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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Apple Pumpkin Muffins

Someone recently brought my mother a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread and after I inhaled most of it, I can’t get pumpkin-flavored foods off the brain.  I’m just so excited fall is here — the mums and  fairy tale pumpkins (my new thing) and crisp air and football, all fabulous.

I saw these muffins on my friend Jen’s blog and while she is a master baker and takes much better photography than I do, these were still delicious.  I need to figure out how to get the nice rounded tops to the muffins like hers (maybe it’s my aversion to the word ‘muffin top?’)  I think it might have to do with the fact that I accidentally used a whole can of pumpkin instead of a half can, but oh well.  They were still fabulous.   And best of all, they were a healthy adapation from a more indulgent recipe, making them a relatively healthy choice for breakfast. 

Apple Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • small pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin.  In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flours down through the ground cloves).  In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin, applesauce, oil, sugar, and eggs together, blending well.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking well until completely blended.  Fold in apple.

Fill the muffin tins up about 3/4 full and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon and brown sugar if desired.  Bake for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before removing from wrapper.

Creamed Spinach

I love spinach.  Spinach of all kinds — fresh spinach for salads and sandwhiches, sauteed spinach (maybe with some garlic and cherry tomatoes) spinach dips and my favorite, creamed spinach.

Maybe it’s my dual love of cream cheese as well, but creamed spinach is one of my favorite things.  It’s kind of a luxury item, though, due to the butter and cream cheese, but you can tone it down with reduced fat cream cheese and substituting some of the butter with olive oil.  Still, I’m not going to lie, it’s an indulgence.  But so creamy and good.  Try it next time you’re grilling out; goes great with a juicy steak!

Creamed Spinach

  • 2 packages of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 block of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • splash lemon juice
  • salt (reglar and seasoned salt)
  • grated parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt the cream cheese and butter together until softened and smooth.  Meanwhile, thaw the spinach in the microwave and drain it well.  Put the spinach in a baking dish and salt it.  Pour the cream cheese mixture over the spinach and stir together with a spatula, coating the spinach well.  Add a splash of lemon juice (maybe 2 teaspoons) and seasoned salt to the spinach and stir again.  Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese (optional).  Cover the dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

before baking

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.

Black Bean Dip

If you are looking for a healthy, delicious offering to bring to your Memorial Day BBQ, this is the perfect recipe. My husband asks for it all the time and while it’s originally designed as an appetizer, the leftovers work great as a side dish for lunches, too. 

It’s super-healthy, colorful and makes plenty for a large crowd. And the best part — it’s so easy, you just dump a bunch of cans together and go! Happy Memorial Day!

Black Bean Dip

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans shoepeg corn (the shoepeg part is important)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • as much chopped cilantro as you like ( I use about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil

In a strainer over the sink, drain the corn, beans and peas, rinsing well to remove any of the canning residue and sodium.  Dump into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in the tomatoes, Rotel, onion, cilantro, cumin and mix well.

Then, stir in the lime juice and vegetable oil, mixing well.  This is best when covered with plastic wrap and chilled overnight; however, you can serve immediately.  But only with Tostitos and a cold Corona.  🙂

Roasted Asparagus

 Frank actually hates asparagus, but I love them and have avoided them through 4 years of marriage.  But last night, to spice up a dull Monday and just be overtly rebellious in general, I decided to risk it all and cook asparagus with our grilled pork chops and lake rice.

I know you’re all thinking, what a terrible wife, I make him eat vegetables, but I did.  I admit it.  And guess what?  He really liked them…enough to where he said I could even make them again!  I love nothing more than victory, especially when I’m right.  Enjoy these simple, healthy, colorful veggies with just about any kind of entree or main dish.  They are just starting to peak, too…asparagus is at its best in the Spring.

Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bushel of asparagus (look for brightly colored, tightly packed at the tips)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 400.  Take the asparagus, wash and break them off at the ends.  BEGINNERS TIP:  asparagus will naturally break at a certain point near the bottom, if you slightly bend it to snap off the bottom.  It’s kinda fun.

Place the asparagus on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet and drizzle the olive oil over them, rolling them around to coat them well.  Salt them to taste and then roast at 400 for about 10 minutes.  Don’t leave them in too long or they will char and shrivel up (not good). 

Right before serving, squeeze a half of a fresh lemon over them and serve immediately.