Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Crock Pot Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I haven't had my crock pot out in a while (or done much cooking the last few weeks--for some reason, it feels like things have been crazy!), so I flipped through my recipes Monday night to find something good to make for Tuesday's dinner.  I asked Dan if he wanted me to make a repeat recipe--like the Brown Sugar Chicken he really liked, or maybe the Lemon Chicken that I thought was fantastic.  He picked Brown Sugar Chicken, but then a recipe for Pulled Chicken Sandwiches caught my eye--I hadn't tried it yet, because I never think ahead to buy sandwich buns.  I happen to have some awesome bakery buns on hand right now because we picked some up at the farmer's market on Sunday, so this is the perfect week to try the recipe!  I asked Dan if he thought Pulled Chicken sounded good, and he said, "That sounds great--but can you do that?"  My skeptical husband still isn't used to a cooking, trying-new-things kind of wife.  :)  I said, "Duh--I can do anything!" and it was settled.

This was the first recipe I've made that is NOT from the woman who used her crock pot every day for a year, so I was a little nervous about it.  I found the recipe here, and it had good reviews, so I decided to go for it.  I wanted to modify the recipe a little bit because I didn't have a can of Diet Pepsi on hand--and I have read that using diet sodas while cooking can be dangerous because aspertame is unstable when heated up.  I'm not sure if that's true, but I don't really want to blow up my kitchen, so I asked Dan if he could grab some regular Pepsi while he was on his coffee run on Tuesday, and he dropped it by the house.  As soon as I got the boys down for their naps, I started--I put two breasts of chicken in the bottom of the crock pot (too much for our little family, especially considering that I had no idea if the kids would eat any of it??  but I thawed two breasts, so in they went!), put in about 2.5 tablespoons of chopped onions (the recipe called for one large onion chopped, but I used dry chopped onion flakes and just eyeballed the amount...not sure if I'm a good eyeballer when it comes to cooking, but I went with it!), put in 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of regular Heinz ketchup.  I poured a whole can of Pepsi over the other ingredients and the chicken in the pot, and stirred everything up pretty well before turning the pot on.

Pepsi...who would have thought?

I wasn't getting started on dinner until 2pm, so instead of putting my pot on low for 6 hours, I put it on high for an hour, and then moved it down to low for the next 2 hours.  It was 5pm at that point, so I took the chicken out and shredded it on a plate:

shredded chicken--very moist!

I spooned out some of the onion chunks before I put the shredded chicken back in...while it was cooking, I had second thoughts about putting that much onion in the pot!  I probably scooped out about 1/2 tablespoon's worth, so I think I ended up with about 2 tablespoons of onions in the final product.  I thought the sauce looked really runny, so I added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and stirred the sauce up really well--and then I put the shredded chicken back in and cooked it for another 50 minutes while Dan sauteed some veggies to go with the sandwiches.

just finished cooking--looks good!

Here's my plate before I closed up my sandwich and dug in!

looks good!

Dan and I both enjoyed the sandwiches--Dan actually went back for a second sandwich.  :)  Abby enjoyed her sandwich as well, and I didn't even try with Alex--I made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!  We just got him to eat a turkey sandwich this past Sunday (yes, you read that correctly--Alex ate meat!), so I didn't want to risk putting him off sandwiches again...  Jake was super excited about the sandwich because he wanted to eat the bread that we got at the farmer's market--he happily picked up his sandwich and took a big bite...and promptly started screaming.  I thought it must have been too hot, so I told him to let it cool down and try again.  By the time it was cool enough to try again, he informed me that he wouldn't eat the sandwich because it was "disgusting."  He had only had one hot bite--I wasn't buying his excuse, and I had endless patience for some reason...I let the kid scream throughout the entire dinner, took some video and pictures of him crying (because I'm a mean, mean mommy...and because I am going to show him when he's 20 years old how miserable he used to make our meals), and prodded him politely but incessantly to take more bites.  He ended up eating 2/3rds of his sandwich, under much duress, but the screaming did eventually calm down to a whimper near the end.  We had a good talk (after everyone else had left the table to start baths) about how Mommy is going to cook lots of different things, and it's important that he always tries what I make, and that even if it's not really his favorite, he needs to eat it anyway because it's good for him and it's dinner...I'm not making him anything else.  He seemed to understand, but we'll have to wait until I make something else out of his comfort zone to test how much sunk in!  Cooking is hard to get excited about when you know dinner will be a screamfest...  I've finally figured out that it's not my cooking--it's totally this stubborn 4-year-old:

why do you make me eat delicious food, Mommy??

Overall, these sandwiches were super easy to make, the meat was moist, and the meal was good--it wasn't the most amazing thing I've ever eaten, but it'll probably be something I throw together again in the future because it was tasty and easy.  I may try it with an actual barbeque sauce next time, because this sauce was definitely not barbeque--it was more mild, for sure.  The meal was actually fairly healthy, which is a big bonus--with all the veggies on my plate and the snowflake roll, it was around 390 calories.  I have lots of leftover shredded chicken, too, so that will be great for lunch the next few days!

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