Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup for the Crock-Pot

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Remember my adorable Crock-Pot? The one with the damask pattern my mom surprised me with? I used it like crazy over winter break, and now I’m back at it again, Crock-Pottin’ away (my new favorite verb). SAM_4942

Lately, I’ve been using it a lot to create tasty soups. I’ve blogged about this before, lots actually, that I love making big portions of soup.

Yes, this sort of goes against my single-serving approach, but it’s the one kind of cuisine I (1) can’t get enough of, and (2) one that I actually like having as leftovers. Why go against my usual routine? Because soups freeze so well. They almost never taste like leftovers.

Here’s what I do: After making a big batch of soup, I portion the remaining soup out to mason jars and old glass salsa jars I’ve saved. I like to freeze in glass because it’s more sustainable, reheats well, and freezing glass doesn’t break down chemical compounds as plastic containers do. So anytime I need a quick lunch-on-the-go, I grab one from the freezer in the morning, let it thaw throughout the day (leading up to lunch), and then heat it right in the glass jar. It’s kind of fun eating soup from a little glass jar, but you can always pour it into a bowl if you don’t get a kick out of that like I do.SAM_4947

So to make this very easy Crock-Pot soup, here’s what you need and need to do:

Ingredients
4 cups water
2 cans cream of chicken (or mushroom or celery) soup
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken (10 oz.)
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or -10 oz. bag)
1 t garlic pepper seasoning
1.5 cups dried egg or rotini noodlesSAM_4952

Directions
-Turn the Crock-Pot on low if you have time to let it cook for 6-8 hours, high if you only have 3-4 hours.
-Stir in water, then condensed soup until well blended.
-Add in chicken, vegetables, and seasoning. Cover and cook.
-About 20-30 minutes before serving, add in the dry noodles. If you’re using the low setting, switch now to high. Serve once noodles are tender.

Breaded & Stuffed Italian Chicken Rolls

If you follow this blog consistently, you probably already know this about me–heck, you probably know more than you’d like to about my philosophies on food, nutrition, and the value of a dynamic food presentation.

So you also know that my favorite weeknight supper standby features the following: a hearty whole-grain pasta, a rich tomato sauce, a sauteed veggie or two, and a featured protein. Sometimes I get crazy and top with Parmesan. What can I say? I live on the edge.

No, I don’t. And this recipe isn’t exactly daring, but it is good, and it awakened by old standby one Monday evening.

For a very small amount of effort, it’s amazing how much flavor and texture some breadcrumbs, kale, ricotta, and seasoning can do to an otherwise stolid dish.

Ingredients

1 medium or 2 small chicken breasts, pounded thinly

cooking spray

2 T panko crumbs

1 T parmesan

1 T whole-wheat bread crumbs (or more panko)

2 T ricotta cheese

1/2 t crushed garlic

1-2 cherry tomatoes, diced

Italian seasonings of your choice (I also used onion powder)

a little shredded kale

Directions

-Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Set aside.

-In a bowl, mix all bread crumbs with the Parmesan and any seasonings you like.

-Spray one side of each chicken breast with the cooking spray. Dip in breadcrumb mix until evenly coated on one side (or both if you’d like more).

-In another bowl, mix ricotta, garlic, tomato bits, seasonings, and kale. Spread cheese mixture on the thicker end of the chicken breast and begin to roll. Secure shut with toothpick or wooden skewer.

-Bake for about 15 minutes; then broil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit, but serve warm as an entree or over a bed of fresh pasta and veggies.

Chicken Pot Pie

 

One very cool evening, I needed something that would “stick to my ribs.” I thought pot pie.

By now you know I wouldn’t cave in for a frozen Banquet pot-pie hockey puck. Oh, no. Like I said, I wanted something that would stick to my ribs, not the lining of my insides. (Yuck!)

So I adapted this chicken pot pie from Food.com because it didn’t require too much “healthification.”

It was very good.

Vegetarians, you could easily manipulate this for yourself by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

A very good recipe, indeed. One to save for the colder evenings to come.

Ingredients

Filling

2 T onions

1/4 t garlic clove

1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup veggies of your choice (potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, etc.)

2-4 T non-dairy milk

1/2 T whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup cooked chicken breast (shredded or chopped)

Fresh parsley, basil, thyme, and black pepper

Crust

1/4 cup whole-wheat or spelt flour

pinch of ground sage, baking powder, and salt

1/2 T butter

2 T non-dairy milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a ramekin and set aside. Then, in a large saucepan, saute onions and garlic over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes (use oil or cooking spray).

2. Add broth and veggies. Bring to a boil ’til about half of the liquid is absorbed, then reduce heat to low heat. Simmer for 1o minutes, partially covered.

3. Meanwhile prepare the biscuit crust by mixing all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Then cut in butter until you’ve made coarse, doughy crumbs. Stir in milk.

4. Form dough into a ball. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out to the size and thickness you like (or whatever will cover your ramekin).

5. Remove simmered veggies from heat. Mix in milk and flour along with chicken and herbs. Stir well.

6. Pour into ramekin and place dough on top of the chicken mixture.

7. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes. Enjoy warm.

 

Easy Fried Rice

Ever since I eliminated preservatives from my diet, I’ve been missing an old, favorite. Many a Friday night, homemade fried rice was my go-to comfort food. The problem is that the seasoning packets I used to use were chalked full of preservatives–more than I care to think about, even now.

But a few weeks ago, I noticed a new post on Iowa Girl Eats’ Facebook page, called “Take Out, Fake Out: Easy Chicken Fried Rice.”

I investigated, and most of the ingredients were pretty acceptable by my standards.

Naturally, I’ve adjusted a bit and figured out how to create one healthful, heaping serving for one.

Did it taste the same though? Actually, yes! I was shocked at how good fried rice could taste, sans all the salt and preservatives.

The final verdict: I see more fried rice in my Friday night future (probably very soon).

Ingredients

2-3 oz. chicken tenders, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup cooked rice

1/4 cup frozen vegtables (I used carrots, peas, radishes)

optional: a small handful of sliced cabbage

1/2 t crushed garlic

dash of onion salt

1-2 t ginger (depending on how much you like)

1 T low-sodium soy sauce

1 egg

Directions

-In a small or medium skillet, cook chicken pieces in crushed garlic, salt, and part of ginger.

-Once the grease from the chicken begins to collect in the skillet, add in vegetables, cooking for another 3-5 minutes. But if you’re going to add cabbage, save for the end.

-When chicken and vegetables are almost cooked, push to sides, making a hole in the center of the skillet. Crack egg and let fry for a few minutes in the middle.

-Once egg is almost cooked, add in rice. Mix in remaining ginger and soy sauce. Turn until rice is sticky and well-coated in chicken-vegetable mixture.

CrockPot Sesame Chicken

sesame chicken

Nothing was sweeter than the look on my dad’s face.SAM_4521

“You made this in that CrockPot? This is good.

He was so surprised. And that was the point.

I’ve written about this before, but one of my favorite things about cooking is cooking for my loved ones, especially my dad. The man is a laborer, been one his whole life. He works hard, and unfortunately, most of his suppers aren’t up to caliber in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t judge him for living off venison tacos and Little Ceasar’s $5 Hot-and-Ready pizzas (he is, after all, a bachelor and loving it), but I think he deserves something better. Something more satisfying. Something healthful.SAM_4513

So I made him this recipe, CrockPot Honey Sesame Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking. My dad doesn’t like anything very sweet though, so I scaled that back quite a bit and modified it for two very big servings.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1.33 pounds)

Salt and pepper SAM_4515

1/3 cup diced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2 packets stevia

1/4 cup ketchup

3 T low-sodium soy sauce

1 T olive oil

1 dash of red pepper flakes

1 T cornstarchSAM_4518

2 cups brown rice, optional

1-2 cups fresh cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) or carrots

1/2 tablespoon (or more) sesame seeds

3 scallions or celery, chopped

Directions

-Begin by heating CrockPot to low. Slice chicken into smaller pieces, almost shredding (but into larger chunks). Season lightly with pepper and salt and let the cooking begin in the CrockPot.

-Meanwhile sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft and golden brown. Transfer to a medium bowl.

-In the medium bowl, start mixing in the stevia, soy sauce, ketchup, and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Drizzle over chicken.

-Cook the chicken on high for about 1.5 hours or on low for 3 to 4. You can add a tablespoon or so of water if the chicken begins to dry out. Stir occasionally.

-Once cooked through and well-marinated, the chicken is ready to be served in pieces or can be shredded. I served mine over brown rice and veggies, which I cooked separately to keep the flavors from merging together too much. But you could add in the rice and veggies an hour or so in (plus 1/3 cup water to cook the rice).

-When finished, season with sesame seeds and top with scallions (for flavor) or celery (for crunch).

Serve warm over a bed of rice, and if you like you can sprinkle a little ginger on top because it’s oh so good for you, too!