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Chinese Chicken Stew

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs -- cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes -- (1/2-3/4)
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 large onion -- coarsely chopped
1 8 ounce package fresh mushrooms -- sliced
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 14 ounce can chicken broth -- divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large red bell pepper -- cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 large green onions -- cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 cups hot cooked white rice -- optional
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro -- optional

Toss chicken with five-spice powder in small bowl. Season with red pepper flakes. Heat peanut oil in large skillet. Add onion and chicken; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink.

Combine 1/4 cup broth and cornstarch in small bowl; set aside. Place cooked chicken mixture, remaining broth, bell pepper and soy sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 3 1/2 hours or until peppers are tender.

Stir in cornstarch mixture, sesame oil and green onions; cook 30 to 45 minutes or until juices have thickened. Ladle into soup bowls; scoop 1/2 cup rice into each bowl, if desired. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

Makes 6 servings (about 5 cups)

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