Friday, January 11, 2013

Crock Pot Country Chicken (& Cream Soup Alternative)


This is comfort food.  Warm, cozy, hearty and lots of flavor.  All the veggies cook up so tender in the juices and there is so much flavor in that chicken.  Served over rice with lots of juice, the meat is so tender we didn't even use knives.  This was pretty quick to prepare for the crock pot, too.  Just some veggie prep, add the meat, seasoning and soup and your are good to go.  But I didn't just use a can of cream soup.  I found a dry mix that you can prepare in batches and then mix up as needed, removing all the preservatives and other question marks you might have about what really is in that can of soup.  So many crock pot meals require cream soups and I will consciously decide not to make them because sometimes I don't want processed food (it leaves me more room for the chocolate and butter-laden goodies I make here).  So consider this post a two-for-one: you'll get this lovely chicken and veggie dinner that is super simple as well as an easy homemade mix that you can substitute for cream of chicken soup in your favorite recipes.

First, I saw this on Pinterest and when I investigated it further, I couldn't believe this awesome posted by Jillee from One Good Thing.  I gathered all the ingredients and made up a batch.  I even made some for my mother-in-law to have in their camper while they travel this spring.  It's easy to make and great to store in your pantry for all those comfort food recipes.  I couldn't find instant bouillon granules, so I took the cubes and crushed them, in batches, to a fine powder using a mortar and pestal.  And when I pinned this recipe from Jo & Sue, I knew I had the perfect, non processed alternative to include.  Rather than 4 carrots, I ended up using 3 carrots and 3 parsnips from our recent winter CSA box, giving a slightly different flavor and increasing the veggies.  You could swap out or add in whatever vegetables you have on hand, in season, or just plain like.  I used 4 large chicken breast and cooked them whole (because they were frozen when I put them in there), but you could certainly use 6 or 8 smaller one and halve or quarter them.  You could also chunk the chicken before or after cooking to create a stew-like dish.  The recipe is very forgiving and that's why I like it so much.  A perfect home cooked meal for a cold, cozy night and all courtesy of you crock pot.  That's probably been overworked a bit this week.  Better order pizza tomorrow night and give it a break.

Crock Pot Country Chicken


Ingredients

3 carrots
3 parsnips
4 celery stalks
1 onion
4-6 chicken breasts, whole, halved or quartered
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 envelope (1 ounce) dry onion soup mix
1 10.5 ounce can cream of chicken soup or 1/3 cup Cream Soup Mix (recipe below) with 1 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup cooking sherry or white wine
2 Tablespoons corn starch

Clean and roughly chop vegetables and place them in the bottom of the stoneware in a crock pot.


Arrange chicken over top and season with sage, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle onion soup mix over chicken.


Pour cream of chicken soup over chicken.  Or, whisk Cream Soup Mix with water in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened.  Remove from heat and pour over chicken.


Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.


In a small bowl, whisk together sherry and cornstarch, then pour into crock pot and stir to mix.  With lid removed, increase to high heat and cook for 15 minutes until sauce thickens.


Serve over warm rice or noodles.

Makes about 6 servings.

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Cream Soup Mix


Ingredients

2 cups powdered non-fat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 instant chicken bouillon (or 12 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed to powder)
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and mix well. 



To substitute for a 10.5 ounce can of cream of chicken soup, whisk together 1/3 mix with 1 1/4 cup water.  Heat in a saucepan or microwave, stirring occasionally, until thickened.


Makes 3 cups of mix, equivalent to 9 10.5 ounce cans of soup.

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Happy Baking,
The Cookie Princess

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