One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice (Gluten Free)

Nappy's Chicken Shit

I was on a school bus,  for the first time in more than a decade, and much earlier than ever in my life. Still dark, we couldn’t see the landscape. It was quite chilly, there was no sound except the motor. All the passengers where silent with their thoughts and the bus rocked us gently back and forth. I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere, but right then my nerves where taking over and keeping my stomach uncomfortable and fluttery. ‘How long is twenty six miles, anyway?’ It seemed like an eternity getting to the marathon start line and every second I sat there I pictured my legs having to carry me all the way back.

Yes, I had put skates on again, even after my disastrous start in the sport.  Mystery Man and I put the inline skates on every weekend and racked up the miles on the local trails. My miles were much different than his. As I pushed, sweated, and worked for every stride, most of his time was spent skating backwards in front of me, coaching me along, and on occasion would break away to ‘stretch his legs’, then wait patiently for me to catch up.

I reminded myself that we were here for fun. After all, we had met up at this race in Duluth Minnesota for more than the skating. Friends came from several states away. Ones we hadn’t seen in far too long. The skating, to them, was only secondary.

Stepping off the bus, I was astounded. Three thousand five hundred people where here to skate this race and yet everyone was calm, collected, and making their way to the appropriate fitness stage for start times. We found ours, but not our friends. The crowd was too thick. Bang! Here we go!

I have seen wonderful sites in my life. The Sistine Chapel. The Rome Colosseum, Big Ben, the canals of Amsterdam. But, that finish line is one of the most memorable and beautiful things. Bleachers full of people flanked each side of the the road. Flags, banners and festive music filled our senses and took the pain from our legs. Mystery Man stayed with me all the way to the end and we crossed the finish line together.

We found our friends and hugs lasted minutes as we soaked everyone in. It had, indeed, been way too long.  We had two days and we planned to make the most of it. Lunches lasted through dinner. Toasts where made with silly sayings and laughter, and solemn memories and wet eyes. Laughter rang in our ears long after retiring for the evening, and as I lay there and took stock of my body that I had pushed to the limit, the parts that hurt most were not my legs, but my cheeks and abdomen from smiling and laughing. Suddenly the skating, for me, was secondary.

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This is a recipe from a friend in the skating community.  We (lovingly) call it Chicken Shit in our house, but I have renamed it for you. Your welcome.

 

One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice

Ingredients:
1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 – 13 Ounce can chicken broth
1 – 8 Ounce can tomato sauce
1 Package taco seasoning (check for gluten in the ingredients)
1 can corn, drained
1 green pepper (diced)
1 1/2 Cup minute rice
1/2 Teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Corn chips

Toppings:
All Toppings are Optional
1 – 2 Ounce can Sliced Olives
Shredded Mexican/Spicy Cheese
Sour Cream
Lettuce
Tomatoes (diced)

Preparation:
• Heat olive oil in 4” deep heavy pan over medium heat until shimmering
• Add chicken and cook (stirring) until no loner pink
• Add broth, tomato sauce and seasoning packet. Stir and bring to a boil.
• Reduce heat and simmer for minutes.
• Add corn and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.
• Stir in rice, cover the pan and remove from heat.
• Fluff with fork and adjust spice with hot sauce if desired.
• Serve with toppings and corn chips.

Notes:
For a crowd – Do not drain corn. Add one cup of water and one additional cup of rice. Transfer to crock pot on low. Serve directly out of crock pot. Check periodically to make sure it does not dry out. Add water as needed. This dish is just as good, or better the next day.

Options:
Vegetarian –  Add one can of thoroughly rinsed black beans, omit the chicken, use vegetable broth.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Beef Roast (Gluten Free)

Crock Pot Roast

Dressed in new clothes and carrying a new back pack, I stood at the end of the gravel drive way and kicked some stones around with my spot-free velcro-topped shoes. Hearing a vehicle in the distance, I squinted down the two-lane country road with my hand across my brow. The sun was just coming over the hill and it was big, blazing, and threatening to make it one of the hottest first days of school yet.

They would have the cattle barn fans set in the corners of the school hallways. Turned on top speed they could make the whole school vibrate, and the low and loud growl came in stereo everywhere you turned. Luckily the school grounds had very nice and tall shade trees, and on days like this class would be held outside under a canopy of leaves.

The start of school was always the start of a hectic schedule. The days of bike riding, rock collecting, and the constant pestering of my sister were ending (ok, I never stopped pestering her…) and were replaced with school during the day, and homework, apple picking, garden harvesting and canning in the evenings and on weekends.

Now years later, my environment has changed but the onset of Fall still brings a busy schedule unlike any other time of the year. While my days of apple picking and garden harvesting are gone, they have been replaced by increased baking orders, new teaching sessions for dance, and a back to school push that has me drowning in permission slips, health forms and supply hunting for my children’s classrooms.

While my days get shorter, I still manage to get dinner on the table and (try to) avoid the take-out trap as much as possible. There are two ways I accomplish this. My slow cooker, and easy recipes that are tried and true.

 

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

(adapted from my friend Vintage Thread‘s recipe)

 

Ingredients:

1 – 2.5 to 3 pound beef roast

1 can Gluten Free Cafe’ Mushroom Soup (or one can Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup.)

1 package dried onion soup mix (if making gluten free, be sure to check the label.)

salt and pepper

Crock Pot Roast2

 

Preparation:

Salt and pepper both sides of roast and place in slow cooker. Pour or spoon mushroom soup over the top. Sprinkle with entire package of dry soup mix.

Set the slow cooker to 6-8 hours on low.

 

Best served with white rice or mashed potatoes and a green salad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

gumbo

At the age of nineteen I had climbed the retail ladder and accepted a Store Manager position at the educational/developmental toy store where I had worked since graduating high school. Even though I was a full time student at University, I jumped on the chance because it meant full benefits and a nice raise.

One of the first things I needed to do was hire more staff, and finding morning and day-time (quality) applicants was a challenge to say the least. Then one day a lovely lady named Jennifer walked in.

She had two boys who just started all-day schooling, and she was looking for a little job to keep her busy during those hours. Perfect. I hired her on the spot. This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship.

Jennifer was the hardest worker. Always looking for something to do, even on the slowest days, and thriving on the busy hum of retail during the holiday months. I trusted her with all my heart and we became fast friends, even though our age difference was nearly ten years and I was neither married or a mother. I looked up to her. She had a great family, a wonderful husband and the most genuinely thoughtful and mindful boys.

I was in a very different place than her. I lived alone in a one bedroom apartment, worked forty-plus hours a week, took three college courses and dated a new guy about every six months, all the while finding time to hone my hobby of swing dancing a few evenings a week.

At the store, early morning cleaning and stocking lent itself to open conversation. We talked about life, love and family quite a bit and one particular day I was in a lurch over a boy. I looked at Jennifer and recalled her wonderful husband, children and family. I wondered how it all came into place so easily for them. So I asked.

Her response was far from ‘motherly’ which I so appreciated. She was a little matter-of-fact, and said ‘you will just know’. She expand on that a bit, and I soon realized this boy wasn’t the Ultimate Love.

A year later.

I asked her the same question.

She asked if I was talking about my dance partner. I said yes. She smirked and said ‘I think you know’.

…and I did.

Jennifer gave me this recipe and it is one of the first things I made for Mystery Man.

Gumbo

Ingredients:
1/4 cups olive oil
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons* Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium green pepper
1/2 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
12 oz Adelle’s Cajan Style Andouille Sausage, chopped into bite- sized pieces (see prep notes)
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (see prep notes)
8-10 cups water
4 cups cooked white rice (I use Jasmine Rice, two cups dry = four+ cups cooked)

*Jennifer uses 1/4 cup seasoning. This is too spicy for our family. If you can handle it, go for it!

Preparation:

• Place the chicken in the freezer and chop all the vegetables and set aside.

• Heat a large dutch oven/stock pot over medium-low and cover the bottom with olive oil. Using a flat edged spatula (metal or wooden, not plastic!) stir flour into oil constantly until flour is balled and turns to a medium to dark brown color. A burnt popcorn smell is common.

• Turn the heat to high and whisk in five cups of water. Add creole seasoning and black pepper. 3-5 more cups of water and whisk – this should be a thin gravy with no lumps.

• Turn heat down to medium-low and add green pepper, celery, parsley, onions. Let this cook for 8-10 minutes while you chop the sausage and chicken.

• Add sausage and chicken to pot and bring to a boil for one minute.

• Turn heat down to very low and cook for a minimum of three hours. Add more water if needed and add more creole if desired.

• Serve over white rice (do not mix rice into gumbo)

Notes:

This can be transferred to a crock pot and left on low all day. The secret to good gumbo – do not add anything else!

Gumbo freezes well. Place frozen block in a heavy pan and heat gently.