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Monday, January 5, 2015

Recipe Review from 12/29/14

This post will wrap up my recipes for 2014.  Overall, an pretty good year cooking wise.  Lots of great dishes (Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes!  My favorite!),  a handful of "meh" meals (it happens), and a realization that I DO need a larger crockpot.  It should be on it's way as of this posting.

And, as usual, another busy week:  New Year's Eve gathering, had to teach yoga class New Year's Day (thanks happy I could make the 50 mile round trip for a 50 minute class), and a staff meeting/open house at the Studio.  

The Meal Plan:
Sunday - Shepherd's Pie
Mon - leftovers
Tues - leftovers
Wed - leftovers/New Year's Eve gathering at Steve's place
Thurs (L) in town  (S) crockpot stuffed cabbage
Fri - leftovers
Sat - leftovers

Lunches -  Chicken, Quinoa and Butternut soup, crackers or fresh bread; apples, yogurt, nuts

Shepherd's Pie (modified Slow Cooker Revolution by ATK)
For touting the ease of a slow cooker, this was a putzy dish.  Mix meat with milk and bread, cook till brown.  Put in slow cooker.  Cook onion and veggies till soft, add spices, make a roux, add broth, cook till thick.  Add to slow cooker.  Add peas at end.  Make potatoes, add to top.

However, this is one time I will say the putzy was worth it!  A beautiful thick sauce full of tender meat crumbles, sweet carrots and onions, savory but not overly so.  And my mashed potatoes turned out awesome!  The Husband thought I had even peeled them they had turned out so creamy smooth!  Ha!  No peeling potatoes in my house!

2 lbs ground beef (I used turkey)
2 slices good quality white bread
photo from Scifi with a Dash of Paprika.blogspot
1/4 cup half n half

2 onions, diced
10 oz mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and quartered
1 cup carrots, diced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup flour
1 2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup half n half
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup frozen peas

3 cups mashed potatoes of choice

1)  Mash bread and milk.  Add beef (turkey) and mix well with hands.  Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat, and if necessary, working in batches, saute until meat is no longer pink.  Drain and move to slow cooker.

2) Saute onions, mushrooms, carrots until softened.  Add tomato paste and cook until veggies are evenly coated.  Add flour and cook for one minute until veggies are evenly coated.  Add broth and stir until flour is disolved and sauce starts to turn thick.  Let bubble to thicken.   Add to slow cooker.

3)  Stir in half and half and soy sauce.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Add peas and heat through.  Can top with mashed potatoes in the slow cooker, or top individual bowls with mashed potatoes. 

Slow Cooked Butternut Squash, Quinoa and Chicken  (leelaliscious blog via Pinterest) gluten free
Easy enough to throw together.  Frustrating when I realized my slow cooker wasn't big enough yet again.  I had to leave the canned tomatoes out and add later, and I couldn't add 1 cup of stock.   So yes, this makes a lot.  This will easily feed a crowd.

This turned out thick and stew like, which is our preference.  It was not as flavorful as I would have thought given the spices, then I realized when typing this I might have inadvertently halved the curry and parsley.  I don't remember now... oh well.  I think it could use a bit more zing as is.   This is a lovely blend of sweet squash, succulent chicken, and nutty quinoa.  We served this with a fresh baked loaf of Sour Dill Bread that the Husband made, but any crusty bread would be perfect.

1 tablespoon olive oil
photo from blog
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts  (I used 6 chicken thighs)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 6 cups)  (I used about 2 lbs)
14 ounces (1¾ cups) diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa, (rinsed and drained!)

1. In a small pan heat the olive oil, then saute chopped onion and garlic until lightly browned.

2. Place chicken breast in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients on top of chicken and cook on high for 3-4 hours or 7-8 hours on low.

3. When finished cooking, discard bay leaf. Take out chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks etc. Return shredded chicken to stew and stir to combine everything evenly.

4. Serve topped with fresh parsley.

Sour Dill Rye Bread  (Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads)

photo from Scifi with a Dash of Paprika.blogspot

The sour in this comes from the use of pickle brine.   The Husband used some of his naturally fermented pickle juice and the dill and dill seed came from this summers garden.  The loaves didn't rise as much as they "should" have and the speculation is twofold. A) our house is on the cooler side (62*F) today, for example, and B) the salt from the brine might have been too much when combined with the salt from the recipe and killed the yeast action or C) a combination of B and the ingredients not being at room temp. 

The loaves he did get were lovely though.  He upped the caraway seeds so I commented that this tasted more like a soft-crumb Irish Soda Bread than "dill-y".   The recipe called for the dough to be cooked directly on a cookie sheet, which The Husband did, and experienced sticking when it came time to remove from pan despite the cornmeal base.  Parchment paper highly recommended.

I'm not going to type this recipe out - it's like two pages long.  Clayton's book should be readily available from your local library or inter-library loan if you wish to give this tasty bread a try. 

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