Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chicken

**UPDATE**  To see my recipe for Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chicken, click here!

I went crazy on my commissary shop this weekend, and I bought a ton of different items needed for at least 6 different crock pot recipes!  I was eager to try one out, and had a hard time narrowing them down for last night's dinner...but I finally went with Brown Sugar Chicken, mostly because it's also called "Candy Chicken," and I thought for sure my picky kids couldn't turn down something with the word candy in it!  Ha ha.  The recipe, which I found on the blog of a woman who used her crock pot every day for a year (seriously???), was for a much bigger family, and a much bigger crock pot, so I had to pare it down a bit to suit our family.  Since this was only my 2nd crock pot attempt, I was a little nervous about overcooking the chicken--my last attempt was overdone and a bit dry, and I wanted to avoid that this time around as much as possible...but again, I'm new to this, so I don't really know what I'm doing!  The recipe called for 6-9 hours of cooking on low, but that was for a much bigger pot and a lot more chicken, so I thought maybe 4-5 hours would be better for my meal last night.

While the boys were eating lunch, I set to getting the items together for the recipe--I put the chicken in the pot, cut up some garlic cloves (I felt like a pro since I knew what I was doing after the Lemon-Thyme chicken last month!), measured vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and 7-Up...really, 7-Up like the soda!  Then I decided to only use 1/2 a cup of brown sugar, instead of a full cup, since I was cooking far less chicken...and I lowered the vinegar as well...but I totally forgot to adjust the pepper.  That concerned me a little bit, but I just pressed on, and poured all that stuff over the chicken in the pot, set it to low, and got back to my business of getting the boys down for naps.  I was kicking myself for being so efficient--we weren't going to eat dinner until I got back from my step class at 6:30pm, but I had the pot going at 12:45pm...too long to cook the chicken without drying it out.  I figured I could have Dan set it down to warm if he got home at 5pm and found the chicken was done...but I was nervous about leaving him with that task, since he really hasn't even looked at the crock pot!

I got the boys down for naps and sat down at the computer for a minute--I wanted to compute the calories on the dinner so that I would know the damage...I figured all that brown sugar couldn't bode well for the health of the meal.  (Surprisingly, without the rice, all the ingredients divided by 4 only came to 185 calories!  With the rice, the whole meal was only 452--I can totally get behind that!)  While I was entering all the ingredients and thinking about my crock pot meal cooking away, I had a quite obvious realization:  Crock pots are great, but they only work if you plug them in.  Um, I hadn't plugged the crock pot in before I set it to low and walked away.  The first time I used it, I hovered and was totally paranoid about whether it was working or not--and it worked just fine...so this time, I opted to trust it.  Obviously, I wasn't counting on operator error!  Not my brightest moment, but thank goodness I discovered this minor problem at 1:30pm and not at 5:30pm!  Oh my gosh, I would have been upset to discover uncooked dinner after my class tonight...I'm so glad I didn't have to explain that one to Dan!

the chicken cooking...once I finally plugged the crock pot in!

Abby had dance class yesterday afternoon, so that was my first time leaving the crock pot to do it's thing when I was no longer in the house to monitor...not that my monitoring is so swell anyway!  I threw some carrots and green beans into the pot before I headed out the door with the kids before 4pm, and left Dan a note to check the chicken when he got back with the kids at 5pm and to make some rice so that the meal would be ready to serve when I got home at 6:30pm.  He followed his instructions perfectly--I came home to a warming crock pot and rice ready (good job, honey!).  I couldn't wait to see how it all turned out, and the kids were really excited...totally out of character for them when we ask them to try something new, but I wasn't complaining!

Brown Sugar Chicken

Abby took one bite and declared it the best thing she had ever eaten.  Dan said this was the best chicken I have fixed (and that says kind of a lot, since it seems like I only ever cook chicken!).  I liked it, but wished the brown sugar sweetness was a little stronger--and I definitely need to cut back the pepper next time!  It was overwhelming for me, and I know it bothered the kids as well.  Jake predictably freaked out because the chicken was brownish, but when he ate a piece, he did like it.  It was like pulling teeth to get him to eat more.  Alex ate the chicken!!!!  I was so thrilled, and I tried to get a picture--this was the best I got (and Abby photo-bombed it!):

yes, Alex's mouth is full of chicken!!

After that resounding approval, things went downhill.  Alex didn't eat any more chicken after that first bite (even though he clearly liked it), Abby picked and picked at her food (saying it was too hot...darn pepper!), and Jake cried and whined about everything on his plate.  Ugh.  It turned into a fight, which was not at all what I wanted.  Dan and I cleaned our plates, though, and Dan has already told his parents about the meal, so I guess it was a success in that respect.  Not even the promise of candy and sugar can get all my kids on board--but we're going to keep trying new things, and I will definitely make this recipe again with some adjustments now that I know a little better how to make it for my family (and with that handy reminder to plug the crock pot in before cooking!).  The chicken was also a bit dry (although maybe this is how chicken cooks in a crock pot?  I'm going to have to look that up...), so I need to shorten the cooking time.  It was really easy to prep, and the kids will get used to it...story of my life when cooking for them!

sweet Jake, before all the crying!

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