Crockpotin’ Sunday: Polenta and Swiss Chard.

My husband was the first person to introduce me to the magic of the crockpot, and it is a staple tool in our house.  We had a crockpot before we had cutlery (er…silverware).  The crockpot also has its downfalls – lots of recipes can turn into long-simmered mush with indiscriminate flavor.  One of the best crockpot recipe books I’ve found is Williams Sonoma’s The New Slow Cooker.  I received this as a bridal shower gift, and despite the Washington, DC summer heat, its pages already feature cooking stains.

A Sunday at home means a more leisurely meal, and unlike work days, I can tinker around with recipes in the 3-4 hour timeframe, as opposed to the 7-9.    This Sunday’s plan was Polenta and Swiss Chard.  As it turns out, neither Trader Joe’s nor Safeway carry ground polenta, and not so much on the Swiss Chard, either.  New plan: Risotto with Bitter Greens.

Risotto

  • 3 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • garlic
  • chopped onion
  • salt, pepper
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 block fontina cheese, cut into blocks

Sticking all the ingredients (minus the cheese!) in the crockpot, I set it on high for 2.5 hours and let it go, stirring a few times.  It was done at about 2 hours…and a little salty, even for my taste.  I added some water to dilute the salt taste, folded in the cheese and topped with the Swiss Chard/Bitter Greens, below.

Swiss Chard (aka Bitter Greens)

  • full bag of greens
  • cherry tomatoes
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • chopped onion

After heating the olive oil and sauteeing the onions, I added the fresh ingredients and let them cook down.  Served over the risotto.

The Verdict: 

Not a meal to make if your pants are feeling a little tight – that risotto sits in your stomach (and the cheese doesn’t help).  The risotto comes out a little gummy, and there is far more risotto than vegetables.  A good meal from the lunch leftover perspective.  All in all, something to tweak for the future.

Planning Ahead.

The idea for this blog is simple: I love to cook, and I love to eat.  My husband especially likes the latter, even if he has a slightly picky palate.  Both of those things require planning ahead, especially if you’re 1) trying to be budget conscious and/or 2) trying to watch the waistline.  I do a mediocre job at both, and this is my attempt to change that.

By plotting out the week ahead against the calendar, figuring out what nights I’ll cook, making a grocery list to fit that plan, executing it… and keeping track of it, I should be able to figure out which meals we like, which meals are easy, which ones are less so but  are worth it, and most importantly, which meals we can turn to over and over again when inevitably, my planning fails.

The Menu 

Sunday – Polenta with Swiss Chard in the crockpot

Monday – Coconut Curry Salmon

Tuesday – Book club, aka WINE & CHEESE night

Wednesday – Ground chicken lettuce wraps

Thursday – Out to dinner with friends

Friday – Frozen pizza (can we call that a real plan?!)

Let’s do this.