Monday, February 22, 2016

Crockpot Meals: Edition 2

Edition 2 of trying out the crockpot! I got a little more adventurous this go around and went for a chicken parm and an Italian style risotto. Who would have thought you could make these in the crockpot?! They're not going to taste exactly like the original, but with all the time you save you're really not missing out.

I've never made either recipe the traditional route, but I definitely will be using the crockpot method for a while to come.

Chicken parm is one of my go-to orders at any Italian restaurant (I especially love chicken parm subs), so I was especially eager to try this one out. I served mine alongside edamame spaghetti (purchased at Costco) and some roasted asparagus. You can skip out on adding the extra stuff to the sauce and bread crumbs and just go with the stuff straight from the jars - I just felt this added a lot more flavor for just a little bit more effort. And a note on that mozzarella cheese - mine ended up being absorbed by the end of cook time but you can top with additional cheese when serving if desired. Maybe if the cheese is sliced this will help prevent a little of that absorption, but I've only made this once so far so I haven't been able to test that out quite yet.

Chicken Parmesan
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon spice mix (oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic salt, parsley flakes)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Few pieces of dry basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Marinara sauce

  1. Spread olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg until beaten
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, spice mix, pepper and salt together in a bowl
  4. Dip the chicken into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides with egg and bread crumb mixture.
  5. Place the chicken breast pieces in the bottom of the crockpot (I only used enough chicken that would cover the base - I did not layer raw meat on top of each other)
  6. Layer 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top
  7. Saute onions and garlic, stir in sauce, and mix with crushed red peppers and basil
  8. Cover chicken and cheese with entire jar of marinara sauce
  9. Close lid and cook on low for about 5 hours or until chicken is done

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Chef in training

Ever stood over a stove for what seems like an eternity stirring Arborio rice? Neither have I. Someday I'll try out the traditional way of making risotto, but the crockpot way was just as tasty. Feel free to swap out the veggies I used for any you like or have on hand. I had a bell pepper in my fridge that was looking a little wrinkled, so in it went.

I cooked this on high, but the last half hour or so will require a closer eye and a few more stirs. As soon as the rice looks like it just needs a biiiiit more time for the liquid to be absorbed, turn the crockpot off. In these fifteen minutes, the heat from the pot is all you need to keep the rice cooking and have the liquid absorb. If you keep the crockpot on until the liquid is all gone, then the rice will become too mushy.

One last thing, the only difference that's really noteworthy with making this in the crockpot is if you store some in the freezer, when you thaw it tastes fine and retains the flavor, but the shape and texture is lacking. The risotto gets mushy, and doesn't have that same feel. But if you can't eat it all one go around (I can't since I'm cooking for one) and this doesn't bother you, go ahead and freeze because the flavor is all still there.

Rosemary chicken risotto
1¼ cups Arborio rice 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
3.5 cups chicken broth 
.5 cup white wine
8 oz frozen veggie mix (peas, carrots beans, and corn)
1 bell pepper
1 large chicken breast (about ¾ pound) 
1 teaspoon onion powder 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 teaspoon dried parsley 
½ teaspoon dried rosemary 
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon ground ginger   
Few bay leaves  
½ teaspoon salt 
¼ cup half and half
½ cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Add rice and olive oil to crock and stir to coat the rice
  2. Add broth, wine, veggies and spice to crock and stir to evenly mix
  3. Place chicken in crockpot and cover
  4. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 5-6
  5. Remove chicken once fully cooked and shred with two forks and return to crockpot
  6. Add half and half and cheese and give everything one last stir to combine

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Slow cooker gourmet

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