Yesterday’s Freezer Cooking Session was so simple that it’s hard to even say it qualifies as a Freezer Cooking in an Hour session. And I guess that’s the beauty of letting your appliances do the work for you.
I stuck all of the ingredients for the Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls in the bread machine.
The chocolate chips sort of jumped out of the freezer while I was getting the yeast out… so I had to help the bag be a little lighter so it wouldn’t keep jumping out of the freezer like it always seems to. 😉
And then I dumped all of the ingredients for the Southwestern Slow Cooker 2-Bean Chicken in the crockpot. That was just about the easiest recipe known to man… er, woman.
A little while later, I came back and rolled out the Cinnamon Rolls, let them rise, and baked them.
A few hours later, I turned off the crockpot. And I was D-O-N-E with this week’s freezer cooking. Talk about simple, it almost seems a little hypocritical to label it as a Freezer Cooking Session.
But hey, on a busy week like this week, I’ll take it. 🙂
Recipes I Made:
Southwestern Slow Cooker 2-Bean Chicken — So easy, but we thought it was somewhat lacking in flavor. Anyone have suggestions or ideas on things I should try adding next time around?
Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls — These are SO good. If you haven’t tried them, you are seriously missing out. Just sayin’.
Kerrie Wilson says
Any chef will tell you that a food cooked without salt and pepper will never taste good, it will be bland. A good recipe should always have those two ingredients listed. 🙂 Happy cooking.
I would add onion powder, oregano, and chili powder. Maybe even 1/2 of a squeezed lime.
I made the cinnamon rolls up last night and put them in the fridge for this morning. The kids were so excited to try them. They are definitely a hit! We are stuck in the house for the day, as we are in the midst of an ice storm, so I am pretty sure none of them will make it to the freezer!
Instead of plain tomatoes, I would use chili tomatoes, the ones with chili powder or green chilies added. I haven’t use regular tomatoes in years and my family is happy…LOL!
You could try adding a can of enchilada sauce. I made a soup that called for it and it gave it a nice flavor. You can choose a mild version to keep it from being too spicy. Hope that helps!
I haven’t read all the suggestions for increasing the flavor of your Slow Cooker Southwestern 2 Bean Chicken, but my first thought was that it’s very low fat with chicken breasts and no oils of sauteeing to help carry flavor you can sometimes have flat tasting things in long, slow cooking. I personally don’t care for breast meat cooked so long because it loses flavor. Using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts can give you more flavor. While boneless, skinless chicken thighs don’t seem to go on sale around me as often as breasts, the bone-in thighs and legs do. It will take a little more work to remove the meat at the end of cooking, but you would end up with a more flavorful sauce. You can chill it, skim some of the fat and debone the meat the following day for portioning into meals. If you really want to stick to chicken breasts, I would cut them up into bite size pieces (again more work, but perhaps less than what would be needed for the bone-in thighs) and not cook for more like 3-4 hours instead of 5-7 because the flavors of not just the meat, but the salsa break down over such a long time. At the end, stir in a little butter or whatever fat you like to cook with (coconut oil, olive oil, all good healthy fats and “clean”).
Really good flavorful shredded chicken tends be cooked with its skin and bones and it later shredded down, when it’s cooked as boneless-skinless breasts it tends to be flavorless with long cooking. So, even using bone-in breasts would give you a big boost in flavor, but too long of a cooking time on breast meat can really over-do it even when it’s in a liquid.
As I already mentioned about long slow cooking leeching flavor, I’ve learned that using whole spices helps a lot. So for a chili, I would use a whole dried pepper in the crock and remove it before serving. (My mom used dried banana peppers from our garden to flavor simmered ‘barbecue’ beef in this way.) There are so many peppers available now and you know your family’s taste, I wouldn’t know which one to recommend. Even 5 or six whole peppercorns can really nicely season a crock of stew/soup (just make sure you remember to account for all the peppercorns when you are serving it).
I think on the Southwest 2-bean chicken you could add some flavor by adding some cumin and a can (4 or 7 oz.) of chopped green chilis. Of course if it only has 54 mg of sodium per serving, you really might need just a little more.
Add Rotel tomatoes instead of plain tomatoes!
Onion and/or minced garlic.
I make a similar recipe and I just use the equivalent of two cans of black beans and 2 cans of corn with Jack’s fresh salsa on top of the corn, beans and chicken. The cilantro and spices from the salsa give it a lot of flavor. Maybe the extra tomatoes water it down a bit. And I have to say, my family lOVES the cinnamon roles! Too bad For them I am on a diet and don’t have the willpower to make them!
Catina Mount says
This might be a silly question…after cooking the chili do you freeze it and that is why it qualifies as “freezer cooking” or is it labeled freezer cooking because some of the ingredients came from the freezer? As a full-time working mother, my crock pot is my “go-to” and I’m trying to make my way into freezer cooking….newbie here. 🙂
Freezer cooking to me = that I actually freeze it after I make it. But you can make it whatever you want it to be. 🙂
Catina Mount says
How long would you estimate the cinnamon rolls take from start to finish?
It’s usually just 15-20 minutes of effort time, however, it’s about 2.5 hours from start to finish if you use the longer dough cycle on your bread machine.
I think I underestimated the time it would take this morning. Late breakfast it is 🙂
Thanks for your reply !
I’m so sorry… I think they’ll be worth it! 🙂
Oh My! Soooooo worth it times 10!!! I added a little cream cheese to the frosting because I was short on powdered sugar. I die!!!
Thank you for your amazing website. I am so grateful for you and all your tips.
Oh yay! I’m SO glad to hear they were a success!
susan l. says
I think cilantro…especially dried would be great here…it would make it almost like my favorite chicken tortilla soup recipe
I know this adds a bit of work… but only a few minutes and it is the hands down easiest way to add flavor.
In a skillet, saute a chopped onion in a little fat (butter, olive oil, etc.) until just starting to brown. Add spices that match the dish you are making… southwest; cumin, chili powder, garlic…cook for a minute or two more. Add a bit of liquid from the diced canned tomatoes and stir pan to get all the little browned bits up. Dump into slow-cooker and add everything else.
If you start this step first, then by the time you wash, open and pour everything else in, you really aren’t out much time. 🙂
I would either use regular tomatoes vs. Low salt or add in a bit of salt. Also would add some chopped sweet (like vidalia ) onion and chili powder. Another thing you could try would be to look at your favorite beef chili recipe and see what spices are added that you are missing. Good luck and many thanks for the recipes.
I would recommend replacing the canned tomatoes with Rotel tomatoes with green chilies . I would reduce the salsa and add garlic and cumin.
We made one that is basically the same. We add 15 oz can tomato sauce, 15 oz can diced tomatoes, 15 oz can black beans (drained), 15 oz can corn (drained), small can of diced green chilis, 2 chicken breast, and olives if you like them. Place in the slower cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Serve with torilla chips, cheese and sour cream. LOVE IT!
Others have mentioned this but I’d say, after reading the recipe, that it’s lacking in salt. At least, the emphasis on watching the sodium was my clue. Not everyone needs to do that!
Sauteed onions always lend a depth of flavor, certainly, and that’s lacking in a lot of crockpot recipes. Fresh cilantro sounds good, too.
I think others have mentioned it, but I made something similar this week and using Rotel tomatoes with peppers gave it some kick. My recipe didn’t have salsa, but called for a packet of ranch dressing mix, which I didn’t want to use, so I googled how to make it. I ended up using onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, black pepper and a few grains of coarse salt. Definitely had a lot of flavor.
As for the chili… Lots of cumin, garlic, onion, and smoked Spanish paprika.. and/or use a chili powder blend.. I have some dried smoked chipotle and it is out of this world awesome if you like that smokey flavor… Chipotle chili powder…super cheap at San Francisco Herb Company… where you buy in 1# packages for cheap! sfherb.com
I would add some cumin or a can of green chilies, or both. 🙂 It didn’t have hardly any spice in it, salsa doesn’t have enough to carry that whole thing, so adding in some cumin, chili powder, a dash of cayenne or some red pepper flakes would help!
Liz E. says
I do alot of cooking by “feel”. I would also add some cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, & “Ancho” Chile powder. I like using this because it adds a depth of flavor, but is MILD for the kiddos. Also, drain the tomatoes, since you are adding the salsa, & replace with chicken broth. Dash or two of black pepper. Since you are adding chicken broth, I would check towards end of cooking if you need any additional salt.
I would suggest 1TBS chili powder, too. Maybe black olives if your family likes them. I made a cheesy beans and rice that is very good and the chili powder helps it be pretty flavorful.
I have a similar recipe. I also put in mine sweet red peppers and bleck olives. About 30 min before it is done I add a block of cream cheese. When melted I mix it in real good. My kids like it served over rice.
Allie Zirkle says
Add a packet of taco seasoning. Works great to kick up the flavor! Organic or homemade work great too!
Heather @ My Kansas Life says
Mmmm…those cinnamon rolls look great! I made English muffins and wheat tortillas for my freezer cooking this week. I love having “fresh” baked goods to pull out in a pinch.
Nicole Giordano says
First I want to say how much I appreciate you and all of your encouraging articles- whether it’s about cooking, mothering, organizing or trying to be more like Christ thru all of it- I really appreciate you! That being said– maybe try some cumin in your recipe or fresh cilantro 🙂
i skip the salsa and add 1 can of Rotel tomatoes and 1 can of chopped tomatoes. Also, use a 1/2 packet of dry ranch dressing and 1/4 packet of chili seasoning.
Crystal.. do you freeze your cinnamon rolls??? after you bake them??? mmm how do they turn out??
Yes… if any make it to the freezer. 🙂
Thanks for the great recipes. The chili looks really good and some of the suggestions in the comments for additions will be worth a try. After following your blog for a long time, we have finally started doing some freezer cooking and it makes life SO much easier. And it is also nice to have meals on hand to share with friends who are struggling with illness, etc.
My chocolate chips always jump out at me too! I have to pick up a bag almost every time I go to the store because I have great intentions to bake something, but then my chocolate chips are always almost gone! Sad. I need to have my husband hide them from me I guess.
I put mine in the freezer in the basement so they are a little harder to get at! 😉
The Gentle Mom says
I’ve been making that chicken recipe for years, but I always include some Mexican seasonings – chili, cumin, etc.- and I always use salsa that I know is flavorful. Be sure to serve it with a good, strong tasting cheese, and plenty of sour cream. It makes all the difference!
Lea Stormhammer says
I had to laugh about your “easiest recipe” comment. While you often talk about keeping your cooking simple it often looks quite complicated compared to what we do. This would be a “complicated” recipe at our house!
I would brown the chicken first with seasoning salt, powdered garlic, pepper and some other things. I would also use a can or two of rotell instead tomatoes.
Thanks for posting your freezer cooking each week. It is encouraging to see how much can be done in a short amount of time. I try each weekend to put two or three things in my freezer for the next week’s meals. What a difference that makes for me!
I just made a very similar recipe to the Southwestern recipe yesterday. It has chili powder, cumin, and garlic in it. Super yummy. We put it in tortillas or hard shell taco shells and top it with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, salsa, or taco sauce. Each to their own liking. My son doesn’t really like that way so he had it on leftover rice.
While not much made it to the freezer, we did a lot of regular cooking that doesn’t usually get done. I made a huge stockpot of chicken broth (first time) that was a huge success using chicken legs that were on sale! Who knew it could be so easy?! While that was cooking, I first roasted a head of cauliflower, then when that was done I roasted a whole chicken, and made Crockpot Lasagna Soup. A busy night for sure, but we got 4 meals out of it so far, plus the bones for more chicken stock and 2 quarts of the stock I made is now in the freezer 🙂
Oh yeah, Wednesday night, we made homemade Ritz crackers.. time consuming, but oh so good. (there were none left to store.. but maybe next time!)
Sarah Pinault says
I have a very similar recipe for Pork – Cumin and Chilli powder will make a world of difference. http://mainemummy.blogspot.com/2010/02/ode-to-my-slow-cooker.html
I think add some onion green pepper and some garlic . Crystal look up white bean chicken chili I think that’s what it’s called it is good navy beans chicken and couple more things we love ! Love you!
After you make your cinnamon rolls do you let them rise or bake them before you freeze or can you just cut them and put them in a freezer bag and pull out what you need for later. Thanks 🙂
I’d add a package of (or we make our own) taco seasoning.
We really like this recipe: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/11/salsa-chicken-and-black-bean-soup.html?m=1 . It looks really similar to the one you tried, but up the salsa, take away the canned tomatoes, add cumin and use chicken broth and dry beans instead of canned. We omit the mushrooms and add some lime juice as well. It is sooo yummy. sometimes I add a bit of sugar too (when it is cooking it smells like it should have a slightly sweet element to it).
Add one packet each of ranch seasoning & taco seasoning to the 2 bean chicken & the result is amazing!!
I would love to hear how you pack this up, separate it, and freeze it as well. I am new to freezer cooking. This seems like an easy enough recipe 🙂
Cinthia Adair says
I tend to go for fresh over canned, but I can appreciate the simplicity of this recipe on one of “those” weeks. I would scrap the salsa, and add fresh onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, a pinch of salt, and depending on how your family tolerates heat, Serrano peppers or diced green chiles. That would make it taste more like burrito fillings with fresh salsa! You could take flour tortillas and make bowls out of them by flipping a cupcake pan upside down, placing the tortillas in the “valleys”, and baking them at 375 for 10 minutes. Another direction to go that makes it more like chili is to add cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Serve it over top of a slab of cornbread! YUM!
I think the other readers have some good suggestions for the chicken. I have a couple others: boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of the chicken breasts, lime juice and perhaps browning the chicken thighs first. Maybe also cooking some garlic & onions after browning the chicken? It seems like it’s missing a depth of flavor that you could get from browning and/or some heartier flavors.
We make a similiar chicken dish, but we add homemade taco seasoning and a block of cream cheese at the end.
I’ll try to do that next week! Thanks for the reminder!
Fresh cilantro! That, along with ground cumin and chili powder is what I would use to jazz up the chicken.
If I were making this, I would omit the salsa and put in a can of tomato sauce and put taco seasoning directly on the chicken.
I must have totally missed the rising step with the bread machine cinnamon rolls. I made them a couple of weekends ago, rolled them out, & popped them right into the oven. They turned out well. Guess I just lucked out that round. 🙂
That sounds similar to a recipe we love around here:
Oops, didn’t mean that as a “reply.” Sorry!
I love making this recipe! It freezes well too. I call it my homemade Chipotle 🙂
Becky, I make these all the time, and I never let them “rise”. I do put them in the refrigerator overnight, but they are still flat in the morning. They seem to rise in the oven. In fact, I have to carefully choose what pan to back them in, because they will rise so much they will fill the pan no matter what size I have chosen!
I do use SAF instant yeast, so I don’t know if that makes a difference. I did not see anything about them rising in the recipe, though.
I love this recipe!
They don’t have to have the second rise if you don’t have time or don’t want to mess with it. I often just let them rise a little and then bake them. It depends upon how much time I have!
Try replacing the can of pinto beans with a can of ranch style beans…maybe even with jalapeños.
Mary Ellen says
Who has done chicken like this in a crock pot? I’ve seen the recipes state put chicken ” on the bottom” or put chicken “on the top” of the ingredients. Which is best?
Could you substitute Rotel for the canned tomatoes?
My thought exactly!! 🙂
Since it’s a southwestern style recipe, what about throwing in some homemade taco seasoning?
I’d add taco seasoning.
I just made this soup tonight. Mine uses chili beans (I use mild) instead of pinto, and calls for a taco seasoning packet. I don’t buy those anymore to avoid the msg, but instead use Heavenly Homemaker’s (heavenlyhomemakers.com) homemade taco seasoning. (Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and sea salt). We top with sour cream, grated cheese, avocado, fresh tomato, chips……..yum. Tonight I made corn bread to go with it because we had no tortilla chips. Easiest meal ever. 🙂
Add taco seasoning. I make something similar except I add the chicken to the crock pot, then sprinkle a packet of taco seasoning over it and then add everything else. We have it as tacos in either crunchy shells or warmed corn tortillas with sour cream cheese and avacado. It is super easy and so yummy and one of my husbands favorite meals.
I add adobo to everything! Maybe also try some sazón. Find in the Hispanic foods section.
The comments on the recipe also suggested chilli powder and cumin.
I agree! Adobo makes everything taste better!
Katie @ Cincinnati Cents says
We often make a variation of this recipe that our family loves. I don’t add beans into the crockpot as our one son doesn’t care for them, but I have them available as an addition for those who do.
Chicken & Rice Bowls
5 large boneless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
1 jar salsa
1 bag frozen corn
4 cups cooked rice
Place chicken, broth, salsa, and corn into crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Serve over cooked rice. Top with cheese and sour cream.
Better yet with the cinnamon rolls, after I get done cutting them, I flash freeze them on a cookie sheet then put them into a bag. When I want cinnamon rolls in the morning, I just lay them out the night before and they rise and are ready to bake. This way I have freshly made cinnamon rolls in the morning.
I also do the same thing with cookies. I flash freeze the cookie dough on the cookie sheet, then get out what I want to bake fresh. This way, if we only want a dozen cookies, I am not making a big batch at once and eating them all!
We make it this same recipe but with chicken, black beans, salsa and cream cheese. I often add some homemade taco seasoning to give it more flavor you can also just add some cumin and chili powder. Cooking in the crock pot will lessen the flavor of spices so you often need to add a bit more at the end.
that chicken recipe is similiar to chicken tortilla soup. I add diced green chilies, cumin, garlic, salt, chili powder, stuff like that.
Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs says
I agree that it is VERY similar to the soup. In our soup, I add 1c chili verde salsa. For the crockpot, I’d use green salsa instead of red. Here’s the measurements we use for soup (with 2Q stock): 2T taco seasoning, 1.5t cumin, 1t chili powder. No salt b/c w/canned tomatoes and we crush tortilla chips on top. Serve w/scoop of sour cream and sliced avocado. YUM!
Tammy Skipper (@Tammy_Skipper) says
Red pepper flakes or a can of diced green chiles…in a recipe that big, they won’t be too spicy, just add a little bite.
Karen McCratic says
To spice up the two bean chicken, you could add a can or two of green chilies…I know I would, it just screams green chilies to me!!
I was going to suggest using the diced tomatoes with green chilies instead of the plain ones.
The Southwestern Chicken Chili is very similar to a recipe I make from Allrecipes for Chicken Tortilla soup. Mine has chicken broth, onions, cumin, chili powder and lemon juice in addition to the ingredients your recipe has. We love it. I make it in the crockpot as well.
I would try adding some chili powder and cumin. Perhaps even a little cayenne.
You could add some cumin, salt, and some chipotles in adobo sauce. If the chipotles would be too much heat for your kids you can just spoon a bit of the adobo sauce in without adding the chipotles – you still get the smoke and warmth but not the heat 🙂
I wonder if omitting the canned tomatoes would be enough to help the 2 bean chicken? We make the recipe that I always see floating around with chicken, corn, black beans and salsa…and then you add cream cheese at the end. Not exactly clean eating that way, but I eat it without the cream cheese and then give it to my husband and kids with it, because it tends to be a bit more mild that way. I just wonder if the diced tomatoes water the flavor down a bit.
I agree with adding chili powder and cumin. I’d probably throw in some onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano as well.
I make that one too, only I don’t add the cream cheese at all. We shred the chicken and serve it either over rice or in tortillas, and everyone adds cheese and/or sour cream to taste at the table. The leftovers freeze amazingly well. It’s definitely a favorite in our house! Can’t beat the simplicity and it’s a crowd pleaser!
Which salsa you use would definitely make the difference with flavor – especially since there is NO other seasonings at all. I second the idea of chili powder and cumin, lots of cumin. I would also add some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. A nice alternative to cream cheese would be plain greek yogurt. I would also let people add a few slightly crushed tortilla chips at the table.
I make this; but, instead of canned tomatoes I use Rotel. Obviously you have children so they may/may not like it spicy. You could add sour cream or cream cheese to temper the heat of the Rotel (or use mild Rotel). My husband loves it. (I also do NOT put it in the crockpot…gets too dry). I throw it in a large pot (frozen chicken and all). Bring to a boil, simmer for a while then shred chicken and serve it over pasta or rice.
Jennifer S. says
I make a similar chicken recipe in the crockpot with the addition of a packet of taco seasoning. That might give it a little more flavor.
I was going to say the same thing. I make something like this and the taco seasoning makes a huge difference.
Jenn@ Couponing Away Debt says
That happens in your house too? Chocolate items seem to pop out on their own here also 😉 The chili looks really good, I am going to add that to my menu in the next few weeks!
Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone in my chocolate issues. 😉
Lauren @MomHomeGuide.com says
Hi! Thanks for the recipes! Would the cinnamon roll recipe work in a 1 lb breadmaker?
It should, though I’ve not tried it in that size.
I have a small bread machine too, makes 1lb or 1.5lb loafs. My manual says I can make my own dough but not to exceed 3 cups for my machine. I tried about 3.5 cups of flour earlier this week and at the end of the dough cycle, the dough had risen about an inch and a half past my pan. I would be careful and maybe try to halve the recipe for your machine. Hope this helps.
I use my mother-in-laws 1 lb old school bread machine. The dough does rise out of the pan during the last 15 minutes or so. I just let it rise and then clean up afterwards.
That’s the best kind of freezer cooking! We made some more gluten free muffins and gluten free waffles.
I think the chili could benefit from some chili powder and cumin. Looks like a good starting place though!
I was going to suggest those 2 ingredients also! 🙂
3rd. As soon as I read the recipe I thought, “This would be good with cumin and chili powder.”
I also might add a bit of cayenne, but we like things kind of spicy.
Me four. Definitely add chili powder & cumin. You could also add some garlic salt or garlic powder. I find that garlic makes just about anything better.
I’m jumping in on the cumin, chili powder and garlic bandwagon
I agree, made almost the same recipe this week but added cumin and chili powder, and salt and pepper. The recipe I used also added cream cheese and we served over rice, it was good!
Ok, that sounds amazing!