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Monday, January 12, 2015

Recipe review from 1/1/2015

A posting in which we start the 2015 Recipe Count off with...a slow cooker dish!  For my regular readers, this should come as no surprise.  Yes, I have 'a thing' for my slow cooker.  Best. Invention. Ever.  Or at least right up there with some really important ones.  Like my Immersion Blender.  Also. Best. Invention. Ever. 

Weather continues to be cold.  And blustery. And cold and blustery.  Had a small reprieve of some lovely temps and light snowfall for ONE day, but alas, didn't stay.

I've also had quite the selection of birds visiting my feeder, including the usual blue jays, chickadees, pine siskins, evening grosbeaks, nuthatches, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker; and the unusual with a Pileated woodpecker.  I've been trying to snap a picture of this fine red-headed gentleman, but the camera just doesn't like taking a picture through a screen.

And to the gist of this posting, the Meal Plan and review!

Sat (L) leftovers  (S) slow cooked Lazy Man's Stuffed Cabbage
Sun (L) Husband - leftover Shepherds Pie   (S) - leftover cabbage
Mon (yoga) leftover cabbage
Tues - pasty
Wed (AM yoga) Salmon and ramen noodles
Thurs (yoga) leftover soup
Fri - Skillet Pizza  (Will have to review next week...)

Lunches - Farmhouse chicken chowder

Lazy Man's Stuffed Cabbage (modified from Slow Cooker Revolution by ATK)
This was anything BUT lazy.  I used three pans: one to steam the cabbage (don't have a microwave), one to cook the rice, one to saute the onions and tomato mixture.   One bowl to mix the meat, bread and milk, and the various implements, meat baller, knives necessary for prep.  And this was before we even got to the slow cookers!  Of which I needed TWO because once again, mine was too small.  But large one is on its way.  Yay!

So, to say this was heavy on the prep and pots, a definite YES.   Was it worth it?   Maybe.  The Husband had three servings the first meal so that says something.  And it was good, the meat is incredibly tender, lightly spiced, and off-sets the tangy cabbage and tomato sauce perfectly.  The tomato sauce mixture turns out thick and saucy and is the perfect consistency to cover everything but yet not overwhelm.   A artisanal crusty bread is the perfect accompaniment for this dish - I made homemade popovers which worked well with their buttery-eggy goodness.

1 2lb cabbage, cored and cut into 1" pieces

1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 lb bratwurst, casings removed  (I used venison brats)
1/4 cup whole milk (I used half n half)
2 slices good sandwich bread (I used an english muffin)
2 cups cooked rice

1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
 3 tbsp flour (or thickener of choice)

28 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1) Coat slow cooker with vegetable oil.  Steam cabbage, stirring occasionally until softened (15-20 minutes).  Drain, cover, and set aside.

2) Heat 2 tbsp oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned.

3) Transfer half of onion mixture to large bowl set aside.

4) Stir flour into skillet with remaining onions and cook over medium high heat for one minute. Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, and vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and season with salt and pepper.

5) Add bread and milk to bowl with onion mixture and mash to paste with fork.  Mix in ground meat, bratwurst, rice, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.  Using hands, mix till well blended.

6) Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of prepared slow cooker.  Pinch off one-third of meat mixture** into tablespoon sized pieces and drop over sauce.  Spread one-third of cabbage over meat.  Spoon on-third of remaining sauce mixture over cabbage.  Repeat layers.  Cover and cook until beef is tender, about 4 hours on low.  Let casserole cool 20 minutes before serving.

**I used a 1" scoop to make little meatballs.  Was faster than pinching and plopping.  

Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder (modified from Slow Cooker Revolution by ATK)
The Husband assembled this dish so I can't comment on prep.  I did one significant modification and that was have him skip frying the bacon and to just use some bacon grease for flavor (yes, I keep a small jar of clean bacon grease just for things like this.  Definitely worth the effort - which is to say, no effort at all.)   We also skipped the 1/2 cup of heavy cream because I was out of half n half and only had sweetened coconut milk on hand.

I made this primarily for lunches.  This is clean tasting and thick without being bogged down in "cream".  A cornbread or rustic bread would be the perfect accompaniment.   This also makes a lot - I think we got about 8-10 servings out of it. 

2 slices bacon, minced  (1 tbsp bacon fat)
1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, diced
photo from Scifi with
 1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or thickener of choice)
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock/broth
1 lb red or yellow potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 carrot, peeled and diced  (we use baby carrots)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 (15oz) can creamed corn
1/2 cup heavy cream (we skipped)
2 tsp minced canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce
3 tsp basil or cilantro (optional)

1) Heat bacon grease in pan over medium high heat.  Add onion and cook until soft.  Add garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in flour and cook for one minute.  Whisk in 2 cups broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.

2)  Stir remaining 3 cups broth, potatoes, carrot and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into mixture.  Cook and cover until chicken is tender, 4 -6 hours on low.

3) Shred chicken by either removing from cooker and shredding, or by gently breaking up with a wooden spoon (it should be tender enough that it breaks apart just with spoon, thus saving time and dishes).

4) Saute red pepper until softened.  Add creamed corn and heat through.  Add to soup, let cook 30 minutes to let flavors meld (and to clean kitchen and set the table!).  Stir in cilantro or basil if using and serve.

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