Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sweet Potatoes

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During the summer, we put our new grill to good use. We grilled chicken breasts, shish kabobs or burgers nearly every night for dinner, making the cooking and the cleaning process very quick. So when the weather started to cool down, I was sad to see our phase of quick and easy weeknight dinners come to a close. However, with the help of some Sunday afternoon food prep, I’ve found a few dinner ideas that can come together just as quickly as our beloved grilled dinners. I like to throw a bag of frozen chicken breasts in my slow cooker on Sundays so that we have pulled chicken on hand for salads, sandwiches and a few quick and easy dinner recipes. One of my new favorites was inspired by the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. One of the episodes features a barbecue restaurant in Cleveland whose specialty was Pulled Pork Sweet Potato Skins. As decadant as their dish looked, I knew it was something I could easily make a “lightened up” version of. This dish tastes decadent, but is really just simple baked chicken and sweet potatoes thrown together in a new way.

Ingredients: Serves 2

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation:

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the potato is baked through
  2. Combine the shredded chicken and barbecue sauce and heat in a saucepan over medium heat. You may want to add more or less barbecue sauce, depending upon your preference. (I found this recipe is best with a sauce that isn’t too sweet)
  3. Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven and cut in half. Use a fork to mash the inside of the potato. Add 1/2 cup of barbecue chicken on the top of each potato and sprinkle with shredded cheese
  4. Return the potatoes to the oven, and bake for 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted

Chinese Cabbage Salad

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A little over four years ago, Eric brought me along to a family party. We had only been dating a few months at that point, and it was my first big event with the Jones clan. I remember being a little nervous, but it didn’t take long to realize I had no reason to be. Eric’s family was so welcoming and wonderful and I felt at home right away. Plus, Eric’s Aunt Nancy is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. She has about a million recipes that are to die for. Baked Beans, Apple Crisp, and this very delicious Chinese Cabbage Salad that she served at my bridal shower. It is crisp, full of flavor and a perfect side dish for your next barbeque or tailgate. She was sweet enough to share the recipe with me and I brought it along to a barbeque a few weeks ago. It didn’t take long for the whole bowl to disappear. Enjoy!
Ingredients:
1package precut cole slaw (1 pound size)
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1 3-oz package Ramen Noodles, oriental flavor
1-2 cups cooked, cubed chicken or shrimp. (Optional)
Dressing
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar ( any kind you like)
1/4 cup sugar
Dry seasoning packet from ramen noodles
1.  Break up the ramen noodles into small pieces.
2.  Mix up the dressing.  Shake all ingredients together.
3.  Combine cole slaw, onions, seeds and nuts.
4.  Just before serving, add noodles, dressing and chicken or shrimp and combine.
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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

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Nobody loves a good deal quite like my mother. I’ve observed her thrifty ways for years and admired each and every incredible deal that she has scored. She can tell you which Marshall’s has the best home goods, and which TJ Maxx has the best deal on workout clothes. She knows all the great online shopping sites and somehow always manages to get beautiful clothes and shoes for half the price. But her latest spot for scoring a good deal is a bit more old fashioned. Estate Sales. She’ll flip through the newspaper to find which old homes around town are hosting estate sales and off she goes. She has found some beautiful old furniture, a plethora of bakery style cookie sheets and cupcake pans, and most recently, a slow cooker. And the best part? Not only are these items found at half the price, but they are in great condition as well. So when she brought home a slow cooker in perfect condition, I knew I had to test it out with a recipe I’ve been saving. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. This recipe is incredibly easy and only has a handful of steps to complete before your kitchen is filled with the delicious smell of slow cooked barbeque. You can choose to cook the pork for longer at a low heat, or if you are short on time, you can cook it on high. Both methods result in a tender and flavorful batch of pulled pork that is delicious with or without barbeque sauce. Personally, I like my pulled pork with just a drizzle of barbeque sauce and a scoop of tangy cole slaw. The perfect summer dish brought to you by my mother’s incredible bargain hunting skills.

Ingredients: Recipe from Chow.com, Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon packed  brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt),
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Place thinly sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker pot and cover with chicken broth
  2. In a small bowl, combine next five ingredients (brown sugar through cinnamon) and rub mixture over pork
  3. Place pork over onion layer and cover. Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours, or cook on low for 8 to 10 hours
  4. After pork has cooked through, use tongs to remove pork pieces from the slow cooker (it should be very tender and fall off the bones)
  5. Place pork in a bowl and use two forks to shred pork
  6. Mix in barbeque sauce, if desired

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Faygo Cola Baby Back Ribs

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New Yorkers may have their cheesecake and Chicagoans may have their deep dish pizza, but here in Detroit we have Faygo. If you aren’t from Michigan you may not have heard of Faygo, but it’s a Detroit brand of pop (or soda) that comes in a ton of fun flavors. From Orange Crush to Rock n Rye to Pineapple, Faygo has pretty much every flavor of pop covered. So it came as no surprise that a Faygo recipe contest was held here in Michigan a few years back. Winning recipes included Rock n Rye Braised Pot Roast and Pineapple Faygo Pound Cake. But the recipe that really stuck out to me was the Grand Prize winning Faygo Cola Ribs. I received the Faygo recipe contest cookbook for Christmas, and have been waiting for barbeque season to give this winning recipe a try. And this past weekend I made the Faygo Cola ribs for my family, and we were blown away by just how good they were. And the recipe is so easy that it made me wonder why I don’t make ribs more often. The ribs were incredibly tender and the meat fell off the bone easily. The Faygo Cola barbeque sauce was slightly spicy, and full of flavor. Definitely the perfect new recipe to try for your Memorial Day Barbeque this weekend. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Serves 6-7 , Recipe adapted slightly from the Faygo Recipe Cookbook

  • 6 pounds of baby back pork ribs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Faygo cola
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Preparation:

  1. Place ribs on a large cutting board and use a paring knife to remove the white fatty membrane from the underside of the ribs (the side closest to the bone)
  2. Rub ribs with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning and place in a large roasting pan and cover with tin foil
  3. Place ribs in the oven, and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours
  4. To make the Faygo barbeque sauce, combine next 8 ingredients in a large bowl (garlic salt through hot sauce)
  5. After ribs have cooked for the first hour and a half, remove from oven and pour Faygo barbeque sauce evenly over the ribs
  6. Cover ribs with tin foil, and return them to the oven for another 1 1/2 hours of cooking time
  7. Remove ribs from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving

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Dinner at Red Crown

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I live in a relatively small town, so when a new restaurant opens up, pretty much the whole town is abuzz. And that was definitely the case with the newly opened Red Crown. The building started as a Standard Oil gas station but was recently transformed into this trendy new restaurant. Ever since it opened earlier this month, the parking lot has been absolutely packed with new patrons, so my family and I decided to give it a try as well.

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I had heard that the drink menu was going to be quite impressive, and it definitely did not disappoint. They have an extensive wine list and a number of Michigan beers on tap, but it’s their cocktail menu that really jumped out at us. Each cocktail listed a number of different liquors, liqueurs and juices, many of which I had never even heard of. Since my mom and I are not too adventurous when it comes to drinks, we both played it safe with the only vodka cocktail on the menu- The Moscow Mule. This cocktail featured vodka, ginger beer & fresh lime juice and was served in a copper mug. It was so unique and the ginger flavor really shined through. My dad chose a rum based drink that he wasn’t too crazy about, but Sean and Eric both chose the Paper Plane. A drink featuring Maker’s Mark bourbon, aperol, amaro montenegro and lemon juice.

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Next up was dinner. The menu had a mix of barbeque and classic comfort foods like meatloaf and shrimp & grits. We all decided to sample the barbeque and we all ended up very happy with our picks. I chose the Brisket Sandwich which featured spice rubbed brisket and cole slaw served on an onion roll. The brisket was tender and juicy and full of flavor. It was served with delicious fresh cut fries which were right up my alley. In my book, the crunchier the fries, the better, and these were perfect.

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Eric went with the ribs with a a side of mac and cheese. I’ve heard that you can always tell if it’s good barbeque if you don’t need to put extra barbeque sauce on them. Well, Red Crown’s ribs definitely delivered on flavor sans the extra sauce.

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Eric’s meal also came with some delicious cornbread and honey butter, which he let me take a bite of. (what a guy)

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All in all it was a great meal with my favorite people.

Buffalo Wild Wings “Naked Tenders”

Buffalo Wild Wings is mostly known for their deep fried boneless wings but I have never been able to order them. I’m just way too hooked on their “Naked Tenders.” This menu item is really just grilled chicken strips served … Continue reading