Tag Archive | slow cooker

I Made My Own BBQ Sauce!

Here’s how it happened:
I knew we were having chicken breasts for dinner, but I didn’t have the slightest idea how to prepare them. As I was sitting down at the dining room table yesterday morning, sipping my coffee, my brain was cycling through my mental rolodex of chicken ideas. When it flipped to slow cooked bbq chicken I was stuck. I couldn’t get past that one, it sounded so delicious. (We LOVE bbq around here.) The last time I made it I happened to have a bottle of Annie’s Organic Hot Chipotle BBQ sauce and it was perfect for the slow cooked recipe. Yesterday though, I didn’t have any sauce. Not even the house favorite, Sweet Baby Rays.
I remembered that my awesome, super local (walking distance), discount grocery store (DWP Discount Food and Produce) had a couple of big bottles of Sweet Baby Rays the last time I was there. Following that memory was the memory that I didn’t have any money. I was thinking I could probably scrounge up enough change and run over there real quick. (I really, REALLY wanted bbq chicken.)
That’s when I had a light bulb moment. One that I’m very proud of. One that shows how far I’ve come since I decided to start cooking real food.
I could make my own! I knew it could be easy, as long as you have a few basic ingredients; ketchup, vinegar, sugar; of which I have all. 🙂
Next was a simple Google search. Keywords: easy bbq sauce.
Oh yes, I could definitely do this! I even have apple cider vinegar, which I found to be called for in several recipes. I found a few that were up my alley, but one that the basics were just right. Cider vinegar, ketchup, water, sugar, salt. As per the usual, I scanned through the comments to get ideas of other add-ins or substitutions. Some noted using brown sugar instead of white sugar, which made sense to me considering this was a molasses-free recipe, and guess what? I have light brown sugar! Another mentioned adding honey, while a couple added crushed red pepper flakes and even chili powder. I must say that all of these ideas were sounding great to go together. I love a sweet and spicy sauce. Of course there were other suggestions, but of ingredients I don’t have on hand, like worstershire (sp) sauce.
I made a 24 serving recipe, which was about 3 cups total, since I needed enough for the chicken in the slow cooker, and maybe extra for serving. The flavor turned out amazing. I had each kid do a little finger dip taste test and they were pleased.

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Easy BBQ Sauce

Frozen chicken breasts placed in the slow cooker, poured in about 3/4 of the sauce and let it cook about 8 hours. Then I shredded the chicken, returned it to the cooker with the sauce, and let it cook while we waited for the sides to finish.
It wash delicious and definitely hit the spot!  Everyone loved it! (We didn’t need the extra sauce. It was perfect.) I served it with brown rice and a Normandy blend of vegetables. My son and husband put the chicken on whole wheat bread and made a sandwich.

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
6 tbs light brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2-1 tsp honey

Whisk all ingredients together. 

*For a 12 serving batch, cut all ingredients by half.

** After using the desired amount in the slow cooker, I put the extra in the refrigerator, in a sealed container. Tasting it later, the vinegar seemed to be more pronounced than before refrigeration. I’m still a novice in the kitchen so I have no idea why this happened. It did not happen during the cooking process, though.
If anyone has any insight on this I would greatly appreciate the lesson. 🙂

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Just call meet Slacker Blogger plus Dinner is Cooking- Slow Cooker Chicken & Veggies

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Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetables (Part 1)

I choose to not look back and see how long it has been since I last posted. I already know it has been too long. Life is busy, kids are on summer vacation, I’m on a health and fitness mission, we’re remodeling this house… If I wanted to get in depth, the list could probably go on forever. I’ll spare you the ramblings of our life. You’re welcome!
I’m posting today to share my creation for dinner tonight. Hopefully it turns out delicious and I receive no complaints from the peanut gallery. I am not following a recipe here, just a few tips I’ve grabbed from around the web. I know there are a lot of you who may think this is no big accomplishment; whipping up something simple in the slow cooker is easy peasy. For people like me though, cooking without instructions is a HUGE deal. 😛 So here it is. I had just over a pound and a half of bl/sl chicken breasts that really seemed to want to be part of a slow cooker dinner. That’s where it started. Next was a quick scan of the fridge, particularly the veggie drawer, where I find that I have several yummy add-ins. I choose not to use broth in my soups and stews to keep our sodium intake under control. My beautiful big sister taught me that you don’t need broth to make soup, just water, seasoning and creativity. 🙂 Browsing the web for ideas, I found a suggestion to brown the chicken before adding it to the cooker. I love this idea because my husband cannot stand to eat an onion so this allows me to lock in some onion powder flavor. A little garlic powder and Italian seasoning to really make it complete. I also cut a little green bell pepper to saute with the chicken. (Nothing beats the flavor of sauteed bell peppers.) I cut up some carrots and celery, placed them in the slow cooker. Added the chicken and peppers. Next I added 4 cups of water. The following step is either going to make this amazing, or weird. I squeezed half of a lemon (partially) and half of a lime into the water. Now this is set to low to cook all day. Later I will be adding sliced zucchini and sliced yellow squash. I will also be making brown rice for the first time to serve with it. I’m still deciding if I’m going to attempt to add it to the slow cooker or just cook it on the stove. I think that will depend upon the consistency the chicken and veggies have in a few hours.
**Fitness Time** I have completed 2 weeks of BodyRock.tv’s February Challenge. Today I re-take the fit test to see if I’ve improved. Wish me luck! *Question Center* Add the brown rice or cook it separately… What’s your opinion?

*UPDATE*
I decided to cook the rice on the stove, then mix it in with the chicken and veggies before serving. It turned out delicious!

Easy Taco Chili

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Easy Taco Soup (Mexican Chili) with chicken

Here it is. The recipe you’ve all been waiting for.
This recipe was given to me by a fellow Lose It! user after posting a status asking for vegetarian recipes for my daughter. I needed recipes that I could easily make with and without meat, because we’re not all vegetarians. This one spoke to me instantly and I couldn’t wait to try it out!

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Easy Taco Soup (Mexican Chili) vegetarian

This dinner was a huge hit with all four of us and I definitely plan on making it again, and making it for guests. Throw in a little sour cream and shredded cheese and it’s just perfect! Plus, it really doesn’t get much easier than this.

Ingredients:
1 can of each, drained and rinsed
Dark Red Kidney Beans
Great Northern Beans
Black Beans
1 can sweet corn, undrained
1 can dice tomatoes with chiles, undrained
(we actually used Ro-Tel with habaneros),
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry dip mix
1 packet less sodium dry taco seasoning
If desired:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
or 1 pound lean ground beef 

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 2 hours on high.

Offer sour cream and shredded cheese when serving.

This makes about 4 realistic servings. There was enough for the four of us (2 adults, 1 teenage girl, 1 11 year old boy), also having homemade tortilla chips, with no leftovers.
To make both a vegetarian batch and non vegetarian batch, mix all ingredients EXCEPT for the meat in slow cooker, remove a portion and put it in another slow cooker. Then add meat. I have a small crockette that I used for the smaller portion.
* If you’d like it more as a soup rather than a chili just add water.
Both versions are insanely delicious!

P.S.
Homemade tortilla chips are super easy and tasty!
6″ corn tortillas
Spray butter
Optional:
Seasoning of choice (sea salt, seasoned salt, or for a sweet treat cinnamon and sugar)
Heat oven to 400*. Spray tortilla with spray butter. Sprinkle with seasoning choice. Using a pizza cutter, cut tortillas into 8 triangles. Place on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven for 10 minutes, or until centers are dry.
I can fit 4 tortillas of chips onto a large baking sheet. To make several batches to serve with taco soup, I prepare them in the afternoon, allow to cool and put them in a large zipper bag.

**The original recipe for the soup can be found on sparkpeople.com.