Friday, September 20, 2013

Can't Beat the Crock Pot!

I realize that I'm the person who always seems to go "over the top" when making dinner. But there are some days that I really don't want to put much effort into things. And some days it's that I have a million things to do, and when it comes time to sit down for dinner...I don't want to be spending 3 hours to get me there. It is then, my friends, when the crock pot comes out of it's spot behind my Le Creuset pots.

A while back I found a recipe for Mexican Style Chicken Breasts that could be cooked in the crock pot. And like I normally do, I tweaked the recipe to suit our tastes. :) I rarely bust out my crock pot, but when I do I remember how great it is and why I lobbied for it in the first place! Every time I turn on the TV I see the ads for the all the new kitchen appliances and gadgets that are out there. And I'm not going to lie, I want them ALL! The only thing stopping me is...well Michael. ;-) In all honesty, all these things that are suppose to make cooking "easier" and better...well they just take up space in the cupboards and in all honesty...the things they make can be done in pots and pans you already have.

But all that being said...the crock pot is an amazing thing...if you don't have one...GET ONE! After you get it...come back and try this recipe that I'm about to walk you through. As with most of these things, if you like spice, add more! If you don't...then leave it out. :) The beauty of cooking is that you can make it your own, that's why I truly do love it! Okay...I'll stop rambling and get to the recipe!

Mexican-Style Chicken Breasts - Crock Pot Mexican Chicken
This recipe has a few ingredients, and it's great because you can prepare most of this even the night before and throw it all into the crock pot in the morning before you leave for work(if that's how your day is looking). Otherwise you can prepare it all in the morning and toss it in the crock pot. So here we go!
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breasts - 3 to 4 depending on the size of them
  • 1/2 an Onion, chopped. (more if you prefer)
  • 1, Green Bell Pepper (or any color that suits your fancy), chopped
  • 1 or 2, Jalapenos, finely chopped (if you like it hot, leave seeds in)
  • 1, Ear of Corn (or frozen corn), optional
  • 3, Cloves of Garlic, smashed and finely minced
  • 1, 4oz can of Chile Peppers (use mild or even get the jalapenos), chopped
  • 1, 14 1/2oz can of Mexican Style Diced Tomatoes (or crushed...whatever you can find)
  • 1 teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cumin
  • Chicken Stock or White Wine...or even a little bit of vinegar.
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese
  • Any other toppings you'd like to add!
As with most recipes, getting all of your veggies and proteins chopped BEFORE you start cooking is essential. While some recipes say that you can chop this while that is cooking...don't do that! I find that if I'm rushed like that...I make mistakes...or cut myself! So get all of your chopping and mincing done...and then start heating up your pan. I promise it will make life easier.

Let's get our veggies chopped and minced!

Dice 1/2 an onion.
Dice 1/2 an onion
Dice up 1 Bell Pepper...any color you like.

Dice up your Bell Pepper (Any color)
 Finely chop the Jalapeno(s).

Finely chop your Jalapeno(s)
**side note** Whenever working with hot peppers...WASH YOUR HANDS. Better yet...wear gloves. You don't want to accidentally rub your face or eyes after handling them!

Now smash and finely mince 3 Cloves of Garlic.

Smash and mince 3 Cloves of Garlic
Now put all the chopped veggies into a bowl and set aside.

Now onto the chicken. I don't know if you are like me...but cutting up raw meat used to gross me out! Luckily I moved past that! LOL

Dice the chicken into about 1 inch cubes. Remember, the measurement police aren't going to come and get you if they aren't EXACTLY 1 inch. :) **Make sure the chicken is at room temp.**

Dice up the chicken into about 1 inch pieces.
Add a couple of tablespoons of Vegetable Oil to a large pan. Get the oil SCREAMING hot!

Add some Vegetable Oil to the pan, and get it SCREAMING hot.
Add the chicken to the pan, work in batches that way the meat will brown and not steam. While the chicken is in the pan, season with salt and pepper.

Cook the chicken in batches. Season with salt and pepper when in the pan.
Once browned, remove chicken with slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside.

After the chicken is browned, put it in a bowl and set aside.
Add more Vegetable Oil if needed, then sautee the veggies until tender. Just a few minutes. Keep stirring, if you don't the garlic will burn!!

Now you see all that wonderful brown stuff in the pan? Don't let that go to waste! If  you have chicken stock, or white wine around use that! In a pinch a little bit of white vinegar will work. You just want something to loosen those flavorful brown bits! All you will need is a few tablespoons.

Using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom of the pan while the liquid is bubbling. Look at the yummy flavorful liquid now!!!

If you are using corn, now is the time to get that ready. If you are using a fresh ear, this is how you get it off the cob. Put a small bowl into a larger bowl as a "stand." If you try to do this on your cutting board you will have corn EVERYWHERE...believe me...I know from experience LOL. Then using your knife cut down the sides of the cob. :)

Now add the chicken, veggies and corn to the crock pot. Give it a stir.

Mmmm. Add that flavorful liquid! (If that liquid dries in the pan...don't freak out! Just turn the heat back on and add another splash of stock or wine...and it will be good to go!)

Now add the diced tomatoes and chilies. (I used Jalapenos.) I couldn't find and diced Mexican Style tomatoes so I used crushed...and then broke them up before mixing them in. :)

Now add in the Oregano and Cumin. And season with a little bit more salt and pepper.

Give it a good stir to mix everything up.

**Another good thing to add would be canned black beans! Just rinse them and throw them into the pot!**

Put a lid on that baby...and turn the heat to Low (for 7 to 8 hours) or High (for 3 to 4 hours). Remember...when cooking in the crock pot, yes you can cook it on high...but when you cook on low it gives things a chance to cook slower and develop more flavor! :)

After the cooking time is up give it a taste. Sometimes you need to season more. Add more salt if needed. If you find that it's pretty acidic from the tomatoes, add a little bit of sugar. Sugar is my "go-to" fix! :) haha.

Serve this on flour tortillas with cheese and whatever other toppings you'd like! This is also delicious over rice!! :)

So was that simple or what! :) I know that it seems like there is a lot of prep, but it honestly goes quite fast! Once all the veggies and chicken are chopped it's just sauteeing and then mixing! :) I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! Let me know what you think of it!
Until next time...Keep Cooking!
You can find the original recipe by clicking HERE.

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