Monday, June 25, 2012

Cans and Packets Need Not Apply

You know that creamy, delicious Crock Pot Italian chicken recipe that your mom/neighbor/sister-in-law makes? Do you want to know how to make it without opening a single can or packet and only taking 5 extra minutes? Here you go:

"Homemade" Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken.

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. chicken base (If you want to avoid all processed foods, you can leave this out. It just mimics the flavor of the cream of chicken soup, but the dish would probably taste fine without it.)
4 oz. cream cheese
2 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. homemade italian dressing seasoning mix (recipe follows)

1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Once thickened, add chicken base. (At this point in the recipe, you have a wonderful substitute for cream of chicken soup that you can use in pretty much any recipe. That's right, if you can make a simple white sauce, you never have to buy condensed creamed soups again. Awesome, huh?) Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, place chicken in crock pot and season both sides with Italian dressing mix.

3. Pour sauce over seasoned chicken and cook on low for 4 hours. (I put the chicken in frozen and it was perfectly moist in 4 hours. Overcooked crock pot chicken is the worst.)

4. Shred chicken and serve over rice or noodles. I had it with brown rice and the chicken was so delicious I didn't even notice the brown rice.

Celebrate! You have broken free of Cambpell's! (Campbell's, please don't sue me.)

I found a copy-cat recipe for Italian dressing mix here, but after a couple trials and due to not having all the ingredients I made a few changes. Here is my version:

Homemade Italian Dressing Seasoning Mix
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp ground oregano
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground basil

1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  If you want to make dressing: Mix two tablespoons of the mix with ¼ cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water, and ½ to 2/3 cup olive oil or canola oil.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fish for people who don't like Fish

Garlic Butter Tilapia with Roasted Red Potatoes

Step one: Buy frozen tilapia loins from Costco. Seriously, they don't even taste like fish. I tried Target Brand frozen tilapia fillets once and they were naaasty. Just trust Kirkland on this one.

Step two: Defrost your tilapia in the microwave. "What?" you say. If you are seriously going to remember to put the fish in the fridge the day before you want fish, be my guest. But for me, who didn't know we were having fish until about 5:00 pm, the microwave worked fine. My defrost goes by pounds, so for two loins, I set it to 5 lbs, put them in while they were still in their cute plastic pouches, and turned them when it told me to. When I defrost via microwave, I usually try to underestimate the weight a bit so the meat doesn't get cooked.

Step three: Preheat the oven to 400* and scrub 5 or 6 small red potatoes. Cut them in half. Toss them in a bowl with:

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
5 cracks of pepper
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (It's okay, I used the stuff in the green can.)

Place them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook for 10 minutes, stir/flip, and cook for another 10.

Step four: Make your garlic butter by melting 2 Tbsp. of butter and adding

1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
a few cracks of pepper
a sprinkle of paperika
two sprinkles of dried dill weed

Step five: reduce oven heat to 350* and take your potatoes out of the oven for a sec. (this will make dish duty a little simpler). Push potatoes over to one side of the pan and brush the butter mixture on the other side. Lay the tilapia down on the butter and slather the tops of the fish with the butter mixture. Stick the pan back in the oven for 12 minutes.

Step six: Microwave some green beans and you have yourself a square meal.

Mark got to eat on the "celebrate" plate, not because he's special but because it's the 2000's and everybody gets a trophy...And it was on the top of the pile of plates when I was setting the table.
It really was one of the easiest and tastiest meals I've prepared. Thus, the blog post.