If you take a look around (and ignore the mild temperatures and rain that the spring has given us this year), summer time is just around the corner. Youth baseball and softball seasons have started, some people have actually opened their swimming pools (even though they might not have been able to use them) and kids are going to be getting out of school before we know it.
And though summer time is a time for vacations, relaxing and activities galore, people still have to eat. But if you're like me and my family when I was growing up, cooking was the last thing on the minds of the Sulonen household.
Many days and nights were spent at the ball field, and let's be honest, who wants to come home and cook dinner at 8 p.m. at night after being at the ball park for the past five hours? My guess is not many.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Dana Sulonen
Shredded buffalo chicken, shown above and at right, is an easy crock pot meal for busy summer schedules, whether you’re a working mom with kids playing sports, or just a busy sports editor looking for a no-fuss dinner.
This where the trusty crock pot / slow cooker comes in to play. Many people think the crock pot is just for winter because it gives your house that yummy smell of having your favorite dish simmering all day.
But in reality, the crock pot is your summertime savior. For one thing, you can put dinner on during the day and have it ready when you get home from whatever activity you or your family is getting into that day. Secondly, it cooks a nice, hot meal for you without overheating your kitchen on a 90-degree (but feels like 110 with humidity) day. And lastly, it's the easiest way to avoid another night of pizza or fast food on the way home because, well, you just don't feel like cooking dinner.
The picture shown is one of the easiest recipes I have stumbled on in my short cooking career, shredded buffalo chicken. All it takes is boneless, skinless chicken breasts, your favorite hot sauce (I like to go with Frank's Red Hot) and a packet of dried ranch. Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and let it simmer on low for 8 hours. Because of the beauty of the crock pot, you can also go on high for four hours. Either way, just cook the chicken until it's easily able to shred.
Once the chicken is shreddable, take it out of the cooker, shred it, add in the two tablespoons of butter, then put the chicken back in the crock pot. Let it cook on low for about an hour to let the chicken soak in the buffalo sauce.
That's it! The easiest recipe possible for people on the go this summer. I've eaten these as sandwiches or even as a filler for chicken soft tacos. Either way it is delicious.
Also below is an easy recipe for a shredded BBQ chicken for people who might not be fans of buffalo style.