There is great value in meals that can be made ahead of time. Sometimes the hour before dinner can be the most busy and full time of the day. In our house, there are often multiple things going on at that time, including kids doing homework, unpacking lunchboxes, frantically searching for clean soccer and/or basketball clothes, shin guards and the appropriate shoes for the practice immediately following dinner, and lots of other things not even worth mentioning! Some evenings, it is a huge relief to know that the main part of the dinner is already simmering away in the crockpot while we tend to all the other issues at hand. And some meals taste better the longer they simmer, allowing the flavors to blend and strengthen. That is the case with these pulled chicken sandwiches. With just a few simple ingredients and a crockpot, the chicken becomes tender and mouth-wateringly flavorful. The recipe below is formed from a conglomeration of a few different recipes for pulled chicken and sloppy joes, based on the combination I feel tastes best while maintaining simplicity. Because there is a fair amount of ketchup in this recipe, I like to get the highest-quality of ketchup I can find, and as always, that goes for the chicken as well. This recipe is really easy to throw together a few hours ahead of time, and is perfect for when you have a little pocket of time in the afternoon and know it will be a busy evening. I like to make a delicious, colorful coleslaw to serve with these sandwiches. This coleslaw can be made with either red or green cabbage, but I chose red cabbage yesterday. Cabbage is really good for us–it has lots of fiber and vitamins K, C, and A. Plus, red cabbage (which can actually also be purple, but is still called red cabbage) contains an extra concentration of anthocyanin polyphenols, giving it extra antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is easy to like the health benefits of cabbage! Red (also colored purple) cabbage is so beautiful. I really enjoyed taking photos of this salad. The dressing is mildly tangy, bringing out the flavors of the vegetables without overpowering. I often think of coleslaw as a summer salad, but it works well in the winter too. Cabbage, carrots, and apples keep well over the winter, and goodness knows we all need a burst of color and crunch in the midst of winter. This evening, my husband and I had leftover slaw on a bed of dark, leafy greens, topped with shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds. That was so tasty! I could feel the vitamins and minerals flowing into my body. I cannot write this post without mentioning how utterly cold it is here in Michigan! Today (and probably tomorrow too) my kids are home because their schools are closed due to dangerously cold wind chill temperatures. While we normally enjoy skiing or just being out in the snow, it is even too cold for that. I feel like we need healthy food now more than ever! Whether we are cozied up at home or facing a busy evening driving to and from obligations, a good, nourishing dinner helps us meet whatever life has in store for us. I will be taking this dinner over to Angie’s at The Novice Gardener, for Fiesta Friday. This week’s fiesta is hosted by Tina at Mademoiselle Gourmande and Juju at Cooking with Aunt Juju. With the cabin fever going on here, I especially look forward to checking out what everyone else has posted and look forward to communicating with all of you! Stay warm and have a great weekend!
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
- 1 cup of onion (red or yellow), finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 8 hamburger buns
Place the onion in your crockpot. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and chicken to the pan and cook, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. (Chicken does not need to be completely cooked–it will finish cooking in the crockpot). Transfer the chicken and little pieces of garlic to the crockpot and place on top of onions. In a small bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients and pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low heat for about 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is tender and sauce thickens a bit. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and shred it with two forks. Then put it back in the crockpot. Ladle the chicken and sauce mixture onto each bun and cover with bun tops. Enjoy!
- 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 apple, cored and finely chopped
- 2 cups of finely chopped red, green, or napa cabbage
- 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon of apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- a pinch (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) of salt
Wash and prepare the carrot and apple, and put the chopped pieces in a large bowl. Wash the cabbage and peel off the outer layers of skin. Cut the cabbage in half, and then finely chop. Add the cabbage to the bowl with the carrot and apple. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, apricot preserves, lemon juice, and salt. Adjust the amount of salt and lemon juice to your taste. Pour this mixture over the salad and stir well to coat evenly. Enjoy!