Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

I haven’t made this recipe in a while, and I really don’t know why.

This Spicy Shredded BBQ Chicken is great.  And it’s a Freezer Crock Pot meal, so you store them in the freezer, and then on the day you want to eat it, you just pull the bag out of the freezer and dump it into the crock pot.

A bit of work to shred it, but after that, you’re done!

And there’s leftovers, too.  Can’t beat that!

This recipe makes two bags, but you easily can double or triple it and fill up your freezer.

But remember, it IS spicy.  If you’re looking for a more mild version, go easy on the chili powder and consider using fewer green chilies per bag (the recipe calls for 2 oz) or splitting the 4 oz can between 4 bags instead of 2.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Here’s what I love about this (besides the ease of cooking and the leftovers):  you just dump all the ingredients in a bag.

That’s it.

The prep is literally this:  dump everything in the bag.

Sweeeeeeeet.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Make sure you write your instructions on your freezer bags first, before you fill them.

Then prop up the bags on the counter by folding the edges over themselves to keep it open.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Okay, okay…. there is ONE step before the dumping.

You do have to dice up the onions and garlic.

I use a garlic press and squeeze those babies right in the bag.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

See?

Chicken in the bottom and everything else piled in on top.  You may have to cut one chicken thigh in half if you have an uneven amount in your package.

And I guess you could – theoretically – measure out everything, but when it comes to the tomato sauce and chilies, I just go ahead and dump or scoop what looks like half the can into each bag.  It’s close enough.

After that, the easiest way to mix it up is to massage the bag gently with your fingers for a minute.

Then you’ll want to squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag.

Lay each bag flat in the freezer on a tray or large box or anything that will allow it to freeze flat.  Smooth flat any lumpy sections that might be sticking up.

Check after a couple of hours.  Once frozen solid, the bags can be stacked or arranged on a shelf in an upright position.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

When you take the bag out of the freezer, run it under the cold water in the sink for one minute to break up any large chunks – making sure the bag is still sealed and no water gets inside.

Then dump it in the crock pot.  Cover and cook.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

You can flip the chicken over a few times and stir it, if you like.

Or you can just leave it and let it cook.  It doesn’t need stirring.  But I compulsively check on crock pot stuff if I’m home when it’s cooking.  Especially if it smells good.  ;)

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Once it’s cooked, remove the chicken to a bowl or plate and shred it with two forks.

As you work, add the shredded chicken back to the pot.

It should shred easily, and it’s best to have it shredded finely so that the sauce can cling to all the tiny moist pieces, but even if you’re in a super hurry, you can still mush it up pretty quickly.

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Doesn’t that look good?  And it’s not even mixed in yet!

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Stir the shredded chicken back into the sauce and set the crock pot to the “stay warm” setting until you’re ready to serve it.

And there are so many ways to serve it.  I sometimes serve it by itself with rice on the side, or you could put it on the rice.  You can put it on a salad, in a taco, on some nachos, or – like in the photo at the top of the page – in a hamburger bun.

If you put it in a bun, you’ll want to toast the inside of the bun to help hold in all the juicy goodness.  Maybe even top it with a little cole slaw.

From one bag, we made a dinner of sloppy joes (in the hamburger bun I mentioned), and then the next day, I constructed some taquitos with the leftovers, pictured below.  I put a little chicken and a little cheese in a 6-inch tortilla, rolled up 15 of them and put them in a 13-by-9-inch dish with some nonstick spray.  Then I baked them at 375°F for about 20 minutes and we dunked them in a little dish of sour cream to eat.  My kids devoured them.

(Oh… and I turned on the broiler for a minute and walked away.  Don’t do that.  Don’t ever walk away from an active broiler… just sayin’)

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Here’s the recipe:

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Ingredients:

2 to 3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 sweet onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic gloves, diced or pressed
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 oz. can diced green chilies, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dry powdered mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Label two gallon-sized freezer plastic bags with the instructions:  Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken.  Cook on low 5-6 hours (or high 3-4 hours).  Remove chicken, shred, return to sauce, stir, serve.

Evenly distribute all of the ingredients between both bags; for example half the chicken (even if you have to cut one thigh in half), 4 oz. of tomato sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar, et cetera, in each.

Gently massage the bag to mix the ingredients and press out as much air as you can before sealing.  Lay the bags flat in the freezer, on a box or tray, and allow to freeze solid.  Then you can stack them or store them upright until ready to use.

When ready to eat, dump the contents of the bag into a crock pot.  You can run the closed plastic bag under cool water in the sink for a few minutes to make it easier to break it up.  Put the lid on the crock pot and cook for 5 to 6 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high.

Remove the chicken to a plate or bowl and shred it with two forks.  Allow it to cool first, if you need to.  Return the shredded chicken to the crock pot and stir well.  Serve or put on the “keep warm” setting until ready to eat.

Serving suggestions: over rice, inside hamburger buns, inside tacos or burritos, on a salad, or all by itself.

This recipe makes two bags/dinners.  Each bag serves 6 to 8 people.

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To print the PDF version of the recipe, click here:

Shredded Spicy BBQ Chicken Crock Pot Freezer Meal

Happy Eating!

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Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Jack O’ Lantern Pepper Pumpkins

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

I’ve been wanting to make these jack o’ lantern pepper “pumpkins” for a long time, so I was very happy when October arrived.  :)

One of the best parts was when my two-year-old looked into the fridge drawer, saw the orange peppers, and exclaimed, “Pumpkins!”

And that was before they had faces.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Don’t they just look amazing?  And I didn’t even do a spectacular job of carving them.

I mean, they’re not magazine cover worthy or anything, but my kids thought they were pretty awesome.

But no – in case you’re wondering – we didn’t actually eat the peppers.

The pieces carved from the faces were added to the spaghetti, but the peppers themselves were rinsed after dinner and used the next day in an omelet.  A breakfast for dinner kind of thing.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

If you’re in a hurry, or planning to do this on Halloween evening itself and don’t think you’ll have time to make it, you could prep it by cutting all of the veggies ahead of time and storing them in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Or you could just use jarred sauce.

But I put together this recipe because I wanted to have a bit of spice in my meal, seeing as how I was going to be serving it in peppers and all.

And it is easy.  Look at the photo:  just a handful of ingredients.

The hardest part was carving the “jack o’ lanterns,” and, really, the peppers are MUCH easier to cut than actual pumpkins, so I have no complaints about the process.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

You’ll notice that I call for 6 to 8 peppers in the recipe, but I only used 3.

The peppers were pricey when I bought them, and I simply refused to buy more than enough for me and my two daughters.  But the recipe makes quite a bit of spaghetti and you can fill quite a few more than 3 peppers.  The final amount, however, is up to you and depends on your needs and desires.

Another important note:  before you buy the peppers, it’s helpful to check and see if they can stand on their own.  You can always balance them on top of the spaghetti when serving them, but it’s nice if they can stand up all on their own without falling over.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

As I said, the meal itself is pretty easy to make, and I would certainly suggest not just reserving it for a once-a-year treat.

If you want to celebrate autumn and not Halloween specifically, you could serve the spaghetti in the peppers without carving them.  Or serve it in small hallowed out pumpkins instead.

For the spaghetti, after you cook the veggies, you just stir in the tomato sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to get all that yummy flavor dispersed.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Then toss in the noodles – oh, I’m sorry:  worms.

My kids loved the fact that we were eating worms for dinner.

It’s why I used linguine instead of spaghetti.  We eat spaghetti noodles all the time, and they would certainly work for this recipe, but the linguine gave us a slightly different texture.

More worm-like.

But scrumptious worms.  Seriously:  this is good stuff.

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Come on … don’t those jack o’ lanterns filled with worms just look devilishly delicious??

I just can’t get over how adorable these are!

If you agree, please leave me a comment telling me all about it.  And don’t forget to Pin your favorite pics to remind yourself that you totally have to try this recipe.  :)

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O Lanterns Halloween Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O’ Lanterns

Ingredients:

6 to 8 orange sweet peppers
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
28 to 32 ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound linguine

To make the jack o’ lanterns: cut the tops off of the orange sweet peppers. Scoop out the insides and discard. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully cut out faces in desired patterns. Reserve the pieces.

To make the spicy spaghetti: add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan and warm over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until nearly translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic, jalapeno, and diced pieces of reserved pepper from the jack o’ lanterns to the onions, adding a little olive oil if the pan appears dry. Continue to cook over medium for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until peppers are softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomato sauce to the onions and peppers. Combine well and gently simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Meanwhile, cook the linguine according to the package directions. Drain pasta and add it to the tomato sauce. Toss to combine.

To serve: scoop the linguine and sauce onto a large platter. Place the jack o’ lantern peppers on the spaghetti. Fill the peppers with spaghetti and top with the pepper stems.

[Note: after the meal, the peppers can be rinsed and reused in another dish, such as an omelet.]

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And click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Spicy Spaghetti Worms in Pepper Jack O’ Lanterns

Enjoy!

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4 Ingredient Chili

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

I really do try to incorporate more organic foods into our diet.  I try to avoid things that have preservatives and artificial ingredients.

But, just like how there are some days that I’ll finish off half a box of Cheez-Its in one sitting, there are days when I need something super simple to cook.

This recipe qualifies as “super simple” for a few reasons:

It takes 5 minutes to make.

There are only 4 ingredients (plus a few spices – but these are optional)

It only uses one pan.

All of the ingredients are waiting for me in the pantry, except for the meat, which I usually keep on hand in the freezer.

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

See?  Four ingredients.

Beans (with sauce), tomato sauce, seasoning mix, and meat.

And like I said, the first 3 things are easy to stock up on and have sitting in the pantry.

I usually have either ground turkey or beef on hand, either in the fridge or freezer, so I find that I often have everything to make this dish.

I do like to add a few extra spices, but those are also always in the pantry.

And I like to add some shredded cheese and sour cream to the top, but those are usually in my fridge too, and if not, well, they’re also optional.  Just tasty.  I like the contrast of the sour cream against the spicy chili.

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

I like spicy food.

My kids have been eating spicy food forever, so they like it, too.

BUT, if you’re not into spice, feel free to cut out the cayenne, or even all of the extra spices, if you prefer.

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

I mix the spices into the raw meat just as it’s starting to cook because it helps infuse the meat with a nice flavor.

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

Here it is all mixed together.

Essentially, after browning the meat, you’re just dumping everything into one pan.  How cool is that?

4 Ingredient Chili Recipe

Doesn’t that look delicious?

4 Ingredient Chili

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz.) can Chili beans in sauce
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (1.25 oz.) package chili seasoning mix
16 oz. ground turkey or beef

Optional Extra Spices:

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Ancho Chile pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Optional Toppings:

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Sour cream

In a large, deep saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil. Add ground turkey. If using the optional extra spices, sprinkle them evenly over the meat while still raw and mix them in. Cook the meat until browned. Drain the fat from the pan and return it to the stovetop.

Sprinkle the chili seasoning mix over the meat and mix it in. Stir in the chili beans in sauce and tomato sauce until fully combined.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes to heat through. You can serve it now, or turn the stove to low and let the chili cook for an hour, covered, to allow the flavors to develop. Stir occasionally.

Serve with shredded cheese and cream cheese, if desired.

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And to get the free printable PDF, click here:  4 Ingredient Chili

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Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce Recipe

This dish has such a fun flavor, and it’s a nice change to the everyday (albeit wonderful) regular ol’ marinara sauce.

Spaghetti with spice.

This recipe is based on Penne with Vodka Sauce by Giada De Laurentiis.  I’ve been making it for years, and, in the beginning, I was pretty much following her recipe word for word.

Then, one day, I went to make it and discovered that the only vodka we had in the house was orange flavored.

Hmmm.

Well, I threw caution to the wind and, for one of the first times in my life, I changed up a well-tested recipe.

I was not disappointed.

This stuff is awesome.  First of all, the vodka – any flavored vodka – adds a nice sweetness to the finished product.  Regular vodka may not have much of a flavor on it’s own, but when you simmer it with tomatoes, it makes a very rich sauce.  By using the orange flavored vodka instead, you also give the dish a noticeable citrus touch.

And it makes your kitchen smell amazing as it cooks.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

I’ve been making this version for quite a while now, and I just can’t go back to the regular recipe.  I love the fruitiness.  It’s one of the more unique flavors in my repertoire.

And it’s easy to make.

All of the ingredients are pictured above, so the only thing I don’t usually already have in my pantry is the heavy cream.  When I pick some up, I make this dish.

I use the Traditional Ragu bottled sauce because it’s a very basic sauce:  just tomatoes, mostly.  No overpowering herbs, no big chunks of veggies – I don’t want things like that to overshadow the awesomeness of the flavor behind the meal.

It’s also quick.  The whole thing from start to finish only takes about a half hour.  Just make sure you simmer it for a full 20 minutes, to cook off the alcohol.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

It’s a pretty basic process.

And the noodles can cook while the sauce simmers.

I usually throw them in some boiling water when the gravy  sauce is about halfway done.

And you don’t have to use Rigatoni.  I’ve used Penne as well, but I prefer the bigger noodles for this.

Also, once you mix the sauce and the noodles, it may appear at first as though there is too much sauce.  Keep mixing and the sauce will absorb into the macaroni.

When I dish it up, I sometimes add a scoop of Ricotta to the top.  Some people like to mix it in, but I leave it like that, picking up a little cheese and a couple noodles in each bite.  I like the contrasting textures.  But the Ricotta is not necessary.  Just a nice touch.

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6+

Ingredients:

1 quart (or 6 cups or 2-24 Oz. jars) of smooth marinara sauce
1 cup Orange-flavored Vodka
1 tsp. each pepper & garlic powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 grated Parmesan
16 Oz. Rigatoni
Ricotta, to taste (optional)

Cook the pasta, according to directions.

In a large saucepot, combine the marinara sauce, vodka, and spices. Bring the marinara sauce and vodka to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce should reduce by about 1/4.

Stir in the cream and gently simmer for a few minutes until heated through.

Stir in the Parmesan. Continue to heat until the cheese is melted and fully combined.

Stir the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce. Mix well.

Serve with a scoop of Ricotta, if desired.

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Click for the Free Printable PDF:  Rigatoni with Orange Flavored Vodka Sauce

Enjoy!

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Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

When I was five years old my favorite food was macaroni and cheese.

Nothing’s changed.

Seriously, I could eat this stuff every day.  But it IS nice to change up the elbows and cheddar routine.  And one of my favorite ways to do that is with Gouda.

As you’ll see, I also incorporated sausage into this.  You could do that in a variety of ways, but I chose to fry the sausage and cut it into half-slices.  You could also remove the casing and crumble it into the pan to cook, if you think you’d prefer that.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

I also added half a sweet onion for flavor.  As you can tell from the photos, I removed most of the onion before adding the sausage pieces to the macaroni because they’d become a little too dark for my taste.  I didn’t want the taste of the burnt onion pieces in my final dish, but cooking the sausage with the onions gave it a nice depth of flavor.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

This recipe also calls for a basic roux.  Butter, flour, milk, cheese:  voila.

And pepper.  Gotta have my spice.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Also, I used Corkscrew pasta.  I like to change up the shapes of pasta sometimes, but keep in mind that when using a different shape of pasta than what the recipe calls for, you may need to adjust the amount.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

You could easily use regular breadcrumbs, but I like using Panko sometimes.  I used it here.

If you’re not going to bake it right away, wait to add the breadcrumbs until just before baking.  Sometimes I put a little bit of my mac mixture into a small ramekin or two to keep in the fridge to bake another day.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

And, if your breadcrumbs don’t brown as much as you’d like by the time the sauce is bubbling nicely, then just broil it for a couple minutes.

As you can see from my photo, the Panko don’t brown as quickly or evenly as regular breadcrumbs.  But they’re still toasty, even the parts still light in color, so it still adds a nice crunch to the dish.

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Sausage and Gouda Mac & Cheese

So, here’s the path to yumminess:

Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

2 cups corkscrew pasta
2 to 4 sausage links
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 Tbs olive oil
5 Tbs butter, separated
3 Tbs flour
2 tsp pepper
3 cups whole milk
2 cups (8 oz.) apple smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onion and sausage and cook until onions are translucent and sausage is at least mostly cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and slice into 1/4 or 1/2 inch slices, and cut the slices in half. Return sausage to pan, adding extra olive oil if the pan is too dry, and cook until the pieces are well-browned on all sides. Drain on paper towels, removing any onions that have become too dark (or all of them if you only want the flavor of them in the meat).

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions. Also, in a small dish, melt the 2 Tbs butter and mix the panko into it. Set panko aside.

Melt 3 Tbs butter in a saucepot. Sprinkle flour over it and stir well to create a roux. Add pepper and stir for a minute to lessen the taste of the flour. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Return to heat and cook at medium high, stirring frequently, until just starting to boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, turn heat to low and stir in cheese. Stir until cheese is fully incorporated.

Stir the cooked pasta and sausage into the cheese sauce. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle the panko over the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more, or until sauce begins to bubble. If desired, you can broil it for 2 minutes to achieve a well-browned crust on the breadcrumb topping.

(Note: Dish can be stored in the fridge or freezer before baking. Let sit at room temp at least 30 mins from fridge before baking and add 10 mins to baking time. Do not add panko until ready to bake.)

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Print the FREE PDF of the recipe:  Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese

Enjoy!

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