Showing posts with label herbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label herbs. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken (And Chick Pea) Tikka Masala (Food Bloggers Change My Life #2)

Have you ever made a recipe for the first time, in someone else's kitchen, for a crowd?

Scary thought, no?  I'd bookmarked this recipe, Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala by Rebecca of Foodie With Family because my family loves Indian food, I love my slow cooker, and her directions seemed clear, easy, and very do-able for me.  I just didn't know when I'd get around to making it.

The wonderful thing about joining a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.  The annoying thing about being in a CSA is that you've got seasonal farm fresh vegetables flooding into your kitchen every week.

What if you feel like eating tomatoes, the canned ones you've put up, but you've got fresh spinach, Band Fruit Fundraiser citrus, and the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve staring at you reproachfully?

You use the spinach in this, or this, or this.
You use the citrus in this, or this, or this.
You use the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve in this, or this, or this.

You regretfully turn away from your canned tomatoes, knowing that they will be waiting for you when you've dealt with all the fresh stuff.  And then you run away!

You run away to visit your in-laws.  You know that everyone likes to sit down together around the big table and enjoy a meal, and it's awfully nice not to always be the one to make the meal.  So you offer to make a meal one of the nights of your visit.  But what to make?  What will appeal to 4 generations of eaters?

I decided to go for it and make this meal. For the first time.  Not in my own kitchen.  Not just for my family.  Sure, I played it safe and brought with me almost all the ingredients (since I had everything but cilantro on hand already).  I brought my own slow cooker and my own rice cooker.  I even brought my own measuring spoons!

You know what happened?  Thanks to the clear directions, great photos, and excellent recipe it worked out just fine.  It went together easily, the whole crowd ate it, and some even went back for seconds.

This recipe is easy to make.  Click here to read it!  This post is the second in an on-going series about how Food Bloggers Change My Life.  You don't remember reading the first in the series?  Yeah, you're fine, it's not live yet.  I wrote it up after making Chicken Cider Stew from Alanna of Kitchen Parade and A Veggie Venture, but since I'm all about seasonal eating and it's really not cider season, it will be up in the fall.  Meantime, since you've hopefully got jars of crushed tomatoes you put up in the fall . . .

Monday, January 28, 2013

Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili: One Beginning, Two Endings (Bean-Free Chili for Vegans or with Beef for Carnivores)
Could be vegan chili on the left, chili for carnivores on the right.
One of the pots of chili you see here was what I set out to make.  The other one was the surprise mid-way through.

You see, it all started when I had a bite of my spouse's chili at Tom+Chee in Newport, KY.  It was smooth, meaty, and topped with a bit of blue cheese.  Yum!  I love that restaurant.

I like my Green Tomato Garlic Chili, and I like all the chunky and bean-y chili I have had.  In fact, I don't think I've met a chili I didn't like.  But I wanted to try my hand at making a smooth, meaty chili.

No chunks (the kids tolerate smooth better than chunky anyway) and no beans (thanks to New Year's day and a vat of Ham and Bean soup I'd had beans 8 out of 9 days of 2013 and frankly I needed a break).  What does that leave?  The Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, of course.

I started by roasting a small 1 pound acorn squash and a small sweet potato.  I was making a small batch, because after the giant vat of soup I really didn't want gallons of chili leftovers.  Then I set those aside and browned a pound of ground beef in my 3 quart saucepan.  I knew I wanted a smooth chili, but I didn't want to attack my beef with the immersion blender, so at this point I drained and set the beef aside.

If I were cooking for vegans as well as carnivores, I would wash the saucepan at this point.
I was just cooking for the family, so I added onions and some of my freezer stash carrots/celery/parsley to the pan (using the remnants of grease instead of oil) and sautéed.  I was thinking about how, when making Indian food, you sauté the spices until they are fragrant before adding the simmering liquids, so I decided to add the spices next.  Annemarie of RealFoodRealDeals made a squash chili and her recipe appeared in my inbox just as I was debating for which spices to use, so I went with her spicing suggestions.  I remembered my cousin Cindy (the cousin Cindy I've friended on FB but never met) telling me she adds beets to her tomato sauce so when I was grabbing a pack of slow-roasted tomatoes from the freezer I picked up a bag of shredded beets, too.  I tossed those in to simmer with the veggies, then I added some stock.  If I were cooking for vegans, I'd use vegetable stock or Penzey's vegetable soup base.  I used chicken stock instead, added a bay leaf, and it simmered away happily for an hour.  Since (did I mention) I wanted a smooth chili, I removed the bay leaf, grabbed my immersion blender and smoothed it all up.

Then I tasted the chili.  Dang, it's pretty good right now!

If you are serving vegans, move some of the chili to a slow cooker or saucepan over low heat to simmer quietly until serving time.  Because it was just us, I added back in most of the beef and simmered the whole lot on low another hour.  Then another hour because my spouse worked late.
The result was a smooth, thick, tomato-ey meaty chili.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mindless Sweet Potato Hash (introducing the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve)

It's been several weeks since my last CSA delivery.  The spinach has been eaten mostly in pizzas, the cabbage went into breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and the carrots and celery jumped into both hummus and soup (not at the same time, they divided into teams and the cool kids went to the hummus and the rest went for the soup).  The eggs are so long gone that I've had to buy eggs several times!

However, I still have some unprocessed CSA produce to cook with.  On CSA days, once I get home from pick up, I perform "vegetable triage".  What vegetables are most perishable?  They go in the fridge, right in front, so I can cook with them first.  What else is perishable?  In the crisper for a few days.  Something that I know I won't cook in the next week (like the week I got turnips with greens, kale, mustard greens, and cabbage?  We eat greens, but come on!) gets put up in the freezer for later cooking. [I chopped the turnip greens, the kale, and the mustard greens together, then blanched them, spun them dry, and packed them into quart size freezer bags.]  That leaves the longer-storing produce.
Ready to go in the oven!

All Fall, unless I was roasting it for this or that, I have been piling up the pumpkins, balancing the butternuts, stacking the sweet potatoes, and arranging the acorns in the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve.  It's in a cold corner of my breakfast nook (55 degrees Fahrenheit on a sunny January afternoon!) and though it's chilly to sit here and write about it, it's a pretty good spot for semi-long term storage.  Cool, definitely yes.  Dark, not so much, but there's no sunbeams slanting in either.

Once I've used all the more perishable produce from my farm share, I turn to the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve for inspiration.  Another source of inspiration is from the leftovers I am blessed with.  During the holidays we had a nice time with the relatives, and I came home with leftover pork steak.  This is a new cut of meat to me, and since we rarely eat a steak, quite a treat to have some leftover delicious cooked pork steak.  I literally lay awake planning a pizza using the pork (stay tuned!) but I had a lot to work with, so I decided to try my hand at making hash.

I consulted my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook for advice, and loosely adapted their Corned Beef Hash to what you see here.  The best part was when I read the oven baking directions.  How simple is that?  A bit of cooking on the stove, then chuck the whole mess in the oven (ok, BHG said to transfer to a casserole, but I skipped that bit by starting with an oven safe cast iron skillet).

This tasted great, used up both leftover cooked meat as well as some items from the Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, and was mindless to make.  If you've got leftovers (of the meat or winter squash variety) consider this dish.

Do you perform vegetable triage?
Do you like getting leftovers from relatives?