Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken

Last night I made Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken, from 13 Freezer Meals In Three Hours, the recipes for which I found on Saving You Dinero).

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3)
  • 1.5 cups salsa
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese (1 brick)

Directions:

Add everything but the cream cheese to the crock pot. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 6-7 hours. 30 minutes before serving, remove and shred chicken, then return to pot and mix in. Then cut up the cream cheese into small pieces and add to the pot and cover. Allow cream cheese to melt for about 15 minutes. Stir well before serving over rice.

Freezer prep: add everything to the bag except cream cheese, then freeze.

Review:

This was really good, however it tasted a lot like the Southwest Chicken recipe, without the vegetables, and spicier!  Once again it cooked fast, after about 5 hours on low. So you would need to be careful with cooking times or the chicken will dry out.  Next time I will combine this recipe with the Southwest Chicken so it has the vegetables but is spicier. But if you aren’t fond if beans and corn, this is a fantastic recipe!

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Take 2

A few weeks ago we tried Simple Beef Stew from Saving You Dinero.  It turned out very well, but the sauce was very thin and I had to thicken it at the end.  A few readers suggested removing the lid for half an hour before it was ready.  I tried that, but it didn’t work.

So I decided to try the roux again: melt two tablespoons of butter in a pan, then whisk in two tablespoons of flour and cook until it’s a light golden colour.  Then add sauce from the crock pot and heat until bubbling.  It thickened fairly quickly.  As an experiment, I also decided to add some Bisto gravy thickener, which I found when I was cleaning out my pantry on the weekend.  What a difference these steps made!  It immediately looked like gravy.  I brought the pot to a boil and then poured it over the meat and vegetables in the crock pot.

I’m not sure if there’s a way to thicken the sauce DURING the cooking process, but this method isn’t too time intensive (it took less than 10 minutes) and worked like a charm.  Hubby and I like thick, gravy like sauce and this did the trick.  I would love to hear any suggestions for achieving this without the extra steps.  Please share if you have any tips!

I made two other adjustments to this recipe this time around.  I added a packet of Club House Beef Stew seasoning at the beginning.  It added a lot of flavour!  Hubby always adds HP Sauce and he pointed out that this stew had so much flavour, he didn’t need to add anything.  That’s quite the compliment!  The other adjustment was the addition of more vegetables.  I added some extra carrots, a cup of frozen peas and a cup of green beans.  The beans were pretty soggy by the time the stew was ready, but the new vegetables tasted great!

Now to find the ultimate chicken stew recipe…any recommendations? Thanks for reading!

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Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken & Broccoli

On tonight’s menu was Creamy Chicken & Broccoli, from 13 Freezer Meals In Three Hours, the recipes for which I found on Saving You Dinero).

Ingredients:

1 -½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3 medium/large)

1 – .6 oz package Italian dressing, dry mix

½ cup water

1 10.75 oz can cream of mushroom soup

8 oz brick of cream cheese

1 – 12 oz package frozen broccoli

Directions:

Add chicken, dry mix, soup and water to crock pot. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. About an hour before it’s ready, add broccoli and a bar of cream cheese and mix well. Serve over rice.

Freezer Bag Instructions – Place chicken, Italian dressing, and water in a large freezer bag. Keep broccoli and cream cheese separate.

Review:

This was another hit! It was really easy to prepare and tasted fantastic! I’m not a big broccoli fan but I really enjoyed this. I accidentally bought ranch dressing mix instead of Italian and it tasted just fine. Two thumbs up!IMG_2600.JPG

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Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken

On tonight’s menu was Southwest Chicken, from 13 Freezer Meals In Three Hours, the recipes for which I found on Saving You Dinero).

Ingredients:

1 can of corn, drained
1 can of black beans, drained
1 16oz jar of salsa
3-4 chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
1 8oz brick of cream cheese

Directions:

Add the corn, black beans, salsa, and chicken to the crock pot. Cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 7-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, remove and shred chicken, then return to pot and mix in. Then cut up the cream cheese into small pieces and add to the pot and cover. Allow cream cheese to melt for about 15 minutes. Stir well before serving over rice.

Freezer prep: add everything to the bag except cream cheese, then freeze.

Review:

This was absolutely delicious. I put it in before I left the house and when I returned 4 hours later, it smelled heavenly. I had three chicken breasts and everything was ready after cooking it on high for 5 hours, so start with a shorter time perhaps so it doesn’t overcook. The chicken was super easy to shred, it was so moist it fell apart. I spread out the cream cheese bits so it could melt faster. We both thought it would be nice in a tortilla, or perhaps as an enchilada. You could spice it up a little if you like some heat, I thought it was great.

I will definitely make this again!

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Slow Cooker BBQ Ranch Chicken

Tonight we tried another of our 13 Freezer Meals In Three Hours recipes – BBQ Ranch Chicken (from Saving You Dinero).

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This was the easiest recipe to prepare, anyone can handle this one!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • ½   cup ranch dressing
  • ½  cup barbecue sauce (I used Diana Chicken & Rib sauce)

Directions:

Measure sauces and pour over chicken.  Cook 5-6 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

If prepping for the freezer:  put chicken breasts in ziplock, measure and pour sauces over chicken, seal bag.  You may have to tear the bag to get the frozen “blob” out to put it in the slow cooker.

Review:

This was so easy and super tasty, I wouldn’t change a thing!  I made a little extra sauce, I just kept the ratio 1:1 when I measured the dressing and BBQ sauce.  I served it with mashed potatoes and vegetables and ended up going back twice for more sauce, which I poured over everything.  YUM!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Tonight we tried the first of the slow cooker meals I found on Saving You Dinero – Simple Beef Stew. Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:
2 pounds cubed stew meat (I split a large Costco pack in half, basically eyeballed it)
1/2 white onion chopped (I use chopped frozen onions from M&M Meat Shops – huge timesaver!)
2 garlic cloves, diced (I used minced garlic)
3 cups water
2 beef bouillon cubes
Bag of baby carrots (I chopped some large carrots I had in the fridge)
2-3 large potatoes, cut into large chunks
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add the beef, onion, garlic, water, bouillon, potatoes and carrots to the crock pot. Cook on high for 6-7 hours or low for 7-8 hours.

For freezer bag prep: add everything except the potatoes and carrots to the freezer bag and freeze. Potatoes and carrots go in fresh.

Review: this recipe turned out great. It was very tasty and the meat and veg were super tender. I would add peas and more carrots next time to bulk it up. My only complaint is the sauce is very thin. I scooped out two cups of juice an hour before it was done (I used the low cooking option) and thickened it with a roux (3 tablespoons of butter melted on low, mix in 1/4 cup flour and whisk till smooth, then whisk in juice) and added it back to the pot. Then I turned it up to high for an hour. It was definitely better and more gravy like, but could’ve been thicker. Any suggestions for how I could fix it from the beginning so I can avoid this step at the end?

I will definitely make this again, if I can fix the sauce it will certainly be a keeper. What else do you put in your stews? I’m not a fan of mushrooms or onions, but I know they would probably add even more flavour!

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13 Freezer Meals In 3 Hours

Before our second baby was born, I fully intended to fill my freezer with crock pot-ready meals.  To our great surprise, he arrived 2.5 weeks early, so it didn’t happen.

As the weather changes and our schedule starts to get busier, I wanted to get ahead of meal planning for the next month.  I love my Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker and I wanted to go beyond my standby recipes – chili, meatballs, scalloped potatoes, etc. There’s a ton of great websites out there with recipes for bulk crock pot freezer meals.  I came across a blog called Saving You Dinero and I LOVE these recipes!  I decided to try these ones:

  • Garlic Honey Chicken
  • Southwest Chicken
  • Spicy Chicken
  • BBQ Ranch Chicken
  • Creamy Chicken & Broccoli
  • Simple Beef Stew

You can find all the recipes and shopping lists here. I had a lot of ingredients already on hand so I didn’t have to buy much.  Since I was already planning a big mess, I also decided to make batches of chili and spaghetti sauce.  I went to CostCo and bought a large package of chicken breasts, a package of stewing beef, and a large package of ground beef.  I also stumbled upon a cheap pre-seasoned pork roast for pulled pork so I picked that up too!

Now came the assembly!  I bagged all the meat first (I browned, drained and cooled the ground beef before bagging), then cut up vegetables and then added the other required ingredients.  I then wrote the name of the recipe on the bag, any ingredients that aren’t frozen that need to be added (like cream cheese) and the cooking times. I won’t share everything here because it would be way too much in one post, I will share the details in separate posts as we cook the meals.

So after about 3 hours (because I had to do this in phases, I have two kids after all!) and about $100 in ingredients (CostCo meat was about $70 and I bought about $25 in canned goods and then used pantry ingredients for the rest) I have 13 meals ready to go (one of each chicken recipe above, two batches each of stew, spaghetti sauce, pulled pork and chili) into the slow cooker!  I will still need to make sides (rice, noodles, vegetables), but I always have lots of those on hand and can easily whip them up.  I can’t wait to try them all!

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13 slow cooker-ready freezer meals!

A few things that worked well:

– labelling each bag before I began

– bagging the meat first and keeping a large garbage bag ready to dump all the packaging

– cutting up the vegetables and then dropping into their respective bags

– sorting all the dry/canned ingredients on the counter by recipe so everything was at my fingertips

– cleaning out the freezer first!