The close of the school year always throws me into a tailspin. It’s a spring storm of tying up loose ends, attending an overwhelming number of sports, music, academic, and social events, madly sorting details for summer plans, and riding my annual wave of nostalgia as I notice, once again, that my kids are one year older. It’s the time of year someone in my house is most likely to ask, “mommy, do you maybe want to go out for a walk?” which is code, for “you’re kinda losing it, mom.”
But this year I found a diversion for myself, something so pressing that the transition of spring into summer really had to wait: A dress. I needed, absolutely must find, couldn’t live without, a new dress for a wedding Mr. Mom’s Kitchen and I are attending this weekend. It was the perfect excuse to walk away from my giant list of “to dos,” to put summer entirely on hold, and most importantly, to avoid facing the gentle heartache over my oldest daughter graduating from 8th grade, which means, yes, she is going to high school.
So instead of sitting down with camp schedules and school calendars, instead of allowing my mind to plummet into teary nostalgia, I popped into boutiques, tried on dresses I can’t afford, perused websites, contemplated deeply discounted purchases on Gilt, bought and then promptly returned garments that were so wrong for me I don’t know who I was shopping for.
Which brings me to this chicken. Who has time for dinner when one is busy shopping for a dress in order to hide from one’s life? Indeed, this Slow Cooker Chicken is just the sort of thing we moms need when life get kooky and we find ourselves contemplating the virtues of Shredded Wheat for dinner.
The recipe is from a reader who generously shared it in the comments section of a post. Love that! With a few little tweaks, I’m delivering it back to you.
All that’s required is to slice an onion as thin as you can get it, roughly chop a bunch of chard, get everything into the pot, and flip the switch. The chicken cooks until fork tender in a tasty brew of tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and herbs.
The recipe calls for boxed tomatoes instead of canned as a way to avoid BPA, a chemical used to line cans (see side-bar on my homepage for details on BPA). If you can’t find boxed tomatoes, substitute a 28-ounce can.
When dinnertime draws near, cook up pasta, brown rice, farro, or other grain and tuck that underneath the chicken. A chunk of good quality Parmesan and a grater make a suitable garnish.
As for the dress, I ended up shopping in my very own closet and found exactly what I needed. I’m now, just finally, filling in that calendar, letting the tears fall as my mind travels through Isabelle’s grade school years, and looking forward to summer.
The last one before high school.
Slow Cooker Chicken with Balsamic, Tomatoes and Swiss Chard
This is a super flavorful, savory dish with juicy, tender chicken that’s delicious over a swirl of spaghetti or other favorite grain. It also makes a dynamite leftover along with crusty bread for soaking up all those tasty juices.
Serves 4 to 6
• 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 large red onion, very thinly sliced
• 4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
• 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1 26-ounce box chopped tomatoes (such as the POMI brand)
• 1/2 teaspoon dried, chopped rosemary
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed, roughly chopped
Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
Put onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes (juice included), rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano into the crock pot and stir well.
Nestle the chicken pieces into the tomatoes. Turn crock pot to high.
Cook until the chicken is very tender, about 4 hours.
Add chard to the pot and stir so that it is covered with liquid. Cook 15 to 20 minutes longer until the chard is tender.
Serve over cooked whole grain spaghetti, brown rice, or farro.
Note: feel free to substitute kale, spinach, or other dark leafy green and adjust cooking time accordingly