I am determined to finish out these first two weeks of school with slow cooker meals! Yes, there has been a bit of grumbling from the young adults in my house, but both of them have credit cards and vehicles, so if they are really unhappy with my recipe choices, they can handle that themselves! Neither of them understands how stressful and exhausting the first couple of weeks of school are.
Teachers get it.
And I’m old. This is my 27th year of teaching, so I’m tired.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my students. Love them. I love the hugs and happy faces. I love the silly and bizarre things they say. I love my job.
But teaching is tough.
I teach music to almost 600 kids – ages PreK through fifth grade. And if you don’t work with kids, you may not realize that you have to do things differently with different ages. You will have different mannerisms – and even a different way of talking to every group that you have.
So by the time I get home after school, I have already been 8 different people! I have used my sweetest tones for the four-year-old kids, my almost adult tones with the fifth grade kids – and everything in between!
Did you ever see the old movie “Sybil”? She had all these different personalities.
Well, some days, I feel like Sybil.
So I’m really tired when I get home. For about the first hour, I really don’t want to talk to anybody – even though these are the people that I love the most! I just want to start dinner, speak to the dogs, and then sit in my recliner for a few minutes before I have to be civil to anyone.
So these slow cooker dinners have really been lifesavers! For the most part, I only have to shred the chicken (if that’s what we’re having) and then start cooking the rice or pasta or whatever side dish we’re having. It has been lovely!
I will be moving to other kinds of dishes next week, but I will still be prepping a lot of the ingredients for those dinners. It’s just what I do! And it really does save time and aggravation. Sometimes that just means chopping veggies and putting them in a big ZipLoc in the fridge. Sometimes that means marinating protein. Sometimes, it just means putting all the ingredients for a dish together so I can grab and go.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple more slow cooker dinners with you. This one was delicious! My family loves anything with pasta, so this was a winner!
Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken
- 3-4 large frozen chicken breasts
- 1 package of dry Italian dressing mix
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- 2 10.5-ounce cans of cream of chicken soup
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
- 1 pound of pasta, cooked according to package directions
- Parmesan (optional)
- Lay chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker
- Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder
- Pour both cans of soup over the top.
- Cook on low all day (8 hours).
- At the end of cook time, put a stock pot full of water on to boil.
- Use tongs, a big spoon, or forks to shred or separate the chicken into smaller pieces.
- Add the cream cheese in big chunks.
- By this time, your water should be boiling. When it is fully boiling, add about a tablespoon of salt and add the pasta. Cook according to package directions.
- When the pasta is almost done, stir the chicken mixture to incorporate the cream cheese (it should be melted by now.).
- Reserve about a cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta completely.
- Add pasta to the chicken and use tongs or a big spoon to combine. If the mixture is too dry for your taste, add some (or all) of the pasta water.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
- Serve with a little Parmesan on top.
Well Duh #1: Yes, you really do need to use frozen chicken breasts. When you’re cooking it all day (8 or more hours), you need to start with frozen so it doesn’t fall into strings when it’s done.
Well Duh #2: I don’t like recipes that call for “4 ounces of cream cheese.” If you’re going to use cream cheese, use the whole dadgum package!
Well Duh #3: Some people like the add the cream cheese at the beginning of the cook time. I prefer to add it at the end. Cream cheese can burn and that would ruin the entire dish! You don’t have time for that!
Well Duh #4: I almost always use a slow cooker liner. It just makes my life easier – especially since I use my slow cooker so often.
Well Duh #5: I didn’t put measurements on the seasonings. I used a couple of fat pinches of salt, a fat pinch of black pepper, an all-over sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder.
Okay, I have to say that this is one of my favorite dishes that I’ve made in a while. It is creamy. It is silky. It is savory. It is delicious! The tribe agreed! Warm and hearty and delicious. I will definitely be making this again!