Wow. The first week of school is no joke, n'est pas? My butt is officially whipped. Getting up early after a summer of sleeping in, agonizing over still-too-late bedtimes, squeezing in football practices and gymnastics lessons, keeping track of new schedules, new start times, new teachers, new, new, new. It's a lot. It's possible at this point I have more adrenaline pulsating through my body than blood. I need to grab an energy drink to calm down.
Corey was home this week (thank you Jesus) so I originally intended to cook dinner every night. Then the real world walked up to me, slapped me across the face and said, "Bwhahahahahaha!" And lo, the real world speaks truth. I wasn't even home at the dinner hour most nights this week, much less have energy to invest in a from-scratch meal.
Time to dig out the slow cooker from its summer home behind the ice cream maker and ice crusher. I resisted the Crock-Pot for years, because as a SAHM, I can make most slow cooker meals in my oven. Braising is braising is braising. And in the winter, it's nice to have my oven on low for half the day, making the kitchen warm and toasty and filling the house with good smells. But I will admit: the slow cooker is a wonderful tool, especially for days when the schedule is jammed. And it's especially wonderful in the early fall, when the outside temps are still in the 80s and I don't really want my oven on for half the day.
This meal is one of my all-time favorites for the slow cooker because it's so easy (seriously: 7 ingredients) and it's kid friendly and it can morph into so many different dishes. Tacos, taco salad, nachos, quesadillas, burritos. I bet you could even send this as a school lunch, if you filled a thermos with warmed meat. Imagine your child bringing a make-your-own-taco kit to the cafeteria. Take that, Lunchables.
Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
adapted from Everyday Food
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 tsp jarred minced garlic
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1. Put chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker crock. Top with remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
2. Cover. Cook on low for 8 hours, high for 4 hours. Shred with fork and serve alongside your favorite taco fixings, such as rice and beans, limes, cilantro, cheese, salsa, guacamole or avocados. Hard shell or soft shell? Your choice.
1. You can easily double or even triple this recipe. I do it all the time. I buy the 3 pack of organic chicken thighs at Costco and make enough so I can freeze shredded chicken for crazy days.
2. Chicken thighs are disgusting. They are at the top of my Least Favorite Things list. I don't like dark meat, I don't like the extra fat, I don't like the way they squish. I usually subsitute chicken breasts in recipes that call for chicken thighs. But that would be a travesty in this recipe. Take my advice and use the chicken thighs, at least once. They add flavor, tenderness and maybe even fat to this dish and they really can't be traded out.
3. This dish looks disguesting when you first mix it up.
See? (Warning: DO NOT PIN THAT PHOTO!) Do not be swayed. I promise that mess will taste amazing in just a few hours.