Creamy Orange Chicken

I’ve been fighting some sort of head/sinus pressure situation the past few days–I love the weather changes but they sometimes lay me low, as my grannie would say.  So I’ve been taking it easy, watching Kingdom Hospital from my cocoon on the couch and trying to ignore the thumping in my skull.

Since I really don’t have time for all of this lackadaisical malingering, (lordy, lordy, end of the semester) I’ve been taking meds, imbibing orange juice like it was vodka, and working on kicking whatever this nastiness is with some healthy food.

This creamy orange chicken recipe, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: Slow Cooker Recipes for 2, 4 or More is pretty much perfect for the job. Everything it requires was already in my kitchen (or can be subbed for something I have), it doesn’t take all day to cook, and it requires very little prep. So I can get back to my cocoon more quickly.

Creamy Orange Chicken

Ingredients for Creamy Orange Chicken

 

Ingredients:

  • about 2 cups of frozen vegetables (I used a mix of broccoli and chopped vegetables) *this wasn’t a great choice- see end notes
  • 1/4 cup of onion, sliced thin
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • a bit of black pepper
  • a bit of minced garlic (approx a clove- but I’m using the pre-minced kind. Because it’s that kind of day.)
  • a cup of chicken broth (confession: I’m not actually sure what is pictured is chicken broth. I know it’s broth, but it’s just possible that it is vegetable. Apparently I failed to label a batch of my homemade broth at some point, which is a little gross. But I don’t think it will matter.)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel (the recipe called for lemon peel, but I had this- whatever essence the orange gave to the flavor is so subtle that I can’t detect it- we’ve got onions and garlic here, people. It’s possible the lemon would have added something indefinably delicious, but this was pretty good as is. Oh, and since the source recipe called for lemon peel, it was, logically, called Creamy Lemon Chicken. Just in case you happen to have the same cookbook and try to look it up. The end.)

Instructions:

  1. Combine frozen vegetables, onion, chicken, garlic and onion in your Crock Pot, add broth.
  2. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-2 1/2 hrs
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a separate plate, cover to keep warm
  4. To make the sauce, beat cream cheese and orange peel with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Slowly add cooking liquid, beating on low speed until combined.
  5. Spoon liquid over chicken and vegetables.

Picture of finished product coming in… 2 hours. Counting down! right here:

Creamy Orange Chicken

Yum!

As is, I’d give it a 4 out of 5: it was tasty and super easy.

To take it to a five:
Change the veggies. I had the mixed veggies and broccoli in the freezer, so it was convenient- but after 2 1/2 hours in the Crock Pot, the color in the broccoli was kind of leached out. Tasted fine, but the cut green beans that the source recipe called for might have looked a bit better.
Change the sauce. Although this sauce tasted great (it’s made out of cream cheese. I mean, does it get better?), I would have preferred the sauce to be a bit thicker. I think next time I’ll make it into more of a gravy with some cornstarch.

Happy (barely) cooking!

Rainy-day Crock Pot Stew

I absolutely love this time of year. I know, it’s a little odd. It’s drippy and dreary and chilly outside… but  I so enjoy weather that drives you indoors, justifying hours curled up with fat books (current choice: The Children’s Book, which is absolutely freakin’ amazing), flickering candles, snoring pets, and, of course, delicious eats.

So, after completing today’s academic responsibilities, I hurried home through the drips and drops and began cooking.

I wrote yesterday about a recipe for dill bread that I planned to try. Today I picked up the ingredients that I needed for that project (I had everything except yeast and cottage cheese) and decided at the last minute to make some vegetable stew to go along with it.

My stew recipe is an adaptation of Soul Food and Southern Cooking‘s recipe. Theirs used a bit more meat and fewer vegetables- but carrots and celery are cheaper than beef (and better for you) and I’m doing my best these days to be frugal.

Here’s my version:

Crock Pot Beef Stew

Recipe Ingredients:

1 pound cubed beef stew meat
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
6 celery stalks, sliced
3 potatoes, cubed
6-8 carrots, cubed
1 can whole tomatoes can diced tomatoes, largish (14 oz) (I used whole tomatoes, as the source recipe recommended. Makes absolutely no sense in retrospect- who wants a fist-size tomato in their soup bowl? )
1 1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 – tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 – cup all purpose flour
water

Recipe Instructions:

1.) Chop/cube all of the veggies

2.) Rinse the beef stew, pat dry (meat that isn’t dry doesn’t brown. who knew?), coat the meat with the seasoning mix (onion powder, salt and pepper), and then with a light coating of flour

3.) Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and brown the beef

4.) Put the browned beef and all of the veggies in the crock pot, add the undrained can of tomatoes, cover the ingredients with water

5.) Cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 5-6 hours. It’s done when the meat and potatoes are tender


On a side note– I finished the dill bread. My-oh-my.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty much the most delicious thing ever. I’m on my second- ok, third- piece.

I may be full by the time my stew is done. If my stew is ever done (I’m a bit impatient. But a watched Crock Pot never… nevermind. I’m too cool for that. As are you.)

Fun with next to nothing

Stuck between the John R. Rice  and C. H. Spurgeon Bible commentaries and the children’s Sunday School curricula, mom had a book titled Fun with Next to Nothing . The authors complied a bunch of crafts and projects for kids, the supplies for which (they believed) most mothers would just have on hand. (In my memory, the crafts were all really horrible–macaroni and cardboard and glue –yuck! we were always cooler than that.) I don’t think we ever actually used it–creativity was rarely lacking in our house– but given my recent transformation from the gainfully employed to the not-so-much, this idea has been frequently in mind. I’ve been experiencing the occasionally infuriating, but overall exhilarating, situation of really having to make do with what I have.

I like to shop. My brain operates as commercials try to–I see a beautifully shaped bright turquoise bowl, and instead of being a bowl, it’s an opportunity to buy a little bit of happiness–eating cereal in the sunshine out of that bright blue bowl.  Of course, I know that it’s foolishness; making myself aware of what I’m actually expecting from that bright blue bowl usually keeps it on the shelf at the store.  However, frugality-inducing mental games aside,  broke-ass window-shopping just ain’t fun, so I stopped doing that when I stopped, you know, having money.

This change has forced me to re-vamp my current wardrobe instead of replacing it. So, to that end, I’ve been donating things I never wear so I can actually see what I do have, and remaking or re-purposing anything and everything that I possibly can. This serves a dual purpose: not only do I (sometimes) get something wearable out of something previously un-, but I’m also feeling ever-so-much more handy when I use something I made, altered, fixed, crocheted, knitted or dyed.

Today’s project: (backstory here) Last year, as I was first learning to knit and crochet, I began making this crushable crocheted cloche hat incessantly (from this pattern on Etsy.) It really is super easy and (by all accounts) very cute. Eventually I got all brilliant and tried to adjust the pattern: I eliminated the brim once to make a beret, I added a lot of stitches once to make a floppier hat, I changed up the stitches once just for funsies… several of my attempts are really quite horrid.

So today I frogged the hats that were unwearable, and am starting over, thus (a) saving myself the storage space that was being wasted on all of those ugly hats, (b) giving myself the opportunity to get it right this time and make something wearable, and (c) giving myself something to do while I watch Glee tonight. So hippity hooray. Who needs money?