Monthly Archives: March 2011

Crack Chicken

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Creating food is crafting of a sort, so I thought I would share my favorite made-up recipe that has become a standby for me. I saw a recipe involving pepper jack cheese soup and chicken at some point, and turned it into something of my own. I call it crack chicken because it has no real name and as the husband and I say “it’s addicting, like crack”.  I love this because I toss everything in the crockpot, leave for the day, and come home to a delicious smelling house and almost finished dinner. And with just 53 days left until graduation (not that I’m counting), the less energy spent on cooking the better. Although if you’re me, that’s always true anyway.

Also, I am totally open to suggestions for a new name, as crack chicken always gets me funny looks when people ask what I’m having for lunch that smells so good.

What you will need:

Supplies.

3 bell peppers (any color will do, I either get green or the 3 pack of yellow, red orange)

3 chicken breasts (or 2 large ones. You could also probably substitute some kind of beans if you want this to be a vegetarian dish. I however, am married to a carnivore).

1 jar of Vodka sauce (I generally get Classico or Bertolli, and I add about 2-3 ounces of water once it’s been emptied to rinse it out before recycling- and make a little extra sauce)

8 oz of pepper jack cheese

8 oz mushrooms (fresh is better than canned, but you can use either)

White or brown rice

Thaw your chicken. De-seed bell peppers and then cut them into strips. Cut the pepper jack into slices or cubes (just melts easier). Cut the mushrooms into slices if they aren’t already.

Slicing!

I like to layer things, in case I am not home to stir it periodically. Pour 1/3 of the vodka sauce into your crock pot, add one chicken breast, 1/3 of your bell pepper strips, and some of the cheese. Pour more vodka sauce, repeat with remaining 2 chicken breasts, then pour in the rest of the vodka sauce and toss remaining cheese and bell peppers on top. Set your crock pot for 6 hours (this should be low- you don’t want things to burn).

 I like to prepare the rice ahead of time so it’s ready when I get home. I usually make 1.5.-2 cups. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold because you are going to add it into what will by the time you get back be a hot soupy mix.

The hot soupy mix.

At this time you’ll want to stir everything and use a fork to break the large chicken breasts apart into smaller pieces- it should fall apart fairly easily, I use a fork and a knife to sort of pull it apart so it’s shredded. Then (about 45 minutes before you are ready to eat) add all the mushrooms and stir. You can put them in at the beginning, but they will likely get burned on the sides of the crock pot- they’re much more delicate than everything else- so it’s best to put them in at the end for just a short time.

Mushrooms! Yes, I lazily bought pre-sliced because they were only 10 cents more. Don't judge me.

Lastly, add your rice to the mix- I have about a cup and a half for one jar of vodka sauce. I like mine to stay just slightly on the liquidy side, but the consistency you want is really up to you, so if you want it to go farther/don’t want it liquidy, go for 2 cups.

Nomnom! Dinner is served.

This usually makes dinner for 2, with enough for 3-4 lunches left over. And I hate packing lunch almost as much as I dislike cooking dinner, so built in lunch is just another plus! I swear it tastes better than this photo makes it look.

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Plarn: Saving Sealife From Grocery Bags [First Guest Post!]

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[I’ve mentioned to people they should guest blog before, and now Amanda (also referred to as biffle) will be the first honored guest! It seems like she should be the first March post, since it’s her birthday month and all- and I’ll get to see her recent creations in real life later this month! *drumroll*]

The craft project you think you want to start…

Everyone knows being green is good, plus it’s also sort of cool. Let’s not lie, you have either committed the sin of trying to be more eco-friendly than someone else, or you know someone like that. Many cities have enforced a no plastic bag rule– huzzah!– but somehow I have escaped living in cities that do this. When our under-sink collection of plastic bags gets out of hand I
start thinking about a plarn (plastic yarn) project. The culprit for this fiasco is normally the nice young men who bag our groceries at the local Kroger. For whatever reason, they will put some items in a single bag and then overload other bags. Being a crafty person, the best way to reuse something that has outrun its conventional commodity life is to repurpose it in the most logical way possible. And then the craft gods created plarn.

Here’s why projects with plarn are A) expensive to buy, or B) ones you don’t really want to take on: they are SO labor intensive! Also, you will have to deal with somewhat sarcastic remarks from people who know you, such as, “You’re making a bag out of bags… that’s ingenious,” or the frank, “that sounds dumb, why?” type remark. If you haven’t made plarn yet you might have wondered how someone could dare charge $20 for a bag. After making my first plarn bag I had a healthy appreciation for the prices other crafters had for sale. It took me, possibly, two to three weeks to make enough plarn to create a tote bag. This isn’t meant to deter anyone, but now you can have a healthy appreciation for the craft.

Plarn1

I don’t have a good plarn making tutorial because there are plenty online. RecycleCindy at My Recycled Bags [http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2007/
02/17/instructions-for-cutting-plastic-bags-creating-recycled-plastic-yarn/
] has a great step by step written tutorial. But I would recommend watching some videos too, how to connect one loop of plastic bag to another isn’t the most intuitive action. Check out these videos: [1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaCi06IdefM, and 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj1pVVjtqRk]. Either style of plarn works, though I personally make the first kind that is looped mainly because the second would be more time consuming than the project is already. I also feel the loop style is more sturdy.

Plarn2

Some tips I’ve gained from experience. Plan your project well in advance because this won’t be as simple as crocheting (or knitting if you’re that cool!) that pattern you’ve done a dozen times that everyone loves; you also will get tired of sorting, cutting, then looping the bags and so it will be necessary to take a break. Use a hook you are comfortable with, plastic or metal it
doesn’t matter. I use Boye metal hooks because I prefer the rounded edge of their hooks. Do things in bulk. If you are using a grocery bag the most bags you can stack together to cut up are about five, anything more and your scissors will have a hard time once they are all folded. Go to your local grocery store and ask if you can have some of the bags people have brought
to be recycled. Asking the customer service desk might feel weird, but making plarn takes a lot of bags. The other advantage to going to a local store is, if there is a store near your house you don’t shop with, the chance is their bags are a different color than the competitor you shop with,
thereby expanding your plarn palette. Generally, most moderate sized projects require eighty to one hundred bags, and now you can understand why it’s time consuming. But fire up the Netflix instant que and sort, cut, and loop away!

There are some really beautiful plarn projects- I have always coveted this little number by RecycleCindy. I just want to know what store uses such red bags!

gLp Designs: http://sewphisticate.blogspot.com/search/label/plarn

And here’s my current project- it’s a bag for a charity auction that my friend is working on: