Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Here’s a health-ified version of BBQ Pulled Pork. You could just pour a jar of sugar loaded BBQ sauce into the slow-cooker with a little extra water OR you can make your own sauce and feel better about the ingredients! I served it with a tangy broccoli slaw and sweet potatoes. Since I only feed two people, I froze half for an easy meal in the future. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 lbs pork loin or shoulder roast
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard seed
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Directions:
Place all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove pork and shred using 2 forks. Turn slow cooker on high for 30 minutes and leave uncovered to allow sauce to concentrate. Turn off slow cooker and add pork to sauce. Toss to evenly coat.
Serves 8 or freezes well for up to 6 months.

Vegetarian Bean Ragu

This Vegetarian Bean Ragu is a BLD meal: it works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! It’s a great dish that can be thrown together with limited ingredients when you are short on fresh produce since it heavily relies on pantry staples. The ragu topped with a fried egg is a perfect taste and texture combo that packs plenty of protein.

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Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 can pinto beans (rinsed)
  • eggs
  • avocado (optional)
Directions:
In a skillet, saute onion, mushrooms, and bell pepper in olive oil on medium heat until vegetables are tender. Add chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and spices and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add beans and warm through. In a separate skillet, prepare eggs.
Top ragu with eggs and avocado. Serves 4.

Oat-Crusted Chicken Thighs

This recipe is so good and has been in the rotation for a few years now! It definitely tastes more decadent than it is plus it packs the goodness of oats!

PSA: Oats can be used for much more than oatmeal and baking. Use them any way you would a bread crumb. Think of oats as a thicker crumb. It works great here as a coating or breading, but it is also a good swap for meatballs and meatloaves.
The flavors are really easy to change for the chicken so there is room for a lot of variety. And, if you are like me, it makes a good vehicle for ketchup! I hope you try them.
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Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/8 cayenne (or more if you like spicy)
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a shallow dish, combine olive oil and spices. Add oatmeal and mix until oats are evenly coated. Crack 1 egg and scrambled in another dish.

Dip chicken thighs in egg and then coat in the oat mixture, patting oats until there is a thick, even coating. Place on a greased wire rack or baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes until oats are golden brown and chicken is cooked through.

Makes 2 servings.

Barbecue Sriracha Wings

How to win brownie points on football Sundays:

  1. Make Barbecue Sriracha Wings

Wings at restaurants are normally deep-fried before tossing them in sauce. Using a wire rack in this recipe helps get the skin crispy without the fryer.

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Barbecue Sriracha Wings

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs chicken wings
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional depending on sweetness of BBQ sauce)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F. Individually pat each wing dry using a paper towel. Season wings with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Spray a wire rack with non-stick cooking spray and place over a baking sheet. Arrange wings on wire rack so that they are not touching. Bake for 25 minutes.

In a bowl, combine barbecue, sriracha, and honey. Using tongs, remove wings one at a time from the wire rack and coat in the sauce, dipping them twice for a thick coating. Place wings back on wire rack. Put rack back into the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Artichoke, and Barley Skillet

This recipe turned out so well and checks off numerous boxes on my fall food requirements list. There are a lot of star flavors in this dish but the sleeper hit is barley. Barley doesn’t get enough attention or love. Primarily, you are literally eating little doughy clouds. Second, barley provides the same type of fiber as oatmeal– a good for your body soluble fiber called β-glucan.

I normally don’t enjoy bacon in recipes because it is overwhelming but it works here and doesn’t overshadow the other flavors. This dish is super satisfying on a cold night. I hope you dig in!

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Chicken, Artichoke, and Barley Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pearled barley, uncooked
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Directions:

Cook barley according to package instructions (I made mine in the rice cooker).

Chop bacon into think slices. In a deep skillet, fry bacon until crispy. Remove from pan. Chop onion and sauté in bacon drippings. Cut chicken thighs into 1-inch chunks. Once onion is translucent, add chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add chopped garlic.

Drain artichoke hearts, reserving 1/4 of the liquid. Roughly chop hearts and add them with the liquid to skillet. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in pesto. Add cooked barley and spinach and toss together until spinach is wilted. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

White Chicken Chili

Cold weather = soup and stew weather. Once fall rolls around I am always in the mood to cook soups and stews every week and dig into a warm, brothy bowl of goodness for dinner. Growing up, my best friend’s mom always made white chicken chili in the winter time. This dish takes me back to her kitchen and eating multiple bowls straight out of the crockpot. This stove top version comes together in a flash and leftovers store well in the freezer!

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White Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small can hatch green chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 can of no salt added cannellini or white beans
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Dice onion and green pepper. Add them to a soup pot with olive oil and sauté until they are soft on medium heat. Cut chicken thighs into 1-inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Add to soup pot with onion and green pepper. Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add can of green chiles with juices. Chop garlic and add to pot with cumin and 1 bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute before adding chicken broth. Turn heat down to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.

Open and drain beans but do not rinse. Mash them in the can with a fork until about 2/3 are completely crushed. Add beans to the simmering broth and allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Add frozen corn and allow to heat through.

Makes 6 servings.

Topping ideas: cheddar, monterrey jack, cilantro, jalapeños, tortilla chips

Freeze the extra: In my house, I only cook for two people but I often make enough to serve 6-8, especially for soups or stews. I always immediately freeze 1/2 of the recipe because I don’t like to eat things more than twice. To freeze, I either wait until the soup has cooled and then add to a freezer bag. Remove all of the air and lay flat on a shelf in the freezer. This takes up substantially less space. I also freeze soups and stews in old quart containers– like take out soup, bulk yogurt, or bulk section containers. If you were to check my freezer right now, I have at least 5 different soups and stews just waiting to be warmed up on a night that I don’t have time to cook!

Easy Egg Breakfast Bake

I always struggle with getting in enough protein at breakfast. Protein shakes don’t appeal to me, cooking eggs just takes too much time, and I think it’s too cold to eat yogurt (yes, I am a wimp). But, without enough protein I usually end up hungry before lunchtime and reaching for a snack that I don’t need. In an effort to make AM protein easier, I baked up an easy and easy-to-customize egg bake.

I ate mine on a piece of toast with Kite Hill Chive “Cream Cheese Style Spread” (it’s made from almonds and DELICIOUS!).

A fun scrambled eggs tip: I learned in a Food Science cooking lab in college to always scramble eggs with water, not milk. Water is much lighter than milk so the eggs will be much fluffier.

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Easy Egg Breakfast Bake

Ingredients: 

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with butter.

Slice onions and mushrooms. In a bowl, whisk eggs, water, and spices. Pour into buttered baking dish. Arrange mushrooms and onions on top of eggs.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until eggs are cooked through in the center.

Makes 4 servings.