Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Check out this tasty sauce….

Maple BBQ Sauce and Pulled Chicken.jpg

I never liked BBQ sauce.  That’s right.  I was a BBQ sauce hater.  HATED it.  That is, until I tasted homemade BBQ sauce.  Wow.  Sweet and Spicy. MMMmm  So finger licking good. So good, that I licked the bowl. Seriously. I did. I’m not embarrassed to admit it – I hope this stuff makes you do the same!

I first came across homemade BBQ sauce on the blog Simply Scratch.  This blog is AMAZING.  It has delicious recipes as well as step-by-step photo instructions.  Go check it out. Seriously. Go.  Then come back here. 🙂

20130628-091036.jpgLet me tell you why you NEED to make this BBQ sauce. It’s sweet and delicious and SO MUCH BETTER than bottled sauce.  It is super EASY to make and uses mostly ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  Oh, and did I mention it goes on EVERYTHING. yes. EVE-RY-THIN-G. Chicken, Pork, Burgers, Fries, Veggies, Chickpeas. Spoons. MMmm.

So lets talk about what we’re doing with this sweet and spicy BBQ sauce today. I made some oven BBQ pulled chicken and all I had in the house were corn tortillas, so they became BBQ pulled chicken tacos!  🙂  I’m so clever.

20131003-080109.jpg

This recipe is PERFECT for Fall Sundays.  This being a blog that focuses on fast and easy recipes – I understand that this takes time, but I LOVE these types of recipes for fall and winter: recipes that do all the work while I do other things. Cleaning, working (watching football) and your delicious dinner is slowly baking away in your oven (or crock-pot).  Since I don’t have a crock-pot, I just baked the chicken in my oven.  I’ve made this recipe with both boneless, skinless chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These pictures are of pulled breast meat, but the dark meat looked and tasted sooo much better.  So much so, that there weren’t any leftovers for me to take pictures of the next morning.

When it comes to chicken or turkey, I go to to the dark side. I’m a dark meat loving lady. There is a misconception that dark meat is bad for you, but the difference in both calories and fat are minimal.  Per ounce, boneless, skinless white meat has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat and dark meat has 50 calories and about 2 grams of fat. Yes, dark meat has more saturated fat, but it also has more iron, zinc, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12 than white meat. *(I’m not a registered dietician, just rambling off some nutrition facts)  So don’t shy away from the dark side!

20131003-080001.jpg

Steps for how to make pulled chicken-before it goes in the oven 1. BBQ sauce 2. Saute onions and garlic 3. Add chicken, salt and pepper. 4. Cover with BBQ Sauce.

Recipe: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Servings: 8

Ingredients for Honey BBQ Sauce (slightly adapted from Simply Scratch)

  • 1 cup of Honey
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (use less if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 and1/2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Oven Pulled Chicken

  • 2 lbs of Boneless, skinless chicken (Breast, thigh or mixture of both – I prefer thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of BBQ Sauce (or enough to cover all your chicken)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra BBQ sauce for serving

Instructions:

  1. First, make the BBQ sauce. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir until well combined.  Use immediately or store covered in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  3. In an heavy, oven safe pot* with a lid add olive oil, onions and garlic.  Cook on medium heat until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and a pinch of salt and pepper to each piece of chicken as you put them in the pot.
  4. Cover chicken fully with BBQ Sauce
  5. Cover the pot – either with a lid or aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven at 325F for about 90 min. or until chicken shreds easily with 2 forks.
  6. Shred chicken using two forks to pull apart.  Serve on corn tortillas with extra BBQ sauce some avocado and pickles – or your favorite toppings!

*If you don’t have an oven safe pot, you can do step 3 in a pan and then transfer everything to a baking dish before covering in BBQ sauce.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil before placing in oven.

20130628-091149.jpg

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

This is a chocolate lovers dream.

20130913-010459.jpg

Do you wish you could have chocolate after every meal? Or maybe, INSTEAD of every meal?  Do you dream about chocolate while awake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then THESE are your NEW favorite cookies. Chewy triple chocolate cookies.

Let’s review over the 3 major chocolatey players that make these cookies over-the-top chocolate:

  1. Unsweetened cocoa
  2. White chocolate chips
  3. Dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet, if you prefer)

Triple Chocolate CookiesThese cookies, and the fact that there are 3 chocolates together reminds me of my two  best friends from grad school, C and K. They both live in different states now. 😦

When we all lived in the same state, we enjoyed these really delicious “break and bake” triple chocolate cookies. They were really good, and you could break off just a few and bake them up. The downside of the “break and bake” cookies: they were really expensive. So, back in April, when I was going to meet up with the girls, I went on a mission to try and replicate the cookies.

HERE. THEY. ARE.

20130911-071017.jpg

I tested them out on C on our way down to DC to meet K to run the Nike All Woman half marathon in April.

Here we are after the race!

20130913-010400.jpg

Ok. ok. back to the cookies… C ate them on the plane at 7am (I’m a huge supporter of sweets for breakfast!) 🙂  SHE LOVED THEM.   They got a little banged up in the plastic bag, so she proceeded to tip the bag so that the crumbs would fall out and she could enjoy every last bite. Cookie replication success!

20130913-010421.jpg

The secret to these cookies being so chewy is honey! It keeps them soft and chewy for days after you bake them.  Honey adds moisture to the cookie, even after it is baked – it pulls moisture from the air (to get all science-y on you, honey is hygroscopic), so these cookies are guaranteed to stay soft! This is based off my Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies – which also have honey to keep them soft and chewy. The other thing about these cookies is that they are very, very and I mean VERY chocolatey.  They are not too sweet, which is why I added white chocolate chips to them.  White chocolate is much sweeter and balances out the cookie.

Triple Chocolate Cookie stitchA few important points when making these cookies –

1. Just as in my Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, cream the butter/sugar, then add the wet ingredients.  I always mix the dry ingredients separately and THEN mix the wet and dry together.  I really like doing this because it ensures that everything is mixed prior to combining, that way you don’t over mix your cookie dough.

You NEVER want to over mix your cookie dough.

2.  This dough MUST be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before baking. The dough must be cold.  Two hours might be overkill, but I want to make sure the dough is cold.  The chilled dough is sticky, but I promise you, the messy hands you get as a result of measuring out dough onto a baking sheet is WELL WORTH it.  Non-chilled dough is impossible to handle (WAAAY too sticky), and the cookies will just bake out flat.  blah.

flat cookies = sad Liz.

I know, I know, this waiting a whole 2 hours totally goes against my “dash” mantra, but you can make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge a day or 2 or 3 or freeze them until you’re ready to bake them up.

20130911-070939.jpgLook at that soft, chewy chocolatey center and the dark chocolate chips are all melty…  Mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about these gooey, chocolatey cookies.   Not too sweet, and all the chocolate you have ever wanted. Fat. Chewy. Delicious. Super Chocolate cookies

20130911-070901.jpg

20130911-070939.jpgRecipe: Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

Makes ~20-24 cookies

Wet Ingredients – step 1:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Wet Ingredients- step 2:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of honey*
  • 1 tablespoon water

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips, if you prefer)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, and set aside
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients from step 1. Cream the ingredients until smooth
  4. To that same mixing bowl, add step 2 wet ingredients *To measure out the honey, use a non-stick cooking spray (like Pam) to spray the tablespoon. The honey will slide right off the tablespoon and you won’t loose any honey.
  5. Mix all the wet ingredients (step1 and 2) until well incorporated
  6. Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir the wet and dry until just combined
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips
  8. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours  (or wrap in double layers of plastic wrap and freeze)
  9. After dough has chilled, roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. You can smoosh the cookies with your hands if you like.  The dough will be sticky.
  10. Bake for 9-11 min. 10 minutes is perfect for my oven and the size I bake, but it may vary based on oven and cookie size.  Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet – then go ahead and DEVOUR them.  Cookies may look a bit underdone – but that’s ok!  They will continue to bake a few minutes after being removed from the oven. If you over-bake them, the cookies will get crumbly.

Recipe Source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Want MORE soft and chewy cookies made with honey??!!  Check out my Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ever (or to see representative step-by-step pictures of creaming butter and sugar)

The Best Peanut Butter Chocoalte Chip Cookies, Ever

No-Bake Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

20130729-213529.jpg

Summer is the season for so many wonderful things: BBQs, beach trips, outdoor concerts, sweating while doing just about anything, and eating tons and tons of ice cream.   This week, I was craving something sweet that was NOT ice cream and I really didn’t want to sweat while making it.  However, there is this whole dilemma that I can’t turn on my oven to bake because it’s just too damn hot on the 5th floor.

The solution – super fast No-Bake bars! 

20130729-213432.jpg

I chose butterscotch for these bars because my Taller Half LOVES butterscotch, and his birthday was last week.  Aw. I’m such a good girlfriend. (meanwhile I’m in the kitchen scarfing down half the batch before I even show him what I no-baked) Yes.  I made these bars with total and complete unselfish love.

Anyway,

Let’s review why these bars are amazing and you need to get in your kitchen and No-bake these bars right now:

  1. These bars are subtly sweet, chewy and creamy all in one
  2. They take less than 10 minutes to no-bake
  3.  You only need 7 ingredients (well, 8 if you include salt)
  4. These bars have peanut butter (Protein!) and oats (Fiber!)

You will thank me.  We finished the first batch in 2 days.  TWO days. oops

20130729-213536.jpg

My Taller Half says they taste like a cross between a chewy granola bar and butterscotch fudge.  You heard me.  You are making chewygranolabutterscotchfudge bars in less than 10 min!

Let’s no-bake some butterscotch oatmeal bars in a DASH!

First combine the oats, salt and butterscotch chips in a large bowl

Then melt peanut butter, oil, milk and honey in a small saucepan.  Heat slowly and stir.  This mixture can burn easily, so keep the heat low and keep stirring.  Plus, it’s too damn hot out!  No need to turn that burner all the way up!

20130729-213356.jpg

Keep stirring. This mixture is not well incorporated yet!

Heat mixture and stir until everything is combined.   Then remove from heat and add the vanilla extract.

Next, simply add the wet mixture to the oat and butterscotch mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until all the oats are coated and the butterscotch chips are nice and melted.  Mmmmm melty butterscotch.  This mixture is deeee-licious.

20130729-213413.jpg

Now scoop out everything into a 8×8 baking dish that is lined with parchment paper and squish down to even out the mixture and let it set for about 30 min.  I put the first batch in the fridge to set, because my kitchen is A LOT hotter than “room temp”.  If your kitchen is a normal temperature or you are blessed with air conditioning, then you can probably let them set outside the fridge.

20130729-213423.jpgAfter the bars have set, eat entire pan of oat bars cut into squares and enjoy.  Store bars in fridge, if you have any left after I ate them all.  : )

20130729-213445.jpgMMmmm  look at that chewy, oaty texture.  The creamy butterscotch and peanut butter smooths oat the old fashioned oats and you get this wonderful chewy, creamy bite! Yum!

20130729-213454.jpg

20130729-213529.jpgRecipe: No-Bake Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Resting time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 40 min
  • Makes 1 full 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

     Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

     Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I always bake or no-bake with Skippy)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (you can use less to make them less sweet) – **see below for tip for measuring
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%, but you can use whatever you have)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Line an 8×8 dish with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir
  3. In a small saucepan, combine all the wet ingredients, except vanilla.**
  4. On low heat, melt the peanut butter and stir to incorporate all the wet ingredients.  Do this slowly and keep an eye on it.  This mixture can burn easily.
  5. When peanut butter is melted, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  6. Pour hot wet ingredients directly into bowl with dry ingredients. Stir until all oats are coated with warm mixture and the butterscotch chips are melted. (I used a large rubber spatula to stir this all together.)
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish and press down with either a metal or rubber spatula to make an even layer
  8. Let it set in the fridge for about 30 min.
  9. Cut into bars and Enjoy!

Store leftovers in a air tight container in fridge for about a week.

** To easily measure honey, use the same cup as the vegetable oil and measure after oil.  Or, spray measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam) before pouring honey in.

Recipe source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

20130418-075144.jpg

My best friend, Chelsea, defended her doctoral thesis on Friday, and this post is in honor of her. What is her connection with these supposed “Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER”? Chelsea, is not a cookie lover. You know, she’s the type of person who will choose any other type of dessert over a cookie. Well, ladies and gentleman, this changed after she tried these cookies. She’s actually requested me to make these cookies multiple times AND she nagged me for the recipe. I say nagged, mostly because I took forever to give her this recipe. I stink at writing down recipes, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. It forces me to write down my recipes and it makes it easier for me to share them with my friends and beyond!

20130418-074830.jpg

These cookies have clearly changed Chelsea’s life (for the better), and I’m confident they will change yours. What makes these cookies the absolute BEST?

These cookies are super chewy and soft, and they are this way consistently. Look at those beauties. They’re nice and fat.

20130418-074856.jpg

If you like crispy cookies, sorry, these are not crispy. But I do beg you to try these, because I bet you will like them. No. You will love them. They might even convert you to being a chewy cookie lover. Seriously, if you follow my easy recipe – no substitutions, they will come out perfect every time you make them. These cookies don’t flatten and these cookies don’t run. The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before you bake them, but you can if you need to. Normally, cookies are a delicate beast, so to be able to say these are so easy to make and hard to mess up?! Well, we have a gem on our hands.

Another bonus? The peanut butter to chocolate ratio is perfect and they are not too sweet. I’ve worked really hard to perfect this. *disclaimer: your taste for chocolate/peanut butter may vary.

20130418-074814.jpg

Do you need anymore reasons? OK Ok, I have another one for you. The dough freezes really well. This means you can have fresh baked cookies in under 10 minutes anytime you want. ANYTIME. I guess this can be a pretty dangerous thing. But, eh. Enjoy life. You can whip up a batch and divide it into smaller portions and wrap 2x in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer.

20130418-075253.jpgThen when you want the Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER, you just take a frozen portion out of the freezer, let it thaw for ~ 1 hour on the counter, or a few hours to a few days in the fridge – and bake up a fresh batch. Simple, easy and amazingly delicious. I guess you could say these cookies are Delicious in a DASH : )

20130418-074844.jpgSo how do you make these chewy, chocolatey, peanut buttery cookies in a DASH?

First, pull out your butter so it can soften at room temperature. You never want to melt your butter, just let it sit at room temperature about 5-10 minutes. While your butter is softening, gather up all the other ingredients and bowls and things. I usually prep my dry ingredients first, because my butter is still softening. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. **When measuring flour, be sure to scoop into the cup, and then level off with a knife. You never want to scoop with the cup. It will pack the flour down into the cup and you will measure too much. For more on how to measure flour, check out the King Arthur Flour website.

20130418-075206.jpg

Now tackle the step 1 wet ingredients. I cut the still cold stick of butter into 4-6 pieces, this way, it is easier to mix. **A tip for measuring out the creamy peanut butter – spray the cup with non-stick cooking spray – it will make the peanut butter slide out easier.** I also have always used Skippy creamy peanut butter with these cookies, but any creamy peanut butter will do. I’ve never tried natural peanut butter with these cookies, (I usually save that for sandwiches) so I can’t guarantee their perfection, however, you can try.

20130418-075216.jpg

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter together. If you are using a mixer, do not go above medium speed, it will warm up the butter too much. It should look like the picture below. Make sure the ingredients are very well combined, mix for about 3-4 minutes. You want the sugar to poke holes in your butter so your cookies will have air in them (the baking soda needs some air in there to work with). Now, I should warn you, if you taste this stuff at this phase it will taste like peanut butter frosting. Careful, you need this stuff to make the cookies, but go ahead, taste it. : )

20130418-075226.jpg

Next, combine step 2 of the wet ingredients to mixing bowl that contains the well-creamed butter/sugar/peanut butter mixture. ** Tip for measuring honey. Just like the peanut butter, spray the tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray before measuring the honey. The honey will slide right out.** Mix all the ingredients till they are well combined.

20130416-215254.jpgFinally, Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) to the mixing bowl that has the well mixed wet ingredients. I add the dry ingredients in 2 batches – ½ in, stir till combined, then the other ½. Do NOT over mix your cookie batter at this step.

After the flour mixture is incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Mmmm

To measure out the cookies, I usually use a tablespoon, this is the size cookie that my baking time is for. You can certainly make them larger. You will need to adjust the baking time. These cookies don’t spread, so you can put them closer together than I have pictured here.

20130418-075239.jpgNow you’re ready to bake. Get ready for peanut buttery, chocolatey deliciousness!

20130418-075024.jpg

Mmmm! Warm, creamy peanut butter and melty chocolate.

20130418-074950.jpg

20130416-215106.jpg

Recipe:20130416-215148.jpg

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups of flour (I use all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Wet Ingredients – step 1

  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (not natural kind – I like Skippy the best)
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup of white sugar

Wet Ingredients – step 2

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 and ¼ cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients from step 1. Cream the ingredients until smooth
  4. To that same mixing bowl, add step 2 wet ingredients **To measure out the honey, use a non-stick cooking spray (like Pam) to spray the tablespoon. The honey will slide right off the tablespoon and you won’t loose any honey.
  5. Mix all the wet ingredients (step1 and 2) until well incorporated
  6. Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. You may add the mixed dry ingredients in 2 batches to make it easier to incorporate.
  7. Stir the wet and dry until just combined
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips
  9. Drop cookies onto baking sheet using a tablespoon to measure. You can smoosh the cookies with your hands or mold them into balls if you like.
  10. Bake for 7-9 min. 8 minutes is perfect for my oven and the size I bake, but it may vary based on oven and cookie size. ** The cookies will be soft and a will look a little underdone – but will cook a little more as you let them cool on the sheet.  Do not over bake.  The cookies will come out hard and crumbly if you bake them too long. 

Enjoy!

Cooled cookies keep for a week in a sealed container.

Dough freezes well up to 3 months.

You can also refrigerate the dough for up to ~ 3 days before baking.

* I used a mixer because I have one. But you do not need any mixer to make these cookies.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies