Archive | October, 2016

Bringin’ back the 70’s

12 Oct

I grew up with one bubbling on the countertop. The warm scent of hearty meat and flavorful vegetables filled the cold fall and winter suburban Chicago kitchen with warmth. As I braved the cold midwestern weather running track in the fall outside after school, my mind wandered to that food. Those dinners. Yum. I carried the essence of the hearty food wafting through my family home and the warmth of my mothers dinners long into adulthood. Then into motherhood.

Crock pots have been a staple of American kitchens for decades. People have a “love hate” relationship with their crock pots, but doesn’t everyone have one?  People love the time saver aspect of cooking in a crock pot, but hate the bland food. So some crock pots are buried deep in a kitchen cupboard, but come on, admit it, they lurk in most every kitchen. Have the courage to grab yours out of hiding and let it find its rightful place on the counter.

Mine was constantly in use as I quickly went from being the mother of one to a mother of three. A working mom. Undeniably, it sure is a time saver. And it really can produce savory meals. What is standing between you and your crockpot? They can produce delicious meals in a snap. So go for it! But…..

Perhaps you are of the mindset that crock pot meals are:

a) SO 70’s, and not in a good way

b) SO boring

c)  SO bland, like beige food

d) decidedly and completely unsexy food

In other words, no F-U-N!

But…..I was short on time the other morning (as usual), and wanted to get a fairly decent meal on the table for my family that night.  So I took a minute before leaving for work and grabbed a couple of things to toss into the-yes I admit it- crock pot.  My intention was to have flavorful and somewhat healthy tacos by suppertime.  So this is what i tossed into the crock pot:

2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 boneless chicken thighs (so flavorful!)

1 can corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 can diced green chilis

4 ounces salsa

4 ounces salsa verde (green salsa)

1 envelope of low sodium taco seasoning

1 T. chili powder

1 T. (A generous amount-i love this flavor) cumin

salt and pepper to taste (you can always adjust this upward, so be conservative to begin with)

The chicken was still a bit frozen, but that is not problem for a crock pot.  I put the chicken in the bottom, then just dumped everything else on top.The seasonings went on the top.  I didn’t even stir it.  I just threw it together, covered the crock pot, turned it on and ran out the door.

When I came home, I opened the lid of the crock pot and gave the mixture a good stir.  I used two forks to shred the chicken while it was still in the crock pot, which was so tender it easily broke apart.  I had a quick taste, adjusted my seasonings a bit, then put the lid back on.

When dinner time came, I made some spanish rice, shredded some lettuce and cheese, Chopped some fresh jalapeño peppers, pulled the tortillas out, and dinner was served!  The tacos were kind of an all in one because of the vegetables  added to the mixture.  The dinner was nutritious and relatively low in fat.

This recipe really stretched my ingredients so it was also budget friendly.  It was an easy weeknight dinner.  True it wasn’t sexy, but it wasn’t boring either.  With all of the added vegetables, it was colorful, flavorful, nutritious, and quite satisfying.  What will you add to your crock pot?