Three soccer games this week and four games next week for Courtney. I LOVE cheering on my favorite player but having seven games in two weeks is throwing a kink into my schedule - not to mention my dinner planning. Packing up meals to eat at the soccer field isn't always the easy. I've learned the hard way that there are some meals that are best eaten at home and were never meant to be packed and eaten in the stands of a soccer stadium. :)
I recently discovered a new recipe for a high protein, energy packed meal to fuel my soccer player - and her parents. This recipe is super easier to throw together at the last minute as I'm running out the door to try and make it to the game on time. Since the slow cooker does most of the work - there is very little hands on time for this yummy dinner.
Slow Cooker Chicken Taquitos
Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred with 2 forks.
Stir in cheddar cheese.
Place 1/4 cup chicken mixture onto each tortilla.
Roll, wrap in foil and bake 10 minutes at 350. Serve warm.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous about cooking chicken breasts in the slow cooker. I was afraid it would dry out and not shred nicely but quite the opposite was true. This chicken was SUPER tender and delicious and shred perfectly. I love the simple recipe and the very limited hands-on time. We gobbled these taquitos up in no time. With a soccer schedule like Courtney has, we will be having these taquitos at another game soon.
This is the recipe that EVERYONE asks for. At long last, I am devoting an entire blog post to BUTTERCREAM! No cake - no cupcakes - no decorating tips - just lots and lots of start to finish pictures of my buttercream process. My recipe is fairly straightforward and I'm breaking it down into simple - easy to follow steps. You will be making your own Swiss Meringue Buttercream in no time.
It was harder than I thought to document my buttercream making process because I make it so often that I do it without even thinking anymore. (I know - I'm not proud of it.) I make pretty large batches of buttercream at least 3-4 times a week and I'm giving you the recipe that I use - exactly. This recipe makes enough buttercream to fill and frost 1 three layer cake. I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with an 8 quart bowl - you may need to adjust the recipe based on the size of the mixer that you are using and the number of cupcakes or cakes that you want to frost.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
10 egg whites
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups softened butter (6 sticks)
Add egg whites to mixing bowl and whisk to combine. It's tempting to separate the eggs right into the mixing bowl but don't do it - trust me - I learned that the hard way. You want to make sure that you have pure whites before you add it to the bowl - no yolk and no shells.
Transfer mixing bowl to standing mixer and use a whisk attachment to whip mixture. At the risk of getting all geeky on you - the reason that you do this is to force the folded egg white proteins to unfold and then re-combine in a new structure around air bubbles. This process can take a while - be patient.
This is what my mixture looked like after 3 minutes - still not ready.
At this point - you have a really beautiful meringue and it's super important that you get it to the right consistency before moving on. The meringue should stand up on the end of the whisk when you take it off the mixer. The tips of my icing are curling over but that is okay.
Swap the whisk with the flat beater. Add butter one tablespoon at a time to mixture, while mixer is running. Yes, that's why they call it buttercream people. Get over the fact that it's a pound and a half of butter and just go for it.
Two important tips: Make sure that the butter is softened so that it incorporates evenly and make sure that the meringue mixture is cool enough so that it doesn't melt your butter.
Once all of the butter had been added - stand back and let the mixer do its thing. My best advice is to be patient! It is not unusual for the mixture to take an extra 5-10 minutes of mixing at this point for the buttercream to come together. You will know when it's ready by the consistency of the buttercream. It will go from a runny, glue-like consistency to a thick, creamy frosting consistency. If you're still wondering whether or not you've got the right buttercream consistency - check out these pictures.
If you can master this, you're well on your way to creating all kinds of delicious buttercream flavors. I add all sorts of things to this basic recipe to create the most delicious buttercream creations.
I also use this buttercream recipe to fill, frost and decorate all sorts of cakes.
The possibilities are endless. Don't expect to be a buttercream master on your very first try. It takes some practice to get used to the process but I promise it is worth the effort.
My goal for this week is to eat better. I seem to be "winging it" a lot more than usual lately when it comes to meal time. I'd like to blame it on Courtney's crazy soccer schedule but I refuse to use that as my excuse any more. I made a conscious effort this week to make a more specific meal plan and more importantly - to stick to it.
Getting more vegetables and lean proteins into our diet were top priority on my "eating better" plan. Unfortunately my plans to eat healthier this week didn't translate to more hours for meal preparation. I still have to work around everyone's schedules, which meant that I had to seek out recipes that were healthy and also quick and easy to prepare. Skillet chicken with seared avocados to the rescue. This meal is easy to fix, it's super tasty and since it's all prepared in one skillet - it's easy to clean up too.
Skillet Chicken with Seared Avocados
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 small avocados
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 medium red onion
4 green onions
1 poblano pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sour cream
Heat oil in skillet. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Add chicken to pan and cook 4 minutes. Turn and cook 1 minute longer. Remove chicken from pan. Wipe skillet with paper towels.
Cut avocados in half. Sprinkle with sugar. Place, cut side down in pan. Cook 2 minutes.
Remove from pan.
Slice onion into 1/4 inch rounds. Spray pan with cooking spray and place onions in pan. Cook 3 minutes.
Turn onions. Separate into rings. Add green onions and sliced poblano. Cook 3 minutes.
Stir in lime juice and soy sauce.
Nestle chicken and avocados into onion mixture.
Place pan in oven and bake 7-10 minutes at 450.
I love avocados and I didn't know how I'd feel about a seared avocado but I really liked it. I love the little crust that forms on the fruit as the sugar caramelizes and I really liked them warm. Who knew? Here's to healthy eating for today and for the rest of the week.
It's meatless Monday! I'm going to be honest - the presentation of a meatless meal to my family goes over like a lead balloon. No kidding - There is some SERIOUS resistance to vegetable based dinners in this house. I hear things like "Isn't there any meat in this?" and "did you FORGET to add the meat?"
Despite the resistance that I get to my meat-free meals, I continue to try and incorporate them into our meal plan. Thanks to my 8 years of personal chef experiences - I'm way beyond the point of getting discouraged by negative feedback to my food. (Too bad for them.)
I had high hopes that this Mexican Quinoa Burrito would help change the minds of my vegetarian phobic (Is that a thing?) family members. I will keep you in suspense about their opinions of this new meatless creation until the end of the post and let you guess how they reacted.
Mexican Quinoa Wraps
Chop garlic and jalapeno. Saute in oil until softened.
Add quinoa, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, spices and broth to pan.
Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 20 minutes.
Stir in lime, cilantro and avocado.
Serve in bowls as one option.
OR ... wrap in spinach wraps.
So the taste tasters (aka - my family) reacted to this meal with widely varying opinions. Ben and I thought is was delicious - like we ate it two meals in a row delicious. Courtney on the other hand could not grasp the point of a meatless burrito. She spent about 10 minutes very strategically dissecting her burrito and asked me to identify every vegetable that she extracted from it. I'm fairly certain that she managed to get remove all of the vegetables and eat only the quinoa.
What can I say? My girl will always be a carnivore. But that doesn't mean I will give up on my quest to find a meatless meal that she will love. I'm way to stubborn to give up that easily. Let me know if you've got a good meatless recipe that I can try. I'd love to hear your ideas.
Ever feel like your eating plan is slightly off track? (or completely derailed?) That's pretty much how I feel most days. Sometimes if I find myself getting into bad eating habits, all it takes is one super healthy - quality meal to get me back on the right track.
There is no better "get me back on track" dinner to me than a delicious, juicy grilled chicken breast with a side of baked sweet potatoes fries and a green salad. Protein, leafy vegetables and a starchy vegetable a perfect well balanced dinner.
This meal just goes to show that a healthy dinner doesn't have to take a great deal of time or preparation. I little planning goes a long way for this meal. Spending a few extra minutes in the morning to get the chicken ready to grill will pay off when your getting hungry for dinner and tempted to snack on some not-so-nutritious junk food. My trick is to use thin sliced chicken breasts that cook in about 10 minutes.
Best Grilled Chicken
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Remove from marinade and grill.
Let chicken rest 10 minutes.
Serve with your favorite vegetables.
Eating this dinner made me feel like I hit my own personal eating habits reset button. I loved this dinner and if this is what healthy tastes like - I can definitely get into some better "healthy" eating habits. As warmer weather approaches, you may want to fire up your own grill and give this yummy dinner a try.
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