Slow-Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup

This nutritious family staple is too easy to not make at home. I make the recipe even simpler by using a slow cooker – by late afternoon you’ll have a fragrant, steaming soup that just needs some cooked brown rice and you’re done! I like to use boneless, skinless cuts of chicken to keep the fat down.

You can use red potatoes instead of rice, if you like. Cut them into 1-inch chunks and add in the beginning so they’re tender when it’s time to eat.

You’ll be seeing more slow cooker recipes from me soon!

chickenricesoup2

Slow-Cooker Chicken & Rice Soup

servings:4-6

  • 1 1/2-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced (including top leaves)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Place the chicken breasts in a 6-7 quart slow cooker. Add all ingredients except rice, cover, and cook on low 6-7 hours.

Remove bay leaves and onion. Shred chicken. Add rice and stir; top with chopped fresh parsley if you like. Enjoy!


Gluten Free Better-Than-Takeout Sesame Chicken

Despite my efforts to keep the food we eat around here reasonably healthy, we do love us some Chinese takeout. We order from the same place every time, and it is delicious.

But oh, so full of sodium and undesirable ingredients I can’t even pronounce!

Plus, my sister can’t eat it. Disaster wouldn’t even begin to describe what would happen to her. More like hospitalization.

Sesame chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Surely I can take an existing recipe for sesame chicken and make it gluten and MSG-free?

I was sure as heck gonna try.

I’ve mentioned the gluten free soy and teriyaki sauces I use before. They’re made by San-J, and are seriously better than the regular versions. I don’t buy anything else.

The base recipe came from browneyedbaker.com. Gotta give props for the delicious starting point!

But I didn’t have a few ingredients her recipe called for (brown sugar and fresh ginger among them), so I made substitutions and omissions to make it work for me. I also don’t like deep frying in a huge vat of oil (that’s another discussion), so that needed to be changed.

chicken pieces fry in a deep pan on their way to becoming sesame chicken.

chicken pieces fry in a deep pan on their way to becoming sesame chicken.

finished pieces of fried chicken

finished pieces of fried chicken

The end result looked good. I thought it was delicious. My toddler voted “yes” just by eating it – ok, good start. I couldn’t wait to see what Mike thought about it.

He said this sesame chicken is better than our beloved China takeout.

I was absolutely beaming with pride at this. Can’t lie here, folks.

So now I confidently bring you my gluten free, no MSG added sesame chicken! I daresay it is healthy, at least compared to what you’d eat out of the little white box. And my sister can eat it and live to see another day.

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Gluten Free Better-Than-Takeout Sesame Chicken

recipe adapted from www.browneyedbaker.com‘s Sesame Chicken 

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I use Better Batter brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • about 2 cups of oil for frying
  • sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnish
  • 4 cups hot, cooked white rice for serving

for the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced

Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a bowl and whisk. Make sure you break up any clumps of cornstarch. Set this aside for now.

In a small saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil on medium high (be careful not to burn it!). Add the ground ginger, red pepper flakes and minced garlic and cook for about a minute.

Pour in the soy/cornstarch mixture and heat just to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring often, until sauce has thickened and coats a spoon, 15-20 minutes. Cover and remove to a back burner on lowest heat setting. I’d suggest you complete the sauce cooking before moving on to the chicken so you don’t overcook the sauce.

Mix together the cornstarch, flour and baking powder on a large plate, and whisk the egg whites in a small bowl.

Working a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the egg and then roll them around in the cornstarch mixture. Set these on a clean plate and repeat until you’ve coated all pieces.

In a large, deep pan, heat the oil (enough for about a 1/2″ layer) to shimmering. Add half the chicken (they should begin frying immediately – if they don’t, the oil isn’t hot enough) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high, flip pieces over and cook another minute or two until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with the second half of the chicken.

Toss chicken in the sauce immediately before serving over white rice, garnished with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

I suggest storing the leftover sauce and chicken separately so the chicken doesn’t get soggy. Also, the sauce gelatinizes in the fridge – make sure you stir it good before heating it in the microwave, and check it every 10 seconds or so, or you’ll have a mess to clean up!


Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

I’m obsessed with the little Honduran restaurant here in town called Izzy’s. It is positively delightful to have authentic flavors for inspiration!

Yes, I said positively delightful. See what a pleasant mood good food puts me in? Anyway, I’d been meaning to try to copy the slaw that tops most of the tacos at Izzy’s. It is crunchy, tangy, and this awesome shade of pink.

I also recently had a request for my blackened seasoning. I used shrimp, but try it on fish, chicken, anything. It is only slightly spicy (but enough so that my toddler rejects it – I just cook hers in butter with no seasoning). To get the right flavor, use butter, not oil, for cooking the blackened meat!

Before I do any more talking, I want to make sure you’re not intimidated by all the moving parts: the only real cooking here is the shrimp. Everything else is just chopped and stirred and marinated for awhile. So make this, it is easy and you will love it.

This recipe is a combo of old and new, spicy and tangy, creamy and crunchy.

And delicious and delicious.

I  seem to love italics today.

I decided to add avocado salsa to balance the strong blackened and vinegar flavors. You could just dice up some avocado and throw it on top, but what fun is that? I didn’t have any, but adding corn to this salsa is not only authentic, it also completes the flavor spectrum by adding sweet. Ahhh.

Corn tortillas are typically used, but if you like flour better that will work too. You’ll make fewer tacos since flour tortillas are larger, though.

If you want to go all out, make my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing and drizzle that on top. Good Lord ah’mighty. Or actually, ay Dios mio.

Serve these with tortilla chips so your guests can scoop up whatever falls out of the tortillas and onto their plates! And maybe some rice too, here’s my MSG-free yellow rice recipe.

P.S. Don’t have red wine vinegar? If you have apple cider vinegar, try topping these tacos with my Costa Rican Slaw recipe instead!

P.S.S. I was not kidding when I said I’m obsessed with Spanish food.

shrimp

 

shrimp1

Look how pretty it is! Don’t like seafood? Make it with chicken. Just sayin.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Red Wine Vinegar Slaw & Avocado Salsa

  • 1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lime
  • 8-10 yellow or white corn tortillas, or flour tortillas

blackened seasoning mix:

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use regular if you don’t want the smoky flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • pinch of salt

for the slaw:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

for the avocado salsa:

  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4-1/3 cup sweet corn kernels (optional)

Start by making the slaw 1-2 hours ahead of time: in a bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix all 4 ingredients together well. Cover and refrigerate, stirring slaw every 30 minutes. Slaw will soften and turn pink when it’s ready. The longer you let it sit in the vinegar, the stronger the flavor will be.

Next, make the avocado salsa. Mix all ingredients gently in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Measure out the seasonings for the blackening mix and stir well. Put the shrimp in a large zip top bag and add half the seasoning. Seal and toss to coat. Add more seasoning to your liking – we use it all!

Heat a dry skillet to very, very hot (just leave it on high) and brown the tortillas one at a time, about 1 minute per tortilla. Keep them warm in a towel. If you’re using flour tortillas, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave until warm, 20-30 seconds.

Turn heat off and move skillet to another burner. Let cool 5 minutes.

Return skillet to burner and heat on medium. Add butter, and when melted, add shrimp. Cook quickly, constantly tossing shrimp, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the lime over them. Remove skillet from heat and immediately assemble tacos.

[Alternatively, you could grill the shrimp, in which case you’ll need melted butter to douse them with while they cook!]

Use 3-4 shrimp per taco. Drain vinegar before serving slaw. Top with a spoonful of avocado salsa. Serve with hot sauce or my avocado-cilantro ranch dressing. Enjoy!