Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

I have made slow-cooker pulled chicken sandwiches in the past but felt like they would be improved with slaw. This version fulfilled that wish! We ate them on soft potato rolls with chips. It was a wonderful, casual dinner that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful night.

This recipe was adapted from Just Cook It! 145 Built-to-be-Easy Recipes that are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. I used broccoli slaw as a base for the cole slaw topping and opted to not toast the rolls. With minimal preparation required in the morning, it’s a great dish to serve after a busy day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 8 to 10)
  • potato sandwich rolls, split, toasted if desired, for serving
  • slaw (recipe below), for serving

For the Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 12 ounces broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s) or Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage
  • 1 large Ruby Frost or Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 1 very firm Anjou or Bartlett pear, cored and juilienned
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Chicken:

  1. In a slow cooker, whisk together the apple cider, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and then season generously with salt and pepper.

To Make the Slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline set to 1/8″, julienne the apple and pear. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise by hand, if using.
  3. Add the fruit to the mayonnaise mixture, followed by the shredded cabbage/broccoli/Brussels sprouts.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Pile the pulled chicken on soft or toasted potato buns, top with slaw, and serve.

Note: The pulled chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Festive Sugar Cookie Bars

I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July celebration. 🙂

We had a very low-key day followed by a delicious meal prepared on the grill, in Fourth of July fashion. This fun dessert was a festive way to end the day! The meringue icing was incredibly thick and fluffy; the pattern could be easily modified to decorate for any occasion.

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. The cookies kept well for several days in the refrigerator.

Yield: 24 bars

For the Sugar Cookie Bars:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Meringue Icing (recipe follows)
  • red and blue paste food colorings

For the Meringue Icing:

  • 3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T meringue powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a half sheet pan (15×10-inch baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and coat the parchment with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add sugars; beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste.
  6. Beat in flour mixture. (Dough will be crumbly.)
  7. Pat dough firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile prepare Meringue Icing. In a large bowl beat Confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup water, the meringue powder, and cream of tartar with mixer on high 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
  9. Divide three 1/4-cup portions into small bowls. Cover remaining Meringue Icing to prevent drying out.
  10. Tint 1/4-cup portions with paste food coloring to make red, light blue, and dark blue. Transfer each to a small resealable (sandwich) plastic bag.
  11. Evenly spread remaining Meringue Icing onto cooled cookie.
  12. For firework “burst” design, snip a small corner from each pastry bag. Pipe concentric circles in different sizes with tinted colors. Pull a toothpick from center to outer edge to create the firework pattern; wipe or replace the toothpick between each pull. Repeat as desired.
  13. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or until icing sets. To store, cover loosely with foil and chill up to 3 days.

 

Strawberry Ice Cream

Speaking of strawberry cocktails… the added bonus of this amazing fresh strawberry ice cream is that the sweetened vodka-based macerating liquid makes a wonderful base for a celebratory summer cocktail. Nice! 🙂

The texture and color of this ice cream was absolutely incredible. It was the perfect use for my precious, freshly-picked strawberries. The ice cream recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; I included a recipe for the bonus cocktail below.

For the Ice Cream:

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (about 3 cups), plus 8 ounces more, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for macerating
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup vodka or silver tequila
  1. In a blender or Vitamix, puree halved strawberries with lemon juice and salt. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. (You should have 1 1/2 cups of puree; reserve any excess for another use.)
  2. Combine milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl set in an ice bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in strawberry puree. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  5. Stir together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vodka. Add chopped strawberries and macerate at room temperature at least 2 hours, or in the refrigerator, covered, up to 12 hours.
  6. Process puree mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. When it has the texture of soft serve, drain macerated berries (reserving syrup for another use) and fold into ice cream.
  7. Transfer to a loaf pan and freeze, wrapped in plastic, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.
  8. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

For the Bonus Cocktail:

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • fresh juice from 1/4 large lime
  • 3 oz strawberry-vodka-sugar macerating syrup
  • tonic (for a sweeter cocktail) or seltzer (less sweet), as desired
  1. Combine lime juice and macerated strawberry syrup in a glass.
  2. Fill with ice and top with tonic or seltzer, as desired.

The Union Square Strawberry Cocktail

I have so many delicious recipes just waiting to be shared. Before strawberry season is over, I must share new recipes that I tried with my fresh-picked berries this season.

This cocktail was the very first thing we prepared with our fresh strawberries. My husband made it for me on my birthday! ❤ The recipe was adapted from cocktails that New Amsterdam Gin named to honor modern-day landmarks in New York City, via The Spruce Eats.com. I plan to also try it using vodka instead of gin. Happy birthday to me! 😉

Yield: 1 cocktail

  1. Muddle strawberries with the basil until fully mashed in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add all other ingredients.
  3. Add ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. (We chilled the glass by filling it with ice while the cocktail was being prepared.)
  5. Garnish with half a strawberry, as desired.

Corn & Lobster Tart

What a lovely summer meal! After having sourdough baguette slices slathered with brie as an appetizer, we ate this flavorful tart and a green salad dressed with buttermilk-herb dressing for dinner. It could also be served as a special appetizer- perfect with a glass of rosé or white wine. We had fresh strawberry pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Eating pie for dinner and dessert was incredibly indulgent and fabulous… I would recommend it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Florence Fabricant. I used a Trader Joe’s pie crust as a shortcut. I also substituted 2 lobster tails for a whole lobster and used a Vidalia onion and parsley in the filling. Delicious.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • pastry for a 9-inch tart
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1½ cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon or parsley
  • pinch cayenne
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 1 1/4-pound lobster boiled or steamed, shucked and diced (I used 2 lobster tails (1 pound total weight)
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Roll out pastry between layers of plastic wrap or on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch straight-sided tart pan or a pie pan.
  3. Prick bottom, line with parchment and foil and add pastry weights.
  4. Bake 10 minutes, until pastry starts to look dry. Remove foil and weights and bake 5 or so minutes more, until pastry is lightly colored. Remove from oven but leave oven on.
  5. While the crust is par-baking, cook the lobster meat. I cooked the lobster tails in boiling, salted water for 8 minutes. (1 minute per ounce- each tail was about 1/2 pound.) When cool enough to handle, cut off the shell and coarsely dice the meat.
  6. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and cook on low until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in corn, tarragon or parsley and cayenne.
  8. Stir in milk. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  9. In a bowl, beat eggs and cream together and slowly stir into the pan.
  10. Add lobster. Stir in lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Ladle mixture into prepared tart shell. Bake 10 minutes.
  12. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 20 minutes more, until top is firm to the touch and very lightly browned, and a knife inserted in the filling comes out clean.
  13. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Clams Casino #2

What is happening!?!? This post is very belated. I made this appetizer to bring to my Clams Casino-loving friends’ house for the Fourth of July this summer… Well, I think I know what is happening! I am super behind on my blog posts, that is what is happening. :/ I’m happy to report that Littleneck Clams are still readily available! 🙂

I have made Clams Casino only one other time in the past. (to see the post click here) This new version has several modifications from the first. It omits the breadcrumbs (a selling point for me), keeps the clams whole, and includes pancetta instead of bacon. This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via Foodnetwork.com. I cleaned and cooked the clams as I had done in my previous dish. I also adjusted the amount of most of the ingredients and added strained clam juice to the filling. It’s a great appetizer for a crowd!

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces sliced pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • rounded 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 30 medium (2 1/2-inch) littleneck clams
  • lemon wedges for garnish, if desired

Note: The clams can be stored for a day in a bowl in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

  1. Begin by cleaning the clams. Rinse them thoroughly. Put them in a large bowl with very cold water, and stick the bowl in the refrigerator. This will give the clams the chance to spit out any sand or grit that may have gotten inside. After about 30 minutes (or up to an hour), drain the bowl of water, and refill with fresh cold water. Refrigerate. After the second soaking, scrub them with a kitchen brush.
  2. Cook the clams: Preheat the broiler to high (I set it to Broiler-Max, 500 degrees). Place the clams on a large, heavy baking sheet in a single layer. Place under the broiler, and broil for about 3 to 5, or until the clams have opened completely.
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and reserve the clam juice that has dripped into the pan. Strain the clam juice in a coffee filter to remove any bits of shell or grit. (I used 2-3 tablespoons of this strained clam juice in the filling.)
  4. Remove the clam from inside the shell with a spoon. Set aside.
  5. Gently twist the clam shell at the hinged side to separate the halves. Clean any remnants of clam from the shell with a knife. Reserve bottom shells.
  6. Make the Filling: Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a plate.
  7. Add the bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and oregano to the same skillet and saute until the shallots are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the wine and simmer until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  9. Remove the skillet from the heat and cool completely. Stir the reserved pancetta, 2 or 3 tablespoons of the strained clam juice, and 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese into the vegetable mixture. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  10. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  11. Line a heavy large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the clams in the reserved shells on the baking sheet. Spoon the vegetable mixture atop the clams, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of Parmesan.
  12. Bake until the clams are just cooked through and the topping is golden, about 10 minutes.
  13. Arrange the clams on the platter. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

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Fourth of July S’mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

IMG_4822

I love the 4th of July. Love fireworks. Love celebrating with friends. Love all-American desserts and an excuse to make them too! 🙂

This morning we ate breakfast outside listening to Pandora’s Patriotic station courtesy of my son. The music inspired my kids to come in and play patriotic music- my son on the cello and my daughter on the piano. Great! The celebration begins…

But now we may have a new July 4th tradition in my house… this dessert! A graham cracker crust topped with a rich Valrhona chocolate layer and then fluffy (and pretty!) marshmallow meringue- a genius upgrade of all-American s’mores! This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Cheryl and Griffith Day.

I’m sharing this deliciousness at Fiesta Friday #75‘s J & J show this week which I am co-hosting with Julie of Hostess at Heart. Happy Independence Day!!

Yield: 30 bars (or up to 60 bites!)


For the Crust:

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Brownie Filling:

  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 71% Cacao Dark Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (I put in a bowl of warm water)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the Meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection, if possible).
  2. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on two sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix all of the ingredients until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into 
the bottom of the prepared pan. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool completely. Leave the oven on.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In a heatproof medium bowl set over 
a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for about 22 minutes on convection or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven, until the edge is set but the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Meringue:

  1. Preheat the broiler, if using (I used a kitchen torch.).
  2. In a heatproof medium bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm.
  4. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat until lightly browned at the tips, about 1 minute. (or use a mini kitchen torch instead.)
  6. Cut into bars and serve.

Note: The bars can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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