Stuff and Nonsense: slow cooker


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

6.06.2019

Cooking From Nancy Cho's The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers


I borrowed Nancy Cho's The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers from my library recently and was so completely smitten with it that I purchased a copy of my own. It's just a wonderful cookbook -- beginner-friendly with accessible recipes and (reasonably) easy to find ingredients. Allergy information (gluten/soy/dairy/nut) is included with each recipe as well as a graphic denoting the country of origin (everywhere from China to Sri Lanka). My only complaint is there aren't enough photos! Each chapter begins with a beautiful photograph, but that's it. If you want to know what a dish should look like, you'll have to google ... or check out the author's Instagram.

Vietnamese Beef Stew

So far, I have made the "Vietnamese Beef Stew," "Spicy Lemongrass Chicken," "Braised Short Ribs," and "Spicy Radish Salad" with consistently delicious results. The Husband, who can be rather choosy when it comes seasonings, enjoyed everything but the (rather fiery) radish salad and that was fine, as I'd made it mostly for myself! As there are only two of us, each recipe made leftovers, but those kept well and we definitely looked forward to eating them.

Braised Short Ribs

I strongly recommend The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers if you want to make more Asian-flavored dishes, but have felt intimidated in the past or simply want to get away from the same old slow cooker recipes.

Spicy Lemongrass Chicken

4.26.2018

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken & Mushrooms

I'd planned on making Pillsbury's "Slow-Cooker Creamy Tuscan Chicken" for Sunday dinner, but failed to notice I didn't have any sun-dried tomatoes left until it was too late. And by "too late" I mean it was Sunday morning and I was not getting out of my comfiest jim-jams to go to the store for anything. Rummaging around, I saw I had roasted peppers and mushrooms ... so I made this modified version, which was garlicky and good.


Yes, the original recipe calls for boneless chicken breasts and I clearly used boneless thighs. I was always going to use thighs. Thighs are dark meat and, therefore, more flavorful and "chicken-y." Also, unlike breasts, thighs don't go all dry and mealy in the slow cooker.


Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken & Mushrooms

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 14.5 oz jar creamy cheese sauce
  • 8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
  • 5 oz jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry & sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cornstarch plus cold water as needed
  • 4 oz baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Layer chicken, mushrooms, and roasted pepper strips in the slow cooker insert. Sprinkle with seasoning and garlic flakes.
  2. Cover; cook on low for 5 hours or until chicken is 165°F.
  3. Whisk together cornstarch and cold water until cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  4. Stir slurry into slow cooker. Add spinach and continue to cook on low for 20 minutes or until sauce is thickened and spinach is limp.
  5. Serve over pasta, rice, or more spinach.
I left the thighs whole when I made this, but I think it would be easier to serve if I had cut them into chunks to begin with.

4.20.2018

Cookbook Club: Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

April's library cookbook theme was brinner (breakfast for dinner). I thought this was a fun, quirky topic that would appeal to many different kinds of cooks. Apparently, I misjudged, because only seven cooks registered for the meeting ... of which, five turned up. I'm a little frustrated by the low turnout, because -- while there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in the club -- it is nearing its one year anniversary with attendance numbers lower than when it launched.

Anyway, the cooks who came were very excited to share their dishes:
  • "Amish Breakfast Casserole" from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. So much cheesy potato goodness. Hearty, but not heavy. Very morish.

  • "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" from Gale Gand's Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend's Best Meal. Crunchy on the edges, moist and custardy in the middle, and so wonderfully redolent of cinnamon and apples. The honey butter topping sounded like too much, but paired wonderfully. Just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water.

  • "Breakfast Scramble" also from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. The cook who made this used canned potatoes (to save herself 20 minutes), but there's no way we'd have been able to tell if she hadn't mentioned it. A nice, meaty hash.

  • "Syrupy Banana-Nut Overnight French Toast" from Good Housekeeping The Great Potluck Cookbook: Our Favorite Recipes for Carry-In Suppers, Brunch Buffets, Tailgate Parties & More. Creamy, custardy french toast a top a layer of gooey caramelized banana goodness. Very reminiscent of bananas foster and totally yum.

  • "Three-Meat Quiche" from The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher & Jenny Park. A fluffy, creamy, cheesy quiche filled with smoked ham, bacon, and sausage. We ate it closer to room temperature than warm and it was still delish -- and the crust was still crisp!


Everyone enjoyed talking about the cookbooks they'd used and the recipes they'd made. We were all very complimentary about each others' dishes and seconds (quite possibly thirds) were taken. I'm pretty sure everyone left with the intent of making their own dish of "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" as soon as possible.

And what did I make? I made "Chili and Cheese Crustless Quiche" from Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups: 515 Hot & Hearty Dishes Your Family Will Love. As this was a quick-cooking slow cooker dish, I assembled and cooked it at the library before the club met. I'd fully intended to try the recipe at home over the weekend -- to make sure it worked -- but didn't have the time. Happily, cooking the quiche at work turned out fine and everyone seemed to enjoy it.


Some of the cooks that come to cookbook club aren't keen on very spicy foods, so I only used two cans of chiles rather than the three called for. Both cans were diced, as well, as I couldn't find whole canned chiles that weren't pickled. I didn't know what brand of chili con carne was best, so just went with Hormel's turkey chili without beans as it had fewer calories and less fat that other chilis on the shelf at the grocery store. The finished quiche did have a little kick, but the cheese and egg helped balance that. Overall, I feel it's something I'd make for myself.

This is not the first time I used Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups for cookbook club -- I made the "Slow-Cooked Shepherd's Pie" back in February, when the theme was "Pies: Sweet & Savory." I've also made a few recipes from this cookbook just for myself -- the "Mexican Beef Stuffed Peppers" and "Chicken Merlot With Mushrooms" -- with good results. This is not the most exciting, cutting-edge cookbook out there, but its recipes are reliable and family-friendly (and almost always accompanied by very attractive photographs).

2.22.2018

Sick Day Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Various winter-time illnesses have been rampaging through work and it is no surprise that I have finally succumbed to one of them. I blame my compromised immune system on a dip in my generally high stress/anxiety level -- my body took a risk and unbent a little from its constant state of vigilance against everything that could go wrong and **BAM** sickness came upon me.

So I made soup. Nothing as comforting as a bowl of chicken noodle soup when I'm feeling sick, after all. While I had no energy for anything fancy, I've made soups similar to this before -- they're very dump and go (in this case, "go" meant back to bed) and do the job of filling my tummy with something hot and nourishing.


I used boneless thighs in this soup, because they were already in the fridge and it was either shift them to the freezer or cook them. You could use boneless breasts, although I don't find them as flavorful as thighs and they tend to be more expensive, anyway. Also, obviously, you could use fresh aromatics -- using dried simply saved me time and energy.


Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Yield:4 generous bowlfuls

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup chopped peeled carrots
  • 1 Tbsp onion flakes
  • 2 Tbsp celery flakes
  • 1 Tbsp dehydrated garlic
  • 2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (1 wax carton)
  • 6 oz egg noodles
  • Sea salt & coarsely ground pepper, as desird

Instructions

  1. Add the chicken, carrots, onion, celery, seasonings, broth, salt, and pepper to slow cooker insert. Cover.
  2. Cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours or until chicken is tender.
  3. Shred chicken. Add egg noodles to slow cooker and stir well.
    Cook 1 hour longer.
  4. Stir well. Adjust seasonings as necessary and serve.

2.16.2018

Cookbook Club: Sweet & Savory Pies

February's cookbook club theme was all things pie -- berry, cream, whoopie, hand, slab, cottage, you name it. I didn't doubt my club members would bring a fabulous assortment of sweet pies to our meeting, so I decided to go savory with "Slow-Cooked Shepherd's Pie" (let us not get into the cottage vs shepherd or gravy vs tomato sauce debates) from Taste of Home Casseroles, Slow Cooker, & Soups.


It's a very straight forward recipe and I followed it exactly as written both times I made it. Yes, both. First I tried it out on The Husband last weekend -- being British, he thinks he knows a thing or two about shepherd's pie -- and we both enjoyed it very much. I'll definitely be adding this cozy and comforting dish to my cold weather slow cooker repertoire.

The second time I made this shepherd's pie, I treated it as a make ahead dish. I prepared it through Step 3 the day before cookbook club, assembled the meat and potato layers in the slow cooker insert and refrigerated it overnight, then took it to work and plugged it in the next afternoon. And, as expected, the pie worked out really well as a make ahead dish.

Assembled through Step 3 & ready to go, with parsley and cheese for the finishing touch.

Luckily, my 3½ quart Cuisinart slow cooker fits perfectly in my old canvas tote bag.

I will revisit Taste of Home Casseroles, Slower Cooker, & Soups in April when I make the slow cooker "Chili & Cheese Crustless Quiche." (April's cookbook club theme is brinner and chili quiche seems very brinner-ish).

9.28.2017

The Scents (& Flavors) of Autumn: Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Now that autumn is properly here, it seemed a good time wrap myself in the wonderful smells of apples and cinnamon. Also, my most recent CSA share included five pounds of absurdly large MacIntosh apples and, while I like apples, grapefruit-sized apples seemed too big for a quick snack. I thought about stuffing and baking them, but that seemed like too much work. Then I thought about slow cooker applesauce -- it's always worked out well in the past -- but that did not excite me. And then I thought ... well, what about apple butter? My mom used to can her own apple butter and it was fabulous stuff. While I doubted I could make anything as good as hers, I could certainly try.


I used a friend's spiralizer to process the apples, because I thought the thinner ribbons would cook down more quickly than chunks might, but it probably didn't matter as I left it to cook all day while I was at work. When I came home, the whole house smelled like apple pie and the apples had reduced to a dark brown sludge -- sludge sounds decidedly ewww, I know, but it's the texture I was looking for.

I whizzed everything 'round with a stick blender and then let it cook for another hour while I futzed around on the internet. Afterwords, I decanted the apple butter into my prettiest jars (which was not a good idea as the jars are blue which means the apple butter looks greenish and that's just not super appetizing) and let it cool before storing it in the fridge.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Yield: 1½ pints

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs of apples
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Using the straight blade, spiralize the apples, leaving the skin on.
  2. Add apples and all other ingredients to slow cooker insert and stir to mix.
  3. Cover and cook apples on low for 10 hours on low or until apples are dark brown, completely soft, and very reduced in volume.
  4. Puree the apples with an immersion blender until smooth.
  5. Continue cooking, partially covered, on low for 1 hour more or until the apple butter has reduced to your desired thickness. (It will continue to thicken as it cools, fyi).
  6. Refrigerate apple butter in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks or freeze until needed.
What to do with apple butter? Other than the obvious straight-from-the-jar-with-a-spoon? Spread it on muffins, toast, or bagels. Pair it with chopped walnuts and stir it into your breakfast yogurt or oatmeal. Whizz it with vanilla ice cream and bourbon for a boozy shake. Bake it into a bundt!

9.07.2017

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

The farm I get my CSA share from is experiencing a bumper crop of onions this year and I've been bringing bunch after bunch home. While I consider alliums the cornerstone of tasty cooking, even I was getting a bit tired of seeing so many onions in my kitchen. It would be one thing if I had an out-of-the-way hook to hang the bunches from or even a drawer to store them in, but I don't and thus they are just piled in a higgledy-piggledy heap in the darkest, coolest kitchen corner.

Which is usually fine, but my anxiety has been steadily ratcheting up lately and visual clutter -- the kitchen counters and dining room table, for example, constantly covered in the random flotsam of life -- is just making it that much worse. So I decided the onions needed to go.


My friend Sara had contributed slow-cooked caramelized onions to the grilled cheese and Secret Hitler party we threw a few weeks ago and that seemed like a brilliant way to use my CSA onions. While I didn't have her recipe, I did have a general understanding of how it should go and decided to wing it ... with very tasty results.

The onions cook long and slow all day, until they have reached golden brown perfection and the entire house smells amazing. While it's not fancy cooking -- not by a long shot -- the end result is so soft and nutty-sweet, who cares? And, hey, that was about a cubic foot of counter space now cleared.




Simple Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs onions
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel, cut in half, and thinly slice onions -- a food processor with slicing disc is very handy here.
  2. Toss sliced onions with the melted butter, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cook for 12 hours on low. The onions will be greatly reduced in volume, but swimming in liquid. Pour off the liquid and freeze for later use in soups or stews.

Three pounds of onions is just what I had on hand and it happened to fill my oval 3½ quart slow cooker. Obviously, adjust the amounts to suit the size of your slow cooker. Also, you could probably omit the butter. I used it because I had a mild concern the onions would burn to the bottom of the slow cooker before they started releasing liquid, but there was so much liquid in the end that it probably wasn't "necessary" to add butter.

So ... what do you do with all these onions? Well, so far, they've into cheddar and roast beef flatbreads, scrambled with eggs and spinach, and also acted as an excellent shortcut for browned onions in a tomato soup recipe ...

3.10.2017

Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker Party Meatballs

To celebrate recently changing jobs (still a librarian, but now happier and better paid) and salute the coworkers (now friends) who have put up with me for ten years, I threw a party. And what's a goodbye party without slow cooker meatballs? I wouldn't know ... I made meatballs.

These bite-size balls of sweet, fiery savoriness are based on MyRecipes' "Chipotle-Barbecue Meatballs." I used more adobo than the original recipe called for and less barbecue sauce and preserves, because I was concerned the meatballs would be too sweet, otherwise. I also added garlic and garnished the finished dish with chopped scallions, because every savory dish needs alliums!


These meatballs are definitely spicy! And it's a sneaky heat, too. Pop one in your mouth and you'll be thinking "Nice texture. A little sweet. Ohh, garlic" chewchewchew and then there's a bloom of heat at the back of your throat that is surprising, but not painful. And you'll try another to see if it has the safe effect. And another.

Or, at least, that's what my guests did! I'm really glad I made two bags, because there wasn't much leftover.


Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker Party Meatballs

Yield: MANY

Ingredients

  • 16 barbecue sauce [Stubb's "Sweet Heat"]
  • 6 oz cherry preserves [Bonne Maman]
  • 3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle can
  • 1 Tbsp dehydrated minced garlic [McCormick]
  • 2 (32-oz.) packages frozen bite-size meatballs [Trader Joe's]
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. Brush slow cooker insert with olive oil or spritz with cooking spray. Add meatballs to bottom of insert.
  2. Combine barbecue sauce, chipotle peppers, and adobo in the bowl of a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add garlic to sauce, pour over meatballs.
  3. Cover and cok on Low for 6 hrs, stirring twice. Set to Warm and serve when desired straight from the pot, sprinkled with sliced scallions. The sauce will thicken as it sits, so give it a stir every once in a while to redistribute it through the pot.

2.09.2017

Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup w/ Turnips

My lovely, generous coworker gave me another meaty hambone and, of course, I immediately turned it into soup. The recipe follows the same structure as my previous slow cooker ham and split pea soup, but this time I added chopped turnip, changed the seasonings up a bit, and used just water. It was still a magnificent pea soup -- extremely flavorful and hearty (but never stodgy). Good at any mealtime, including breakfast.


Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup With Turnip

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 oz dried split peas
  • 8 oz dried whole peas
  • 4 oz chopped onion
  • 4 oz chopped carrots
  • 4 oz chopped celery
  • 6 oz chopped turnip
  • 1 tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • Water, as needed
  • Salt & pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Combine peas, onion, carrots, celery, turnip, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and bay in slow cooker insert. Nestle in ham bone and add water until the pea mixture is covered.
  2. Cover and cook on Low 8-10 hours or until peas are tender.
  3. Remove ham bone from slow cooker. Pull meat from bone, discarding bone and other inedible/undesirable bits. Stir ham into soup.
  4. Add more water to soup, if too thick. Season with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve.

I've only recently "discovered" turnips. Probably because I was so resistant to rutabaga for so long -- I just lumped them in together as dreadful root vegetables. But rutabagas and turnips turn out to be delicious. Like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, turnips are in the cruciferous vegetable family and are a great source of minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber while being very low calorie. One of my friends uses them as a potato-substitute, as she is allergic to potatoes, and I'm kind-of tempted to try ricing a few, like cauliflower, to see what that's like.

12.29.2016

Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup

As a child, winter always meant big bowls of meaty, flavorful ham and split pea soup made with the bone of our Christmas ham. My mother would let the soup simmer all day on the stove and the heavenly aroma would slowly spread throughout the house, driving me mad with desire. Yes, I was a strange kid.

Even now, my mother is my primary source of ham and pea soup. I do, occasionally, make a meatless pea and mint soup using frozen peas or a meatless dried yellow pea soup, but I never make anything even close to her hammy soup as I simply don't cook ham. The Husband won't eat ham and I do not need an entire ham of my own.

But then I was talking to a coworker about soups we grew up on and I mentioned how I never made my mom's soup because I needed a ham bone for it and she said "Mark's making a ham! I bet he'd give you the bone!" and, the next thing I knew, Mark's come into work with a big ham bone just for me.

So I made soup! And while it isn't quite my mother's, it's still pretty darn good. Rich, thick, and savory. I eat a bowlful with a satsuma and that's all I need for breakfast or lunch.


I used a "traditional" split pea soup mix I'd found at the Polish grocery which used a combination of both green and yellow split peas as well as red lentils. It came with a seasoning packet, but I chose to use my own seasonings to try to control the amount of sodium in the soup as I reckoned the ham bone would add lots of salt.

I also used my slow cooker, rather than simmering it on the stove all day, because I needed to leave the house and didn't want to worry about some stove-related catastrophe happening back at home while I was loitering at The Paperstore.


Slow Cooker Ham & Split Pea Soup

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 package (13 oz) dried split peas
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 32 oz carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Combine peas, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and bay in slow cooker insert. Nestle in ham bone and pour broth over everything.
  2. Cover and cook on Low 8-10 hours or until peas are tender.
  3. Remove ham bone from slow cooker. Pull meat from bone, discarding bone and other inedible/undesirable bits. Stir ham into soup.
  4. Add water to soup, if too thick. Season with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve.

The finished soup did seem rather loose when done, but set up nicely once cooled. If you prefer a looser soup, you may want to add a cup or two of additional broth at the end. I didn't feel it needed any additional salt, but did add lashings of freshly cracked black pepper.

2.03.2016

Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

I had half a pound of raw sweet Italian sausage in the fridge, leftover from the "Tomatoey Macaroni & Bean Soup," and while at first I was all "I'll make a slow cooker Italian sausage pasta sauce all chunky with vegetables and heavy on the garlic" I actually ended up making a soup, because soup is definitely in season now ... and I'm not done experimenting with grilled cheese. The Husband picked up a lovely hearty loaf at Brooklyn Baking Company and it toasts up just wonderfully. Vastly superior to the "farmhouse" white I'd picked up in the Stop & Shop bread aisle.

Anyway, this soup tastes pretty great, is easy to prepare, and reheats well. To make it even easier, I did most of the prep -- chopping, browning, etc -- the night before and just dumped everything into the slow cooker the following morning. I had originally intended to throw the zucchini in with everything else at the start of cooking, but then I thought it might go a bit squishy and no-one wants squishy zucchini. Twenty minutes at the end was just enough time to soften (but not squishify) the zucchini.


Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Soup

Yield:4-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • ½ lb ground sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15.5 oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes [Muir Glen]
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups low-sodium fat-free chicken broth [Pacific Foods]
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • Salt & pepper, as desired

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage in a hot skillet. Transfer sausage to slow cooker. Drain oil from skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until onion is translucent.
  2. Put onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, seasoning blend, bay leaf, and broth in with the sausage. Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Add zucchini, stir, and cook for another 20 min or until zucchini is desired tenderness.
  4. Remove bay leaf, season to taste, and serve.

1.29.2016

Slow Cooker Lemon Caper Chicken Thighs

Boneless chicken thighs combine perfectly with bright flavors like lemon, white wine, and capers to create a quick prep, no-fuss meal perfect for a lazy winter afternoon. Just put all the bits in your slow cooker, turn it on, and go about your business for 4-6 hours. That's just about long enough to become thoroughly addicted to the BBC Scotland crime drama Shetland, by the way.


Slow Cooker Lemon Caper Chicken Thighs

Yield: Serves 3-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, well trimmed
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 8 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup Sauvignon Blanc or similar dry white wine

Instructions

  1. Nestle chicken thighs at bottom of slow cooker insert. Sprinkle with shallot, garlic, tomatoes, capers, and seasoning blend.
  2. Whisk together wine and lemon juice. Pour around the thighs, trying not to get it on the thighs, because you don't want to wash away the seasoning blend.
  3. Cover and cook on Low 4-6 hours or until chicken's internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  4. Remove chicken from slow cooker and, if desired, turn the juices into a sauce by whisking in a cornflour slurry.

1.20.2016

Slow Cooker Tomato & Artichoke Chicken

Last time I was at the warehouse club (to buy vitamins and salad mix and only those things), I picked up an enormous (35 oz!) jar of marinated artichoke hearts to "put on salads and things." While I've yet to actually put them on salad, they have made their way into my slow cooker. With chicken. And tomatoes, of course. The three just work so well together and make one of my favorite flavor combinations. (A little wine doesn't go amiss, either).


Slow Cooker Chicken With Tomatoes & Artichokes

Yield: 3-6, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups drained marinated artichoke hearts
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup Sauvignon Blanc or similar dry white wine
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix together onion, artichokes, tomatoes, white wine, garlic, and seasoning blend. Pour into the slow cooker insert, if using right away. Otherwise refrigerate until ready.
  2. Trim the chicken thighs so that the skin just covers the tops of the thighs like a little
    blanket.
  3. Nestle the chicken thighs in the artichoke mixture, skin side up.
  4. Cover and cook on Low 6-8 hours or until chicken reaches 165°F.

(To save time, and knowing I'm not at my best in the mornings, I combined all the artichoke mixture ingredients in a food storage container the night before and then just poured it into the slow cooker the next morning. I'd like to think this helped give the dish a greater depth of flavor, but I might be reaching).

You could, of course, remove the skin entirely from the thighs but then you'll probably want to pour the artichoke mixture over them so they don't dry out in the slow cooker. I know, it seems impossible food should dry out in such a steamy environment but it has happened to me before so I try to make sure all meats are topped with something juicy -- like sauce or skin -- to keep them moist. The fat melts out of the skin, anyway, flavoring the rest of the dish, and the skin almost disappears into the flesh so there's no need to fear the dread "slimy chicken."

We ate the chicken in shallow bowls with garlic knot rolls for sopping up the sauce, but you could be more "healthful" and have it over whole wheat couscous or quinoa pilaf.

1.17.2016

Slow Cooker Peanut Chicken

When I put Pillsbury's "Slow-Cooker Spicy Chicken in Peanut Sauce" on this week's menu plan I wasn't really thinking about how The Husband might react to it. But, the week moved along and it was the only supper left unmade, I started to fret. Cumin? Cinnamon? Chiles? Peanut butter?


Oh, he was going to hate it.

But he didn't. Except for the peanut garnish (which was too crunchy), he thought the dish was fine and would eat it again. Hooray. I quite liked the dish myself, although I found it more aromatic than flavorful. Other cook's comments on the recipe suggest I am not alone in this, so I might follow a few of their suggestions next time (yes, it's worth making again) and use more peanut butter (maybe a few tablespoons of PB2 stirred into the amount of peanut butter already called for?), more garlic, and add a squirt of sriracha.

1.13.2016

Too Tired Chicken Enchiladas

Last weekend, I had a pound of thawed boneless skinless chicken breasts in the fridge that were nearly at their eat by date and I still had no energy to do anything with them. So I tossed them in the slow cooker with a tablespoon or two of Penzeys salt-free Arizona Dreaming seasoning blend and a jar of salsa and just let them cook away for six or so hours. (Seriously, I wasn't keeping track of things so it could very well have been ten hours). At the end, I shredded them, mixed in half a can of chickpeas (the other half having gone into salad earlier in the week) and shoved it all in the fridge until I was sufficiently motivated to make a proper dish out of it all.


There are probably lots of things I could have done with the shredded chicken and I'm sure Pinterest is full of ideas, if you want to go take a gander, but I just made up a pan of enchiladas and called it good enough. I simply mixed the shredded chicken and beans with enchilada sauce, cilantro, and crumbled queso Cotija then spread the mixture down the middle of multigrain tortillas, rolled the tortillas up, popped them in a rectangular baker, covered them with more enchilada sauce and Cotija and baked them at 425°F until everything was brown and bubbly.

These "enchiladas" were surprisingly good and even reheated pretty well for lunches, so hooray!

12.16.2015

Slow Cooker Tuna Casserole

This slow cooker casserole is based on a Betty Crocker's "Easy Slow-Cooker Turkey Tetrazzini" recipe, but I've adapted it to use tuna, more vegetables, less cheese, and no wine. Also, the original was pretty high in sodium, so I tried to use lower sodium ingredients where possible here (it could easily have been even lower sodium, but I couldn't be arsed running to the store "just" for low sodium soup and tuna) and omitted the salt the original recipe called for. The finished dish certainly didn't taste bland, so don't worry about missing the salt.

Just one of those easy slow cooker dishes that creates a lot of recycling :)

Slow Cooker Tuna Casserole

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 10½ oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1¼ cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 5 oz cans solid white albacore in water, drained and flaked
  • ½ cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 4 oz jar chopped pimientos, drained
  • 6.5 oz can no-salt-added sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 6 oz uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken in half and then half again
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat slow cooker insert with cooking spray or olive oil.
  2. To insert, add soup, broth, cream, tuna, cheese, onion, pimientos, mushrooms, dried parsley, garlic powder, thyme, and pepper. Stir well.
  3. Add broken noodles and stir until just combined. Try to poke the noodles down so they're as covered in liquid as possible.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours until noodles are tender, stirring once about halfway through. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the frozen peas.

I forgot to add the parsley so I stirred it in at the halfway point.

If you're not around to stir it at the halfway point, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Just be sure to give it a real good stir when you add the peas.

The original recipe just adds the peas in with everything else, but after four hours in the slow cooker I found they lost they're bright green color and had, unsurprisingly, gone pretty mushy. Popping them in at the end helps retain their color and body.

Because the original Betty Crocker recipe is so easy to modify, I'm kind-of tempted to try another variation with chicken, spinach instead of peas, and lots more peppers ... Hmm. There's always next week? No, that's Christmas week. The week after that? Hrm.

12.12.2015

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

It may have been 61°F today, but I still went ahead and made a slow cooker beef stew. It had come out pretty well when I threw it together last week so I'd stuck it on this week's menu plan (along with the fire-roasted tomato and white bean soup), completely disregarding the forecast spring-in-December weather.

Anyway, this was a good stew. Rich, hearty, and filling without being stodgy. The meat was meltingly tender, but the vegetables weren't mushy at all and had kept their own flavors, rather than becoming muddled and tasting generically stewy. You know how sometimes you make a slow cooker dish and after eight hours, all the ingredients in the pot have kind of muddled together and don't really taste like themselves anymore? "Is that squishy orange blob a carrot? Don't know. Just tastes like stew." That didn't happen here.

Hurrah.


I served the stew in bowls I'd made from leftover Pillsbury Grands! (Why the exclamation mark? Is it not enough to simply be grand?) biscuits. I followed the instructions provided in the "Grands!® Biscuit Bowls with Chili" recipe. As a technique, it works pretty well, but I'm not sure it is superior to simply hollowing out a bakery-bought sourdough boule. Certainly, I don't think I'd go out and buy a biscuit tube just to make them ... but I had two raw biscuits leftover from the waffled grilled cheese and biscuit bowls sounded like a fun experiment.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb stew beef, cut into small cubes
  • 12 oz chopped white potatoes (peel or don't ... the power is yours)
  • 3 oz chopped carrot (ditto about peeling)
  • 3 oz chopped celery
  • 3 oz chopped yellow onion
  • 4 oz sliced white mushrooms
  • 14½ oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tbsp Penzeys beef soup base
  • 1½ tsp Worcestershire
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup white whole wheat flour

Instructions

  1. Layer potatoes, carrot, celery, onion, and mushrooms at bottom of slow cooker insert. Add beef. Top with fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic.
  2. Whisk together hot water, soup base, Worcestershire, pepper, and flour. Pour over tomatoes.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hrs. Stir well before serving.

I know one cup of stock doesn't seem like enough liquid but trust me -- the vegetables and meat will release a lot of liquid as they cook. Anyway, we want a thick stew and not a brothy soup, right?

11.06.2015

Spicy Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

I keep meaning to menu plan, but then Life Happens and it's another week of catch-as-catch-can meals. I knew there was a package of boneless skinless chicken thighs in the freezer. I thought there was a partial bottle of barbecue sauce in the fridge. Garlic and onions are always on hand. We'd have garlicky slow cooker "barbecue" chicken for supper! Except, after I'd already put the chicken, garlic, and onion in the slow cooker, I realized there was no barbecue sauce in the fridge ...

Erk. So I threw a sorta-barbecue sauce together really fast, dumped it over the chicken, and skedaddled off to work. When I came home that evening, the scent that hit me as I opened the front door just made my mouth water! And what did it taste like? A bit like an Asian(ish) barbecue? A little spicy, a little sweet, and so savory. I'd definitely do it again!


Spicy Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on hunger

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, bashed
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup low-sodium ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ tsp ground ginger root
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Place frozen thighs at the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Top with onion and garlic.
  2. Whisk all remaining ingredients together and pour over chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on Low 8-9 hours.

Yes, I used frozen chicken in this recipe. I know some people are really skittish about doing that, and I used to be, but I've found my slow cooker cooks hot enough on Low that we're unlikely to get food poisoning. Also, starting with frozen meat means that the long cook time (after 8 hours of cooking, mine usually sits at Warm for 2 hours) will not ruin the chicken. Using thighs instead of breasts helps, too, as thighs are simply more forgiving.

4.22.2015

Slow Cooker Salsa Swiss Steak

Sometimes, I basically just type the contents of my kitchen into "the Google" and see what I get. This week, I got Betty Crocker's delicious "Slow-Cooker Salsa Swiss Steak."


I used a bag of frozen sliced peppers and onions instead of fresh, but otherwise followed the recipe to a T with pretty tasty results. The meat was as tender as pot roast and the sauce was rich and flavorful ... but, I admit, it could have used a couple cloves of garlic. What isn't improved by a little garlic, though?

4.17.2015

Succulent & Savory Slow Cooker Country-Style Ribs

My mom used to bake bone-in country-style pork spare ribs in her big blue and white flowered Corningware dutch oven that, I swear, were so tender and succulent that they just fell off the bone. We'd eat them with peas and mashed potatoes covered in the thick, rich tomato-y gravy.

And I do not have her recipe. And I wanted to use a slow cooker, anyway. So I turned to the Internets and found a delicious-sounding recipe at The Southern Lady Cooks. I added a couple dashes of liquid smoke, as one of the commenters suggested, and let the ribs soak overnight in the sauce before I put everything in the slow cooker.

So my best shot was potato-centric :( They were good garlicky mashed potatoes, though.
This is really my favorite kind of slow cooker recipe -- just dump everything in the slow cooker, go away for a good long time, come back to pure unmitigated delicousness.

Saucy ingredients ;)
The ribs were very good -- tender, flavorful, and falling off the bone. The Husband thought they were a little messy, but ribs can be. My only complaint was that I thought they could use a little heat -- maybe a squirt of sriracha in with the other sauce ingredients next time.

Tender, fall-apart ribs.
And, of course, I still need to get my Mom's recipe!