Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chicken & Somethings

As I said the other day, I've been hoarding recipes on Pinterest and never making any of them. I feel great shame. But since I'm not generally the best cook and I'm usually way too hungry by the time I get home from work to actually, yaknow, harness fire to make food edible, I'm starting out with slow-cooker recipes.

I've shied away from many slow-cooker recipes in the past because, even on a normal workday, It's a good ten hours between when I head out the door and when I roll back in the garage.  Most of the recipes call for far less time than that, even on low.  I've tried having it all ready and in the fridge, relying on The Boy to turn it on high when he gets home from school, but the damn kid went and grew up and got a job.  The ungrateful little.....

So I decided a trip to WalMart was in order.  Since I don't have any pajamas which I would consider ratty enough to wear there, I went straight from cleaning a dog kennel and playing with puppies, hoping a layer of dog hair, dirt and the slight aroma of dog poo would distract the natives from the fact that I was wearing a bra.

It worked.  I got out alive with this beauty:

This makes my third slow-cooker. I already have one this size and a smaller one, but neither of them is programmable.  This one not only has a timer but it also comes with a lid holder and free Spanish lessons.

 Olla De Coccion Lenta = Slow Cooker.  Thank you Farberware.

In case I'm ever in a foreign country and need to make sure they're aware how hot I am.

The user's manual is mostly in pictures and it wasn't until I actually got this thing installed that I figured out it's a lid holder.  Before that I thought maybe Farberware also made gynecological exam implements and there was an unfortunate mix-up at the factory.

Even Boo was a little scared.

Armed with my shiny new crock pot, I decided to make Chicken & Dumplings. I found a recipe on my go-to website for all things slow-cooker that won't make my ass grow, Skinny Ms

I did make a few changes, not always for the better, to Skinny Ms.' recipe, and it didn't come out exactly as I would have hoped, so I'm going to call this a whole new creation...let's call it

Chicken & Somethings.  

Here's what you need:

All this crap

Stew Ingredients:
    6 cups chicken broth.  Preferably low sodium & fat free but, yaknow, shit happens.
    3 boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
    1 medium onion peeled & diced
    2 cloves minced garlic
    7 oz baby carrots
    1 cup frozen green beans
    2 stalks celery, diced
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    Himilayan sea salt to taste (if you got the low-sodium broth, you'll make up for it here)
    2 bay leaves

Somethings Ingredients
    1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (learn from my fail, get WHITE whole wheat flour)
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 egg
    2 tbsp coconut oil
    3/4 cup skim milk

Stew Instructions:  The original recipe basically said to just throw it all in the crock pot, stir to combine, cook on low 5 hours.  Sounds like just my speed but I read here that you should never just throw your meat into the pot raw, which is why I specifically bought a slow cooker with a removable, stove-safe pot for browning meat.  Unfortunately, as I unpacked the pot, I realized I needed to run it on high with a few cups of water before using it for the first time.  So while it burned off all of the toxic stuff I ended up dirtying a frying pan to brown the chicken.  But I should say that the chicken turned out DEEEE-LICIOUS.  So knows their shit.

ANYway, after I browned the chicken lightly, just on the outside, still raw in the middle, THEN I put all of the "stew" ingredients together in the crock pot and put it on low for 5 hours.

Since it was a new crock pot and I have this irrational fear of electrical fires, I did this on a weekend when I could be home the whole time and oh my GOSH did it smell amazing!!!

After 5 hours, I turned the crock pot on high and brought the broth to a boil.  It took about a half hour to get to boiling.  While I was waiting, I mixed up the somethings.

Somethings Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Mix 'em up good, heat up your coconut oil just enough to make it liquid (or use canola oil if you have it in the house) and cut it into the dry stuff with a fork.  Add the milk and mix with a fork just until consistently moist.

Once your broth is boiling, drop your somethings mixture by teaspoon-size lumps on to the top of the broth.  They'll float.  Don't try to mix it up or push it down. It pretty much took up the whole top layer of the crock pot, which I think was fine. It looked sort of like a biscuit crust.  Cook it on high for another hour, THEN mix it up to break up the dumplings right before serving.

It was apparently supposed to look something like this.

Aint it Purty?

But yeah, 

Not sure exactly what it is.....
.....but there's a crapton of it.

The flavor is VERY good.  But the "dumplings" were the consistency of your average, everyday wheat bread soaked in broth.  Not hideous, but not "dumpling-like".

Now it did call for white whole wheat flour, but I can't imagine that would make much difference in anything but the color.  The original recipe didn't call for egg but there were many comments on the website about the dumplings falling apart so they suggested adding egg.  But still....I think if I do this again I'll call it soup and leave out the somethings.  If I want dumplings I'll use my mom's dumpling recipe and just deal with it being higher calorie.

As-is, the nutritionals look like this:

This is WAY higher than the Skinny Ms nutritionals, I think because their version calls for something called "Chicken Breast Fillets".  I don't know what that is, but I'm guessing it's a fraction of the chicken I used.  And the plentiful, big chunks of chicken are not something I'd want to give up.

If I made it just as a soup it would only be about 175 calories per serving, but I would probably add noodles or maybe quinoa.  If I do that, bet your booty I'll post the recipe.  

Today's lunch...I'll probably pull one of these or maybe a serving of Vegetarian Slow Cooker Chili out of the freezer.  Either way it's good, filling stuff on a cool fall day. 

Next time: Slow Cooker Cream of Potato Soup

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