Easy Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

One of our favorite dishes is a baked sweet and sour chicken.  It’s delicious but VERY labor-intensive – the chicken is dipped into cornstarch and then egg, then fried until golden and finally put into the oven with sauce for an hour (where it’s stirred every 15 minutes).  My fingers usually end up crusted with so much egg and cornstarch that I have to stop halfway through to wash them… and it gets under my finger nails.  Super gross.  I usually only go to the trouble every few months.

Yesterday, I tried something new to streamline the process, and it totally worked!

I simply shook the chicken bits in a Ziploc bag with some flour (whole wheat, because that totally cancels out all the sugar in this recipe, don’t you know?), dumped it into a bit of hot oil, fried until the outside was seared and popped it into my trusty crockpot with some sauce!  It came out a bit more watery than the oven method, but that may be because I only used two chicken breasts rather than the usual four.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Easy Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 – 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons ketsup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, ketsup, soy sauce and garlic salt in a medium-sized bowl until well combined.  Put aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, put flour into a 1-gallon storage bag.  Add the chicken bits and shake until well-coated. Remove the chicken to a plate and discard any leftover flour.
  4. Fry the chicken in the pre-heated oil until the outside is lightly browned but the chicken is not cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Place the chicken into the bottom of the crockpot and pour the sauce over the top.  Stir briefly and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours or high heat for 2 hours.  If desired, before serving, add a little cornstarch and stir until thickened.
  6. Serve over cooked rice.
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$5 Spice Cabinet Makeover!

 I love to cook.  Unfortunately, my collection of herbs and spices has gotten a bit out of control.  I’ve avoided dealing with it… sort of like avoiding the scale when you know you’ve gained a few pounds… but was forced to face reality when I bought my 3rd bottle of parsley flakes because I couldn’t find the one I already owned (a couple times, apparently).

So what to do?

I love those magnetic, cool looking metal containers… but I couldn’t afford as many as I’d need.  I’d pinned diy solutions, from reusing baby food jars to buying the metal containers and magnets online and creating your own.  I don’t have babies, and the metal diy project would cost me about $100.  So that’s a no.

I was walking through the Dollar Tree the other day and came across this pack of 10 (!) little plastic containers with snap-on lids (bpa free!) and a light bulb went off.  Would it work?  Would the lids stay on?  I bought the store out of their stock, figuring that at $4 + tax, I would risk it.

I took them home, washed ’em out and stacked ’em up! containers

I had almost 100 (!) spice bottles squirrelled away in the cabinet and had only 40 new containers, so I decide to leave the name brand mixes, such as Old Bay or Season All in their original containers.  Others, such as cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, wouldn’t fit in the smaller plastic containers and stayed in their original containers as well.

I got to work transferring all of the herbs and spices into their new homes.  I eventually want to get some cute labels but stuck to writing on each new container with a Sharpie for now.  I just wanted to be done!

With some, not all of them would fit into the containers and I had to hold onto the leftovers to use for refills later (tucked away in the pantry, where I won’t have to look at them).

With others, I discovered I’d been taking up all that space for a tiny bit of spice left in the container.  Seriously?

very little left

Overwhelmingly, however, the biggest discovery was the sheer number of duplicates I had.  I have what appears to be a lifetime supply of parsley, oregano, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic powder.  This must be what hoarders feel like when the intervention finally works.  I am a spice and herb hoarder.

Whatever.

It turns out that the 40 containers I was able to get my grubby mitts on was enough… and they’re pretty tough too.  I dropped a couple in the process, and the lids stayed on.  Woohoo!

The best part of this project was what I like best about cooking – the smells.  Oh, the smells!  Fennel, sage and dill.  Apple pie spice, pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg.  Curry, tarragon and cumin.  I’m convinced I could happily wear cardamom as perfume, all lemony and exotic.  It was sheer sensory pleasure to get up close and personal with all of them.

Oh, and speaking of smells, there will be sneezing.  Oh yes, there will be sneezing.  Have some tissues handy. 🙂  I wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself if you have sensitive skin – my face was a bit burn-y after the cayenne pepper – but perhaps a simple face mask would cut down on both the sneezing and the irritation.  For me, it was well worth it.

Behold the beauty…

after2