Thursday, June 4, 2009

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

SparkRecipes is a collaborative kind of cookbook; anyone can submit a recipe for approval and any member can rate it. It irks me a little that there's no emphasis on low calorie, or low anything, but this is Web 2.0 for you.

So you can imagine how many recipes there are, their general quality, and number of ratings. Sure a recipe might have five stars, but it's typically from one person rating the recipe and that person is their mom.

Imagine a recipe, then, that has over 2,500 reviewers. And over four stars. And pops up randomly in articles because just that many people love it.

This is Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken. It's not a revolution in cooking; it's chicken, a taco seasoning packet, a cup of salsa, and a can of condensed soup (I hate sour cream) in a slow cooker. As we have a very nice slow cooker now, I'm anxious to "slave in the kitchen all day" with it.

Mmm, that looks tasty. Nothing at all like barf. Toward the top of the picture you can see where Andy discovered that the chicken pulls apart just like shredded chicken from your favorite Mexican restaurant. Yum.

You could eat the chicken as is, but we added cabbage, couscous, and whole wheat tortillas. I'm on some kind of whole wheat kick lately. And believe it or not, I'm coming to terms with cabbage. I recall having it and being horrified by the bitterness. This is not bitter, so it was probably just a bad experience. Plus I got to use up the chicken I don't like and break open the magical Sam's Club chicken. Seriously, I have not found better frozen chicken anywhere.

This is why you get a slow cooker. There are just so many possibilities here. Like adding beans and corn. Or my favorite, shredded beef. Or making an enormous pot for a work potluck.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Banana Bread

My husband eats bananas. I do not. Every once in a while, we get a little off schedule and some of our bananas get too mushy to eat. And yet, at this point, they are perfect for baking. That's when I get really excited about bananas!

My other default recipe-finder is SparkRecipes. Of course they'd have an easy, low-calorie banana bread for me. Which required a run across the street for unsweetened applesauce. Arg. But I also got to use a wedding gift in the process!

I've heard of replacing oil with applesauce in breads and muffins and always wanted to try it. These didn't come out bad per se; they were just really, really dense. Like home-building quality bricks that taste like really moist banana bread. So, the lesson here is either just use the oil, or at least try applesauce and egg whites.

Better yet, I think next time I'd go with oil and egg whites. My theory is that it will come out like cake. But, this will have to wait until our next round of mushy bananas.

Bunny Cakes

So, I mentioned I made dessert for a Memorial Day barbecue. But this is no ordinary dessert. No, it's a confluence of small, inconsequential events.

Sounds more exciting than it actually is. I'm just building it up because I forgot to post the picture last week.

I happened to go to the local cake decorating store with some friends, and someone pointed out this Wilton's pan on clearance from Easter. Now, I'm trying to be fairly conservative with my spending lately, but as you know, bunnies know no season in my house. And it was on clearance.

I also fully believe you should have at least one cake mix in your home at all times. Did you know you can buy cupcake mixes? Possibly one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of. Basically what you're buying, regardless of cake or cupcake, is a finely sifted mix of flour and sugar. But if it's at the .99 store, I will try it.

Thus:I can't say that the cupcake mix was really any different; I can say that my magical cake release sure didn't pan out like it usually does (but I probably didn't use enough). And yes, I used whole eggs rather than the whites. But I will say that the cupcake mix will make exactly 12 cupcakes, rather than the 16-18 I usually get out of a cake mix.

I had a lot of leftover white icing which I divided and made pink for the ears and nose, although you can't really tell. I kind of wish I'd had time to make extra frosting (although in hindsight apparently I would have had enough) and cover the whole thing.

Theses were a hit simply because they're just so darn cute. Don't deny it.