Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken

I got this recipe from a fellow blogger and wanted to try it immediately because it is so simple and she said it was so good.  After making it, I'll say that I definitely agree and it is also a perfect recipe for the grad student because it is extremely easy, both in terms of time and budget!  I'll include the recipe at the end of this post, in case anyone else wants to try it out.

First, you put some chicken breasts into the crock pot.  My blogger friend used four chicken breasts, but I used six, mostly because the larger packages of chicken breasts were the ones that were on sale when I went to the store.

The next step was my adaptation of the recipe she gave me.  I added onion and green pepper that I had cut into chunks.  She had mentioned that she wanted to try adding onion next time, but I decided, after googling various Hawaiian chicken recipes and finally finding a Hawaiian vegetables recipe, that I'd try it with both onion and green pepper.

Then you add BBQ sauce and canned pineapples with juice.  She said that you should use 1/3 of the bottle, but since I had added more chicken and the vegetables, I decided to dump the whole bottle in.  She also said to use half of the juice from the can of pineapples but, again, since I had added more to the recipe, I just used all.  Then I cooked it on low for 8 hours, since most of my chicken recipes in the crock pot recommend cooking on low for 6 to 8 hours, but you could also do it on high for 3 to 4 hours.

This is what it looked like when it was done cooking.

After cooking, take you shred the chicken in the crock pot, then serve it over rice.  We actually had some leftover steamed rice from getting Chinese takeout over the weekend, so we used that, but I'd normally make some brown rice to go with it.

In terms of calories, this is an amazing dish.  I originally calculated estimating six servings (because we put in six chicken breasts) which comes out to 325 calories per serving, plus about 160 calories for a 1/2 cup of brown rice, for a total of 485 calories.  But, we actually got about 8 servings out of this dish, making it 244 calories per serving, for a total of 404 calories with the rice.  I served it with a nice salad to round out the meal.  In terms of cost, this is beyond amazing.  I actually already had an onion from my organic produce delivery and some BBQ sauce that I purchased when it was on sale, so it only came out to $1.07 per serving!  Even if you have to purchase everything, it would probably only be around $1.35 per serving (as long as you make sure to buy whichever type of BBQ sauce is on sale!).  Overall, it's a really cheap recipe which is good for my stipend, and it was really easy to make, which was really good for last week when, as I mentioned in my last post, I basically had a deadline every single day Monday through Thursday.  It's nice to not have to take much time to put dinner together one day, and then to have it available to eat as leftovers for the rest of the week when you don't want to take too much time out of studying to cook.

The full recipe:

Hawaiian Chicken with Vegetables
4-6 chicken breasts
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 large green pepper, cut into chunks
1 bottle of BBQ sauce
1 large can of pineapple chunks in juice

Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add the onion and green pepper chunks on top.  Pour over it 1 bottle of BBQ sauce and the can of pineapple with juice.  You may choose to use only half of the juice if you want a thicker sauce.  Cover, and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.  After cooking, shred the chicken into pieces in the slow cooker and mix together with the other ingredients.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Apple Cranberry Bread

Last week was really hectic for me.  It was one of those end of the semester weeks where you have something that you have to do every day.  I had a conference paper due to the respondent on Monday, a draft of my dissertation prospectus due to my seminar on Tuesday, an Italian translation exam on Wednesday, and was presenting/getting feedback on my prospectus on Thursday.  Needless to say, I didn't have any time to update before that and after that I crashed for a couple days and more or less did nothing.  I'll try to make up having missed last week with an extra post this week.

Friday, December 2 was my department's Advent celebration, so I decided (like I did last year and the year before) to make a dessert in the crock pot.  Because I've been trying to be healthier recently, instead of making cookies or cake like I had before, I decided to try out the Apple Cranberry Bread from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook.  Of course, the other reason I decided to make this was that the fresh cranberries were on sale when I went grocery shopping the week before, so I looked for something to do with them.

Now, the thing about these recipes that you bake in the slow cooker is that you're not really saving time because you have to do the same exact amount of work as you would baking something in the oven.  I still find it really cool, however, that you can bake in the slow cooker and the longer cooking time could still be useful if there's other things that you have to do OR you have to go out of the house and so can't leave the oven on OR if you're cooking other things and need to keep your oven free.

Before preparing the ingredients, you're going to want to do two things.  First, grease a baking dish that fits into your slow cooker, then put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Both of these things will be used later.  Then you mix the dry ingredients together: flour, flax seeds, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.  Separately you beat together the wet ingredients, one of which, as you can see in the image above (on the right), is orange juice.  You don't have to use fresh orange juice, of course, but because the recipe also calls for orange zest and says that the amount you need is the juice of 1 large navel orange AND because my parents got me the juicer attachment for my KitchenAid for my birthday this year, I squeezed the juice fresh.

Anyway, you beat together all the wet ingredients, which include sugar, olive oil, egg, and the orange zest/juice.  Then you add the dry ingredients and stir in the apple and cranberries.  Now, I took the bowl off the mixer and "folded" in the apple and cranberries but I'd actually recommend doing it with the mixer if you can--the dough is really hard to manipulate by hand.
After everything is mixed together, you pour the mix into the greased pan and place it in the slow cooker.  Then take the water off the stove, which should be boiling by now, and pour it into your slow cooker around the pan until the water comes 1 inch up the side of the baking pan.  The bread takes about 4 hours to cook, though test it with a toothpick in the center to be sure.  I'm also a bit paranoid about the baked goods in the crock pot because the moisture of the crock pot makes the dish seem uncooked.  I actually checked it after 4 hours, then left it on to cook a little longer while I got ready for the Advent celebration.

So this is what it looked like when it was done.

The cook thing about this bread is, as the cookbook says, it can be "a great snack, a nutritious desert and can even be eaten for breakfast."  I cut it into 12 pieces and put it on a paper plate to bring to the Advent celebration--unfortunately because I was trying to get everything done and get out the door in the end, I forgot to take a picture of the final presentation.  My husband and I took a taste before we went out the door, however, and it was AMAZING.  As my husband said, "$#%^&%* bomb."

Now, the cookbook says that this dish serves 8, but clearly it matters how you cut it.  Since I cut it into 12 pieces, the calories come out to be about 205, but if you cut it into bigger pieces, obviously it would be more calories.  The really cool thing about this recipe, however, is that making this bread cost me all of $4.99 to make (so, all of $0.42 per serving)!  The only things I purchased were the fresh cranberries and whole wheat flour.  If you bake regularly, you'll probably have most of the ingredients on hand and so will only need to purchase, maybe, the flax seeds, cranberries, and an orange.  I already had the orange, via my organic produce delivery that I get each week, and the flax seeds because my mom got me to start putting some on my cereal.  Technically the recipe calls for half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour, but I'm sure if you didn't want to spend the money to get whole wheat flower and only had all-purpose flour (or vice versa) it'd be fine.  Anyway, to sum up: this was really good, I highly recommend it, and I'd make it again with the leftover cranberries if I didn't have some plans for chutney, which can also be made in the crock pot.