Category Archives: Eat

{Recipe} Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken

We are officially going into short days and winter since daylight savings ended last weekend.  Growing up, April always meant warmer days, sunshine, flowers and the tease of summer.  These days it’s completely the opposite.  I find it strange how seasons, months and holidays seem to coincide and when one element is different the whole feeling changes.  Part of the joy in holidays and seasons is the nostalgic nature – so now Easter brings a change in wardrobe but rather than breaking out my spring dresses I’m pulling out sweaters and tights!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

With the earlier sunset, spending an hour or two making dinner after work when it’s dark feels like we are eating late!  So to assist with dinners and lunches during the week I try to prep veggies and proteins on Sunday or Monday.  Last week I made BBQ pulled chicken in the slow cooker (crock pot) for sandwiches, wraps, burritos and quesadillas.  When I use the slow cooker, I tend to cook things on low overnight so it’s ready in the morning.  The chicken was so moist, delicious and super easy to make!  We ate it mainly on rolls with extra BBQ sauce and my twist on coleslaw (recipe at bottom).  For lunches, I would put the sandwiches together and then microwave for 10 seconds before eating.  The little heat took the sandwiches to the next level as it loosened the bread up and helped the flavors blend.

ingredients

We also used the chicken in the Mexi Bowls as the protein instead of beans and also put it in tortillas with cheese as a quesadilla.  Though these two dishes mixed a Mexican flavour with a little BBQ chicken, we didn’t have issues with the flavors.  We used salsa, greek yogurt and avocado on the mexi bowls and quesadillas, whereas the sandwiches had additional BBQ sauce.

BBQ Pulled Chicken

10 min prep, 8 hours cooking on low heat

1 cup Beer (use beer of choice – I used The Chancer Golden Ale)

3 cups warm water or stock

1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2 carrots

2 red onions

1 whole chicken (using chicken breasts would reduce cooking time)

BBQ seasoning or rub

BBQ sauce

Roughly chop carrots into disks and onions into wedges.  Line the bottom of the slow cooker (or crockpot) with the carrots and onions.  Place whole chicken on top of carrots and onions.

Pour the apple cider vinegar & beer over chicken and if possible into the cavity of the chicken.  Fill up the slow cooker with the water.  I tried to pour the water around the chicken in hopes that I wouldn’t wash off the beer and ACV from the top of the chicken.  The water should come up halfway on the chicken – you may need to adjust the amount of water based on pot size and chicken size. Note – the water level will rise during cooking as illustrated in my photos below.

DSC_0076

Pour the 1-2 Tbs of BBQ sauce and BBQ seasoning onto the exposed skin of the chicken.  Massage with either fingers or back of spoon into the chicken skin.  Sprinkle 1 Tbs of Seasoning and sauce into beer and water mixture and stir around chicken to ensure seasoning dissolves.

Put lid on and cook on low for 8 hours.  I put mine on at night and it was perfect when we woke up in the morning.  Since we were headed straight to training I changed the setting to keep warm setting until we returned home.

DSC_0088

The chicken will be super tender and hot so use tongs to remove the legs first and then remove the rest of the chicken onto a big cutting board.  Pull meat off of bone and put into a big bowl. Pull chicken apart using two forks until shredded to desired consistency.  Add 1-2 Tbs of the stock from the slow cooker and 2 Tbs of BBQ sauce.  Mix well and serve.  Store leftover chicken in a sealed container up to 5 days in the fridge.

use forks to shred chicken quickly
use forks to shred chicken quickly

Greek-Yogurt Coleslaw

One handful of slaw

1 heaping Tbs Greek Yogurt

½ tsp mustard

1/8 tsp lemon juice (estimated)

Salt & Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve on two buns with pulled BBQ chicken.

 bbq chicken sandwich

{Recipe} Easy Mexi Bowl aka Burrito Bowl

As I’ve said before in the Mexican Frittata recipe, we have a bit of a Mexican food obsession!  A few years ago, in my attempt to find something easy, healthy and delicious I used the idea of a naked burrito bowl and made a few tweaks.  We refer to this as Mexi bowl and it’s become a staple in our weekly recipe rotation.

Easy Mexi Bowl
Easy Mexi Bowl

The base of this is Quinoa, veggies and beans.  With the base covered, the tweaks come with seasoning, types of veggies and beans, and toppings.  Quinoa is often described as a super food as it is packed full of nutrients and is also gluten free.  Quinoa is high in fibre, low GI and high in protein which makes it a great food for weight loss and great substitute for grains.  Before cooking, rinse the quinoa which assists to remove the bitter coating.  The perfect ratio is 2:1, 2 cups water to 1 cup Quinoa.  Quinoa absorbs water and expands similar to rice, so 1 cup of quinoa will be plenty for a few meals throughout the week.  I cook mine in my amazing rice cooker on the quick cook setting.  If you don’t have a rice cooker, add quinoa and water to a pot over medium-high heat.  Once the water starts to boil, reduce heat and cover.  The quinoa takes about 15 minutes to cook away the water, but keep your eye on it to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Stir to fluff up and it’s ready to serve or store in the fridge for the week.

 food

Mexi Bowl aka Burrito Bowl

Servings 4, prep 5 minutes, cook time 15 minutes

1 C Cooked Quinoa

1 Capsicum (or bell pepper)

1 Zucchini

1 Small Head of Broccoli

Black Beans, low sodium

Corn Kernals

Shredded Cheese, optional

Salsa

Avocado

Sliced Jalapenos, optional

Coconut oil, for cooking

Heat 1-2 Tbs coconut oil in a skillet on low heat.  Chop broccoli and put in pan.  While broccoli starts cooking, chop capsicum and zucchini, then add to the broccoli. Stir occasionally.  Sprinkle Mexican seasoning during the last few minutes of cooking.  Our seasoning is a mix of paprika, cumin, chili, pepper, oregano and garlic.  The veggies take about 10-15 minutes.

If quinoa is already prepared, heat in microwave or prepare quinoa as described above.

Pour beans and corn in a colander to drain and rinse.  Slice avocado to prepare for serving.

To serve, layer into bowls ¼ cup quinoa, 2 Tbs black beans, 2 Tbs corn, ¼ of the veggie mix, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, 1 Tbs of salsa and ¼ avocado.  If you want additional heat, add a few sliced jalapenos.

Serve dinner for two and pack the leftovers in plastic containers for lunch!

avo

We found a new to us avocado spread, Fressure, that is just ripe avocados and a little salt.  When the avocados are not ripe at the grocery store, like tonight, we grab a pack of this avocado spread.  I used 1 Tbs to substitute for the ¼ avocado.  It’s a great option to have!

Lunchbox ideas: 5minute sweet potato & black bean bowl

I’ve been carrying a packed lunch since I was 5 (minus those college years where lunch was mainly at the cafeteria). Luckily, those first 13 years my mom packed my lunch nearly everyday and she forced me into a healthy habit! Nowadays I tend to rely on leftovers as the main source of lunch for both J and I.
With Australia’s high food costs, grabbing a sandwich from a cafe is at least $10. If you have a partner, that’s $20 per day for lunch which equals $100 for the work week. That’s not taking into account drinks and don’t get me started on coffee/tea breaks! My grocery bill for the week is around $100 and that covers all meals for an entire week for two active people. The other challenges with buying lunch is the lack of ingredient control, tendency to be underwhelmed or overeat and promotes further poor food choices.

5 ingredient & 5 minute meal!
5 ingredient & 5 minute meal!

For days where I have no leftovers, like today, I try to come up with quick, easy and healthy lunches. For today’s lunch , the only prep I did was throw a handful of shredded cheese in a container and put everything in my lunchbox.  I prepared my lunch at work and was sitting at the table chatting to the girls within 5 minutes.

Thanks mom for my new lunch bag!
Thanks mom for my new lunch bag!

5 Minute Sweet Potato & Black Bean Bowl

1 Small sweet potato (I used about 2/3 of mine)

3-4 Tbs Black beans

1/4 C Cheese

1/2 Avocado

1-2 Tbs Sriracha (more or less depending on preference)

Cut sweet potato in small cubes.  Add  enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl.  Cover bowl with cling wrap and microwave for 2 minutes.

While the sweet potato is cooking, slice avocado and open can of black beans.  Rinse the beans to reduce the sodium levels.

Stir sweet potato and microwave for 40 more seconds.  If there is any water left drain before adding cheese, beans and half the sriracha. Microwave for 20 seconds.  Add avocado and drizzle with remaining sriracha.  Enjoy!!

There are many ways to vary this meal that wouldn’t add much more time!

*1 Tbs Salsa & 1 Tbs of Greek yogurt would be a little less spicy and more creamy than the sriracha

*Adding in 1/3 cup quinoa would add some great protein.

*If you had leftover cooked veggies or corn, they would add a more veggie balance

{Recipe} Mexican Frittata

In our house the majority of our dishes have a Mexican theme – burritos, tacos and quesadillas are always top picks. I find I have more confidence experimenting with Mexican ingredients and flavors more so than any other genre.  This may seem odd as I have no family ties to Mexico and struggled to get my head around Spanish as a child!  Living in Sydney away from the amazing and cheap Mexican restaurants scattered around NC has forced me to recreate healthy alternatives.

Mexican frittata
Mexican frittata

My newest creation is an egg based Mexican frittata.  I typically cook a big batch of quinoa on Sundays to use in various dishes throughout the week.  I was originally planning on throwing together mexi bowls (our version of deconstructed burrito bowls) but since I had a lot of eggs and time I decided to try out a frittata.  The outcome was so amazing and full of flavor!

DSC_0002

Mexican Frittata Recipe

Servings 5, prep time 15-20 minutes, cook time 25 minutes

6 eggs

½ cup almond milk (or any milk variation)

1 Tbs Sriracha (or any preferred hot sauce)

¾ cup cooked quinoa

¾ cup shredded cheese (I used tasty cheese but mozzarella would be a great) + a little extra for sprinkling on top

1 small red onion, chopped

1 small sweet potato, chopped

1 small capsicum (bell pepper), chopped

Large handful of baby spinach, chopped (this equates to between 1-2 cups)

½ cup Cherry Tomatoes, quartered (I used 5 large cherry tomatoes)

Mexican spice for seasoning

Coconut oil for cooking veggies (1-2T depending on preference)

In a cast iron skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil on low-medium heat.  Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  Cook onions for about 5 minutes until translucent.  Add in the sweet potato and capsicum for another 8 minutes.  Stir occasionally to keep from burning.  Sprinkle some Mexican spice on the veggies during the last minute of cooking.  Turn off heat and stir through the chopped spinach and tomatoes.

chopped veggies small to speed up cooking
chopped veggies small to speed up cooking

While the veggies are cooking, whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl.  Add in the cheese, quinoa and sriracha.  Set aside until veggies are ready.

add the chopped spinach and tomatoes after cooking veggies to wilt spinach slightly
add the chopped spinach and tomatoes after cooking veggies to wilt spinach slightly

Once the veggies are cooked and the oven is pre-heated, pour the egg mixture over the veggie mix into the cast iron pan*.  Mix to ensure all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Sprinkle a small handful of cheese on top and place on middle rack in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes or until firm and top is golden (or in my case one episode of New Girl while fast-forwarding commercials!).  Let cool and serve.

 

mexican frittata

I ate mine with avocado and it was delish!  J put his in a Mountain Bread Rye wrap and ate it like a burrito.  Having some salsa and greek yogurt on top would really take this quiche to the next level.

*if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, cook your veggies in a standard pan and transfer all ingredients to a baking/casserole dish before baking.