Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

Southwest Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken

Some of my friends and I are in a Bachelor fantasy league. Feel free to make fun of me, I don’t care. It’s awesome and a legit excuse to drink a questionable about of wine on a weeknight. It’s kind of like fantasy football, but we “draft” the hot messes from each season of the Bachelor franchise and then hate-watch and track whose players earn the most points (from achievements like “revealing a sob story,” “secretly has a kid,” “hot tub bonus make out” etc.).

We take turns hosting – whoever is on weekly host duty is also in charge of dinner. I hosted the premiere last week and needed to make a big batch of healthy food – and this southwest spiced chicken was perfect. I was able to prep everything the night before, throw the chicken in the slow cooker before work the morning of, and when I came home dinner was basically done.

Now that is worth some major bonus “hot tub make out” points. (If by “hot tub” we mean “slow cooker” and “make out” we mean “cooking.”)

Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

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Southwest Slow Cooker Hatch Chicken Chili

Hatch Chicken Chili

I finally gave in and got a crock pot this past weekend. (I say “finally” because I feel like slow cookers are really experiencing a renaissance in my generation, thanks to Pinterest and other domestic-y sites – I’m one of the last 20-something girls I know who didn’t have one.) It was perfect timing because for the first time since, oh, March, Austin was cold (aka, in the low 70s) and wet. Pair that gloomy, stay-inside weather with a weekend full of football, and you’ve got yourself an ideal slow cooker combo situation.

This recipe is just something I threw together on Sunday morning, and it turned out so well. The bonus: unlike a lot of football snacks, it’s completely healthy. Take about 10-20 minutes to prep this in the late morning or early afternoon, leave it on high for 4-5 hours, and you’ll have a hot, spicy meal just in time for the evening game.

If you don’t have a Crock Pot or other slow cooker, guess what? You’re in luck. You can achieve the same results by cooking low and slow in a stockpot on the stove. Just make sure you’ve cooked your chicken breast most of the way through and add ingredients from there.

Note – this recipe uses hatch chiles, grown in New Mexico, which are really popular in the southwest this time of year. If you don’t have them in your neck of the woods you can feel free to use whatever chile pepper you prefer. Canned chipotles are always a favorite of mine, and they’re easy to find in practically any grocery store.

Southwest Hatch Chicken Chili

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Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Welp, it’s chili weather. Chili is basically the best fall/winter dinner ever. It’s easy to throw together, super cozy, and you can really feel good about it because it’s chock full of fiber and protein (and SPICE!) Also because it makes me feel like I’m watching football, even if I’m not. (What, is that weird?)

I usually make my chipotle sweet potato chili but I was in the mood to mix it up this week. I had some butternut squash to use up and figured it’d be a great chili ingredient, along with your requisite beans and meat (in this case, ground bison—it has a sweet, meaty taste with tons of protein and it’s way leaner than ground beef. Thanks, bison!).

To keep things interesting, I decided to top this one with a sprinkle of gorgonzola crumbles and Louisiana hot sauce—blue cheese and butternut squash is lovely together, and obviously hot wings have taught us that blue cheese and hot sauce are also a match made in heaven. I’m pretty proud of this flavor combination, y’all!

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

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Sensible Sports Snacks: Baked Taco Roll-Ups

Baked Taco Roll Ups

Are you finding that you are going to more get-togethers lately? That”s how I feel about fall.  When the weather is nice, people love to gather. And you know what?  When people gather…they eat.

So, if you have a few friends over for the big game (Go, insert relevant sports team name here!!) why not make them some secretly healthy taco roll-ups to fill their bellies?

They will thank you for it.

(Healthy) Baked Taco Roll-Ups

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In Which I Succumb to Taco Tuesday

When I first moved to DC, I had the pleasure of living with not one but two lovely women who came from families with eight children.  As a member of a modest two-child family, I was endlessly fascinated by their stories of growing up.  One story that entered our household lore and has stuck with me going on six years later is the tale of the day that Rachel, who was near the end of her large family train, called her house on a Tuesday and talked to her mom.  It came out that her mom, dad and brother, the only ones remaining at home, were having fish for dinner.  Indignantly, Rachel exclaimed, “But Mom, it’s Taco Tuesday!”  To which her mom replied something like, “You think that we still eat tacos every week now that it’s just the three of us?”  It seems that Taco Tuesday was more a product of pragmatism than a reflection of her mother’s love of Tex-Mex cuisine.

For me, the food growing up was considerably less regimented. Sure, there were some favorite family dishes, but the level of predictability was considerably less pronounced.  My mother would plan the week’s menu over the weekend, and each of us would have a say.  New dishes were welcomed, particularly if the person suggesting it was also willing to cook it.  After I flew the coop, I met a man whose tastes are as varied as mine, and together we embarked on many culinary adventures (think homemade gyros, doro wat, and pesto pizza). It seemed that Taco Tuesday, at least for me, was not to be.

But…I now find myself the parent of two kids two and under, one of whom eats every three hours around the clock, and the other who is disinclined to entertain himself for hours while I practice Advanced Menu Planning and Execution.  That’s right.  I have embraced not only Taco Tuesday, but Pasta Monday as well.  But, I promise you this, ESers:  There will never be a Turkey Surprise Thursday.  I hope.

Oh yes, a recipe…so, when I am feeling particular adventurous  and my mini-sous chef is willing, Taco Tuesday can become Enchilada Tuesday.  It’s not too much more work, but looks considerably more impressive.

Easy Tuesday Enchiladas

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Cornerstone Cooking: Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

We love us a good blog-to-book success story (hellooooooo, agents — what ver happened to Friday Fuck-Ups, the novel?) So I was excited to get my copy of Cornerstone Cooking, the new cookbook from Nick Evans, sometimes ES contributor and the man behind Macheesmo.

Of course, leave it to a blogger to come up with the first cookbook I’ve seen in eons that is actually useful. The concept behind Cornerstone is one we can get behind: “learn to love your leftovers.” In each of his eight chapters, Nick offers up one “Cornerstone recipe” — the simple things that you should just know how to make perfectly (roast chicken, spicy black beans, grilled flank steak, baked potatoes, marinara sauce, lentils, homemade bread and vanilla ice cream). Then for each one, he gives you about a dozen more directions for how to use that cornerstone dish up over the course of a week. For example, how to turn those spicy black beans into black bean burgers, black bean soup, huevos rancheros, black bean salad, and our favorite — fried tacos!

Check out Cornerstone Cooking on Amazon, or keep reading for the recipe.

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America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized

Our recent article on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere, but no one was more riled up  than a group of spunky vegan bloggers. Their de facto leader, Namely Marly, explains:

We read this article with great curiosity but it didn’t take long until the curiosity faded and was replaced with something else. OK. We were grossed out. Particularly at one sandwich that referred to an ingredient called suckling pig. We hoped this was a reference to something other than the obvious, but it appears it is exactly as it sounds. Only one of the 10 sandwiches appeared to be vegetarian. We felt like a cross between Stan Laurel and Rodney Dangerfield, scratching our heads with a half whimper and half scowl thinking, “Why don’t we vegans get any respect?”

So they decided to demand their own respect, teaming together to create tasty and healthy versions of each cholesterol-laden entry on the list of America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches. Hence, America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized. Here are all ten of ’em. Follow the links for recipes.

10. The Vegan Spuckie

We called this olive-carrot-mortadella goodness from Cutty’s in Boston “the one sandwich that most successfully merges the old-school method of overdoing it on Italian meats with the new world of artisan, veggie-centric goodness.” Drop the meat part and it’s still drool-worthy. Trina Jaconi Biery of Your Vegan Mom made her own meat-free mortadella, featured here on a ciabatta roll topped with vegan mozzarella and a sweet carrot-olive salad.

Recipe: The Vegan Spuckie

(Photo: Trina Jaconi Biery)

9. Vegan Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

When Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan learned there was a Bulgogi Steak Sandwich (from Koja in Philly) on the list, she jumped at the chance to veganize it. As a child she used to eat bulgogi steak sometimes twice a week. Now a vegan, she’s been hankering to try a veggie-friendly version. Served on a hoagie roll (Allyson even provided a recipe for gluten-free hoagie if that’s to your liking), marinated tofu is topped with caramelized peppers and onions, chili garlic sauce, and melted vegan mozz.

Recipe: Tofu Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

(Photo: Allyson Kramer)

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