Except we know that come 6o'clock, the family will be expecting dinner. As will I. And I get cranky when I'm hungry, and never want to cook when I"m starving, which results in me snacking and spoiling my dinner while I'm preparing the meal that I don't want to cook, but feel that I must because eating out is wasteful...
And while we're on the subject, how come my friends kids meekly eat a bowl of cereal for supper, but my kids act as if I'm starving them when I mention it as an alternative to cooking? I warn you, Gentle Reader, if you cook for your family on a regular basis, their expectations will be raised. And sometimes you will be punished for your diligence in providing nutritious food for them.
She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
I will first give you the recipe for the dish I made today, but then I will follow it with some change ups that I often do. The main idea here is to use what you have. Oh, and I have a beloved sister who's MAN does not like to eat '"yard bird. To that I will say, try this with pork chops. They will be tender and delicious. For that matter, you could use pork tenderloin too, or whatever you have. Again, pretend I'm Rachel Ray. "Use whatever you've got. It will be just fine."
Crock Pot Chicken
Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 green bell pepper that you need to use up
1/2 onion that also needs used.
See that jar of pesto you bought with great ideas of using? Grab it too. The great ideas are about to flow.
Salt & Pepper
At about 10am, place still frozen chicken breasts in your crock pot that you just bought. You are super excited about this crock pot as it has handles that lock the lid in place. You will be dancing around your kitchen with visions of transporting food and not living in fear it will dump at any moment. Dance the samba as you bust it out of the box and wash it in warm soapy water...It helps ease the pain of saying goodbye to your old crock pot who's handle broke off the lid. Twice. It is now irreparable.
Yes, your chicken is still frozen. You are not good at remembering to pull the chicken out the night before, and really you have all day to cook it, so just don't fret! Yes, you will realize that the instructions in your crock pot say to never place frozen meat in it as it may not get done...Know that you have only thawed meat before putting it in a handful of times in your life, and since you are throwing this in so early, it will be done!
Take the pesto and rub it onto the chicken. I think you should use maybe 2 tablespoons, but it was all eyeballed, so you don't really know, do you? Grab a clove of garlic and chop it and throw it on the chicken. You spy your Greek seasoning. As you have a longstanding love affair with the stuff, it is inevitable that you will share the love with your chicken. Sprinkle a bit on. Next you will need to take the enormous green pepper and slice it up. Long strips will work best. That way you don't mistakenly place bell pepper on your child's plate. They will not eat it. And you will be sad because it is a waste of precious bell pepper. Give a little wistful sigh because you wish you had more peppers...See that onion half? Just kind of break it up and throw it in. Remind yourself that you have stuff to get done, and speed is of the essence here.
Now, turn that crock pot on low and walk away...
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
When you return from picking your kids up from school (a little after 3o'clock) you will decide that you want some rice with that chicken! Well, lucky for you, you just happen to know that you can add rice and pasta to crock pot dishes about 2 hours before needing to serve them. Take a gander at your liquid. Measure (okay eyeball, you never have been good at truly measuring) about 1.5 cups rice. You will decide on this amount based on the knowledge that you will need leftovers for lunch tomorrow. You have a family of four, so the extra half cup should leave enough for you and hubby to pack for lunch! Sprinkle the rice around in the liquid. You will notice that the liquid appears to be a little short for this quantity of rice.
Here is a critical decision in your recipe. Stirring some cream of mushroom, a package of onion soup mix and half a can of milk is always a yummy base for this. However, you will realize that you do not have cream of mushroom. Nor do you have dry onion soup...Time to grab that can of stewed tomatoes you keep on hand for just such situations. Pour the tomatoes over and around the chicken making sure the rice is well covered. Shrug to yourself and decide your body will be happy at the reduced sodium and fat content of the dish.
Let cook an additional 2 hours. You can drop the temperature to warm if your family is not assembled and ready to eat when your rice is tender.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
Okay, so here's the change ups you can add.
Mix the rice with cream of mushroom and milk as described with a packet of onion soup mix.
Buy wild rice. Keep it on hand. You will fall in love with it, and you will mourn when you realize you are out and have to use plain old white or brown for recipes.
Use tomatoes with green chilies in place of the stewed tomatoes.
Poblano peppers are fabulous in this. Actually, any pepper is fabulous in this. However, your small children will consume enormous amounts of water when you throw in some jalapenos from your garden.
If it's summer time, throw some thick sliced squash or zucchini in the pot. I don't recommend the squash with the creamy rice mixture. Stick with chicken broth for your liquid. Also, don't throw the squash in too early, or it will be slimy mush. Yuck!
I know I have used many other ingredients in this particular basic recipe, but these are what I can pull out of my feeble brain on short notice.
Now, here is where your persistence in finishing this entire post pays off, Gentle Reader. The key to making this recipe truly successful is cooking extra chicken. It has a wonderful flavor and is perfect for making chicken quesadillas, chicken pot pie, and even chicken spaghetti down the road. Simply shred (or dice if you prefer not to soil your lovely hands with chicken bits) the chicken and place desired amounts in freezer bags, label and toss in the freezer.
Do the mambo as you celebrate in the knowledge that you have come one tiny step closer to being a Proverbs 31 woman...
She is clothed with strength and dignity. She can laugh at the days to come.
Excerpts of scripture are taken from Proverbs 31, New International Version