So I’ve always really loved my slow cooker. Always. But now, I really, really, really love my slow cooker. Without it, we would be eating cereal, ice cream, and peppermint patties for dinner. Which was ok while I was pregnant (I DID throw in some prenatal vitamins, ok?) but not so much anymore. At some point, I’d like not to LOOK pregnant anymore.
This dish is a 7AM, pre-work, post-feeding baby creation. As in, what do we already have that I can throw in the slow cooker, get dressed, get baby ready, go to work, come home, feed baby, and then feed Husband and me? This, is turns out.
- 2 breasts chicken, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 jalapeno, partially de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 can diced tomatoes (I liked using the ones with a bit of diced chili pepper)
- splash chicken stock
- about a teaspoon salt
- about a teaspoon pepper
- handful cumin
- about a teaspoon turmeric
- about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- to serve:
- couscous, cilantro, sour cream/Greek yogurt
- Dump everything in the crockpot. That’s right. No pre-seasong, no pre-searing, just straight into the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over couscous (takes less than 2 minutes to cook! amazing!).
I was surprised by how delicious this was, given the haphazard way it came together. Hence, why I’m sharing it here with you. Huge bonus: it makes enough so that you don’t have to worry about dinner the following night.
It does make me wonder, though – what do normal, non-cereal eating working-outside-of-the-house people make for dinner!? Please (please) enlighten me.
You know those bus ads that roll past you with some amazing picture of someone doing something somewhere ridiculous and at the bottom it says “taken with an iPhone”? Yea, so my iPhone pictures don’t look anything like that. (Maybe because my life doesn’t really look like this. Although I did pay for the ridiculous storage upgrade so I can now take thousands and thousands of pictures of baby, all doing the same thing, lying on our bed. Maybe not the same thing.)
Of course, that doesn’t stop me from thinking: now that it’s awful and dark and rainy out, maybe the iPhone camera will be able to create some magic in the kitchen. First up, these leek fritters, taken unabashedly from the Smitten Kitchen, in honor of Rosh Hashanah. Yes, I know that latkes are for Hanukkah and moreover, that they’re made with potatoes. But who wouldn’t want to start the New Year, though, with some fried onions with cream and garlic?
- 3-4 large leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly crosswise
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced down to the white parts
- about 1/4 cup flour
- dash garlic powder
- dash crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- for the sauce:
- about half a cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- a bit of lemon zest
- pepper, salt to taste
- optional: dash hot sauce
- additional eggs, for frying and serving on top
**tip: if you’re serving these for dinner, this makes a comfortable amount for 2 people for dinner. Otherwise, double the recipe if you’re serving 4, etc.
- Prep your vegetables. Trim the leeks, leaving the white and pale green parts. Cut them lengthwise and slice them thinly crosswise. Slice up the scallions, discarding the bottom parts.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and boil the leeks for about 3-4 minutes. Drain, and then wring all the water out using a dish towel, paper towel, or cheese cloth. Try to get out as much water as you can.
- Mix the leeks and the scallions in a large bowl with your fingers, making sure to break up the clumps of leeks that will form after you wring them out.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic powder. Add to the leeks/scallions, and then add one egg. Give it all a stir so a lumpy batter forms.
- Preheat an oven and a baking sheet so you can keep your batches of leeks warm.
- Over medium to medium-low heat, heat more butter than you think your heart wants, and then add little drops of batter to the pan, smushing each little drop so it forms a flat pancake. Fry each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. When nice and toasty, transfer to the warmed oven. Repeat until you finish off the batter.
- While your fritters cook, mix together your cream sauce by adding the sour cream, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, salt, pepper and hot sauce together and whisking.
- When the last of your fritters is sitting in the oven, fry up a couple of eggs to finish off your meal. Serve hot.
Deb Perelman promises that these keep well in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for about a month – simply warm them up in a 325 degree oven to get them nice and crisp again. The Husband and I have no idea if this is true, because we gobbled all of these right up.
While I grant that it’s totally odd to be eating heavy slow cooker dishes when the temperature outside is approaching 100 degrees F and every time we step outside I melt into a small puddle that incidentally seems to attract all the mosquitoes in the DMV area, the slow cooker seems to be one of the few ways I actually get dinner to the table these days. Just another reason for my love affair with the crock pot: dinner can basically be done by the time baby goes down for and then wakes up from his first nap. And I can spend the rest of the day feeling like at least I accomplished one thing.
Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- salt and pepper
- coconut oil
- 2 cans coconut milk
- a big heap fresh basil
- a big handful yellow curry powder
- a handful chili powder
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- a big squeeze chili paste or 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
- to serve:
- cooked rice or barley
- more basil
- sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a little bit of coconut oil.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add them to the pan (don’t overcrowd the pan!) and get a nice brown sear on each side. Remove to a plate while you assemble the slow cooker ingredients.
- In the slow cooker, combine coconut milk, basil, about 2 teaspoons salt and a teaspoon pepper, curry powder, and chili powder. Stir to combine and then add the red onions, garlic, and chili paste/jalapeno. Place the seared chicken on top.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then remove the chicken; let it cool for a few minutes so you can shred it.
- As chicken cools, add the ginger to the slow cooker. Combine a little bit of cornstarch or flour with about a tablespoon cold water and give it a quick stir – add this to the slow cooker to help thicken the sauce a bit.
- Shred the chicken, removing the bones, and then return it to the crock pot. Cook on low for another ten minutes or so.
- Serve on rice (we used barley – oh so good), topped with cilantro.
Of all the dishes in slow cooker land, this is the one I’ve heard the most rave reviews from my husband about. In fact, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be posting this recipe, with the 100 degree heat and all, but then Husband asked: “but what if you forget how you made it?!” I won’t, because I basically just adapted to our taste from this fabulous lady, but your wish is my command, honey.
I know I complained about the weather in my last post, and my ploy seems to have worked. It’s now gloriously sunshine-y, and creeping up into the 70s. Hello, DC that I love – all glorious three weeks before it becomes so hot and muggy you start walking around with a scarf and a fleece again – to protect yourself when you enter the arctic tundra that is DC office buildings in the summer. #firstworldproblems
Of course, the one downside to the beautiful change in seasons is the slow creep away from those hearty, soul-filling foods. When my sister visited a few weeks ago (how surreal is this: the LAST time I will see her before I become a MOM), we spent almost a full day planning out a menu (clearly, we’re sisters, and daughters of our mom), and took full advantage of one of the last cold blasts of the winter season. OK, now I’m really ready for summer.
Lentil & Kielbasa Soup (an Ina Garten special)
- 1/2 pound green lentils
- olive oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 2 leeks, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- salt, pepper, red hot chili flakes
- 8 stalks fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 4-6 stalks celery, diced
- 4 carrots, diced
- 10 cups chicken stock
- a big squeeze tomato paste
- 1/2 – 1 pound kielbasa
- big splash red wine
- to serve:
- parmesan cheese
- green onions
- Wash the lentils, and then, in a large bowl, cover them with boiling water. Allow them to sit for about 15 minutes. Drain.
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and then saute onions. After a minute or two, add the leeks, the garlic, salt, pepper, red hots, thyme and cumin, and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Add celery and carrots; saute another 10 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils. Cover and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer (uncovered) for about an hour – until the lentils are completely cooked through. Add kielbasa, red wine, and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Adjust seasonings – and serve with your choice of topping.
As you can imagine, this soup gets even better when it sits overnight, soaking up all the goodness. If it’s not spring/summer yet where you live – make this. It will NOT disappoint.