Three Ways with Shredded Chicken

When I’m meal planning for the week, sometimes I like to just cook a bunch of chicken, shred it, and save it to use in various dishes throughout the week. It cuts down on time spent preparing meals after a long day of work, and you can switch up what you’re going to make with it. Here are three of my go-to meals using shredded chicken.

Salsa Chicken Tacos

All you have to do for these tacos is mix your chicken with your favorite salsa and put it on a tortilla. Doesn’t get much simpler than that! My favorite toppings to go with the salsa chicken are avocados, shredded cheese, sliced onions, halved grape tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

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Summer Salad

I love a hearty salad with fresh summer produce, and chicken adds extra protein to it. My favorite summer salad uses butter lettuce, Vidalia onions, strawberries, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, and chicken, drizzled with avocado ranch. You can also add toasted sunflower seeds for some added crunch.

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Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

I love grilled cheese, and I love buffalo chicken, so what’s a more perfect combo than a Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese? I make my own buffalo sauce (see recipe below photo), toss the chicken in it, and use sharp cheddar and American cheese on the sandwich. You can either make your grilled cheese in a panini press or just in a skillet (what I do).

Here’s my recipe for homemade buffalo sauce:

1/2 cup of hot sauce (I use Texas Pete)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1. Stir together all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring to a slow boil while stirring constantly.

3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Moroccan Halibut en Papillote

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Now that it’s officially summer, it’s time to cook light and easy dishes that won’t weigh you down after a day spent out in the heat. I love cooking seafood in the summer, and a nice, light fish dish is always my go to. It still packs a punch of protein but I always feel better after eating fish than a heavy meat dish.

This weekend, I had a friend over for dinner and we decided it was a perfect summer night for some seafood. We thought about making fish tacos, but after evaluating my pantry stock, I was inspired to make a Moroccan dish. I think I’ve mentioned my Try the World box subscription before, but I had some spices and couscous from last month’s Morocco box that I hadn’t tried out yet, and I was ready to experiment. We picked up some halibut fillets from Whole Foods and decided to make halibut en papillote (in parchment paper packets). Cooking fish en papillote may sound fancy, but it’s actually so easy and so quick. You just throw everything together in the little packet with some oil and it all cooks together. To learn how to make and fold parchment paper packets, check out these instructions.

For my Moroccan-inspired halibut, I seasoned the fish with a little salt first, then sprinkled kefta rub on top, added some tomatoes, garlic, raisins, and herbs to the packet, and drizzled it with culinary Argan oil. Argan oil is a traditional Moroccan oil, but feel free to use olive oil instead.

Once everything was ready to go, I folded up the packet (learn how to fold a packet here) and stuck in the oven.

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12 minutes later, we had perfectly cooked flaky halibut.

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The taste of this Moroccan halibut was so delicious and flavorful. The kefta rub gave it just the right amount of seasoning without overwhelming the flavor of the fish, and the Argan oil imparted a nutty taste. The tomatoes cooked down and the raisins (also typical to Moroccan cuisine) were a sweet complement to the spiced kefta taste. I served the halibut over couscous with sautéed green beans.

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I will absolutely be making this dish again. You can also play with the elements of your packet and the vegetables you include and seasonings you use. Get creative and let this Moroccan dish inspire you!

Moroccan Halibut en Papillote
(makes 2 servings)

2 (6oz) halibut fillets
Sprinkle of salt
1 tsp. kefta rub
3 Tbsp. Argan or olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
Grape tomatoes, halved
Raisins
Parsley
Parchment Paper
Hot cooked couscous

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place one fillet on one half of each parchment paper packet. Lightly sprinkle each halibut fillet with salt. Rub 1/2 tsp. of kefta rub on top of each fillet.

3. Arrange garlic, tomatoes, raisins, and parsley to your preference with fish on one half of parchment paper. Drizzle with oil, about one and a half tablespoons over each fillet. Fold paper in half and crimp edges to seal. See instructions here.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

5. Remove fish from packet and serve over couscous.

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

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Hola amigos! Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past 10 days — I was on vacation in Aruba! More on that coming soon. So anyway tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, and even though it’s not a traditional Mexican holiday, I love any excuse to gorge myself on tortilla chips and drink too many margaritas (sorry in advance). But going out to eat on Cinco can be a pain in the you-know-what with long waits, rushed service, and not enough margs, so this year, consider getting some friends together and having your own little Cinco de Mayo party. Everyone can bring a dish, and you can bring this awesome guacamole.

I love a good guac, and a newish place that we have here in Birmingham called Babalu has some of the best in town. They make it right at your table, but what makes it unique is that they use sun-dried tomatoes in it instead of regular fresh tomatoes. I was a little skeptical at first, but the tanginess of the tomatoes actually compliments the avocado really well. I’m hooked on it, so I decided to make my own version of it.

The best thing about making guacamole is that it’s so easy. The hardest part, honestly, is finding avocados at their peak of ripeness. You can tell an avocado is ripe when it is soft and slightly gives to your touch (if it gives way too much, it’s overripe). Luckily, Publix pulled through for me today! I like my guacamole chunky, so I actually make crisscross cuts in the avocado halves before scooping out the pulp and then slightly mashing it together with the other ingredients. And if you’re a little unsure of the best way to halve, pit, and peel an avocado, here’s a helpful video. If you’re using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, make sure you pat them dry on paper towels first.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients chopped up, you just have to throw it all together, grab some chips, and serve. I guarantee it will be gone in no time! (FYI I made a smaller batch to serve about 4 people, but this recipe can easily be doubled/tripled to feed a crowd!)

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Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

2 avocados, halved, pitted, and pulp scooped out
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
4-5 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
Lime juice to taste

1. In a medium bowl, mash avocado to desired chunkiness. Add onions, tomatoes, and salt, and stir together. Season with lime juice to your preference.

2. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Change it up:

  • If you like it hot, add some chopped jalapeños to the guacamole.
  • Swap red onions for the sweet onions.
  • Add some chopped, fresh cilantro.

Bourbon Honey Broiled Oranges

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There’s nothing like a leisurely weekend brunch, and it’s even better if it’s homemade. I love getting together with friends to cook brunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Making broiled oranges is a simple but beautiful addition to any brunch. They look impressive but they are actually super easy to make. 🙂

My inspiration for these came from an Old Fashioned cocktail. The oranges are sprinkled with sugar, drizzled with bourbon honey, and finished off with a little ground ginger. Feel free to substitute regular honey for the bourbon honey. I used bourbon honey from one of my favorite North Carolina companies, Cloister Honey. Check them out if you haven’t heard of them!

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For the oranges, I used Cara Cara oranges because they are my favorite, but if you prefer a less sweet, tangier citrus, you can use navel oranges or even grapefruits for this recipe.

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To make these beauties, split the oranges in half and cut around the pith around the edges to detach the orange from the peel and through each natural section to make them easier to eat. If your orange halves are having trouble standing up straight, cut a little off the bottom so they won’t roll around.

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Sprinkle each orange half with a pinch of sugar, and drizzle with honey.

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Sprinkle a pinch of ground ginger on each orange half.

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Broil for 8-10 minutes or until bubbly and slightly charred.

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Serve warm, topped with a dollop of greek yogurt, if desired!

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Bourbon Honey Broiled Oranges
(makes 4 servings)

2 Cara Cara oranges
Sugar
Bourbon honey (can use regular honey)
Ground ginger
Plain Greek yogurt (optional)

1. Turn oven broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Slice two oranges in half. Using a sharp knife, cut around edges to detach orange from peel, and cut through each natural segment.

3. Sprinkle each half with a pinch of sugar. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of bourbon honey over each orange half (more or less to your preference). Sprinkle each half with a pinch of ground ginger.

4. Broil for about 8-10 minutes or until bubbly and slightly charred. Top with Greek yogurt, if desired. Serve warm.

Sweet Chili Chicken Stir-Fry

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I love stir-frys. They are one of the easiest things you can make — you just throw it all in the wok/skillet with some oil, stir it all up until cooked, and boom, you’re done. And the combinations of stir-frys are endless. Asian stir-frys are typical, but you can also make some pretty delicious vegetarian and superfood stir-frys.

My little sister is visiting for the week, and being 16, she can be a little picky about her food. But she loves Asian food and she loves stir-frys, so making a chicken stir-fry for her was a no-brainer. This Sweet Chili Chicken Stir-Fry was delicious. It had just the right amount of spice to it and got the stamp of approval from the picky eater.

I marinated the chicken for 30 minutes in a sweet chili marinade I threw together from pretty much all of my Asian sauces.

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Then I sautéed some onions until translucent…

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added the chicken…

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and cooked it until the chicken was cooked through and onions were soft.

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At this point, I added the veggies. I used a bag of pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables because, hello, convenience, but you can definitely take the time to chop your own veggies and add any of your favorites.

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Cook the veggies until soft. Serve stir-fry over hot cooked rice with extra soy sauce and sweet chili sauce and enjoy!

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This recipe makes enough for 3-4 servings. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be exact with your measurements in stir-frying. Adjust the marinade/sauces and vegetables to your taste preference.

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Sweet Chili Chicken Stir-Fry

Marinade:
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

Stir-Fry:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
12 oz. vegetable stir fry mix
1/2 medium onion, sliced
Oil for frying (Vegetable or sesame)
Low-sodium soy sauce (for flavoring)
Hot cooked rice

1. Stir together all ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Place cubed chicken in a Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag and shake to distribute marinade evenly. Place in refrigerator and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to become translucent.

3. Add chicken with marinade to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through. Onions should be soft and translucent at this point.

4. When chicken is fully cooked, add vegetables. You will probably need to add some more oil at this point. Cook until soft and cooked through. Drizzle soy sauce over stir-fry to your taste preference.

5. Serve stir-fry over hot cooked rice with additional soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.

Dr Pepper Pulled Pork with Cherry Broccoli Slaw

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Since it has been so warm in Birmingham the past couple of weeks, I wanted to make a dish that felt like summer and celebrated the warm weather’s return. However, when I originally planned to make this dish, it wasn’t going to be in the 30s-40s this weekend… But oh well, I was already committed to it so I rolled with it and it was delicious (and will be at any time of the year). This is the perfect dish to make for an easy weeknight dinner or a Saturday barbecue.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of pork dish, and remembered seeing recipes for pork cooked in a slow cooker with Coke, Root Beer, or Dr Pepper and have always wanted to give it a try. I opted to go with Dr Pepper and made a Cherry Broccoli Slaw to go with it, since cherry is one of Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors. The meat was so tender and definitely had slight hints of cherry in it. Topped with the slaw, this was a flavorful combination that I will definitely be making again and again.

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I used a 2.5 lb Boston Butt Roast since it is a fattier cut, which makes the meat more tender. The Boston Butt Roast (you’ll probably also see it marked on packages as Pork Shoulder), is cut from the shoulder of the pig, not the butt. It got its name from New England butchers in colonial times who would pack similar cuts of meat like this into barrels, called butts, for storage.

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This recipe isn’t very involved at all. You just put the roast into the slow cooker…

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…pour the Dr. Pepper over it…

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…and let it cook for 6 hours on low.

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While the pork is cooking, prepare the slaw. I opted to use a Broccoli Slaw mix, but you can definitely use a regular Coleslaw mix. For the dried cherries, try to find dried tart cherries instead of using something like Craisins with cherry flavor. The tart cherries don’t overwhelm with their sweetness.

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All you have to do for the slaw is chop up the dried cherries, whisk together the dressing, and stir everything together. And here’s a tip: To keep the cherries from sticking to your knife blade, spray the blade with a little cooking spray before you begin chopping.

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After 6 hours hours, remove the pork from the slow cooker, drain the liquid, and shred pork with forks. At this point you can remove any extra fatty pieces. Return to slow cooker and mix in barbecue sauce (I used a local restaurant’s sauce but any tomato-based sauce will work). Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

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Top hamburger buns with pork…

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…slaw…

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…and enjoy!

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Dr Pepper Pulled Pork with Cherry Broccoli Slaw

Pork:
1 (2.5 lb) Boston Butt Roast
Salt and Pepper
1 (20oz) bottle Dr Pepper
1 cup barbecue sauce

Slaw:
1/4 cup mayo
1 1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (12 oz) package broccoli slaw mix
1/4 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1 pkg. (8-count) Hamburger buns

1. Sprinkle roast all over with salt and pepper. Place roast in slow cooker and pour Dr Pepper over it. Cook on low for 6 hours.

2. Remove pork from slow cooker and drain liquid. Shred pork with forks and return to slow cooker. Stir in 1 cup of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 30 minutes.

3. To prepare slaw: In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, and sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in slaw mix and cherries.

4. Serve pulled pork topped with slaw on hamburger buns. Add additional barbecue sauce, if desired.

Oreo-Peanut Butter-Brownie Cupcakes

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People always ask “How do you eat your Oreos?” Do you dunk them in milk? Pull one half off and lick the cream off before eating the cookies? Eat just the cream and leave the cookies for someone else? (<– Rude). I’ve always been an “Oreo straight up” eater. I don’t do anything special to them; just ate them the way they come. But now I think my answer might have to be smeared with peanut butter, stacked up, and baked into a brownie. Don’t call me crazy.

Chocolate and peanut butter is my new obsession. I know you are probably laughing because this is the oldest combination in the book, but I was never head over heels for it. I’ve always liked Reese’s but if I had a choice of dessert, PB wouldn’t be in it. But over the past few months, something snapped in me and all I want all the time is chocolate and peanut butter desserts. So when I saw a photo of these divine-inspired creations on Pinterest, I knew I had to have them. I scooped the recipe up from Picky Palate and hauled you-know-what to the grocery store.

The best part about these is that they are so easy to make. All you need is Oreos, peanut butter, and brownie mix (and whatever ingredients need to go into the mix). Even if you’re not a baker, you can make these. I used my favorite brownie mix (Ghiradelli Double Chocolate), but it was a little too thick and had chocolate chips in it, which made it harder for the mix to fully surround the Oreo stack. But it still tasted delicious so who’s complaining.

First, prepare the brownie mix.

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Then, spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on top of 1 Oreo. Top with a second Oreo, and spread 1 more teaspoon of peanut butter on top of that one. (Note: this doesn’t have to be exact. You can put as much or as little peanut butter as you prefer). Then take the stack of two Oreos and place it in a lined cup in the muffin pan.

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Spoon brownie batter over stacks in muffin pan, letting it run down sides of each stack.

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Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes and then indulge!

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Oreo-Peanut Butter-Brownie Cupcakes

1 box brownie mix
24 Oreo cookies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.

3. For each cupcake, spread 1 teaspoon of peanut butter on top of 1 Oreo. Top with a second Oreo, and spread 1 more teaspoon of peanut butter on top of that one. Place stack in a lined cup in muffin pan. Repeat with remaining Oreos and peanut butter.

4. Spoon brownie batter over stacks in muffin pan, letting it run down sides of each stack.

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until brownie is cooked through.