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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

February 18, 2014

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Note: After my post about switching from eating vegetarian to eating meat, I thought an update was in order. After about two months my body really started to reject eating paleo-style. I began to crave the vegetarian fare (and whole grains!) that I was so accustomed to. I have since decided that while it was interesting to give paleo-style eating a go, it isn’t for me and my body. I plan to write a full recap soon, but I wanted to get that out there for honesty’s sake.

Although I’m no longer eating meat, I will continue to be cooking a lot of meat, as I always have. Since I’m not ethically against eating meat, I do try everything that I prepare and share on this blog to make sure that it’s worth posting. My husband, of course, is also a fantastic resource and is always willing to provide his opinion on what he likes and doesn’t like. In this case, Joe was a huge fan of these Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

These sandwiches are incredibly easy to make and require very little hands-on time, meaning you can go do other things, like play with your puppy or paint your nails, while your dinner cooks. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but the key to good slow cooker chicken is to use a cut with a little bit more fat, like these boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They become incredibly tender and moist in the slow cooker and shred easily for sandwiches.

Since we love spicy food at our house, I added in a can of diced green chiles to the mix. And a little bit of brown sugar, which I think really rounds out the flavor of the sandwiches and balances the heat of the buffalo sauce.

Oh, and one more thing! A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe over at Pinch of Yum which suggested that you shred your meat and broil it after slow cooking to give the meat pleasant crispiness resembling barbecue. For the longest time my biggest complaint with slow cooker food was that it tasted mushy and, well, slow cooked. This step of broiling the meat was a total game changer. Give it a try and be impressed!

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Recipe type: Slow Cooker Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This recipe is incredibly easy and makes a great weeknight dinner. I love shredding the meat and broiling it once it has cooked for a little extra texture and smoky flavor. It prevents the meat from tasting like, well, a slow-cooker recipe.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (20 oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1½ cups buffalo wing sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot brand)
  • 1 can (4 oz) diced green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Whole wheat bakery buns or rolls
Instructions
  1. Place chicken and buffalo wing sauce in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on High 2 hours or Low 4 hours.
  2. Use two forks to shred the chicken in the slow cooker. Stir in the green chiles and brown sugar and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes more.
  3. Turn oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place shredded chicken on baking sheet and broil 10 minutes or until the ends of the chicken become slightly charred and crispy. Serve on sandwich buns.

 Madison

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Chana Saag with Kale

February 11, 2014

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One of my favorite traditions at work is our monthly cookbook club. It’s so fun to select a book, pick a recipe and get together with a bunch of other people who love to cook and discuss what we liked and didn’t like about said book. Sometimes it’s an incredibly successful cookbook club, sometimes it’s only okay.  But that’s the point, right? It’s so rare that I get a chance to make more than one or two recipes out of any given cookbook, so getting to taste 10 to 15 recipes at once really gives a feel for what the book is about and the quality of the recipes.

Our most recent selection was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The book is entirely vegan but the part that really knocked my socks off was the fact that I feel I could serve these recipes at a dinner party to vegans and non vegans alike. The recipes were warm and comforting and incredibly filling. Although there is a fair amount of chopping and slicing and dicing involved in all the recipes, they were all fairly easy to prepare and didn’t require many specialty ingredients. Bonus: I don’t think “vegan cheese” or “vegan meat” was used once!

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I left cookbook club this month feeling like I had eaten Thanksgiving dinner, though I didn’t feel weighed down or gross (albeit a little too full) like I sometimes do over the holidays. The food was nourishing, light and hearty all at once, and I fell in love with Isa’s casual and funny way of writing a cookbook.

The Chana Saag with Kale that I made for cookbook club was universally one of the favorite dishes that was prepared, and I couldn’t wait to make it again in my own kitchen to share with you. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly by adding more kale and slightly different spices to suit my tastes, but the recipe is incredibly forgiving and easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. However, I would strongly suggest not leaving out the lime juice, because the hit of tangy citrus really brings this dish together.

Chana Saag with Kale
 
This recipe is adapted from a recipe of the same name from Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I fell in love with Isa's version, which calls for kale instead of the more traditional spinach. Kale is heartier and holds up better, which is important for leftovers. Since this makes a lot, there are bound to be leftovers! I like this dish heavy on the kale, but feel free to use less if you aren't a huge fan of kale.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste at the end)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on desired heat
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • Juice from 1 lime
Instructions
  1. In large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned and softened. In small bowl, combine curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne. Add spice mixture to onions and cook 1 minute more to toast the spices.
  2. Add in the juice from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add the chickpeas to the pot along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and heat through.
  4. Add the kale and cook 5 minutes more or until kale is cooked and softened slightly.

 

 

 

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Slow Cooker White Wine Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes

October 28, 2013

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It took me a long time to start loving my slow cooker. Even today, I wouldn’t describe myself as a true slow cooker devotee, but I can certainly see the merits of using it now and again. I don’t have a lot of food pet-peeves, but cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker is pretty high up there on my list. I used to be guilty of doing this, until I realized the error of my ways.

You see, if you’re going to slow cook a piece of meat, the meat you are cooking needs to have a little fat in it. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts? They don’t have much fat. Next time you’re looking to make slow cooker chicken, seek out a cut like boneless skinless chicken thighs, which have more fat and consequently taste a whole lot better after simmering away in the slow cooker.

This meal was a huge hit after church on Sunday. I stole a couple bites of the chicken before serving up a bowl to Joe and the meat was incredibly juicy, buttery and tender. And although the meat itself has a little more fat than other cuts of chicken, the recipe doesn’t require any extra butter or oil, which balances everything out in the end.

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Slow Cooker White Wine Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes
Makes 3 to 4 servings
Ingredients
*1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
*1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
*3/4 teaspoon paprika
*1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped in large cubes
*1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 1/2 cups good-quality chardonnay

Directions
*In small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the paprika, thyme and pepper. Rub spice mixture onto chicken thighs. Set aside.
*Place sweet potatoes and onion in 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Add the garlic and the chardonnay and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.
*Place seasoned chicken thighs on top of sweet potatoes and onions, arranging evenly in slow cooker.
*Cook on HIGH 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until chicken thighs are very tender.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Slow Cooker Rootbeer Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

September 25, 2013

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Hello, friends! I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. I had really good intentions of getting a post up earlier this week, but my card reader magically corrupted all the files I was trying to download (photos of some really yummy cookies I was planning on sharing) so you’re getting a post about barbecue beef sandwiches. And I guess I’ll be making those cookies again this weekend. They are too good not to share!

If this week is any indication of how my fall is going to go, it’s looking like it will be packed with events and activities. I’m a bit of an introvert, which means I try not to have too many plans after work on the weeknights to save my sanity. However, this week has been packed already with drinks after work with blogger friends, Bible study with a new group of women that I’m totally loving, dinner with friends tonight and a really fun blogger PR event tomorrow night

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Since life has been crazy, I’ve been relying a little more on my slow cooker to keep things moving over here. Thankfully, Joe doesn’t mind eating the same meal multiple times a week, so making a big batch of this Slow Cooker Rootbeer Barbecue Beef was a total time-saver last week. I cooked once, Joe at four or five times and everyone was happy and well fed.

There’s not a lot to say about this recipe, really, other than it’s plain delicious and easy. We don’t usually have soda at the house, but we had some leftover from root beer floats and knew it would be a great way to add a ton of flavor to barbecue sandwiches without having to use a lot of other seasonings and ingredients. I’m guessing this would also taste great with Dr. Pepper as well.

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Root Beer Barbecue Beef Sandwiches
Adapted from BettyCrocker.com
Ingredients
*1 (3 to 4 lb) boneless beef rump roast
*2 cups root beer
*1 1/2 cups ketchup, divided
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*2 to 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:
*Place roast in slow cooker. In medium bowl, stir together the root beer and 1 cup of the ketchup until well combined. Pour mixture over roast. Turn slow cooker to LOW. Cook on LOW for 10 to 11 hours or until roast falls apart easily.
*Remove roast from slow cooker. Shred meat from roast, discarding any large pieces of fat. Chop shredded beef into bite-sized pieces.
*Run remaining juices in slow cooker through a strainer. Discard whatever is in the strainer. Return strained juices to slow cooker along with chopped beef. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup ketchup and red pepper flakes. Cook on LOW 10 to 15 minutes more or until beef is hot and flavors are combined. Serve on toasted bread or sandwich rolls.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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Tuscan Kale Salad with Feta

September 11, 2013

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Let’s take a little break from talking about all things travel and talk a bit about food. Since, you know, this is supposed to be a food blog. I think I mentioned that I was heavily influenced by the food we enjoyed while in Tuscany, right? Well in case you missed that tidbit, I was totally enamored with the food we ate in this amazing region of Italy. Actually, I was really surprised at how different the food was as we traveled throughout the country. I naively believed that the cuisine would be very similar everywhere we went. And while there are a lot of similarities from region to region, each place we visited was very distinct.

Joe and I both agreed that the hearty, earthy and complex flavors we tasted in Tuscany were our favorite. I fell head-over-heels for ribolita (a bread, bean and vegetable stew) and the heavy use of spices like rosemary and thyme. While we were at our wine class we learned that many times the types of cuisine present in an are were influenced by the types of wine native to that area. The rich, earthy flavors found in Tuscan cooking perfectly compliment the Chianti and Brunello wines grown in the region. Those Italians know what they’re doing!

Ever since I returned home, I’ve been pulled to earthier flavor profiles and simple, yet tasty dishes that are heavy on the crusty bread. I can’t get enough of that stuff! After returning from Italy, I also had a renewed commitment to cooking with high quality ingredients. Maybe that’s why I shopped entirely at Whole Foods for our groceries this week? Good thing I did because I was able to pick up two bunches of this beautiful Tuscan kale for only $4!

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Prior to my trip to Whole Foods I had been unable to find Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato kale) at the local grocery stores. The leaves of this type of kale are flat rather than ruffled. I really love that there are fewer ribs in this type of kale, meaning you only have to remove the center rib in the kale before cooking. If you can get your hands on this variety, I would highly recommend it.

As for this salad, it’s about as simple as you can get. The kale is seasoned and sauteed in a skillet, then tossed with toasted bread cubes drizzled in olive oil and topped with feta cheese. It’s not directly inspired by any dish we ate while on vacation, but the flavor profile is heavily influenced by our trip, and the dish is ultra satisfying. I’ve enjoyed it for dinner twice already this week!

Tuscan Kale Salad with Feta
Makes 1 meal-sized serving
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups Tuscan kale (aka lacinato kale, which I got at Whole Foods), ribs removed and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of dried thyme and rosemary
1 thick slice whole grain crusty bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Directions
In large skillet over medium heat, combine the kale and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, the salt and thyme and rosemary. Use your hands to work the oil into the kale to coat completely. Cook, stirring frequently, 4 to 6 minutes or until kale is softened and slightly crunchy around the edges. Remove from heat.

Drizzle remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over bread cubes. Add bread cubes to skillet and toss to combine. Transfer to bowl. Top with the cheese. Serve immediately.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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