Jan 4, 2012

WIP recipe: crock pot lemon chicken / tofu

NEW BLOG FEATURE: Work In Progress (WIP).
Thus far, I've opted to post a recipe either immediately after the first time I try it (regardless of whether I am going to make additional changes) or I put it on hold until I perfect it. Sometimes these on-hold recipes don't get posted, and when every new recipe I try isn't good enough to post, I end up not posting anything.

So my new blog feature should solve this problem. I post a recipe in progress, with my thoughts on how I might change it for next time. I want you, my readers, to post suggestions on how you would change it, and let me know whether you tried it or not and what you liked or didn't like.

Excited? I am.

Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

I think I've turned into (to quote one of my friends) "what the trendy kids are calling" a flexitarian. Philosophically, I'd prefer to be vegetarian for all my scads of personal reasons. But I do eat meat occasionally for various other personal reasons. One of those reasons is that Kyle enjoys chicken. And he has compromised his eating in a big way for several years to adapt to what I like, so I don't mind compromising the other way every once in a while.

Which is why I tried a crockpot chicken meal a few weeks ago. Pinterest has made me very intrigued about crockpot meals... the idea of throwing a bunch of food in a pot, leaving it alone for a while, and having a dinner made when you're ready is kind of awesome. So I tried it out with this lemon chicken recipe.

The first one I looked at was overly simple. Just butter and italian seasoning mix. The second one was trying to imitate Chinese style lemon chicken, so I didn't copy that one exactly either. I took inspiration from both and came up with my own version. The first version was pretty tasty to Kyle, but I didn't like the chicken taste (go figure). Kyle suggested I could add tofu to the crockpot and solve the taste + vegetarian problem. So that's what I did the second time I tried the recipe. And you know what, I LOVE lemon tofu.

This recipe is a Work In Progress because I'm still working on:
  • Amount of oil/liquid to use. The first time was nice and moist, and I used 2T oil & 2T margarine, for just chicken. The second time was kind of dry, and I used 1T oil & 1T margarine, for chicken and tofu. Suggested changes: I am thinking of adding water/broth next time I cook chicken and tofu together to keep the chicken moist. Also, for tofu alone I would need to add extra liquid because there would be no chicken fat.
  • How to arrange the chicken and tofu. Four pieces fit nicely in my crockpot, but once I added tofu I didn't know what to do. I put the tofu on the bottom and laid the chicken on top, but I think this contributed to the chicken being dry because it was out in the air instead of in liquid. Suggested changes: I'll probably pile the tofu on top of the chicken instead of the other way around. And I'll rearrange/flip them periodically to ensure proper flavour coatage. Lastly, the addition of water/broth should further fix this problem.
  • I'm considering further additions. A clove or two of garlic makes a lot of sense. And it would be nice if I could cook a side dish in the crockpot at the same time. I could pile some chopped potatoes, onions, carrots and other veggies on top after a couple of hours of cooking and then it would all be ready at the same time.
Side dishes:
The recipe goes well served over rice or quinoa (or a mixture of the two), where the sauce flavours the rice. For greens, I like greek salad, which goes really well with the lemon flavour. I used this salad dressing, but with 3 T white vinegar and 1 T balsamic because we don't have red wine vinegar. We forgot to add the oil for dinner but it was surprisingly tasty (and strong!). But it was even tastier the next day for lunch when I actually remembered the oil.
The second time we made the recipe, I was pressed for time and ingredients, so tossed a potato and two carrots in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw them in the toaster oven at 400 F for 45 minutes.

Notes about the recipe:
We used pre-seasoned breasts from costco. I find them really salty, so I don't add any salt to the crockpot. You might want to adjust if you're using non-seasoned chicken.
Also, I'm writing up the recipe how I made it for both chicken & tofu, but I tried to make it clear how you would modify for one or the other. Let me know if something is unclear.
The nutritional information is based on 1T oil and 1T margarine. The tofu one is calculated without chicken fat, so it's an underestimate if you cook them together like I did.

Eat Your Greens - Crockpot Lemon Chicken

Calories175Sodium449 mg
Total Fat8 gPotassium70 mg
Saturated1 gTotal Carbs9 g
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber1 g
Monounsaturated0 gSugars7 g
Trans0 gProtein19 g
Cholesterol85 mg

Vitamin A8%Calcium4%
Vitamin C22%Iron5%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Eat Your Greens - Crockpot Lemon Tofu

Calories170Sodium83 mg
Total Fat11 gPotassium238 mg
Saturated2 gTotal Carbs11 g
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber1 g
Monounsaturated0 gSugars7 g
Trans0 gProtein9 g
Cholesterol0 mg

Vitamin A6%Calcium25%
Vitamin C21%Iron13%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken and/or Tofu
Ease: 1 very easy
Time: 2 quick (plus cooking time)
Ingredients: 1 easy
Source: modified from Stephanie O'Dea A Year of Slow Cooking and The Queen Bee's Hive

  • 1-2 Tbsp margarine
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces (but any chicken pieces should work, really)
  • 1 brick of tofu, sliced long-wise into 1/2" slices
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried poultry seasoning
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • salt (optional)

  1. Add margarine and olive oil to the crockpot.
  2. Add chicken breasts on top.
  3. Mix together liquid seasonings in a separate bowl. Add zest, spices, brown sugar. Pour over chicken.
  4. If you're cooking tofu and chicken (like I do), add the tofu after an hour or two of cooking the chicken, once the chicken is starting to look a bit more cooked. (It weirded me out to put tofu on top of raw chicken).
  5. Cook in crockpot: 3-4 hours on high, and 4-6 hours on low. (less time for tofu)
  6. See Side-dishes, above, for serving suggestions.

No comments: