Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken

There are a lot of food disagreements in this couple.

I love cheese.  Ryan only likes melted cheese and he's lactose intolerant so I avoid using it when I feel like it can.

I would be happy to eat vegetarian for the rest of my life.  Ryan would not.

I have suffered from IBS for going on 3 years and have to monitor what I eat and how much of it to avoid a painful crisis.  Ryan has a stomach of steel and can eat anything in any quantity and feel fine.  Except that one time he went into a pancake coma.  Oh and that dairy problem again.

Most of the time we work around all of these different factors.  Sometimes I sneak goat cheese into cajun fettucini alfredo and it's so good he doesn't notice.  Sometimes I make "ricotta" out of tofu and spices to make veggie lasagna and he still doesn't notice.

But we both agreed on this one and I didn't even have to sneak:

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken [sandwiches]
you'll need:
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle of Frank's Red Hot- Buffalo 
  • Homemade ranch spice blend (see below)
  • 2 T butter
  • Whole wheat hamburger buns
Homemade Ranch Spice Blend
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 t dried dill
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t dried chives
  • pinch of salt
A moment on my ranch spice blend.  I love ranch dressing on salads, wings, veggies, I've even dunked my pizza in it thanks to spending four years learning ridiculous eating habits from the native penn staters.  This recipe called for a packet of ranch seasoning.  I picked it up at the store and the first ingredient was "malodextrin."  I don't even know what that is, so I put it back and decided to spend a few extra dollars on buying the spices to make my own.  (FYI, malodextrin is some weird derivative of corn or cornstarch-- oh hey corn subsidy, just another way to make mass quantities of cheap crap).

So anyway, I made my own ranch.  It's totally worth it and I won't buy the bottle of dressing again either, I'll just mix this with greek yogurt or mayo.

Place chicken, bottle of hot sauce, and spice blend into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 4 hours (if chicken defrosted) or 6 hours (if chicken frozen).

After above specified amount of time, take 2 forks and shred the chicken.  Add 2 T of butter to crock pot, stir, and cook on low for another hour.

Serve on whole wheat buns!

I added some caramelized onions on top and made a size of zucchini ribbon salad.

We inhaled this.  I will absolutely make it again.  It would be perfect as a buffalo chicken wrap as well with some lettuce and tomato and extra ranch dressing.

Again, I highly recommend making that ranch blend!

Veg out!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Test Kitchen: Veggie Burger

Oh hey there!  I've resurfaced from all the pediatric illnesses that I managed to catch.

I must admit I'm not much of an original recipe creator.  I'm more of a recipe tweaker.  I enjoy trying and altering recipes that I find on other blogs, cookbooks, and cooking magazines using what I have in my kitchen and making substitutes for ingredients I don't like.

The recipe I most recently "tweaked" was a veggie burger I've been hoping to make from Feast on the Cheap (original recipe here).  I've made veggie burgers in the past-- maybe it's my crappy food processor or lack of a good recipe, but they never turn out as wonderful as I hope-- usually crumbly and dry.  I usually turn to Trader Joe's or Dr. Praeger's brands for my veggie burger fix and always have them in the freezer.

Despite my previous failures, I had faith in the recipe above based on the fact that it includes all of my favorite foods: sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, peppers, onions, and garlic.  How could it turn out badly?  It didn't.  It turned out wonderfully.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Burgers 
adapted from Feast on the Cheap

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced into quarter inch cubes
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 T of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Creole Seasoning Blend (from the Savory Spice Shop)
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
Begin by bringing the quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil, then turn to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.  At the same time, cover sweet potato cubes with water in a pot and boil also for 10 minutes.  

While cooking your sweet potatoes and quinoa, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add onions and jalapeno.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 3-5 minutes.  

Scrape onion/pepper/garlic mixture into a small bowl and set aside.  Then add the sweet potato and black beans to the skillet.  Mash with a potato masher until they create a paste.  

From here on, start adding the rest of the ingredients, mixing well after each addition until thoroughly combined.  

Let mixture cool until it is safe to handle without burning your hands.  It makes about 8 large burgers.  Place burgers on a baking sheet, cover with saran, and refrigerate overnight or for 4-6 hours.  

You can cook these burgers one of two ways.  The original recipe recommends cooking in a pan for 6-7 minutes on each side.  I tried this, with just a mist of olive oil in the pan, and it got a little burnt in the center (damn electric stove).  So my personal recommendation is to bake the burgers in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.  I did this for the remaining 7 burgers that did not burn.  

After the burgers cooled completely, I stashed three in the fridge for dinner this week and put the rest away in the freezer.  I ate two the first night and I've been microwaving them for a minute for dinner every night this week.  Love 'em.

Here's one wrapped in a corn tortilla with avocado, hot sauce, and a side of asparagus.

Here's another topped with avocado with a side of broccoli and sweet potato fries (Alexia brand, loving those too!)

Please let me know how these turn out if you decide to try and make them!  If you make any substitutes that work out well, tell me!  If you have another great veggie burger recipe I'd love for you to share the link in the comments section.  

Veg out! 
~ Mere

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Update: March 2013

I've been majorly absent from this blog for the past few weeks.  I blame the pediatrics rotation.

First I caught a really bad stomach bug that had me out of commission for 3 days, subsisting on a diet of crackers, applesauce, toast, and bananas.

Then I had a pretty normal week but I traveled an hour each way to get to the peds office I was working at... no time or energy for adequate food prep.

Then I got slammed with some kind of illness in my last week of peds that turned into pneumonia.  That left me with no desire to eat and even though I'm all finished with my antibiotics, I'm still hardly eating let alone cooking anything blog worthy.

We have also been traveling through New Hampshire and Vermont to ski and visit friends and there hasn't been much time on the weekends to cook.

But today is the first day of spring (despite the fact that I dug my car out of a foot of snow this morning) and for the next few weekends I will be at home, hopefully hungry, and ready to cook with whatever early spring veggies I can find.  Get ready!  The Veggie Doc will return...