Last week Texas got a taste of fall comfort- the cooler (80 degree) weather over the course of about 4 days made for perfect patio seating on a Friday night. Too bad it was short-lived.. the next day we were busting 90 degrees by 8 o’clock in the morning. How rude. Seventy days of 100+ degree heat- I’m totally over it already. Alas.. yesterday brought cooler winds and a high of just 81 degrees. Please let this be the start of something glorious. While it was a bit cooler last week I was meal planning for this week and decided it was time for a easy weeknight meal solution- my crock*pot. Assuming it was the end of the hot weather- I thought a homestyle slow-cooker meal would be delicious. I have blogged numerous times about my relationship with my crock*pot. She never fails me. Besides, on a busy evening having dinner ready when I walk in the door makes for a much smoother transition than trying to develop something elaborate and delicious. Mostly associated with it’s use during the cooler months- bring it on- the crock*pot can still be utilized during warmer weather, too. I will say I am partial to use it more September-February than I am during the summer time. I still use my slow cooker throughout the entire year- but I just use what is going in there in a different way. For example.. this meal is perfect not only on this end of summer (if I say it enough, it will eventually hurry up and be here) salad, but when it is a tad bit cooler out, layer the chicken over a warm baked potato, or creamy pumpkin polenta. Oh.. better yet.. butternut squash polenta. Total comfort.
(Warning.. a hint of rambling is about to happen in 3..2..1..)
I’m ready for the fall weather SO incredibly bad. I have a slight love affair with fall vegetables and cannot wait for them to be at their peak. My fireman pointed at the cover of one of my latest foodie magazines- fresh out-tha mailbox- boasting a beautiful butternut squash, ‘I can’t wait for those to start making it into our dinner meals..‘ Oh..me too, my sweet husband. Me. Too.
4-5 (4ounce) chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups bottle barbecue sauce of choice (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
The juice of one lime
4 cups Mixed Greens
1 cup tomato, diced
1/2 cup red onion, sliced
2 green onions, diced white and light green parts only
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (15 ounce can) black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 ounce can) whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped avocado
2 cups tortilla chips, crushed
For the chicken; layer breasts in the bottom of your crock*pot. Sprinkle with garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl, make sure sugar dissolves. Pour over chicken breast. Set on LOW for 6-8 hours. Removed chicken from pot and shred. Reserve.
For the dressing; combine all ingredients in a food processor or whisk together in a small bowl. Set aside.
To build the salad, combine the lettuce, tomato, red and green onions, cheese, black beans, corn, and cilantro to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the vinagrette and give it a good toss- making sure all the greens are dressed. Portion out about 2 cups salad to each of 6 bowls. Sprinkle the diced avocado evenly over the bowls, about 1 tablespoon each. Top with about 3/4 cups shredded chicken (about 3 ounces) and drizzle 1 tablespoon extra BBQ sauce. End with about 1/3 cup crushed tortilla chips on top for some crunch!