Extremely Easy Slow Cooker Chicken

Do I have an easy slow cooker recipe for you guys. If you even want to call it that. I stumbled upon this inspiration from Lina’s blog and it has been added to our monthly rotation of week night dinners. Lina is the Chief Training Officer of The Barre Code and writes an awesome blog focused on fitness, health and wellness.

Step one-buy a whole chicken. Cut up some of your favorite vegetables that will hold up nicely in the slow cooker (carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, celery).

IMG_2881Lay the vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season the chicken to taste. I used sea salt, black pepper, thyme, rosemary, and sage. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. Placing the chicken on top of the veggies will help keep the chicken from falling apart too much. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for about 8 hours.

IMG_2882You want the internal temperature of the leg to be 160 degrees. The cooking time will vary based on the weight of your chicken. No need to add water or broth to this. It will not burn, the vegetables and the chicken will make its own lovely broth.

When it’s done, scoop out some veggies and cut the chicken off the bone. Dish up and eat! It’s that easy.

IMG_2886I’ve made this now twice and both times it was delicious and satisfying. My ONLY complaint is not having crispy skin. I usually pick the skin off anyway, but I think next time I will place the chicken in the broiler for a few minutes after it’s done slow cooking. I’ll make sure to report back :-)

It’s Friday! Hallelujah!!!! It’s been an extra long work week and I’ve been looking forward to my wine date tonight with my friend, Jen, all week. The rest of my weekend will be filled with Christmas cookie baking, birthday celebrating, and maybe some Christmas shopping (I only have 1 thing purchased!). I’m really looking forward to baking cookies this year, it will be Madelyn’s first year participating! She’s the best kind of kitchen helper :-)

madelynpancakes

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2014

My third year hosting Thanksgiving went off without a hitch and I am finally recovered from my turkey coma. I’m definitely getting the hang of this whole making a big feast for 9 or more people and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

This year I stuck with some old tried & true recipes but snuck in a few new ones along with some modifications to some previous items.

What stayed the same? Well the Williams-Sonoma Turkey Brine. You can never go wrong with the Apple & Spices Turkey Brine. I’ve been brining my turkey for three years now and there’s not a thing I would do different. The turkey never dries out and it tastes delicious.

IMG_2836-My mom’s gluten-free cornbread stuffing. I don’t know what she puts in it, but it’s amazing and I’m always so sad when the leftovers are gone. I know she makes it with Pamela’s gluten-free cornbread and sausage. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.

-Dutch Apple Pie. I’m not normally one for a freezer to oven pie, but I purchased one last year from one of my co-worker’s kid who was having a fundraiser at school. It was one of the best apple pies I have ever tasted {My guests even agreed}. The parents hand pick the apples and make the pies all from scratch! They were so good, I ordered two this year. I’m not really sure why, but I felt like it was necessary :-)

This year I {nervously} made modifications to my famous sweet potato casserole. For the past three years, I have received rave reviews on this dish. My sister, who despises sweet potatoes (how are we even related?!) said this dish is the only sweet potato dish she will eat. They’re that good, so why would I want to change them, right? Well, for starters I replaced to the two cups of sugar with two cups of coconut sugar (a healthy alternative to regular sugar you can read about here). 1 cup of all purpose flour got switched to coconut flour (making it completely grain free), the brown sugar got cut in half, and 12 Tbsp of dairy free butter got replaced with 6 tbsp of ghee.  It tasted even better this year than it did last year.

-Mashed potatoes. While I was at Williams-Sonoma picking up my turkey brine, I came across this little taste of heaven:

heaveninatinI texted my mom a picture that stated: “I know that I’m not in charge of making the mashed potatoes, but you have to add this.” Done and Done. Everyone loved them and the smell of the truffles filled up my kitchen as they were heating up in the oven. So good, I want to go back and get more to add to a cauli-flower mash.

Something new. For the past two years, I’ve kept it pretty basic when it came to the green beans. I’d pretty much sautee them in butter, shallots and garlic and call it a day. Well I didn’t want to have to cook anything while I was trying to get the turkey prepared and ready to serve, so I decided to try out the Detoxinista’s Clean Green Bean Casserole. I wanted something that was dairy-free and that was made with REAL ingredients. It was very good and no one even knew it was vegan. The only person I told before serving it was my husband. The sauce that goes along with this dish is so delicious, it’s hard to believe it’s not cream based. I’m glad I had some left over. I’m thinking it would be a good partner in crime with fried eggs.

Here’s some pics from our Thanksgiving feast!

IMG_2838 IMG_2839 IMG_2841  Everything was so delicious! The crumbly topping on my sweet potatoes got brown very quickly, but they were still good :-)

Of course we enough leftovers to last us a couple of days, and we finished off the turkey with some delicious soup filled with onions, garlic, parsnips and carrots.  I’m already looking forward to cooking next year’s feast.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving Day Food? Mine would have to be a heaping serving of my mom’s cornbread stuffing with a little dab of cranberry sauce for that sweet and savory taste!

 

Butternut Squash and Maple Apple Soup

Happy marathon week my friends! I’m so excited the day is almost here! After months of training & hundreds of miles logged, nothing is throwing me off my game this week. I feel ready to take on Chicago. The most important thing I need to focus on this week is getting rest and making sure I stay hydrated.

This weekend, I finally caved in and turned on our heat :-/ If it weren’t for a sick kid, I probably would’ve held off a few more weeks. But I just wanted to make sure the little one was comfortable. Along with heat comes the first slow-cooker soup of the season.

When we went to the Harvest Festival last weekend, they had a farmers’ market stand there where you could fill a basket of squash for $7! We have a ton of squash in our kitchen and I don’t want any of it to go to waste. So I created a slow-cooker soup that encompasses everything Autumn: Butternut Squash, apples, and maple syrup. I served it up with a gluten-free bun and a salad. It was the perfect dinner for a cold and gloomy fall day, and our house smelled amazing!  
IMG_2818Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash & Maple Apple Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash-peeled and cubed
  • 4 gala apples-peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion-sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic-sliced thin
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.  Remove bay leaves and pour the soup into a blender and blend to desired consistency. ( I used our Vitamix). Garnish with croutons or cheese.

Serve warm, with bread and a salad and enjoy!

Pumpkin Season!

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start! I just finished up week 14 of marathon training for Chicago and I’m well into week 15-PEAK WEEK! After this week is over, the mileage starts to decrease before the big day is here. I’m very excited and only a little bit nervous ;-)
Here’s how week 14 went down:
Monday: Barre Class
Tuesday: 5 miles @ 9:10 + core work
Wednesday: 9 miles @ 9:50. Had some Garmin issues along with rainy & windy weather, but I powered through and figured out what went wrong at the end.
Thursday: 5 miles @ 9:10 + core & stretching
Friday: Barre class/stretch
Saturday: 18 miles @ 10:05. Played around with my pace for the marathon. Ended the last mile going uphill. Muy mal planning on my part. Weather was slightly cooler than what is normal for this time of year, but I refused to put away the shorts just yet.
photoSunday: Brunch with the family/rest day/took lots of naps and it was glorious.
On Sunday, I was feeling domestic. With last week’s cooler temps, I thought it would be the perfect time to whip up some baked goods. I had a counter full of zucchini and a cupboard full of canned pumpkin. Put the two together and I present to you, Paleo Pumpkin Zucchini Bread. It turned out so good (and made our house smell like Fall), that the whole loaf pan was gone with in two days. Oopsy whoopsy. I will be making another batch, experimenting with another type of almond flour. Maybe it will be done in time for a special house guest next weekend? ;-)  I’d like to find an almond flour that works well in baked goods and doesn’t make my bread/muffins too “soggy”. It was good, but a little bit more “soggy” (as I hate the word moist!) than I would’ve liked. The pumpkin could’ve been the culprit too.
 IMG_2814

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup shredded & zucchini
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix dry ingredients (first 4) in a small bowl. Set aside
3. Shred unpeeled zucchini and blot with a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture
4. Beat 3 eggs in a larger bowl. Place the remaining ingredients (except zucchini) in the bowl, then mix on medium for about 2 minutes until all ingredients are combined. Add the zucchini and beat again just enough to incorporate.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer running, until all of the flour mixture has been mixed in.
6. Spoon the batter into a loaf pan. You can also make muffins.
7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until the middle is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
IMG_2808
Question of the day: What is your favorite pumpkin flavored thing to eat/drink/make? I also love pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting :-) My fave!

Easy Peasy Campfire Meal

When I was younger, I recall camping being a time to eat all the snacks that weren’t normally in our house. This included things like wrapped Hostess snacks, chips, and all other “unhealthy” treats. Dinners usually consisted of hot dogs, brats or burgers on the grill. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger or brat on a campfire, but this year I wanted to mix things up a little bit and balance out our meals between the s’mores & strawberry ice cream. Some healthy snacks I packed were grapes, strawberries, hummus & pita chips. The not so healthy: all the accoutraments for s’mores, cookies, crackers,  and Trader Joe’s Chicago mix popcorn {warning: if you purchase this, you will eat the whole bag, to say there are 4 servings in there is absurd ;-) }.

Continue reading

5 Things Friday

5. This blog post. I stumbled across Gina’s blog a few years ago through the Lululemon ambassador site. I was drawn to her style of writing and what her blog was all about. Her goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states. She’s not a daily blogger; she posts mainly just about each marathon she’s recently ran and what’s going on in her life at the time. In her latest post, she talks about her battle with Lyme disease and running. It hit home to me because my mom suffered with Lyme long before anyone even knew what was wrong with her. Gina’s such an inspiration to all runners out there!  Continue reading

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours started out really good and then ended kind of a low note…my strep throat returned and a busted tail light :-/ Womp womp!  Hubs accidentally backed my car into his…the worst kind of accident. But luckily, everyone is okay.  Easy (but pricey) fix.
fenderbenderI started feeling kind of crappy on Sunday when I woke up, but pressed forward with baking cookies with my little darling.
IMG_2530After that adventure and cleaning up the kitchen, I was exhausted and could feel my throat starting to swell up.  I called my doc to call in another round of antibiotics, so hopefully this round will do the trick.  I have a half marathon to run this weekend and I want to go into it feeling 100%.
To continue on with celebrating National Nutrition Month, I want to share an amazing recipe using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Both pasta and spaghetti squash have their own nutritional benefits.  For example, pasta is a better source of folate, where as eating spaghetti squash will provide you with more antioxidants.  Both are low in fat, but if you’re watching your carbs, spaghetti squash would be the better choice.  There are 7 grams of carbs in spaghetti squash compared to pasta’s 31 grams of carbs.  And calories? 1 serving of pasta (and let’s face it, most of us are consuming more than the recommended amount) packs in 158 calories, while spaghetti squash contains 27 calories. (source)   Overall,l if you’re trying to eat low (complex) carbs, low-fat, gluten-free or whole, unprocessed foods, I would say that spaghetti squash is the way to go.
Last week I made this delicious number.
IMG_2524
I cut 1 spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise), brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking in the oven, I cooked up some italian chicken sausage, spinach, and pasta sauce.  Once the spaghetti squash was out of the oven, I took a fork and “fluffed” up the “noodles”.
IMG_2522
Then spooned the chicken sausage mixture over top and then added a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles.  And voilà! Dinner :-)
What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? I used to scoop it out onto a plate and eat it like spaghetti, but I found this way to be much more appetizing and EASY!