Saturday, January 17, 2015

Slow-Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

This week has been crazy. Paul has been running everywhere trying to finish various work projects, the kids are active as ever and getting fed up with being cooped up indoors, and I've been scrambling to catch up with cleaning, organizing, and cooking after our three week hiatus due to illness. I've been enjoying the boost of energy compared to how I was feeling this time a week ago. But, thankfully, the house is completely clean (well, as clean as can be with Emma the hurricane), the laundry is caught up, decorations have been put away, and every surface and floor has been swept, dusted, and vacuumed.  And now I need a nap.

In addition, we had a meeting with Matthew's preschool teacher to assess his progress and whether he is eligible to move on next year. Both Paul and I were a little nervous because Matthew is our first kid in school and he is very, very quirky. However, she assuaged any of our fears by telling us he is very bright, gets along great with the other students, and is more than ready to move on to Kindergarten. Next year, he will be a full-time student which breaks my heart a little bit. I'm going to miss spending time with him at home. Plus, he's been such a big help to me lately.

Weeks like this make me so happy that appliances like the slow-cooker have been invented. I'm not a huge slow cooker-user. I break it out a couple times each month for various reasons, but it definitely is not used on a weekly basis. However, every time I make a dinner in the slow-cooker I wonder why I do not use it more. The evenings are so hectic and I'm normally tired by the time I have to prep and cook dinner. The slow-cooker eliminates all that stress. Plus, I love the delicious smells of dinner cooking away throughout the afternoon.

I made this Chicken Teriyaki recipe for dinner this week and it could not have been easier. Everything took about 15 minutes total to throw together and then a teeny bit of work at the end is required to thicken the sauce and shred the chicken, but really it was nothing compared to what normally has to go down for dinner to materialize. I had my rice cooker make and keep the rice warm until serving time and then I just chose to steam some oriental vegetables to serve alongside while the sauce was thickening. In the end, the sauce was perfectly flavored, the meal was loved by kids and adults alike, and the cleanup was a breeze. This is definitely a recipe to keep in the rotation. I'm also adding it to the list of easy dinners to make once the baby arrives.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Teriyaki
adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Note: If you like a little more heat, add a little more Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce. If you don't want any heat, omit it entirely. Also, you can use frozen chicken breasts but everything will cook for an extra hour or two. 

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce (use low-sodium if desired)
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce
1-2 tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 cup cold water
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
A mix of steamed oriental vegetables (for serving)

Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow-cooker in a single layer.

Whisk together the garlic, onion, honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, chili-garlic sauce, and sesame oil.  Alternatively, you can blend everything together in a blender or Vitamix until smooth. Pour the mixture over the chicken.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily with a fork. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Shred with two forks and return to the slow cooker bowl. Cover to keep warm (but make sure the slow-cooker is unplugged).

Pour the teriyaki sauce from the slow-cooker to a saucepan large enough to hold all the liquid. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour into the sauce and carefully stir until thickened. Once thickened, pour over the chicken. You can reserve a little bit of the sauce to toss with the steamed vegetables, if desired.

Serve atop freshly steamed rice with the vegetables. Enjoy!!

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