Tuesday, 24 June 2014

VIVID and Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Stew

This blog is long overdue, way long overdue. It has been sitting in my Drafts folder, 75% done for about 3 weeks. I blame the couch - the couch made me do it. I like to write at night and unfortunately, the couch has gotten the best of me. Time to finish that blog but let me have a glass of wine and enjoy the fireplace first - snore, snore. Time to finish that blog but let me catch up on 'The Good Wife' episode I missed and another and another. Time to finish that blog but let me read a little more of my book and then fall asleep with the book on my face. So it is all the couch's fault and my procrastination. So what has been going on that is uniquely Australian while I have been sitting and sleeping on the couch? It's bright, it's funky, and it only comes out in the dark - VIVID.....

From May 23-June 9, Vivid came to Sydney. Vivid is an annual event of light, music, and creative industry forums. For Sydneysiders, the big excitement is a free exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations that are lit up on the Harbour every night from 6pm-12am. Thousands of people flock to the city to walk along Circular Quay, see all the lights and especially see the changing displays on the sails of Sydney Opera House.

VIVID was started 5 years ago by the NSW government to increase tourism to Sydney during the cooler, wetter months. Each year, the event continues to grow, drawing tourists and modern artists from around the world. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Vivid Sydney attracted a record 1.43 million, an increase of 79 per cent from the 2013 festival. There isn't much investigative reporting here to do, just lots to see. The best I can do is share a video of this annual event.

Back inside, I have been trying new recipes trying to make weeknight dinners a bit more enticing. Some of my new found recipes have come from magazines.  I use to like look at the rag magazines, ones with little content but lots of gossip and photos of famous people. Now I like magazines that have recipes that look good and look relatively quick, easy and wholesome to make. 

In the June edition of Australian Women's Weekly, there was a recipe for slow cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken. They had me at  Mexican.  Generally speaking Mexican food is lacking  in Australia. Having moved here from California where there is a large Mexican population and Mexican cantinas all around, I just can't find that level of quality or choice down under. It would be akin to finding a good pie and sausage roll shop in the US. This should come as no surprise though as there is not a large, if any, Mexican presence here. I must confess, my usual Mexican cooking is not authentic either. I like to make tacos, quesadillas, chilli and enchiladas ( see recipe on past blog) - quick, easy, rich Mexican food. 

I liked that this recipe was for the slow cooker. I don't know who invented the slow cooker but it is genius for an everyday cook.  I love my slow cooker, especially in the cooler months. How easy it is to chuck a lot of healthy ingredients into one big pot, let it cook all day with little fuss, and come home to a house that smells great and eat a good dinner that usually has lots of leftovers. This is a win-win. So give this dish, which I have re-named Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Stew a go and enjoy. It was easy, tasty and feed my family of 4 for 2+ dinners. Also, do not skim on the seasonings, you need them to flavour the stew.

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Stew
adapted from Shredded Mexican Chicken
Australian Women's Weekly magazine, June 2014 

1.5 kilos (3lbs) chicken breast, preferably frozen
1 regular can kidney beans, drained
1 medium brown onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium red AND green pepper/capsicum, chopped
1 regular can corn, drained
1 regular can diced tomatos
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons each - ground cumin, dried oregano, sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (optional but I think necessary)

OPTIONAL ADD-INS when serving: chopped fresh cilantro/corriander, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips

1)Combine Beans, onion, garlic, peppers/capsicums, tomatoes, chicken stock and spices in 5-liter slow cooker. 

2) Stir the stew and add and submerge frozen chicken breasts. Cook on low for 8 hours.
 (chickens are low in fat so they cook faster and can become tough & dry in the slow cooker. Frozen chicken cook slower and is moister in the end). Mine were slightly thawed in this picture.
3) Remove chicken from cooker and using a knife, cut and shred the chicken into small pieces

4) Return chicken to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on Low for 20 more minutes.
5) Serve with rice or alone. Serve with additional add ons to suit your taste. 

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