Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ridiculously easy slow-cooker chicken curry with greens

This is "ridiculously easy" because:
  1. Crock pot. 'Nuff said.
  2. I used a premade curry paste. Specifically, I used Patak's rogan josh paste. You could certainly use another curry paste or a spice blend, but that's the one I picked. I was planning to make rogan josh, but lamb was super expensive :(
  3. I mixed up everything ahead of time and froze it. When I wanted to cook it I just dumped the whole thing into the slow cooker, still frozen.
  4. I wanted to add some veggies and collard greens are one of the few green things that turn out well when cooked for a long time. I got the idea to put collard greens in slow cooker curry from Christina's recipe. To make it even easier I just used a bag of frozen collard greens and threw it in there still frozen.
Here it is all frozen in a gallon bag. I added the collard greens to that bag and immediately felt silly; it would have been just as simple to leave them in their own bag and open it when I'm ready to cook. There's some frozen onion in there too.

Here's the giant frozen mass dumped into my crock pot:

8 hours later, I had chicken curry and veggies!

Serves 4-6

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, drained
  • Half a 10 oz jar rogan josh paste such as Patak's, or other curry paste. Or 2-4 Tbs rogan josh spice (such as Penzeys or homemade) or other curry powder*.
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen chopped collard greens
  • 1 medium onion, chopped OR 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • Optional: 1/2 cup thick coconut milk such as Aroy-D coconut cream. I didn't add this so it's not a solid recommendation, but next time I will; I think it would have been really tasty.
  1. Stir together the diced tomatoes and curry paste or powder (and coconut milk, if using) until thoroughly combined. Stir in the onion. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then thoroughly coat with the tomato mixture. Freeze if desired.
  2. When ready to cook, dump the chicken mixture into a slow cooker with the bag of collard greens. Cook 4-6 hours on low if un-frozen, 6-8 hours if frozen.
  3. Serve over cauli rice.
*10/7/2012: I made this with 2 Tbs curry powder, 2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt in place of the Patak's paste. I also added the solids from a 5.5 oz can of coconut milk.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Slow-cooker faux-smoked ribs

When I say "faux-smoked", I'm not referring to liquid smoke. I'm not even talking about smoked salt (like I used for Kalua pig). I came across a technique here on Civilized Caveman Creations using wood chips in your slow cooker and I had to try it.

The first step is to soak wood chips (I used mesquite) for 30 minutes, then fold them into a packet of parchment paper. I laid the drained wood chips in the center of a rectangle of parchment, folded it over itself, and then crimped the edges closed. Pierce it all over with a paring knife so that smoke can escape.

After removing the membrane and coating the ribs with a spice rub, I used a tip from Slow Cooker Revolution for crock potting ribs: curl them against the side of the slow cooker, meaty side touching the walls. I cooked the ribs for 8 hours, then brushed them with barbecue sauce and ran them under the broiler for a couple minutes.

The verdict? I loved the flavor and texture, plus they were so easy to make. However, it was not terribly smoky. I did get a nice hint of mesquite aroma, but it's certainly no substitute for a real smoker. The crock pot did not fill up with smoke or anything. It is definitely a fun trick and a nice easy way to make ribs; I've already done it twice (once with baby back, once with spare ribs) and I really liked it.

Servings variable; count on about a pound per person

  • Baby back ribs, membrane removed (video demonstration)
  • Spice rub of choice*
  • 3 cups wood chips (I used mesquite)
  • 1/2 cup of liquid to put in the bottom of the slow cooker (beer, cider, broth, or water)
  • Barbecue sauce**
  1. Soak the wood chips for 30 minutes and drain well. Fold them up into a packet of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of your slow cooker. Pierce it all over with a paring knife. Pour the 1/2 cup liquid over it.
  2. Rub the ribs liberally with your spice rub and place them against the slow cooker as shown.
  3. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.
  4. When ready to serve, carefully remove the ribs with tongs and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet or broiler pan, meaty side up. Brush with barbecue sauce and broil for 2-3 minutes. If you want saucier ribs, you can repeat this step one or two more times, brushing with more barbecue sauce each time (I kept the sauce usage light to reduce overall sugar in the recipe).
  5. Cut into riblets with kitchen shears or a large heavy knife. Serve with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.

*I used this one from a local spice shop, about 1.25 oz for 2 lbs ribs. Penzeys also makes a good one, or you could make your own. There are lots of good rib rub recipes out there; this one has no sugar and looks pretty good, feel free to Google or shop around.

**Husband loves Kansas city style BBQ sauce with ribs, so I just made a regular high-sugar recipe and used it sparingly. I used this recipe with the following substitutions: 1 tsp onion powder instead of chopped onion, 1/2 tsp garlic powder instead of fresh, no butter since I'm not sauteeing anything (those subs are just because I'm lazy), unsweetened ketchup instead of the HFCS-laden kind. I also used Splenda brown sugar blend instead of brown sugar because it's what I had in the house; you could use sucanat, date sugar, or palm sugar instead. For a low-sugar BBQ sauce, do a mustard BBQ, vinegar BBQ, or a different tomato-based sauce recipe such as this one.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turkey meatloaf with spinach, feta, and sundried tomato pesto

I recently posted a recipe for all-beef meatloaf, but I also wanted to try making a moist, flavorful turkey loaf. I actually think I like this one better! The feta crumbles and sundried tomato pesto keep it moist and add lots of flavor. I found Classico sundried tomato pesto in the same supermarket section as the jarred tomato sauce; it should be quite readily available. The spinach adds color and some extra nutrition value. As with the beef meatloaf, I used dried mushrooms as a binder, though for this I kept them fairly coarse instead of blitzing them to a powder.

Serves 4-6

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 10 oz box frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 bag frozen mirepoix, OR 1 medium minced onion + 1 minced celery rib + 1 minced garlic clove + 2 Tbs parsley
  • Fat of choice for sauteeing the veggies
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomato pesto
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbs dijon mustard
  • 0.5 oz dried mushrooms (I used shittake), ground to a coarse powder in a spice grinder or food processor
  • 6 oz (weight) feta, crumbled (reduced fat is fine if you prefer, though it won't get as creamy)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Cook the spinach according to package directions. Drain it VERY well by squeezing it against a sieve. Set aside.
  3. Saute the vegetables in a pan over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Take the pan off heat to cool.
  4. Beat the eggs with the sundried tomato pesto, mustard, and soy sauce (or coconut aminos) in a very large bowl.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients (including the reserved onion mixture and spinach) and combine very well using your hands.
  6. Pack the meat mixture into a loaf pan (or shape into a free-form loaf shape and set it on a baking sheet or broiler pan). Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until it registers an internal temperature of 160 F. Let cool for 10-20 minutes before slicing. If desired, serve with extra sundried tomato pesto and/or feta crumbles.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Deep dish cookie pie

This is adapted from a recipe that was floating around the internet; I was skeptical, but Christina made it and said it was good, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The original recipe uses garbanzo or white beans, but low carbers can substitute canned white soybeans (yes, I generally avoid unfermented soy products...more details in my soybean brownies post). The ones I found were only 1 net carb per serving (13g carbs, 12g of them fiber). I used almond flour instead of oats, added some egg, subbed stevia for sugar, and so on and so forth...lots of changes! When it was still hot it was kind of bean-y tasting, but after chilling it overnight in the fridge the bean flavor disappeared. It stayed very moist and rich tasting, and I don't think anyone would guess what is in it.

Makes 8 large servings

  • 2 cans white soybeans or regular white beans
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 Tbs melted butter (I use Kerrygold)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white (or 1 egg + 2 Tbs liquid egg white)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Sweetener equivalent of 1.5 cups sugar (palm sugar or date sugar would be delicious; use stevia or Splenda for low-carb/low-calorie)
  • 1 large dark chocolate bar, chopped into chunks the size of chocolate chips (I used a bar of Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie 86% cacao)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Puree all ingredients except for the chocolate thoroughly until COMPLETELY smooth. I used a Ninja blender but a food processor would work too.
  3. Stir in the chips and spread into a greased 10" springform pan.
  4. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before serving.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Slow-cooker kimchi chicken, cauliflower fried "rice"

    Yeah, kind of a weird photo...it's the leftovers in my husband's massive lunchbox (6-Pack Bag) which I reviewed here on a friend's blog
    Here's a twofer: a recipe for slow-cooker kimchi chicken, and a recipe for fried cauliflower "rice". I'll start with the chicken. I am loving my new crock pot cookbook so I [closely] adapted a recipe for kimchi chicken. The prep was super easy and I love me some fermented cabbage so I instantly knew I had to make it. The cookbook thickens the sauce with tapioca, but I hate starch-thickened sauces like that. They tend to get gloppy and artifically glossy-looking, so I just cut back on the liquid and nixed the tapioca. I also cut back on the sugar and used boneless chicken thighs instead of bone-in. Very tasty, so long as you love kimchi.

    Serves 6

    • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 4 scallions, green and white parts seperated, sliced
    • 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    • 1 Tbs soy sauce or coconut aminos
    • 2 tsp palm sugar or other sweetener of choice (can probably omit this if need be)
    • 1 Tbs dark sesame oil
    • 1 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp high-quality ground ginger
    • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
    • About 2 cups cabbage kimchi, drained
    1. Combine all ingredients except for the scallion greens, chicken, and kimchi in the slow cooker.
    2. Nestle the chicken thighs in the sauce, spooning some over the top.
    3. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 hours on low (preferably closer to 4 hours)
    4. When ready to serve, turn heat to high, add the kimchi, and cook for about 20 more minutes. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens.

    I served this with cauliflower "fried rice". There are lots of recipes for this, though I used some of the guidelines from Steamy Kitchen. Specifically, I added fish sauce and Chinese sausage (lap cheong); the suggestions for cooking the rice didn't apply because I was using cauliflower. If you don't have Chinese sausage you could substitute roast pork, ham, bacon, or just leave out the meat component and add a little extra oil. I chose bean sprouts, snow peas, and shittake mushrooms as my vegetables, though you could probably use anything you'd like. Most recipes I've seen suggest a mix of frozen carrots, corn, and peas but I wanted to select items that are less starchy. I've seen recipes which use broccoli but I wanted more contrast with the cauliflower base.

    Make sure to have everything prepped, measured, and ready to go when making this.

    Serves about 6 as a side dish

    • 1 small head cauliflower, washed, thoroughly dried, and run through the shredding disk of a food processor
    • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp high quality ground ginger
    • 1 tsp Shao Xing rice wine or sherry
    • 1/4 tsp dark sesame oil
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 2 shittake mushrooms, caps only, thinly sliced
    • 1/4-1/2 cup bean sprouts, washed and dried (I used 1/4 cup but may use 1/2 cup next time)
    • 1/4-1/2 cup snow peas, ends snapped and cut on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces (same as above; I used 1/4 cup but may use 1/2 cup next time)
    • 2 tsp fish sauce
    • 2 tsp soy sauce, coconut aminos, or more fish sauce
    • 1/2 cup diced Chinese sausage (this was two links for me)
    1. Combine the ginger, wine or sherry, sesame oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
    2. Heat a wok or very large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sausage and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes or until fat is rendered from the sausage. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon. Turn heat to medium-high, add eggs, and scramble until cooked. Set the eggs aside.
    3. Wipe out the skillet and add a bit of extra oil. Saute the mushrooms over medium-high until just softened, then add the scallions, snow peas, and bean sprouts. Stir-fry for a minute or until just starting to soften. Add the cauliflower "rice" and stir to combine thoroughly. Mix in the fish sauce mixture, then turn heat to low and cover. Cook until soft but not mushy, tasting frequently to be sure not to overcook.
    4. Stir in the sausage and eggs and serve hot.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Roasted red pepper lasagna with chicken, goat cheese, and feta

    There are a number of recipes out there for lasagna without noodles. I've done it before on the blog using sliced zucchini instead. This time, I got an idea from a recipe from Closet Cooking. He made a [regular noodle-y] lasagna with chicken, roasted red peppers, feta, and goat cheese. I decided to use flat pieces of roasted red peppers in place of the noodles, though I only did one layer of this as I thought two layers would be overpowering. I streamlined his recipe in other ways as well. Instead of making a bechamel sauce with flour and milk, I just combined feta crumbles and goat cheese crumbles and used that as a layer. I also used marinara sauce; mine was homemade (recipe forthcoming!) but you could certainly purchase a jar of your favorite brand. I finished it with crushed red peppers and some fresh basil. This was so easy and very tasty; I will definitely be making this one again.

    Serves 3-6

    • 2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken meat. I cooked a whole small chicken in the crock pot and used the meat from that. A storebought rotisserie chicken would also work well for this.
    • 1/2-1 cup marinara sauce, preferably fire-roasted (strict low-carbers use 1/2 or 3/4 cup, otherwise the full cup has better flavor and texture)
    • 3-4 oz (weight) crumbled feta cheese
    • 3-4 oz (weight) crumbled soft goat cheese
    • 1 16 oz jar roasted red peppers (whole or halves, not strips; I used Mezzetta brand)
    • Crushed red pepper flakes
    • Fresh basil, chopped or shredded
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8x8 square pan with olive oil.
    2. Combine the chicken with the tomato sauce. Add salt if desired; most storebought tomato sauce is already very salty so you may not need it.
    3. In a seperate bowl, combine the feta and goat cheese crumbles.
    4. Layer half the chicken mixture in the pan. Sprinkle evenly with half of the cheese, then top with a layer of roasted red peppers, the slices flush or slightly overlapping. Top with the other half of the chicken (you will probably need to use your hands for this), then top with the remaining cheese.
    5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If you'd like, you can run it under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown the cheese.
    6. Top with crushed red pepper and fresh basil. Cut into squares and serve.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Parmesan crusted turnips

    I saw this recipe for roasted potatoes on Pinterest and immediately wanted to try it with a different root vegetable. Turnips are much lower in both calories and carbohydrates (see a comparison here) so I figured I'd give it a shot. This was so easy to make and very tasty. I will definitely be making this one again.

    Serves about 4 as a side


    • About 2 lbs turnips, peeled and cut into uniform-sized chunks
    • 2 Tbs olive oil (or other fat of choice)
    • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tsp pimienton (Spanish smoked paprika) or regular sweet paprika
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • Salt and pepper (I used Penzeys 4/S as the salt)
    1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Use parchment paper, NOT foil, as melted cheese tends to stick to foil.
    2. Combine the cheese, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
    3. In a large bowl, toss the turnips with the olive oil. Dump the cheese mixture over the turnips chunks and toss to coat well.
    4. Spread the turnip chunks on the baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes. Flip them over and roast 5 minutes more. Serve immediately.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Kimchi bokkeumbap

    Cauliflower "rice" is one of my favorite low-carb/grain-free innovations. Not only does it cut out the rice, but it replaces it with tons of veggies; whether or not you are avoiding rice, everyone can appreciate a way to get more vegetables onto their plate. I've done it a few times on this here blog (coconut-cilantro cauli-rice, Mexican cauli-rice, even plain with Massaman curry) but I've been itching to try a variation of fried rice. Originally I was going to make something reminiscent of Chinese takeout, but I had a hankering for kimchi and decided to give this a shot.

    I'm no expert on Korean food, but I love the flavors. From what I understand, kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice) is a way to use up your ingredients when you have leftover rice and leftover kimchi. I imagine that is common in Korean households. A fried egg is often served on top but I scrambled my eggs instead. You could probably tweak this recipe as much as you'd like. I really want to try it with bean sprouts or enoki mushrooms to vary the texture.

    Serves 2-4

    • 1 smallish head cauliflower
    • 1 cup cabbage kimchi, chopped
    • 2-4 scallions, sliced (my scallions were quite small so I used 4, use 2 if yours are larger)
    • 1/4 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used criminis)
    • 1/4 tsp Korean red pepper powder (or regular chili powder)
    • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
    • Splash of soy sauce (or tamari, or fish sauce, or coconut aminos)
    • 1 eggs, beaten (use 2 if you want this to be more substantial, or if you really like eggs)
    • Fat of choice for sauteeing (I used coconut oil)
    1. Break the cauliflower into florets. Wash and dry very well. Run it through the shredding disk of a food processor and set aside. This can be done ahead of time.
    2. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, kimchi, and scallions. Saute until the mushrooms are softened and some of the kimchi liquid has evaporated. Stir in the red pepper powder or chili powder.
    3. Add the riced cauliflower with a splash of soy sauce (or specified alternative). Saute while mixing well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until cauliflower is softened to desired consistency. Check every minute or so and do NOT overcook.
    4. Drizzle the sesame oil over the cauliflower mixture and remove from the skillet. Wipe out the pan, then add more oil. Pour the beaten egg into the skillet and let it cook until slightly browned. Flip and cook the other side until done. Roll up the resulting egg pancake and slice, then mix it with the rest of the "rice". Serve.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Kalua pig in the slow cooker

    The little pile on the left is the smoked salt grains

    Slow cooker Kalua pig has quite a bit of notoriety among slow-cooker recipes. It's so simple yet so tasty: just get a huge pork roast, rub it with liquid smoke and [preferably Hawaiian sea] salt, and cook for a long time until meltingly tender. I've made it several times and it's always a hit. But what if someone doesn't want to use liquid smoke? A lot of people find the taste to be overpowering or artificial. Others are just skeeved out by the concept. So I decided to try it using a smoked salt. There is a local spice shop that stocks a ton of specialty salts, so I figured I'd stop by and try some out.

    Check out my crappy cell phone picture of the wall-o-salts (okay, rack-o-salts). I had no idea that there was such a variety. I went ahead and tried a few. The French grey sea salt was really interesting in that it still had an ocean-y sea salt taste, and I loved the melty/crunchy texture of the flake salts like the pretty pink Murray River and the fleur de sel. I really want to try making homemade finishing salts with these (sausage with beer mustard and caraway finishing salt, anyone?). But I digress -- I was there on a mission for smoked salt. She recommended the alderwood but I much preferred the flavor of the applewood so I bought that. And a bottle of sherry vinegar. And some expensive vanilla extract. I, uh, might have bought some other spices too...

    I have a problem.

    But! The net result is that I have a ridiculously easy and wonderfully delicious pork recipe for you. I also loved sprinkling the individual plated servings with a little bit of the smoked salt for some extra flavor and crunch. Definitely cannot do that with liquid smoke!

    Serves 12

    • 1 pork roast, approximately 6 lbs (Boston butt or picnic shoulder, bone out or in, doesn't matter)
    • 1.5-2 Tbs smoked sea salt such as Vspicery applewood smoked

    Pierce the pork roast several times with the tip of a knife. Rub it with the smoked salt. Place in the slow cooker with the fat cap or skin side up. Cook on low for a long time (9-12 hours) or until very tender. Shred and serve. I like to accompany it with cabbage braised in the pork juices.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

    On a recommendation from Nom Nom Paleo, I bought a copy of Slow Cooker Revolution. I bought it because:
    1. I end up eventually buying everything recommended on that blog (Sous Vide machine, kitchen torch, bunch of speciality spices...oh dear)
    2. I love America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated. I've had a membership to their site for years. If you're not familiar, they engineer recipes by obsessively testing and retesting each detail until they come out with something perfect. In the cookbook they explain the rationale behind each decision and why a given recipe works. I figure it will help me with developing slow cooker recipes in the future.
    3. I'm obsessed with using my crock pot.
    4. They had a Kindle edition!! I've been wanting to buy a Kindle cookbook for so long. Love that I can search it and add digital bookmarks. 
    So there you have it. I ended up adapting their chicken cacciatore and was very pleased with the results. Usually I hate chicken from the crock pot but the texture and flavor were both great. They microwave the aromatics before dumping them in the crock pot. I did this, but I didn't feel it made a difference, so I probably won't bother in the future. I served it over spaghetti squash to soak up the yummy juices.

    Serves about 4

    • 2 lbs skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless ones, bone-in would be fine. Do not use chicken breasts, the texture will be terrible in the crock pot.)
    • 1 bag frozen mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion) or trinity (bell pepper, celery, and onion). Publix and Kroger both sell these under their store brand. If they don't have it, a finely chopped large onion should be fine.
    • 3 Tbs tomato paste
    • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/3 oz dried mushrooms, minced (I just pulsed these in my spice grinder until finely chopped. The original recipe used porcinis, but all I had on hand were shittakes so I used those and also added some truffle salt)
    • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced (I bought pre-sliced because I am lazy)
    • 1 can diced tomatoes, well-drained
    • 1/2 tsp (heaping) dried Italian herb mix (or just use a single dried herb, such as oregano, basil, or thyme)
    • 1/3 cup dry red wine
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Fresh basil (probably optional), chopped or shredded
    1. Optional: combine the frozen mirepoix (thaw first) or onion, dried mushrooms, garlic, oil, tomato paste, and pepper flakes in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 5 minutes or until onion is softened.
    2. Add the above ingredients along with the sliced mushrooms, wine, dried herbs, and diced tomatoes to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
    3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and nestle them into the sauce.
    4. Cook for 4-6 hours on low (guidelines). Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

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