No Muss No Fuss: Salsa Chicken

Salsa Chicken is my absolute favorite crockpot recipe. It makes a ton of food that you can save and reheat easily. We have served it a variety of ways: over rice, in a taco salad, in tortillas with all the usual taco fixings. You could add it to some chili. It’s easy, it’s versatile, it’s delicious. And it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients so it’s pretty easy to make in a pinch.

What You’ll Need:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 1/2 cups of salsa of your choice. (A chunky salsa works better)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of red chile powder
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice.

What You’ll Do:

  • Coat slow cooker with nonstick spray and arrange chicken breast halves in it.
  • Pour salsa over chicken.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH about 3-3 1/2 hours, until chicken is tender and cooked through. (The salsa will thin out a bit as the chicken cooks and makes it’s own juices.)
  • Stir in the cumin, chile powder and lime juice.
  • Cover and cook another 15 minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

~C.

 

Previously: Whole Poached Chicken; Simple Sesame Noodles

No Muss No Fuss

By my best estimate, it would appear that a solid 80% of the women I hold dear either currently or will very soon find their lives taken over by teeny tiny humans. Babies, I think they call them. It is my understanding that newborns fill your life with joy and wonder, while simultaneously sapping all your energy and free time. I do not have children, but I have heard many stories of how hard it can be to find time to shower during those first few months, much less find time to make dinner each night. So in honor of all my sweet friends who find themselves sleep deprived and strapped for time, I will be taking the next few weeks to share some of my favorite fast, no fuss meal ideas.

I’ll start by sharing my favorite crockpot secret, which is that you can cook an entire chicken in one of these things. It is so simple! D and I have done this a few times and it gives you a lot of food for two adults. All you need is a crockpot and a whole, thawed chicken. We gotten ours at Trader Joe’s in the past and they are affordable and perfectly sized for a medium to large crockpot.

All you have to do is wash and dry the chicken. Remove giblets, etc if they are still included and cut off any lumps of fat. Season the inside and outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and then place it in the slow cooker, breast side up. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 180. That’s it! The chicken will make it’s own liquid so you don’t need to add anything to the crockpot except the chicken.

When it is done cooking, the meat is so tender that it just falls away from the bone, making it easier to transfer from the crockpot to a plate. Pull all the meat off and store it in your fridge. Add strips to salad, dress some with a little plain greek yogurt and curry powder for an easy chicken salad sandwich, heat some up in the oven with a little rice and some steamed broccoli for an easy, healthy dinner. Like I said, it makes a ton of food for two people and is a great way to make sure you’ll have a lot of protein on hand that is easy to add to other things to complete a quick meal.

My recommendation is to get it all set up before you go to bed, leave the chicken uncooked in the crockpot in the fridge overnight, and then all you have to do the next day is plug it in and set it to low with enough time for it to be done in time for dinner.

Easy, peasy!

~C.

Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I don’t really do Halloween. That isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking, when the holiday rolls around I never feel like I have the energy to dress up and party hard and go the appropriate amount of crazy that adult halloween without any kids seems to warrant.

In past years, our neighborhood held a block party and D and I would create games for the trick or treaters and we’d have a huge line of people. It was intense, but it was still over by 9 and I got to wear my normal clothes and then go home and sit on my couch. Our new neighborhood had zero trick or treaters, and there was no small part of me that would have been content to spend the entire night on my couch, in sweatpants, watching movies and eating all of the candy that we didn’t end up passing out. But instead we managed to work up enough festive energy to change into actual clothes (still not a costume; I have to be true to who I am), and join in on a friend’s block party one neighborhood over. It was a good time and we were able to pass out part of the candy we had purchased.

I made this Spinach and Artichoke Dip for the festivities. Served in a bread bowl with tortilla chips for dipping, it was a HUGE hit.

And now we move on to Thanksgiving. D and I will be hosting for the first time this year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but I’ll be honest that the idea of a house full of people and an entire meal to prepare for 10+ diners feels a little intense. Do you have any go-to Thanksgiving recipes? Side dishes that are easy, but delicious? Things that are perfect for preparing ahead of time to decrease oven and kitchen crowding on Thanksgiving Day? Any great advice on how to manage a first-time Thanksgiving meal? Share it in the comments and help ease my anxious mind.

~C.

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Lentil Chili

There was a brief period of time where it felt like spring might kinda, sorta, maybe be on its way, but there’s snow on the ground yet again and I’ve bumped up the heat and am snuggled under a blanket and still can’t manage to get warm. So I figured now was a good time for me to share another wonderfully warm and simple recipe.

We made this lentil chili all the way back on Super Bowl Sunday (yes, I know, I am insanely behind on posting recipes). It was not what I was expecting, as it ends up feeling more like a stew than a variation on chili, but it was seriously good. It has really nice spice and great flavor and I really liked the thicker, stewy texture that the lentils provide. There are a good number of ingredients, but nothing strange that you’ll buy this once and never use again. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but you could easily substitute with vegetable stock to make it an entirely vegetarian alternative to what is usually a meat-focused dish.

The recipe comes from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, which I definitely recommend if you are looking for a good source of crockpot recipes. It offers a really good and interesting variety of slow cooker recipes and it has tendency to draw on a lot of the same ingredients from recipe to recipe, which is definitely helpful if you’re trying to cut back on grocery expenses.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups broth
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

For Serving:

  • sour cream
  • chopped fresh tomatoes
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped fresh cilantro

What You’ll Do:

  • Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, except olive and salt.
  • Cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally, if possible, until lentils are soft, about 6-8 hours.
  • During last hour, add olive oil and season with salt.
  • Serve in bowls with toppings, spooned over rice if desired.

 

Enjoy and stay warm!

~C.

Crockpot Potato-Leek Soup

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If you are looking for the perfect combination of minimal work and maximum satisfaction, then allow me to introduce you to this crockpot Potato-Leek Soup recipe. This soup is so incredibly hearty and satisfying.

There’s nothing better than crockpot cooking. It’s the best thing about colder weather, honestly. Dump a bunch of stuff in there in the morning, set it on low and go about your day for 6-7 hours, come back and you have warm, delicious dinner. It’s the greatest.

For this soup, I added a few spices to bump up the flavor a bit. I put in a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a bit of spice, a little bit of black pepper and some dried thyme. They were perfect additions and if you choose to make this, I recommend you do something similar. Mix in the spices after the soup is fully prepared and then serve with crunchy bread and an autumn salad–we went with a spinach salad with chopped apple, walnut and goat cheese, simply dressed with lemon juice. Pair with a glass of red and marvel at how simple and perfect life can be.

~C.

Potato-Leek Soup

Ingredients

4 medium-size leeks (white part only), washed well and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

4 medium-sized to large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

4 to 6 cups water, or vegetable broth or chicken broth, or some combination

Salt to taste

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

French bread for serving

Preparation

Put leeks and potatoes in slow cooker.

Add enough water/broth to just cover them.

Cover and cook on LOW until potatoes are tender, 5-7 hours.

Purée the soup with a handheld immersion blender or transfer to a food processor and purée in batches.

Add salt and butter, swirling until it is melted.

Add spices of your choosing. 

Ladle into bowls and serve immediately with a big hunk of french bread.

(recipe via Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook)