Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fix-It and Forget-It

This is a cookbook I really wanted to own. I mean, it's a book full of recipes for the crock-pots and slow-cookers in our lives, and who could not want an easy dinner sometimes. I received this book for Christmas a few year ago, and sadly, it did not live up to its hype. I've kept it though, because there are several recipes that I have enjoyed from this book. There have also been several recipes that I have not enjoyed. So far, I'd say we run about 50/50 with this book. The entire problem I have with this book is that the recipes are not developed in a test kitchen or by the cookbook authors. The recipes are from home cooks from all around the country. Now while this can certainly be a great asset, how many of you remember that helping of "mystery casserole" from the potluck line at church? Those recipes are here as well, so it's a matter of weeding if you want to use this book, and familiarizing yourself with what does and doesn't work in a crock pot.

Last night was ballet class, and I had planned to make chili and put it in the crock pot to stay hot while we went to class. I forgot about that plan and made the chili for Tuesday night's dinner instead. We could have had leftovers, but I did not have the fresh loaf of bread that we had Tuesday night. So I pulled out my Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook and looked for a recipe that used what I had on hand. Specifically, I was looking for something using chicken breasts. The one I ended up choosing was called Chicken-Vegetable Dish. It came together easy enough, the only problem I encountered was that I didn't have enough brown rice, and I didn't want to sub white rice, so I used an Uncle Ben's wild rice blend that I had and then reduced the seasonings in the recipe itself. I also forgot to add the mushrooms, and while that would have been another layer of flavor, the kids don't like mushrooms, so that was just as well.

The end result was okay. The chicken breasts came out moist and flavorful, and pretty good actually. The veggies and rice though tasted like something from a cafeteria, and just not very good. So we ate the chicken breasts with a salad and called that dinner. I'll share the recipe below here for anyone interested. I think what I didn't like in this was the green beans. I would eliminate them next time, because by the time the whole thing was cooked, they had that metallic canned taste to them, despite being frozen. And I think that's where the off flavor was to this dish.

Chicken Vegetable Dish

4 skinless chicken breast halves, with bone in (I used frozen boneless, skinless- still frozen)
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
10 oz pkg frozen green beans
2 cups water or chicken broth ( I used chicken broth)
1 cup uncooked brown rice (used Uncle Ben's original wild rice blend)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (forgotten)
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced (used 1 large clove)
1/2 tsp. herb blend seasoning (eliminated since I had the Uncle Ben's spice packet)
1/4 tsp dried tarragon (I used 1/4 tsp Penzey's Parisienne Herb Blend)

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker
2. Cover. Cook on High 2 hours, and then on low 3-5 hours


Alanna said...

I had similar high hopes -- and big disappointments -- from this cookbook.

Erika said...

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one. The tough part is that I have found surprising combinations in the past in the crock pot that work well, so most often you really don't know until you try.

Anonymous said...

Um, we gave you that book for Christmas! :) Oh well can't win them all!


Erika said...

Oh I know Belle! And as I recall, I specifically asked for it too. So I was very excited to get it. I just had no idea that it was really a compilation of recipes, and have made many a dud out of it.

I still appreciate it though and will continue plugging away at it. I know there are more gems in there somewhere!

Mimi said...

I haven't tasted this, but I would bet you are right about the green beans. Might be better as a side dish.

P.S. Will be shopping at Woodmans tomorrow — I'll think of you.

Erika said...

Have fun Mimi! I dropped in yesterday while I was out to just pick up 3 things that I needed, and ended up with a grocery bag full.