Sunday, February 5, 2012

Menu Sunday

Three new kids on the block this week... and one repeat...

Orange Chicken Stir-Fry
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
Orange Chicken w/ Snap Peas
Easy, delicious, and healthy homemade Chinese!  Modifications:  Nothing life-altering... I chopped up my chicken breasts before preparing them, stir-fried snow peas in a tiny bit of sesame oil, and then tossed chicken, peas, and rice together with excess orange sauce.  

White Cheddar Pesto Mac-n-Cheese
adapted from How Sweet It Is
Pesto Mac
Basically my life's quest is perfecting the Most Badass Mac-n-Cheese Recipe of All-Time.  Rosemary Pumpkin Mac and Hatch Chile Mac blow most everything else I've tried out of the water, but I felt like this recipe might be up for the challenge.  And let me tell you... pretty damn good.  Still didn't oust either of my Top 2 All-Stars, but definitely a solid recipe!  Modifications: I used whole wheat elbow pasta.  I cut the heavy cream out all together, but added 4 oz of Velveeta to the cheese sauce {because no mac-n-cheese recipe is complete without Velveeta}. And - BIG ADMISSION - I used basil pesto I already had on hand {frozen, a la Maggie}.

Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
adapted from Picky Palate
Last night's Cheesy Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole
This is a winner of a winter casserole.  The perfect dish for someone with the sniffles. However... you will  dirty a bunch of pots prepping this one.  Modifications: I used half wild rice and half vegetable flour orzo, because I thought I had more wild rice on hand than I actually did. I used about 2 cups {prepared} of each. I didn't measure out 2 cups of chicken... just used one rotisserie chicken, picked clean. And, in my humble opinion, chicken broth does not a delicious cheese sauce make... I used milk {and a mix of aged Vermont white cheddar and Tillamook extra sharp cheddar}.

Crockpot Shredded BBQ Chicken w/ Roasted Potatoes & Broccoli
chicken courtesy of Stick a Fork In It
Crockpot BBQ Chicken + Roasted Taters & Broccoli
I have a real love/hate relationship with my crockpot. In theory, the crockpot is pure genius. Throw some random shit in there, go to work, and come home to a delicious meal.  But I'm finding more and more that many crockpot recipes really aren't meant to sit on my kitchen counter for the amount of time I'm sitting at my desk... ie: I've been coming home to a lot of really dry crockpot meat lately - chicken, especially.  Even if the cook time is correct, the fact that the ingredients have been sitting on WARM for 4 hours usually doesn't make for the most delicious of results. A Delay Start Time button would be optimal, but, alas, even our fancy pants crockpot doesn't offer that option. 

Rant aside, this recipe would be a favorite if I could start the cook time four or five hours before we sit down to eat.  Super flavorful and healthy... it was just on the dry side once it was actually supper time. Notes: I used Stubb's Hickory Bourbon BBQ Sauceand red wine vinegar {since the recipe didn't specify type}.  Since I started with refrigerated {not froze}chicken breasts, I set the cook time for 4.5 hours.  I boiled the potatoes for 20 minutes and then roasted them with the broccoli {tossed with EVOO and sea sal} at 450 for 15 minutes. 


  1. Hi - I've been reading you on and off (came over from lisa at privilege)... anyway my husband and I do crockpot stuff at least once a week and we generally leave our stuff on cook for 7.5 hrs and warm for another 3 and it doesn't dry out - so here are my go-tos:

    1 roaster chicken rubbed with fake butter (we use smart balance) on the outside, an onion shoved inside the chicken, squeeze 1 lemon over the chicken and season with herbs (we generally use some sage, thyme, rosemary) - then cook 8 hours on low and it can sit as long as you want on warm. Usually enough for my husband and I + leftovers that I normally toss in a salad.

    Rub down crock with a little bit of veg oil, two chicken breasts with half a jar of salsa (or 4 breasts with a jar of salsa) dumped on top, cook on low for 7 hours then can stay on warm for up to another 3. Shred chicken over rice or in tortillas with a little guac or sour cream (we use plain greek yogurt).

    1 roast, season with garlic powder and chopped onion (about half an onion), then cover with stew tomatoes, then thinly slice potatoes and cover the tomatoes, then do a layer of shredded cheese (we like a parm/cheddar combo), then do another layer of potatoes, then more cheese then more potatoes, then more cheese. Cook on low for 8 hours, can live on warm for another 3-4 hours.

    fake indian food: 2-3 chicken breasts, 1/2 chopped onion, diced potatoes, baby carrots, 1 jar of indian sauce (we like pataks tikka masala sauce or mango curry sauce, target also has a nice one from the archer farm line). cook on low for 7.5 hours and can hold on warm for another 3 hours.

    hope these help! - Laura

  2. I guess letting food sit at room-ish temperature for a few hours (in a delay setting) is probably not that safe, but it would be nice to have the option. I'm with you on crockpots -- they just don't work when I'm at work! And also, I'd be very worried about a certain always-hungry, always-clever labrador getting into crockpot while I'm away!

  3. If your crockpot stuff is drying out, it's not full enough! The bowl of the crockpot should be at least 2/3 full.

    I have a ginormous crockpot that I can never fill all the way for the two of us, so I set a smaller Corningware casserole dish in the main part, put the food in there, and put a glass lid on it (and the lid on the crockpot). Because the surface area is smaller, the food stays very moist. It sound weird, but it makes sense!

  4. That stir fry looks amazing- might have to try it soon!

  5. I've done the dish inside of a dish for the crock pot and it actually does work. It's a little awkward finding a dish that will actually fit in there, but once you do you can use it over and over again and not make enough to feed a hungry horde.

  6. I made that chicken and wild rice last week too - major hit with my family and our neighbors as well!

  7. I plug my crockpot into a timer to turn on while I am at work. In other news, you look fabulous! Congrats on reaching full term. :)

  8. I feel the same way about my crockpot. But, I don't want to delay it coming on because then the food's just sitting out and becoming a petri dish. I find I only use it for very long cook times or n the weekends.

  9. Kate, why hello! I stumbled across your blog and weirdly feel more like a stalker because I know you in real life. You are hilarious and I have read multiple past posts and did you know that we have very similar taste in books? Oh and p.s. you have got to be one of the cutest pregnant people ever. Yes that is the extent of the bar exam studying boredom--I'm definitely going to have to disable the internet to cut out the procrastination temptation.

    I would have stayed all uncool and silent and creepy but I had to pipe up for the sake of your overdry chicken--have you ever used a timer? We always put our christmas tree on one but it actually works great for a crockpot too.

    Congratulations on the bebe--I can't wait to see pictures and learn her name when she gets here!


  10. I have used one of those gadgets that turn your lights on at a certain time to delay my crockpot start. As another commenter said, leaving food out at room temp isn't the best option, but if you chill the crock pot insert over night and only set the delay for 2 hours, it should be okay. Another option is starting the crock pot with frozen chicken in it. You can delay the start a little while longer because the chicken is basically defrosting and won't get too warm too fast. Can't wait to "meet" the little Quesita!


happy little comments!