Tag Archives: chicken

Making over Taco Night. Twice.

Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free option | Gluten-free option | Nut-free

My girls LOVE Taco Night. Something about being in charge of their own meal and what goes in it. Not to mention it’s messy, which makes it fun. But I’m going to be honest: it’s not always been my favorite. First, the taco seasoning packets. Gross, am I right? Have you seen those ingredient labels?! Well, Alton Brown’s taco seasoning takes care of that REALLY quick. And clean too! Make it once and keep it in a small jar or even a little Ziploc bag to use a couple tablespoons at a time.

Second, as a mom, I find that once I’ve assembled everyone’s burritos the way they want them, once I get mine assembled and sit down, the meat is cold. That’s where this new crock pot recipe comes in. It features the same taco seasoning as our usual ground turkey, but the meat stays warm as long as I need it to! Plus more veggies! It came from an unlikely source: one of those easy video recipes you see in your Facebook feed that are usually semi-homemade, from processed ingredients. But with this easy and clean taco seasoning, it’s a cinch to keep the artificial junk out.

Clean Taco Seasoning

Original recipe here

  • up to 2 Tbsp. chili powder, depending on how spicy you want it
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika (he uses hot smoked, I use Hungarian–both are delicious)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
  2. Store in an airtight container (jar or Ziploc bag) for up to 1 month.

Slow Cooker Easy Chicken Fajitas

Adapted from here

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (see above)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained (check the ingredient label on this one; sometimes spices and preservatives are added here)
  • For serving: tortillas (use whole-grain or gluten-free and check ingredient labels for hidden soy and other junk), cheese, sour cream, beans, avocado slices, or anything else that sounds tasty!
  1. Place half of the sliced peppers and onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top, coating on all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, drained tomatoes, lime juice, and remaining peppers and onion.
  2. Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and cut or shred, then return it to the crock pot for 10 more minutes (on LOW) to absorb more of the juices, while you prep your toppings.
  4. Assemble tacos/burritos/fajitas however you want!

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Clean, Dairy-Free Chicken and Dumpling Soup.

Clean eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free

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Winter has finally reached Florida! We woke up to temperatures in the low 40s, and after spending most of December in the 80s–including a record high 86 degrees on Christmas, for crying out loud–it feels magnificent. Time to bring out the soup! This is what we had for dinner tonight.

This soup (albeit not the clean version) was a comfort-food lifesaver during the cold months we lived in Switzerland. It was nice to have something familiar when we were feeling homesick, and it was easy enough to make in our tiny blue rental kitchen with limited kitchen tools that it made frequent appearances on our little linoleum table.

I’ve adapted the original recipe to make it clean and dairy-free. Also, because we all know the dumplings are the best part, for our little family I usually cut the soup recipe in half but keep the dumpling recipe whole so there’s enough for everyone to enjoy.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Adapted from here

Soup:

  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 large carrots, scrubbed well and chopped
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw or cooked (see variations in instructions below)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour + 1/2 cup cold water, to thicken broth
  • heaping 1/2 cup frozen peas

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • heaping 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 cup minus 1 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth, water, and chicken (if using uncooked chicken). Bring to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, start the dumplings. Add vinegar to a measuring cup and fill to the 1-cup line with almond milk. Let sit several minutes until curdled. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil to almond milk and stir. Then gradually add wet ingredients to dry, stirring as you go, until a soft dough is formed. You will not need all of the liquid.
  3. Remove the chicken from the soup to a plate. Add salt, thyme, and pepper to the soup.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and cold water, then whisk into the hot broth. Stir in frozen peas, bringing it back to a simmer, then cutting up cooked chicken and adding it to the soup.
  5. Working quickly, drop teaspoonfuls (yes, teaspoon–they’ll expand right away) of dough all over the surface of the boiling soup. Cover the pot and simmer 12-15 minutes without lifting the lid to allow the dumplings to cook.
  6. When the dumplings are fully cooked, lift the lid and break dumplings apart with your serving spoon. Serve immediately.

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Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry.

Clean Eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free

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Happy New Year! Anyone else feeling a little sluggish after all of the treats and traveling and lack of schedule? I’m beyond ready to get back on track and back in control of normal, healthy life.

This easy crock pot meal is a staple in our home, especially on Thursdays when we have swimming until 5pm. I love being able to come home to this delicious smell and serve up a warm, comforting, healthy meal to my wet-haired, often shivering–yes, even in Florida–young ones. I make the rice before we leave and it’s still warm when we get home to eat. The chicken practically shreds itself when you stir in the final ingredients, and the sweet potatoes soften to make the texture rich and creamy.

Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry

  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce OR 1/2 can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • optional: up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 med. onion, thinly sliced
  • 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • cooked brown (for clean eating) or Basmati rice
  1. In the bottom of your slow cooker, whisk together first 6 ingredients until incorporated.
  2. Add chicken, onions, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes; use tongs to toss until coated with curry mixture.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours or high 3.5-4 hours.
  4. 5 minutes before serving, stir in peas and lemon juice, shredding chicken with the tongs.
  5. Serve over warm rice.

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Make-Your-Own Salad Night: Chicken Apple Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free | Nut-free | Clean eating | Paleo

What would you say if I told you that, during our time living in Switzerland, Make-Your-Own Salad Night was my girls’ single most requested meal?

I wouldn’t have believed me either.

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But it’s true. When so many other things were different from what they were used to, we could count on the produce at our corner market to be both familiar and amazingly fresh. The bottle of Ranch dressing we brought with us helped too. (Don’t worry–I have a delicious clean dressing recipe at the bottom.)

Since returning, it’s still one of the few meals that don’t get any pushback or “how many bites?” Because they can make it how they want. Both of my big girls prefer to separate all the ingredients on their plates and eat one at a time.

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You can make this your own; I’m a big fan of fruity salads, so I just keep it simple with chopped apples, seasoned chicken breast, and balsamic vinaigrette, but I pull out as many of my girls’ favorite raw veggies and fruits as they can fit on their plates, and it all gets eaten! Tailor this to your (and your kids’) preferences and any dietary needs, and every once in awhile, add something that’s a little bit of a stretch for them to let them try: kale instead of spinach, for a start.

If making your own dressing sounds intimidating, start with this one. It has 4 ingredients and all you do is shake. Plus, you know what’s in it, and most importantly, what’s not in it.

Do you do a Make-Your-Own Salad Night? What do you include?

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Chicken Apple Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • Greens of choice
  • Chicken breast, seasoned as desired and grilled or broiled
  • apple, diced
  • vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup GOOD-quality balsamic vinegar (trust me, it’s important)
    • 1/4 cup grapeseed or other light-tasting oil (avoid olive oil)
    • 2 tsp prepared Dijon mustard, no-sugar-added
    • 1/2 tsp (or more, to taste) dried Italian herbs
    • dash salt
  1. Assemble greens, chicken, and apple.
  2. Add vinaigrette ingredients to a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake vigorously until well incorporated. Drizzle over salad and enjoy!

Adapted from here

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Easy Baked Chicken. 5 minutes of prep. Yes, really.

I know all of you moms can relate to this:

When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.

Mother-in-law to the rescue!

chicken prepThis easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.

  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. parmesan
  • up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • about 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 chicken breasts
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
  3. Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
  4. If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
  5. Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
  7. Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.

dinnerSeasoned brown rice

  1. Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
  2. 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
  3. Serve with chicken.

What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?

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Creamy Chicken Taquitos.

I’ve been MIA for awhile… We’re preparing for Baby Girl to get here in less than 2 weeks, & my energy level hasn’t exactly kept up with the to-do list.

One item on that to-do list that I have been able to check off has been to make double batches of meals & freeze half, like these meatballs, & these taquitos:

I adapted the recipe from the Our Best Bites that have been all over Pinterest. Theirs uses green salsa & green onions; not having either of those on hand, I made mine “red” taquitos. (Or rather, since they’re creamy, maybe they’re “pink” taquitos.) I also decreased the spice factor a little, since The Munchkin seems to not sleep well after consuming moderate amounts of chili powder. Weird? Yes. Could just be correlation rather than causation, but it’s true.

  • 3 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup medium salsa
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried cilantro (or 3 Tbsp. fresh, but seriously, dried cilantro is like my new favorite addition to my spice cabinet)
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced yellow onion
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • small flour or corn tortillas*
  • salt

* I first tried it with both types, & while the corn would be healthier & higher in fiber, they just didn’t hold up. Observe:

The cracked ones on the left are the corn. So now I just use flour.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 & line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients until well incorporated. Then mix in the cilantro & onions.
  3. Add chicken & cheese & mix thoroughly.
  4. Heat a few tortillas at a time between 2 paper towels in the microwave for 20-30 seconds or so. Then spoon a couple Tbsp. of the chicken mixture onto the bottom third of a tortilla & roll it as tightly as possible. Place, seam-side-down, on the cookie sheet.
  5. Repeat with remaining chicken mixture & tortillas, then spray with cooking spray & sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  7. If you want to freeze them, place them in a single layer on a greased baking sheet & freeze for a half hour or so, then place in a labeled Ziploc bag for up to 3 months & bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
  8. If you have leftovers, freeze any baked taquitos & microwave on high for a minute to a minute & 10 seconds. They won’t be crispy, but still delicious.

Now, I will likely be MIA for a little while longer until I get used to being a mommy of 2 Munchkins. Until then!

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Winger’s Sticky Fingers.

A few Christmases ago we got the bright idea to drive from Indiana to Utah for the holidays with a 6-month-old Munchkin. In all fairness, she did fabulously on the long trek; what didn’t do so well was our car — a little blue Subaru Impreza wagon I’d had since college & driven cross-country more times than I could count. Her name was Ella. Just past Kansas City, she started to overheat despite the near-freezing weather. We pulled off into the thriving metropolis of Mound, MO, & spent the next couple hours at the only dealership in town trying to see if the very nice Ford guys could fix it. They filled her up with coolant & sent us on our way.

We made it to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Fortunately there was at least a Subaru dealer there. Several more hours later we were back on the road. We made it almost all the way across the state before she started overheating again. We couldn’t go more than 50 mph, so we limped into Sidney, NE, where our motel was, late at night with an overtired child & an overheating car.

The next morning, a Saturday, we poured more coolant into the tank & made it just across the Wyoming state line — less than 30 miles — before having problems again. The local mechanic gave us 2 options: stay over the weekend to wait for parts, or limp to Cheyenne a couple dozen miles ahead. Another several hours at another Subaru dealer later (you can imagine The Munchkin was getting a little sick of repair shops) we were told the problem had been resolved. But we hadn’t so much as left the Cheyenne city limits before the problem reoccurred. So we limped over the mountains into Laramie — at least we were heading the right direction — where there was yet another Subaru dealer, though they’d be closed Sunday.

So we were stuck in Laramie. What was there to do in a small college town over winter break on a Saturday night?

Eat at Winger’s. On the very last night before that particular location would be closed forever.

Winger’s is a casual dining restaurant out west — predominantly in Utah — famous for its Sticky Fingers: chicken fingers soaked in a spicy-sweet sauce & dipped in Ranch dressing. They also have a killer Asphalt Pie. I found the recipe for the sauce here many months ago, but only now had gotten around to buying the special hot sauce it requires. If you’re a fan of Sticky Fingers & don’t live near a Winger’s, this recipe is for you!

Winger’s Sticky Fingers (will make enough sauce for 4+ people)

  • breaded chicken fingers
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. FRANK’S Buffalo sauce
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  1. Prepare desired number of chicken fingers according to conventional oven directions on package.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan & heat, stirring frequently, until brown sugar is dissolved.
  3. Place chicken fingers in a shallow dish, pour sauce over the top, & toss.
  4. Serve with Ranch dressing.

The car story does have a happy ending, by the way: with the help of my in-laws, we drove on I-80 all the way across Wyoming at a whopping 55 miles an hour — way scarier than driving fast, I’ll tell you what — & traded our faithful Ella in for our current Subaru: a reliable Forester that has also been driven across the country several times & is still doing great! We miss Ella, but we’re grateful we don’t have to spend any more road trips in mechanics’ shops. & besides, we’ll always have Laramie…

Do you have memories — fond or otherwise — associated with certain dishes or restaurants?


Oopsey Daisy

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