Slow Cooked Moroccan Chicken

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.

 Moroccan Chicken

  • 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
  1. 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!).

The Verdict:

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.

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Slow Cooked Coconut Curry Chicken

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.

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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
    • cilantro
    • more basil
    • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add a little bit of coconut oil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then remove the chicken; let it cool for a few minutes so you can shred it.
  5. 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.
  6. Shred the chicken, removing the bones, and then return it to the crock pot.  Cook on low for another ten minutes or so.
  7. Serve on rice (we used barley – oh so good), topped with cilantro.

The Verdict:

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.

Slow Cooker Ramen

No one who lives in DC is actually from here.  “Home” is always a word for another state, another city, another place – even if that’s somewhere in the DMV area (so, I admit I don’t think Fairfax counts as DC).  Somehow, almost 14 years have passed since I first moved here, and when I talk about going home, I always mean Boston.

However, there are some signs that my son will mean “DC” when he talks about home.  Like the fact that we just bought a house here. (Side note:  Yea, so that happened, and it was terrifying.)  And he owns more DC-onesies than can fit in his chest of drawers.  And most importantly, the local ramen guy knows his parents, and always manages to squeeze them in ahead of the long line.  Thanks, Tony.

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Slow Cooker Ramen, inspired by Cooking Light

  • canola or olive oil
  • 2 pounds pork roast or loin
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • 2 onions, peeled and halved horizontally
  • 8 cups chicken stock (can also use some water instead)
  • 1/4 cup  soy sauce, divided
  • 2 containers shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • about 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 package fresh udon noodles
  • one egg per servings planned (i.e., one egg per bowl)
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, sliced
  • a handful of sesame seeds
  • optional – 1 sheet nori, cut into very thin strips; 1 cup or so corn kernels

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil to pan. Season the pork with salt and pepper, and then add pork to the pan and sear on all sides.  Place in the slow cooker.

2. Increase the heat of the skillet and add onions, cut side down.  Cook until charred, and then transfer to slow cooker. Add the stock and about two tablespoons of soy sauce to the slow cooker.  Shake some red pepper in there for heat. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and add those to the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

3. Remove pork from cooker and let rest while you thinly slice the mushroom caps.  Strain the mushroom caps from the brother.  Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, mushroom caps, sesame oil, and ginger to slow cooker. Cook on high for 20 minutes. Add noodles and corn to slow cooker; cook 5 minutes.

4. As the noodles cook, poach an egg or two to serve. Serve with the soup, sprinkle with sesame seeds, scallions, and nori, if using.

The Verdict:

No one will be replacing Sakuramen anytime soon, but goodness this was good.

Slow Cooked Chicken Coconut Curry

On March 7, the Capital Weather Gang – the coolest (ha!) gang around – declared winter in DC to be officially over.

The CWG is a really big deal around here.  Like when they say tomorrow is a Four Domes day  (– that’s four Capitol domes to you, non-DC native) – you KNOW you’re sleeping in late tomorrow, and at the very best, you’ll be “teleworking.” Hello, federal government.

So when they said winter was over, and spring was here, and that there’d be no more snow, and that only sunshine and puppies and rainbows were ahead, we BELIEVED them.  The whole CITY believed them.  There were discounts at coffee shops and consignment stores to celebrate the arrival of spring.

In other words, I live in Washington, DC, ok?  I shouldn’t be waddling to work in my down coat on April 13th.  CWG, next time, knock on wood when you make declarative statements like “pronouncing winter over now is really, really safe.”

The only saving grace is that it’s totally acceptable to make really heavy, spicy, ridiculously easy winter curries in our crock pot.

Slow Cooked Chicken Coconut Curry

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  • 1-2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk (light is fine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 1 big handful curry powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • a big pinch salt
  • 1 big pinch pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • optional – chopped jalapeno (*note – between the sambal oelek and the red pepper flakes, this dish is one hot wollop of a dish)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • for serving:
    • cooked basmati rice
    • chopped cilantro
    • coconut flakes
  1. Put all ingredients from chicken through black pepper in the crock pot and give it a good stir.  Cover and cook on low for four hours.
  2. At the four hour mark, add the bell pepper and cook for about 20 minutes.  Add a bit of cornstarch to thicken up the mixture and cook another 10 minutes or so (don’t let your bell peppers get soggy).
  3. Serve with rice and your desired toppings.  Keep some milk/water nearby because it will light your mouth on fire (in a good way).

The Verdict:

Plentiful, spicy-ful, ridiculously easy, and definitely good for making you think about warmer climates, where there are no down coats and no domes looming in your future.

 

 

 

Slow Cooked Pork with Spicy Squash

We all know that chez nous, we have a strong, strong affinity for the slow cooker.  One might even say it’s a deep, passionate love, if that weren’t a somewhat odd thing to say about something you plug into the wall.

However, I do have a bone to pick with some slow cooker recipes. I’m looking at you, Williams Sonoma.   As in: the whole POINT of the slow cooker is so you can fix it and forget it and still have a delicious meal at the end of the day.  So while I love you, WS, think about this the next time you suggest an ingredient addition at the two hour mark, or a quick pass through the oven at the 90 minute mark, or removing the meat and adding some separately cooked vegetables about 3 hours in.  Just, no.  No one has time for that.  If they did, they’d be actively cooking, and not plugging their dinner into the wall.

Now that the rant section is over, let’s get on with the rave section.  As in this pork recipe.  Adapted from WS, this is a (really) good one, folks. And it’s a (mostly) fix-it-and-forget-it situation.

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Slow Cooked Pork with Spicy Squash

for the pork

  • large (2-3 pounds) pork tenderloin
  • salt, pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • big splash white wine or sherry
  • about 1/2 cup chicken stock

for the squash

  • 1 package pre-cut butternut squash
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red peppers
  • asian-lime vinaigrette:
    • olive oil (about 2 TBs)
    • soy sauce (about 2TBs)
    • juice from 1 lime
    • sherry or red wine vinegar (about 2 Tsp.)
    • pinch sugar
    • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
    • Sriracha (about 1 TB)
    • big handful basil, chopped
    • big handful cilantro, chopped
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper and then sear each side in olive oil, over medium-high heat, in a large saute pan.  (This is important for flavor.) Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. In the saute pan, add the onions and let them cook down a bit, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic when the onions are nice and soft and cook about a minute or two; add the wine/sherry.  Scrape up the nice brown bits, add the stock, cook it off for about a minute and then add to the slow cooker, over the pork.  Cover and cook on low about 6-7 hours (Note: if you’re using a fattier cut of meat, such as pork butt or shoulder, you could let it roll for longer.)
  3. About 30 minutes before the pork finishes, get your squash roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  On a large jelly roll pan, spread out the squash, drizzle olive oil, and then season with salt, pepper and crushed reds.  Make sure it’s nice and tossed through, and then pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is nice and roasted.
  4. While the squash and pork finish, make your vinaigrette.  Combine all of the ingredients, whisk them together, and set aside.  You could also add jalapeno or chilis, if you have them on hand.  Reserve a bit of vinaigrette, as well as cilantro/basil for sprinkling on top of the pork/squash.
  5. Shred the pork in the slow cooker and spoon some of the liquid over it, to keep it moist.  Add the vinaigrette to the squash separately, and give it a good toss.
  6. On a plate, make a bed out of the squash and serve the pork on top.  Drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette and top with basil and/or cilantro.

The Verdict:

Hello, delicious!  The vinaigrette and fresh herbs really make this one pop, so make sure you have that on hand and ready to go for this meal.  (After, of course, you enjoy 6-7 hours away from your plugged-in dinner!).