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Old 06-01-2013, 01:11 PM   #21
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Thyme and chicken are made for each other. Hot pepper flakes, a bit at a time. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Bay leaves for soups and stews. So many good things!

Here's a spice chart: http://www.spiceadvice.com/newsa/usage/chart.html

Better Than Boullion makes a great sauce/soup/flavor base, and it comes in little jars in chicken, beef, ham, vegetable, and clam flavors. Chipotle Tabasco sauce is great stuff, adds a bit of smokiness without too much heat. You can add it to just about anything.
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Old 06-01-2013, 01:15 PM   #22
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here's a brief list you might find interesting (in no particular order):
cumin, oregano, basil, thyme, cinnamon (yes you can use it in savory dishes as well as sweet), chile powder.
Some blends I find interesting:garam masala, chinese 5 spice powder, old bay (generally used for seafood but I have used it in soups and stews).
Be warned when using these blends; a little goes a long way and too much can overwhelm the other flavors in a dish in a hurry.
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Old 06-01-2013, 05:22 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Stinky_Sullivan View Post
Reading back over the suggestions, I'm now a bit confused and have a few questions. First I should tell you how I fix my chicken and rice. I assume you haven't watched my YouTube video.

I cut up a medium onion in the tray. I put a keg quarter or a couple if thighs on top of that. I then put water around the tray to control the cooking temperature. I let it cook for 2 hours. After 2 hours, the chicken is falling off the bone and there's quite a bit of liquid in the tray. I then pick out the chicken skin and bones and add 3/4 cup par boiled rice and let it cook for 30 min more. With 3/4 cup, the rice will be on the wet side. If I want it dryer, I add 1 cup instead of 3/4 cup.

PAG, with your suggestions, what do I need to change in my procedures? I can't just add those ingredients. First, there isn't room in the pan. Second, there would be too much liquid with some of those.

When it comes to the herbs and spices, please suggest quantities. I have NO CLUE how much to use. That's the artist side of cooking. I'm an engineer. I can do it if a robot can do it. Beyond that, you couldn't eat what I try to throw together.
After reading your updates to the post I went to You Tube and found your video. The biggest hurtle I see with some of the things I suggested is the size of your cooking tool. I didn't get exactly how small it was. I think that can be gotten around though.

I'm assuming you have some sort of refrigeration with you since you mentioned you buy the chicken in larger bags. If that's not the case and you just buy the chicken you need when you need it, please let me know and I will further adjust.

So here is a rundown of changes to your method and amounts of spices I recommend starting with for my various suggestions. I'm going on the blander side for the spices since you are not used to using many and because you can always add more but you're kind of out of luck if you use too much.

You could add a can of tomatoes, maybe even the pre-seasoned ones (chili ready, with italian spices, with peppers and onions). One recipe we do in the slowcooker sometimes is chicken cooked with tomatoes and green beans over rice. The spices vary.

For this one you might just have to go with a two step process. I would say cook the chicken, remove the bones and skin and discard, then remove the chicken and set aside in a seeled container. If you wrap a dish towel or some such around the container it will help it stay warm.

Add half the can of tomatoes, drain the beans and add half of them. Save the other half can for use later in the day or the next day. Add the rice and cook with the tomatoes and green beans. Add the chicken back in once it's done. If you find it is too liquidy, try using a starchier rice and stir it as it cooks. It might help thicken the liquid and make it more sauce like. Add the chicken once everything is done.

Alternatively, you could leave the chicken in and only use 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup of rice and make it more of a soup with rice and chicken.

Spices for this, I would start with one of the following:

1/4 tsp chili powder or tex-mex seasons blend
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
1/4 tsp corriander

You can also add your standard salt and pepper.

This one I think would be the least likely to work well just because of the size limitation of your pan and possibly limitation of refrigeration space.


You could add a can of beans and a creole seaoning blend.

If you are adding the beans, you shouldn't need to use as much chicken. I would say cook the chicken quarter, then reserve half of it for later use. Just make sure to refrigerate it. Drain the can of beans and add half of them to the chicken (kidney beans, red beans, great northern beans or black beans should all work well). Add the rice and 1/4 tsp creole or cajun seasoning.

When you use the second half of the chicken you will need to add water to the pan for the rice since the liquid would have been used up in the first round. But on the bright side, you don't have to wait for the chicken to cook the second time around and if you find it a little bland you can add a tiny bit of chicken base (teany little pinch, less then 1/8 tsp to start).

You could add saffron and/or tumeric and a little green salasa.

Saffron is admittedly one of the more expensive spices so you might want to hold off on trying it until you can find a restaraunt with a dish that uses it. You wouldn't want to pay for it only to find out you don't like it. But if that isn't a conern, then by all means go for it.

Saffron comes in thin threads, they are part of a flower, so measuring them can be a bit tricky. I recommend kind of crumbling them with your fingers until the various pieces are about 1/8 in to 1/4 in long. Start with 1/4 tsp of them (yes, there will be a lot of air in that 1/4 tsp) and go up or down from there. For the tumeric, start with 1/8 tsp and adjust from there.

For the green salsa, start with a 1/4 cup of it. It shouldn't add too much extra liquid that you have to adjust anything in your method beyond maybe leaving the onions out (most salsas already have onion in them).

Add a can of tomato paste and some water to thin it, then an italian seasoning blend or a tex-mex blend.

You probably don't have to change anything in your method with this. Tomato paste is pretty thick stuff. You might want to start out only adding half the can of it though. For seaoning amounts, start with 1tsp italian blend or 1/4 tsp tex-mex/mexican seasoning (taco seasoning, burrito seasoning, chili seasoning, and such) blend.

Add a can of corn or creamed corn, a little garlic and onion. Maybe some dried parsely or chives to green it up a bit.

For this one only add half the can of corn or creamed corn. Probably a two step process on this. Cook the chicken, remove and set aside, cook the rice and corn. If you use regular corn you'll want to drain it. If you use cream corn this will come out similar to a chowder. Add the meat back in once the rice is done.

For spice amounts I would say 1tsp of either or both spices would be a good start. They are pretty mild spices.

Buy a ready made pesto and cook the chicken and rice unseasoned or sparingly seasoned, then mix in the pesto.

For this, you are adding the pesto after everything is cooked so your normal method should be fine. Mix the pesto in a spoonful at a time (like, eating spoon) until it coats everything. You can test it after each spoonful to see where it's at.

Add a jar (or partial jar) of salsa.

Several options on this. First, you can try different salsas, taco sauces, picante sauces, burrito sauces, etc. You'll find some are chunky and some aren't, some are thicker and some are more liquidy.

For something chunkier start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup and add it to the chicken when you start cooking it. You can leave the onions out as a chunkier salsa will already have onions in it. If the salsa is really liquidy you can try draining it before you add it. If it's pretty thick you shouldn't need to do anything different from your norm, you'll just have more of a sauce around everything.

For something not chunky like Pace picante sauce, try starting with a tablespoon of it. You shouldn't need to change anything in your cooking process.

Add pre-made alfredo sauce and some brocoli or asparagus (if fresh veggies aren't practical you can go with a canned veggie like green beans).

For this one you are going to add the alfredo sauce after everything is cooked, then let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes more to heat it and let the flavors blend. Start with 1/3 cup and go from there. You shouldn't need to change anything else.

If you add vegetables I would cook them seperately. If you are interested in doing more meals that involve two parts to cooking them it might be worth seeing if you can find a second pan like the one you already have for the cooker. It looks like it's a pretty basic foil pan. They should stack inside each other easily enough when clean so it wouldn't take up much space for storage and if you are using it primarily for things like vegetables it would be easy to clean so shouldn't add too much to cleanup time. Just an idea for the future.

Add grated cheese to it.

For this one, you can get the packages of pre grated cheese in re-sealable bags. Maybe try a cheddar/jack or colby/jack blend to start out. I would just sprinkle a little in after it's all done and stir it around. See how it is and then sprinkle in a little more. I mean, this one is going to be really flexible and really difficult to make inedible unless you don't like cheese and then you can just skip it entirely.

Add sour cream, chili powder, and a can of chilis to it.

You can find small cans of diced green chiles (4oz). They don't take up much extra room in the pan. For this, drain the chilis and add them to the chicken as it cooks. Also add 1/4 tsp chili powder. Add the sour cream a spoonful at a time after everything is cooked, including the rice, until it reaches the desired taste.

Add hot sauce to it.

Depending on the type of hot sauce this could be as little as a 1/4 tsp to as much as 1tblsp. If the hot sauce is really hot or vinegary, start with 1/4 tsp. If it is really mild and doesn't have much vinegar, start with a tablespoon. If it's somewhere in between start with 1tsp. Add it to the chicken at the start of cooking. Add more at the end of cooking if desired. You shouldn't need to change anything else in your method.

Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, some black pepper, a little bit of sage and/or thyme.

Start with your normal cook method. Add the thyme and/or sage to the chicken at the start. If using one spice, start with 1/8tsp. If using both do half that of each. Poultry season mixes often have both sage and thyme so that might be a good substitute. Add the cream of mushroom soup a spoonful at a time until it's where you want it.

Add a can of french onion soup.

So, if you already end up with a lot of liquid you might be better off using french onion soup packets. I'd start out with that. One packed added at the same time the rice is and mixed in well.

Add soy sauce, a can of pinapple and some fresh from the jar sweet and sour sauce (or teryaki sauce, or pad thai sauce, or other from a jar/bottle asian sauce). Ginger would be good in it too.

Get the crushed pineapple for this. You can drain off some of the juice by pressing the lid down and squeezing out the excess. Add 1/2 cup of it to the chicken at start of cook time. Add 1tsp soy sauce and 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger. Cook your normal way. Add the jarred sauce of choice a spoonful at a time after everything is done.

Get a jar of curry paste (green, red, peanut, etc) and add some of that to it.

Start with 1tsp of desired curry paste. Adjust from there. Add it when you add the rice.

Add curry powder and lime or lemon to it.

1/4tsp curry powder, 1/2tsp lemon or lime juice, your normal cooking method should work fine.

Other thoughts:

PF's idea about rehydrating a spice and seeing what it's like is a good one. So is the suggestion of using spice mixes instead of individual spices if you are short on storage space.

Also remember you don't have to try everything right away. Pick one and, especially for any that use only parts of a jar or can or such, then when the ingredients for that run out pick up the ingredients for a different varient.

If you still have questions about anything I posted please let me know and I'll try to answer them. Hope my clarifications help.
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Old 06-01-2013, 05:38 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
I take it you have not tasted your spices...pick two you would like to try. Hydrate 1/4 teaspoon in a little water and taste it...do you like that flavor? Mix them together, is it still appealing? This works for blends, too...taste them before adding to your food. Your wife most likely has a few spices hanging around so you don't have to run out and buy a bunch. Learnig the individual flavor of each spice is the best way to determine which is in a recipe that needs to be adjusted.
Spices are largely aeromatic so another trick to use to see if spices will work together is to smell them. Breath them in through your mouth, then close your mouth and breath them slowly out through your nose. If one seems too strong try moving it further away when you smell them than the others. Play with them this way and whichever ones are closer, add more of them, which ever ones are farther, add less of them. Usually if the spice mixe smells good it will taste good too. Not fool proof, but it can help you figure out balances and combinations. You can also smell a spice (through your nose) with a moutful of whatever you are thinking about adding it to and get an idea of how it will work out.

Also remember to start out with less than you think you need. The flavors will often intensify as they cook and blend, and you can always add a little more spice if it's not enough. It's going backward that is difficult.

Don't be afraid to add a small amount of a spice to a sample amount of an ingredient. It won't be quite the same as once it's cooked in but it will be close enough to let you know if it's going to be edible and you can work toward good and even great from there.

Honestly, creating a recipe can be just as methodical as engineering. You just have to learn how to apply your problem solving skills to the new data (taste and smell).
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Old 06-01-2013, 05:52 PM   #25
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Woops, forgot one.

Do you like spicy hot foods? If so you can add a can of diced chilis, some chili powder and maybe some cumin and corriander.

You should be able to add a 4oz can of diced chiles, just drain them and add at the start of cooking your chicken. 1/2tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp corriander, 1/4 tsp cumin. Adjust from there.
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Old 06-01-2013, 06:01 PM   #26
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Honestly, creating a recipe can be just as methodical as engineering. You just have to learn how to apply your problem solving skills to the new data (taste and smell).
Yes, what she said...
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Old 06-01-2013, 11:03 PM   #27
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How long does it take to cook things in this? Like say a meatloaf.
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:14 AM   #28
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PAG, it's going to take me months to try all that. I'm up for the challenge.

Frank, it took about 2 hrs to do a meatloaf. It might take less. I put it in and checked it after 2 hrs and it was perfect.
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:19 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by purple.alien.giraffe View Post
Woops, forgot one.

Do you like spicy hot foods? If so you can add a can of diced chilis, some chili powder and maybe some cumin and corriander.

You should be able to add a 4oz can of diced chiles, just drain them and add at the start of cooking your chicken. 1/2tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp corriander, 1/4 tsp cumin. Adjust from there.
I don't like HOT food buy I do like a little bite to it. Or, as a friend once said, a little pic to it. I like peppers and hot sauce but in moderation.

I do have a cooler on the truck. I don't use one of the electric coolers. I have a 40 qt cooler that I just put ice in. I have a set of the good Rubbermaid containers for food storage.
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Old 06-02-2013, 10:06 AM   #30
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I fixed a batch last night. I added a tablespoon or so of "chicken taco" seasoning that I picked up from Walmart. It was I nice change from the chicken bouillon. Salt was needed too. I didn't add the seasoning until after everything was cooked. After that was eaten up, I made a batch of just rice and added the seasoning at the beginning. I'll use that method from now on. It takes less seasoning. I'm sure you all will tell me it's always that way. When I tried adding the chicken bouillon with the rice at the beginning, it barely had any flavor but I was able to use less by adding it afterwards.

Today I'm going to try Sazon Goya. My student recommended it. I've never seen it before so we'll see how good it is. I'll be trying some of the combo's PAG suggested after I pick up my new truck on Monday. I will also be picking up another stove. Two stoves will let me cook 2 dishes at once and have them ready at once. No waiting for biscuits 30 min after my entre is done. I'll also be able to cook up a bunch of chicken during my breaks and have it deboned and ready for when I need it.

As I try each new dish, I will document the process for the benefit of other drivers. I hope to make a Truckers E-Cookbook focused on using 12v appliances so drivers will know they can have hot food and healthy food without having to spend a lot of money at the truck stop.
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