Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore with Spaghetti Squash

Like everyone else the two days before the holidays are hectic. Putting finishing touches on things, wrapping up at the office, there are a million things vying for our attention the last two weeks of the year. Which is why I’ve turned to the trusty crockpot to make our dinners this past week. After a quick search on my new favorite recipe finding site, Pinterest. I found this simple, basic Chicken Cacciatore (originally from this blog, I think) and it was wonderful.

Since we were out of a few ingredients (like mushrooms, feel free to include them if you want!) I made a few tweaks.

Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
1/2 large onion, sliced into half moons
1/2 large carrot, shredded
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used green, it was what we had on hand)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used the ones with onion and garlic added)
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs minced garlic
Italian seasoning to taste
1 large spaghetti squash

Directions:
Chop up the vegetables and place them in the bottom of the crockpot. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and Italian seasonings. (Frozen is ok!) Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Mix the tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. (I cooked on high for 4 hours. ) When there’s an hour left for the dish to cook, poke at least 12 holes in the spaghetti squash. Roast in a 375 degree oven for at least an hour, remove and let cool. If you want to reduce the liquid once the chicken is done cooking, remove the chicken from the crockpot and pour the vegetables and sauce into a large saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, or until it is thickened. While the sauce is simmering, cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds and fiberous middle. Use a fork to pull the remaining flesh into strands. Plate the spaghetti squash and pour the sauce and chicken over the squash.
My opinion:
This was so easy, I made a freezer bag of the ingredients so I could just toss it in the crock pot on another super busy evening. I’ll add a bit more garlic and Italian seasoning next time. This would be equally good over rice or pasta. Enjoy!
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Lemon Thyme Scallops

I was a bit surprised at just how delicious this recipe from Cynthia Sass’s Cinch! book was. It smelled wonderful cooking and tasted even better.

Note: this recipe feeds one. Double if serving two.
Ingredients:
4 ounces (between 5 and 7) sea scallops
1/2 cup wild rice, cooked (we were out and I substituted white, not as tasty)
1 cup spaghetti squash (already steamed)
1 cup grape tomatoes (We used cherry tomatoes because grape wasn’t available at the grocery store)
1 tbs olive oil
2-4 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs lemon juice
about 2 tsp thyme
optional: crushed red pepper and/or black pepper

Directions:
Divide olive in half. Put 1/2 tbs into a skillet and heat to medium (if you like a bit more sear on your scallops try medium high, but keep a close eye on the scallops). Add garlic and scallops, sprinkle with thyme (you can also add a bit of freshly ground black pepper or red pepper). Cook about 4 minutes per side. Flip. Sprinkle with thyme (and more black or red pepper, if you want) and cook about another 4 minutes. Scallops will turn opaque.

Add the rest of the olive oil (should be about 1/2 tbs) to another pan. Heat to medium. Cut the tomatoes in half. Sautee in olive oil until fragrant. Mix the steamed squash and rice together. Plate the squash rice mixture. Top with tomatoes. Remove scallops from the skillet and place on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle with lemon juice. Enjoy!

My Opinion:
I’ll probably add a bit more garlic and definitely the red pepper next time. The dish was flavorful and filling. I even had enough squash left over for lunch the next day!