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.
Q: What do you make for dinner the night before you go back to work after having a baby?
A: Anything you have in your fridge already, so you don’t disturb the good people at the grocery store with your heaving sobs. Oh, and pasta, because that always makes me feel better.
Somehow it’s October. Four months have flown by and my baby is big enough to hold up his own head and smile and generally make my heart sing like those baby animals in Snow White. Naturally, I’m feeling sad and anxious about going from spending all day, every day with him, to only the hours after dark. More about that some other time, I guess.
Anyway, the night before I recommenced working outside the home, we still had to eat and I hadn’t been to the store in quite some time. A perusal through the fridge revealed: half a lemon, half a container of chicken stock, a going-bad-very-quickly package of brussels sprouts, and some Parmesan cheese. Bacon from the freezer and half a box of pasta and presto, dinner in about 30 minutes.
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pasta
- half box pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
- about four slices bacon, chopped
- a few sprigs thyme
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- salt, pepper
- a good amount crushed red pepper
- 1 bag (or 1 branch, or however you buy your sprouts) brussels sprouts
- olive oil or butter
- about 1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine, or just the starchy pasta water
- Parmesan cheese
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil; cook your pasta according to directions and drain, reserving about a cup of the starchy water (if using).
- As your pasta cooks, prep your sprouts. Chop off the tough end of each sprout and add to your food processor. Finely shred all your sprouts.
- Heat a deep, large skillet over medium heat and then add bacon. Crisp it up a bit and then add garlic, taking care not to burn it. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and your crushed red peppers (note: if you like spice, add a fair amount. The crushed red peppers get a bit lost among all the brussels sprouts). Add a few sprigs thyme, as well.
- Add brussels sprouts to pan; spread them out evenly so the shreds start to crisp up underneath a little bit. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of olive oil or butter at this stage! After a while, stir the mixture up to let all the sprouts cook evenly. Add a bit of white wine, stock, or some of the starchy pasta water to start creating a sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and give the whole thing a toss; add lemon juice and Parmesan & season to taste; serve hot.
Make sure to carefully season your pasta throughout the cooking process. I was a bit afraid to oversalt, given the bacon, so I had to make up for this at the end. But this is delicious, and a big bonus is that it makes enough to take for lunch the next day, too. The only remaining question: what do you make for dinner AFTER the day after you start working..and the day after that, and the day after that?
Answer: you marry into literally the best family ever and your MIL brings you a delicious lasagna.
A few weeks ago our dishwasher stopped working. This was not a big surprise; the appliances in our kitchen are all from the late 1970s, early 1980s if you’re feeling generous. The joys of renting an apartment is that you can know nothing about dishwashers, and yet, they still somehow magically get fixed.
Except in this case, we now have a new fridge and a new stove, but our dishwasher is still sad and broken. On the bright side, when we cleaned out the fridge, we also tackled the cabinets. I found a bag of red lentils my mom bought when the baby was first born. I also found a green curry paste that went bad in May 2013. Do lentils + curry = dinner? Though the can of paste went in the garbage, we dined on this delicious concoction last night.
Red Lentil Coconut Basil Curry
- coconut oil
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
- about 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I keep mine in the freezer for just this occasion)
- big handful curry powder
- about a teaspoon cumin
- about half a teaspoon cinnamon
- about a teaspoon salt
- just a sprinkle of red crushed peppers
- half a teaspoon turmeric
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1 cup red lentils
- about 4-5 leaves basil
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- a big handful baby spinach
- juice from half a lime
- to serve: naan or rice, Greek yogurt, green onions
- In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over a medium heat and add onions. Saute about 4-5 minutes, and add garlic and ginger. Cook until everything is nice and soft.
- Add all of the spices (curry powder, cinnamon, salt, turmeric, cumin, crushed red peppers) and the jalapeno and give everything a good toss through. (Don’t be afraid to add a little more coconut oil to keep the spices from sticking to the pan.)
- Add the lentils, coconut milk, stock and basil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the spinach and fold in gently, letting it wilt. Add lime juice and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with rice or naan, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Top with a bit of green onion for a nice finish.
The answer to the question above is a resounding yes. This is so, so good. Even better, it’s healthy (I think). Best of all, this cooks itself in about 25 minutes, total. That includes the time to cut your veggies and mince your garlic. Yes.
For the last four or so years that we’ve lived together, my husband and I have spent weekend mornings lazing around in bed. Around 10 AM, our bed became think tank HQ for plotting out weekend days and nights. There were big, strategic decisions to be made: where might we want to go eat for dinner? with whom should we try to make plans? what fun things did we want to do?
Now weekend mornings are just a little different. For one: they begin earlier, as the newest member of our household doesn’t understand the concept of sleeping in. For another: it’s a lot less think tank, a lot more operations management. When and where and how are we going to squeeze in naptime and feeding time and cleaning all the things time? For one more: we spend a lot less time planning Saturday night and more time planning Monday night. As in, what can I make for dinner that will be quick and easy and also quick and easy?
The husband came up with the below. Bonus: it’s good hot or cold and even sneaks you some veggies.
Almost Greek Tortellini Salad
- 1 package tortellini
- 1 red onion, chopped
- about 3-4 oz sundried tomatoes, preferably packed in oil
- 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- about 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- a big handful spinach
- obviously optional – olives. I hear some people like these.
- for the dressing:
- olive oil
- red wine or balsamic vinegar
- dash cumin
- salt, pepper
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- dash oregano
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the tortellini according to the directions; drain. While this gets going, prep all your veggies and put them into a large bowl.
- In a small side bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. (Note: the cumin adds just a hint of sweet that I really like against the general saltiness of the dish.)
- Add the warm, drained tortellini to the veggie bowl and give it a toss. Add the feta and give it a thorough mix before adding spinach and dressing. Serve warm or cold.
This was deliciously easy, which is a good thing since the pictures didn’t come out (see above, obvi). Which means I’ll get another crack at posting something a little more light-friendly. Also: the fact that you can serve this warm or cold makes it a perfect dish to bring to your new mom friends. Just saying: heating things in the microwave can be a challenge.
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.