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Slow Cooker Honey [Sesame] Chicken

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Slow Cooker Honey [Sesame] Chicken

So I found one version of this recipe last year on Pinterest, but I wanted to look into some other recipe versions before I committed.  Well, I realized that all the recipes are essentially the same, or very similar, so it really didn’t matter which one I used.  The only real difference is whether you like more or less of the sauce with a given amount of chicken.  My personal opinion is that you can never have too much.  If you end up having leftover sauce after you have eaten all the chicken, you can just pour some on rice later on as a tasty leftover…and I am ALL ABOUT making leftovers stretch as long as they can.  🙂

This recipe is so easy and insanely delicious.  It has definitely become a slow cooker staple in the McKinney household!

Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs canola/vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp cornstarch dissolved into 6 Tbs water (You don’t need this until the end.)
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

Season  both sides of the chicken with the salt in pepper, and place in the slow cooker.  In a small bowl, combine and mix the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pour honey mixture over the chicken and cook on low for 3-4 hours (I do 3 hours) or high for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours (I do 1 1/2 hours).  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, leaving the sauce. In a bowl, dissolve 4 tsp of cornstarch into 6 Tbs of water.  Combine this with the sauce in the slow cooker.  Shred or cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put it back in the slow cooker to mix in with the sauce for a few minutes.  Serve over rice or noodles, and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you wish.

Whether or not I put sesame seeds on top really just depends on whether I remember or not.  I clearly forgot tonight.  We usually have ours over rice, with either broccoli or peas as a side.  Tonight, we followed it up with some delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  What a delicious evening!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

One of the toughest parts of Craig’s dairy allergy is the realm of desserts.  Most desserts that you can buy from the store ready to eat or buy and just stick in the oven are not Craig-friendly.  We do have a few basic dessert staples that we use (like Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix), but most desserts that I can make Craig-friendly require an entire free day to make from scratch…and I rarely have an entire free day to make something from scratch.

However, chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars are simultaneously one of the easiest and most delicious desserts I have EVER made. They take the unbeatable combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and…dare I say it…step it up a notch.  The saltiness of the pretzels cuts through the sweetness of everything else with sharp perfection, and I love the crunch it adds to the otherwise smooth texture.  And guess what else!  This is a NO BAKE recipe.  That’s right!  You don’t have to turn on your oven!  The bonuses of this recipe just go on and on.

I found this recipe through Pinterest, on a blog called Bakerlady.  She adapted her recipe from a blog called The Craving Chronicles.  And now here is my adaptation, as simple and delicious as can be, ready for you to make!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups pretzel crumbs*
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ (powered) sugar
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

*Now about making those pretzel crumbs…The blog where I first found this recipe said to pulse the pretzels in your food processor until most of them are finely ground, but there are still some pea-sized pieces.  However, I don’t own a food processor, so I took a slightly different approach…

It really didn’t take long at all to make my pretzel crumbs.  I could have easily crushed them to be more fine as on the website where I originally found this recipe, but I preferred it to be a good mix of finely ground pretzel and little pretzel chunks to add that crunch I love.

Directions:

Line an 8x8in pan with foil.  Spray with cooking spray.

In a medium microwave bowl, melt butter in the microwave (about 30-ish seconds). Mix in the pretzel crumbs, peanut butter, and confectioners’ sugar.  It’s going to be very thick, and kind of turn into just one big clump, so just try to make sure the clump is mixed well with all the ingredients.Spread your pretzel mixture evenly into your prepared pan.  Refrigerate for at least ten minutes while you throw together your ganache topping.

Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave, stirring frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Then pour over pretzel mixture, and spread evenly.Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove from the pan, cut into squares, and enjoy!

Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

A couple of years ago, Craig and I had a realization.  While he may have an intolerance to cow dairy protein, the proteins from goat milk are not at all the same thing.  That means that Craig can eat goat cheese!  Now don’t get me wrong, because this was obviously great news, but there is definitely a downside to it: Goat cheese is WAY more expensive than cheese made from cows’ milk.  So even with the knowledge that Craig can in fact eat goat cheese, we really don’t splurge on it that often.  It is mostly reserved for special occasions.  Luckily for Craig, I was a wonderful enough wife to put his 24th birthday into the “special occasion” category…especially since I made certain that my 23rd birthday was in the category.  😉

The truth is I’m really not what you would call a “cheese person.”  I mean, cheese is alright, and I like it on some things, but if I’m ordering a sandwich somewhere, I will most likely make a point to ask for no cheese.  For me, it really doesn’t add too much to life (except for macaroni and nachos!), and I’d survive just fine without it.  Craig, on the other hand, LOVES cheese.  He would have probably been more willing to give up just about any other food in the world than cheese.  So he was of course thrilled when I gave him a few goat-cheese-filled meal options that I was willing to try to make Craig-friendly, and he took his time deciding exactly which one would make the perfect birthday dinner.  Finally, Craig decided on chicken, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese lasagna.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it is from a blog called Closet Cooking.  Of course, as with most meals I prepare, I had to make some changes in order to make this lasagna Craig-friendly.  I was pretty nervous when I began, because I’m really not a big fan of trying “Ashley-edited” or “Ashley-created” recipes out for the first time for a special occasion…I’m still not entirely confident in my cooking abilities.  Thankfully, this turned out AMAZINGLY…I mean it was absolutely splendid!  I know that some people think that goat cheese tends to overpower other flavors in some dishes because it is so strong, but the spices and other ingredients in this recipe balanced it out perfectly.  It was so delightful, and I would absolutely recommend this recipe (regular or Craig-friendly version) to anyone!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
  • 1 handful parsley (chopped)
  • 6 lasagne noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
    • I used almond milk, but I also think regular soy milk would probably work well.
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
    • I definitely say you should add it if you have it!
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 large roasted red peppers
    • I used two 12oz jars of roasted red pepper from the store, but if you are interested in roasting your own, you can check out some directions here from the original author of this recipe.
  • 1 cup feta (crumbled)
    • I just used a little extra crumbled goat cheese.
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
    • I used the mozzarella type of Daiya Cheese Alternative.  It is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy -free.  It tastes good and melts pretty well compared to other fake cheeses…and I am quite particular about not eating nasty smelling, weird textured fake cheese, so it’s saying a lot if I am willing to eat this without a problem.

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken and parsley and set aside.
  7. Start cooking the noodles as directed on the package.
  8. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
  9. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
  10. Mix in the milk, nutmeg and goat cheese and heat until it thickens.
  11. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  12. Place a layer of noodles* followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the roasted red peppers followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.

* To form one layer of noodles in the 8 inch square pan, cut two noodles 2/3 of the way down and use the 2 1/3 noodles to make a full row.

I recommend letting it sit for about 15 minutes or so before trying to cut and serve it, or it will fall apart like this: However, it tasted equally good either way, and Craig and I were SO ready to eat by the time I finally finished (I got a late start on dinner that night).  Yum!

You have GOT to believe me when I say that my sorry camera did not even come close to doing this meal justice.  It was amazing! I also wouldn’t be surprised if Craig began making up a lot more “special occasions” in the future so he can have more goat cheese delightfulness like this!  😉

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