Slow Cooker Chicken and Quinoa Chili

Even living in a slightly warmer climate, there’s just something about winter that makes me crave hearty, warm, soups and chilis. These warm and hearty dinners are even better when they basically prepare themselves. That’s one of the things I loved about this chili. I literally threw all of the ingredients in my slowcooker and let time do the rest. The other great thing about this chili is that its good for you! Loaded with good for you quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, and corn and have very minimal fat (especially if you top it with nonfat Greek yogurt and low fat cheese!). Oh, and they go perfectly with those Cheddar Jalapeno Drop Biscuits I posted last week!

I was excited when I found this recipe, but of course I had to make a few adjustments. First, I like a bit of smokey spicy taste to my chili, so I replaced the bell pepper with chipotle pepper. Second, I upped the smokey flavor by using fire-roasted tomatoes. If you can’t find fire-roasted tomatoes (or don’t care for them) you can of course use regular tomatoes, but I really loved the flavor they added. I also cut back just a bit on the chicken stock and added some tomato paste. I wanted a thick chili and I think the result was really great. Finally, I had a huge split chicken breast thawed, so I used that instead of boneless skinless. I’m sure the bones helped to add a little bit of flavor, but to be honest the breast was so tender it just fell away from the bones, and it was kind of a pain making sure that I got all of them out of the thick chili. Next time I’ll probably go the boneless skinless route (and the recipe below will reflect that).

 

 

Crockpot Pork and Sauerkraut

Sometimes I make and post things with a pretty good feeling that it will be well received (case in point -  Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread). Other times I make and post things that I love, but I pretty much know going into it that it’s not going to blow-up Pinterest. This is one of those things. I LOVE Pork and Sauerkraut with . It’s major comfort food for me. But it’s sauerkraut, so you either love it or hate it.

If you do love sauerkraut, this meal should be right up your alley. Warm and filling with the perfect tang from the sauerkraut. Bonus points for a short ingredient list and easy crockpot recipe. If you don’t love sauerkraut, just check back later this week when I will be sharing another pumpkin recipe that I think you’ll like. :)

 

 

Honey Sesame Chicken

I am surrounded by delicious, authentic Chinese food and I have lots of local favorites. There is a cabbage dish at a local restaurant that I could literally eat every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve also come to appreciate and love a level of spicy unlike anything I’ve ever had in the US (seriously, not the kind of spicy that makes you sweat, the kind that literally makes your mouth go numb). And there is a green bean dish that I order at every single restaurant that has it. But sometimes….

Well… sometimes I crave American Chinese food. That’s right. I live in China and I crave Chinese food – from America. Food that is sticky and sweet and salty (kind of like the Jack Daniels Glaze). Sad, I know.

I was having one of those cravings a few weeks ago, so I went on the hunt for a recipe. I came across this Honey Sesame Chicken and I knew it would be a winner. This chicken had all of the flavors I was looking for. The recipe originally called for using a crockpot – but I don’t have one here in China, so I just used my dutch oven and cooked it in the oven. It was still very easy and mostly hands off! I’ll include both methods so you can choose!

 

 

Shredded BBQ Chicken

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I’ve got a real thing for shredded or pulled BBQ sandwiches. Obviously using a fatty cut of pork is going to make for a moist flavor base for any BBQ sandwich. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to save a few a calories but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have sacrifice flavor (or have a dry sandwich).

That’s where this recipe comes in. Using boneless skinless chicken breasts means saving quite a few calories. Using a slow cooker, big onion chunks, and flavorful base sauce means you still get the flavor. Now, this is going to sound really weird, but cutting the onion into big chunks and leaving them in there with the sauce and shredded chicken, was *almost* like some of the bits of fat you would come across in traditional pulled pork. I realize that sounds weird, but the onions soak up a lot of flavor from the sauce and they stay moist and a little chewy. So the burst of flavor and melt-in-your-mouth feel I got when I bit into them with the chicken just reminded me of, well, fat. But you know, without all of the guilt associated with eating a fatty piece of pulled pork. Call me crazy I guess.

As for the sauce, it wasn’t exactly perfect when I first tasted it. It was missing some depth so I added 1/4 cup of brown sugar and slightly increased the tomato paste. I also upped the garlic because one clove seemed like way too little for my garlic loving self. That did the trick and really gave the sauce the flavor I was looking for. Below you’ll find the recipe exactly as I made it with all my final alterations.

Finally, that beautiful sandwich bun? Yeah I made that myself. Wheat Brioche Sandwich Buns coming your way Friday!


Shredded BBQ Chicken

Ingredients
1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground chipotle chile powder
1 tsp Kosher salt (only use 1/2 if using regular table salt)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, roughly chopped

Directions
Add all of the sauce ingredients to the bowl of a crockpot and stir to combine. Add the chicken and onion and use a spoon to coat with sauce. Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove the chicken from sauce and shred*. While shredding the chicken, increase the crockpot heat to high and let cook for another 20 minutes, with the lid off, to thicken the sauce. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce and stir to evenly coat with sauce.

*Have you seen the trick where you use a standing mixer to shred chicken? Genius and crazy easy all at the same time. Just put it in the bowl and use a paddle attachment and let your mixer do all the work. Alternatively, feel free to use 2 forks, 2 knives, or 2 caveman hands. Your call.

Adapted from EatingWell.com