Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I’m always looking for new ways to fix chicken.  But my kids are kind of picky, and my husband doesn’t always like something different, so it’s hard.  A few days ago, I found a recipe for crock pot Italian chicken.  But I didn’t have everything I needed on hand to make that particular recipe, so I decided to improvise.

Colleen’s Italian Crock Pot Chicken

  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (crushed or chunks would work too, depending on your preference)
  • 1 15-oz. can pizza sauce
  • 1 tsp. each of:  garlic salt, onion powder, oregano, and basil (Truthfully, I didn’t measure any of these, just shook some in until it looked good, but 1 tsp is a good place to start.  Adjust to your personal taste.)
  • 2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (or pizza cheese or Italian blend)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Add tomatoes, pizza sauce, and spices to the crock pot; stir to mix.  Add chicken to mixture.  I cut the breasts into thin strips; you could also leave them whole or cube them.  Stir to cover chicken with sauce.  Cook on High 4-5 hours.  Stir in mozzarella cheese about 30 minutes before serving.  Stir in parmesan cheese right before serving.  Serves 4.  We also sprinkled some extra mozzarella on top after we put it on our plates.

That’s it.  Nothing fancy, easy to whip up with ingredients you probably have on hand.  I came home during my lunch and threw it together and when we got home this afternoon it sure smelled good.  I like to have green beans as a side with Italian/tomato dishes, and I was thinking about garlic mashed potatoes, but then I decided to buy a loaf of French bread and try to duplicate the herbed dipping oil served at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.  I found several recipes, but they were all pretty much the same:

  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil (as needed)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Spoon a small amount into a small dish and add olive oil for dipping.

Different recipes demanded fresh herbs; some called for lemon juice.  A reviewer of one recipe claimed to have worked at Carrabba’s and said they used dried herbs and there was no lemon juice, that the lemony flavor came from using Spanish extra virgin olive oil.  I found that the garlic powder migrated to the bottom of the bowl and didn’t mix well with the other dry herbs, so I added a little bit of olive oil to keep the mixture well combined.  It was good, but not quite right.  I think next time I’ll cut back on the rosemary and thyme.

This dinner was a huge success!  My kids loved it.  My husband loved it.  It was goooood, if I do say so myself!  C said about every five minutes, “This is the best chicken I’ve ever had!”   My husband said, “It’s not baseball season yet, but you hit a homerun.”  (He said I’m allowed to use that. 🙂 )  S loved the dipping oil.  C asked for extra sauce on his chicken.  In fact, the kids loved the chicken so much that we were most of the way through dinner before they even noticed the chunks of tomatoes.  This one is definitely a keeper!

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