Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

Welcome back, crock pot!  I love, love, love the crock pot, I just don’t use it enough.  So easy and I love the way the house starts smelling good halfway through the day!

I love Chinese food, but it’s typically not very good for you, so when I found this recipe on Pinterest, I adapted a bit to make it a little healthier and it was so good.  Another kid and family-friendly dinner.  It was also super-cheap; I had everything but the chicken already in the pantry.  Let me know what you think!

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • little less than 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 4 tbsp water
  • sesame seeds

Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and then place in the bottom of a crock pot.  In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, onion, vegetable oil, garlic and pepper flakes.  Pour over chicken and cook on low 3-4 hours or on high 1.5 – 2.5 hours.

When chicken is cooked, remove and chop into bite size pieces.  In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch with water and then stir into sauce still in crock pot.  Replace lid and cook on high for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce thickens a bit.  Once thickened, toss the chicken pieces with the sauce in the pot.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over brown rice and roasted broccoli.

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Grilled Rosemary Chicken

I adapted this recipe from my friend Jen’s great cooking blog, bakinandeggs.com, who I believe also adapted it from a recipe she found elsewhere.  Needless to say, it’s really good and simple.  The marinade includes a little honey and the natural sugars found in honey really make the chicken brown nicely.  Plus, you know I can’t pass up an opportunity to showcase my herbs from my beloved herb garden.

Make this part of your summer grilling repertoire.  I think I threw in some grilled okra (tossed with olive oil, Cavendars Greek Seasoning and pepper — thanks, Amanda!) and a fresh fruit salad to round out this summer meal.

Prepare the marinade before work and when you get home, it will be perfect and ready for the grill.  Remember to  remove the chicken and let it sit out at room temp for about 10-15 minutes before grilling.  This helps the meat cook more evenly.  If it’s too cold, the inside won’t always get cooked through before the outside is charred.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

 

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • little salt
  • as much fresh rosemary, finely chopped, as you want
  • 2-4 chicken breasts

In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade.  Place the chicken breasts in a ziplock baggie and pour the marinade over it, turning several times to coat well.  Chill for about 8 hours.

Heat grill to medium heat, about 350-375.  Grill chicken until desired doneness, about 10 minutes on either side, depending on how thick the chicken is.

Sunday Kabobs

Growing up, we always grilled out on Sunday nights as a family.  Kabobs, lots of fresh veggies and rice or corn or maybe macaroni were always on the docket.  As we got older, the nights also included lots of good wines and laughs.  It’s one of my favorite family traditions and Frank and I have begun to adopt it.

Tonight, we’re doing simple kabobs, lake rice and a fresh, summer fruit salad.  Kabobs are a very simple way to pack in protein and veggies without having to prepare separate dishes.  Sometimes I make my own, especially if we have veggies in the fridge to use up, and sometimes we buy them already prepared (how many times have I mentioned my obsession with Publix?).  You can include anything you like, but I’ve found that bell peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, squash and zuccini hold up the best.  But, that’s the great thing about them, you can build your own!

We’re out on the porch, in 95 degree weather, including a cold glass of white wine and grilling these guys:

Hope you’re doing something equally fun with your family!

Sunday Kabobs

  • 2 chicken breasts or a filet, chopped into large cubes
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped into squares
  • 1 onion, chopped into squares
  • cherry tomatoes, whole
  • fresh pineapple chunks (not pictured)
  • wooden or metal kabob spears
  • olive oil or steak marinade
  • S&P or other preferred seasoning (maybe Cavenders?)

Light the grill to medium-high heat.  Soak your kabob spears in water, if they are wooden, for a few minutes.  This reduces the risk of them catching on fire on the grill.  Make your kabobs in any order you prefer.  I usually grill a separate kabob of only pineapple chunks for two reasons — one, Frank doesn’t like it, and two, they cook at a different speed than the meat and other veggies.

Drizzle oil and seasoning on the chicken and rub in gently with your fingers…if you went with steak, you might want to have marinaded the kabobs in Worchestershire or something similar for an hour or two to tenderize the meat, so you can skill the olive oil here.

Grill, turning occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes on either side.

Poppyseed Chicken

Why is poppyseed chicken not on the blog yet?  I have no idea.  I love this casserole, it’s the ultimate comfort food and really simple.  This is a well-known type of recipe, but the dash of curry powder makes it extra-special to me.

  The key to making it fast and easy for a weeknight supper is to have your chicken pre-cooked. Typically, I will just simmer a few boneless breasts (45-50 minutes with S&P) on the weekend and just keep them in a baggie in the fridge for when we need cooked chicken, for salads, chicken salad, whatever.

However, this past weekend, we had some friends over to grill out and in typical fashion, Frank bought about 6,000 chicken breasts for 10 people (he likes to buy in bulk…a trait I’m starting to pick up on as our married years tick by, but it still amazes me every now and then).  We threw them on the smoker, and of course, had 5,990 breasts left over…but they were perfect to make Poppyseed Chicken in a hurry tonight!  I love dinners that go in the oven and you don’t have to watch constantly on the stove.

This is a great casserole for a busy weeknight or to take to a new mom, new neighbor or a large dinner party.  Freezes well, too.  Serve with a green salad.

Poppyseed Chicken

  • 3-4 boneless chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 8 oz. carton reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 can cream of celery (98% fat free)
  • healthy shake curry powder
  • 1 roll whole-wheat Ritz crackers, crushed up
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, shred your chicken into small bite-size pieces.

 Dump the sour cream, cream of celery and dash of curry powder and mix well with a spatula.  Spread mixture into a medium-sized baking dish.

In a separate, smaller bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.  Put the Ritz crackers in a ziplock baggie and crush up to make crumbs with a meat mallet or something similar.  Pour the crushed cracker crumbs into the bowl of melted butter and add the poppyseeds.  Mix well.

Top the casserole with the crust, covering thoroughly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

Homemade Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

So, this was my first real attempt at homemade pizza and I must say, it was a serious success.  The flavors in this recipe were delicious together — those folks at Cooking Light know what they are doing.  There were a lot of firsts for me in this recipe.  First, chicken sausage.  What in the world is that?  Ask you butcher at — where else — Publix.  It looks just like italian sausage, just ten times healthier.  There was virtually no fat as they browned in the skillet.  While I’m talking about the sausage, you can break it into a lot smaller pieces in the skillet, Frank just likes them in bigger chunks.  It lots a little weird in these large chunks, but just go with it. 

Second ‘first’ — fennel. 

I bought a fennel bulb and had to Google it because I had no idea how to chop it or what to do with it.  Found this very informative video on the internet (what did we do before the internet, seriously?) on chopping fennel.  It’s a breeze, don’t worry.

Third ‘first’ — fresh pizza dough.  I had heard that Publix (am I obsessed?) makes incredible fresh pizza dough and I heard right, it was really good.  You can find it in their bakery section, in a small refridgerated case.

Fourth ‘first’ — pizza itself. 

But it turned out fabulously, please you MUST try this, I promise you’ll love it.  Serve with a salad of greens, tomato and red wine vinegar.  Let me know!

Pizza with Chicken Sausage, Fennel and Sweet Onion

  • 1 package of chicken sausages, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced sweet onion
  • 1 cub thinly sliced fennel (watch the video, I promise)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • fresh pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup of Gouda cheese, shredded (I bought a wheel of Gouda and shredded myself)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives (from my herb garden!)

Preheat oven according to the pizza dough label instructions, probably 450.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown sausage until cooked.  Remove from pan.  Add oil to pan and saute the onion and fennel with the salt, covered for 10 minutes or so, until tender and lightly browned.

In the meantime, place the dough on a lightly floured countertop.  Sprinkle about half a handful of flour on top of the doughball and roll it out with a rolling pin to desired thickness.

Move dough to nonstick cookie sheet.  Put the onion/fennel mixture on the pizza, then the gouda, then the cooked sausage. 

Bake for about 12 minutes or until crispy.  Sprinkle evenly with chopped chives and serve!

Dijon Chicken

These pictures aren’t great, I apologize.  I do most of my cooking at night, after work, and I just can’t get much natural light.  Any of you photoags out there, any tips?  Are lightboxes easy to make?  No idea.

Anyways, this recipe is beyond simple.  It is adapted for cardiac reasons from Magic, the famous old Junior League of Birmingham cookbook.  This cookbook is spiral-bound, no photography, totally old-school, but absolutely everything in it is tried and true (and ridiculously full of fat).  It’s also one of those cookbooks that assumes you already know how to cook.  It will say things like, heat oil in a skillet and cook the chicken.  !!!!   What if you have NO idea how to cook chicken?  How long does chicken take?  How much oil?  What heat?  Anyways, I digress…

Dijon chicken is super-easy and if you used fat-free sour cream and skip the entire stick of butter MAGIC suggests you top the chicken with, it’s a healthy weeknight dish. 

Dijon Chicken

  • boneless chicken breasts, lightly pounded to even out
  • 2 tbsp fat-free sour cream (just eyeball the amount you need)
  • 2-3 tbsp dijon mustard (just eyeball the amount you need)
  • breadcrumbs (I use Publix brand Italian breadcrumbs)
  • dash of ground red pepper
  • S&P

Preheat oven to 400.  Pound out the thickest part of the chicken breast, just enough to even them out a bit.  On a cutting board, season chicken with S&P.  Then, using a basting brush or something similar, brush the sour cream over both sides of the breast, coating it lightly.  Do the same with the mustard.  Just a light layer is necessary, you don’t have to drench them.  In a shallow dish, dredge the chicken in the breadcrumbs on both sides.  I mix in a little red pepper to the breadcrumbs, just because we like this a little spicy, but totally up to you.

with brushed sour cream and dijon mustard

This is also optional, but you can top the chicken breasts with with a small dot of butter.  Not mandatory, but butter always helps.  I just use maybe a sliver for each breast, NOT the whole stick.

Place in a pyrex dish and bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes.  Then, bump up heat to 450, remove foil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until golden.

The chicken ends up really juicy and tender, but with that satisfying crunch factor from the breadcrumbs.  Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Salad

Yes, another dinner salad.  But this one might be my favorite so far.  I borrowed the idea from my friend Jennifer’s fantastic and much-better-done blog, bakinandeggs.com.  I adapted it slightly from her recipe, but essentially the idea is exactly the same. 

As with some of my more recent posts, I’m kind of over winter food and craving the fresh veggies and lighter fare that comes with warmer weather.  This salad is a perfect example of a healthy, fast weeknight supper.  And the dressing is the best part — it’s a delicious, light type of honey mustard dressing that is super-fast to whip up.  I can’t wait to make this in a few months and eat on the patio with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Grilled Chicken Salad

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • bottled Italian dressing
  • any type of preferred greens (we used green leaf lettuce here, but spring mix would be great!)
  • 1 cup of sliced stawberries, washed and dried
  • 1 chopped avocado
  • toasted sliced almonds (see below for how to toast almonds…this really brings out their flavor)
  • S&P to taste

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

   Preheat grill to 400.  Marinate chicken in Italian dressing ( about 1/4 cup total, just eyeball it) and S&P in a Ziplock baggie for 4-6 hours.  *If you don’t have time, don’t worry about it, just douse them with the dressing and throw on the grill.  Allowing the chicken to marinate over time just makes it more tender, but you can over-marinate chicken, especially with acidic marinades because the acid begins to break down the flesh over time, making the it mushy.  Here is a great article on smart marinating tricks.

Anyways, moving on.  Grill your chicken, about 10 minutes on either side.  While the chicken cooks, wash and shred your greens, slice strawberries and avocado and toast your almonds.  To toast sliced almonds, pour the amount you want (we use about 1/4 cup for this salad) into a small, 8″ stainless steel skillet (or whatever you have) and set it over low heat.  Watch them closely and toss them using the handle to move the skillet back and forth over the eye to get them toasted evenly.  You’ll know when they are ready, you can begin to smell the toasted flavor.  Remove from heat as soon as they are lightly browned.

To make the dressing, just whisk together the ingredients listed above in a separate small bowl.  We mixed the cut-up chicken into the salad with the other toppings, but added our own dressing to control the desired amount.