Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

So often, I think of slow cooker dinners, we think of cold, blustery days. But a slow cooker is also a lifesaver on a hot, steamy day. While staying in Florida, I’ve loved using the slow cooker to avoid heating up my in-laws’ house. Among my favorite new recipes is this Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken. It got rave reviews from the entire household. You can check it out at this link: http://joyfulmommaskitchen.com/slow-cooker-teriyaki-chicken/?m=1

I picked the recipe because we were going to pick up family at the airport at dinnertime. By the time we got home, we would all just need a quick and tasty meal. All I had to do was cook up some instant brown rice and steam a packet of broccoli in the microwave. Within 10 minutes, our meal was ready to eat.

As for modifications, I might want to double the sauce in the future because I like my Chinese food saucy and I like to make sure I have enough sauce for leftovers. I’d also consider cutting back on the ginger, though that’s a personal preference. I only appreciate ginger in small, subtle doses. My in-laws, however, enjoyed the sauce’s flavor as it was.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!20160621_202728

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Mexican Chicken Pasta

Yes, I know it’s a Monday. Yes, I know this blog is called Try It Tuesday. However, tomorrow’s schedule just isn’t conducive to cooking or blogging, so today’s the day. Now, on to Try It Monday!

As I planned out this week’s dinner menus, I was torn between pasta and tacos. Then I remembered a video for Mexican Chicken Pasta that I had seen on Facebook. It seemed like the perfect solution – and the perfect recipe for Try It Tuesday.20160620_174632

As is my habit, I tweaked the recipe a bit. The original recipe and video can be found here, but my changes seem significant enough that this time I’ll type out my version below.

Ingredients

12 ounces pasta (I used angel hair, but just about any pasta would work), cooked according to package directions

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound chicken, cut into cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

½ large onion, sliced

2 bell peppers, any color, sliced

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 can (8 ounce) tomato sauce

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup chicken broth

¾ cup half & half

1 cup shredded cheese, cheddar or Mexican blend, plus more for serving

Fresh cilantro, to taste

Directions

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for six minutes. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook for four minutes longer. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Pour in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, broth, half & half, and cheese. Stir, reduce heat to low, and then add the spaghetti, tossing until coated. Cover and allow to simmer for five minutes, stirring regularly. Serve hot, topped with shredded cheese and chopped cilantro.

My mother-in-law said this was her favorite pasta I’ve made since I’ve been at their house, and I have to say I enjoyed this dish as well. It was a nice change of pace from more traditional pasta or Mexican meals. I particularly liked the way the fresh taste of the cilantro cut through the creamy sauce and perked up the hints of tomato. I feel like the sauce was missing something, although I’m not sure what. I did enjoy the simplicity of flavors, but I think I was just expecting more of them.

And Vincent? Well, I did have to bribe him with corn bread muffins (which complemented this dish quite well). However, he seemed willing enough to eat the pasta if there weren’t any peppers in the bites I offered. Hey! I’ll take what I can get.

Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Stuffed Peppers

When it comes to vegetables, bell peppers epitomize summertime. Their fresh, crisp flesh tastes like sunshine. I also found out that my father-in-law, who is very much a carnivore, actually enjoys peppers, so stuffed peppers sounded like the perfect Try It Tuesday meal for this hot June evening.

I looked through a number of recipes and picked the Betty Crocker version for the simplicity of the ingredients. You can check it out here:

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/stuffed-peppers/63e29e18-903e-467c-aec5-fba4ce3a138f

Since it’s me, I did have to make a few modifications. First, I added a little extra rice and sauce to make six servings instead of four. Second, because of the simplicity of the recipe, I was also worried that it might be bland, so I cooked my rice in beef bouillon instead of water. That meant that I reduced the salt from 1 teaspoon to ½ teaspoon. I also added a second garlic clove to intensify the flavor. Finally, I generally prefer a little life in my veggies, so I decided not to boil the peppers like the recipe directed. If you don’t boil your peppers, you’ll have to experiment with the baking times and temperatures based on the texture you want and whether you prep and cook or, like me, prep in advance and refrigerate until dinnertime. As a starting point, I baked mine at 375 for 20 minutes, then increased the temperature to 400, added the cheese, and baked them for another 15 minutes. The peppers were hot, but still firm and crisp.

The verdict? Perfect! The dish was fresh, flavorful, and light enough for a 90-degree Floridian – read: humid – evening. My mother-in-law suggested mixing some sausage in with the ground beef, which I think would add a nice a kick. I’m curious to see how it holds up as leftovers tomorrow. My son had to eat earlier than I was able to bake the peppers, so I’ll get his reaction tomorrow as well.

I’m always looking for new recipes, so feel free to let me know what your favorite summer recipes are!

Savory Cheese Muffins

This week’s Try It Tuesday is inspired by Tropical Storm Colin. No, there is no tropical-themed meal (although if there’s another storm like this while I’m in Florida, I may go that route!). When I think rainy day, I think soup. I opted for my classic Crock Pot Chicken Noodle. And of course, with soup, you have to serve some kind of freshly prepared bread. Usually, I make corn bread muffins from a boxed mix, but since it was Try It Tuesday, I scoured the Internet looking for a recipe for homemade, savory muffins. Most of the recipes I found featured bacon, for breakfast muffins, or wonderfully complex medleys of onion, garlic, and herbs, which would surely have been delicious but wouldn’t go well with my soup. After refining my key word search a bit more, I finally found a muffin that was a bit closer to what I wanted: Savory Cheese Muffins. You can find the recipe at:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/savory-cheese-muffins

The recipe does say that it makes 12 muffins, but I was only able to fill 9 muffin tins. I’m not sure where the difference came from, but my muffins were normal, medium-sized muffins. The only modifications I made to the recipe were to replace skim milk with whole (my toddler’s milk was the only thing we had in the house) and to grind in a little black pepper. While the muffins had a moist, dense texture that worked well to accompany soup, they were still a bit too bland for my liking. I probably will make these muffins again, but I will use sharp, regularly shredded cheddar cheese (I used mild, finely shredded for this version) and I will add more pepper.

I’d love to see more recipes for savory muffins if anyone has one they’d care to share!