Beer Braised Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

During the fall and winter months, it is so comforting at night to have a warm cooked meal on the table. The problem with that is we don’t always have the time to be in the kitchen for hours on the weeknight. This recipe helps bring both together by giving you a delicious meal that can be ready in less than 30 minutes. This is a fun Mexican spin on a traditional shredded chicken. The beer, limes, and dried chiles blend together for a tangy, citrusy chicken that has just a hint of heat. We love this recipes because there are endless options for how you can use this chicken. We put it in tacos, over salad, or even on a burger bun- you can truly incorporate this any way you would like. We have found through some trial and error that our favorite beer for this recipe is a lighter ale, specifically, Corona. The key to cooking with any alcohol is that if you like to drink it, you will likely enjoy eating it as well. So if you don’t like Corona, just swap it out for something that suits you.

Beer Braised Instant Pot Chicken

  • Servings: 6-8 for taco preparation
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A quick & easy recipe for shredded chicken that is perfect for tacos, enchiladas, and salads.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 dried guajillo chilis (these can be found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores)
  • 6 oz Corona Beer or another beer of your choosing
  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (~6 chicken thighs)
  • 1 lime, cut into segments

Directions

  1. Put the Instant Pot on the sauté setting and add the olive oil and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the salt, pepper cumin, chilis, beer, and limes to the pot and give everything a quick stir. Place the chicken breasts into the Instant Pot and try to submerge them in the liquid as much as possible. It’s ok if they are not fully submerged. Switch the Instant Pot setting to the Pressure Cook setting on High and set for 12 minutes.
  3. Use the quick release once the chicken has finished cooking. Use two large forks to shred the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve in tacos with rice and salad or in any other format you would like!


Semi-Homemade Vegan Burrito Bowls

Tuck’s dad watched the documentary “Game Changers” on Netflix a few weeks ago and has been trying to eat vegan as much as possible since. Inspired by our usual Chipotle order, we made these tofu burrito bowls. We love the taste and texture of the tofu – it is loaded with spices and crumbled to resemble taco meat.This recipe falls into the semi-homemade category because we have purchased a majority of the burrito bowl toppings pre-made at the grocery store. We have included a recipe for the black bean and corn salsa, but you can purchase a similar product at the grocery store if you want to skip that step as well. Thanks to these grocery store helpers, this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes and is a healthy, filling recipe for a weeknight dinner. 

Semi-Homemade Vegan Burrito Bowls 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients for the Burrito Bowls: 

  • 1 box firm tofu
  • 1 packet taco seasoning 
  • 1 package cilantro lime Right Rice (can sub pre-cooked brown rice) 
  • pico de gallo 
  • guacamole (you can use our recipe or buy it pre-made from the store!)

Ingredients for the Corn & Black Bean Salsa 

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1 large ear of corn, kernels removed 
  • juice of 2 limes 
  • 1/4 red onion, diced 
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Remove the tofu from its packaging and drain any excess water. Use paper towel or a kitchen towel to press the tofu and remove as much liquid from it as you can. Crumble the tofu and put it onto a cookie sheet, sprayed with cooking spray. Season the tofu well with taco seasoning, using your hands to coat well. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it is crispy but not dry. 
  3. While the tofu is cooking, cook the Right Rice according to package directions. It will take about 12 minutes to cook once you bring the water to a boil. 
  4. While the Right Rice is cooking, make the black bean and corn salsa. Gently mix all of the ingredients in the salsa (black beans – cumin) together in a large mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  5. Assemble the burrito bowls. Divide the Right Rice, tofu, and black bean salsa evenly amongst four bowls. Top with guacamole, pico de gallo, and any of your other favorite taco bowl ingredients. 

Almond Butter & Berry Smoothie

We are still on the smoothie train and love having a little something sweet to look forward to in the morning when it’s time for breakfast. This Almond Butter & Berry Smoothie is one of our favorites. We blend a mix of chia seeds and flax seeds into the smoothie which makes it thick and gives it the smoothie a great texture. It is packed with antioxidants, protein, and fiber- the perfect way to start the morning!

Almond Butter Berry Smoothie 
Makes: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes    Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries 
  • 1 tbs flax seeds
  • 1 tbs chia seeds  
  • 1 heaping tbs almond butter (peanut butter is fine too) 
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder 
  • 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice) 
  • granola, for topping (optional) 

Directions: 

  1. Place all of the smoothie ingredients (frozen berries – almond milk) in a blender and blend until smooth. Top with a few spoonfuls of granola, if you wish, for serving. Enjoy immediately. 

Skillet Lemon Chicken

Tuck’s dad was called up to the Marlins this week and our whole family immediately gathered to watch him play Wednesday night. On nights like this – where we are unexpectedly entertaining – we love the ease of cooking a recipe in one pan. We made this skillet chicken using the base for a traditional gravy and adding lots of lemon and capers to keep the taste fresh. This recipe is hearty and flavorful and can be served with just about anything on the side that you already have in your kitchen. 

Skillet Lemon Chicken 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes     Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 8 – 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare your station for browning the chicken getting one bowl and one medium plate. Scramble the eggs in the bowl and set aside. Combine one cup of the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and stir to combine. 
  3. In a deep (2 inch) skillet, add the canola oil and heat on medium over the stove top. Using one hand for wet ingredients and one hand for dry ingredients, coat the chicken in the flour, the egg and then back in the flour. Place the chicken thighs in the pan and brown on both sides (roughly 3 minutes per side). You do not need to cook the chicken all the way through. Set aside on a plate and drain any excess oil from the pan. 
  4. Add the butter to the pan until it is fully melted. Using a whisk, add the 1/4 cup of flour and whisk until a thick paste is made. You may get some brown bits from the chicken – this is OK. 
  5. Continue whisking while you add the chicken stock one cup at a time. The chicken stock will start to thicken. Once it does, add the next cup and repeat until all four cups have been added. Whisk in the lemon juice and capers and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Add the chicken back into the skillet and be sure that all pieces are covered with the lemon sauce. Place the skillet into the oven for 15 minutes or until the chicken thighs are cooked completely through. 
  7. Top with parsley and serve immediately. 

Crispy Chickpea Grain Bowls

Tuck’s family has been on the road for about six weeks now, moving apartments every two weeks because baseball season likes to keep us on our toes! Part of the challenge of “settling” somewhere, even though we don’t know how long we are staying for, is buying the correct amount of groceries. If we buy too much we might have to throw away perfectly good food that just won’t make the drive. If we buy too little we are eating out every meal which gets expensive and old after a few days. 

To try and balance out these problems we try to make meals that mix the perfect amount of fresh ingredients with pantry ingredients that we have on hand. This grain bowl uses farro and chickpeas from the pantry and arugula, onion, and parmesan cheese to freshen things up. We’ve tossed the bowl ingredients with a creamy, garlicky lemon vinaigrette that gives some zing to ingredients that seem a little plain on the outside. What started as a solution to a packing problem is now a bowl we will have on repeat all summer long. 

Crispy Chickpea Grain Bowl 
Makes: 2 entree servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients For The Salad: 

  • 1 cup uncooked farro 
  • 4 cups lightly packed arugula 
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, cut into thin chunks  

Ingredients For The Chickpeas: 

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  • 3 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients For The Dressing: 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbs mayo 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a medium pot with 2+ cups water. Cook the farro according to package directions (anywhere from 10-30 minutes). If you have excess water, drain the farro and fluff it with a fork to cool it down. 
  2. While the farro is cooking make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and mayo in a small mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. If you are making the salad in advance refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to use. 
  3. After the dressing make the chickpeas. Make sure the chickpeas are drained and rinsed well. Gently pat them dry with paper towel or kitchen towel. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the 3 tbs olive oil and let it get hot before adding the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas, cumin, garlic powder, and red chili flakes. Season the chickpeas with salt and pepper and give everything a good toss to coat. Cook the chickpeas for about 5 minutes- they should be crispy but not rock hard. Remove the chickpeas from the pan onto a paper towel to keep them crispy and drain any excess oil. 
  4. Once all of the ingredients are prepped it’s time to make the bowl! Layer about 3/4 cup of farrow and 2 cups of arugula into each of two bowls. Add a bit of the dressing and toss. Top the bowl with the chickpeas, red onion, parmesan cheese, and the rest of the dressing. Serve immediately. 

Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad

After two weeks of living together in quarantine, we have come up with a pretty good system for meal planning. While it might seems a little OCD to plan out lunches and dinners every day for four adults, it actually helps cut back on food waste and helps us buy the minimum amount of groceries that we need every week. Cooking over 14 meals a week has its challenges, and by Thursday and Friday we are looking to be creative in the kitchen with minimal effort. In the last two weeks we have resorted to a number of semi-homemade meals, particularly for lunches. 

For this semi-homemade Monday, we have taken a regular old caesar salad bag and transformed it into a complete meal. We have given it a southwest twist by adding corn, tomatoes, black beans, and blackened chicken. To give the dressing its own makeover, we have blended a chipotle in adobo into the pre-made caesar dressing that came in the salad bag. Instead of a boring salad that would have us hungry in an hour, we created a complete meal that satisfies us until dinner. 

Semi-Homemade Southwest Caesar Salad 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes   Total Time: 40 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 chicken thighs 
  • 1 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tbs garlic powder 
  • 1 tbs paprika 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 large caesar salad bag (we bought ours from Costco so it was quite large) 
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1 cup corn (frozen works great just make sure it is thawed) 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 4 scallions, chopped 
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced (if you don’t have any, substitute Cholula or any hot sauce)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Heat a large, oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Let the pan get nice and hot before adding the olive oil to the pan. 
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook the chicken for 5 minutes per side. If you are using skin-on chicken, make sure the chicken is skin side down in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the chicken juices are clear and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. While the chicken is cooking prepare the remaining ingredients. Layer the romaine from the salad bag, the cherry tomatoes, black beans, and scallions in each of four salad bowls. Reserve the corn for later. 
  5. Use the chipotle in adobo or hot sauce to kick up the caesar. Add as much of either to get to your desired spice level. 
  6. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove the chicken from the pan and set onto a cutting board to rest. Put the frozen corn into the same pot and toss it in the juices to give it some flavor. 
  7. Add the corn and a piece of chicken to each of the salads. Top with the dressing, parmesan cheese, and croutons from the salad bag. Serve immediately. 

Semi-Homemade Chicken Shawarma Bowls

We have decided to start a new series on the blog for those nights when you want to get a good dinner on the table but are short on time. Even those of us that love to cook and entertain have those days where spending even an hour in the kitchen is too much. “Semi Homemade Mondays” are meals that combine a few pre-made ingredients from the store and a simple homemade addition to reduce your overall cooking time but still have a balanced meal for dinner. For this first Semi-Homemade Monday we have made Chicken Shawarma Bowls by using chicken shawarma, hummus, and pitas from Trader Joe’s. We’ve added cooked quinoa and an easy cucumber tomato salad to complete the meal and have dinner on the table in less than 25 minutes. 

Semi-Homemade Chicken Shawarma Bowls 
Makes: 4 servings 
Total Time: 25 minutes 

Ingredients for Bowl: 

  • 1 package (1.5 lbs) Trader Joe’s Chicken Shawarma 
  • 1 container hummus 
  • 1 package pitas, warmed for a few minutes in the oven 
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa 

Ingredients for Cucumber Tomato Salad 

  • 1 cucumber, ends removed, cut in half horizontally, and sliced 
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 2 tbs fresh dill, minced 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 3 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees**. 
  2. Lay the chicken in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the thighs are cooked through and the juices are clear. 
  3. While the chicken is cooking, pour 3 cups of water into a medium pot. Add the quinoa, bring the water to a boil, and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has popped. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. To make the cucumber salad, combine the remaining ingredients (cucumbers – red wine vinegar) in a small bowl. Gently toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. 
  5. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before slicing. 
  6. Assemble each bowl with a swipe of hummus, about 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup quinoa, the sliced chicken shawarma, and a good helping of tomato cucumber salad. Serve with warm pitas for the ultimate semi-homemade dinner. 

** This chicken is great on the grill too- the char from the grill is addicting! Cook for about 6 minutes per side on a hot grill, or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through. 


Strawberry Coconut Overnight Oats

One of our biggest challenges when getting out the door in the morning is making sure that we are put together and fed before starting the work day. The. Struggle. Is. Real. To combat the “Sunday scaries” and make the weekday mornings easier, we put together this quick and easy overnight oats recipe. After 10 minutes in the kitchen on a Sunday we have a full week of breakfasts ready to go in the refrigerator. 

We love this base recipe for overnight oats. Flax seeds give the oats protein and fiber while the chia seeds add antioxidants and omega-3s. We chose to make these strawberry and coconut flavored with spring on the way, but the base recipe lends itself to nearly any flavor profile you can think of. Feel free to add some toppings like additional strawberries, coconut, and hemp seeds as we have in these photos if you want to feel extra fancy on a weekday morning. We, however, will be slamming them down in the car while attempting to put on makeup and get to work on time. 

Strawberry Coconut Overnight Oats
Makes: 5- 8 oz servings 
Prep Time: 10 minutes     Inactive Time: 24 hours 

Ingredients: 

  • 5 – 8 oz mason jars or travel containers 
  • 1 1/3 cups instant oats 
  • 3 cups coconut beverage (almond milk or any dairy item will work)
  • 2 tbs honey or agave 
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds 
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut 
  • 6 strawberries, stems removed and sliced 

Directions: 

  1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir well to make sure everything is combined. 
  2. Carefully pour the oatmeal mix into each of the five mason jars- they will be almost all of the way full. Seal each with a lid and place in the refrigerator. 
  3. Refrigerate overnight and serve chilled, with additional toppings if you desire. The oats are good for up to five days in the refrigerator.