Friday, July 12, 2013

Slow-Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

In the summer I try and do as much crock-pot cooking as possible so that I don't have to turn on my oven and heat up the house. (One of these days I'm going to break down and get a solar oven, but I haven't done it yet.) This Creamy Italian Chicken is a dish that was first introduced to me at a book club meeting. My friend Michelle served it with potatoes (I think). I asked how she made it and she said it was Italian dressing, chicken and cream cheese. No amounts given, but I got the idea. Super simple, right?
   Well, of course, I make my own version. Hubby took it to work a while back and one of the guys raved about it and asked for the recipe, so I e-mailed him what I did. It only has 5 ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and it's a complete "fix it and forget it" kind of meal. My family likes it over rice, but noodles and potatoes work well also.
   I made a double batch when we were visiting the in-laws this summer. I also made a single serving for my cousin-in-law Brooke who is allergic to garlic and gluten. (In case you were wondering how: I just mixed together some Italian Seasoning (herbs only), olive oil, water, vinegar, salt, pepper and a little onion. I browned her chicken and then cut it into bite-sized pieces. I put the chicken back in the pan with my make-shift garlic free Italian dressing and turned the heat to high to boil the dressing down a bit. Then I added a little cream cheese and stirred it all together. Served it over rice and she felt like she could eat what everyone else was eating!)
   Feel free to take liberty with the recipe and add or remove things to your liking. You are cooking for yourself and your family so it is ultimately up to you what gets served at your dinner table. :)

Here's how it starts. Either spray your crock-pot with no-stick cooking spray, or just use a crock-pot liner (like I show here). Then put 2 chicken breasts (mine are frozen, hence the square zip-top bag shape), 1/2 medium onion, 1/2 bottle of Italian Dressing (the brand doesn't matter), 1/2 cup of water and a little salt and pepper. (Sprinkle it on like you are salt and peppering each piece of chicken. You can always add more in later if you need it.)

Then just put the lid on and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If I'm home while it's cooking, I come back after about 4 hours and make sure the chicken is all submerged in the liquid. It looked like this:

1 hour before I want to serve dinner, I use my tongs to break up the chicken into shreds.

And I added in 8 oz of cream cheese, that I cut into large chunks. I just put these on top and then put the lid on and cook for another hour on low.

When the hour is up, I stir it all together. . .

and serve it over rice. A little touch of my homegrown parsley for color and it's done! Everyone loves this dish and I'm sure it will become a staple in your home too! This dish is a great blank canvas for adding any veggies you'd like. If the veggies are small, just add them in when you add the cream cheese and everything will be done nicely. :) Some of our favorites are corn, peas and green beans but anything that tickles your fancy will work. Let me know your variations!

Here's the recipe:
Slow-Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs if you prefer)
1/2 bottle (about 8 oz) of Italian Dressing
1/2 cup of water
1/2 medium onion diced
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
8 oz cream cheese (cut into chunks)

Put all ingredients into a sprayed (or lined) slow-cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 4 hours). 1 hour before you want to serve, shred the chicken and add the cream cheese. Put the lid back on and cook on low for 1 more hour. Then turn the heat off, stir everything together and serve over cooked rice, noodles or potatoes.

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