Why does everyone think a 4hr slow cooker recipe is helpful?

Seriously, if I’m around to turn on the slow cooker 4 hours before dinner, I’m around enough to cook. Okay, now our slow cooker can switch over to warm after a set number of hours, but things still cook (at least a bit) on warm. It might be that my first slow cooker didn’t have a timer option and I came home to quite a few batches of overcooked chicken something. But 4 hour cooking times in a slow cooker still sounds like a really awkward time to work with/around.

Eh, I might just be cranky about how many vegetables I chopped up for this one – more specifically, how long I was standing up to do so. Also how much in leftovers there are. Trust me, there was no way this recipe, as written, was going to fit in my 6 quart slow cooker.

I think I’m starting to understand what Adam means by his (usually anguished) cries of “It got away from me!” We are totally going to be eating this for the rest of the week.

At this point, in a change from how things usually go around here, I’m thinking I will not keep this recipe. Basically too much work for the end result (for me) – those of you with working olfactory senses might get more out of it.

Vegetable & Chickpea Stew

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes … lots. 8-12 servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 17; Dinners: 3 recipes left

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 large onion, diced
  • 10 purple potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp salt, divided
  • 1 tbsp curry powder of choice
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups broth
  • 32 oz chickpeas
  • 4-5 small peppers, diced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 28 oz (5-6) tomatoes, diced
  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • 1 can coconut milk
  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and 1 tsp of salt; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and 1 tsp of salt; sauté for several minutes.
  2. Add the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and chili powder; cook, stirring a bit, until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Pour in some of the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to pull up any brown bits. Add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes; stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Add the spinach and coconut milk; stir until spinach wilts. Pull off the heat and adjust any seasonings if necessary. Serve.

I so wanted this one to be worth copying…

I am aiming on cutting down my (our) meat consumption – bit tricky when Adam loves meat so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not aiming for vegetarian or vegan (personally don’t think I have the discipline for either, plus I get really tired/unhappy without animal protein [I think it’s the concentration]). Any rate! Cutting down on meat consumption – basically, I’m trying to aim for actual USDA portion recommendations (6 ozs is less [visually] than you think) and one or two meatless nights. Which you know, is still higher than historical averages. It’s a health thing, a portion control thing, and a trying to walk the environmental talk I believe.

So! I rather wanted this recipe to work out – it’s got a lot of things I love to eat (pasta, broccoli, cheese!, chickpeas) and making a big casserole is great for the leftovers and building lunches to take to work.

One, the kitchen ended up looking like a disaster zone. Now admittedly, that’s on me and my need to improve on dealing with multiple moving parts and cooking implements. But multiple moving parts! Any time that pops up, stuff better be freaking amazing to be worth the time (and stress) of making it again.

Two, there was just something missing. Not ‘eh, it’s okay, we’ve made better’ (which is enough to boot a recipe) but something was actively missing. Maybe I needed to mix in some nuts for texture. Or have actually exchanged the 1% milkfat cottage cheese we accidentally grabbed for the 4% called for in the recipe. Also, it’s just too light, even after we browned up some ground beef (using the same seasonings as the main part) and mixed that in.

So, multiple moving parts (which usually stresses me out, especially on a weeknight) producing something that neither of us found very tasty. I’m still posting the recipe to this one, since maybe one of y’all will make it amazing for your family.

Tomato-Mozzarella Pasta Bake

Originally from TheKitchn.com
Makes ~10 small servings, 6-7 large servings?
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 26; Dinners: 6 recipes left

  • 1 lb pasta, your choice of type
  • 1 lb broccoli, fresh
  • 4 medium tomatoes, divided
  • 3/4 lb onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • one 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • dried basil, to taste
  • 1/2 lb full-fat mozzarella, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F; lightly grease a 9″x13″ casserole dish and set aside. Heat a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until barely al dente. Drain, then return to the pot.
  2. Steam the broccoli, drain and cut into bite-sized florets. Toss with the cooked pasta. Chop three of the tomatoes into rough pieces and toss with the pasta. Stir in the onion, garlic, chickpeas, and ~half the basil you plan to use. Tear about 2/3rds of the mozzarella into small chunks and fold this into the pasta mixture.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, and lemon juice. Stir in the Parmesan. Add this mixture to the pasta, along with the salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the pasta to the casserole dish and spread out evenly. Slice the remaining tomato into half-moon slices, then arrange on top of the pasta. Tear the remaining mozzarella into pieces and scatter between the tomato slices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with other half of basil. Serve.

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Another one from the deep archives – Cuban Picadillo

So, this one comes from my senior year flatmate – who also happens to be the guys who introduced Adam and I as well as an ex-boyfriend. To be clear, he and I broke up sophomore year, lived together senior year, and he introduced Adam and I that year. At Dragon*Con. Oh, and he and Adam has known each other since 3rd grade Sunday school. Annnnd we’ll be his kid’s god-parents.

None of which is actually relevant to the recipe, now is it? Well, the senior year of college bit is – see I graduated undergrad in 2006 and it turns out that this is the first time I’ve made this recipe such that Adam could eat it. Yikes. Adam is a mite peeved about this, seeing as he rather liked it. Me, I think I was subconsciously avoiding it for the cup of dry red wine and psychosomatic headache I associate with that. Look brain-me, the alcohol cooks off. No headaches, see?

This one can work as both a weeknight recipe and make-a-big-batch-ahead-of-time on the weekend recipe. The current scale of the recipe is noted as serving “6 guys” – 6 college-age, 6 ft. tall, broad shouldered, ‘I used to play football/compete in martial arts’, metabolism is working on overdrive, guys. And, you know, me. Who at the time (and usually still does) eat like a 17 year-old teenage boy in the middle of puberty. I am going to be sad when my metabolism slows down. It’s not like I’m good about exercising regularly. Especially not in the winter with the holidays and weather too cold to bike in.

I’d like to mention that I also habitually forgot to eat in college – “Why am I so hungry? Oh right, it’s 2pm and I haven’t eaten since breakfast”. Might explain why I ate so much at dinner. I still forget to eat you know, my body is just better about getting my brain’s attention – now I have forgotten to eat every two hours (I’m doing the numerous small meals throughout the day to try and keep the stomach acid down and the brain energy/decision making abilities up with protein).

So, Cuban Picadillo – apparently there’s a big taste difference between Mexican oregano and Italian oregano: 1) oregano is not one I can taste and 2) Adam didn’t complain. I’m betting that unless you’ve grown up with or eat lots of Cuban and/or Caribbean and/or Creole dishes, either one will work for you – but the Mexican oregano will be better.

Cuban Picadillo

serves Lots

  • Rice
  • Turmeric
  • pinch of Saffron
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, sliced finely
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2x 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chilli
  • 6 oz/1 can tomato paste
  • generous cup of dry red wine, or to taste
  • 2 tsp fresh or 2 1/2 tsp bottled oregano, Mexican oregano if you’ve got it. Also to taste.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat enough water for your type of rice to a boil. Add the rice, turmeric, and saffron; simmer until rice is cooked and water is absorbed. Fluff; set aside. You can substitute store bought yellow rice packages for this, but Adam and I couldn’t find one without chemical additives and other nasties we thought worth it when we could just make our own yellow rice. The color of home-made yellow rice will be lighter than store bought.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the beef, onions, and garlic; brown the meat. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook without a lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes, letting everything thicken.
  3. Serve over the rice.

Adam suggested variation: eliminate the olive oil and very lightly brown chorizo in the pan – the oil from the chorizo will grease the pan. Stew on a very low simmer for about 2 hours.

Cuban Picadillo