Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

It’s been at least two or three weeks since I last busted out our crockpot, which just isn’t right.  Thinking about how to right that wrong, I decided it was time to build on the earlier success of this week (I was pretty pumped for being able to rescue the curried red lentil soup) – and do it all over again.  That’s how you learn, right?  Recipe inspired and adapted from Food & Wine.

these veggies are excited for the crockpot.
these veggies are excited to get crockpotin’.

Slow Cooked Chicken, Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Curry Stew

  • 1 pound or so chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry (Note: this would probably be tastier with chicken thighs, but the Husband and I BOTH don’t like dark meat = at least we’re equally weird.)
  • salt + pepper
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (Tip: keep a fresh ginger root in your freezer and just grate it as you need it!)
  • 2 tablespoons or so curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, for kick
  • 1/4 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 15 oz light coconut milk
  • 1 bag frozen peas, thawed (Tip: just take them out of the bag, sit in them in a colander and let drain as the rest of the dish slow cooks)
  • optional: cilantro, lime
yea, veggies.
  1. Heat oil in a hot saute pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear them on each side, until just golden brown.  Transfer to your crockpot.
  2. In the same saute pan, reduce the heat, add a bit more oil and then your onions.  Saute until starting to soften, then add garlic & ginger.  Cook for a minute, then add curry powder and chili paste.  Cook another minute or so and then add your broth, scraping up the yummy bits from the pan.  Pour over the chicken in the crockpot.
  3. Add sweet potato, cauliflower, and coconut milk to the crockpot and give it a quick toss.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on low for about 7-8 hours, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in the peas until warmed through.  Serve over brown rice, squeeze with a hit of lime juice, and top with cilantro.
mm, mm good.
mm, mm good.


 The Verdict:

This 1. was just the right amount of spicy; 2. smelled awesome; and 3. tasted great.  Veggies were maybe slightly mushy, and there was a lot of liquid.  With a bit of tweaking on this adaptation, this is a winner.  That will feed you for days. And days.  (Especially when the Hubs is at work – nothing like a crockpot full of chicken and veggies for one, okthanks.)

The Ultimate Go-To: Spicy BBQ Pulled Chicken with Broccoli Slaw

When I started this blog, I wanted a way to quickly catalog those recipes that were home runs, ones that I could turn to over and over again every time I started thinking “I have no idea what to make tonight.”  In other words, I wanted to catalog our “go-tos.”

The following is THE go-to in our house.  Cooking for a crowd?  Need a lot of leftovers?  Don’t have more than 10 minutes to cook? Going to happy hour and you’re not sure if you’ll be eating there or at home?  This is the answer, every time.  It’s not elevated cooking, but it’s delicious, it’s plentiful, and it’s oh-so-easy.

Spicy BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • 3/4 of 1 can cola (not diet!)
  • 1 jar spicy BBQ sauce – our favorite is Stubb’s
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 lbs chicken breasts (can obviously also make with pork)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • freshly cracked black pepper, crushed red peppers
  • good buns
  • optional: chips, pepper jack cheese
  1. Add onions and garlic to a slow cooker.  Season the chicken breasts with black pepper and the crushed reds and then layer them on top of the onions and garlic.  Cover the chicken (just barely) with the cola and BBQ sauce.  Set heat on low and cook 8-9 hours.
  2. At the end of the cook time, use forks to shred the chicken (if there’s too much liquid, mix in a teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken up the sauce).  Serve with warmed buns; top with coleslaw.
tastier than it looks.  i promise.
tastier than it looks. i promise.

Broccoli Slaw with Homemade Dressing

  • 1 package broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s carries this, but I’ve recently seen in Harris Teeter and in Safeway, as well!)
  • For the dressing:
    • 1/2 -1 cup light mayonnaise
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 4-5 tablespoons cider vinegar, depending on how tart you like your dressing
    • 2 teaspoons pepper
    • dash salt
    • one heaping tablespoon prepared horseradish
    • teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • optional: dash celery seed
  1. Prepare the dressing by whisking all of your ingredients, minus broccoli, together in a bowl.  Stir thoroughly, until the sugar dissolves.  Do a bit of taste-testing along the way to make sure it has the right amount of tang for you.
  2. Toss thoroughly with the broccoli slaw.  If you like, refrigerate a bit before serving.
hello, comfort.
hello, comfort.

We’re Having a (Dinner) Party: Cheesy Baked Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage

About three weeks before we got married, the Husband and I were not so kindly informed that our landlord wanted to move back into our apartment.  Needless to say, I was less than pleased.  More than a few tears were shed; lots of panicked hours on Craigslist spent.  Nevertheless, as these things often go, it turned out to be a surprisingly good thing.  When we moved into our new apartment a few short weeks later, I was ecstatic to realize: I now had room for a kitchen table.  For SIX people.  The kitchen from my childhood home was delivered by my not-so-little brother, we bought six chairs, and last night, we hosted our first dinner party.  Moving to the big kids’ sandbox, as they say.

a real kitchen table!
a real kitchen table!

Drawing inspiration from the intrepid Pioneer Woman, I made our baked rigatoni on Thursday night, as I (rightly) didn’t think I’d have time to get everything done before folks came over on Friday night.  This recipe is far from healthy…but it’s been a whole week since Thanksgiving, so it’s about that time again, right? Then, it was just a matter of making a salad, warming up some bread, and sliding the rigatoni in the oven.

Cheesy Baked Rigatoni with Chicken Sausage

  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken sausage (out of their casings)
  • 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 28 oz jar of marinara sauce
  • chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley) and/or a big handful Italian Seasoning
  • salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 16 oz bags of rigatoni (Note: I cooked up one 16 oz bag only originally, and then worried I wouldn’t have enough for 6 people.)
  • 1 tub (15 oz) ricotta cheese (I promise, use the whole milk kind.  SO much better.)
  • lots and lots of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • For flair: fresh sliced mozzarella, more fresh herbs
  1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until they start to turn transcluent.  Add the sausage and ground turkey and cook until browned, making sure to break it all up. Drain off most of the fat (leave a bit behind!).
  2. Add whole tomatoes (and their juice), marinara sauce, salt, pepper, herbs (or Italian seasoning), and crushed red pepper. Let it simmer 20-25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water until just under al dente.  Drain and then rinse in cold water.  Don’t overcook – you need it to retain some structure post-oven time.
  4. If you’re baking right away, this is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, about 2 cups of grated mozzarella, a big handful of Parmesan, the egg, salt, and pepper.  Mix together until combined but still lumpy.
  6. Mix together the cheese and pasta.  Slowly add 3-4 cups of the sauce and keep (gently) combining.  This should almost look like a lumpy vodka sauce.
  7. In a large baking dish, add half the pasta as a bottom layer.  Spread about half the remaining sauce over the pasta, then top with mozzarella.  Repeat with another layer of pasta, sauce, and mozzarella.  Add some Parmesan if you like to the top layer.  You can also add additional fresh herbs (I used basil) and sliced mozzarella.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
  9. Pop open a couple of bottles of red and let the games begin!
  10. NOTE:  If you’re making this ahead of time, be sure to wrap tightly both in plastic wrap and then foil before refrigerating.  When you’re ready, pop the rigatoni directly from the fridge into a COLD oven set to 350 degrees (no pre-heating) and bake for an hour.  Probably better to use a non-glass dish for those fridge to oven transitions, also.  Learned that one the hard way…
that's a whole lot of cheese.
that’s a whole lot of cheese.


The Verdict:

Turns out I probably didn’t need to worry about the amount of food – this was more than enough.  And it was delicious, if I do say so myself.  Probably a bit too much work (not that it was hard, just time consuming) to be a go-to – but a great option for a dinner party.  And the best part? Seeing our friends.

More Martha: Super Simple Garlic-Roasted Chicken and Sauteed Broccolini

Back-to-back Martha nights.  Flipping through (one of her many) cookbooks this past weekend, I was drawn to a recipe so simple, so straightforward, I was surprised Martha bothered to devote two whole pages (granted, one is a full-blown, gorgeous picture) to it.  Could making tasty chicken be as simple as sticking it in the oven?  Martha: challenge accepted.

Super Simple Garlic-roasted Chicken Breasts

  • olive oil
  • 4 heads garlic
  • fresh rosemary (or oregano, or thyme, or whatever fresh herb you have)
  • 2 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry (I used skinless and boneless; this would probably be way better with both skin and bone intact)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the tops off from the garlic heads and reserve them.  Arrange the tops, cut sides down, in the center of a baking dish.  Lay the herbs over the garlic, place the chicken over the herbs, and put another sprig of herbs over the chicken.
  2. Arrange the reserved bottoms next to the chicken in the pan.  Drizzle the chicken and the garlic with olive oil.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the chicken for 25 minutes or so, or until cooked through.  If you’re using skin-on breasts, continue roasting until the skin is browned and juices start to run clear – you’ll want to save the juice to drizzle over the top at the end.

Sauteed Broccolini with Lemon and Pine Nuts

  • 1 bunch broccolini (or broccoli, or broccoli rabe), ends trimmed
  • handful pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the broccolini for about a minute, or until bright green.  Drain.
  2. Heat a medium saute pan over low-medium heat and toast the pine nuts until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan.
  3. Add olive oil and heat through.  Add the broccolini; toss with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, until heated through but still crunchy.
  4. Toss the broccolini with pine nuts, lemon juice and parmesan cheese, if you so choose.
  5. Serve the chicken and broccolini with crusty bread – I drizzled a loaf with olive oil and rubbed the extra roasted garlic and heated it through.
not nearly as pretty as martha's picture, but it'll have to do.
not nearly as pretty as martha’s picture, but it’ll have to do.

The Verdict:

As an answer to the challenge, Martha, this was tasty, but I think you (and I) can do better.  Given I used skinless, boneless breasts, this would have been better with a sauce.  I thought about making one with white wine, the lemon juice and a little bit of butter, but somehow execution escaped me.  Luckily, both the Husband and I actually like chicken breast on the drier side (proof that there’s someone out there for everyone!).  I also feel the garlic went a bit wasted (just stuck there in the little garlic head packets?)- good thing roasted garlic is delicious on its own.  Unfortunately, the Husband likes that a little less than I do…

Not a Winner.

Well, we knew this day was coming.  The day we wouldn’t want to record a recipe forever on the internet.

In short, we (actually, the Husband) made the chicken tikka masala recipe on Thursday evening.  He, unlike me, followed the recipe exactly.  And as he said at the end, “it was edible…but not tikka masala.”  That a resounding approbation it is not.  So instead of sharing the recipe, I will say this: the Husband can cook and he will be back.  (Possibly next week, when I take off for a work trip.)  And, since I went to three grocery stores in order to hunt down some garam masale (tip: Whole Foods carries it!), we will be trying some different tikka masala recipes in the future.  Just not this particular one.

not great, not terrible, just...edible.
not great, not terrible, just…edible.