So you could ask the hubbs about my recipe collection... it has kind of gotten out of control, but a few months ago I tried to tame it. I probably need to get back to that, however there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done I would like. Sound familiar? Also, there's that thing of getting a recipe book or magazine where you only use, like, one or two recipes out of a whole thing. Frustrating as anything! You feel like just ripping the recipe out of the book, but then you don't want to do that for fear of losing all the other recipes in the off chance that you might some day in the not too distant future maybe want to peruse through it just in case you have an inkling to try something that you thought you'd never try. (yes, this is how my brain works. deal :oP) Well I'm working on dealing with this problem. I have admitted it, and that's the first step, right? Maybe I'll tame the wild collection of recipes... some day... in my copious free time...
Anyway, so tonight I wanted to revisit a recipe I did a few months ago. It is in the recipe book The One-Dish Bible. I got it from the discount rack at Barnes & Noble who knows how long ago. I like this recipe book because it is fairly simple, has tons of ideas and seems pretty down to earth with the list of ingredients for the most part. The recipe I picked is from the chapter Bird is the Word, pg 96, "3-Cheese Chicken & Noodles". The ingredients are as follows:
3c chopped, cooked chicken
1.5c cottage cheese
1 can (10.75oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1pkg (8oz) wide egg noodles, cooked and drained
1c grated Monterey Jack cheese
0.5c (each) diced celery, diced onion, diced green bell pepper, diced red bell pepper
0.5c grated Parmesan cheese
0.5c chicken broth
1 can (4oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
2tbsp butter, melted
0.5tsp dried thyme leaves
[Note: I changed things around, both last time and again this time, and used mozzarella and cheddar cheese instead of Monterey Jack (I have those on hand all the time, and it makes it cheesier), and I nixed the celery and mushrooms (and thyme this second time... it just didn't seem to groove with my sensory palate when I popped open my spice container).]
The directions in the book call for you to use a slow cooker. It says, "Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir to coat evenly. Cover; cook on LOW 6 to 10 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours."
Well, let me tell you what happened last time. I got all my stuff together, plopped it into the crock pot at about 10am, set it to low, and thought, "Yes! I will have a delicious dinner at 6pm that will fill the house with a wonderful aroma, and I didn't have to do hardly any work! Woo hoo!!" And for a few hours, that is exactly what happened. I stirred the concoction periodically, and noticed the cheese was melted to perfection (I added extra... who doesn't like MORE CHEESE?!). But it was only 4pm. We weren't ready to eat at 4pm. So I let it cook longer. Well, by the time dinnertime arrived, I lifted the lid, inhaled deeply, smelled good, but then, I stirred it. And I almost puked right there in the crock pot. It had turned to a vomit-like mush. Yeah... The hubbs sees me pale, and looks in the crock pot. He says, that it'll still be okay, and dish it out. I couldn't even bring my spoon to my lips without starting to dry-heave again... He took one bite, and promptly made himself something else. I could barely contain the tears. What had I done wrong? I had followed the recipe. Everything was fully cooked... wait.... that's what happened. I over-cooked the noodles, therefore turning the whole meal into cheesy chicken-smelling vomit. [Another note: I have since learned that when using rice/pasta in the crock pot, under cook them or don't cook them at all or add them at the very end or they will turn to a bowl full of a vomit-like consistency.]
So tonight, I pre-cooked the chicken and noodles, cut everything up and combined it all into a 13x9in baking dish. Covered it with foil, and popped it into the oven at 350F, and let it go. I had meant to under-cook the noodles, but was distracted by the dog, the kid and dirty dishes (yay being a mommy!). I was a nervous wreck, checking it and stirring it constantly, and trying to come up with some sort of back-up plan. I ended up pulling it out and letting it sit for a few minutes for fear of it turning to mush before hubbs and buddy were ready to eat. I served garlic knots on the side (from the grocery store's bakery section.... just warm and serve!).
And round two? Much better! I think next time I might use only part of a can of cream of chicken soup (or none at all), and add more cheese. I think I skimped on the cheese a little... but all in all, not a complete disaster like last time! The hubbs liked it, and I could eat it without feeling like I was going to lose the contents of my stomach. I didn't give any to buddy, as he's not a huge fan of pasta or chicken that's not in nugget form. He had his "go-to meal" of a bowl of oatmeal.
Well, that was tonight's dinner. Quite an improvement over last time. I'll work on another post in a few minutes with a meal I prepped, while doing this one, for sometime during the week.