Chicken Three Ways

When money is tight, I try to be creative with one cheap ingredient. This week chicken was on sale at Giant. I got one value pack for the week and got one to stick in the freezer for another week to come. I picked up a few odds and ends and walked out with enough food to make three good meals and part of a fourth.

This week is also a busy one. I've got plans Tuesday night, grad class Wednesday night, and Bible study Thursday night. I felt that it was appropriate to bring out an appliance with which I have a love-hate relationship....my slow cooker (a.k.a Crock Pot).

I know that there are countless people out there who are absolutely in love with their slow cookers. I want to be...but I've had some unfortunate experiences with mine. First of all, I don't eat beef. Many slow cooker recipes center around beef because it's the type of meat that is really good when cooked for a long time. Second of all, I've tried several chicken recipes that have resulted in overcooked dry chicken. Third of all, I've tried a couple breakfast recipes that involved eggs...which I'm quite certain should not be slow cooked (at least the ones that I made!). Finally, I am out of the house for a loooong time on most days. The 6-8 hour recipes usually end up overcooked by the time I get home. A recipe that would work for me would need to cook at least 8 hours (more like 10 on most days) and still be edible.

Here's where the love part comes in...I've found some slow cooker recipes that actually work for me!! So I pulled out two of them and got to plannin'.

On Sunday, I went to the store and made Bang Bang Chicken for dinner. I took all of 10 minutes to prep my ingredients needed for Chicken Tortilla Soup on Monday. Since all my recipes for the week required the chicken to be cut into small pieces, I went ahead and cut up the whole value pack and sectioned the appropriate portion for each recipe into plastic bags. I also grabbed a package of hot Italian turkey sausage that I had stashed in the freezer (from a buy one, get one free week at Giant) and stuck it in the fridge to thaw.

On Monday, I dumped all my prepped ingredients into my slow cooker in the morning and came home to a house smelling of delicious Chicken Tortilla soup.

On Monday night, I prepped my ingredients for Tuesday...which, again, took about 10 minutes. It's really easy when you make little meal kits like this:

On Tuesday, I'll dump all my prepped ingredients into my slow cooker in the morning and come home to Spanish Chicken and rice.

On Wednesday, I'll come home from grad class and eat left-overs.

On Thursday, I'll throw together a quick Sausage Soup with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Chickpeas.

Here's how the magic happens:

Bang Bang Chicken over Rice
~This authentic Chinese recipe is simple and delicious~

  • 1 chicken breast, cut into strips or 1 inch pieces (I used about 1 1/2 chicken breasts)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp grated ginger root
  • 1 scallion, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cucumber sliced
  • Prepared rice
  1. Heat a wok or frying pan for a good 3-4 minutes while you prep your ingredients.
  2. Add 1-2 tbsp oil (I used peanut) to the hot pan and then stir-fry the chicken, garlic, ginger, and scallion until the chicken is cooked through. This took me only a few minutes.
  3. Add the water, soy sauce, peanut butter, and vinegar to the pan (stirring to coat the chicken with the liquid) and simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the broccoli and cucumber and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 7 minutes). During this time, the liquid added in step 3 will reduce and make a nice saucy coating on the chicken and vegetables.
  5. Serve over rice.
The above recipe was taken from a book called Extending the Table. My husband bought it for me from 10,000 Villages (a really awesome free-trade store). It has authentic recipes from all over the world and tons of other interesting cultural information. It's definitely the kind of cookbook that you can actually read (alright, fine...I've been known to curl up with a good cookbook at bed time...even when it's just recipes).

Chicken Tortilla Soup
~This soup smells so wonderful when you walk in the door~
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 4 corn tortillas (6 inch) cut into one inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used Italian parsley because I detest cilantro)
Possible garnishes:
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Tortilla chips on top
  • Chopped scallions
  1. Spray 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix all soup ingredients except cilantro (or parsley).
  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours (I cooked it 8-10 hours)
  3. Stir in cilantro (or parsley). Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 15 minutes longer.
  4. Garnish each serving with cheese and sour cream (and tortilla chips).
My sister in law gave me this recipe which she got from a Pillsbury Slow Cooker recipe book ( ya know, the kind you see in the aisle of the grocery store). It turns out so well...the chicken is moist and the tortillas dissolve a bit into the soup making it creamy and thick.

Spanish Chicken
~Haven't tried this yet, but it looks like a winner~Recipe courtesy of the Pillsbury website
  • 1 3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb Italian turkey sausage links, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (or 2 cups cooked)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 can (3.8 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained (we skipped these...don't like olives)
  1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix chicken, sausage, bell pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, tomatoes and tomato paste.
  2. Cover; cook on low heat setting 6-8 hours (mine will cook a bit more than 8 hours)
  3. About 25 minutes before serving, cook rice in 2 cups water as directed on package (or use left over rice). Just before serving, stir artichoke hearts and olives into chicken mixture.
  4. Cover; cook until hot. Serve chicken mixture with rice.
This recipe was also taken from the Pillsbury recipe book. I think it has all the componants of a yummy sounding meal. I actually made a double batch of rice on Sunday (when I made the Bang Bang Chicken) so that I wouldn't have to cook rice again for this meal.

Sausage Soup with Mushrooms, Zucchini, and Chickpeas
~Very simple, very delicious, and freezes beautifully~
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium onoin, choped
  • 1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium (8 oz) zucchini cut into a medium dice
  • 1 lb mild or hot Italian sausage (or you can use already cooked andouille sausage for an even easier soup!)
  • 2 (16 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (can be optional...but I put it in)
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or soup kettle. Add the onions and mushrooms and saute to soften slightly (about 2 minutes). Add the zucchini, sausage, chickpeas, tomatoes, chicken broth, and cumin.
  2. Partially cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended (about 20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste and then serve.
This simple recipe is from a cookbook called How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson. It's literally rocking my cooking world and I can't wait to post more about her awesome way of cooking.

So there you have it...several meals made from an eight dollar package of chicken, some items from my pantry and freezer, and some fresh produce.

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