Hawaiian Grilled Chicken & Coconut Rice

The weather has not been cooperating around here.

(Seriously, it’s been in the 50’s, gray and wet, for weeks.)

It’s not good for my mood, let me tell you.

So, I had this idea that if I made something from a sunny place, on the grill, it would give me the pick-me-up I was looking for.

That’s not exactly what happened.

The Recipes:

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken, slightly adapted from A Dash of Thyme

3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 c low sodium soy sauce

2 c water

1 1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c white onion, chopped

1/2 t minced garlic

1 t of sesame oil

1 (13.5oz) can of coconut milk

Remove visible fat from chicken thighs.  Mix soy sauce, water, brown sugar, onions, garlic, sesame oil, and coconut milk in a large bowl. Marinade chicken for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grill chicken at a low heat so that the marinade does not burn for 5-7 minutes per side or until done.

Serve with rice or noodles.

~~~~

Coconut Rice, adapted from About.com

1 c Thai jasmine-scented white rice

1 c good-quality coconut milk

3/4 c water

Place rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in the pot and set over medium-high to high heat.  Stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Once the coconut-water has begun to gently bubble, stop stirring and reduce heat to low (just above minimum).  Cover tightly with a lid and let simmer 15-20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.  To check, pull rice aside with a fork.  If most of the coconut milk-water is gone, go on to the next step.

Replace the lid and turn off the heat, but leave the covered pot on the burner to steam another 5-10 minutes, or until you’re ready to eat.

When ready to serve, remove the lid and fluff rice with a fork or chopsticks. Taste-test the rice for salt, adding a little more if needed.

{Printable Recipes}

The Results:

Hmmm, let’s start with reading the chicken recipe.  For some reason, in my head, I saw three pieces of chicken – not three pounds.  And then, when I went to gather my ingredients, the amounts seemed vast for such a small amount of meat.  So, I halved the recipe…and still ended up with way more marinade than necessary.

(And I’m also going to admit here that I’m not a huge fan of soy sauce, so even as I was making it, I was feeling a little turned off.)

After it marinated for a while, it was time to grill.  I kind of forgot to figure in the actual outdoor aspect of grilling…in the rain…and the cold.  I really should’ve had Hubs take a picture of me, in my heavy rain coat, hood up, trying to grill.  A happy griller was not made, let’s just say.

Anyways, on top of being stuck outside in the rain, the chicken decided to take twice as long to cook as mentioned in the recipe.  That’s about 20 minutes standing in the rain.

(By the way, I’d made the rice before I went out, and just left it off the heat, steaming, with a towel under the lid – and it turned out perfectly cooked.)

Finally, the chicken was done (after Hubs had to come out and check that I wasn’t overcooking it, which I wasn’t – but it did get him out in the rain, too, which kinda made me happy… is that bad?).

It looked pretty, though a lot like any teriyaki chicken you’d find at a take-out place.  And it pretty much tasted like it, too.  Now, considering I’m not a huge fan of soy sauce or teriyaki-style food, it wasn’t a big hit with me.  Even the coconut rice tasted a little boring.  But my oldest and Hubs really liked it (huge teriyaki fans that they are) – and cleaned their plates right off.

I think I was also just in a pissy mood from my outdoor adventures.  So, onto some tips…

I only let the chicken marinade for the minimum of four hours – and strongly suggest that if you make this, you do it overnight. The chicken was lightly flavored – and I think it could’ve used more of a boost.

Also, I think I would’ve liked a ratio change in the ingredients…more sweet coconut milk, less salty soy sauce.  And I would’ve considered adding some real coconut to both dishes to try to flavor them up a bit.

Hubs may be making this again, for himself, but I think I’ll stick with something I can cook inside.

Chicken Corn Chowder {Crockpot}

Okay, I’m just going to say it, it’s just not fair!

Many of you readers out there are enjoying warm sunny spring weather and already talking about grilling.  While we, on the other hand, have had a heck of a week filled with snow, rain, wind, rain, monsoon rain, hail, thunderstorms, and, of course, rain.  Gotta love the Pacific Northwest.

I’m jealous.  I want spring, and I want it now.

I’m tired of this March coming in like a lion and staying like a lion.  Where’s our lamb??

Okay, enough complaining for now.

The only silver lining I can find is that at least I still get a chance to make some comforting and hearty dishes in my crockpot.

The Recipe:

Crockpot Chicken Corn Chowder, adapted from Food.com 

2 T butter

1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

½ c onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, sliced

3 carrots, sliced

2 c frozen corn kernels

2 (10 ¾ ounce) cans cream of potato soup

1 ½ c chicken broth

1 t dried dill weed

½ c half-and-half

salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt the butter or margarine; brown chicken. Transfer chicken to slow cooker.  Add onions and celery to skillet and saute’ for about 3 to 4 minutes, until just tender.  Add the onions and celery to crockpot, along with carrots, corn kernels, soup, chicken broth and dill.  Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.  During the last 10 minutes, stir in the half and half.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Yesterday’s weather was crazy.  I mean absolutely crazy.  As I attempted to get back into my car from the grocery store (with the boys), Lake Parking Lot had formed under our car.  I had to brave huge gusts of wind and sheets of rain – without my coat (it had been barely sprinkling when we went in the store – and if you wear a coat for that, you’re just a wimp in our neck of the woods).  As I struggled to get the youngest buckled in his car seat, my cart blew free from where I’d lodged it, careened into the middle of Lake Parking Lot and headed straight for a car.  As I dashed after it, I stepped right into the Lake, soaking my feet and leg to mid calf.  It was awesome.  Not really.

Anyways, after driving the 20 minutes home with sopping wet hair and drenched clothing, I was ready to make something toasty warm for dinner and this recipe looked like it was meant for us all.

It was really easy to prep – even cutting the chicken.  Hubs suggested cutting the breasts while they were still partially frozen, and that worked great (especially since it let me skip the whole slimy raw chicken feeling I so love).  Once everything was thrown in the pot, there was nothing left to do except enjoy the smells wafting through my house.

But then I got bored.  So I started thinking… what’s better than warm chowder?  And then it hit me.  Warm chowder in a bread bowl!  Perfect.

So I made some lovely bread bowls that I’ll share in my next post.  In the meantime, check out our amazing meal.

Warm, hearty, and thoroughly satisfying on a blustery day.  The chowder was so tasty – creamy with the delicious chicken chunks and veggies.  And the sun actually made a short appearance while we ate, always a good omen.

Today looks like a milder version of yesterday, weatherwise.

I’m still going to wear my rain boots, though.

Happy Friday!

Curried Chicken Stew {Crockpot}

I’m not sure why I’m even sharing this recipe.

I think it’s because I’ve promised myself to share the ups and downs of learning to cook – and that means that sometimes (but not as often as in the past), recipes are just not going to turn out that great.

Not that this was horrible, but it certainly was not a favorite for anyone in the house.

I was excited, once again, to use my crockpot for an easy recipe – this time branching out from my typical American or Mexican fare.  I should’ve known my crockpot successes would have to come to an end sometime.

The Recipe:

Curried Chicken Stew, slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2011

6 bone-in chicken thighs

2 t olive oil

6 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 medium sweet onion, cut into narrow wedges

1 c unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 c panang curry paste

1/4 c cilantro, chopped

Trim excess skin and fat from chicken.  In skillet cook chicken, skin side down, in hot olive oil for 8 minutes, or until browned (do not turn thighs).

In slow cooker, add carrots and onion.  In small bowl, whisk together 1/2 c coconut milk and curry paste.; pour over vegetables.  Place chicken, skin side up, on top of carrots and onions.  Cover.

Cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Remove chicken, skim off excess fat, and then stir in remaining 1/2 c coconut milk.  Top with cilantro and serve.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I knew, knew, that I would regret using bone-in chicken thighs.  From my Tortilla Soup recipe last week, I knew that they would make the recipe greasy.  I stuck with them because I was hoping the browning beforehand might leach some of that grease out.  Wrong.

(I think BH&G used the thighs because it’s supposed to be a meal on a budget – but seriously, I have learned my lesson and will be sticking with boneless skinless breast from now on.)

Anyways, it was really easy to put together.

My math skills (or lack thereof) were put to the test when I had to chop the veggies.  Let’s just say my 2-inch carrots did not quite live up to 2 inches.  But my onions were pretty.

Besides the chopping and the browning, it was another dump and go recipe.

Things I wish I’d known before making this:

1.  Our curry paste happens to be extremely hot.  Hubs, apparently, only uses about 1/2 of what is asked in any recipe.  Oops.

2.  Even if it doesn’t say, always, always season your meat.  Otherwise it tastes bland – even after soaking in spicy curry all day.

So basically, it was an extremely hot curry surrounding some very bland and greasy chicken.  Not the most appetizing.

It’s not that I don’t think this recipe is salvageable, it’s just that we have better curry recipes that are just as easy.  But, I’m sure if someone else was motivated enough they could make this much better.  (I even tried to challenge Hubs again, but he said it wasn’t really worth it.)

One really good thing did come out of it though…

(Hint: it’s prominently shown in the picture.)

And I’ll be posting about it later this week.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I remember back in the good ‘ole days (meaning last year), when I cooked in a crockpot because I had to.

It was the only way I felt the least bit in control in the kitchen.

(Plus I could do it in the morning when Hubs wouldn’t be able to watch over my shoulder.)

Nowadays, I like that I can pick and choose when to use a crockpot – and I can appreciate it for the wonderful kitchen tool it is.  It makes cooking dinner an absolute breeze and is perfect for this busy mom.  I can’t imagine not having the option to just dump some ingredients in a pot, turn it on, and have a yummy dinner ready a few (or more) short hours later.

This was one of those super easy recipes that yielded an absolutely delicious result.

The Recipe:

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup, adapted slightly from Spark Recipes 

1 lb frozen skinless chicken (shred near end of cooking time)

1 (15-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed

1 (10-oz) can enchilada sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (4-oz) can chopped green chile peppers

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 c chicken broth

1 t cumin

1 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

10 oz frozen corn

1 can black beans, rinsed

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker.  Pour in chicken broth, and season with cumin, salt, and pepper.  Stir in corn and black beans.  Cover and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.  Garnish with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, or avocados.  Makes 8 servings.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Simple, quick, gorgeous, flavorful, delicious.

What more could you ask for?

There are a couple minor changes that I would make for next time.  First, I would stick to boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I used a mix of bone-in thighs, drumsticks, and a breast – and the thighs and drumsticks added a little extra grease that I had to skim off the top.  Plus, shredding them was a lot harder than shredding the breast piece.

Also, I would use a can of diced tomatoes rather than whole tomatoes you have to mash.  Let’s just say my cream-colored sweater is no longer pristinely cream.  (I know, what the heck was I thinking cooking in a cream-colored top.  Lesson learned.)  And I still had giant hunks of tomato in the soup.

Other than those small things, this soup was perfect.  (Especially since it was a blustery rainy night.)

And you gotta have it with all the fixings.

Yum!

Chicken with Orange Cilantro Relish, Take Two {A Guest Post}

Okay….this is the Husband, and it’s time to set the record straight.  Despite all the “rumors” that have been spread about my influence in the kitchen, your’s truly has been nothing but helpful and encouraging….mostly.  I mean, how many people would so readily subject themselves to the experiments of an aspiring cook.

All kidding aside, it has been fun to watch the passion for cooking and baking grow in Courtney and, with the exception of a very few anomalies, her trials are usually nothing short of excellent.

This time,  I was granted the opportunity to redevelop a recipe. While the original was a mostly flavorful and a creative success, we both agreed it lacked something to take it over the top. So, with the ground-rule of staying as true to the original ingredients as possible, I set out to re-create this simple and healthy dish.

The Recipe:

Chicken with Orange Relish, adapted the adaptation from Good Housekeeping, December 2011

2 bone-in chicken breasts cut in half crosswise and skin removed

ground ginger

garlic powder

salt

pepper

2 small clementine oranges, peeled, de-pithed, and cut into segments

3/4 t grated, peeled fresh ginger

1/2 t garlic pressed or minced

1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice

1 T red wine vinegar

1 t brown sugar

1 red bell pepper finely minced (I used half red & half yellow for color)

2 green onions, sliced

1/4 c cilantro, chopped

olive oil

For Chicken:

Preheat oven to 425. Pat chicken dry on both sides with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger on both sides.  Heat about 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, oven proof nonstick skillet. When oil is shimmering and just begins to smoke add chicken, breast side down. Pan sear for 3-5 minutes until nicely browned. Flip chicken and place skillet in the oven. Roast in oven until chicken reaches 160 degrees, approximately 15 minutes

For Relish:

While chicken is in the oven, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add half of the orange segments along with the juice, vinegar, brown sugar, bell pepper and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in green onion, cilantro and reserved orange segments. Set aside until chicken is ready to serve.

Kicked Up Couscous:

Prepare couscous according to package directions, except add 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic to the water at the same time as the couscous. When couscous is done, stir in the juice from half a lime, one chopped green onion, and a couple of tablespoons of finely diced bell pepper.

Serve chicken and relish over couscous.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

From my (the Husband’s) perspective, this dish turned out only slightly better than the original.

While the chicken was more moist and flavorful, the relish still had a slight bitter taste to it.  We’re thinking it might be the vinegar.

All in all, a decent dish, but would probably try substituting something like mango or pineapple to give it a little more flavor and sweeten it up a bit.  The couscous was a hit for both of us, and can be dressed up hundreds of different ways.

Even though it wasn’t the home run I was hoping for, it still was a delicious dish.

{Okay, it’s Courtney – now that I’ve stolen the computer back from Hubs.  

I just want to say that he is way too humble.  First off, his chicken blew mine out of the water.  It was so much more flavorful for the pan searing – and a lot more moist for the way he cut the breasts (as opposed to my sad little fillets).   The couscous was also a big hit.  I loved the addition of the lime, onion, and peppers; it added a whole new dimension.

Now the relish we still need to work on.  His version was definitely better than mine.  Less bitter – but something still seemed off.  I didn’t really mention any of your wonderful hints from the original post, just because I wanted it to be all his plan (plus I didn’t want to give him too much of a leg-up on me.)  I’m thinking next time, no vinegar or an uncooked relish. 

Finally, isn’t he the sweetest with the second paragraph!  And I promise I didn’t bribe him to say it. 

Now let’s give him a little comment love – so he’ll be inclined to guest post again.

Thanks everyone!}

Chicken with Orange Cilantro Relish

This recipe sounded so good in theory.

(And in the picture in my Good Housekeeping magazine certainly added to my excitement.)

Even better, was the fact that it was a healthy meal (something I need to work a tad harder at contributing around here).

(Though no one’s complaining too hard about the overabundance of bread and cookies lately.)

Now, I’m not saying I’m the best cook in the world, but I’m starting to be able to recognize a recipe that seems a little off; one that’s missing information or isn’t written as clearly as I need it to be.  So, as I worked through making this meal, I already had some questions of how it would turn out.

So I called on my trusty advisor (at least this week), Hubs, to help me interpret the instructions.

The Recipe:

Chicken with Orange Relish, adapted from Good Housekeeping, December 2011

4 boneless skinless chicken breast cutlets

3/4 t grated, peeled fresh ginger

1 t ground ginger

salt

pepper

1 large orange, peeled, de-pithed, and cut into segments

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 green onions, sliced

1 T apple cider vinegar

1/4 c cilantro, chopped

For Chicken:

Preheat oven to 425, spray cookie sheet (lined with foil) with non-stick spray.  Rub chicken with 1/2 t grated ginger and 1 t ground ginger.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.  Arrange on cookie sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes until no longer pink in center.

For Relish:

(You want to have all produce prepared before you put in the chicken and work on the relish.)  Place half of orange segments in saucepan and squeeze for juice.  Add remaining ingredients (except cilantro and extra oranges) and salt to taste.  Heat to boiling on high and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 7 minutes or until celery is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cilantro and reserved orange segments.

Serve chicken and relish over couscous.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’m just going to come right out and say it: the relish was bitter, the onions were droopy, and the overall flavor just seemed off.  I was unpleasantly surprised by this turn of events, as it looked gorgeous while simmering away.

Now, Hubs was serving as my sous chef through all of this – and he agreed that I followed the recipe’s instructions exactly as written – but that they were not written well at all.

(By the way, I simplified and clarified the directions above for you all.  Not that I expect you to make it after reading this.)

I’m not sure what went wrong.  Maybe it was that my celery was bad (though it looked fine), or my replacement of apple cider vinegar for the originally called for red wine vinegar, or that too much pith got in my saucepan.  Something, though, caused the relish to turn out un-tasty (my new word for the day).

The chicken and couscous, though, turned out really well.  (I’d never cooked couscous before this meal.  I just followed the directions on the package.)

So, after I took the picture below and took a bite, I scraped off the relish and enjoyed the rest of the meal.

As we were sitting at the table, Hubs and I were talking about the real potential of this meal – about how a few tweaks could really make it great.  Hubs even went so far as to say that he could pretty much use the same ingredients and make it fantastic.

And I thought, what a great idea.  Challenge Accepted.

So, next week, we will be re-making this dish in the first ever “Hubs Re-Do Challenge.”  I will be assisting with ideas and as his sous chef.

I will share the results next week.

(Cross your fingers we don’t kill each other.)

But really, I am looking forward to this.

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

The year started with a little home comfort, a little continental taste, and a little sweet.

Now, I decided, it needed a little spice.

I had found a wonderful Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken recipe last summer, but just never got around to making it.  I thought that the middle of winter would be a great time to brave the drizzle and spice up our week.

Unfortunately, our fairly new grill was knocked over during a wind storm over the holidays and has decided not to work.  (Hubs is ecstatic, as you can imagine.)

So, I went to Plan B.

The Recipe:

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken, adapted from Pip & Ebby

24-oz jar medium salsa verde

juice from one lime

1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1.25-oz. package taco seasoning

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed

(If you do not have or want to use a packet of taco seasoning, you can substitute the following:

1 T chili powder

1/4 t garlic powder

1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 t dried oregano

1/2 t paprika

1 1/2 t ground cumin

1 t sea salt

1 t black pepper)

In crockpot, mix everything but the chicken.  Add chicken and cover with salsa sauce.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve on rice or shred and serve in tacos.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I wanted spice – and boy, did I get spice!

(Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak my version to make it a little less spicy – for example you could use mild salsa and no jalapenos.  I think that would bring the heat down a tad.)

But I like things a little spicy, so this was right up my alley.  Plus, it included two of my most favorite food flavors: cilantro and lime.  I swear if they had a cilantro and lime perfume, I’d buy it.  Really.

I also liked figuring out my own ‘taco seasoning’ to use.  (If you want it milder, remove the red pepper flakes.)   I saw several ideas online and kind of picked and chose the seasonings I liked.

And I loved the color combinations in my crockpot.

Unfortunately (for the looks) but fortunately (for the flavor), everything kind of melded all together to make a brownish-green sauce.  It certainly wasn’t pretty, but it was chock-full of spicy, citrusy, cilantro-y taste.   We served it over rice last night and are using the leftovers for tacos tonight.

Another super simple crockpot recipe to add to my growing collection of easy dinners.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Salsa Chicken

Did you ever have one of those weeks that was so crazy-busy that you felt like you couldn’t catch up?  (Like with field trips, carpet cleaning, playdates, and planning for a weekend out-of-town.)

And then, added to that, your kids get colds and your washing machine breaks?

Well, that was my week.

Even with all that going on, we still needed to eat.  (Crazy, I know.)

I was perusing one of my good friend’s favorite recipe sites, Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and I saw a recipe so simple, so easy and quick, that I had to give it a try.

And this week turned out to be a perfect week to make it.

The Recipe:

Pineapple Salsa Chicken, from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

6 fresh or frozen chicken breasts

1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

2 c mild or medium salsa

Place the chicken in the crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Using tongs, remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred into bite-size pieces.  Mix the chicken back in with the rest of the ingredients.  The mixture will be fairly soupy – drain off some of the excess liquid before serving, especially when eating it in tortillas.  Serve with tortilla chips and garnishes, like tomatoes, cheese, avocado, sour cream, etc.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first thing – it does not look pretty.   It’s kind of a hodge-podge of the beans, chicken, and pineapple.  But it sure does taste good.  I ended up adding some fresh cilantro and served it with a little hot sauce, sour cream, and grated sharp cheddar cheese – all on a warmed flour tortilla.

It only took five minutes (literally five minutes) to put together.  There was no cutting, chopping, prepping, or anything of the sort.  It was a dump-and-go kind of meal (another food term I need to copyright 🙂 ).

And it was exactly what we needed this week.

Southwest Chicken Casserole

Several weeks ago, there was a revelation on Facebook (well, at least with many of my *friends*).  Suddenly everyone I knew was liking the Crockpot Girls.

I’d never heard of them before, but they did remind me of my humble beginnings here on the blog – where pretty much all my recipes were from a crockpot, and I complained about Hubs a lot.  (It was a simpler time.)

So I decided to check them out and try one of their recipes, for nostalgic crockpot reasons.

It didn’t quite work out the way I expected.

The Recipe:

Crockpot Southwest Chicken Casserole, changed A LOT from Crockpot Girls

8 chicken pieces

1 t chili powder

1 c enchilada sauce

6 oz tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 c water

1/4 c green onions, sliced

1 poblano pepper, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

Lightly grease the stoneware with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the chicken in the stoneware.  In a bowl, combine the enchilada sauce, tomato paste, water, and spices.  Spread the mixture over the chicken.  Add onions and peppers.  Cover; cook on low for 7 – 8 hours.

(So I followed this recipe.  And nowhere did it even resemble a casserole when I was done!  It was more like a soup.  I decided I need to figure out a way to fix this.  My additions and changes are below.)

3-4 c your favorite Spanish rice (We had some of Hubs frozen, thank goodness, so I used it – and no, he won’t let me share the recipe.)

6 oz cheddar/jack cheese blend, grated

corn chips

sour cream

salsa

Shred chicken and leave in sauce.  In 9 x 12 baking dish, spread rice evenly along bottom.  Add the chicken mixture as a second layer.  Top with cheese.  Place in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is browning and slightly bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and chips (either crushed on top or on the side).

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

As you could read in the recipe, the original directions from the Crockpot Girls did not pan out.  I have to admit, the chicken was really tasty when I tried it, but I was going for a casserole dish, not a soup.

(I’m not ruling the Crockpot Girls out, yet, though.  I think I’ll have to try a different recipe another time before I judge too harshly.)

But I was SO proud of myself for figuring out what to do next.  (Even though I did give up that day, I admit.  I ended up putting the dish in the fridge, and we had french toast instead.  But I did regroup the next day with a plan.)

I was very lucky that we had the rice in the freezer – that made Day 2 of the Great Casserole Adventure pretty easy.  And really, between the two days, I maybe spent about 20 minutes in prep time.  That’s not bad at all.

Now this looks like a casserole!

And it was really good, too.  It was perfect for the blustery fall day we were having.

The chicken and rice were really moist with its southwestern flavor – and paired with the spicy salsa verde, fresh sour cream, and crunchy blue tortilla chips – it was a party for your senses.

I took a probable disaster and made it work!

Tim Gunn would be so proud.

Grilled Chicken Sliders with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

I’ve been eyeballing this recipe for months.

Caroline, at Sweet Caroline’s Cooking, posted her slider recipe right about the time I posted my Meatball Sliders.  (Great minds think alike, you know.)  Anyways, it looked so delicious, but I knew I’d have to gear up to make them.

There were lots of parts to this recipe, and to make my baking-addiction-side happy, I knew that I wanted to make some homemade rolls to serve the sliders on.  So this was a several day project.

So worth it!

You may remember the Hawaiian Rolls from earlier this week.  Well, now you know their purpose and will be happy to hear that their culinary destiny has been fulfilled.

I do so like fulfilling culinary destinies.  It makes me happy.

The Recipes:

Grilled Chicken Sliders with Roasted Tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese, and Basil Aioli, adapted from Sweet Caroline’s Kitchen

Basil Aioli

1 c good mayonnaise (I actually made my own and will include that recipe at the bottom)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 T dried basil, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients.

Roasted Tomatoes

6 T + extra, extra-virgin olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 T dried basil

1 t coarse kosher salt, or to taste

1 t freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

4 large plum tomatoes (about 1 lb), quartered lengthwise

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Stir oil, garlic, dried basil, pinch of salt and pepper in large bowl to blend.  Add tomato quarters and stir to coat. Let stand 5 minutes, or more. Line baking sheet with foil and remove tomatoes from marinade.  Arrange tomatoes, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet (reserve leftover marinade for hamburger buns).

Roast tomatoes until skin is browned and blistered and tomatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool tomatoes on sheet.

Chicken Sliders

Hawaiian Rolls

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded

salt and pepper, for seasoning

garlic basil oil, leftover from roasted tomatoes

fresh mozzarella

roasted tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

garlic aioli

Pound 2 raw chicken breasts, then cut into thirds.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spray grill with vegetable spray, then place chicken on the grill.  Cook about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Once chicken is cooked, place a generous slice of fresh mozzarella cheese on top of each piece.  Close grill and cook until cheese is melted.

Brush both sides of hamburger buns with the leftover oil from the tomatoes.  Place buns face down on grill and cook until toasted.

Put together and serve.

[Homemade Mayonnaise, adapted from Anne Burrell foodnetwork.com

3 egg yolks

1/4 c red wine vinegar

kosher salt

1 c vegetable oil

1/2 olive oil

Place the egg yolks in the bowl of the food processor and add the vinegar and mustard.  Season with salt, to taste.  Turn the machine on and VERY slowly start to drizzle in the oil.  Drip, drip, drip until the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, then a slow steady stream of oil can be added.]

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I wasn’t originally planning on making this dish as complicated as it ended up.  I had to make the rolls, though.  I just knew they would be the perfect complement to the basil/garlic/tomato/chicken flavor.

And then, for the aioli, I only had cheapo mayonnaise, so I looked up how to make my own.  It seemed really easy, and I had just gotten my very own fancy mini-food-processor (actually I won it from my friend Kate’s site!!)…so I thought why the heck not?  Well, I accidentally started with three egg yolks.  And then I ran out of vegetable oil, so I had to substitute with olive oil.  But you know what, it turned out really good.  Lots of flavor – that actually worked well with the ingredients in the aioli.

Then I moved on to the tomatoes.  (I had to take this recipe one step at a time or I think I’d’ve been completely overwhelmed.)

I used fresh tomatoes from our garden – and if you’ve never had fresh vine-picked tomatoes, you are missing out!  Look at these lovely beauties:

Roasting them was extremely easy.  And the smell.  Mmmm…  I didn’t realize that I was such a smell person until I started cooking.  I had to sample a few, of course, after they were done.  Just to make sure they were okay to serve to others.  I am so selfless.

Now came the hard part: raw chicken.  Hubs had me purchase a whole chicken for a variety of reasons, including giving me a tutorial on how to split up a chicken into all its different pieces.  Let’s just say I left after one bone socket was pulled out and cut.  It was a little much for me.

Anyways, I did power through my raw meat issues enough to slice and pound the chicken flat.  I think that’s at least a step in the right direction.

Then it was grilling time.  I was very concerned about the timing of grilling the chicken (to a correct temperature without over-cooking), melting the mozzarella, and grilling the buns.  It was a little hectic, but I got it done.  Done well, even.

I love the colors that the sandwich has.  (Oh, and please ignore my triangular-shaped chicken piece.  Apparently, I have issues with matching shapes.)

And it tasted just as good as it looked.  The mix of roasted tomatoes with the just-spicy and tangy aioli, paired with the moist chicken.  Added to the yeasty-sweet Hawaiian rolls.  Oh, my.

It was all I was expecting and more.

And more is always, always good.