Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

We’ve been using our crockpot quite a bit lately. We’ve also discovered the wonderful boneless skinless chicken thighs from one of our favorite grocery stores (or go-see store as our toddler calls them). The benefit of cooking the thighs in the crockpot is they dry out less and are more flavorful than the traditional chicken breasts. Cooking Light’s crockpot recipes have become a go-to source. I did not expect this recipe to be as good as it was. Even the toddler ate some of it!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (we ended up using dried)
1/4 cup drained capers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we left this out because the toddler was eating with us)
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (28-oz.) container diced tomatoes (such as Pomì) (I accidentally used only the 14.5 ounce can)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cremini mushrooms, quartered (the grocery store was out of these, so we just left them out)
8 (6-oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 3 lb.) (we only had three boneless ones left, it worked fine)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken in half
5 ounces baby spinach
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Combine 1/2 cup water and flour in your favorite crockpot, stirring with a whisk. (Note: You can also use corn starch, which we will do next time.) Stir in stock and next 8 ingredients (through mushrooms). Add chicken thighs to the stock mixture; submerge in liquid. Cover and cook on LOW 7 1/2 hours (ours cooked about 9). Remove chicken. Leave whole or chop if using boneless skinless. If using bone-in, wait for them to cool, then remove bones.
Add oil and pasta to slow cooker sauce; cover and cook on HIGH 15 minutes or until pasta is done to your liking. (It took a little longer than 15 minutes for us.) Stir in spinach until wilted. Divide pasta mixture and top evenly with chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

My opinion:
I didn’t expect the capers to add so much to the dish. It was the right amount of salt and sweet from the tomatoes. The pasta cooked perfectly. Next time, I will use the corn starch and reduce the amount of liquid a little for the initial cooking phase. If we need more to cook the pasta, I’ll add more at that time. All in all a good, flavorful dish that is perfect for a weeknight.

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Jeb’s Chili

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One of J’s favorite dishes is his father’s chili. It makes more than enough for three meals and a few lunches for us. Like most of our favorite meals, this one gets better the longer it simmers. It looks complicated, but I promise it’s easy and worth it.

Base Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 pounds chili or stew beef (you can also use ground beef if you want)
1 pound pork chop cut up (or you can use ground pork)
2-3 green bell peppers chopped
1-2 onions, chopped

Sauce Ingredients:
1 beer (any kind, cheap is particularly good)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons chili powder (REGULAR chili powder, not ancho, not super, not hot. Trust me)
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons ground chipotle (we buy them whole and use a coffee grinder for this)
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1 clove garlic
1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon sugar
1 can rotel or green chiles
lime juice as needed

Directions:
Brown the meat. Add the chopped bell peppers and onions and cook until desired caramelization. In a separate pot make the sauce by adding the first 11 ingredients and simmering for about 45 minutes until smooth.

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Then add the tomatoes and meat and peppers and onions. Simmer one to two hours.
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Add 1 to 4 tablespoons massa flour to thicken if needed (most of the time we leave this step out).

My opinion: This is delicious with shredded Monterrey jack cheese, lime juice and tortilla chips. J prefers his with corn bread. It’s perfect for a cold winter’s night.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


In college, J and I practically lived on jambalaya and coffee. Of course, it was the boxed version and after eating it for two years, we got pretty burned out. Which was sad because jambalaya is so tasty and easy and perfect for a chilly evening. Luckily, J found this jambalaya recipe and with a few tweaks cured the burnout.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 (14 ounce) package andouille sausage, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery ribs, chopped (we left them in half moons)
3 tbs garlic, minced (we eyeballed this as we like garlic)
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 (32 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
about 15 ounces chicken stock
1 1/4 cups long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Tony Chacere’s creole seasoning (as the original recipe states, there is absolutely no substitute for Tony’s)
cracked black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Cook sliced sausage over medium high heat in a 6 quart stock pot until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic and scallions and cook until softened but not translucent, about 4 minutes. Add cubed chicken breast and Worcestershire sauce and cook just until you can no longer see pink. Add the bay leaves, basil, oregano, sage, paprika, Tony Chacere’s, salt, black pepper, tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice, bring back up to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes. The jambalaya should still be wet, but not soupy. Remove the bay leaves. Enjoy!

My opinion:
We’ll be adding this back to our regular dinner rotation. It was super easy to make and make more than enough to freeze half for a later meal.