’s. It was an unusual Italian restaurant named after the owners Jay, Brian, and Scott. (They also had a financial partner who was a dentist but I can’t remember his name.) They had things on the menu like a PB&J wood-fired pizza, homemade spinach pasta, and this to die for chocolate dessert. We also had this amazing patio where I would sell coffee during the weekly Farmer’s Market. I worked there for about eight months as a host/head host. I could sell the bar area better than most on a busy Friday night or Saturday home football game. Following my college graduation, I left to pursue AmeriCorps full-time. But during the time I worked at Jabrisco’s, I learned some great customer service skills, importance to details, and a lot about the hospitality industry.

Today, Lazlo’s has doubled in size and now occupies the space that was once Jabrisco’s. The food is still delicious, reasonably priced, and the service is top notch. The Haymarket has also turned into this major entertainment district.

Although this recipe is very different then Lazlo’s Beer Cheese Soup, it did make me think back to some pretty cool people and an experience that greatly impacted my life.

Beer Cheese SoupBacon Beer Cheese Soup with Chicken from Pinterest
6 slices of bacon
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 c. beer
1 c. chicken broth
2 c. half and half
8 oz. mild cheese
1 tsp. Worchester sauce
chives
croutons

Cook bacon and chicken. In a large sauce pan, cook butter, flour, and spices. Add beer, broth, and half and half. Whisk to combine and bring to a bubble. Add cheese and stir until smooth. Add Worchester sauce, chicken, and bacon. Allow to simmer. Garnish with chives and croutons.

Notes:

  • This recipe is good but spicy. One bowl had me drinking three glasses of water, blowing my nose, and dotting my watering eyes. My recommendation is to cut the spice at least to half or maybe a third of the recipe listed above. That’s my plan for the next time I cook it.
  • I didn’t have chicken stock so I used water and put in about 2 oz. more of beer. Veggie stock is also an option.
  • When I make a soup like this I know I am sharing with vegetarian friends, I make meat more of a topping. Canned chicken is another option. I used about a ½ lb. chicken and pre-cooked bacon.
  • I used fat free half and half. I think our Nutrition Manager at work also said that Fat Free Evaporated Milk is another substitute option to make a creamy soup healthier.
  • I used light beer.
  • I used Velveeta cheese.
  • I added parsley instead of chives.

On the second day, I picked up some chicken stock and frozen hash browns. I added about 1 cup of hash browns and ¾ c. chicken stock. I also added homemade croutons. It decreased the water consumption.