Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cake

I don't know why, but for the longest time I was incredibly intimidated by molten cakes. Then I saw this recipe in a magazine, and it looked so unbelievably simple. So, even though I had the wrong size ramekins, I went about making them and I've never regretted that decision.

I seriously make this desert at least once a week. For something so rich, that probably sounds excessive, and yes, it probably is. But I can't help myself. It's my favorite desert.

I make my cakes in ramekins that are the perfect size for sharing. You can also make them in custard cups for individual molten cakes too. Or you may want to keep the sharing size cake all for yourself.

I won't judge.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
adapted from Real Simple Magazine

makes 2 ramekin size or 4 custard size cakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1Tbsp. red wine, preferably cabernet
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
6 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves, optional

In a medium microwave safe bowl heat butter and chocolate on high power for 1 minute or until the butter in completely melted. Whisk until smooth.

Add confectioners' sugar followed by vanilla and wine. Whisk until combined. Whisk in eggs and yolk until smooth.

In a small bowl, combine flour and spices. Stir into the batter until smooth. Divide batter evenly between two greased ramekins or four greased custard cups.

Bake at 425 for 20-22 minutes for the ramekins or 13-15 minutes for the custard cups, until the edges are firm but the center is still soft. Allow to cool for ten minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

The One and Only Pie Crust

My first memories of cooking are in my Nana's kitchen at my grandparent's ranch in the mountains of Northern California. We made cookies and fudge and cobblers and all sorts of treats, but most importantly we made pie.

We made blackberry pie using the blackberries we picked from the wild bushes near the creek bed or apple pies from the apple tree in the yard or strawberry-rhubarb pie from the summer harvest in the garden down by the lake.

My Nana makes some amazing pie. 

And thanks to her, so do I.

She makes an awesome pie crust, but truth be told I've never been able to master it. She does it by eye and feel, rarely using exact measurements. I can make her pie crust but it's never as good. 

So I spent a long time searching for the perfect crust recipe. For a long time I used Serendipity's pie crust recipe, which is awesome but, like many pie crusts, needs to have very cold ingredients and must be made very quickly so it doesn't become tough. In my perpetually warm kitchen, that's tough potatoes.

Then, I came across Cooks Illustrated pie crust recipe. I was skeptical at first because it was all made in a food processor (which I did not have at the time) and, here's the kicker, it had vodka in it. I'd never heard of such a thing. It seemed so...wrong. But let me tell you, once you try this pie crust there is no going back.

The alcohol cooks off when the pie is baked, so no one will guess its in there if you don't tell them. It also allows you to work the dough as much as you need to without it becoming tough. It has plenty of liquid to keep the dough pliable, you can flour it as much as necessary, you can even rework it if something goes wrong after the dough is rolled. It's magically simple and turns out great. Every. Single. Time. 

I use it for every pie I make: lemon meringue, pumpkin, apple and of course blackberry (which I still made with blackberries from the creek bed every year). 

Give it a try won't you?

 Cut up your cold butter and shortening

 Mix with a pastry cutter until it looks like this, no flour and big clumps.
 Add some more flour and mix until lumpy like this.
 Sprinkle on some vodka and water and fold it in to form a nice tacky dough
Then you divide it into two discs and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

Double-Crust Pie Dough
adapted from Cooks Illustrated

2 1/2 c. flour, divided
1 tsp. table salt 
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed*
1/2 c. shortening, cold and cubed
1/4 c. cold water
1/4 c. vodka

Mix 1 1/2 c. flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter until a homogenous dough forms uneven clumps and the flour is completely mixed in. Add the remaining cup of flour and mix until even, pea-sized lumps form. Sprinkle dough with water and vodka. Fold to mix. Dough should be tacky (I know, crazy, right?). Separate into two even discs and refrigerate 45 minutes or up to 24 hours. Dough can also be frozen at this point, just thaw in the refrigerator until ready to use. Roll dough out using plenty of flour. Makes a double crust for a 9-10"  pie or two single crust pies.

To bake a single pie crust: poke holes in the bottom with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.

*The butter in this recipe can be completely substituted with shortening with great results. My father-in-law is lactose intolerant so I often make my Thanksgiving pies this way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Penne Alla Vodka

So, this is most definitely one of my favorite dishes in the world.
Place it in front of me at any time and I will devour it.
(then promptly get myself another bowl)

It’s rich and creamy and comforting.

Basically, it’s perfection.

I had a sudden urge to make this when something else was on the menu and sent my husband out into the night to buy vodka just so I could have this dish. Thank God there is no last call in Nevada. Because sometimes, this pasta just can't wait. It is totally that good. 

I urge you to seriously consider putting all other plans on hold, going forth into the night (or morning, or afternoon, whatever) to find vodka and make this dish right NOW.

Penne Alla Vodka
adapted from Cooks Illustrated Best-Ever Recipes (December 2010)

makes 4-6 servings

1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes*
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup minced onion
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. sea salt, plus more for finishing
1/3 cup vodka (it doesn’t have to be Grey Goose, but it shouldn’t come in a plastic bottle)
½ cup heavy cream
1 pound penne
2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is light golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes and salt. Remove from heat to add the vodka. Cook over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavor has cooked off, about 8 to 10 minutes. (You can lower the heat if the simmering becomes too vigorous and messy). Stir in the heavy cream and cook until hot, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until almost al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water before draining pasta and returning to pot. Stir in the sauce and toss to combine. Add reserved water as necessary to achieve a good consistency (I almost never need to use the cooking water). Stir in the basil and season with additional salt to taste (sometimes I also add a bit of freshly ground black pepper to finish the dish). Serve with plenty of fresh grated parmesan.

*The original recipe calls for a can of whole tomatoes, draining them, pureeing some of them and chopping some of them and adding liquid back in to achieve some extraordinary tomato sauce…I’ve been there and done that and let me tell you, crushed tomatoes are not only a million times easier, but they make the consistency of the sauce better too.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

This recipe sort of speaks for itself. It's spinach artichoke dip, I mean, who doesn't love it? It's my most requested appetizer for parties and movie nights. It's spectacular.

Once you try this you'll never go back to store bought again.

Seriously, I could eat this stuff with a spoon (and occasionally I do). But it's great to have with tortilla chips or my personal favorite, a loaf of homemade french bread. Yes, the whole loaf...don't question me.

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
a Gemma Louise Original Recipe

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup shredded parmesan, divided
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
15 oz. canned artichokes, drained and chopped
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot sauce
¼ tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

 Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add in sour cream and mayo and beat until combined. Stir in mozzarella and ¼ cup of parmesan.

Wring out spinach in a towel until mostly dry. Add spinach and artichokes to creamed mixture. Season with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Spread into a shallow gratin dish and even out with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of parmesan and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes until slightly brown around the edges. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Torte

I’m getting fancy with you today.

I bring you the White Chocolate Raspberry Torte.

It’s my special occasion cake. The newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Laster stopped by last night and since we’ve owed them dinner since…um…when I hadn’t yet found out the sex of my baby who is now eight months old, they deserved a spectacular cake.

And this cake is a showstopper, in my opinion. The white chocolate in both the cake and frosting make it rich, while the raspberry filling offsets that with its tangy sweetness. The frosting is super light and airy thanks to…wait for it…Cool Whip.

A little ghetto-fabulous, you say? Try it.




This cake takes a while to prepare, but it’s well worth the effort. If you have a stand mixer, it’s really quite easy. (Sometimes I don’t know how I lived without that thing, I swear.) So whenever you’re feeling fancy too, give this cake a try. It will not disappoint.

White Chocolate Raspberry Torte
adapted from Taste of Home Magazine (December/January 2010)

For the Cake:
¾ cups butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup white chocolate (use Guittard…always, for everything), melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk

For the Filling:
12 oz. fresh or frozen raspberries
¾ cup water
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch

For the Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup white chocolate, melted and cooled
½ tsp. vanilla
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed

Fresh Raspberries for garnish, optional

For the Cake:
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in melted chips and vanilla. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda; beat into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk (starting and ending with flour).

Divide batter evenly between two buttered and floured 9 inch cake pans (I recommend Calphalon, they are heavy duty and cook so evenly. I use them for all my baking needs). Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Once cooled, take a serrated knife and even out the cakes by cutting off the top (crusty) layer. This is best done on a cake turntable where you simply hold the knife parallel as you turn your cake, but you can make it work without on as well. Once the cakes are even, brush off any crumbs, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.

For the Filling:
In a small saucepan, bring the raspberries and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain raspberry mixture through a fine sieve and discard the seeds. You should be left with about 1 ½ cups of liquid. Let cool.

In the same saucepan, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Pour in cooled raspberry liquid and cook over medium heat until boiling. Stir while boiling for 2 minutes, until considerably thickened. Cool completely. Spread between cake layers (cut sides should hold filling) and refrigerate until ready to frost.

For the Frosting:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in melted chips and vanilla; fold in whipped topping. Take a small amount of frosting and go over the top and sides of the cake to hold down any crumbs, refrigerate until set. Generously frost tops and sides of the cake. Pipe frosting around edges and garnish with fresh berries if desired.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Simple French Bread

I love making bread. It fills the house with the best smell. I can’t wait until fall; I think that is when warm, fresh bread is the most comforting. When the air is nippy and the oven keeps the house warm. Mmmm.

Baking bread in 100° weather is worth it, but my goodness you better have a jug of ice water nearby.

This is a favorite bread recipe of mine. My first bread recipe actually. My Nana used to make it all the time when I was just learning to cook. It holds good memories. Like the time our dog Murphy ate a ball of dough rising out on the porch and just lay out (a black lab mind you!) expanding in the afternoon sun. (By the way, that dog ate everything and was perfectly fine the next day)

So back to the bread. It is so incredibly simple, it doesn’t even require kneading! It requires minimal hands-on time and only bakes for around 20 minutes in the oven. Plus it makes two loaves and freezes incredibly well.

Need I persuade you more?
…okay then…
It’s delicious and crusty too. 

Oh yeah, and it fills the house with that fresh bread smell that you just can’t get enough of.

Simple French Bread
from Taste of Home Annual Recipes (2000)

makes 2 loaves

1 package active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. shortening, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water. Add sugar, salt, shortening and remaining water and whisk until combined. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir until smooth.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Let rest for ten minutes.

Roll each portion of dough into a 10 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Roll up from a long side and pinch to seal. Place loaves seam side down on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Before baking, take a sharp knife and make five diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thin Crust Cheese Pizza

This pizza is bomb.

It is seriously the best homemade pizza ever. I found it on Annie's Eats, my favorite food blog of all time. I am such a fan of thin crust pizza and this has become my go-to recipe. I love everything about it.

The perfect, easy to make crust. 

The delicious homemade pizza sauce.

The slightly browned, bubbly cheese.
I also love it as a quick weeknight meal. I make the dough (sometimes a double batch) and sauce in advance and freeze it. Whenever I want a pizza I just thaw out the dough and sauce, grate up some cheese and dinner is on the table with about as much effort as making ramen noodles.

But way, WAY better.

Thin Crust Cheese Pizza
adapted from Annie's Eats

Makes 2 Pizzas

For the crust:
3 c. bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 c. ice water
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. salt

For the sauce*:
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

For topping:
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded whole-milk mozzarella

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the machine running on low speed, add the ice water until fully incorporated.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add the oil and salt to the dough.  Process until the dough forms a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (After the period of refrigeration, the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for later use.)

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use. (This makes way more sauce than you'll need for the two pizzas, but it freezes well so hang on to it!)

Preheat the oven to 500˚ F.  Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half.  (If you plan to freeze a portion of the dough, this is the time to wrap in plastic, place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.) Form each half into a ball and place on two lightly oiled 12 inch pizza pans. Spray the dough balls lightly with cookies spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

To assemble the pizza, use your hands to gently stretch the dough to a 12-inch circle. Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with olive oil.  Spread ½ cup of the pizza sauce over the dough.  Sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Doughnut Muffins

Glorious. That is what these muffins are.
Do not be fooled by their muffin shape. 
These taste like giant cake doughnut holes.

Oh, and by the way, they are super-duper easy.

I'm pretty sure they're like the best kept secret in breakfast foods.
Aside from bacon of course...but that's no secret.

 I'm sure they would be great all golden delicious like this.

 But I'm all about rolling them in powdered sugar...

...or brushing them with butter and rolling them in cinnamon sugar

Or both. Why not?

Serve these warm, and they are simply heaven. The cinnamon sugar ones are reminiscent of Trish's Mini Doughnuts on Pier 39. They fill the kitchen with that warm, comforting fresh doughnut smell. They are a must try. Seriously, you should drop what you're doing and make them right now. You won't regret it.

Doughnut Muffins
adapted from Mac & Cheese Review
makes 1 dozen

For Muffins:
3/4 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For Topping:
2 Tbs. butter, melted
Confectioners' sugar & cinnamon sugar for rolling

Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and egg on medium-high until fluffy and light in color, about 1-2 minutes. Add vegetable oil, milk and vanilla; stir to combine.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to sugar mixture and stir until just combined.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Run a knife around any that are sticking, let cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool for additional 10 minutes.

For powdered sugar muffins, simply roll in sugar until coated, shake off excess.

For cinnamon sugar muffins, brush with butter then roll in cinnamon sugar.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rustic Tomato Tart

This has recently become one of my favorite meals. It's hearty, it's beautiful and it's vegetarian. Which is why I could not help but make it for dinner when our vegetarian friends came over last night (only to find out they eat meat as of this week, go figure). I stand by my choice. It's a show stopper, but honestly, it's easy and quick enough for a weeknight meal.

I was a little intimidated when I first saw it on Monica's Blog, mainly because of the tart crust. It looked so pretty and finicky, but let me tell you it isn't! This dish has become a regular on the menu rotation already. It is that good.

So, let's get to it. You make the tart crust, pretty simple stuff. Roll it out into a 13-14 inch circle on a pie board (or other lightly floured work surface) then transfer to a greased 14 inch pizza stone or pan.

Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard within 1 1/2 inches of the edge. This is what makes the tart, I swear, that flavor is just amazing. Oh yeah, and the flaky tart crust, mmm.

Lay out your tomatoes in a single layer over the mustard.

Then sprinkle with minced garlic, sea salt, fresh pepper and dried herbs.

Top with mozzarella and finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan and more herbs.
Fold the edges of your tart crust up and over the filling. Just pinch the dough so it overlaps as you go around. The tart dough is easy to work with, and it doesn't have to look perfect.

Bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Let it cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

It tastes even better than it looks. Seriously, don't wait around to try this. It's so easy and wonderful (plus the ingredients are pretty cheap and you probably already have most of them on hand). You have no excuses. Make this tonight!

Rustic Tomato Tart
adapted from Lick the Bowl Good

For the crust:
1 1/2 c. flour
4 Tbs. butter, cold, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg
3-4 Tbs. cold water

For the filling:
3-4 Tbs. Dijon mustard
5 Roma tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. Italian mix dried herbs
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
8 oz. grated mozzarella
1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425

For the crust, whisk together the salt and flour. Cut in butter until it has a cornmeal consistency. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 2 Tbs. cold water. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour in egg mixture. Mix until a non-sticky dough forms, adding 1 Tbs. water. If dough is too dry, add additional water 1 tsp. at a time.

Knead dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough out to a 13-14" circle then transfer to a greased 14" pizza pan or pizza stone. 

For the filling, spread mustard in a thin layer over crust within 1 1/2" of the edge. Slice tomatoes and arrange in a single layer over crust. Sprinkle with minced garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt, pepper and dried herbs over the tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and finish with Parmesan and a sprinkle of additional herbs.
Bring the crust over the filling, working in a circle while pinching to fold edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is brown and bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, August 19, 2011

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Are you ready for heaven in your mouth? If not, it's time to find something else to read.

Cooks Illustrated has once again found a desert worthy of the utmost praise. This crumb cake is delicious and unlike anything I've ever had. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just another coffee cake. As they aptly explain, there is a big difference between your basic struesel topped coffee cake and this distinctive bad boy of German origin. This cake is all about the crumb topping, formed by hand, much of which settles down into the cake as it cooks resulting in pure crumbly-cakey joy in your mouth.

Can I just say, this makes an excellent non-balanced breakfast.
 FYI: I know my food photography is below par, I'm working on it. Soon these images will look far more mouthwatering. Soon...

New York-Style Crumb Cake
adapted from Cooks Illustrated "Best-Ever Recipes" Dec. 2010

Crumb Topping:
1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter (still warm)
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. cake flour*

1 1/4 c. cake flour*
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) butter, cut and slightly softened
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

For the topping, whisk together the butter, sugars, cinnamon and salt; then stir in the flour until a cohesive dough forms. Set aside to cool while you make the cake.

Heat the oven to 325 and prepare an 8"x8" baking pan by lining it with foil (allow some to hang over the side so you can lift the cake out later) and spraying with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and mix with a hand-held mixer until the mixture has a moist cornmeal-like consistency and no chunks of butter remain. Add the buttermilk, egg, yolk and vanilla and beat on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Pour the batter into prepared pan and even out with a spatula.

Form the topping by taking the cooled crumb dough and forming large pea-sized crumbs using your thumb and forefinger (this process takes a while, but fear not, it will be worth it). Scatter evenly over prepared batter, working from the outer edges in. Don't weigh down the middle of your cake with too much crumb topping or it will sink.

Bake until the crumb topping is golden and a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Lift the foil sling to remove from the baking pan. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.

*Use cake flour, not all-purpose flour, for this recipe. It will make a huge difference in the texture of the cake and will make the crumb topping more difficult to work with.

Barbeque Pulled Chicken

Lately, I've been cooking a lot.
I mean A LOT.
And I feel like I should share it with you.
I think, I'm becoming a food blog...mostly.

So let start things off on a deliciously easy note, shall we? The in-laws have once again killed a bunch of chickens, resulting in a freezer full of chicken for us. They're rather tough, making them perfect for crock-pot recipes. After searching the blogosphere, I found a few that look like definite winners. Stay tuned for many more delicious crock-pot chicken recipes I'll be trying in the next few months.

This first one caught my eye immediately because a.) it was smothered in BBQ sauce b.) it only has two ingredients c.) it is one of the easiest looking dishes EVER. Say it with me, won't you, Barbeque Pulled Chicken. Doesn't it sound amazing? I am a huge fan of pulled pork so this was the first of the chicken recipes to hit my test kitchen.

First things first, cut up your chicken into manageable pieces. Throw it into the crock-pot and smother it with a whole bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook it on the low setting for 3-4 hours (until it is cooked through and tender).

Take out your chicken chunks and let them cool slightly.
They should be all saucy and delicious looking...
 ...but don't eat them yet like I almost did.
Take the chicken off the bones and place in a large bowl.

Shred the chicken in a bowl using two forks 
(or your hands, who I am I kidding, that 's what I did)

Put it back in the crock-pot and stir it around in all that sauce.
Mmm...much better.
Let it cook for a couple hours longer so it soaks up even more saucy goodness.
Slap that on some hamburger buns and serve with fries. 
Dinner is served, my friends.

Barbeque Pulled Chicken 
adapted from Lick the Bowl Good

18 oz. bottle of your favorite Barbeque Sauce
1 small (3-5lb) chicken, cut into pieces

Place chicken in crock-pot and cover with barbeque sauce. Cook on low setting for 3-4 hours until cooked through and tender.

Remove chicken from crock-pot and allow to cool slightly, until able to handle. Pull the chicken meat off the bones and place in a large bowl. Using two forks (or your hands) shred the chicken.

Return chicken to the crock-pot and allow to cook for an additional 2 hours.

Serve on hamburger buns. 

Note: in the original version this recipe uses four boneless skinless chicken breasts, so that's fine and dandy if you don't have whole chicken lying around in your freezer, but I must say I can't imagine this recipe being quite as good without all that juicy dark meat. Yum!
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