I've moved! Follow me over to The Balanced Baker.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Whole Chicken in a Crockpot

This is definitely not an earth shattering recipe, and it's barely a recipe at all! I thought I would just share a few tips that I've picked up that have made things easier for me when cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot.

It's really quite a marvelous thing - season a whole chicken, pop it in the crockpot, let it do it's thing for a few hours, and you have fall-off-the-bone chicken, ready to eat! I've been making this for a few weeks now and using the chicken for lunches during the week. One week I decided to roast the chicken in the oven, and decided I greatly prefer the crockpot. The meat truly does fall off the bone, which makes it really easy to separate out.

Whole Chicken in a Crockpot

One whole chicken
olive oil
seasoning of your choice
one lemon

Start by preparing the crockpot. I like to use crockpot liners for easier (and faster - don't have to wait for the crock to be cool enough to handle) clean up. Make 3 balls out of tin foil (about 2-3 inches in diameter) and place in triangular pattern in the crockpot. If available, place a rack on top of the foil balls. I have one that is just the perfect size, and I have found that it makes it easier to remove the chicken in one piece when it's done cooking. The chicken will release a lot of juice while cooking, so the foil balls will help keep it elevated, but the rack will help it come out of the pot without falling apart and dropping back into the liquid.


Prepare chicken by removing the giblets, rinsing well inside and out, and patting dry with paper towels. There are many ways to season the chicken - I keep it pretty simple with a little olive oil and some home-mixed Emeril's Essence. Fresh herbs + butter is another great way to go. Rub the oil and seasonings all over the chicken and under the skin to help flavor the breasts. Cut the lemon into quarters and stuff into the cavity.

Place chicken on rack in crockpot, and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken by lifting from the rack. I find it helpful to wedge a strong, metal spatula underneath the rack to help lift it up and out. Then just enjoy the chicken!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Garlic Mashed Cannellini Beans

We enjoy pureed black beans (our easy version of refried beans) whenever we have anything in the Mexican category, but I had never thought of mashing other types of beans. I was inspired by Elly to make mashed cannellini beans instead of mashed potatoes to go with the chicken croquettes. They were very easy to make and we loved them! I did make one change, though, as we like thyme better than rosemary, so I altered that one ingredient to suit us.


Garlic Mashed Cannellini Beans
Source: Slightly adapted from Elly Says Opa!
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Heat a skillet over medium heat and then add the oil until shimmering. Saute the garlic in the oil until fragrant and lightly browned, and then stir in the cannelini beans and thyme.

Add broth to the skillet and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice off the heat and mash the beans with a potato masher.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken Croquettes

The first time I had the pleasure of enjoying chicken croquettes was on a study abroad trip to Spain back in 2000. I was totally in love, but since I don't fry anything at home, I never really considered making them. I was reminded of how awesome they are when I saw this recipe posted by Mary Ellen, so I figured I'd give them a try and then pan fry some and bake others to see if both methods produce good results. I also decided to replace the butter in the croquette portion of the recipe, with pureed cottage cheese. While I'm sure butter would take better, the cottage cheese actually worked really well.


Baking the croquettes also worked out really well, and makes this long recipe just a little easier. When we sat down to eat, it became clear my husband had never had these before, and he kept referring to them as "chicken balls." He loved them and we were definitely fighting over the leftovers!

Chicken Croquettes
Source: Slightly adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Croquette Ingredients

* 1 c milk
* 1 c chicken stock
* 1/4 tsp white pepper
* 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
* Salt
* 1/2 cup pureed cottage cheese
* 1 stalk celery, minced
* 1/2 onion, minced
* 1 c all purpose flour
* 1 1/4 lbs cooked chicken breast, ground in a food processor
* Olive oil for pan frying, or spraying on croquettes before baking

Breading Ingredients

* 2 eggs
* 2 c milk
* 1/8 tsp salt
* 3 c all purpose flour or cracker meal
* 3 c bread crumbs

Chicken Gravy Ingredients

* 3 tbsp butter
* 2 c chicken stock
* 3 tbsp all purpose flour
* 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
* Pinch white pepper and salt

* Making the croquettes (refer to the croquette ingredients): In a heavy pot, heat the milk and stock on the stove and add the white pepper, parsley, and salt. In a separate pot, warm the cottage cheese and add the celery and onions. Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the hot milk/stock mixture and stir until thickened and smooth. Fold in the chicken and allow to cool.

* Breading the croquettes (refer to the breading ingredients): Shape 3 oz portions of the croquette batter into the shape of a cone and place on a tray lined with wax paper. Set out three bowls/breading dishes. In the first, make an egg wash with the egg, milk, and salt. The second bowl is flour, the third is breadcrumbs. Dip the croquettes into the egg wash, then flour, then egg wash again, then breadcrumbs.

* Cooking the croquettes: For pan frying the croquettes, heat oil in saute pan. Add croquettes, rotating to cook all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Drain well and blot on paper towels. For baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place croquettes on a rack over a baking sheet, spray croquettes lightly with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes.

* Cooking the gravy: Melt the butter in a 1 or 2 qt saucepan. Stir in the flour. Pour in the stock and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the parsley, white pepper, and salt to taste.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Turkey-Jack Burgers with Mango Salsa

This recipe combines a super simple turkey burger with a flavorful mango salsa. The magazine didn't give a recipe for mango salsa, but I knew where I could find a great one, so I wasn't deterred. As I noted in the recipe, I prefer to stuff the burgers with cheese rather than cook it on top of the burger. Whatever you like best will work!

Turkey-Jack Burgers with Mango Salsa
Source: Reworded from Clean Eating Magazine, July/August 2010
Serves: 4

1 lb extra lean ground turkey breast
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 ounces reduced fat pepper jack cheese or Monterey jack cheese, sliced
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, stems removed
2/3 cup fresh mango salsa (recipe follows)
4 sprouted grain (or whole wheat) hamburger buns

Mist large skillet with cooking spray and preheat to medium (or prepare grill at medium heat).  In a large bowl, combine turkey, chile powder, and salt.  Shape mixture into 4 equal patties, each 1/2 inch thick*.  Add patties to grill or skillet and cook until undersides are deep golden brown, 4 to 5  minutes.  Flip and place 1/2 ounce of cheese on each burger.  Continue cooking until undersides are browned and patties are firm to the touch, 4 to 5 more minutes. 

To serve, sandwich one lettuce leaf, one burger, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of salsa between each bun. 

*Alternatively, divide ground turkey mixture into 4 equal portions.  Working with one portion, shape half into a round patty.  Top with 1/2 ounce of cheese, then with other half of portion.  Seal around the edges of the patty to hold in the cheese.  Repeat with remaining 3 portions of turkey mixture.  Cook as directed above, omitting cheese on top of burger.

Mango Salsa
Source: Good Things Catered
Yield: 3-4 cups

  • 2 large ripened mangoes, peeled and flesh cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced extra fine
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 large red pepper, seeded and diced small
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a teeny pinch of salt
In large bowl combine all ingredients and toss to combine.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lime Marinated Chicken

I know I have said this before, but we eat chicken so much that I try to keep some variety in our meals. This is yet another delicious marinade for grilling chicken. Very easy to throw together and doesn't need a really long marinating time.

Lime Marinated Chicken
Source: The Grilling Bible via Domestic Pursuits
produces enough marinade for 4 butterflied chicken breasts

1/2 cup lime (or lemon) juice
4 tablespoons honey mustard*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Pour over chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for two hours.

*don’t have honey mustard? use 2 tbsp honey and 2 tbsp mustard