Root Beer BBQ Chicken

As life gets busier, the crock pot becomes more and more essential to my well-being.  This one is quick, easy, and totally delicious.  It’s the combo of sweet and tangy that is the best about barbeque chicken and this recipe captures that balance perfectly.

Root Beer BBQ Chicken

(Inspiration courtesy of my friend Amber’s genius).

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken breasts
1 16-oz bottle of barbeque sauce
1 16-oz bottle of root beer (Coke or other dark sodas work really well here too – just nothing diet!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
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Preparation:

1.  Mix barbeque sauce, soda, and brown sugar together in a bowl.  Consistency should be like a watered down version of the BBQ sauce itself.
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2.  Insert chicken breasts into crock pot and pour mixture over.

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3.  Cook on low heat for 8 hours.

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4.  Serve up and enjoy!

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Results:

Yum!  Perfect balance of sweet and tangy without being overwhelming.   Try not to shred the chicken on this one, though it’s basically impossible because it basically just falls apart.

I almost always use frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot.  This one is no exception.  I find that they are less likely to burn/overcook than non-frozen.  Frozen also store longer and allow you to throw together this meal at any time.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

One of my go-to meals is a rotisserie chicken from the deli counter at the grocery store.  It is quick, pre-cooked, and goes well with anything.  It’s also a great meal on grocery shopping day, because I know the last thing I want to do after lugging grocery bags is preparing a full meal.

With rotisserie chicken on the brain, I stumbled upon a recipe for a casserole that would jazz things up a bit.  This is great for a quick evening meal when most of the lift is done for you.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

(Inspiration here)

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken [I put mine in the refrigerator so it wasn’t hot, but it doesn’t matter the starting temperature]
16 oz bag of frozen broccoli florets
11 oz of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

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Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  At the same time, boil a few cups of water in a saucepan.  Once the water hits a boil, pour in the broccoli.  Once it hits a boil again, drain the broccoli.

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2.  While boiling, shred the chicken meat using a fork and/or your fingers.

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3.  Mix chicken, broccoli, cheese, and soup together in a bowl

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4.  Put entire mixture into a baking dish and cook for 25 minutes.

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5.  Scoop and enjoy!

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Results:

YUM!  Although it is a little more legwork than just serving rotisserie chicken straight up, the cheesy goodness makes it worth it.  Definitely a good one to keep in your pocket.  Also, second day leftovers would be equally as delicious.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

This one is a household favorite!  It’s simple in ingredients and effort, it makes your house smell terrific when you get home, and it’s really easy to throw together.  There are usually enough leftovers of everything to provide a second meal.  What’s not to love?

Crock Pot Lime Cilantro Chicken Tacos
(inspiration found here)

1 lb chicken breasts (about 3-4 chicken breasts)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 limes
24 oz jar of salsa [I suggest using Medium salsa for this for a little kick]
1 packet of taco seasoning

Taco fixings:
1 packet of corn tortillas
Shredded cheese
Guacamole mix
2 avocados
Any other toppings you like!

Chicken Tacos ingredients

1.  Chop up cilantro. [They always give you SO MUCH cilantro in the bunches.  Don’t be surprised if you don’t even use half your bundle.]

Cilantro chopped

2.  Mix cilantro, salsa, taco seasoning, and juice of 2 limes in a bowl.

Taco mix

3.  Coat the bottom of the crock pot with a bit of the sauce.

Coat bottom of crock pot

4.  Put chicken in the crock pot.

Chicken in crock pot

5.  Cover chicken with the salsa mix.

Crock pot cooking before

6.  Cover and cook this on LOW for 7-8 hours.

Chicken tacos done in pot

(after 8 hours)

7.  When the chicken is done, put it into a separate pan and shred it with a fork.  It should just fall apart.  Use additional salsa mix from the crock pot to flavor the chicken and add a little moisture.

Shredded Chicken

8.  Prepare the guacamole

Guac fixings

8a.  Guacamole is super easy and super delicious:  Slice your avocados in half, scoop out the pit, and create a grid in the avocado meat.

Avocado slicing

Scoop out into a bowl and mix together with the guacamole mix.  Voila!

9.  Serve and enjoy!

Tacos final

Results:

This is a great weekday meal and allows you to be creative.  The chicken is delicious and moist.   Also, there are plenty of leftovers and we like to make chicken quesadillas with the leftover tortillas, chicken, and cheese.  Two meals in one!

Thai Cashew Chicken

One of my favorite things to do is order take out.  Really, restaurants are so much fun and it is so easy to call up delivery after a long day of working.  What’s not so fun is the costs can add up from ordering out every night.  Also, it’s not the healthiest and goodness knows we’re not living on college metabolisms anymore.  Is there a way to find that same deliciousness while also being easy to prepare?  You bet there is!

Thai food is one of my favorites to order.  In DC, there’s not a lot of Chinese take out that isn’t greasy, so Thai food is the next best bet.  Last night, I whipped together a Thai ‘fake-out’ dish that was equally (if not better) than my usual order at the place around the corner.

I present to you…Cashew Chicken

(Original inspiration found here)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into pieces

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup mushrooms

1 red pepper, sliced thin

1 green pepper, sliced thin

3 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup shelled edamame [Find in the frozen aisle at the grocery store]

2 cloves garlic, minced [I use the jar kind out of laziness]

1/2 cup unsalted cashews

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Cashew chicken ingredients

1.  Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet.

Cashew Chicken mushrooms

2.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then coat each piece in cornstarch.

Cashew chicken in pan

3.  Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and add chicken. Brown on both sides until cooked, about 5 minutes per side.

Cashew chicken browned

 

4.  Add garlic, red pepper, edamame, green onions and cashews and stir for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and mix in.  Turn heat to medium low.

Cashew chicken veg in pan

5.  In a small bowl, mix soy sauce and honey. Pour into skillet, coating chicken and vegetables.

6.  Serve over rice.

cashew chicken final

Result:

I was surprised at how much I liked the cornstarch-coated chicken.  It absorbed the honey/soy mix really well and left a really sweet taste.  I always like a lot of veggies in my meals so I went a little overboard on this one.  Feel free to use as many or as little fit your needs.  The edamame, red pepper, and mushroom are a must, though.

I used an Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice for this recipe to cut down on time, but you could use whatever rice you want.  This time, I used brown rice, but I bet long grain would also be a good choice.

Also, for those of you who doubt the ‘cozy’ factor of this kitchen, I present the following evidence:

Cashew chicken cozy

Halfway through preparation, and you’ll notice that most of the ingredients are resting on the stove top (turned off – of course!).  You make it work with what you got!

Cider Glazed Chicken with Pecan Rice

Hi readers!
I decided to start this blog to broadcast my cooking attempts while also find a place to keep recipes that are a success.  I find that I thrive with a recipe.  I just haven’t mastered enough of the skills to throw things together on my own without a guide.  It helps me measure and keep in line and also allows me to pass the buck should something turn out wrong.

Fortunately, in this day and age of the internet, recipes are all over the place.  There are a bunch of listservs that will send them along daily, which allows me to pick and choose what looks good and easy.  Also, I like to borrow inspiration from fellow cooking bloggers – they seem to have it locked up in terms of good choices.  Also, from cookbooks and friends.  The best way to expand your knowledge is to ask.

So, with that in mind, I was seeking something autumn inspired.  It is chilly in DC after all and apple season is just wrapping up.  It seemed appropriate to honor this time of year with some cider inspired goodness.

Cider Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

(inspired by MyRecipes.Com)
Ingredients

1 cup long grain rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken breast cutlets (I was cooking for two so I just used two boneless skinless chicken breasts)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup refrigerated apple cider
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cider Glazed Chicken Prep

Preparation

1. Cook rice according to package directions in a small saucepan, omitting salt and fat; drain.
2. While rice cooks, melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
3.  Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
4.  Add chicken to skillet; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan.
5.  Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook until reduced.
6.  Add chicken to pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat; set aside.
7. Melt remaining butter in saucepan over medium-high heat; cook for 2 minutes or until melted but not gone.
8.  Lower heat to medium; add pecans, and cook for 1 minute or until toasted, stirring frequently.
9.  Add rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat.
10.  Serve rice with chicken. Sprinkle chicken with parsley.

Cider Glazed Chicken with Pecan Rice

Result:

Be sure to reduce the sauce as much as possible.  The original recipe says 2-3 minutes for the sauce but I found it took a lot longer.

I served this one up with a side of broccoli.  The taste was delicious and not too heavy on the cider or the mustard.  The rice turned out a little too sticky for my liking (without a rice cooker, this is a constant struggle) but the pecans fit nicely.