During my prep for March’s budget, I decided to pick a few recipes that could be made or prepped ahead of time to have on hand so I wasn’t as tempted to fall back on pizza or a grocery run for junk food. I ended up with four crock-pot recipes (all of them involving chicken and all but one also including cream cheese…). Two of them weren’t so fantastic, while I loved the other two. As promised, I’ve come to share those two delicious recipes.
Notes: my goal with these meals was more “Oh yay, I get to eat this again!” and less “Dude, I am a health goddess”. As such, I substituted uber-“healthy” cream cheese for a delicious cream cheese/Greek yogurt blend Kroger offers. I also didn’t get the healthiest Italian dressing, but that was because, after the cream cheese, I was low on funds. I can usually afford to be a little pickier. In future, I may even attempt to make my own dressing like my mother did for Easter.
This was not the first recipe I cooked in March, so all of the ingredients went into a bag until I was ready for it. I DO NOT recommend putting salad dressing in a bag. It was…a little messy. Perhaps leaving it all in a bag overnight allowed the chicken to marinate, I don’t know, but I will definitely use a different container in future.
I dumped all of this into the pot one morning before work and had Nina on crock-pot patrol while I was gone. It’s kind of nice when I forget I have something slow-cooking
while I’m at work and I get to come home to the smell of something amazing ready to eat.
I love rice as much as chicken and cream cheese, so this went well on rice. The original post also mentions using it as a topping for pasta (hence the “casserole”), but it is also just fine on its own.
Since I liked this recipe so much, I
made it a second time this past week. Whereas the first time I set it on low for 8-9 hours and it got regularly stirred, the second time I turned it on high for about 4 hours and didn’t stir it at all because Jo wanted to go shopping and I lost track of time. I like the results of the first attempt a little better: a little more crispy, with a slightly richer flavor. It might have been the dressing, too, because I switched that up as well. I also used chicken thighs the second time….
Heh. There’s a story here. (And no pictures, because I apparently deleted them.)
One of the failed recipes ended up going bad before I finished it, and I was looking for something else to make up to add to my week’s menu, but I could not for the life of me find the rest of my chicken. Eventually I gave it up for lost and went with something else.
A few weeks later, Jo was rooting in the freezer and came up with some weird frozen white glob in a bag that turned out to be most of my ingredients for this soup. I had cooked the chicken ahead of time because the recipe called for it, and promptly forgot. Cream cheese gets funny when it’s frozen.
This recipe was the perfect pick-me-up for a drizzly, damp March day. The texture reminds me of potato soup (more like stew, honestly), while the flavor was simple and cozy.
It didn’t make quite as much as I would have liked, so if I wanted to share I would have to double the recipe.
I proved to myself that I can in fact make plans and follow through on them: from meal planning and shopping lists to food prep and packing my lunch. I forced myself to compromise when it came to shopping so I stayed within my budget. And I added a few delicious recipes to my collection.
Both in an effort to save time and money and in the hopes that I can get my eating under control, I’ll be continuing my attempts to plan meals and prep food on a regular basis. I stumbled upon a fantastic site called Budget Bytes earlier and it looks like exactly what I need. Additionally, Jo undertook the Whole30 challenge a couple of weeks ago and is loving it, so I figured I would try it out in May. Stay tuned….