How To: Slow Cooker – BBQ Pulled Chicken

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Looking back through our blog archive the other night during a 2 am feeding session, I noticed that the first meal I cooked after my older daughter was born was a slow cooker sesame chicken. 

Now, two and half years later, I have again used the genius slow cooker to cook my first dinner after having our second daughter two weeks ago. So you will have to excuse me if this blog post doesn’t make much sense as I am still in the thick of the newborn haze. Once again, thank goodness for the slow cooker!

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There is minimal thought or effort required to produce this sweet and tangy tender pulled chicken. Dump the onions and chicken, mix up the sauce, pour it on top, flip the switch to low, and dinner is done in about 5.5 hours. No muss, no fuss.

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Similar to our other pulled chicken, this too is so versatile. It can be served over any grain or pasta, in a wrap or on a bun, or with some sweet potato fries and slaw as I served it. It is also freezable so it is perfect for when you too don’t have your wits about you for whatever reason – simply defrost and dinner is ready.

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It also makes a delicious 3 am snack – that breastfeeding hunger is real I tell you!

Enjoy!

Dara

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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

Serves 6-8
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable
Website Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion (sliced)
  • 2 Cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 Tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp tabasco sauce
  • pinch of salt

Note

This sweet and tangy chicken is so versatile - serve it over a salad, rice, pasta, in a wrap or on a bun. Or serve as I did with a side of sweet potato fries. It also freezes well so you can make it ahead for those busy weeknights.

Directions

1. Place onions on the bottom of your slow cooker. Trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts and place onto of the onions.
2. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken breasts to evenly cover them. Cook on low for about 5.5 hours, or until chicken is tender and pulls easily with a fork.
3. Using two forks, shred chicken breasts. Serve over crusty buns, on top of the grain of your choice, or just dig in!

How to: Make Your Own – Falafel

 

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It’s no secret we tend toward vegetarianism here at How to Eat.  While Dara and I both enjoy all foods, there is a heavy emphasis on plant based cooking in our homes.

For me, it’s the same when eating out too. Make no mistake; I will not pass on a burger at a restaurant known for its burger, but given a choice I usually opt for veg meals.

The point being, falafel and I have become very well acquainted these last few years.

I be eatin’ lots of falafel.

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Falafel are popular throughout the Middle East. You’ll typically find them served on a pita or flatbread with a plethora of veggie (fresh and pickled) and sauce options.

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Dried, uncooked chick peas are traditionally used in falafel and lend a fluffy texture when cooked.  Canned chick peas are pre-cooked and can certainly be used as well, but the texture won’t be quite the same.

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Other than the 24 hour soak, these come together quickly and easily.

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Hardly any chopping either.  Thanks food processor!

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This makes a big old batch of 24.  I fried half and baked half.

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Listen to me people.  You can deep fry and still be healthy.  The low fat diet craze is so passé.  Fat is good for you.  Cook at the right temperature with the right oil and you’re golden.  Literally.

Ha! Get it?

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Fried vs Baked.  Both good, but fried is better.  It’s also more traditional.

And it would be rude to break tradition, no?

To ease your mind, here’s a great piece by Mark Bittman (also the creator of this recipe) about deep frying.

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Serve your falafel hot out of the oil for the best results.

I served one batch over a salad with some feta cheese and the other with a tahini dipping sauce (⅓ cup tahini, ⅓ cup water, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp honey, big pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper).

They are just SO good.

Enjoy,

Erin

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Falafel

Serves Makes 24 Falafel
Prep time 24 hours
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 24 hours, 25 minutes
By author From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian iPhone App

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cup dried chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Small onion (quartered)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • canola oil for baking or frying

more or less to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Note

Falafel are best served right from the pan when they're hot and crispy.

Directions

1. Place dried chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Soak for 24 hours, adding additional water if needed to keep chickpeas completely submerged.
2. Drain chickpeas and transfer to food processor along with remaining ingredients except oil. Pulse until almost smooth (adding water 1 Tbsp at a time if necessary), occasional scraping down sides of bowl as needed. This may need to be done in batches depending on the size of your machine.
3. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture forming in to balls or patties.
4. If frying, pour canola oil into a saucepan to a depth that would completely submerge your formed balls/ patties. Heat oil to 350F (using a thermometer) or the low end of medium-high heat. Fry in batched without crowding, until nicely browned - 3 to 4 minutes.
5. If baking, preheat oven to 375F. Spread 2 Tbsp canola oil over a lined baking sheet. Place falafel on baking sheet and brush the tops generously with additional canola oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes per side until golden brown.

How to: Recipe Makeover – Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

I’ve been making these sandwiches for a long time.

I’ve wavered about using them for a blog post though, since my standard technique is to fry the eggplant slices in a large quantity of oil, which I attest is extremely delicious but perhaps not appropriate as a recipe makeover.

So I tried baking them.

And golly, they are just as good.

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I fell in love with eggplant sandwiches at Uno Mustachio in the basement St. Lawrence Market.

California Sandwiches also makes a doozy.

You know who else makes a doozy?

Me.

And soon, you.

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When you’re picking out your eggplant, look for one that is small and firm with a bright green stem. The bigger and older they get, the more bitter they become.

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Do you guys use garbage bowls when prepping your veg? Makes for a nice tidy workspace and easier clean up. It was one of the first lessons of home cooking I learned from watching Rachel Ray on the Food Network ages ago.

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Here, are my breading bowls.  The flour soaks up some of the moisture on the surface of the eggplant which allows the egg mixture to bind to the slices, leading to a nice sticky surface for the panko to evenly crust each slice.

Standard breadcrumbs will work here too, but if you’re baking rather than frying, the panko have a better crunch factor; absolutely key to a successful eggplant parm sandwich.

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These bake up with a crispy crust and a soft and almost creamy interior.  Good luck saving them all for the sandwiches.

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The recipe calls for a tomato sauce of your choice.  The one I used here is a recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis. I always make a double batch to freeze for pasta or pizza later on.

Now to build them….

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Be sure to load up on a few napkins before you tuck in.

Erin

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium eggplant (cut in ½ inch slices)
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cup japanese bread crumbs (panko)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (divided)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (divded)
  • 1 green bell pepper (cut into ¼ inch slices)
  • 1 red bell pepper (cut into ¼ inch slices)
  • 1 Medium yellow onion (cut into ¼ inch slices)
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (your choice)
  • 4 whole grain buns

Note

If your eggplant is quite big and perhaps not as fresh as you would like, it may require 'salting' to remove some of its bitter flavour.  Pour 1 tsp salt over eggplant slices and allow to drain in a colander in the sink for about 30 minutes.  Rinse well, pat dry and continue on with the following recipe steps.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place flour in a medium bowl. Place egg and water in a 2nd bowl and whisk until slightly frothy. Place breadcrumbs, ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper in a 3rd bowl and mix until combined.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush 2 Tbsp canola oil evenly over foil lined sheet. One slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour bowl, followed by the egg bowl being sure to coat both sides, and finally the breadcrumb bowl coating both sides equally. Transfer to baking sheet. Bake eggplant for 25 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through, until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, heat remaining canola oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions, peppers and remaining salt and pepper until very soft, 8-10 minutes.
4. Build each sandwich with 2-3 slices of eggplant, ¼ of the pepper and onion mixture, 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese and tomato sauce (I will leave the amount of sauce to your discretion).

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How to: Quickie Meal – ‘Breakfast’ Sandwiches

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To me, it’s shocking it has taken me this long to post about one of my favourite and oft used quickie meals.

Really, there’s not much to it. It’s simple. It’s quick. And there is no recipe, per se.

But I feel the need to show you how awesome and meal-like a humble breakfast sandwich can be anyway.

So I will.

First thing’s first.  Rummage around in your fridge for anything that might make a good sandwich filling.

Here is what I had on hand. Truly. There was no shopping required for this post.

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Bits and bobs of leftover cheese. The other half of that delicious Ontario field tomato. Anything green. Anything saucy. Eggs (obvi). Meat if you dig it.

Next, you need a vehicle. I had whole wheat english muffins though any bread, bun or wrap will do.

Finally, you need about 3 to 5 mins to cook your egg. I like mine fried, over easy so it explodes with delicious fatty yolk when I bite in to it. Some like it over-hard. Some like it scrambled up a little and folded. Some like whites-only (nut jobs).

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Need some inspiration? Here’s what I did, with delectable results.

Avocado, extra old cheddar, crisp romaine lettuce and salsa combine for southwestern twist. Yeehaw.

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Try a thick layer of soft goat’s cheese, peppery arugula and a fresh-from-the-field Ontario tomato is a perfect locavore option.

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DSC_6828Slow roasted sweet-as-candy grape tomatoes, fresh sliced basil and creamy bulgarian feta adds a gourmet flare.

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Whatever egg-mc-delicious option you try, ‘breakfast’ sandwiches are so so much more than just breakfast, wouldn’t you agree?

Erin

How to: Recipe Makeover – Tofu Bahn Mi

This is a bahn mi.

It’s simply a sandwich with vietnamese roots.

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And with this heat? It’s sandwich season in my kitchen.

The bun is a french style baguette and the filling can be any variety of meat, seafood or tofu which is usually accompanied by crunchy pickled vegetables, herbs and a chili kick of some sort.

Basically, a savoury, sweet, sour, spicy flavour bomb. The sandwich jackpot.

As a fan of the popular Bahn Mi Boys sandwich shop here in Toronto, I have been wanting to create something similar at home.

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That, is lemongrass.  If you’ve never used it before it has a fresh, floral lemony scent and flavour.  Remove the tough outer leaves and mince the juicy root end.  Ginger works as a good substitute if you can’t find it.

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If you would prefer to meat-ify your bahn mi, this marinade would work beautifully with meat or seafood too.

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The daikon is a large white radish with a mild flavour. It’s available in most grocery stores and can be substituted with any other type of radish.

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I cheated and bought pre-cut matchstick carrots in a bag for this recipe.  Hey, five minutes saved in the kitchen means five more to savour my delicious sandwich on the back deck with a cold beer.tofu bahn mi 4

Each of these components are simple to make and work together in a surprisingly harmonious way.

tofu bahn mi Can we say…homerun?

Erin

Tofu Bahn Mi

Serves 4-6
Prep time 40 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
From magazine Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1 package extra firm tofu (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (divided)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup matchstick cut carrots
  • 1 and 1/4 cup matchstick cut daikon radish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1.5 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1 cup finely sliced cucumber
  • french baguette (or similar type bread)

Note

The pickled carrots, spicy mayo can be made and the tofu marinated up to a day in advance, making this a great quickie meal or a perfect option when having guests.

Directions

1. Cut tofu lengthwise into 6 equal slices. Arrange the slices on a few layers of paper towels, top with another few layers of paper towels and top with a heavy pan or a book. Let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Combine lemongrass, 2 Tbsp water, soy sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil in a dish large enough to accommodate the tofu slices in a single layer or a large plastic zipper bag. Let stand for at least 20 minutes, flipping slices halfway through.
3. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, sugar, carrots and radish and let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance. Add chopped basil.
4. In a small dish combine mayonnaise, sriracha and remaining tsp of sesame oil. Whisk until smooth.
5. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with a spray or brush of oil. Remove tofu fro marinate and pat slices dry with paper towels. Cook tofu slices about 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp.
6. Spread mayo over both cut sides of baguette and layer tofu, cucumbers and carrot mixture in between.