Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slow cooker cashew chicken

What if I told you that my crock pot worked harder than I did yesterday?  Sure, I threw a last minute dinner party -- with dessert, too (that's for tomorrow!) -- but I didn't exactly slave over a hot stove to plate up a delicious meal.  Sorry, J and B... you're absolutely worth the trouble, but there was no need for it last night :)

A slow cooker is known for creating easy, comforting meals with little effort.  Toss ingredients into the pot, cover and heat, go about your daily routine, and come home to a kitchen filled with smells of already-ready dinner!  A slow cooker, however, may not be as heralded when it comes to the topic of guests for dinner.  Why not? 

There's some unwritten rule that, when one is having guests for dinner, one must sweat and toil over an incredibly complex set of recipes and play show-and-tell with said fancy dishes.  I will admit that I've done it, and said recipes have failed miserably.  In conclusion, whoever came up with this rule should stuff it.

There, I said it!

Instead, I think the best kind of food for guests is food that you love.  Food that you're familiar with.  Food that you'd make for yourself if no one else were around and still enjoy every morsel of it.  Food doesn't break your back.  I'd much rather eat someone's go-to macaroni and cheese recipe than an over-the-top dinner that caused her much stress.  No one wants to see a host or hostess stressed!  It makes the evening much less enjoyable for everyone.  Trust me.  Been there.  And it's suuuuuuper awkward.

So, enough preaching and to this recipe: slow cooker cashew chicken!  A hassle-free take on the Chinese favorite.  I got this started before I headed to work and let it simmer all day.  When I got home, I stirred in the cashews and cooked up some brown and white rice (using yet another shortcut... oops) before company arrived.

And then I enjoyed an extremely laid-back meal with fun people and their sweet little four-legged friend.  They went back for seconds, helping themselves to the still-in-the-crock-pot meal.  The chicken and vegetables are fall apart tender in the warmed-by-ginger sauce.  But my favorite part was the crunchy salty cashews!  So so sooooooooo good.  Those reported six servings?  Gone.  First time I've ever emptied a crock pot meal in one sitting.  I love my friends :)

Now, go!  Make this for yourself and people you like dearly.  Oh, and just in case you think that I worked a little harder than I claimed, think again.  Guess who was too busy sitting on her caboose to take a picture of the final dish?  This girl.  So, you'll have to settle for Better Homes and Gardens' picture of the final dish.  They're anything but lazy.

One Year Ago: World's best chocolate frosting

Cashew Chicken
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

-makes 6 servings

1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stir fry vegetable blend
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup cashews
Cooked brown or white rice, for serving

In a slow cooker, combine mushroom soup, soy sauce, and ginger.  Stir in chicken, stir fry vegetables, and mushrooms.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours, or on high high setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Stir cashews into chicken mixture.  If desired, serve over cooked rice.

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