Today I'll share a small batch of recipes, I think — but first a quick note: I really like the Zatarain's Creole food! It's surprisingly tasty to me, and the boxes make it easy to make. So far I've tried the Red Beans & Rice and the Dirty Rice Mix (to both of which I added Andouille sausage), the Gumbo Base (to which I added chunked chicken and served over rice), and the Creole Mustard — which I used as a bit of spice on regular pigs-in-blankets. Happily, everyone has very much enjoyed them all! I'll keep working through the food boxes I have, and let folks know if there are any I don't care for. Fair warning: I can't stand fish, so there will be no testing by me of, say, the breaded catfish. Eew! ;-)

So today I'll report on three things I've tried: crockpot beef & broccoli, crockpot BBQ beer chicken, and a healthier type of burger. My favorite for the flavor was the BBQ beer chicken, I think, though the beef & broccoli was also excellent. So, here we go:

Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken

Serves about 8-10. Also, this recipe really does need to be cooked the amount she says. I was about 20 minutes to half an hour short, and I think the sauce needed to cook a bit longer — though I had no trouble with getting it to boil, so I'm not sure about her warning there.

Unfortunately I got a little enthusiastic with the shredding, since I like small chunks of meat. What this means is that by the next day the chicken was practically a fine mist suspended in the sauce. It was delicious — don't get me wrong — but it was also almost a soup, which meant it didn't spoon over the buns very well. ;-j

Since I don't drink beer and know nothing about it, I had a housemate pick out the one to use. We ended up with Fat Tire beer, which turned out really tasty! Not quite sure what to do with the other five bottles, though… beer bread, maybe? Although that'd be an awful lot of bread… ;-)

Also, credit where credit is due: I got this recipe from http://www.howsweeteats.com/2011/10/crockpot-bbq-beer-chicken/  Thank you!

Ingredients:

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces of beer (the original author used a classic amber)
32 ounces of barbecue sauce

Directions:

  1. Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired.
  3. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. Serve as desired.

Notes from the original author:

  1. I've found that thinner barbecue sauce works better (such as Bone Suckin' Sauce) than thicker sauce (like Sweet Baby Ray's). If you choose to use a thicker sauce, you may want to add a little more beer (or liquid) in order for the sauce not to burn and thicken on the edges of the pot. This is also the reason I don't use my homemade barbecue sauce.
  2. If you don't want to use beer, you can try a ginger ale, chicken stock, or even water.
  3. This makes a ton of chicken and I usually immediately freeze a container for later.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out for you! So, next recipe and my second favorite of these three:

Crockpot Beef & Broccoli

This is really tasty! Also, this time I tried it with brown sugar instead of honey — maybe next time I'll try it the other way.

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consommé
½ cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooled sauce from the crock pot after being cooked
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
Hot cooked rice (brown rice, or riced cauliflower)

Directions:

  1. Place beef in a crock pot.
  2. In a small bowl combine consommé, soy sauce, brown sugar/honey, oil, and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce from the crockpot until smooth. If your sauce is not thickening, try bringing your sauce to a boil on the stovetop with the corn starch mixture, and boil until your desired consistency is reached. Add to crock pot. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add broccoli to the crockpot. Stir to combine.
  5. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high; the sauce has to boil for it to thicken.
  6. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Notes:

In prepping this recipe, I used a can of Campbell's consommé rather than trying to make some myself. That was like 2 ½ ounces more than necessary, so I added it all in and used a correspondingly less amount of soy sauce just so things would balance out. I also used a 10 oz. bag of frozen broccoli florets, letting them thaw completely before adding them, and that worked out very nicely as well.

I'm not really sure what was meant by the sauce not thickening — you just keep stirring until the cornstarch is all mixed in, y'know? I had no trouble with it.

Finally, the last recipe — which still makes me laugh:

A Healthier Burger

The recipe says it serves 6, but even though I followed the recipe as closely as I could, I ended up with ten burgers! So, here we go:

Ingredients:

1½ pounds ground turkey or beef (or a mixture of both)
10 ounces baby spinach leaves
zest of one lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Fire up the grill.
  2. Sauté the spinach in olive oil until it wilts.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the turkey or beef, spinach, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Grill the burgers until done. You can make healthier quarter pounders using a half-cup measuring cup to get an equal amount per burger and flattening them on waxed paper.
  5. Serve on whole-grain buns.

Notes:

I had no idea how much "zest of one lemon" would be, so I grated that puppy for all I was worth! Two things I learned for next time: a) zest is apparently just the cleaned and grated outer skin — once you get to the white part you should stop or you'll end up with far too much; and b) burgers should not smell like lemon! ;-)

Oh, also: spinach leaves can be kind of large, so I tore them up into smaller pieces. I must say, 10 oz. is a startlingly large amount of spinach! It made for a slightly odd looking, heavily green-flecked burger. Tasted okay, though next time definitely a little less spinach with a bit more chopping up.

I used the half-cup measurement as recommended, which made for a rather small burger that sat very meekly inside the larger buns. Next time I think I'll size them with a ¾ measuring cup at minimum. However, whole wheat buns are surprisingly tasty! I like them better than the white ones. Also, I fried the burgers in a big saucepan instead of grilling, which made for an extremely juicy burger and pan; I'm guessing ordinarily the liquid just falls away on the grill?

Oh! Commentary from one of my lovely guests who let me try my cooking experiments on them: "I thought the size was fine, and I like juicy. But that poor naked lemon!" ;-)

So that's it for now — enjoy, and let me know if you try any of the above! I'm hoping to report on crockpot lasagna next time. Cheers!

 

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