kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Inspired by a popular post on Damn Delicious (one of my favorite cooking blogs), this recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is beyond foolproof, with no braising, marinating or prep work required — just toss it in the slow cooker, come home after work and eat. You can use any cut of chicken and it still turns out moist and delicious. The original recipe called for chicken thighs, but boneless breasts were on sale and are something Georgia prefers, so we decided to try the recipe with those instead. And it worked perfectly. Life = easier, just like that!

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 Chicken thighs (or two packages of boneless breasts, which I used here)
  • 16 oz. red potatoes (half a 2.5 pound bag)
  • 16 oz.baby carrots (one bag)
  • 16 oz. green beans, trimmed (one bag)

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried oregano, basil, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste (about a tablespoon total)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix the sauce together and set aside.
  • In your slow cooker, nestle the potatoes and carrots into the bottom of the pot, then layer the chicken on top. Pour the sauce over and set to cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • The original recipe calls for basting every half hour, which is fine if you are home but not fine if you’re working. It turns out well either way.
  • In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in the green beans.
  • Serve warm on a cold day!

OK, so this doesn’t photograph very well as a finished product. Trust me when I tell you it’s even BETTER as leftovers! 

This is a great recipe to pair with the Maple Dijon Pork Chops I posted about a couple of weeks ago when you’re meal planning for the week, because you can buy one bag of potatoes and use half in this meal and half with the chops; the same goes for the green beans.

Are you all set for Halloween?? We are in full Spooky Swing. Last weekend was the “Boo at the Zoo” event at the same place where we hosted Georgia’s birthday party this year, and we had a blast with friends riding the kiddie rides, seeing the animals in their exhibits, dancing to some monster tunes and of course picking up some toys and (healthy) treats along the walking paths. Monday we had a trick-or-treat in my office, which was another hit, and tomorrow G has her preschool Halloween party. It’s an exhausting life when you’re three — and the actual holiday hasn’t even hit yet! I’m not sure Rapunzel’s wig will make it to Monday intact… 🙂

Have a great rest of the week everyone. 

kid-friendly · Recipes

Turkey &Veggie Meatloaf (Toddler Friendly!)

So, I’ve been trying to revive my slow cooker for our cool fall nights, but am having trouble expanding my repertoire of recipes. A few weeks ago, I bought ground turkey to try and make this slow cooker cheeseburger casserole, but it seemed like every morning that week was just too hectic for me to do the minimal prep required to get it started before work. With the expiration date looming, I had no choice but to throw all that ground turkey into a meatloaf. That’s how this recipe was born! I didn’t discover a new slow cooker meal, but I did devise something just as easy and even a little bit healthy, since I snuck a lot of finely-diced and shredded veggies into it too. I’m really trying  to get more vegetables into Georgia’s diet these days, and this succeeded in doing that, while still tasting very moist and just like a classic meatloaf. Success!

The only bad thing is that I took ZERO good pictures of it. You’ll just have to trust me that this came out so tasty, and use for your evidence these snapshots of Georgia enjoying dipping hunks of the meatloaf in her favorite condiment — ketchup — which she calls sauce (“mama, I need more SAUCE!”) I really think the far-off stare, eating straight ketchup with her fork, and treating her binky like a place setting will make this look even more appetizing for you. And yes, I put a red shirt over my child’s regular clothing when she’s eating ketchup.

  
What makes this toddler friendly?

  • It uses turkey instead of ground beef & other red meats that are higher in saturated fats (and may be carcinogenic!)
  • It makes minimal use of that nutritional dud white bread, instead using some bread crumbs. I don’t know about your kids, but mine gets PLENTY of refined carbs as it is.
  • It packs a lot of veggies without turning a weird color or tasting too “green.”
  • It is good for practicing fork/spoon/knife skills, but is also very grab-able for hands that just want to go straight from plate to mouth!
  • The most obvious: it is prime dunking material, in ketchup, barbecue sauce, what have you.
  • Meatloaf is cool-weather food. It’s filling, reminds you of weeknight dinners as a kid, and reheats beautifully for busy evenings after work and school.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

Turkey & Veggie Meatloaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 cups grated or diced vegetables of your choosing
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP ketchup (extra) for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup ketchup, egg, vegetables, and mustard. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Pack the mixture into a loaf pan. Combine the Worcestershire sauce and remaining ketchup and brush over the meatloaf.

Bake for 45 minutes and serve warm. Packs well for day care with a side of “sauce!”

For vegetables, I used green beans, sweet potatoes and zucchini/summer squash. You could use whatever you like or have on hand.

I hope you are all enjoying Autumn and getting excited about Halloween. We are getting into the spirit with festive drinks, decorating our house for trick-or-treaters, and visiting the playground a few more times before frost sets in.

Georgia is going to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween this year — how about you??

Have fun, stay safe, and share photos afterward 🙂

kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Casserole

Thanks to Dizzy Busy and Hungry (boy if that isn’t an apt name) for inspiring this recipe! I’m always on the hunt for crock pot ideas, since I really only have two go-to recipes — Brown Sugar Kielbasa, and Creamy Chicken Curry — and since they make such large portions, I can only use them here and there or risk revolt from the troops. This one has been a great addition to my repertoire and with minimal prep, I can get it ready all before work and then time it to be done as we walk in the door from daycare pickup.

Ground meat is notoriously hard to photograph in an attractive manner, but I did my best here because this was easy and tasty and I really hope you try it! I used ground turkey, but you can absolutely go with beef instead. 

Since the recipe only calls for half a box of macaroni, I opted to boil the entire container and then use the other half to make scratch mac n’ cheese. I just threw in some butter and milk, added Wildtree mac n’ cheese mix and some shredded organic cheddar from the fridge, melted it in the same pan I used to boil the pasta, then topped it with bread crumbs and popped it under the broiler for less than two minutes. Voila: two different dinners for the price of one.

Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces (half a box) whole grain or fiber-enriched elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used 80/20 lean)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 24 oz. frozen veggies with cheese sauce (I used Target brand; any will do)
  • ¾ cup low-fat shredded cheddar
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (I actually used 4 or 5 roma, chopped)
  • 2-3 pickles, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP ketchup, plus however much more you’d like on top

DIRECTIONS 

Cook the pasta until just becoming tender (about 5 minutes). Drain and set aside.

Mix the turkey, ketchup, and onion in a large bowl. Add the frozen veggies and cheese sauce, shredded cheddar and pasta, and mix until combined.

Place the entire mixture into the your crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.

Serve with chopped tomatoes and pickles on top, plus a little extra shredded cheese!

Options: You can of course make this with ground beef instead of turkey. Turkey is healthier but tastes less “juicy” than beef does, which in turn makes this taste more like a turkey-burger casserole instead of a true cheeseburger casserole.

This recipe originally ran on Hungry Girl, which calls specifically for frozen cauliflower with cheese sauce as the veggie. Mark hates cauliflower so I subbed carrots and broccoli and it tasted just as good; go with whatever you prefer and can find at the store.

As for toppings, just pick whatever you would put on a burger! So obvious picks are pickles, tomatoes, cheese, ketchup and onions, but you can also shred some lettuce, or barbecue sauce, cilantro, hot sauce, honey mustard, or mayo — there are endless possibilities. Next time, I’m hoping to try some caramelized onions, or maybe pan-fried shallots with a flour coating, or perhaps even some jalapeno slices or a pepper jack cheese.

The great thing about this recipe is that it conveniently ‘hides’ a lot of veggies, which is something I said I’d never resort to with my child, but lo and behold here I am.

I really hope your family enjoys this one. It reheats extremely well and makes good use of late-summer/early fall tomatoes. (Although we still have so many that I’m doing this on Saturday to preserve them for sauce all winter!) And, of course, the best part is that casseroles travel very well to daycare and preschool, and the texture of this makes for very toddler-friendly eating. Plus, what kid doesn’t like cheese and ketchup??

Have a great rest of the week everyone, and if you have good slow cooker recipes to share, tell me in the comments below!