Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

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I’ve always felt like I’m missing out the pulled pork sandwich.  I don’t eat pork as I just don’t like it.  Well, except of course for bacon which seriously should be a food group in itself.  I mean one of our local restaurants serves bacon ice cream!  I’ve known self-proclaimed vegans, ok only one, who still sneaks a slice of bacon once in awhile.  Yes, the guilty party knows just who I’m talking about….

So here’s my answer to the pulled pork sandwich.  This pulled chicken has a real depth of flavor.  It is in a word fantastic.  It is slow cooked in the crock pot for 7 hours so it is super moist and so very flavorful.  And you will absolutely love how your house smells while it’s cooking.

This one’s a blue ribbon winner, winner chicken dinner for sure.  (Or lunch, or snack).

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Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken
 
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This pulled chicken will make you forget about pulled pork! It is made in the slow cooker and is so moist with a great depth of flavor Try serving it on a pretzel roll with a nice cabbage slaw on top.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 1 onion (sweet) – thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic – minced
  • 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree, diced tomatoes do NOT work!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Add the chicken and onion to the slow cooker.
  2. Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the sauce and stir to cover all of the chicken and onion.
  4. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  5. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and gently pull it apart using 2 forks.
  6. Add the pulled chicken back into the crock pot, stirring it into the sauce.
  7. *(recipe adapted from Pure Wow)

My favorite way to serve this sandwich in on a warmed or toasted pretzel roll with a nice vinaigrette cabbage slaw on top.  I’m obsessed with the pretzel roll actually.  I have a friend who serves them warmed with various types of mustard for dipping….yep, I’d be so happy to call that dinner.

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Mini Turkey Panini Sandwiches

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I’m used to hosting dinners and I have a certain calm confidence when I have to do so as I think it’s easier than hosting a lunch or brunch.  I had the opportunity to host family and friends for a Fall lunch a few weeks ago.  So, it took some planning for me.  I try to plan my meal around the season when I entertain as it’s easier to cook with what’s in season and I think it’s another way to not only celebrate the season but to celebrate all the lovely foods that go along with it.  Being that it’s Fall I wanted a light lunch filled with flavor that could be served in courses as I knew it would be a social meal filled with stories and memories.  A meal served in courses gives your guests a chance to relax and have plenty of time for conversation.

I served these mini Panini sandwiches filled with roasted turkey, provolone cheese and garnished with fig preserves and fresh sage.  I used turkey tenderloins because when sliced they fit perfectly onto the French baguette that I used.  The fig preserves gave a subtle sweetness and that punch of fresh sage made it earthy and fresh.  They were very well received!  My guests commented that they loved the idea of having mini sandwichs as opposed to one big sandwich.

Mini Turkey Panini Sandwiches
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich, Panini
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 large French baguette, sliced
  • 2 turkey tenderloins
  • 16 slices of provolone cheese
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • 10-15 sage leaves - chopped
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary garlic seasoning
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the turkey tenderloins into a covered baking dish. Drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary garlic seasoning.
  3. Bake the tenderloins for approximately 40-50 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Slice the turkey tenderloins.
  5. Cut the provolone cheese slices in half.
  6. Spread butter over one side of each baguette.
  7. Assemble the sandwiches:
  8. Place a piece of baguette butter side down on work surface.
  9. Spread the baguette with fig preserves.
  10. Add ½ slice of the provolone.
  11. Add a slice of turkey.
  12. Add a few chopped sage pieces.
  13. Add another ½ slice of the provolone.
  14. Top with another slice of baguette, butter side out.
  15. Assemble the remaining sandwiches. Repeating the same process.
  16. Place the sandwiches, in batches onto the Panini press. Cook until browned and the cheese melted.
  17. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining sandwiches.

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I served my roasted butternut squash soup as the first course followed by the mini Panini sandwiches with a simple cabbage slaw.  Pumpkin cake was our delicious dessert.  The best part was I got to relax and enjoy the meal as well.  I prepared the soup, cabbage slaw and cake the night before.  The only thing I had to do was roast the turkey, assemble the sandwiches, and place them into the Panini press.  And I must say, roasting that turkey made the house smell sensational.

 

BLT, the perfect weeknight indulgence.

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As I sat staring at the beautiful tomatoes on my kitchen table I decided on tomato sandwiches for dinner.  Then it just got out of hand by adding bacon (ok, turkey bacon so a bit less guilt), and this unbelievably addicting bread.  The bread I used is from Panera, it’s they’re Asiago cheese loaf and it’s just ridiculous.  I’ve truly never had a bread I’ve enjoyed more.  I butter both sides and throw it on a griddle to toast it up and could eat the entire loaf.  My guests now ask for it.  It comes in a loaf and a baguette.  So there you go Panera, a free plug for you!

I’ve messed up BLT’s before and I think it’s because you have to toast the bread ahead of time.  It just doesn’t keep the bacon and lettuce crisp enough if you assemble the sandwich first and then put it on the skillet to toast the bread; it just gets mushy.

Of course regular bacon is wonderful on this sandwich but I’ve used turkey bacon here which I think is very tasty with just a fraction of the fat.  I’ve also used a veggie burger in place of the bacon and I love that too.

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BLT, the perfect weeknight indulgence.
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 6 slices of bacon (I used turkey bacon)
  • 1 large tomato sliced into rounds (I used 3 slices of heirloom tomato per sandwich)
  • iceberg lettuce
  • 4 slices of your favorite bread
  • canola mayonnaise
  • butter
Instructions
  1. Cook the bacon until crisp.
  2. Butter both sides of the 4 slices of bread.
  3. Toast both sides of the bread on a skillet.
  4. Assemble the sandwich by spreading the canola mayonnaise on the bread.
  5. Layer on the lettuce, tomato and bacon.

 

 

Turkey Panini with fresh sage and fig preserves

turkey.panini.fig.preserve.3This sandwich is like Thanksgiving dinner contained in a delicious, melty package!

I enjoy finding new and unique food items and then creating recipes using those items.  True story, I was shopping for a rug at Marshalls/TJ Maxx and of course, found myself perusing through the gourmet food aisle.  Typically there’s the usual bottles of BBQ sauce and bags of dry pasta.  But this particular day I happened across a jar of all natural fig preserves.  I love fig products.  Fig balsamic (my favorite flavor of vinegar), fig bars and don’t even get me thinking about fig newtons!  Anyway, I digress…

This delicious sandwich is made with deli turkey, swiss cheese, a chiffonade of fresh sage leaves and fig preserves contained within two thick cut slices of sourdough bread.  Wow, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I’ve served it here with a garden salad for a complete meal.

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Turkey Panini with fresh sage and fig preserves
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • deli turkey meat (amount to taste) - I use a nitrate-free low sodium honey roasted turkey
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese (or more depending on your taste)
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves - sliced into ribbons, a "chiffonade"
  • 1 Tablespoon fig preserves
  • Butter
Instructions
  1. Butter a slice of bread and lie the butter side down onto a surface to build the sandwich.
  2. Spread the bread with ½ of the fig preserves.
  3. Place one slice of cheese onto the preserves.
  4. Place the sage ribbons onto the cheese.
  5. Next add the turkey, followed by the other slice of cheese.
  6. Butter the second slide of bread.
  7. Spread the non-buttered side of the bread with the fig preserves putting the butter side out.
  8. Place the sandwich onto the Panini press and cook until it becomes nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  9. Alternate cooking method:
  10. If making this sandwich on a skillet:
  11. Cook it over medium low heat until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  12. I put a foil tent over the sandwich, leaving the sides open for the steam to escape. It melts the cheese nicely while letting the steam escape so the sandwich is not too soft and soggy.
  13. Turn the sandwich over and cook the second side.

 

 

 

 

Kale Pesto

kale.pesto1Pesto can be a whole topic on its own.  It is so versatile in the ingredients you can put in it and the dishes you can put it in.  My favorite uses for pesto are mixing it into pasta as a sauce, a sandwich spread, stirred into soups for added flavor, served on crostini as an appetizer and as a pizza sauce.

This pesto uses kale and it’s flavor is surprisingly bright and fresh with the lemon juice.  It has been very well received by the people I’ve served it to.

I welcome your comments once you’ve tried it.  And please feel free to share your uses for pesto, there’s always room for more!

Kale Pesto
 
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Author:
Recipe type: pesto, sauce
Ingredients
  • 4 cups tightly packed chopped kale (I used already cut bagged kale)
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of ½ of a lemon (approximately 2-3 Tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
Instructions
  1. Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until they begin to lightly brown (they'll begin to smell like popcorn).
  2. Place kale, pine nuts and garlic and lemon juice in the food processor. Pulse until blended.
  3. Add the salt and pepper.
  4. Turn on the food processor and stream in the olive oil. Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a bowl. Stir in the cheese. Serve.
  5. Note – if you’re not going to be serving it immediately, wait to put the cheese in until you're ready to serve it.

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Turkey Burger Panini with a garlic aioli spread

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A go-to quick and delicious dinner for me has got to be Paninis or grilled sandwiches.  It’s a meal that’s hard to mess up as pretty much anything can go between a couple of slices of bread.  Add some cheese and heat it until melty and warm and voila… an instant meal that looks like you really planned it out.

This turkey burger Panini is kind of like a patty melt.  The addition of the grilled onion and a garlic aioli spread really set it over the top.

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Turkey Burger Panini
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Grilled Sandwich, Panini
Cuisine: Main Dish, What's For Dinner
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the Sandwich:
  • 8 slices of whole grain bread (or the bread of your choice)
  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 Tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 large Vidalia onion - sliced into thick rounds
  • 4 slices of Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese (8 slices if you want 2 slices of cheese per sandwich, the more cheese the better right?)
  • For the garlic aioli sauce:
  • 1 cup mayo - I use canola mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the grill or griddle to medium high heat.
  2. Mix the Montreal seasoning into the ground turkey with your hands
  3. Form into 4 patties and use your thumb to put an indentation into the middle of each burger to prevent the burger from popping up in the middle when cooking
  4. Place the burgers onto the grill/griddle and cook to an internal temperature of 170 degrees. Turn the burger only once and don't press down on that burger with your spatula while cooking unless you want a dried out burger!
  5. Brush the onion slices with olive oil on both sides
  6. Cook the onions on the grill/skillet until nicely browned, turn and repeat on the other side.
  7. Butter one side of each slice of bread
  8. Assemble the sandwich with the garlic aioli spread on the bread (opposite side as the butter).
  9. Layer the cheese, burger patty, grilled onion, another slice of cheese (if desired)
  10. Place the sandwiches in the Panini maker or on the griddle and cook until both sides of the bread are nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  11. For the garlic aioli
  12. Blend all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined
  13. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating

 

 

Best Ever Basil Pesto…brace yourself, it’s that good!

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We all have one; that one recipe that is so good and gets you so much praise when you serve it that it secretly makes you feel like a rock star.  That one recipe for me is my basil pesto.  So much “the one” that I’ll be honest with you, I’ve really been on the fence about whether or not to share it.  Of course, I’ve come to my senses and realized that hello, I’m a food blogger and I’m passionate about sharing my recipes.  I want you to experience this holy grail of all sauces (in one blonde’s humble opinion that is).

I use this to create amazing pasta dishes, as a sauce for Panini and grilled sandwiches, as an appetizer on bread, in place of tomato sauce on pizzas and stirred into tomato soup for great added flavor!

Best Ever Basil Pesto...brace yourself, it's that good!
 
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The only basil pesto recipe you'll ever need!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • heaping ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 large cloves of garlic (more to taste)
  • ⅔ cups olive oil
  • heaping ½ cup grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan or a combination of the two)
Instructions
  1. In a small skillet toast the pine nuts over medium heat until they begin to turn a light golden brown. I can always smell when they're done as they smell like popcorn kernels cooking in oil on top of the stove.
  2. Place the basil, toasted pine nuts and garlic in the food processor and pulse until fully chopped.
  3. Stream in the olive oil while the processor is running and blend until it is fully incorporated.
  4. Transfer the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese.
  5. *Note - if you are going to freeze the pesto, add only ½ cup of the oil and pour the remaining oil on top of the pesto before freezing. Add the cheese AFTER you defrost it and are ready to eat it.

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Caprese Panini with tomato, basil and mozzarella

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“This might be the best sandwich I’ve ever had.”  Yep, those were the words my Mom uttered last night when eating this sandwich.  I think that just about covers it.

“Caprese” is defined as a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green.  I think this combination is pure bliss!  I love the colors and how the flavors meld together.  I’ve taken that “caprese” combination, added some baby portabellas and put it on some delicious seven grain herb crusted bread and grilled it in a Panini maker…..wow!

In fact, I must tell you, I purchased a Panini press last month at a ridiculous closeout price with the sole purpose of creating this sandwich.  It most certainly did not disappoint.  I think it was the best sandwich I’ve ever had as well.  Thanks for the compliment Mama…

Caprese Panini with tomato, basil and mozzarella
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Panini, sandwich
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 slices of seven grain bread (or bread of your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon softened butter
  • 2 slices of mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato - sliced into rounds
  • 1 baby portabella mushroom - sliced
  • 2 large basil leaves - cut into ribbons (chiffonade, see note below)
  • 1 scallion or small Vidalia onion - sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat up the Panini maker or a griddle pan on medium heat the stovetop.
  2. Butter 2 slices of bread.
  3. Place one slice of bread butter side down on your surface.  Build the sandwich starting with 1 slice of mozzarella, the roma tomatoes (3-4 rounds fill the sandwich nicely), the sliced portabella, the sliced onion, the basil ribbons, the 2nd slice of mozzarella cheese and the 2nd slice of bread, butter side out.
  4. Place the sandwich on your Panini press or griddle pan and heat until golden brown on both sides.

“Chiffonade” means little ribbons in French, referring to the little ribbons you create while cutting.  It is a chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips.  This is done by stacking the leaves, rolling them up tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.

My favorite sandwich…A Turkey Reuben Melt

IMG_0325I’ve never really been a sandwich eater.  Cold sandwiches just don’t do anything for me.  However, a grilled cheese with the warm melty cheese and the crispy browned bread…perfection; a real comfort food for me.  I’ve taken my love of grilled cheese (with tomato and red onion please) and turned it into several melt sandwiches.  Popular ingredients for me include portabella mushrooms, avocado, tomato, onion, tuna and veggie burgers.  The recipe I’ve included here is for a turkey Reuben; my favorite (at least for today).

Wow, my mouth is watering just writing this.  It’s melty delicious-ness!

Turkey Reuben Melt
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sandwich
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • deli turkey meat - I use a nitrate-free low sodium honey roasted turkey
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese (or more depending on your taste)
  • Sauerkraut
  • 2 slices of your favorite bread
  • butter
Instructions
  1. There's nothing complicated here. It's made like a grilled cheese. I build it right on the skillet.
  2. Butter a slice of bread and lie the butter side down onto the skillet (or griddle or grill pan depending on your preference)
  3. Layer a slice of the cheese onto the bread
  4. Add the sauerkraut
  5. then the turkey meat
  6. and lastly the second slice of cheese.
  7. Butter the second slice of bread and place it on top of the sandwich with the butter side out.
  8. Cook it over medium low heat until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is melted.
  9. I put a foil tent over the sandwich, leaving the sides open for the steam to escape. It melts the cheese nicely while letting the steam escape so the sandwich is not too soft and soggy.
  10. Turn the sandwich over and cook the second side.

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