I have not posted in a bit for a variety of reasons. Summer time for us was filled with lots of pizza at the pool and grilled chicken and whatever veggies and fruit we have while soaking up some time outside. (I also made this Lemony Orzo dish about 15 times.) I have a couple of little writing projects going on in my “free time.” We also did our first driving vacation which included camping in Yellowstone and driving all the way to the Oregon coast and back.
The biggest reason for me not writing was that we also started having sports and other activities in the evenings after pre-school and pre-K for Ladybug and Bear. This has added an extra layer of complication for a working mom: how do you get dinner on the table by 7 pm when you are gone from 7:30 am to 6:45 pm?
My solution: CROCK POT CHICKEN
Confession: My crock pot it hideous. It is literally the crock pot MY PARENTS registered for before their wedding. BUT, it works and has a great low setting that truly is low where some of the newer models I have tried and returned are just too hot at that setting. My parents joke that they are going to steal it back one day because they miss it. And yes, I have heard about the crock pot in This Is Us but really that was the towel’s fault, not the crock pot. Right? One day, I will upgrade but until this gem kicks the bucket, I think I’m good.
Crock Pot Chicken has become the Tuesday regular at our house. Throw a few chicken breasts and other odds and ends you have on hand in the crock. Turn it on in the morning and when you walk in at dinner time, dinner is basically ready. Here is the basic recipe and I will give you some different variations to try as well:
The night before:
- Set 3-4 chicken breasts out to thaw.
- Set crock pot out and put two cups of liquid in.
- Add any additional ingredients, seasonings, and salt and pepper.
- Cover the crock with the lid.
In the morning, put chicken in the crock, cover, and turn on low.
When you get home:
- Take the chicken out of the crock pot and put on a plate to cool.
- Get dinner fixings ready.
- Shred chicken and serve.
Keep in mind that these recipes can easily be made Whole 30 compliant if you just use approved ingredients. Leaving out the cheese and using lettuce cups instead of bread or tortillas are very easy ways to make these meals compliant.
Our favorite variations:
Chicken Salads: For the liquid, use 1 cup water or chicken broth and 1 cup Italian dressing. Cook all day. Shred and serve with greens, carrots, other veggies, and croutons.
KID TIP: YES, my kids eat salads. And yours can too. Start by putting a small amount of salad on their plate (think one piece of everything in the salad) and a little bit of a dressing they like (like Ranch) on the side. Even if they do not eat it much or any of it at first, they will get used to seeing it on their plate. Gradually, you can ask them to try a bite and eventually increase the amount on their plate. See my thoughts on creating fabulous little eaters here.
Chicken Tacos: For the liquid, use 1 cup water or chicken broth and 1 cup orange juice. Add 1 Tablespoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. If you have an orange, cut it in slices and add the slices to the crock on top of the chicken. Cook all day. Shred and serve with hard shells, tortillas, or lettuce cups; shredded cheese; sour cream; and other taco fixings.
Chicken Nachos: Cook as above for Chicken Tacos. When you get home, pre-heat oven to bake at 400 degrees. Shred chicken. On a large, oven safe baking dish, layer tortilla chips, shredded cheese, shredded chicken, and various toppings (diced green chilies, sliced jalapeños, black beans, etc). Bake for 10 minutes. Add an additional layer of shredded cheese and broil for 3 minutes. Top with diced avocado, diced tomatoes, sour cream, etc.
Chicken, Rice, and Veggies: For the liquid, use 1 cup water or chicken broth and 1 cup Italian dressing. Add chopped carrots, onions, celery, and/or other veggies. Cook all day. Shred the chicken and put it back in the crock with the liquid and veggies. Microwave some instant rice and separate it into bowls. Spoon the chicken, veggie, and sauce mixture over the rice and serve.
Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches: For the liquid, use 1 cup water or chicken broth and 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook all day. Serve on buns with a side salad or steamed veggies.
Curry Chicken: For the liquid, use a pre-made curry sauce and add a little water, if needed, to get 2 cups. Add chopped carrots and onions. Cook all day. Add 1 cup of frozen peas to the mix when you get home. Microwave some instant rice and separate it into bowls. Shred the chicken and add it back to the mix. Spoon over the rice and serve.
Chicken Salad Sandwiches or Lettuce Wraps: For the liquid, use water or chicken stock and cook chicken the day or night before you need it. Put the cooked kitchen breasts in the fridge. Shred the chicken when you get home and mix with the following: 3 stalks celery (diced), 1 cup dried cranberries, 1-2 cups red grapes (halved), 1 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped), 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups mayo. Serve on lettuce wraps or toast.
I hope this gives you something to have in the rotation for those nights when you have no time but you still want to get something healthy and good on the table. It isn’t fancy, but it does the trick!