Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts

12 October 2014

Slow Cooker Season! Country-Style Pork Ribs

Trying to use my slow cooker more consistently this fall. Not sure I'll go so far as to declare Slow Cooker Mondays or something like, but I do want to make the effort and use it once during the work week because it's the surest way to guarantee food on the table when I arrive home from work all HANGRY and tired.


This past Friday, I made Pillsbury's "Slow-Cooker Country-Style Pork and Onions" and the ribs turned out so well that we both took seconds which is not a thing that happens very often.

That said, I have questions about the recipe and am not sure I'd make it quite the same way again. Was it necessary to precook the onions? For what purpose was I directed to flouring the ribs? No and none, I think. Next time, I'm inclined to throw the onion in raw and skip flouring the ribs. I'll just add the sage into the sauce mixture -- doubling the amount of sage -- and I might swap the broth out for beer.

Anyway, it's a completely simple and darned tasty throw-together slow cooker dish that I recommend you try. Even if it doesn't photograph well at 6 pm in my badly lit kitchen!

Floured ribs.

Ribs topped with tender onions. See how the flour has come off  the ribs where the onions touch them?

Ribs and onions covered in condensed French onion soup, gravy mix, and water.

10 October 2014

Slow Cooker Red Cabbage With Apples & Cinnamon

I was musing over possible ways of combining apples and cinnamon for November's Improv Challenge and I thought "What, in the autumn, goes really well with apples and cinnamon?" I came up with two definite possibilities -- winter squash and cabbage. Conveniently, there was a red cabbage and turban squash lurking in the kitchen from my last impulsive shop at the farmers' market. What can I say? Turban squash are adorable and red cabbage is my favorite cabbage. (What do you mean? Normal people don't have favorite cabbages?).

Anyway! I decided to start with the cabbage-apple-cinnamon combo since I wanted to use my slow cooker (oven was occupied by what, ultimately, turned out to be The Most Disappointing Bundt Cake) and knew, thanks to making "Bavarian Red Cabbage" that it would probably work out okay.


Slow Cooker Red Cabbage

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.

Cook time: 8 hrs. 00 mins.

Total time: 8 hrs. 15 mins.

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large Gala apples, peeled cored and chopped
  • 1 small red cabbage, cored and shredded or chopped small
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp peppercorn mélange, slightly crushed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Instructions

  1. Put cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a spice bag or tea ball or tie up in a bit of cheesecloth so you don't later accidentally bite down on a whole clove.
  2. Add all ingredients except butter to the slow cooker insert. Stir.
  3. Dot with butter. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

After eight hours in the slow cooker, the apples and onions seem to completely disappear into the cabbage. The cinnamon scent is pretty pronounced but works well with the cider vinegar's tangy scent. I'd say this would be nice with crunchy crackling roast pork. I ate it first with bratwurst and spicy mustard and later with "Swedish" flavored (caraway and mace) meatballs. It was delicious both ways ... and even when cold and unaccompanied during a late night snack scavenge.

However, while I enjoyed the cabbage, in the end it is just too similar to my Bavarian Red Cabbage to be submitted as a new recipe for November's Improv Challenge. On to the turban squash!

25 September 2014

Week Day Comfort Food: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Terrible hankering for pot roast when I was planning out this week's menu -- blame the turning leaves and cooler breezes -- but I couldn't quite figure out which pot roast recipe to use. And then I decided "To heck with it! I can't go wrong chucking random roastie ingredients in the slow cooker!" So that's what I did. And it was turned out pretty darn fabulous.


Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Serve 2, with lots of leftovers for soup or whathaveyou

Ingredients
3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 oz sliced white button mushrooms
2 Tbsp tomato paste
[Amore Tomato Paste Double Concentrated Tube]
1 envelope onion soup mix [Lipton]
1 bottle stout [Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout]
As many chopped carrots and baby potatoes as will line the bottom of your slow cooker insert

Directions
Arrange carrots and potatoes at bottom of slow cooker insert.



Add with roast. Top with mushrooms, onions, and garlic.



Whisk stout, onion soup mix, and tomato paste together and pour over everything.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hrs.

Remove meat and vegetables to a warm oven. Whisk cornstarch and water together to make a slurry and whisk into the juices at the bottom of the slow cooker. Cook on High for 10 minutes or until thickened. Serve.




This roast made more than enough for two for supper so I shredded the remaining meat (we ate all the veg) and made a really tasty beef barley soup with frozen mixed vegetable blend, frozen pearl onions, more mushrooms, quick-cooking barley, leftover gravy, broth, bay, thyme, salt, and pepper.

22 May 2014

Sunny Spring Sunday, Slow-Cooker Style

Sunny spring Sundays mean (much) more time spent in the garden and (much) less time spent in the kitchen so meals need to be simple, no fuss ones. Made-ahead pasta salads are great, of course, as are big ass tossed salads and grilled things, but the slow cooker deserves some love.

I've made BHG's "Chicken Drumsticks with Barbecue Sauce" a bunch of times now and, with each iteration, I make the recipe a little bit simpler to the point that, currently, I don't doctor the sauce at all. Just broil the drumsticks to render most of the fat out of the skin, then pop them in the slow cooker, and cover them with whatever bottled sauce is on hand.


My mother always used Kraft (original flavor) barbecue sauce when she made barbecued chicken and I still have a soft spot for the product, but find it too sweet now. Some of that may be do to changes to my palate as I grew up, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with that sauce having 13 grams of sugar per serving. I've been experimenting with brands of barbecue sauce and find I rather like Stubb's Bar-B-Q Sauce (original flavor) as it's tangy with just a touch of sweet (4 grams of sugar per serving). Maybe a little runnier than I'm used to, but that's okay.

Anyway, with the slow cooked barbecued drumsticks I made this past Sunday, I also threw together a quick pasta salad about an hour before the chicken was ready. I cooked up a cup of small twisty noodles from the Polish shop and mixed them, still warm, with a combination of fat-free Greek yoghurt, light mayonnaise, lemon juice, fresh dill, Penzeys Greek seasoning blend, and minced red onion, cucumber, and radishes. Completely yum, really.

28 March 2014

Comfort Me With (Slow Cooker) Chicken Soup

We were supposed to have sushi tonight, but work drama and an incipient cold had me hankering for soup. Happily, there were frozen chicken breasts and mixed vegetables in the freezer, so soup was go. (Seriously, is there any food more comforting than a big bowl of soup? Oatmeal on a bitter grey January morning comes close, I guess? Or that first scrambled egg and toast after days of gippy tummy?)

There's really no proper recipe for this soup -- I put three frozen boneless chicken breasts into the slow cooker insert with some chopped celery stalks, carrots, onion, garlic, and tomato. Added low-sodium fat-free chicken broth until everything was just covered. Topped it all off with Bell's salt-free poultry season and a bay leaf and let it cook on low for 6 hours.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Then I shredded the chicken with two forks, added a 12-oz packaged of frozen mixed vegetables, chopped parsley, some hilopetes (pinky-nail-sized square Greek egg noodles) I'd picked up at the Polish grocery, and enough broth to almost fill the insert. I cranked the slow cooker up to high and let it cook for another hour. Then I removed the bay leaf, tasted, and adjusted the seasonings as needed.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

Not only was the soup pretty darn tasty and comforting, it made the whole house smell like home. Each time I stepped back into the house between appointments and errands, I took a great lungful in and felt ridiculously contented by the aroma. Soup, it's Feliway for humans.

10 March 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Italiano, Yum

So I ran a little mad buying chicken at the market during last week's sale and my freezer is now impossibly full. So full, indeed, that some of the sale chicken won't fit. We've eaten chicken for three meals running now and, while chicken is delicious, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's ahi tuna.

Chicken Italiano

Tonight, I made Pillsbury's "Chicken Italiano" using skinned bone-in thighs and rosemary-and-lemon infused Kalamata olives. I cooked the dish for 8½ hours on Low and then left it on warm for about 1½ hours and it came out really well. Succulent, full of bright flavors, and beautifully colored ... I'd be pretty happy eating this chicken dish every month. And, since it uses kitchen staples, I certainly could. Yum.

05 March 2014

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

Ages ago I received a package of Campbell's Slow Cooker Mexican Red Chili Taco Sauce and, time and again, I've meant to use it ... only to change my mind as some shiny new recipe popped up on Pinterest (curse you, Pinterest). But beef roasts were on sale last week so I bought one specifically to make the slow cooker tacos.

Shredded Beef Taco

I prepared the beef as directed, using a piece of well-trimmed chuck. I did add in a small chopped red onion and about a quarter of a cup of Penzeys red and green bell pepper flakes for extra flavor. I was a little worried the peppers would absorb a lot of liquid while they rehydrated during the cooking process, but I needn't have as the beef was swimming in a sea of liquid when I checked it nine hours later. I took the beef out at that point and shredded it using two forks and then dumped it back into the slow cooker insert with a cup of black beans and a cup of thawed Trader Joe's fire-roasted corn.

We ate the shredded beef on warm flour tortillas with guacamole, salsa fresca, and cilantro. They were pretty good, but a bit messy from all the juices (I should have drained some off before returning the beef to the insert) and the flour tortillas would have been better toasted in a skillet rather than warmed in the oven.

Anyway, it was an easy and reasonably healthy weekday supper. Would I buy another Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce? Probably not. Not because there was anything wrong with the product -- the finished dish was really quite tasty -- but because it just felt as if I could have done something very similar from scratch with tomato sauce and canned chipotle peppers in adobo, etc.

There's a ton of meat leftover, so we'll be having shredded beef quesadillas for supper on Friday and then ... I don't know. I might freeze what's left until I can come up with a decent idea. Could the meat be used as the base for a beef-barley soup? Hmmm.

29 January 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Shanks, Yum

It's been miserable cold here and I've had a terrible craving for rich, meaty dishes like beef bourguignon. Alas, the only beef in my freezer were two beef shank cross cuts picked up on a whim a few months ago. I couldn't turn them into beef bourguignon. But, surely, I could do something similar? I went to the internets, since the library was closed, and found many ways to braise beef shanks in red wine and stock. I cobbled the recipes together and came up with this:

Slow Cooked Beef Shanks

Rich, hearty, flavorful, succulent ... it was like the best pot roast ever. That sound's terrible, doesn't it? But a really good pot roast is not easily come by, in my humble opinion, and this was everything I want a pot roast to be.
Slow Cooker Beef Shanks

Ingredients
2 beef shank cross cuts weighing about 1.5 lbs each, well trimmed
olive oil, as needed
2 cups beef stock
1½ cups red wine [Newport Vineyards 2011 Merlot]
2 heads garlic, bashed and peeled
2 large carrots, peeled and cubed
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar [Bella Gusta Fig Balsamic]
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Generously season shanks with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large French/Dutch oven until the pot is quite hot. Add shanks and sear on each side until deep brown (I had to do this in batches). Add to slow cooker.


Beef Shanks Ready for the Slow Cooker

Reduce temperature to medium. Drain some of the fat from the pot so only a tablespoon remains. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

Add bay, thyme, rosemary, stock, and wine. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by half. Pour over shanks. Drizzle with balsamic. Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours.

Slow Cooked Beef Shanks
After cooking 10 hours
Remove beef and vegetables from slow cooker, shred beef, and cover to keep warm. Skim fat from juices, crank the slow cooker up to High, and thicken the juices with a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry. Season to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes (or polenta, if you're posh).

Beef Shank Bones
Look at those beautiful bare bones.

28 November 2013

Mmm, Brisket In My Slow Cooker

My dad's mom was never much of a drinker, but she always had a bottle of Manischewitz Concord Grape on hand. Indeed, I think it was the only wine I ever saw her drink. My grandmother has been on my mind a lot lately so, when I thought about making a brisket earlier this week, I thought about Manischewitz.

Why brisket? I can't precisely say. A vague craving for pot roast couple with too much talk about slow cooker barbecue with some co-workers followed by a brief, intense infatuation with Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America ... and then I saw brisket was on sale?

The Internet is full of ways to slow cook brisket and many of the recipes I found used ingredients like chili sauce and onion soup mix. I took the "best bits" from those recipes and spun them to suit my own taste preferences. Heinz balsamic ketchup for chili sauce, for example, because I wanted lots of tang but no heat. Lots of onion and garlic, because alliums make everything better. And Manischewitz Concord Grape, for grandma.

Slow Cooker Brisket
Manischewitz for the win!
The piece of brisket I bought was slightly too large for my slow cooker so I halved it and arranged the two pieces, edges overlapping, at the bottom of the insert.

(As with any roast, it's important to cook the meat fat side up so that the fat, as it renders, bastes the meat).

Wednesday's Supper
O, beautiful onions! Beautiful brisket!
Tangy Slow Cooker Brisket

Ingredients
3 - 4 lb brisket, flat cut
4 large cloves garlic, sliced thickly
1 large red onion, sliced thickly
1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion
8 oz Heinz Ketchup Blended with Balsamic Vinegar
5 oz Manischewitz Concord Grape

Instructions
Lay onion and garlic at bottom of slow cooker insert. Top with brisket, fat side up.

Mix together soup mix, ketchup, and wine. Pour over brisket. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours.

Slow Cooker Brisket
Looking so fine!
I served the brisket with chive-mashed potatoes and garlicky green beans. The potatoes were a complete cheat as they were leftover from work's Thanksgiving dinner. I reheated them in the microwave with milk and butter and then mixed in a liberal amount of Penzeys dehydrated chopped chives.

The garlicky green beans are pretty much a supper time standby. I take a bag of fresh steam-in-bag ones, poke holes to let the steam out, and then use those holes to poke slivers of sliced garlic cloves into the bag. Shake everything about to distribute the garlic and then microwave as directed. Season the cooked beans with a drizzle of olive oil and some black pepper. We can easily consume a 12 oz bag between us at one meal ... although I admit I probably eat more than my fair share of these lovely beans.

20 November 2013

P/F/G Challenge: Chicken Stew Stuff

Chicken Stew Stuff
Yes, that's my lap. Yes, eating in front of the television. No, we're not posh.

Supper was supposed to be "Baked marinated freezer chicken breasts with buttered peas-and-rice and steamed green beans," but I forgot to thaw the chicken breasts ahead of time so we had slow cooked chicken stew stuff, instead. It was pretty tasty, actually, even if it wasn't very pretty. And it kept me from going "Oh, the heck with it! I'm tired. Let's order in."
Slow Cooker Chicken Stew Stuff

Ingredients
2 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup frozen leftover turkey gravy
1 cup frozen chicken stock
½ cup frozen diced onion
2 cups diced peeled carrots
2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves and peeled
Salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Dried parsley
Black pepper

Directions
Put the carrots, onions, green beans and garlic at the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Add chicken breasts. Top with broth and gravy. Sprinkle with seasoning blend, parsley, and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 9 hrs. Shred chicken. Stir everything together. Serve over rice.
We've eaten nearly all the garden carrots and I'm going to have to go back to buying them again, soon. Ridiculous.

11 October 2013

Soup Makes Space

Last Saturday, I opened the freezer to get out some tilapia fillets and a precariously-perched container of blueberries hurled itself onto the floor, scattering berries around the kitchen. And then the bananas tried to escape and it was clearly Time To Do Something About The Freezer.

Bet you're thinking I made another banana bread, right? Well, I didn't! Not yet, anyway. I corralled all the loose frozen bananas into a gallon storage bag, shuffled the vegetables and meats around so they were once again grouped by like, and tossed some unfortunate freezer burnt ice cream cups. And then I made a big pot of soup from all the open vegetables packages.
Vegetable Barley Soup
Serves many

Ingredients
9 oz frozen chopped swiss chard
8 oz frozen diced butternut squash
3 oz frozen chopped onion
3 oz frozen chopped peppers
2 oz frozen corn
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt-free Italian seasoning, as desired
32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
[Pacific Organic Free Range Low Sodium]
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup quick-cooking barley

Directions
Whack the packages of frozen vegetables against your kitchen counter to loosen. Dump the frozen vegetables, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning into the slow cooker insert. Stir. Add bay leaf and broth. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Stir in quick-cooking barley, cover, and cook on LOW for 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaf. Taste. Season as desired.

Soup will thicken as it sits so you may need to add a little more broth when you reheat the leftovers, if you want a properly soupy soup.
Overall, this was a pretty good soup. Hearty and rich with vegetable goodness, it made a week's worth of filling breakfasts and lunches. (I admit that, on a few cold and sleepy mornings, I spiked my breakfast bowl with a little sriracha).

02 October 2013

Carrot Fest '13: Sad Chicken

Sometimes, I make something and it just makes my mouth sad. Such was my chicken and carrot disaster. From the beginning, I knew boneless skinless chicken breasts weren't meant for the slow cooker. Slow cooking makes them dry and mealy, oddly enough. Much better to throw bone-in thighs or legs in the slow cooker.

Chicken & Carrots

But boneless breasts are what I had and so what I used. Still, I could probably have saved this dish by cooking it on the stove top, but I was feeling lazy and just chucked everything in the slow cooker ... for six hours. Unsurprisingly, the poor chicken was flavorless and dry.

I tried to salvage the dish by making a gravy of the pot juices, but the broth was also rather flavorless and was no help to the chicken. A liberal seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper did not improve things much.

The carrots were awesome, though. Tender and earthy.

Anyway, I've posted the recipe I made below with tentative improvements in brackets. Any recommendations would be welcome.
Sad Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
[2 bone-in turkey thighs]
1 cup turkey broth
1 Tbsp Bell's Seasoning
[2 tsp dried thyme, crushed]
1 1-lb carrot, peeled and diced
[3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces]
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas [omit]
[4 cloves garlic, pressed]
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
Put carrots, onions, and garlic at bottom of slow cooker. Top with chicken breasts. Whisk Bell's and broth together. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Add back into slow cooker. Stir in peas. Let cook 10 minutes more or until peas are thawed.

[Put carrots, celery, and onion at bottom of slow cooker. Top with turkey thighs. Whisk broth, Bell's, thyme, and garlic together. Pour over thighs. Cook on LOW 6 hours. Remove turkey meat from bones and stir back into pot. Season with salt and pepper, as needed].

29 September 2013

Carrot Fest '13: Carroty Red Lentil Soup

It's officially autumn now, which means it's officially Soup Season! And, oh so conveniently, I happen to have a whole lot of carrots on hand -- a prime soup-making ingredient.

Weighty Carrot
Mighty (delicious) carrot
I wanted something warming, rich with the flavors of ginger and sweet curry, and hearty. Not heavy, stick-to-your ribs, nap-inducing hearty, but something that could stand pretty well on it's own as a meal. I ended up using Food.com's "Red Lentil and Carrot Soup With Coconut for the Crock Pot" recipe as my base, but tweaked the seasonings and liquids to suit me.

Because I was using my monster carrots, I only needed one carrot for this recipe. It weighed over a pound!
Carroty Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small red onions, finely chopped
2 heaping tsp sweet curry powder
[Penzeys salt-free Maharajah Style Curry Powder]
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, including juice [Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Whole Tomatoes]
2 cups red lentils, well rinsed
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
Juice of half a lemon
3 cups turkey broth
14 ounce can light coconut milk
Sriracha, if desired

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook until soft. Add curry powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and bring to a boil, bashing the tomatoes about with a spoon to break them up.

Place carrots, lentils, lemon juice, and broth in slow cooker insert. Add tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Add coconut milk and, using an immersion blender, blenderize soup to desired level of smoothness. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a  squiggle of sriracha.

Carrot Lentil Tomato Soup

27 September 2013

Carrot Fest '13: Mongolian Beef Stew

I was going through last year's peas and carrots Improv Challenge post, looking for yummy things to do with The Carrots of Doom, when I came upon Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips' recipe for "Slow-Cooker Mongolian Beef Stew." It seemed like the perfect early autumn supper ... and would let me use up an entire carrot.

Of course, I didn't have quite the right ingredients (do I ever?) so, being terminally lazy, I just winged it. Also, I didn't throw the frozen peas in until the very end, because I wanted firm peas and suspected six hours in the slow cooker would turn them into (the wrong kind of) mushy peas.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Regardless of my tweaks, this dish came out very well -- The Husband pointed out it was a wee bit peppery, but still willingly ate it two days running -- and I will be happy to make it again with another one of my weighty carrots.
Slow-Cooker Mongolian Beef Stew
Inspired by Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips who was inspired by Robin @Knead to Cook
Serves 6

Ingredients
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup less-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup sherry [Taylor]
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger [Penzeys Powdered China #1 Ginger]
¼ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp almond butter
½ tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
1 1-lb carrot, peeled and cubed
12 oz bag frozen peas
2 lb beef chuck roast, trimmed of visible external fat

Directions
Whisk together the first nine ingredients (cornstarch through garlic).

Put the carrots and onions in the slow cooker insert and top with the beef. Pour the cornstarch mixture over everything. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the beef and shred with a fork. Then put the shredded beef back in the slow cooker with the frozen peas and stir everything together. Let sit 5 minutes or until peas are hot.

Serve over rice.

14 July 2013

Spicy Slow Cooker Peach-Mango Chicken

Spicy Slow Cooker Peach-Mango Chicken

I created this dish while trying to think up ways to use peaches and herbs together in July's Improv Challenge. It's not peach season here yet, but I had canned peaches in the pantry so that's what I used. I used dried cilantro as my herb, but also added in a lot of spices for a bolder flavor.

Honestly, I'm not sure what flavor-signature I was trying for -- Moroccan? Caribbean? Weirdtasteville? -- but it works. The flavors came together quite well and the dish is all savory and sweet at the same time. (There's no way, however, The Husband would ever try the smallest forkful as he is a firm advocate of the separation of fruit and meat).
Spicy Slow Cooker Peach-Mango Chicken

Ingredients
1½ pounds well-trimmed boneless skinless organic chicken thighs
8 oz canned diced peaches packed in fruit juice, drained
8 oz frozen diced organic mango, partially thawed
13.4 box organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 oz red onion, finely chopped
4 oz orange marmalade
[Bonne Maman]
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha
½ tsp dried ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp dried cilantro

Directions
Arrange thighs in bottom of slow cooker insert. Add diced peaches, mango, beans, and red onion.

Stir together marmalade, soy sauce, sriracha, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and cilantro. Pour over chicken and fruit. Cook at LOW for five hours.

Spicy Slow Cooker Peach-Mango Chicken

Serve over rice with pot juices. (If you like, feel free to thicken the pot juices with a little cornstarch slurry).
I did not add any additional liquid like broth or wine to this dish as I knew the canned peaches, partially frozen mango, and chicken thighs would produce lots of liquid.

If I were to make this again, and it seems like something my taste buds would love in January, I would definitely track down some good peach or mango preserves to use instead of the marmalade. The marmalade was good, but a bit too strongly orange.

05 July 2013

Slow Cooked Kale "Stuff"

In a hurry to use up the last of the kale and a few wrinkly bell peppers before they went weird, I made this ... stew ... in my slow cooker. It was surprisingly good for something so off the cuff and I was quite happy to eat big bowls of it all week for breakfast. Sopped the broth up with a dry toasted mini bagel and it was omnomnomilicious. And, as The Husband does not eat kale, I did not have to share.

Slow Cooked Kale Stuff

Slow Cooked Kale
Serves 4-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients
2 red and yellow bell peppers, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 14-oz cans Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
8 oz Irish back bacon, chopped
Chopped kale, as needed

Directions
Dump the first four ingredients into the slower cooker and stir. Top with as much kale as will fit. Cover and cook 2 hours on High. Stir pot. Continue to cook 3 more hours on High. Stir well and taste. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fill a bowl and eat.
While I used Irish back bacon, Canadian bacon or lean ham would work just as well. Or sliced links of smoked sausage. Or omit the meat and throw in some beans, instead. Or beans and meat!

28 April 2013

Slow Cooker Barbecue, It's A Thing

It's not warm enough here yet for picnicking outside, but I've been itching for a picnic ... so I threw one inside with potato salad, pickled beets, and slow cooker barbecue chicken. Yes, barbecue chicken in my slow cooker. Because BHG said I could and BHG Knows All.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

There are many other slow cooker barbecue chicken recipes on the Internet, but most of them are all "dump everything in a slow cooker and let it cook for X hours." The BHG recipe, "Chicken Drumsticks with Barbecue Sauce,"calls for broiling the naked drumsticks for 15-20 minutes before popping them in the slow cooker. This step crisps the skin and renders out quite a lot of fat. You could skin the chicken, instead, but BHG's method is easy and works quite well. The skin, what there was left of it after four hours on low, was very thin and had pretty much melted into the meat.

26 April 2013

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This soup was inspired by a recipe for "Red Lentil Soup" in Michele Scicolone's The Mediterranean Slow Cooker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). I'd been meaning to try her recipe for weeks, but never had quite the right ingredients on hand. I decided to just go ahead and do the best I could with what I had. And I think I did.

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup

This is delicious soup, subtle and savory, that will fill you up without leaving you feeling filled up. It doesn't need any accompaniment, although a bit of fresh fruit never goes amiss, and is just as good for breakfast as for lunch or dinner. I've mostly been eating it for breakfast as my tummy's been a bit sensitive lately and this lentil soup's a gentle way to start the day.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
Makes 6 generous servings

Ingredients
1 pound red lentils, rinsed, drained, and picked over
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 14.5 oz can Muir Glen fire-roasted adobo-seasoned petit diced tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk

Directions
Combine all in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until the vegetables are tender (Do the sweet potatoes break up a bit when you stir the pot? You're good). Remove bay leaf. Puree soup with immersion blender. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
If you can't find the adobo-seasoned tomatoes (while I found them at the grocery store, they don't seem to exist on the Muir Glen website) just use a plain can of fire-roasted tomatoes and add a teaspoon or so of adobo seasoning.

I also made "Balsamic Chicken with Capers" from the The Mediterranean Slow Cooker and they were everything chicken from a slow cooker should be -- tender, moist, and richly flavored. And so easy to throw together as it asks for ingredients that are always in my kitchen. I did not remove the skin from the chicken before cooking and it seemed almost to melt into the meat as the fat rendered out during the cooking process. Yum! I will definitely make this recipe again.

Balsamic Chicken Thighs

22 April 2013

Chard-tastic Sausage and Black Bean Stoup

Trader Joe's was selling ten ounce bags of washed, chopped, and ready-to-cook Kaleidoscope Chard for $1.99 a bag. Of course, I bought two. And then I brought them home and realized there really wasn't room in the fridge for two bags of chard. So I made soup out of one of them. (The other one I keep patting and calling "pretty" ... as if it were a new pet and not something I will be eating soon).

Red Lentils, Chard, & Sausage Stoup

This soup is based on the recipe for "Black Bean Soup with Sausage and Greens" from Beth Hensperger's Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker for Two. I made Hensperger's recipe a few years ago and, while it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped (my own fault), I'd been meaning to revisit it.

When I made the recipe before I remember it came out too thin for my taste, so I threw in a diced sweet potato and some red lentils this time 'round hoping it would help thicken things up. I also used more chard and sausage, while reducing the amount of broth, and threw in a can of tomatoes for extra flavor.

Darlings, it was fabulous. Spicy, creamy, meaty ... fab. I ate it for breakfast. For lunch. For supper. And, yes, for a snack. It's been four days and the soup is gone and no-one helped me eat it. I ate it all, yum.
Chard, Sausage, and Black Bean Soup
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 tsp coconut oil
1 large carrot, diced small
1 large onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 cup red lentils, rinsed, drained, and picked over
10 oz bag Trader Joe's raw washed chopped Swiss chard
12 oz package (5 sausages) Trader Joe's fully-cooked spicy jalapeño chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
15 oz can Trader Joe's refried black beans with jalapeño peppers
15 oz can Muir Glen Organic fire-roasted adobo-seasoned petite diced tomatoes

Directions
Heat oil in a large pot. Add carrot, onion, celery, and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and onion is translucent. Add to slow cooker with chard, sweet potato, refried beans, tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine. Cook on High for 3 hours. Stir and season to taste.
This is really thick soup -- much more like a stew -- so you might want to add more broth at the end. I like thick bean soups so left it as was.

01 March 2013

Slow Cooker Curried Lentil & Kale Soup

Sunday, I cleared a freezer shelf with this surprisingly tasty slow cooked lentil-kale-everything soup. I used low-sodium organic chicken broth, but substituting vegetable broth would easily make it vegan. (Swapping half the broth for coconut milk might also be a good trade).
Slow Cooker Curried Lentil & Kale Soup
Serves many

Ingredients
8 oz bag frozen chopped onions
8 oz bag frozen mixed pepper strips
10 oz bag frozen cubed sweet potatoes
16 oz bag frozen cubed butternut squash
2 14.5 oz cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Penzeys Maharajah curry powder
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp smoked paprika
30 oz bag chopped frozen kale
17.63 oz package Melissa's steamed lentils

Directions
Combine everything but the kale and lentils in your slow cooker insert and cook for 5 hours on High.

Making Kale & Lentil Soup

Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

Add lentils and kale. Stir well. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Adjust seasonings to taste -- I added a little lemon juice and sriracha for brightness.
I've been eating this for breakfast, of course, and a big bowl with some fruit on the side keeps me comfortable (and happy) until lunch time -- not surprising as the soup is full of dietary fiber and protein!