Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken

So, almost immediately after pinning this awesome looking recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken, Tina commented on my pin with her rave reviews. I knew it looked good, but hearing how fabulous it was made it even more appealing. But what about this recipe made it so wonderful, when I hadn’t even tasted it?

Was it the combination of garlic and ginger? Honey and soy sauce? Toasted sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes? Or [gasp] even the ketchup and canola oil and onion?

I’m not sure. Does it even really matter, though? I’m not sure it does.

Simple ingredients come together to make something fantastic in this Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken. And the best part is that it only takes four hours to cook in the crock pot. [Side note: I despise calling a crock pot a “slow cooker.” It sounds so… ugh… to me. Hence the name change.]

Ben loves anything Asian-inspired, so you can be sure that this was a huge hit in our house. The flavors are just the right amount of sweetness and kick, but feel free to add more spice if that’s your thing. This is a must make, so if you’ve been thinking about it… go for it! Enjoy!

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken [adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff and Foodie with Family]
click to print


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • black pepper
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • hot cooked rice, for serving
  • steamed broccoli, for serving
  • sesame seeds, for serving


Season chicken thighs with black pepper and lay in bottom of crock pot.

In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, canola oil, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over chicken thighs and flip chicken to coat. Cook on low for 4 hours, then remove chicken to a plate.

In a second bowl, combine cornstarch with water until dissolved. Then pour into liquid in crock pot, return chicken, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until thick.

Break up chicken with two forks, then serve over hot cooked rice with steamed broccoli. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, then enjoy.

Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheese

It’s cold out there. If you want to warm up with soup,  why don’t you check out my healthy take on broccoli cheese soup over at Today’s Housewife? [Update: this recipe is now on my blog here!]

It’s cheesy good!

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Tangy Chicken Pasta

If there is one thing that joining a CSA has taught me about my culinary skills is that I am not well versed in cooking greens. Aside from the usual lettuce and spinach, I never really ate greens of any type growing up. No mustard greens, collard greens, or kale to speak of. In recent years I have had kale and mustard greens a time or two, but that’s about it. That’s why I was so excited about how one of my latest pasta dishes turned out.

It all started the night before our CSA pickup where I decided I had to use up some mustard greens, garlic, and lemon thyme that had been hanging around our fridge for the past six days. It was seriously getting ridiculous, so I just threw together a marinade for some chicken, closed my eyes and said a prayer, hoping for the best. You know how some combos are really, really bad? Well, this one was anything but.

My impromptu Tangy Chicken Pasta incorporates a double dose of lemon in fresh lemon thyme and lemon juice, as well as spicy black pepper, sweet garlic, and rich olive oil in the marinade. As the chicken cooked, I steamed the distinctively unique peppery mustard greens and cooked up a batch of noodles to serve as the vehicle for my tangy feast. At the end, I tossed in some broccoli florets as the pasta cooked to bump up the veggie content and mixed everything together with a pseudo lemon-balsamic reduction glaze.

The results? Incredible levels of flavor and depth. For best results, make and serve the same day, but if there are leftovers be sure to add some extra lemon-balsamic glaze to make the flavors pop once more. Enjoy!

Tangy Chicken Pasta
printable version


  • 1 pound chicken breasts, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed fresh lemon thyme, roughly chopped + more for garnishing
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups loosely packed mustard greens, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 pound small noodles, uncooked [I used mini farfarelle]


Whisk together 1/3 cup lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, lemon thyme, and black pepper in a small bowl or ziploc bag. Place [raw] chicken in mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes and no more than 24 hours to marinate.

When ready to prepare, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Pour chicken and marinade into skillet and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until each piece is cooked through. You could add additional olive oil, but I found it unnecessary due to the marinade. When chicken is cooked, remove to a large bowl, reserving liquid in pan.

While the chicken is cooking, set a third [yes, I know!] pot on the stovetop and fill with several inches of water and a steamer insert. Add mustard greens, cover, and heat to medium. Steam mustard greens until just tender. Remove from heat and spoon out into the bowl with the chicken.

After mustard greens are in the pot, turn back to the pasta water–it should be boiling by now. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. But… one minute before pasta should be done, add the broccoli to the water and blanch. Immediately remove from heat and drain well, then add to mustard greens and chicken. Toss well.

Lastly, pour 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar into the skillet where the chicken cooked. Over medium heat, stir constantly, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and pour over pasta mixture and toss to coat. Garnish with additional lemon thyme leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Main Dishes, Recipes, Tofu

Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

couscous saladSo, last Monday, January 10th, I began training for my second marathon. I’m running the Cleveland Marathon on May 15th [eeeek!]. I ran my first marathon, the Cincinnati Flying Pig, in May 2008 with a time of 4:07:27. While it was a great experience, I definitely have room for improvement. Over winter break, I worked hard on putting together a training schedule that would work with my schedule and provide me with challenging workouts so that I can run my best in May. I also made a few nutritional goals to help power me through to a great race.

  1. Cut out soda during my training week. My training schedule has me working out Monday-Saturday. I love Diet Coke and though I am not a huge soda drinker [usually I will drink a can 4-5 times/week], I know it’s not good for me. It’s easy for me to replace water with soda and to ensure that I drink enough water everyday, I decided to cut out soda during the week. After my long run on Saturdays [and on Sundays] I can drink some soda–provided I get enough water first! I used to do this during cross country and track seasons in high school and college and found it helpful.
  2. Eat protein at lunch. It can be really easy for me to just eat a lot of carbs for lunch [pasta or a bagel, anyone?] or to just eat a lot of side dishes. Consequently, I have resolved to make one special lunch entree each week that contains protein. So far, I have enjoyed new varieties of tuna and egg salad that I hope to post soon!
  3. Eat more veggies. I love eating fruit and I like eating veggies. But it’s easy for me to eat a lot of fruit because it’s sweet–I’ll even eat it as dessert sometimes. Veggies though? Not so much. You can only eat so many raw carrots. So I’ve decided to make our Mondays meatless! Yes, I know I’m jumping on the meatless Monday bandwagon pretty late, but eating a meatless meal one day per week is a) not that hard; b) forcing me to be a bit more creative; and c) pretty tasty. Here’s the latest!

bowl of couscousThis Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad is a great main dish for a lighter weeknight meal or a quick side dish that is nice enough for company. I love how bright and flavorful it turned out. The dressing definitely makes the salad go from bland to a-m-azing! Although I used broccoli and a pepper/onion mix, any vegetables could really be used, so pick and choose amongst your favorites. Tofu is a suggested addition to this salad and really does make it very filling; even my meat-lover of a husband agreed with that! Enjoy!

Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad [a Pajama Chef original]


  • 1 cup whole wheat coucous
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped peppers and onions [or fresh–all the peppers at the store looked blah so I used frozen]
  • 1 pound tofu, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes


If desired, begin by cooking the tofu. I like using Emily’s method at the Daily Garnish. Then, steam the broccoli and peppers/onion mix over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Finally, prepare couscous according to package directions [usually combine 2 cups of water and  1 cup of couscous; bring it all to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until water absorbs]. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Stir together olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Add the garlic, sesame, and chili flakes and whisk until emulsified.

Pour dressing into couscous and veggies in a slow steady stream, and then toss once more until dressing is fully incorporated. Serve warm.

Click here for the printable version: Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

Question of the Day: What goals are you shooting for this year?

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Broccoli

mac and cheese
homemade mac & cheese... and a colorful salad 🙂

Mac and cheese. This mainstream dish is truly a staple in the diet of American children [and adults… let’s be real here]. Many of us grew up eating this out of a blue box [hello, Kraft!] and then later enjoyed baked macaroni and cheese and wondered what we’d been missing all our lives. Well, at least that’s been my experience.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in class, outlining a meal plan in my head… whoops… and I began to wonder if I could create a stovetop mac and cheese that tastes just as good as Kraft’s, and just as good as baked mac and cheese, but without the processing and without the long baking time. I felt up to the challenge one night last week and embarked on a journey that has changed my perception of stovetop mac and cheese–forever. I hope it will change yours too!

This stovetop macaroni and cheese boasts a variety of flavors that meld together in mere minutes [scarcely more than it takes to make a box of Kraft] to make a rustic, home-cooked comfort dish, perfect for a relaxing night at home. The aged Wisconsin cheddar meets the sharpness of mustard, the spiciness of nutmeg, the richness of cream, and the tang of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to have a party in the pan… and then in your mouth. Just add some broccoli for texture and a boost of veggies, and a delicious dinner is ready in no time at all.

And in case you’re interested, and in need of some reading material, be sure to click here to read about the history of macaroni and cheese in America! It all began with Thomas Jefferson and his love of cheese and Italian food. This influenced American colonists’ meal preparation in the early days of limited food choice. In 1896, a recipe appeared for macaroni in cheese in the cookbook for the Boston Cooking School and by 1937, Kraft marketed a boxed version. Now, versions spring up all over America. Here’s the latest!

Stovetop Mac & Cheese with Broccoli


  • 1/2 pound small pasta [macaroni, mini penne, etc. I used mini bowties.]
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream [to lighten it up use half and half]
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • few dashes freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 small bunches broccoli, chopped into florets


In a large stock pot, prepare pasta according to package directions. [If you haven’t yet checked out these instructions for best pasta preparation, do it! They are so helpful!] Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, and mustard in a small bowl. In a separate pot or the microwave, steam broccoli for a few minutes, but don’t let it get completely tender as it will cook more in the pasta.

Once pasta is cooked and drained, toss butter with pasta until it melts. Then pour in egg mixture and stir to combine. Fold in cheese and broccoli, cover, and cook for about 3-4 minutes on low-medium heat or until cheese is melted. Top with freshly ground black pepper and enjoy!

Click here for the printable version: Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Question of the Day: Were you a Kraft kid? Are you still? I was. I think we tried other boxed mac & cheeses but nothing compared to the blue box! Now, I still like it occasionally but my tastes have changed somewhat.