I confess that I am not having a very happy Monday. I mean, it’s Monday. I ate lots of good food this weekend, had good workouts, and hung out with cool people. Today is Monday, and it’s raining. And my morning started off such that I’ve spent more time on the phone with our “help desk” than I have actually doing work. The only thing getting me through it is knowing that when 5:30 rolls around, the hubs is picking me up and we’re heading to our city’s annual Food and Wine Festival. The way things are going today, things could get a little messy tonight. But if that’s not a way to turn a bad day into a good one, I don’t know what is.
Oh wait, I do. If you’re having a case of the Mondays, and your name happens to be Ashley, I have some good news for you!
You, my darling, have just won your choice of one the dresses I picked for my Shabby Apple Giveaway! I’ll be in touch
And because I’m a giving person, I have something for the rest of you too. It might not turn your Monday into a Funday quite like winning a free dress would, but I think you’ll like it anyway. I’m going to share my not-so-top-secret trick for not ruining your food in a slow cooker. Some of my longtime readers already know what this is, but I see a lot of newbies around here lately, and I really like you. In fact, I love you. I hope that doesn’t scare you away.
A few years ago I did what every good bride-to-be is supposed to do and I registered for a slow cooker. A huge one, of course, because inevitably I was going to be such a busy wife that this contraption would become my savior.
Not so much. See, when I moved in with the man, we became a household of two. Not seventeen. And for some reason my slow cooker is only good for cooking for an army. Any smaller amount of food left inside it would become completely overcooked and dried out during our long hours out of the house (easily 12 hours on a regular day.) Not cool.
I took off my apron and put on my engineering hat (well, I would have, if engineers actually wore hats) and decided that the reason my food was always getting overcooked was because it was too darn hot in there. This was happening because much of the surface area of the ceramic insert was left exposed to air, not food. That created an environment that was much too dry and hot for a few little chicken boobs (or whatever.) I proceeded to my nearest Bed Bath and Beyond (it was a fun little Saturday) and purchased a 1.5qt ceramic dish, with a lid, that fit perfectly inside my mammoth slow cooker.
I discovered that all I needed to do was reduce the amount of hot air directly in touch with my food, and voila – it stays perfectly moist and tender all day long.
Again, it’s not rocket science. If you want to make just enough food for two or four servings, and your slow cooker is more appropriate for a neighborhood block party, simply find a ceramic dish that will hold just the amount of food you need, and that will fit inside your slow cooker. Fill up the smaller dish and place it in your slow cooker. Cover it, preferably with a lid that goes with it, but a piece of foil would probably work too. Put the lid on your slow cooker. (Don’t put any water or anything around your ceramic dish – it’s not needed.) Turn it on. Go out and do your busy girl thing, whatever that is. Return 12 hours later. Eat.
Lately we’ve been using this trick to make shredded buffalo chicken. Considering I’m never one to suggest ordering wings and I’m apparently the only person on the planet not to go gaga for “crack dip”*, it was a little odd that I was smitten with this idea as soon as I came across it. My husband couldn’t have been more pleased.
*Internet slang for buffalo chicken dip. I’m serious, go look.
Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken
Adapted from Everyday Food, via Food to Run For
4 chicken breasts, about 5oz each, cut into smaller pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small slow cooker, or inside a covered ceramic dish that will fit inside a larger slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover the small dish, cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours, or until tender. Remove the chicken from the sauce, and shred with two forks; stir back into the sauce and reheat before serving.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 82.2 mg
Sodium: 1,327.1 mg
Total Carbs: 7.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 33.7 g
Now, I promised you all another trick. A new one. Let’s say you’re wondering what to do with you perfectly slow-cooked-not-overdone buffalo chicken. How about some tacos? With homemade baked taco shells using your favorite 50-calorie low-carb tortillas from TJ’s? Yes, please.
Just preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray, and drape them over the grates on your oven rack. Like so:
Bake for about 8 minutes, or until crispy and lightly browned.
Genius, I know.
Even more genius? Making tacos with shredded buffalo chicken, crumbled gorgonzola, and a super quick and crunchy mango-cabbage slaw, with scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and a splash of vinegar. It’s rare that I don’t write up a real recipe for you, but today that’s all you’re gonna get. I just threw this together, and I know you can too. xoxo