Getting Back to Cooking

Woohoo! I cooked a meal for the week this past weekend! It’s magical to be getting myself back on a schedule. And now I plan to (hopefully) bring a cat home this weekend and probably go off it again but let’s hope I can stick with it. I even made it to the gym yesterday guys. And did everything on my to-do list. AND managed to watch an episode of Bill Nye, read three chapters in my fun book and write a blog post. All that really means I’ll probably be a slug the rest of the week but hey, Monday was productive!

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A lovely summer meal

This recipe, Chicken Shwarma in the Slow Cooker, is tasty and not really super healthy to be honest. BUT, I estimate at least 5-6 servings from it so I think once it all spreads out, it’s not super terrible. I use whole wheat pitas too which must could for something right? This came together really well. I hadn’t used frozen meat like this before but found it made life alot easier in the long run. I also took the original post’s suggestion and serve this with grapes and it’s revolutionized dinner sides for me. I love the sweet with the salty savoriness of the shwarma and the cool cucumber sauce. I put a few dashes of mint in the cucumber sauce to for a little extra coolness. I am a fan. I think I also just love a good Greek dish in the summer. It matches well!

Ingredients

6 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. curry powder
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, strips or straight thighs [Tyson frozen is what I used]
8 oz Greek style yogurt
1 small cucumber, chopped finely
Mint, to taste
whole wheat pita bread
tomatoes, chopped

Directions

  1. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, salt, curry, cayenne pepper and garlic together in a small bowl.
  2. Place chicken in slow cooker. [Side Note: I had used this sort of flash frozen meat before, you need to rinse this meat off before using which I did not know until I read the bag.]
  3. Pour olive oil mixture over the top, stirring to coat the chicken well.
  4. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Stir cucumber and yogurt together, adding a few dashes of mint to the mixture. [Side Note 2: I put this together about an hour before the chicken was done to let the ingredients set a bit with each other. I think it helps. I could also be delusional.]
  6. Serve chicken in pita bread, topped with yogurt sauce and tomatoes. I used grapes for a side and it’s brilliant!

The original post and recipe is at Eat at Home Cooks.

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Some Fall Cooking

I just sort of decided if the weather wasn’t going to be obliging and turn more fall-like, I would just start cooking like it was getting cool and crisp outside. Of course that means my A/C is working overtime but I don’t much care at this point (well, yes, yes I do but I’ve decided to be irrational about it).

I’ve made three tasty recipes via the crock pot over the last two weeks and they have been quite successful if I do say so myself. I also, in branching out on breakfast recipes, made my first smoothie for breakfast and while tasty, I didn’t find it especially filling. I like something I have to chew I think for my first meal of the day but I will share all!

Skinny Banana Split Protein Smoothie was my first foray into breakfast drinking. It’s delicious and easy to make. I did a few modifications to my version but I recommend if you’d like to try a breakfast smoothie (original recipe).

Makes 1 Serving

Ingredients
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 Tbsp unsalted almonds
1/4 cup strawberries, hulled and halved (I also was pretty liberal in what 1/4 cup looked like)
1/2 banana, peeled and sliced
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3 ice cubes

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients in blender EXCEPT ICE and pulse until smooth
2. Add ice and pulse again until smooth. Serve immediately.

Harvest Apple Pot Roast is next on the list and this may be my favorite of the bunch. It was so tasty! I also loved the thin gravy that is created with recipe (well, it probably could have been thicker; I’m not very good at making gravy I discovered) which I covered my baked potato side with as well. The gravy and meat had a slightly sweet taste to it (I imagine because of the apples) which just made it a different meal to put into rotation. This kept OK for a week but I would suggest eating it faster than that as by the last day, the leftovers were quite dry (and no amount of gravy was helping). (original recipe)

Makes 3-4 servings (depends on the size of the roast you use too!)

Ingredients
1 beef roast (I used one that was about 1 lb and on sale)
2 small to medium yellow onions
1/3 cup chunky applesauce
1 can low sodium beef broth
1 packet Italian dressing mix
Flour for gravy (about 3-4 Tbsp)

Directions
1. Put the roast in a slow cooker. Mix the applesauce, beef broth and Italian dressing mix together in a small bowl and pour over the roast. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
2. Remove the roast and onions from the crockpot. Turn the heat to high. In a container with a tight-fitting lid, put 3-4 Tbsp of flour and enough water to make the consistency of wallpaper paste. Shake the mixture together (a lot!) and gradually whisk it into the broth in the crockpot to create the gravy.

Italian Smothered Steak is sort of mis-named in my opinion. It’s basically an Italian Steak Stew. I think maybe you could get out the steak pieces in one piece but mine just broke into big chunks of meat so the stew aspect was born. This is hardy folks fare folks but quite good and the leftovers have been keeping quite well. I have this with a salad to start. (original recipe)

Makes 4-6 servings (depends on the amount of steak you use)

Ingredients
1-2 lbs beef boneless round steak (I used about 1.3 lbs of what was on sale that week)
1/2 tsp salted salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 jar (24-26 oz.) traditional pasta sauce
1 package (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half and then cut crosswise into slices

Directions
1. Cut beef into 6 serving pieces; sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper. Layer beef and onion in slow cooker. Pour pasta sauce over top.
2. Cover and cook on Low for 8-9 hours
3. About 30 minutes before serving, stir in tortellini and zucchini. Increase heat setting to High. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes or until tortellini is tender.

Lastly, I am trying to diversify my breakfast menu (mainly because I am sick of cereal) and so I put out a call on facebook for suggestions and oatmeal came up a lot. I have never liked oatmeal – the texture gives me issues but I thought if I dressed it up enough, I could get past it so I took everyone advice to try it with a recipe for Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal. I smells divine and the fact you put in the crock pot before bed and wake up to your apartment smelling like apple pie is a major bonus. Alas, I still don’t much like oatmeal but I’ll eat this all up over the week as it is quite filling which is something else I was looking for in a breakfast meal, one that actually kept me full until lunch. (original recipe)

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients
1 cup Steel-Cut Oats
4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 medium apples, chopped (I used Gala)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Splash of lemon juice

Directions
1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir. Put on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.
2. Give a good stir before serving and top with favorite toppings like peanut butter, fresh apple or maple syrup.

 

Adventures in Cooking: My First Curry

As I continue to work my way through the many recipes I’ve managed to stock away in Evernote, my email and the good old fashioned recipe box, I have found I collect certain types of recipes a lot but never actually make them. This weekend I tackled my first curry.

I apparently liked the idea of making a curry; I had no less than 6 different chicken curry recipes saved. I chose this one because it seemed the most straightforward recipe and made use of the slow cooker. On a Sunday when I wanted to prep and cook a few other things, the crock pot was a must.

This recipe did not disappoint. It went together easily, cooked beautifully and was delicious. I am a wimp when it comes to spice/heat in my food and this curry is quite mild but does have a slight kick to it that makes it different from my usual fare which I wanted. I am getting a little bored of my usual go-to meals. I recommend picking up some naan bread and serving this with brown rice. It is delicious and makes tons for leftovers!

Ingredients:

3 lbs. boneless chicken (I used more like 2 1/2 pounds and still had tons)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup salsa (I used mild)
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk to save some calories)
2 cups rice, cooked (I used brown rice)

Directions

  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  3. 15 minutes before serving remove chicken from slow cooker.
  4. Add coconut milk to slow cooker. Stir into sauce.
  5. Return chicken to pot.
  6. Serve over cooked rice.

Serves 6-8

Recipe originally from Eat at Home Cooks.

Another lamentable lapse…

Hello again dear reader, well, if you exist, I apologize for my long gap between posts, Late summer and fall became a whirlwind for both work and personal life. But, I think I am over the hump. Sort of. I head out on travels again next week but then I stay put until Christmas and hopefully I will get back onto a more even keel!

In the meantime, I leave you with my sister’s delicious bean-less chili recipe. I highly recommend whipping up a batch of corn bread muffins to go with it!

Ally’s Bean-less Chili
Servings: 5-6

Ingredients:
1-1.5 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup diced celery
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small can diced green chilies
1/4 cup chopped raw onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 to 3 tsp ground Cumin Seed (depending on how much of a kick you want!)
6 tsp Chili powder

Directions:
1. Brown and drain the ground beef in a skillet.
2. Mix all ingredients together and cook on low for 4 hours in Crock Pot.

Chicken Tacos

Fall has officially arrived in the Big Bend. I may go frolic in the nearest park and enjoy the fact I can stand outside for longer than 15 minutes and not be dripping with sweat. It was a very long summer. People around here think I am weird but never hated cold weather. Yes, North Dakota took cold weather to a level this Central New York native did not know existed and I did my share of complaining. Call me nostalgic for the seasons of home. Where it is currently in the 30s so I try not to complain about the heat to my family…

However, with the temperature falling to less hot and humid conditions, I was able to pull out my Crock Pot and try one of the many slow cooker recipes I’ve been stockpiling. I wanted to also pull it out while I would be home the entire time as it would be my first time using it with a very curious cat in the apartment. After she thoroughly investigated this new appliance on her side of the kitchen counters, and I think may have slightly burned the tip of her nose on it, it seemed to be uninteresting to her so success! I think it will be fine to leave it on for a work day if I want to do so and not come home to a monumental mess.

So, which recipe to start with? It wasn’t quite stew weather yet and I wasn’t quite ready to make a batch of Aunt Marcia’s spaghetti sauce for the season. So, what to try? A quick search through Evernote where I hoard recipes found me this simple, easy to put together recipe for chicken tacos. I however don’t have a source. I have a vague recollection that one of my friends pinned this and I saw the post on Facebook. I actually used less chicken than the recipe called for and the batch still lasted me from Sunday to Thursday. I changed it up over the week, using the chicken for traditional tacos, chicken taco salads and mixing it with rice. For the last of the batch, I covered tortilla chips with it and cheese and made some fantastic chicken nachos.

It may not look like much but it was tasty!

Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:
6 chicken breasts
1 jar of chunky salsa
1 package of taco seasoning

Directions:
1) Place the chicken in the bottom of the Crock Pot. Cover with the salsa and then sprinkle the taco seasoning on top. (I used about half the taco seasoning in the package as I used only 4 chicken breasts – use as you want to – the more you add, the more kick the finished dish will have)
2) Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours
3) Shred the chicken with forks before serving.