Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What's For Dinner: Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken

A few minutes of prep time and a couple of hours in the slow cooker is all it takes to make this delicious recipe for Honey Soy Chicken. 

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken || A Less Processed LifeSlow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken

And then it was 2017. Oof! Question: Am I the only person in the world that didn't start a Whole 30 on January 2nd? Because by the looks of my instagram and blog feeds, I appear to be the only one.

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to start the year off with a post about healthy salads or green juices, but I'm more of an ease-into-the-healthy-eating-in-the-new-year kind of girl. Even if I'm totally in the oy-I-ate-too-much-over-the-holidays camp. After a week spent out of town visiting family in Georgia and Michigan, I was definitely ready to hit up large plates of greens for several meals upon our return to Northern Wisconsin. (I may not have been as excited to trade Georgia's 65+ degree temperatures for our sub-freezing weather, though there's a chance I also may have complained about it being too hot the entire time we were down south.)

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken || A Less Processed Life

That's not to say this recipe for slow cooker honey soy chicken is an unhealthy choice ... it's actually quite wholesome and delicious. And perfect for eating on a cold winter's night ... which appears to be in our forecast as I think I spied a high of -2 for this Thursday. Urgh.

Slow Cooker Honey Soy Chicken (printer-friendly version)
makes four servings

1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
sesame seeds, for garnish
1 cup cooked rice, for serving

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the diced onion, minced garlic, honey, soy sauce, ketchup, toasted sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.
2. Pat the chicken thighs dry and place in the slow cooker. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Add the honey-soy mixture and gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes or cook on low for 3 hours and 30 minutes. After the chicken is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred. Add the water to the cornstarch and stir to make a slurry. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Place the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and cook on the low setting for 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
3. Serve over rice. Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

(adapted from this Damn Delicious recipe)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What Made My List: My Favorite Posts from 2016

On Tuesday I shared the Top Ten most popular posts from the blog this year. Today I'm sharing a few of my favorite recipes from 2016. Several of these recipes have made multiple appearances on our dinner or breakfast table throughout the year; and those brandied cherries sure do come in handy when cocktail hour rolls around and it's time for another Old-Fashioned. 

I'm looking forward to bringing more delicious recipes and plenty of entertaining and informative content to the blog in 2017. Best wishes for a Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What Made the List: A Less Processed Life's Top Ten Posts of 2016

Oy, this has been some year, hasn't it? I'm not entirely sure what next year will bring, but I'm hoping for the best. I thought as the year draws to an end I'd take a walk down memory lane with a look at this year's most popular posts. Unlike last year's Top Ten, which was full of sweet baked goods, this year's list has a little bit of everything.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

What I'm Wishing You: Happy Holidays

From our family to yours, best wishes this holiday season! And I just have to share the back of our card, too. Can you spot the photobomber in the main photo? Cracks me up Every. Single. Time. I look at it. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What's For Dinner: Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole

The winter holiday season is the perfect time for cooking make-ahead freezer-friendly meals like this recipe for Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole. It's always nice to have a fully-stocked freezer, particularly when you need to grab something for that holiday potluck you nearly forgot about.

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole || A Less Processed Life

I partnered with OXO as part of their 'Tis the Season for Freezin' campaign. In order to make my freezer-friendly dish, they provided me a few items, including a glass 3-quart baking dish with lid, a vegetable chopper, and a mini vegetable slicer. The OXO Glass Bakeware is made of thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass, which means it can go from freezer to oven without the need to thaw. Its slosh-proof lid makes it easy to prepare meals in advance, store leftovers, or take on the go. The glass bakeware has generously sized rims, which makes it easy to transport from oven to countertop or table.  The Vegetable Chopper with Easy-Pour Opening lets you quickly and safely chop onions, peppers, and more in one easy motion, and then easily pour chopped fruits or veggies without removing the lid. The Mini Vegetable Slicer allows you to quickly and easily create even slices of small fruits and vegetables.

For my chicken & wild rice casserole, I used the vegetable chopper to quickly chop my carrots and onions, making nicely evenly-sized pieces.  I used the mini vegetable slicer to thinly (and safely!) slice my Brussels sprouts. 

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole || A Less Processed Life

To make this dish, the sauteed vegetables were combined in the glass baking dish along with the wild rice and vegetable broth. This was cooked in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes, after which I stirred in my made-from-scratch cream of mushroom soup, which included the aforementioned thinly-sliced Brussels sprouts for a little extra nutrition, and bite-sized chicken pieces. Then everything was placed back in the oven for a final bake before heading to the table to be served.

Chicken & Wild Rice Casserole (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup Brussels sprouts (about 5 medium-sized sprouts), ends trimmed and then thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% milk
1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add 1-2 teaspoons olive oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery, and saute until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Carefully transfer the vegetables into a 9x13 casserole dish. Add the wild rice and broth and stir to combine. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 75 minutes.
3. When the rice is nearly cooked, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sliced mushrooms and saute until softened and browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sliced Brussels sprouts and saute another minute. Then stir in the flour, salt, and fresh herbs, cooking for one minute. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine, until a thick, cream sauce forms.
4. When the rice is finished cooking, remove the foil from the dish, add the chicken and stir in the creamy sauce. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Season with additional salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.

To reheat: Heat the oven to 350 degrees, then bake in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes, or until heated through.

Discloure: OXO provided me with a Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid, Vegetable Chopper, and Mini Vegetable Slicer in order to develop the recipe for this post.

Monday, December 19, 2016

What I'm Giving: 2016 Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2

'Tis the season for holiday shopping ... this gift guide includes some of my favorite
cookbooks plus a few titles I'd love to add to my personal collection. 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Deep Run Roots Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? The Food Lab Every Grain of Rice How to Cook Everything Plenty The New Midwestern Table Whole 30 Cookbook Small Victories The Heart of the Plate The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook The Heart of the Plate Image Map
Books are one of my favorite last-minute gift ideas. Because, well, Amazon Prime. Or just require a quick run to your local bookstore, of course. If you have an aspiring home cook or chef on your list, pick up one of these titles. I own several of these books myself and reference them often.

The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen
This book is perfect for your gluten-free friend or family member. I've used the gluten-free all-purpose flour mix recipe from this book, and it works like a dream. Even non-GF folks won't be able to tell the difference! 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Written by the OG of food blogging, Deb Perelman's book is one of my favorites for its approachable recipes.

Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard
I am a super-fan of Vivian Howard's PBS show (A Chef's Life) and can't wait to get a hold of this veritable tome of Southern cuisine that was just published this past fall. 

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Though I am typically drawn to cookbooks with full-page photos, Mark Bittman is your go-to man for in-the-kitchen basics. In addition to this title, I also own Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten
I am a consummate watcher of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa, so of course I have to have at least one of her titles on my list. I'm also a fan of her most recent book Cooking for Jeffrey

The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
If you're in need of a new podcast to listen to, I highly recommend Eater.com's Eater Upsell podcast in which the two hosts interview chefs and restaurant/cooking adjacent folks. A recent episode featured J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats, and he talked about his cookbook, which sounds like a great resource to have in your cookbook repertoire.

Every Grain of Rice by Fuschia Dunlop
When you live in the middle of nowhere and want exotic flavors, you have to cook it yourself. Fuschia Dunlop's cookbook makes Chinese cooking accessible.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and Jonathan Lovekin
Yotam Ottolenghi put Israeli cuisine on the map and this cookbook is full of Mediterranean vegetable recipes that would entice any palate. 

The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen
Given that we live at a fairly similar latitude, I find myself drawn to Amy Thielen's stories and recipes from the Upper Midwest. I first became familiar with Thielen through her show Heartland Table on Food Network. Her recipes are hearty, wholesome, and full of heart.

The Whole 30 Cookbook by Melissa Hartwig
I've never done the Whole 30, but I have friends who swear by it. Maybe I'll give it a whirl in 2017? If so, I'm going to need this cookbook. 

Julia Turshen is well-known as a cookbook developer (including It's All Good with Gwyneth Paltrow and Spain: A Culinary Road Trip with Mario Batali). This cookbook is all Julia, however. And it's been named to several "Best Cookbooks of 2016" lists. I'm currently awaiting my copy at the library.

The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen
Mollie Katzen is synonymous with vegetarian cooking. (Her Moosewood cookbooks are familiar to every vegetarian, I'm sure.) This cookbook is full of more of her unfussy vegetarian recipes. I own a copy of this one, and recently bookmarked a number of recipes to try over the next couple of months. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What's Baking: Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies

Classic Mexican Wedding Cookies get a little chocolatey twist with the addition of cocoa powder. 

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies || A Less Processed Life

'Tis the season for cookies. Lots of cookies. Oy, so many cookies! I baked a couple of batches of cookies this past weekend to bring to a holiday get-together on Sunday night. Part of the festivities included a cookie exchange, and I'm sad to report that the panoply of cookies I brought home barely lasted 24 hours in our house. 

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies || A Less Processed Life

Mexican Wedding Cookies – also known as Russian Teacakes or Italian Wedding Cookies – have a distinctly nutty flavor due to the generous addition of nuts in the dough. (A shocking turn of events, I know.) My Mom's recipe uses walnuts, so that's how I make them, although finely chopped pecans or almonds would work just as well. For extra flavor, toast your chopped nuts before adding them to the dough.

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies Teacakes || A Less Processed Life

The classic Mexican Wedding Cookie does not have cocoa powder in them, but I was feeling like these sweet cookies could use a little cocoa kick. The key to the appearance of these cookies is two dips in powdered sugar – roll them straight from the oven (once they're just cool enough to handle), and then after they've completely cooled, give them another roll in the powdered sugar to get a nice even coating.

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies (printer-friendly version)
makes 2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks/16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cups whole walnuts, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, walnuts, and salt. 
5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three batches, thoroughly mixing between additions.
6. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
7. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just set.
8. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. Let cool, then roll again in powdered sugar. 
9. After completely cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Variation: For regular Mexican Wedding Cookies, omit the cocoa powder and use 2 1/4 cups flour.
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