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

Southwest Turkey Meatballs

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I can remember a point in my life when I would say, “Corn is not an ingredient!” It was actually a subject I felt pretty passionate about. To me corn was a side dish that went along with mashed potatoes, not a part of soup or salsa. What in the world was I thinking? I can’t tell you why I thought that or what changed, what I do know is that now I love it! Especially when paired black beans and cilantro. Yum!

That combination of corn, black beans, and cilantro was one of the reasons I loved this meal so much. But really, it’s one of those meals that is an all around winner. It’s healthy, it’s filling, it’s quick, and it’s easy. I knew the moment I saw the post on Rachel’s blog (Good Thymes and Good Food, fun blog name, huh?!) it would be a hit in my house and it was.


Southwest Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients
1 cup corn (frozen or fresh cut off the cob)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed well
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
juice & zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup panko crumbs
1/2 tsp onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ c. chicken broth

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the corn, beans, tomatoes, garlic, lime (juice and zest), cumin, and cilantro. Lightly season with salt and pepper, set aside.

In another bowl, using clean hands, combine the ingredients for the meatballs (turkey, egg, panko, onion powder, salt and pepper). Shape into 16 meatballs, about the size of a golf ball.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until they are evenly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes with frequent turning. It’s OK if the meatballs aren’t fully cooked through, they will continue to cook, you’re mostly looking for browning.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Add the tomato mixture and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until heated through and meatballs are fully cooked.

Serve over rice (brown rice keeps it healthy!) with extra cilantro and cheese for garnish.

Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, originally from Clean Eating Magazine

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce

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Try not to be too confused by my post today. The story and meal don’t match, but I don’t have a great story about this Mexican Black Bean Sauce. It came together incredibly easily and might have become my new favorite meatless meal. You know I love my black beans and to put it over pasta in the form of a sauce is just pure genius. Now onto my completely unrelated story (that mentions another recipe all together)…

Maybe you heard about a little blackout in Southern California last week. Around 3:30 all the power went out from Tijuana all the way up into Orange County and across to the California Arizona border. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t notice the power had gone out. The girls and I were working on homework and since it was daylight we didn’t have any lights on and there was no air-conditioning to go off. A neighbor actually called and asked if ours was off too and that’s when I looked at the clock and noticed. After that it didn’t take long to realize how wide spread this power outage was. And pretty much everyone left work early.

Not knowing how long the outage would last (and hearing it could be a day or two) I wanted to use up some of the things I knew would go bad. Meat and cheese. Thank goodness we bought that grill, because I managed to use it make the super easy Mac and Cheese (that’s how easy it is, I did it without power, partially in the dark, on a grill). Then we dined by candlelight with a few friends and tried to enjoy the slow pace of the evening. I snapped this picture with my phone and just had to share it with you.


Now for the recipe!

Pasta with Mexican Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from Branny Boils Over)

Ingredients
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (4.5 oz) diced green chiles
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro and cherry tomatoes for garnish
Cheese for garnish (optional)
12 ounces pasta, cooked according to box directions

Directions
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder, sugar, and oregano. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, and add to the bowl of a food processor* along with the black beans. Process to desired consistency then add back to the skillet and stir into the reserved sauce.

Serve over pasta with cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and cheese garnish.

*If you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead of the food processor and save the dirty bowl.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Last week the family I nanny for went on vacation so that meant two things for me. One, STAYCATION – which after the craziness of this summer was very, very welcome. Two, lots of cooking and baking. Well the staycation was awesomely relaxing and my kitchen took the beating like a champ.

Since getting back from China I have really wanted to get back into a groove of meal planning and I figured a week at home was the perfect time to get started. I have to say it’s AMAZING how many more vegetables I include when I plan my meals in advance. Every night I was just enamored with the beautiful colors included in all of my meals. Especially this meal.

I came across this recipe the morning I made my meal plan and it went straight to the front of the line. Besides Jesse jokingly saying, “Wow that appetizer looks great, what’s for dinner” (Do you know what popular chain restaurant he was thinking of?) these lettuce wraps went over really well. I loved the punch of veggies and the fact that I was able to not only cook a meal without dairy or a major carb, but that it was actually really enjoyed by all.

Recipe Note: The most time consuming part of this whole meal is chopping the veggies. I recommend doing all of the chopping and throwing the veggies in a bowl before starting up the stovetop. Once you start cooking everything goes really quickly. Also if you’re feeding people with big appetites, I would recommend multiplying the recipe time 1.5 or 2.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

(Adapted from Good Thymes and Good Food, previously on Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients

Sauce

4 tsp hoisin sauce
4tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

Filling

2 tsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 lb. ground turkey, chicken, or pork (I did a combination of ground chicken and pork)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup carrot, very finely diced
1/2 green apple, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Lettuce, for wrapping

Directions

In a measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce, set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the canola oil to the pan along with the garlic, shallot, and ginger. Cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.

Add the ground meat to the pan, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink then create a well in the center of the pan by pushing the meat to the outside edges. Add the onion, bell pepper, frozen peas, and carrot to pan and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally add the sauce, apples, and green onion. Stir to evenly coat and cook for 1 minute to allow the sauce to slightly thicken.

Serve with fresh lettuce.