Slow-Cooker Southwest Chicken

chicken2Growing up in Colorado, I never had a single snow day. Sure, there were days when we woke up to 4 feet of snow and icy roads, fallen tree branches and skating-rink puddles, but school was never called off. Snow plows and road salt were always at the ready, and most Coloradans are pretty darn good at driving in treacherous conditions. I was a child of the rockies, and winter just entailed snow. Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest.

I still remember my very first snow day. I was in third grade, and it was my first winter in Washington. When snow showed up on the weather report, the entire school was buzzing with excitement. Snow was (and is) a pretty rare occurrence on our little island, even in the depths of winter. When I woke up to a measly 2 inches of snow and found out that school was cancelled, I was excited yet confused. Why didn’t anyone have snow tires? Where were all of the snow plows? Not to mention that snow was the only thing anyone seemed able to talk about. Still, I was a 9-year-old with a day off from school and a backyard full of snow. I happily went along with it!

Here in my little corner of Oregon, it’s pretty much the same thing. The slightest bit of ice on the roads often results in schools being called off, although with last year’s crazy 18-inch-accumulation snow storm I could understand why we got three snow days in a row. Still, last week’s cold front brought us a whopping .2 centimeters of frosty snow…and a widespread shut-down of numerous local schools. Say what?!chicken5

My university was one of the few schools in the Portland area that managed to stay open, and I was shocked that we were in the minority! My friend from Idaho and I spent the day snickering at all the weaklings who couldn’t handle a little frost. Granted I’ve probably become one of those weaklings during my eleven years in Washington, but the Coloradan in me still thinks it’s pretty funny. All jokes aside, I’m glad everyone (to my knowledge) stayed safe!

All this cold weather makes me crave hot meals more than ever. Over the weekend I busted out my beloved Crock Pot and made one of my favorites. I discovered this Slow-Cooker Southwest Chicken a few years back and continue to be in awe of its quickness, cheapness, deliciousness, and versatility! It only requires FOUR ingredients (although I’ve added a few extra spices down below) and is as easy as dumping everything into your slow cooker and flipping on the switch. I’ve made it with both black beans and white beans, red salsa and salsa verde, and even crushed pineapple subbed for the corn (sounds weird but it’s awesome)! You can eat it over brown rice, rolled up in tortillas, on top of mixed greens, or chili-style with tortilla chips for dipping. It’s the perfect weeknight dinner, and leftovers store great!

Stay warm and make this Southwest Chicken for a hot lunch or dinner. It has such simple, standard ingredients that you might not even need to make a trip to the store! Which would be a good thing, considering all the legitimately icy roads around the country right now. It’s always good to be on the safe side, whether we’re talking about an inch of black ice or a teeny tiny patch of snow crystals. Haha.chicken4

Slow-Cooker Southwest Chicken

Makes about 4 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup prepared salsa

1 15-oz can black or white beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz can sweet corn, drained

2 teaspoons ground cumin (optional)

1/2 teaspoon coriander seed (optional)

For topping: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped olives, sliced avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

Directions:

Spray the bottom of a slow-cooker with cooking spray. Place all the ingredients in the slow-cooker and stir to combine. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, until the chicken pulls apart easily. Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Serve with tortillas, corn chips, rice, quinoa, etc.

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

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Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_0245So. Let’s overlook the fact that this recipe might possibly be interpreted as cheating, since I already have two variations of these cookies here on the blog, and just roll with it. Because seriously, guys, these cookies are good enough to be posted three times! They’ve always been one of my go-to recipes for their a) minimal ingredients, b) quickness, c) easiness, and d) gluten-freedom (I was gonna say “freeness,” but “freedom” has the upper hand of actually being a word.)

While you can stick to my original 3-ingredient recipe and make these with 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 egg (yes, that’s all!!!), I prefer to use this recipe with its little adjustments. It goes against my nature as a baking addict to just leave a good recipe alone, so naturally I’ve come up with some tweaks. First of all, using half brown sugar and half white makes the cookies especially chewy and flavorful. Brown sugar FTW! Secondly, I add vanilla to pretty much everything (including my oatmeal while it’s cooking–if you haven’t tried it, DO!), so of course I had to include it in these cookies. The baking powder is just for a little extra lift, and I’m sure the chocolate chips need no explanation. Chocolate should never need an explanation–remember that.IMG_0242

These cookies are the perfect recipe for a college student with a limited budget, limited time, and a limited kitchen (namely myself), or anyone else who wants cookies that are fast, easy, don’t require a grocery store trip, and/or are gluten-free. Despite their lack of flour (and other usual cookie ingredients), they’re some of the best cookies I make. In fact, they’re the only peanut butter cookies I ever make! What more could you want than a perfectly chewy, slightly-crisp-around-the-edges, ultra-peanut buttery cookie with chocolate chips? Actually, I can think of quite a few things, but for all intents and purposes the proper answer here is “nothing.”IMG_0250

Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients except for the chocolate chips until well-combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. (At this point, if you like thinner cookies, you can slightly flatten each ball of dough or make a criss-cross pattern with a fork.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges and the tops are no longer shiny. Err on the side of underdone! Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.