Monday, June 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour (Catalina) Chicken

This DEFINITELY goes on the must-cook-again list! I am so pleased with myself with this one. A friend of mine had told me about cooking chicken with Catalina dressing. She's right, if you Google "catalina crock pot chicken" (or something similar) you get a million variations of this idea. Of course, when I went to the grocery store yesterday, I didn't bring any of the recipes with me - but I took a chance and decided to wing it! And boy am I glad I did!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Chicken Tenders (8 tenders)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 1 can pineapple chunks in pineapple sauce (not syrup - only cuz we're really trying to eat healthier)
  • 1/2 bottle of Fat Free Catalina dressing

Yes, it's really as simple as...
  • I poured a small amount of the pineapple juice in the bottom of my 4 qt crock pot so that the chicken wouldn't stick.
  • Dumped all the chicken in.
  • Cut up the onion and red pepper into chunks and put those on next. (I really wanted the flavor of the onion and red pepper, but I don't actually eat them so much. The bigger chunks made it easier to pick out. :-)
  • Put all the pineapple on top (without the juice).
  • Poured about 1/4 cup more of the pineapple juice over everything but not the whole amount from the can.
  • Squeezed 1/2 the bottle of Catalina dressing over top of everything.

  • Cook on high for 4 hours (I could have probably cooked this on low for longer, but my friend just posted on Facebook today that she thought she had food poisoning from a pork slow cooker recipe, and I really just wanted to make sure the chicken was fully cooked.)
  • Turn it down to low for 30-45 more minutes or until the chicken starts to fall apart (which it did).
  • Optional: If you want to thicken up the sauce a little bit (I'm a sauce junkie), in a small bowl mix 1 tsp of corn starch with 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Turn the crock pot back up to high, pour this mixture in and stir. Let that come back up to a little boil. Voila! (You can make it even thicker with more corn starch, but be sure to dilute it in water before adding to your pot to avoid clumps.)

I steamed up some rice to serve this on and voila! OMG! First of all, about 2 hours in it started to smell SOOO good! I really was hoping it was going to taste as good as it smelled. Totally company-worthy! And I love that it was a healthier version of one of our favorite dishes, mostly because normally sweet and sour chicken is fried chicken then cooked with sauce. 

The chicken was so tender and yummy. Oh, but the chicken gets a little dark looking from the sauce, so it looked like dark meat until you cut into it. (This is only important for people like my husband to know, as he does not like dark meat.) Plenty for leftovers for us to eat another meal - I'll probably have my portion for lunch tomorrow.

I'm really so pleased with how this turned out. I'm a little hungry after going down to the gym, and it's taking every ounce of will power I have not to finish the whole thing off! :-)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Corn Chowder

I've left my crock pot cook books on the shelf today, and am trying one of the hundreds of wonderful recipes that Stephanie O'Dea has published on her blog: Corn Chowder

If you haven't checked out her blog, do it! She has the most amazing recipes and I've got a ton to try in the coming weeks.

She did a much better job taking pictures of the finished product than I did. Honestly, my picture looked like a big pot of....something you wouldn't want to eat. But, it tasted good! The ingredients and directions are on her site (here's the link again) but basically its...frozen corn, onion, red pepper, carrots, potatoes, and chicken stock. That's it! I love that this is a chowder recipe without any milk or cream! We are trying to eat healthier - doctor's orders now - and my husband and I are both lactose intolerant, so this was a win-win!

I did take a couple pictures...

Of my ingredients:

And my ingredients all prepared to go in the pot:

Yes, this required the use of a small pan to pre-cook the onions. But I liked that anyway because I don't really like the taste of onions but know they add a good background flavor. And I don't have the Pampered Chef chopper Stephanie has...but I'm going to get one at my friend's upcoming PC party! Baby carrots are way easier to chop up by hand than big carrots though, so at least I didn't have to worry about cutting a finger off in the process. But if I can't have my very own sous chef...then I was tools and gadgets to make it easier!

Oh...couple other important notes...I used less ingredients than the original recipe. This is partly because I was fighting a head cold and my husband, bless his heart, did the grocery shopping for me. He did not check package sizes (less corn than the recipe called for). And he found the very smallest "small onion" possible. It worked out okay though. I had used my 4qt crock pot and ended up not being able to fit everything (only used 1.5 quarts of chicken stock). (Next time, I'd use the 6qt pot.) And when I blended it all up it was more of a puree consistency instead of a chowder. My husband didn't mind. He was excited he "didn't even have to chew". Next time, I would have liked it a little bit thicker.

We also used regular corn (not smoked, like Stephanie) and I ended up adding a little salt and pepper to mine. I think the smokiness would have added a nice flavor (no Trader Joe's in Houston though....moment of silence please).

My husband bought three different kinds of biscuit products to go along with this. We ended up using the canned biscuits which were yummy. I just couldn't see corn bread going with corn chowder. Too much corn at one time and all. But any bread would be good.

This was also my first time using the immersion blender I bought last week (just because I knew I wanted to try this recipe). I love that thing! I compared models for hours! (Okay, maybe only minutes, but it felt like hours because I kept going back and forth and back and forth.) I ended up with the Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chrome and am so far happy with the purchase. Let's see what else I can make with that! :-)

Yeah - I love having a home cooked meal waiting for me as soon as I'm done working. Especially after a VERY TIRING day like I had today. I would have easily gone out or grabbed a bowl of cereal rather than think of cooking something. But it was nice to have this "comfort" food waiting for me. Loving my crock pot!