September 7, 2018

Crockpot Chinese Orange Chicken

Oh boy!  Do I have a yummy, yet super easy recipe to share with you all today.  I introduce you to Crockpot Chinese Orange Chicken.

I have several recipes for Chinese food I have cultivated at home over the years that have made it into our regular meal rotation, this is one of them. Now, total disclaimer, this is probably nowhere near authentic.  But, I am not exactly going for authentic around here. Close to, but tasty and MOST importantly easy, is the end game.

<Print Recipe>

Crockpot Chinese Orange Chicken

2 boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 tsp Balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp ketchup
3 oz frozen Orange Juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour

Place cut chicken into bottom of slow cooker. In a measuring cup, mix together balsamic vinegar, ketchup, OJ concentrate, water, salt, brown sugar, flour. Pour over chicken. Cook on Low for 3-5 hours, depending on the cooking heat of your slow cooker. Stir chicken into sauce. Serve over steamed, white rice.

This dish comes out tender with a thick tangy orange sauce thanks to the flour that was mixed in at the beginning of the cook time. I usually drizzle the excess sauce that's in the bottom of the slow cooker over the top of the rice. So tasty!

Best of all, you can throw everything into the slow cooker and walk away.  When it's dinnertime, presto, homemade Chinese with almost no work involved.  And....we didn't have to wait on take-out or spend extra money.  Total win in my book!

May 8, 2018

Pepperjack Chicken

My previous post was all about bulk prepping bell peppers and mushrooms for future use, resulting in saved time in the kitchen.  Today's post will use one of the ingredients we bulk prepped, green bell peppers and onions.

Pepperjack chicken is a very flavorful, yet easy main dish.  It all starts with the ever versatile boneless, skinless chicken breast. It can easily be thrown together at any point in the day, refrigerated, and then baked before dinner time's arrival.  It is so flavorful!

<Print Recipe>

Pepperjack Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper, seeded and ribs removed; sliced
1 onion, diced/sliced
1 tbsp Cajun seasoning mix
2 slices Pepperjack OR Cheddar cheese

Place chicken breasts into a baking dish.  Season both sides of chicken with Cajun seasoning. Top each piece of chicken with bell pepper and onions.  Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.  Remove dish from oven. Top each chicken breast with a slice of cheese.  Place back into the oven just until cheese is melted.

This dish is very adaptable. You can use red bell peppers instead of green.  You can also slice the onion or dice it. The cheese option is totally up to your preferences as well. I often use Pepperjack because we like the spiciness of it; but I have also used cheddar with great results.

The chicken comes out tender, juicy and so flavorful.  It is a great way to use up some of the "on-sale" green bell peppers and onions from the freezer!

April 26, 2018

Freezer Prep: Bell Peppers, Mushrooms & Onions

One of the ways I work ahead in the kitchen is by bulk prepping foods to store in my freezer for later use.  On this day, I worked with bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Bulk prepping ingredients is just as it sounds.  It is taking a large amount of meal ingredients like vegetables, meats, cheeses, etc and processing them into usable portions.

Often, I will find ingredients on sale and buy many of that item.  When it is an ingredient we use often, we can save money using these items over time in meals.  This simple principle allows me to further reduce the cost of meals for our family.  Not only did I save money by buying on sale, but chopping them myself saves quite a bit of money over buying pre-packaged bags of chopped bell peppers in the grocery store's freezer section.

It also saves me so much time in the kitchen. Instead of chopping up bell peppers every time I need one for a recipe, I can take 15 minutes and chop up many bell peppers!  This saves time both in food prep but also in time it takes to clean up. I can easily pull a bag of something I previously chopped, cooked, or mixed together from the freezer to add to meals throughout the month with no added work.

To process the bell peppers, begin by removing the internal ribs and seeds. Then slice or dice the peppers into a form you can use in future recipes. Place a single meal portion into a quart sized freezer bag, pushing as much air out as possible.  Then tightly seal bag closed.  I then place all of the quart sized bags into a gallon sized freezer bag to keep things together in the freezer for ease of finding later.

Bulk prepping mushrooms is much the same as with the bell peppers above. In this case, I used already sliced mushrooms; but you can also use whole mushrooms that you slice yourself.  Then just package up the sliced mushrooms in bags and store as described above.

To prep the onions, I did the same technique as the bell peppers.  Dice or chop the onions to the size you prefer for meals.  Then portion out the standard amount you usually use for one meal, I always use one onion's worth. Store in freezer bags for later use.

Because these vegetables have been frozen, these will not be edible raw. They will need to be used as an ingredient in meals and cooked.  Freezing these types of vegetables makes them take on a soft texture, therefore they will not have the same "bite" or crispness as they do fresh. These pre-prepped foods make a great addition to slow cooker meals, casseroles, stir-fry's, and soups.  I have many recipes that use these ingredients that I plan to share soon!

March 15, 2018

The Start of Something New....

Welcome to my blog!   Here at  A Welcome Kitchen  I will be sharing the many recipes, kitchen tips, meal plans and freezer cooking adventures that have been simmering for quite some time.  I am so excited to share what I have learned with all of you.

A little about me:  I have been married to my patient and amazing husband for 12 years.  We have one son who just recently turned 8.  We also have 3 cats, we are a cat-loving family for sure.  I was born and raised in Southern California, but relocated to the Midwest.  I am an accountant by trade, but turned in my calculator for an apron when we had our son, becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom.

When I was in high school, I took one year of Home Ec.  I enjoyed the class, mainly when we would be learning a new recipe and cooking from scratch.  I can remember a couple of recipes that my friends and I would get together and make on our own after class. I should have known that recipe creation was my calling way back then!  I just truly enjoy creating yummy new things for my family to try.  The days that I get to just putter around in my kitchen working on food prep and cooking are some of my happiest and most fulfilling.

Being a Stay-at-Home Mom / Homemaker has required me to find ways of making easy, tasty, and frugal meals.  Because there is always a list of other things that need done, all before school pickup time arrives.  These time saving tips are just some of the things I will be sharing here to help other Mom's maximize their time in the kitchen too.

I hope you enjoy visiting and come back often.  I appreciate readers and love hearing from each and every one of you.  So, don't be shy, leave me a comment and let's start engaging in some helpful conversations.