How To: Slow Cooker – Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

img_2611

Last week I was lounging by a pool, running in shorts, and enjoying daily 2 for 1 happy hours.

Now, I’m bundled up in a parka, glued to the treadmill, and have 2 slightly under the weather kiddos. Reality bites!

One benefit to being home in our lovely Toronto winter – this spicy chicken. Are you also freezing your little tush off? This spicy chicken will warm you up. Okay, I’m lying, nothing can warm you up from this past weekend’s -22 degree weather. But, I do promise it will make ya sweat a little.

img_2596

img_2597

Really, it is so simple. A little hot sauce, a little oil, a sprinkle of spices. Done. It is quite a bit salty, so just keep that in mind – nothing a large glass of beer water can’t fix.

The homemade ranch dressing is totally optional. I find it does a good job at cutting the heat. But you could leave it out or simply top with a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of plain old mayo.

img_2598

img_2601

I’m normally all for a slow and low cook in the slow cooker – a set it and forget it type of meal. But cooking the chicken breasts on high keeps them from drying out, which they have a tendency to do. And it also means it’s the type of dinner you can throw together in the afternoon with two sick kids hanging off your legs.

img_2599

img_2603

While I’m missing that Florida sun, this chicken makes being home totally worth it – right?

Dara

img_2610

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Well Plated

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cups Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (mixed with 1 tbsp water)
  • 4 sweet potatoes

Dressing

  • 5 Tbsp low-fat mayo
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper

Note

This recipe comes together so quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner. You could also serve the chicken over your favourite grain, on top of a salad, or as a sandwich on a nice crusty bun.

Directions

1. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray and place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Whisk together the hot sauce, canola oil, garlic powder, and salt. Pour over chicken. Cook on high for 1.5 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove to a plate, shred using two forks, and set aside.
3. Add cornstarch mixture to slow cooker and whisk to combine. Cover and continue to cook on high another 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Add chicken back in and stir to evenly coat with sauce. Reduce temp to warm.
4. About an hour or so before chicken is done, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake in a 400 degree oven on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, or until soft and cooked through.
5. Cut sweet potatoes down the middle with a knife and push down with a spoon to create a little well in the middle. Top with chicken and drizzle with ranch dressing.
Dressing
6. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

How To: Make Your Own – Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

img_1419

When we moved from our condo to our new home I was looking forward to many things – one being the ability to barbecue. I dreamt about being able to make and enjoy delicious grilled meats, seafood, and pizza (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried pizza on the bbq).

Almost a year later, and we have yet to even purchase a barbecue. The thing with owning a house is there is always something to do – throw in a new baby and all of life’s other demands and you are left with a beautiful backyard, a freezer full of chicken and fish, but no barbecue. And now it’s almost winter, so what’s the point of buying one now? Cue the tears.

img_1393

img_1394

So here I was, thinking I would have to wait until spring to have my barbecue dreams realized, and then I discovered this recipe. I was flipping through a new cookbook  and the saucy-ness (that’s a word, right?) of this dish just drew me in. Side note – I am trying to utilize my cookbook collection instead of relying on the easy mr. google for inspiring my weekly meal plan.

In the original recipe, the chicken is pan-fried pre-baking to get that bbq like feel. In my never ending quest to try to avoid cleaning as much as possible, I baked it in the oven pre-saucing to the same results.

img_1399

img_1401

You’ll notice in my beautiful picture of the raw bird I originally used a mixture of thighs and breasts. However, I urge you to only make this with the thighs – they get all crispy and sticky on the outside, while still maintaining a juicy interior. If you haven’t been converted to the dark side yet, I hope this recipe helps tip you over.

img_1403

img_1435

Even if you are one of the lucky ones with a barbecue in your backyard, this is the perfect way to keep enjoying all that charred flavour throughout the cold winter looming around the corner. And if you’re like me and and purchasing a barbecue is way down on your list to-do list, a temporary solution is right here!

Dara

img_1436

Oven Baked BBQ Chicken

Serves 4-6
Meal type Main Dish
From book Sauce recipe adapted from Lick Your Plate

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 6 bone in, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/8 Tsp pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp paprika

Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tsp paprika
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper

Note

I tried this recipe with both thighs and breasts and found the breasts to be a tad dry. But if you only like the white meat, they would definitely still work - I would just reduce the baking time slightly. The bbq sauce would also be great on baked tofu.

Directions

Sauce
1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a medium pot over medium-high heat and cook for about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside about 1/4-1/2 cup of the sauce to serve with chicken.
Chicken
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet and drizzle with oil, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper. Rub all over so they are evenly coated.
3. Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and baste with bbq sauce. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove again and brush all over with bbq sauce and bake for another 5 minutes.
4. Remove chicken from oven and brush one more time with bbq sauce and return to oven on the upper rack. Turn oven to broil and cook for about 3 minutes, watching carefully until chicken starts to brown and is cooked through.
5. Serve chicken with the reserved bbq sauce.

How To: Quickie Meal – Panko Crusted Baked Tilapia

img_1597

This was one of those dinners that was so good I made it again the very next night. Seriously. It may have also had something to do with the fact that I had a costco size tray of tilapia fillets that had to get used up. But that’s besides the point.

The fact that my husband looked up half way through his meal and stated “this is the best fish you’ve made in a long time” should also convince you why you too should purchase a costco size tray of tilapia fillets. It also made me wonder what was wrong with our last of couple fish dinners...

img_1583

img_1584

img_1586

If you’ve been reading our blog for some time now, you know that Erin and I have a thing for creamy sauces. What would these fish tacos be without that lime crema? So it shouldn’t shock you that underneath the crunchy panko exterior lies a very flavourful mayo coating that helps to keep the tilapia nice and moist.

I’ve been known to make a double or even triple batch of this mixture and use it on everything from fish to veggies to salad.

img_1587

img_1592

This tilapia can act as the perfect main to a one pan supper. I served it with some green beans and tomatoes that I roasted right along side the fillets. The best part? The clean up! Roll up the aluminum foil and done. No muss no fuss – just the way I like it!

Dara

img_1590

Panko Crusted Baked Tilapia

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/8 Tsp pepper

Note

The mayo mixture is delicious and also makes a great dipping sauce. I like to double it and remove half to serve on the side with the cooked fish.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl mix together mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and oregano.
3. Place tilapia fillets on the prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Spread tops of tilapia evenly with mayo mixture and sprinkle with panko. Spray with cooking spray.
4. Bake for about 6 minutes on the top oven rack and then switch oven to broil. Broil for about 3 minutes, until panko is golden brown. Remove and serve with additional lemon wedges on the side.

How To: Quickie Meal – One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

img_1329

Do you know what I want more than anything in the world?

I want there to be some kind of robot that will just follow me and my two girls around and continuously clean up after us. It seems that my entire day is spent cooking, feeding, and cleaning. And at the end of the night, when all I want to do is put on netflix and binge watch my latest show (any new ones??), I have a high chair covered with the remains of dinner, a kitchen counter covered with whatever snack my 3 year old has chosen before bed, and a kitchen sink filled with dishes.

img_1302

img_1305

So my latest weapon against all this kitchen destruction is the one pot meal. The less pots, the less mess, the more time for netflix.

Enter this one pot quinoa. You have your protein, veg, and grain, all cooked together in one large pot and tossed with a creamy peanut sauce. Okay so you do need a small bowl to mix that sauce up, so we can call it a 1.25 pot meal if you want to get picky.

img_1317

img_1319

This meal is easily customizable for the  whole family – I separated out the edamame and chicken for my daughter who wants everything divided on her plate (typical threenager) and gave her some extra peanut sauce on the side for dipping. As a side note, I find she will generally eat anything if she has a dip – that’s your free tip for the day. My husband and I enjoyed it all mixed together with a squirt of sriracha for some extra heat.

img_1321

Until my kitchen and dining room can magically clean themselves, get ready for many more one pot recipes!

Dara

img_1322

One Pot Quinoa with Chicken, Vegetables, and Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 red pepper (chopped)
  • 1 broccoli (chopped)
  • 1 bag of coleslaw
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 Tsp ginger
  • 2 Cups frozen shelled edamame (thawed)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (chopped)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tsp sesame oil

Note

If you wanted to make this a vegetarian dish you could substitute tofu for chicken and cook it the same way, or simply double up on the edamame. Other vegetables, like mushrooms, cauliflower, or zucchini, could be used in place of the red pepper and broccoli. If you like things spicy, top with a squire of sriracha.

Directions

1. Place chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag and add the 2 tbsp of soy sauce and cornstarch. Shake so all the chicken is evenly coated and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2. Heat a large wok or skillet over medium high heat and add canola oil. Stir fry chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
3. Add red pepper and broccoli and stir fry for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add coleslaw mixture and continue to cook for another couple minutes. Add ginger, quinoa, and 1 1/2 cups of water and mix to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fully cooked.
4. Fluff with a fork and add edamame and chicken and mix to heat through. Add peanut sauce and cilantro and mix to evenly distribute sauce.

 

 

How To: Quickie Meal – Chicken Meatball Banh Mi Bowls

img_0941

We already have a delicious banh mi recipe on the blog.

It’s of the more traditional sandwich variety, but untraditional in that it features tofu instead of meat. If you haven’t made it, you should. This version sticks to the meat, but instead requires a fork for eating rather than your hands. You all know I have a thing for food in bowls.

img_0946

img_0943You may look at the recipe and think it has quite a few components – meatballs, quinoa, pickled veg, and a sauce that has me licking my lips just thinking about it. But the reason this meal can still be a weeknight dinner saviour is that many, if not all the components can be made a day or two ahead of time. And even if you have a spur of the moment banh mi craving, it still comes together lickity split – a 35 minute meal for sure.

img_0939

One of the best parts about these bowls is if you have some toddlers or babies in your household with discerning palates, they can be deconstructed to fit everyones needs. My husband and I ate them as is, my 3 year old had the meatballs pre-saucing, quinoa, and only the pickled carrots, and my 7 month old ditched the fork and used her hands to shovel some smashed meatball pieces into her mouth.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Dara

img_0940

Chicken Meatball Banh Mi Bowls

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
From magazine Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 Pound dark meat ground chicken
  • 1/2 Tbsp chicken broth powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp ginger (minced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)

Bowls

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup carrots (shaved into ribbons (use a vegetable peeler))
  • 1 cup radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 3/4 cups beef stock
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chile paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
  • 1 cup quinoa

Note

The meatballs, quinoa, and pickled vegetable mixture can all be made a day ahead of time. You can use turkey or beef in place of the chicken in the meatballs. Brown rice or barley would make a good substitution for the quinoa.

Directions

Meatballs
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix all ingredients together and form into small balls. Place on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until cooked through.
Bowls
3. Place quinoa and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to low. Simmer for about 12 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Set aside.
4. In another saucepan, bring vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add carrots and radishes and stir to coat. Let the vegetables sit in the liquid for 20 minutes. Drain and add cilantro and mix to combine. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet over medium heat combine stock, soy sauce, chile paste, and peanut butter. Add meatballs and toss to coat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes until heated through. Remove meatballs and continue to cook sauce uncovered for another 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
6. Divide quinoa evenly among four bowls. Top each bowl with 3-4 meatballs, the pickled vegetable mixture, and additional sauce. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and dig in!