Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Wraps

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Well guys, the holiday season is almost upon us! The 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are without a doubt my favorite time of the year. I get overly excited each and every year for this wonderful time filled with family, friends and, of course, holiday food. But before I bombard you with billions of festive recipes and holiday adventures, I thought I would share my new favorite weeknight dinner. And it all starts with a slow cooker. My mom bought a slow cooker at an estate sale last summer and I have been loving this amazing kitchen appliance. And no, I am not embarrassed that I am excited about an appliance. Even when I was little, relatives would often give me random cooking and baking appliances for Christmas and I loved each and every one of them. At 12, I received my own blender which resulted in tons of milkshake and smoothie “recipes.” At 15, I received a breadmaker which resulted in loaf after loaf of homemade bread. And now, at 24, the slow cooker is the apple of my eye. My new routine is to throw a few chicken breasts in the slow cooker on Sunday afternoon so I have several servings of shredded chicken to use for lunch and dinner throughout the week. Monday I heated it up and mixed it with a healthy serving of barbeque sauce. Tuesday I  used it in a big salad. Wednesday I added it to Chicken Quesadillas and Thursday I made these super easy Chicken Caesar Wraps. Below is both the base recipe for shredded chicken and the recipe I used for the Chicken Caesar Wraps. The nice thing about the slow cooker is that there is no added butter or oil, yet the chicken comes out incredibly moist and tender. So here is (perhaps my last) healthy recipe before the holiday baking season officially begins. Enjoy!

 

Shredded Chicken Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings

  • 6 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt (or seasoning of your choice)

Chicken Caesar Wrap Ingredients: Makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
  • 2 wraps
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the shredded chicken: Place frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover with chicken broth and seasoning
  2. Turn slow cooker on high, and let cook for 6 hours
  3. After chicken is tender and cooked through completely, transfer chicken breasts to a large bowl, straining any remaining liquid
  4. Using two forks, shred chicken breasts*
  5. To prepare chicken Caesar wraps: Place 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken in a medium bowl and add Caesar dressing, mixing until just combined. (You may want to add more dressing depending upon your preference)
  6. To assemble wraps, place 1/2 cup shredded romaine in each wrap
  7. Top each wrap with 3/4 cup chicken mixture
  8. Sprinkle each wrap with 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  9. Roll the wrap up and enjoy!

*Store extra shredded chicken in an airtight container in the fridge.

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Italian Mini Meatball and Tomato Soup

 

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As much as I love living in Michigan…I gotta say, I am getting really sick of this cold weather. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled the last couple of years, but usually by mid March, 20 degree weather is a thing of the past. Last year, we were blessed with 60 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine by St. Patrick’s Day. 2013 is a different story. Nowadays I get really excited if it’s above 30 degrees in the middle of the day. And the biggest bummer is that these somewhat frigid temperatures are totally screwing up my running schedule. I know, I know. First world problems. But having to bundle up with layer after layer of under armour is definitely making training for my next race a little less fun. I have a 10K in 3 weeks and am having a hard time fitting in longer distances without having my lungs freeze…or ya know, falling flat on my face and breaking my finger.

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Yeah, that happened. A few weeks ago I slipped on some ice at 6am and wound up with a swollen and purple index finger. But once I got to work, my boss whipped out a makeshift splint for me which obviously left me looking super cool. What can I say? I have a talent for attracting catostrophes. But I must say, the one upside to the cooler temperatures is I’ve had a little more time to try out the warm winter-y recipes I’ve been saving. Like this recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. This soup is warm and comforting, and thanks to the mini meatballs is total “guy food.” (but it is still pretty healthy) I used medium size shell pasta the first time I made it, but I would recommend using macaroni noodles or mini shells because the pasta does tend to soak up a good amount of the broth. The result is a rich tomato soup perfect for a chilly winter…or spring evening.

Ingredients: Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life

Mini Meatballs: Makes 40 mini meatballs

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans ( 10.5 oz each) lower sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (28 oz) Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup mini pasta shells or macaroni

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, place all meatball ingredients and mix well until spices are well incorporated (mixing with your hands is the easiest way!)
  2. Roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, evenly spaced
  3. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through
  4. In a large soup pot, place 2 teaspoons olive oil and heat over medium heat
  5. Add onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions begin to soften
  6. Add garlic and let cook for 1 minute
  7. Stir in broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil
  8. Add in pasta and reduce heat
  9. Cover pot and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is tender
  10. Stir in meatballs and stir until heated through

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Vegetarian Chili

About a year ago, I shared the story behind my family’s beloved recipe for Gazpacho Soup and how our neighbors patiently await its return each summer. After finishing off their portion of  Gazpacho, some of our neighbors have returned our mason jars to us filled with a soup of their own. And the following recipe is a take off of one of my favorite of these “thank you” soups. Our neighbors, The Trains, shared this amazing recipe for vegetarian chili with us last winter and it soon became a Sunday night staple. I would make a big batch of it on Sunday nights in order to bring to work with me for lunch throughout the following week. The chili is full of flavor and serves as a hearty and incredibly filling lunch. You barely even notice that it doesn’t have any meat in it! Three different varieties of beans gives this chili added protein , and I’ve found that just about any vegetable can be added in for some extra flavor. Paired with some hearty Pumpkin Cornbread (recipe to come!) and you have yourself a healthy and hearty meal, perfect for the colder months to come.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yello onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 14oz cand of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14oz can white northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14oz can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Preparation:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat and add olive oil, onions and garlic. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes
  2. Add bell peppers and carrots and saute for 10 minutes, or until peppers are tender
  3. Add next four ingredients (tomatoes through tomato paste)  and bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Stir in beans and spices, stirring frequently
  5. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 20 minutes before serving