Friday, November 20, 2015

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago  . . .I learned that food can burn in the crockpot - especially if it is high in sugar.  And this is why you do not simply dump chicken into your crockpot and pour bbq sauce on it . . .it will char on the sides.  Of course, if you like scrubbing your crockpot - go for it!  Personally, I do not enjoy that task.  But I do love a good BBQ Chicken Sandwich - which is why I am sharing this recipe with you today.  With a few normal yet unlikely ingredients, this version of bbq chicken does not burn - but is full of yummy flavor.  Enjoy!

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
Serves 6-8

1 Bottle BBQ Sauce
2 Pounds of Chicken Breasts (boneless)
1/2 Cup Italian Salad Dressing
1/4 Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Onion Buns of Your Choice
Cheese (optional)
Red Onion (optional)

In your crockpot, add the BBQ Sauce, Italian Salad Dressing, Brown Sugar and Worcestershire Sauce.  Stir to combine.  Next, add in the chicken breasts.  Turn them over to coat with the sauce.  Cover and cook on low approx. 6 hours.  Once cooked, they should be very tender and easy to shred.  To serve, pile meat on your favorite type of bun and if you like cheese - I recommend smoked cheddar.  Top with thinly sliced red onion if you wish.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crockpot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

If you love cabbage rolls, here is an easy way to get all those great flavors in the crockpot . . .without having to roll them up!  Please note, you can make this recipe with ground turkey or ground beef - both are very tasty.

Crockpot Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
Serves 6+

1 and 1/2 LBS Ground Turkey or Ground Beef
3/4 Cup Rice 
2 LBS Cabbage (1 medium-sized head)
1 (14.5) oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Large Onion
4 Cloves of Garlic
3 Teaspoons Nature's Seasoning (or use 1/2 salt, 1/2 pepper)
2 Tablespoons Parsley
1 Tablespoon Marjoram
1 (14.5 oz) Can of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Step 1:  Clean and dice the onion.  Add to a large bowl.  Also to the bowl, add the meat, uncooked rice, Nature's Seasoning, parsley, and marjoram.   Mince the garlic and add that to the bowl as well. Mix well.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In medium bowl or large measuring cup, combine the tomatoes, lemon juice and broth.  Stir and set aside.

Step 3:  Wash the cabbage.  Peel the outer leaves off and discard.  Remove the core and discard.  Cut the cabbage into thin slices.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Assembly.  Spray your crockpot with non-stick cooking spray (or use a crockpot liner).  Place 1/2 the meat mixture in the crockpot and spread out (doesn't need to be perfect).  Place 1/2 the cabbage on top of the meat layer.  Pour about 1/2 the tomato mixture over the cabbage.  Now, repeat these steps.  Place the last of the meat on top of the cabbage layer.  Distribute the best you can.  Add the remaining cabbage and then pour the remaining tomato mixture over the cabbage.  

Step 5:  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat is cooked through and cabbage is wilted.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mexi-Corn and Black Beans

I grew up not eating corn.  I can't say I never had it - after all, I did eat school hot lunch and they occasionally served corn.  However, I was raised in a family that didn't believe corn was a vegetable.  We were taught that it is a grain.  Specifically, a grain that is grown on the farm and then later fed to the animals. Therefore, you would never find corn being served at any dinner my parents served (even the holidays).  Fast forward a few decades to today . . .I still coincide with those beliefs.  But everyone once in a while I do have to give in and serve corn.  And when I do - it's usually this recipe.  The sweetness of the corn and meatiness of the beans are laced with taco seasoning that combines the flavors into a fantastic flavorful side dish.  Serve it up today!

Mexi-Corn and Black Beans
Serves 4-6

1 (14.5 oz) Can of Corn with Sweet Peppers
1 (14.5 oz) Can of Black Beans
1 Teaspoon Taco Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Butter

Open and drain the can of corn and empty into a large bowl.  Open, drain, and rinse the can of black beans (that sludge the coats the beans just totally grosses me out!).  Add the drained/rinsed beans to corn.  Add the taco seasoning to the corn/beans.  Add the butter.  Microwave the entire bowl of corny/black bean goodness until heated thoroughly (2-3 minutes, depending on your m'wave).  Remove from the microwave, stir again to distribute the melted butter and make sure everything is hot.  Serve and enjoy.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Thai Chicken Salad

Who loves Thai Peanut Sauce?!?!?!?  If so, this recipe is for you!!  A local restaurant used to have a Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap on the menu . . .but they removed it.  It's been a few years now . . .and I still crave it.  So, I finally buckled down and decided to try and recreate the dressing and make it into a salad (instead of a wrap).  Succulent grilled chicken, crisp lettuce, crunchy red pepper, cool cukes and let us not forget about that divine peanutty salad dressing!  

Thai Chicken Salad
Serves 2

6-8 oz Grilled Chicken Breast
4 Cups Romain Lettuce
1/2 Cup Diced Cucumber
1/2 Cup Diced or Sliced Carrot
1/4 Cup Diced Red Bell Pepper
4 Green Scallions, Sliced
1/4 Cup Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles (optional)
3 Tablespoons Peanut Butter
2 TB Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
1/4 Teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce (aka Sirracha)
1 Teaspoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Drop Coconut Extract
1/4 Cup Water

Step 1:  Create the Thai Peanut Salad Dressing.  To do so, in a small bowl - combine the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, soy sauce, coconut extract and chili garlic sauce.  Mix together until well blended.  Add the water and stir until well blended.   Set aside.

Step 2:  Prep your salad by dividing the lettuce among two plates.  Top each bed of lettuce with chicken, carrot and cucumber.

Step 3:  Drizzle the dressing on the salads and then top with remaining ingredients (scallions, red pepper and crunchy noodles).

Enjoy! This may make more peanut dressing than you need for the salad.  If so, store in a covered container and place in the fridge for later use.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Seared and Roasted Cabbage

Cabbage.  Most people either love or hate it.  I am on the LOVE IT bandwagon.  Seriously, a good slaw can make or break lunch.  No joke.  But, let's talk about cooked cabbage . . .seared in a hot pan until the edges char a bit, then add a little broth or water and place in the oven to roast until tender.  SO YUMMY.  Once you make this, it will definitely go into your vegetable rotation.  It pairs excellently with a great roast.

Seared & Roasted Cabbage
Serves 4

1 Small Head of Cabbage (Red or Green)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
Nature's Seasoning (or salt and pepper)
1 Cup Chicken Broth or Water

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  For this recipe, you will be using the stovetop and the oven, so you will want to use a pan that can be transferred from the top of the stove and then into the oven.  
Step 2:  Prep your cabbage by washing it and then very carefully cut it into 4 wedges.  Leave the core in!

Step 3:  In a heavy duty fry pan, skillet or small dutch oven - heat the oil to medium.  Once heated, add in the cabbage.  Cook on one cut-side until deeply browned.  Turn the cabbage to the other cut-side and brown that side as well.  Once both sides of the cut wedges are browned, add the butter to the pan along with the broth (or water).  Season the wedges on all sides with the Nature's Seasoning or salt and pepper.

Step 4:  Place the pan in the oven, uncovered - and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crab and Cucumber Salad

In a quest of always trying to be a little more healthy, check out this delicious and refreshing, Asian-inspired crab salad.  So crisp and tasty with lettuce, succulent imitation crab and a little zip from a homemade vinaigrette dressing.  Perfect for a luncheon.  I originally found the recipe from Loius Kemp.  I have modified it just slightly by using romaine lettuce and powdered ginger.  I also thought this would be even better if I had topped it with some crunchy chow mein noodles . ..but I was all out.  So, I added them to the recipe regardless.  YUM.

Crab & Cucumber Salad
Serves 2

8 oz. Imitation Crab Lumps
4 Cups Romaine Lettuce 
1/2 Cup Cucumber, seeded and diced
2 Green Onion or Scallions, sliced
1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds (white or black)
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger Powder
1 Teaspoon Honey
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles (optional)

Step 1:  Create the dressing.  In a small bowl, add the honey, rice wine vinegar, ginger and sesame oil.  Mix together until well blended.  
Step 2:  Assemble the salad.  On two large plates or salad bowls, divide the lettuce.  Top the lettuce with the cucumber and crab.  Drizzle the dressing onto the salad.  Top with the sesame seeds, scallions and chow mein noodles.  


Friday, October 9, 2015

Baked Oatmeal Bars

In my never-ending quest for new oatmeal recipes, I have stumbled upon this one from here.  They are packed with healthy stuff (whole grains, nuts, fruit) and fairly low-calorie and definitely low-sugar.  You know me, always struggling to be healthy.  The thing I liked about this recipe is the mix n match of ingredients.  I used what I had in the house - which happened to be walnuts, sesame seeds and prune.  It doesn't sound that appetizing, but it truly is yummy;  they have a chewy, cakey texture that I absolutely love.  I think these would be very good with apricots/coconut and cannot wait to try them again going that route.  

Baked Oatmeal Bars
Serves 9

1 and 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts of Choice (almonds, walnuts, etc)
1/2 Cup Dried Fruit of Choice (apricot, raisin, etc)
1/4 Cup Seeds of Choice (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, etc)
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 and 1/4 Cups Skim Milk
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease/Spray a 9x9 baking dish and set aside.
Step 2:  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, fruit, seeds, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.
Step 3:  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.
Step 4:  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.
Step 5:  Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.

A.  The only sweetness is from the dried fruit.  If you feel this needs sugar, add about a 1/4 cup to the dry ingredients.
B.  These will likely only last about 3-4 days sitting on the counter or in the fridge.  Wrap individually and freeze for extended life. 

Update:  I've found my ultimate combo!! I use unsweetened coconut, cacao nibs and dried apricots.  AMAZING!