Monday, 15 July 2013

Jetlag + Marilynne's Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

I've arrived home from a 3+ week visit to the East Coast of the US. I saw family, family and more family which was very nice since I haven't seen many of them in years. We relaxed, shopped and ate and then went to the beach, read books and ate again. Now I am back to errands, chores and responsibilities - a shock. More shocking is the weather since I left a hot summer in the US and now I'm back to winter in Australia. Sydney is cold, damp and chilly. Our house doesn't have central heating but an array of heaters strategically placed in various rooms throughout the house. Going from hot to cold and cold to hot again is a daily experience I had quickly forgotten about after always being hot in the US.

After a 6 hour drive to the airport, then a 6 hour flight to San Francisco to catch a 14 hour flight to Sydney, we finally arrived home after an exhausting day+ of travel. I wish I could leave the travel behind and get on with reality but jet lag has reared its ugly head. Jet lag is basically a disruption to one's circadian rhythms. It is very primal as people, animals and even plants have these circadian rhythms. Consulting the web, I have been told to get out in the sun (ok), exercise (that's hard), avoid caffeine (seriously?!), drink lots of water (sounds good) and not take a nap (no fair). British Airways even has a jet lag calculator that says I should get light between 12-2 am which is quite funny as the only light at that time is the stars and even though they are many more stars to see in Sydney, they aren't that bright.

So, my day has been a blur filled with headaches, nausea, disorientation, moments of energy and moments of exhaustion. I had errands to run today and really had to concentrate. A bit of my mental stream of consciousness: stay on left side of the road....yes, back to rotaries right turn on, that isn't expensive; it's for a kilo (2.2lbs) not a pound....shoot, shoot, shoot - what's her name? that's your neighbour ....right, back to using Aussie lingo again.  So here it is 10pm and my family has been asleep since 7pm, and I am writing a blog. I am hoping I will fall asleep soon and stay asleep. However, in my blur of the day, I made a really good dinner and wanted to share this easy, nutritious and healthy dish. I learned this recipe 10+ years ago from my friend, Marilynne, who lives in California. It is a winner - a meal that can be served to your family or at a dinner party. Like most of my recipes, it can be adjusted to suit your tastes. Enjoy!

Marilynne's Slow Cooked Chicken Cacciatore

1 Slow Cooker/Crockpot

1.5 kg/3 lbs *frozen* Chicken breasts
1 medium Onion, halved and then sliced thin
1 Green Capsicum/Pepper sliced in long strips (julienned)
1 Red Capsicum/pepper sliced in long strips (julienned)
4 Garlic cloves crushed (optional)
2 jars/bottles of Pasta Sauce
1 dozen Brown Mushrooms, sliced thin
1 dozen Pitted Olives, sliced thin

1 box Pasta - *no Spaghetti or Fettuccine, a shaped pasta (Penne, Fusilli) absorbs sauce best*
grated Parmesan Cheese

1- Place frozen Chicken breasts in Slow Cooker/Crockpot. Because Chicken is lean/low fat, it cooks fast and can get tough in the Slow Cooker/Crockpot. Frozen breasts cook more slowly and result in moist, tender chicken.

2- Cut up Capsicums/Peppers, Onion and put on top of Chicken breasts in Slow Cooker/Crockpot. If using, add crushed Garlic on top.

3- Pour 2 small jars/bottles of Pasta Sauce or 1 large jar/bottles on top of Chicken and Vegetables.


4- Cover and cook on LOW all day. Stir a few times during day if possible.

5 - 30-60 minutes before serving, use knife and fork right in Slow Cooker/Crockpot to shred or cut up Chicken breasts into smaller pieces. This should be easy to do as Chicken will be tender from cooking all day. 

6- Add sliced Mushrooms and Olives and let them cook for 30-60 minutes. If you add them in the morning, the Mushrooms shrink too much and the Olives can make the dish salty. Or, I like to use pasta sauce with olives already in it and this seems to work well.

7 - Cook pasta according to box, drain.

8 - Serve Chicken Cacciatore over pasta and add shredded Parmesan Cheese.

9- Excellent with a glass of red wine, fresh bread and salad = nice dinner for yourself/family or easy dinner party.

Note - for those on Gluten free diets, serve with Gluten Free or no pasta; it is stew-like. For those dairy free, do not cheese at end. I usually get 2 dinners (2 adults + 2 kids) out of this. You can double the recipe and freeze or refrigerate for the future.

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