I just had the most awesome weekend, and I’m sitting here on a Wednesday, thinking back to how I wish it didn’t come to an end.
Mr. FIL and I decided last minute to pick up and go to the city for the weekend. AKA: Toronto. Last minute plans for me usually stress me out. I’m one of those planny-planners who is annoying and likes to have every detail planned in advance. Reservations made, departure/arrival times set, exact locations. I’m sure you can either relate, or have someone in your life who likes to take on planning.
That’s why this weekend was awesome. The only thing I planned ahead was dinner Friday night. Mostly because if you don’t make reservations on a Friday night, you don’t get in anywhere.
It’s always so hard to decide where to eat when you go to a big city, because it’s so diverse and there’s so many great restaurants… there’s Italian, Indian, Asian, Greek, British, Mediterranean, Mexican and the list goes on and on.
Friday we chose Italian. You definitely can’t go wrong with pizza and pasta.
Confession time: the food blogger did not take one picture of the food we ate this weekend. Which is a bummer. Because we had some pretty awesome food. Smoked bacon and roasted red pepper pizza, tomato basil pasta, pork tacos, giant margaritas…
I did however, get pictures of my date for the weekend. 🙂
Saturday we met up with family and hit up the Christmas market in the Distillery District. If you’ve never gone, I highly recommend it. It’s only $6 to get in, and it’s so beautiful. They have it all decorated, there’s a countdown to Christmas, a big tree fully decorated, and lots of cute little vendors. There’s an endless supply of different foods, and you can walk around and drink spiked hot chocolate, or enjoy one of the outdoor beer gardens.
It’s like a whole other world in there. The distillery district is one of the oldest parts of Toronto, and it’s beautiful. With old warehouses, brick-lined streets, it’s just got an old-world charm. Right inside the city. It’s fun to visit any time of the year, but Christmas is extra special and fun. It really gets me into the spirit. It’s such a fun thing to do with the family, regardless of age.
Mr. FIL and I love to drink wine and eat good food. Especially when we’re in the city. We have a few favourite spots that we hit up, but we also love scoping out and trying new places. We discovered a few new spots on the weekend, some we will definitely return to. We love people-watching, and hit up the Broadview Hotel in the east end for a drink. It was a perfect spot to people watch.
This hotel was closed for years, and just re-opened this year. It has been completely re-stored, and it’s absolutely beautiful. We sat at the bar, and the room had floor to ceiling windows, 20 foot high ceilings, and the bar was very swanky. It felt like we were right back in the 1920’s. Some people were dressed up, others casual, and it was a great spot to watch the bartenders work their magic, and watch the flow of people coming in and out of the hotel.
Before we go away, I always make sure to try and have an empty fridge, cause I feel like it’s better to come home to an empty fridge than a fridge full of bad food. On the way home Sunday, I was thinking about what was in my fridge, and what I could whip up for dinner, without having to run to the grocery store. I had been wanting to try this chicken and wild rice recipe that I found on Pinterest a while back, and it was the perfect opportunity to whip it up for dinner!
I quickly checked the recipe to make sure I had everything at home, and I did. Carrots and onions? Check. Chicken broth, sweet potato, wild rice and chicken breasts? Check. Spices? Check. Now I’m excited!
A few blog posts ago, I mentioned that I was making a commitment to pull out my slow-cooker more this winter and keep the dust off of it! Well I’m so proud, I’ve already had it out twice in a month!! I know some people swear by their slow-cookers, but mine spends more time in the cupboard than on my counter.
So what exactly is this recipe I’m sharing? It’s a wild rice and chicken “casserole.” Parts of it remind me of a stew, other parts remind me of a casserole, so it’s kind of hard to determine exactly what to call it. But, it’s so hearty, and so good for you. It’s full of vegetables, chicken and wild rice, which has tons of nutrients, and adds a bit of crunch.
To start, chop and dice one medium sized onion and sweet potato, and two or three medium sized carrots. Mince two cloves of garlic. Turn the slow-cooker on high, and light grease the bottom. I just used a bit of butter, you really don’t need a lot. Add the veggies to the slow cooker.
Next, put the wild rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse it for a few minutes under cold water. This removes excess starch. Once the water has drained, add the rice to the slow cooker.
What surprised me about this recipe is actually the spices. I never thought to use poultry seasoning and paprika, but that’s exactly what is called for. And it’s so awesome!
Next add three cups of the chicken broth, then the minced garlic, poultry seasoning, bay leaves, parsley and paprika.
Confession time: the poultry seasoning was the only thing I didn’t have at home!!! I ran out super quickly to the small grocery store down the road from my house, and they didn’t have it!!!!!! Whaaaat?! I literally walked around for 20 minutes trying to find it, and asked about 4 people that worked there. Nothing.
So, back-up plan: make my own. I googled what is in poultry seasoning, and it’s actually super easy. Marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, nutmeg and pepper. I grabbed everything I needed and went home. I measured out the herbs, and ground them up in my food processor. While it worked well, I can’t say it’s something I would do again. Soooo much easier just to buy it pre-made. Lesson learned.
Add the chicken breasts, and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The chicken should be cooked through, and the rice nice and tender, with a bit of crunch, and most of the liquid absorbed.
Note: The recipe that I adapted mine from says it’s not recommended to cook this slow and slow. I agree. It’s best to cook it on high, and have it fully cooked in a couple of hours.
Now we need to thicken what is left of the sauce!
In a small saucepan, melt butter on low heat, and slowly whisk in the flour. Cook the roux for one minute, then slowly whisk in 1 cup of chicken broth. I also added a packet of chicken bouillon for extra flavour. Allow the mixture to thicken, then add the milk, and let it thicken again.
Shred the chicken in the slow cooker then add the cream mixture and cheddar cheese. Adjust the seasonings to taste, and remove the bay leaves.
Then it’s ready to eat!
I think an awesome fresh bun/roll would be super delicious with this stew. I didn’t think about it at the time, but next time I might whip up some cheddar cauliflower muffins to go with it.
And a side note: the person who isn’t a fan of leftovers (this girl right here) LOVED it even more the next day. Once these flavours had time to marry overnight, it was even better!!
P.S. stay tuned. Christmas is nearing and I’ve got lots of goodies up my sleeve to share. 🙂 And an idea for an awesome Christmas morning breakfast 😉