Friday, March 27, 2015

Crockpot Hoisin Chicken

I love my crockpot, but I have to be honest, I have a hard time finding good chicken recipes for it.  So often the chicken ends up really dry.  Whenever that happens I am so disappointed, but I'm not willing to give up on chicken in the crockpot.  When I saw Cookin Canuck's recipe for Hoisin Chicken in the crockpot I immediately gave it a try.  It was super juicy and the flavor was good, but I made a few tweaks to suit my family's tastes and to minimize dishes (my favorite thing).

For those of you who aren't familiar with Hoisin sauce, it is a thick, dark, sweet sauce used in Chinese cooking.  My first introduction to Hoisin sauce was as a little girl with the minced chicken lettuce wraps at Panda Inn, yum yum!  It is the star of this Crockpot Hoisin Chicken, but the soy sauce, ginger, and chili garlic sauce keep it from being too sweet.

It has been super hot here so the crockpot allows us to have a delicious homemade dinner without me standing over a hot stove or heating up our house with the oven.  This Crockpot Hoisin Chicken is also incredibly easy to make.  

Start out by spraying your crockpot with cooking spray and then putting some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the bottom.  To be honest, I'm not sure if you need the cooking spray, but I always use it when I'm cooking with my crockpot to make for an easy clean up. 

In a large liquid measuring cup combine your sauce ingredients.  You will need soy sauce, hoisin sauce, chicken stock, a little bit of honey, some minced ginger (I used a frozen cube from Trader Joe's), and some chili garlic sauce.  We don't like things very salty so I used low-sodium soy sauce and chicken stock.  Mix all of your sauce ingredients together and then pour it over the chicken.

Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken is cooked through.  The amount of time will depend on your crockpot and how big your chicken breasts are.  It took mine about 2 1/2 hours.  Once the chicken is cooked through, take it out of the crockpot to shred it. 

Combine some corn starch and water and then stir it into the sauce in your crockpot.  Add the shredded chicken back in, give it a good stir, and continue to cook for about 30 more minutes so that the chicken can absorb some more of that delicious flavor.  If you are nervous about dry chicken because your crockpot has let you down in the past, do not worry.  Look how juicy that chicken is!

I served mine with our favorite brown rice and quinoa blend and some steamed broccoli.  This chicken is so flavorful and delicious.  The next day I made a little salad with the leftovers, some lettuce, a little rice vinegar, some extra Hoisin, and a few peanuts.  No matter what you pair with this Hoisin chicken, it is absolutely delicious!

Crockpot Hoisin Chicken
Adapted From Cookin Canuck 
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbls. honey
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. chili garlic sauce
  • 2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbls. cornstarch
  • 2 tbls. water
  1. Spray your crock pot with cooking spray and place chicken in the bottom.
  2. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup combine soy sauce, hoisin, sauce, chicken broth, honey, ginger, and chili garlic sauce.  Pour over the chicken.
  3. Cook on low 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken and shred it.
  5. Combine the cornstarch and water and stir it into the sauce.  Put the chicken back in the crockpot and continue to cook about 30 more minutes so it has a chance to absorb the sauce.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Espresso Brownies

I've never been a coffee drinker.  There are lots of mornings where I wake up and wish that I liked coffee because I could really use the caffeine boost, but it's just not something I've ever gotten into.  That being said, I looooove coffee flavored desserts.  Coffee ice cream, yes please!  Mocha anything, sign me up.  Espresso Brownies, I can't get enough.  The only problem with these brownies is having enough willpower not to eat them for breakfast after another early wake up call from my human alarm clock.  

These Espresso Brownies are easy enough to make for no reason at all, but the espresso makes them special enough to serve to guests.  We recently went to a barbecue and I volunteered to bring a dessert.  I knew that I wanted to bring some sort of brownie, but I had a hard time deciding which one.  I love caramel so I was debating between these Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies  and these Salted Caramel Brownies, but then I remembered these Espresso Brownies.  I used to make these brownies all the time, but I haven't made them in years.  Since everyone at the barbecue had a baby or a toddler I figured that a little caffeine boost would be a welcome treat so Espresso Brownies it was.

To make these Espresso Brownies you will need two packages of brownie mix.  I used my favorite Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate brownie mix that I buy in a six pack at Costco, but feel free to use your favorite mix.  In a large bowl, whisk together equal parts water and vegetable oil along with four eggs and 1/4 cup of espresso powder.  I know that sounds like a lot, but remember that you are using two packages of brownie mix.

Stir in the brownie mix until everything is well combined.  Now you know that I love chocolate, A LOT, so I like to add a little bit more.  Stir a heaping cup of semisweet chocolate chips into the batter and then pour it into a baking pan sprayed with baking spray.  You have two options when it comes to your baking pans.  Some people like their brownies to be a little bit crispy, I am not one of those people.  I'm a soft and gooey brownie girl all the way!  If I'm just making these for my family, I like to use two square baking dishes because then I get all super soft and gooey brownies.  Also, I can freeze one pan for another day.  When I'm making these brownies for a crowd, I bake them in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  This will leave you with slightly crisper edges and softer, gooier brownies in the center.  That way everyone gets their brownies just the way that they like them. No matter what type of brownie lover you are, you will love these Espresso Brownies.  They are super chocolatey and the espresso powder gives them that little special something to make them out of this world!

Espresso Brownies
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso powder
  • 2 packages brownie mix
  • 1 heaping cup chocolate chips
  1. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with baking spray and preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together water, vegetable oil, eggs, and espresso powder.
  3. Stir in brownie mix until well combined
  4. Stir in chocolate chips and pour into baking pan.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
  6. Let cool completely before cutting.
 I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays, Whimsy Wednesday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Crafty & Delicious, Create It Thursday, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Thrifty Thursday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Link Party Palooza, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, and Pinworthy Projects.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Spiced Zucchini Muffins

As a mom, I want my kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.  Jake has always been a great vegetable eater so I never thought I would be searching for ways to sneak in veggies, but then we had Luke.  After we starting feeding Luke solids he started having some serious GI issues that were impacting his growth.  We finally figured out what was causing them; his body couldn't absorb fructose.  He has now started to outgrow it, but we still have to limit the amount of fruits we give to Luke so I feel even more pressure (from myself) to get extra vegetables into him.

Getting him to eat food in general is a challenge, unless it is a bread product, so I find myself having to get creative to feed him a balanced diet.  Because of how much he loves bread in all of its iterations, I've been thinking about mixing vegetables in with muffins.  I like almost all vegetables, but zucchini is one of the few foods that I don't really like.  I will eat it, but it isn't something I generally choose.  That is probably why I've never had, let alone made, zucchini bread.  Luke inspired me to give it a try.

I decided to make zucchini muffins instead of zucchini bread so that I would have individual servings.  Since this was my first foray into baking with zucchini I wasn't sure where to start so I did a lot of searching.  So many of the recipes that I found had applesauce or banana in them and I wanted these muffins to be fruit free.  I finally found a recipe that was fruit free and decided to give it a try.

The recipe sounded great as is, but I couldn't resist making a few tweaks.  I've pretty much abandoned all purpose flour for white whole wheat flour.  I find it works just as well (at least it does for me) and makes me feel like I'm being a little bit healthier.  As I mentioned, I'm not zucchini's biggest fan so I decided to add in some pumpkin pie spice because it is DE-LI-CIOUS!  I also added in Greek yogurt to keep the muffins nice and moist.

Start out by preheating your oven to 400 and whisking together your dry ingredients: white whole wheat flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well in the center.

In another bowl mix together some shredded zucchini, Greek yogurt (I used fat free), vegetable oil, honey, an egg, and a splash of milk (I used whole but I think whatever you have on hand is fine).

Once your wet ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour them into the well in the center of your dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.

Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into muffin tins sprayed with baking spray.  Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown, and then remove to a cooling rack.

I made these for Luke, but couldn't stop eating them myself.  The warm flavors from the pumpkin pie spice make these feel like comfort food.

Spiced Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Kathie's 
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbls. milk
  • 2 tbls. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbls. honey
  • 1 egg
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 and spray muffin tin with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients, flour through salt, and make a well in the center.
  3. In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined.
  5. Use an ice cream scoop to portion batter into muffin tins and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

I'm linking up with Create It Thursday, Cook It Craft It Share It, Crafty & Delicious, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Cookin & Craftin, Creativity Unleashed, Pin Junkie, Thrifty Thursday, Friday Favorites, Best of the Weekend, Weekend Potluck, Best Recipes, Link Party Palooza, and Pinworthy Projects.