Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Sauces

Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw

Ben and I are big barbecue fans. Seriously, major barbecue fans. It’s one meaty dish we can both agree on. Ben loves a good brisket or pulled pork while  I’m more partial to chicken but occasionally can be swayed to a more “hearty” meats. In our four years’ of married life, we’ve enjoyed barbecue in many, many ways… at restaurants, homemade, semi-homemade, and store-bought. Homemade has always been the best, because seriously. Indiana. Not exactly a state renowned for its barbecue. BUT wait. I just realized that my homemade might not be quite as good as what’s available locally anymore. Even though this homemade Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw is pretty darn fabulous.

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

Why, you ask? Because Ben and I are moving down south! To Nashville, Tennessee. On Friday! As in, later this week. Ahhhhhh. [Cue frantic packing… because who is ready to go any sooner than they have to be? Not me. Ha!] Now, I know that the politics of barbecue, or barbeque, or BBQ, or whatever you call it run deep, and vary by region, cooking method, etc. And I realize that true barbecue connoisseurs might not consider this “real” barbecue because it’s made in just an hour or so, in the oven. To them I say “bah.” Or rather, Ben says “bah.” I just say it’s good. It’s sweet, spicy, and utterly addicting. If I do say so myself, adding an apple to the chicken as it cooks was an utterly genius move.

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

Speaking of moves, we’re moving because I accepted a position earlier this month at a university library in Nashville. It’s been a crazy few weeks of packing, finding a new apartment, trying to sublet our current apartment, saying goodbye to friends and family and our favorite local Bloomington spots, and a myriad of other details… some fun and others not so fun. But we are so excited for this new adventure. There’s no one I’d rather share it with than this guy!


Ben is simply the best. 🙂 As is this barbecue. If you make it, don’t forget the slaw. It’s the perfect tangy, crisp accompaniment to the sweet ‘n spicy chicken. Kinda like I am to Ben. Or he is to me? I’m not quite sure that comparison is valid, but my mind is muddled from all this packing. So there you have it. Our big move, aka the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately. I have a few posts scheduled over the next couple weeks so I shouldn’t disappear for long, and then once we are settled and have the kitchen ready to go, things should be back to normal here. 🙂 If you have any Nashville recommendations, be sure to send ’em my way. Have a great week! Enjoy!

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw | thepajamachef.com

one year ago… 1970s Style Tacos
two years ago… Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
three years ago… Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Pork

Sweet 'n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
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for the chicken

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs
  • 6 ounces BBQ sauce of choice [I used a local Spicy Apple BBQ Sauce, but for something similar you could use this recipe]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra sauce for serving

for the slaw

  • 2 cups red cabbage, chopped/shredded
  • 2 cups green cabbage, chopped/shredded
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 stems basil, leaves torn [~ 1/4 cup]
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • a couple dashes Sriracha
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof Dutch oven or pot with tightly fitted lid. Add onion and apple and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken and BBQ sauce and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and place in oven for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the slaw. Toss together cabbages, apple, celery, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, and Sriracha. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture [you may not need it all] and season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When chicken is done cooking, shred with two forks carefully in the pot, or remove to a cutting board to shred. Return chicken to pot and then serve with slaw and extra BBQ sauce as desired.

Note: For more tender chicken, reduce heat to 200 degrees after it has fully cooked and leave chicken in oven, covered, for another hour. The chicken is still delicious after 90 minutes but it does shred a little easier later on.

Recipes, Salads, Sides

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese & Bacon

Kale. Seriously can’t get enough of it. Ben can’t either. No complaints here.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

Normally, our kale is cooked–in pasta, fried rice, or as a base for chicken or pork. But this time, I decided to do something different and make a chopped kale salad. That’s right… raw kale, chopped into a billion teeny tiny bites and tossed with a fabulous array of toppings and the most spectacular dressing ever. Intrigued?

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

What makes this salad special and different is ALL the tastes and textures going on. Crisp carrots, sweet apples, salty bacon, pungent bleu cheese, tart cranberries, crunchy toasted almonds. And a sweet peanut butter-maple vinaigrette that is nothing short of amazing. I was literally eating it with a spoon, for goodness sake! It has a peanut butter base, so that’s totally legit, right?

By the way, if you aren’t the biggest fan of bleu cheese, don’t let this scare you. There’s only enough to give a hint of the flavor, but if you like it you can always substitute feta or parmesan. I don’t always include cheese in my salads but it really works in this one, to make it more substantial. Just FYI.

Chopped Kale Salad | thepajamachef.com

I threw this recipe together quickly on a busy night when we were headed to a small group dinner, and it was all but polished off. Fortunately, there was enough leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, but the salad definitely got a little soggy on day 2 so I would recommend adding the dressing just before serving if at all possible. I only made this a couple weeks ago and am totally craving it now, as I write this at 10:27 pm. I have a feeling this salad is going to become a regular in our house and I hope it will in yours too! Enjoy!

So you tell me… have you ever had a kale salad before? What are your go-to [kale] salad mix-ins?

a year ago… Man Cupcakes
three years ago… Creamy Baked Spaghetti

Chopped Kale Salad with Bleu Cheese and Bacon [dressing adapted from Iowa Girl Eats]
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  • 1 1/2 bunches kale
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large Fuji apple
  • 3 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter


Wash and dry kale, then tear into small bite-size pieces, discarding thick stems. Add to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and dry cabbage, carrot, and apple, then shred. I used my food processor but a grater would also work. Add to kale, along with bleu cheese, bacon, almonds, and cranberries.

Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, and peanut butter until smooth to make dressing, then drizzle half over the salad. Toss to combine, and add more dressing as desired. I used about 3/4 of the total dressing made. Season with black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes.

Yield: 10-12 side salads, 3-4 meal size salads.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Main Dishes, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad

Even though I rarely post any recipes for vegetables on this blog, I hope you don’t believe that I never eat them! That’s certainly not the case. I think this dip is just one indication of how much I love my veggies! But sadly, most of the ways I eat veggies are pretty plain. At dinner, we usually eat big green salads with our main course. Lettuce, carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes… all good, but sometimes a bit boring. So I’ll mix it up with roasted broccoli, steamed green beans, or a fancy dilled carrot dish every once in awhile, but that’s about it. When a friend asked me to bring some salad over for dinner one night, I jumped at the chance to be creative. Instead of making my go-to green salad, I switched it up and made a fancy cole slaw. Now, don’t get turned off. It’s not creamy or drowning in dressing. It’s light and fresh and flavorful… simply delicious!

Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad | The Pajama Chef

This cabbage salad [I much prefer that name to cole slaw, thankyouverymuch] has a few winter veggie staples: cabbage [duh], carrots, and radishes, plus some flavorful additions like green onions and cilantro. If you click over to Jessica’s original post you’ll see that she used watermelon radishes–which look delightful, but aren’t available in Indiana… so check them out if you have a chance. 🙂 But the best part of this salad isn’t the traditional veggies, rather it is the spicy and tangy vinaigrette dressing! This dressing is just awesome. I think it would make an excellent taco salad dressing, actually–it’s just your basic oil and vinegar dressing spiced up [literally] with cumin, paprika, pepper, and garlic. That’s it. Yumalicious! The spice in the dressing compliments the cilantro so well.

Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad | The Pajama Chef

The flavors of this salad are awesome on day 1, but they also improve as the salad hangs out in the fridge for a few days. I love it when salad’s shelf life is longer than a day…makes me so happy! Be sure to try this salad when you have a chance–I think it would be great with burgers, tacos, soup, and whatever else you can imagine. Enjoy!

Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad [from Good Cheap Eats]
click to print


  • 1 head green cabbage, chopped [I used my food processor]
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 5 green onions, green & white parts, diced
  • 6 small radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro,  chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, green onions, radishes, and cilantro. In a small bowl or glass jar, combine olive oil and vinegar, then garlic, cumin, paprika, and pepper. Shake or stir together, then toss with vegetables.

Serve immediately or keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Time: 10 minutes.

Yield: 8 servings.

Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

SRC: Minty Asian Slaw

It’s a Secret Recipe Club kinda Monday! The best kind, in my opinion. 🙂 If you’ve missed past SRC posts, the premise is this: you’re assigned a different member’s blog every month. You visit their blog, choose any recipe you want, then make it and share it on your blog. Everyone else posts about their secret blog the same day. It’s fabulously fun to try out new blogs. If you have a blog, definitely check it out and consider joining! I highly recommend it.

This month my assigned blog was Sustainable Cooking for One, which is the product of Stephanie’s passion for local, sustainable eating. Stephanie has a ton of original and adapted recipes on her site, and has even published a cookbook! How cool.

I was looking for a side dish to make for our 4th of July BBQ, so when I saw Stephanie’s twist on cole slaw, I was so excited. This isn’t just your average cole slaw… it’s Minty Asian Slaw!

This isn't just your average cole slaw... it's Minty Asian Slaw!Minty Asian Slaw is a refreshing twist on a classic summertime dish. Unlike most cole slaw recipes, Stephanie’s encourages the use of lots of fresh veggies and fruit [not just cabbage!], vinegar, and oil… instead of globby mayo and limp cabbage. What a great idea, me thinks! For the most part, I stuck with the recipe but I did make a few changes. The original recipe called for cabbage, carrots, and cucumber along with the minty vinegar and oil dressing. Since Ben isn’t a huge cucumber fan, I decided to take a cue from Stephanie’s other slaw recipe and use an apple for crunch instead! I also added more mint than the recipe called for… what a great decision! Both of them. 🙂 And let me just say for the record that a bite of minty apple, no matter how weird it may sound, is pretty amazing.

This isn't just your average cole slaw... it's Minty Asian Slaw!This crisp Minty Asian Slaw is fresh, exotic, and perfect for summer, and that abundance of mint growing in your garden [or is that just me?], so I hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Minty Asian Slaw

  • Servings: 10-12
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Minty Asian Slaw | thepajamachef #secretrecipeclubadapted from Susatainable Cooking for One mostly here and but also here


  • 1 medium cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 apple, cut into matchsticks [I used Granny Smith]
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • ~2-3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped [I didn’t measure]
  • lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • up to 1/2 tablespoon sugar, if desired


Place cabbage in a large collandar and pour salt over. Use your hands to massage salt into cabbage, then let sit for about 45 minutes [Mark Bittman suggests 1-2 hours but I didn’t have that kind of time, so I helped the process by massaging it]. Then rinse and drain cabbage thoroughly–about six times–to remove the salt. Dry cabbage with kitchen towels or a salad spinner.

Meanwhile, combine carrot, apple, celery, and mint in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice–about 1 tablespoon. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil. Add cabbage and dressing mixture alternately so everything combines well. Taste and add sugar as desired.

Serve immediately.

Be sure to check out other great SRC recipes posted today!