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Slow Cooker Soiree

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If economic crises have slighted you with ramen noodles, you need the Foodie Fairy Godmother to rescue you from meal mediocrity.

I feel your pain. Now that I just got my first apartment about seven months ago, I, too, am strapped for cash. It’s hard enough to afford a shopping cart full of nutritious fare, let alone a small bagful. If you ask me, grocery store prices are way un-fare. But does my dollar deficit mean I’ll have to forego my chic food fetes with friends? I think not. I’ll show you how I wined and dined my dear pals without bending over backward or breaking my bank account.

The Mission: To compose a gastronomic masterpiece by using idiot-proof equipment and the simplest yet tastiest pantry staples. Here’s how:

Take it Nice and Slow. You may have heard this on several cooking shows, but I’m going to tell you again: slow cookers really do save you time, money and energy. You can go exercise, reorganize your closet or catch up with your favorite sitcom as your meal simmers away in a pot on your countertop. It’s fabulous. If you don’t have a slow cooker, get one. It’s one of the smartest investments you’ll ever make.

Concoctions, Concoctions. I literally just threw a bunch of basic ingredients together and turned the slow cooker up to medium heat. In five hours, I had a tasty, tender chicken dish. Let me tell you, this bird soared above everyone’s expectations—including mine.

Fab, Frugal Working Girl’s Slow Cooker Chicken
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 2-3 cups low-sodium chicken stock (we want to control the amount of salt we use)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ bag frozen California-style mixed vegetables
  • handful of marinated artichoke hearts from a jar (save the brine)
  • 6-8 chicken tenderloins
  • sea salt, ground black pepper
  • fresh thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • ¼ cup artichoke brine
Add these ingredients to your slow cooker, set to high heat for about four (4) hours or low heat for eight (8) hours. Chicken will be juicier than ever and all the vegetables, herbs and spices will amalgamate.

You can serve this as a soup/stew or drain the liquid with a slotted spoon and plate it as a hearty entrée over brown rice. I used a lot of liquid so I could save it to make a great-tasting soup the next day. The chicken, vegetables, lemon juice and artichoke brine render a zesty broth that’s comforting yet pleasantly provocative on the palate.

Since I don’t yet have any chairs, my friends and I relished this meal on my coffee table while watching a hilarious Will Ferrell movie and swooning over the scent of the vanilla pound cake-scented oil I bought at Wal-Mart for $1.25. We also enjoyed a bottle of Shiraz, which I of course did not buy. My philosophy? Let pals take care of the drinks!

Try these ideas and let me know what you think!

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