Saturday, February 14, 2015

Veggie-ful Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

As I've alluded to in the past, I'm not really into the hiding-vegetables-in-your-kids'-food trend. In my book, the ideal is for kids to learn to enjoy the veggies themselves, if humanly possible. Hiding vegetables in an unsuspecting child's dinner puts feels a bit like a sneaky parlor trick, and I'd rather not feel like a con artist when putting dinner on the table. But sometimes a recipe comes along that so effectively incorporates vegetables in an unexpected place that I find it fools even me. This slow cooker salsa chicken does just that. I would not normally put carrots and celery into a salsa-based dish (would you?), so when I first tried this recipe, I was a little wary. Carrots and celery in combination remind me of soups or pot pie, something warm and brothy and probably originally from the East Coast--certainly not anything Mexican. So it's kind of shocking how seamlessly they blend into this tomato-y, chili-spiced shredded chicken. Makes me wonder where else I could add veggies without them being overpowering (and without them being "hidden" to fool unwitting children).

Another other reason I love this recipe (in addition to how easy it is--did I mention that, too?) is its all-purposeness--it has made appearances in burritos, wraps, nachos, and on salad at our house. I'm even contemplating making a dessert with it--bad idea? It's pretty much perfect for one of those days you know you want something homemade but can't be home for very long to get it ready. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed with its spicy-yummy goodness, and your kids, if you have them, won't be freaked out by its subtle vegetables (especially if you wrap it up in a tortilla--that's not too sneaky, right?).

Veggie-ful Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
(Adapted from


2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (preferably homemade--see here for an easy recipe)
1 c. salsa
1 c. petite diced tomatoes with green chilies (fire-roasted are especially good!)
1 c. onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. carrots, shredded


1. Place chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Season on both sides with taco seasoning.

2. Layer salsa, diced tomatoes, onion, celery, and carrots on top of the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.

3. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred. Return to slow cooker and drain the liquid from the entire mixture with a fine-mesh strainer. Serve with tacos, nachos, tostadas, wraps or in a taco salad!

Serves 8.

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