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.
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
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.
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.
Add sweet potato, cauliflower, and coconut milk to the crockpot and give it a quick toss. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook on low for about 7-8 hours, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
Stir in the peas until warmed through. Serve over brown rice, squeeze with a hit of lime juice, and top with cilantro.
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.)
A few years ago, I received one of the best Christmas gifts ever: an immersion blender. (Oh, boy. I am definitely getting older.) No longer did I have to transfer batches of boiling hot vegetables into a blender; no longer did I have to sully yet another pot or tool. Soon after that, I embarked on a winter of pureed soups – broccoli, butternut squash, even cauliflower and asparagus.
I particularly like the heartiness of butternut squash soup. I’ve made it with apples, with onions, with sour cream…but never with coconut milk, as the November issue of Cooking Light suggests. So, this past Saturday, when the Husband and I ran into a friend (the husband, actually, of the amazing chef who put together the Diwali feast) who was flying solo for the evening, we invited him to dinner and hoped the crockpot – and the coconut – would turn on some magic. I served this up with a cauliflower side, coming in a separate post.
Crockpot Coconut and Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (tip: I keep a fresh ginger root in the freezer and just grate it as I need. Nice and easy!)
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
8 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (tip: buy the pre-diced at Trader Joe’s, if there’s one near you)
3-4 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
1 potato, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lime
1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
Heat oil and butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook about 8 minutes, until the onion is softened.
Combine onion mixture, squash, stock, potato, brown sugar and salt and pepper in your crockpot. Cover and cook and low for 6-8 hours.
With your immersion blender, blend the mixture together in the crockpot until smooth (alternatively, use a regular blender, working in batches). Stir in the lime juice and the coconut milk until the soup turns a nice light orange color. Top with cilantro and serve.
The Husband was very skeptical about the coconut milk, not being a coconut fan. But I’m here to say: it works! (And he and our guest both had seconds.) The creaminess of the butternut combined with the coconut milk definitely requires the kick of the pepper (although the curry definitely lends it some heat) and the acidity of the lime, but this is a squash soup for the rotation.
I think it’s traditional to cook fish on Friday, but when you grocery shop on a Sunday, there’s no way you want that salmon sitting around in your fridge that long. That is why, despite coming home late from work today with a full-on case of the Mondays, I forced myself to cook that baby up. Note to self – that’s why planning out the week is so helpful!
Cooking Light is a standard go-to for recipe ideas. I generally don’t quite follow them to a “T” – meaning my meals are not always fit to be called “light” – but I do enjoy pretending that I’m cooking healthfully. This one is no exception – heavily inspired by their recipe for Coconut Curry Salmon with Basmati Rice and Snow Peas.
Coconut Curry Salmon with Asian-inspired Slaw
for the fish…
1 tablespoon brown sugar
juice from a leftover lime and a leftover lemon
big spoonful of Sambal Oelek (or any type of chili paste)
1 (15-ounce) can light coconut milk
salmon fillets, skinned
Combine the sugar, lime/lemon juice, curry paste and can of coconut milk in a large skillet, heat slightly. Add the fish to the pan and bring it to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes. Serve over Asian slaw…below.
for the slaw…
one bag of cabbage/shaved brussels sprouts (from Trader Joe’s, obvi)
1. Heated two turns of dark sesame oil in a large saute pan; added the garlic for a minute or two and then the slaw. A few turns with both the soy sauce and the rice vinegar, and then cooked it all down together.
The husband makes a big point out of not liking fish, but since I plan, shop for and cook the meals, we’re slowly incorporating more fish into the diet. He cleaned his plate on this one. This was easy, delicious, and relatively fast. A definite keeper, even if next time I skip the soy sauce on the slaw…too salty.