I had two little visitors staying with us for a few days while their parents were out of town. We played inside, outside, checked out the toys at Walmart, picked up Happy Meals at McDonald’s, and had picnic lunches. Not knowing what each afternoon and evening would bring, I decided to let the crockpot do all the hard work and threw together one of my old stand-by crockpot meals for one evening.
I’m glad I did, for a couple of reasons. One is that the house had the best aroma floating around for several hours. Another is that all I had to do when we were ready to eat was fix some rice, a salad, or some fruit, and we were all set.
If you followed the link, you found basic directions for a recipe that is quite adaptable, a beef stew that will take up any ethnic flavor depending on which way you want to go. We had a Mexican-type beef stew with rice and beans on the side.
I layered a diced carrot, celery, a half of an onion, also diced, and a small-ish red bell pepper and a poblano pepper (I think) both cut up as well. On top of this, I put about a pound and a half of beef cubes and two cans of Ortega enchilada sauce. I turned the crockpot on low and let this cook for about 8 hours. I hoped the wee ones would like it. I knew they like some Mexican food and I operated on the theory that a really hungry kiddo would like it, or at least eat it. They did.
For the next night. I fixed a chicken “tettrazini” casserole which we ate late, after soccer and baths. I know the kiddos were hungry and they ate everything on their plates. I’ll have to share the recipe for the “tettrazini” with their mom. It was easy, and I put it together well in advance of cooking it, perfect for a busy family. Thus, we have a good new stand-by.
1 can cream of mushroom soup*
1 can cream of chicken soup*
1 lb chicken breast, cooked, cubed (and cooled if you’re preparing it in advance)
8 oz. frozen green peas
3/4 to 1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 cup diced yellow onion, or more
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. Mozzarella-Parmesan combo shredded cheese (or any shredded cheese your family likes
*Can use two cans of mushroom or cream of chicken soup instead of one of each.
1. Cook and cube the chicken and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Cook the pasta as directed on the package. Add the peas, the onion, and the oil to the pot for the last 9-10 minutes. (All you organized cooks take note: If you have any leftover peas, just add them at the last minute.) Meanwhile, mix the canned soups together in a large mixing bowl.
3. Prepare a large oven proof dish, 9″ X 9″, 9″ X 13″, something relatively shallow, by spraying it with Pam or rubbing it with butter. I used a square 11″ X 11″ Corningware casserole.
4. Drain the pasta, peas and onion when done and mix with the soup. Add the chicken and about 1/4 of the cheese. Mix well and put into the casserole. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. [At this point, I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator to cook later in the day. My chicken was already cool, and I let the pasta, peas and soup mixture cool for a while before I added the chicken to it.]
5. Bake 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. [Because my dish had been refrigerated nearly all day, I had to cook it for considerable longer, about 45 minutes.]