I'm sipping on an apple cocktail. It's deleeeshous! And strong. It took some stocking up of my non-existent liquor cabinet in order to make, but once as I bought the basics and made the thyme simple syrup, it was bottoms up. Okay not exactly bottoms up, since, and this is worth repeating, the drink is strong stuff. It's not the most quick-and-easy of cocktails, but the making of a cocktail is a nice little ritual, isn't it? Plus, I feel ever so sophisticated. I fool everybody. And by "everybody" I mean my husband and the two pugs, the only living beings who are around while I engage in all this fine measuring and ice-and-liquor shaking and whatnot.
FYI--I've discovered that you don't need a real cocktail shaker to make cocktails. I used an old jam jar.
Is there anything like the sound of ice gently clinking against glass? It's such a happy, light tinkling sound. Although when I hear the word "tinkle", I think of #1, and that's not what I mean in this instance.
By the way, this is not a sweet cocktail. While it has apple cider and the thyme simple syrup, don't be expecting Martinelli's (which I happen to love) with some alcohol thrown in.
Onward to the point of this post...
As I mentioned, I've been starting to use my slow cooker and recipes from Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchen. You're like, oh my god stop mentioning ATK I can't take it anymore. And I'm like I can't. I just can't stop.
One of my favorite recipes so far is this Southern Style Chicken and Dirty Rice. Prep for slow cooker recipes can be super easy or pretty involved. This recipe is an in-betweener. But very worth it.
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 8 ounces of kielbasa sausage, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 celery ribs, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups instant rice
- 2 scallions, sliced thin (I completely forgot these when I made the recipe, which renders them "optional")
Serves 6 to 8.
Heat oil in skillet on medium to medium high heat. Cook kielbasa until well-browned, about 5 minutes.
While kielbasa is browning, prep your aromatics.
Add the onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, chili powder, thyme and cayenne to the kielbasa until veggies are softened and onion is lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add flour. The two-word simplistic beauty of a command sentence.Which I just ruined with my rambling.
Stir for about 2 minutes to incorporate and cook flour. Then whisk in broth, making sure to scrape up tasty bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.
See? Those are the bits that you want to scrape up. I am so helpful.
At this point you're wondering how the slow cooker makes life any easier, because this sure doesn't sound any easier than a regular recipe, and I wondered the same thing. I think this recipe is a great example of how the biggest benefit of the slow cooker comes after the prep, when you're letting it sit there doing its thing. Be patient!
Anyway, season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
Place the chicken in the slow cooker and move it around a bit so that it's covered in the sauce. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours (I did 5 hours).
After you've gone to get a massage (or 3) and return to your slow cooker deliciousness, break apart the chicken with any utensil, or just look at it really, really intensely--the meat falls apart quite easily. Stir in rice and 1 tsp salt and cook on high for 30 minutes.
I know, you're like, why would I use instant rice? Well, that's what the book said and we all know that ATK cooks things every which way, and they mentioned that using regular rice could lead to uneven cooking. I don't know about you, but the last thing I wanted was for this thing to be cooking for 5 hours only to find that the dish would be ruined by misbehaving rice. So Minute Rice it was.
This dish is really quite good, and I highly recommend it.