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Monday, January 9, 2017

Recipe Review from 1/1/2017

Ah, the start of a new year, the start of a new list!

The method behind the madness:  the Meal Plan reflects what I have for lunches and suppers.  I plan out the weekend meals in a bit more detail than the weekday meals.  Usually lunch is a soup for me and sandwiches for the Husband, with other things to get us through a day.  I'll plan in evening activities so I know when I need something the Husband can warm up or if I need to account for leftovers.

Why don't I plan breakfast?  Because we don't have too much variation there:  oatmeal with English muffin, oatmeal with grapefruit or fruit,  an English muffin with a poached egg and fruit, Sunday's might find us making pancakes or waffles with a side of bacon.

We have a local bread company - Zenith Bread Project - that makes the most amazing sourdough English muffins.  These things are huge and sharing one is enough for two of us.  l buy these because they use limited ingredients:  flour, water, sea salt,  honey,  milk, yeast, and cornmeal.  Nary a soybean in sight!  Yay!

The Meal Plan for week 1/1/2017
Sun (L) Pasty      (S)  Leftovers
Mon (Yoga)  Spicy Chicken and Chorizo Stew
Tues - leftovers
Wed - leftovers
Thurs (Yoga) leftovers
Fri (breakfast out) Chinese take-out
Sat (L) leftover Chinese   (S)  Chicken dinner with slow cooked squash and baked potatoes

Lunches - (me) Lentil Soup (H) leftover pork sandwiches

Spicy Chicken and Chorizo Stew  (modified from America's Test Kitchen, Slow Cooker Revolution)  gluten free!

A notable item about the ATK recipes in this book, is they use a microwave to soften the onions and veggies.  I don't have a microwave, so I do it the "old fashioned way" on the stove top.  Another advantage is I can get some caramelization on the onions, which I think adds some nice background flavors.

I did skip the corn and cilantro - corn because I was going to use up some edamame in my freezer (forgot), cilantro because I just didn't feel like buying a batch. 

This was a winner!  The chipolte definitely adds some nice background zing - if you have little taste buds in the family or someone who's heat sensitive, skip or just use some adobo sauce.  If you lean toward being a hot head, bump up the head accordingly.  I would make this again, perhaps adding some cornbread along side.  I did serve this over basmati rice for a couple of meals.  Recommended!

This made 8 servings.  Can be stretched with the addition of rice of choice.  

12 oz chorizo sausage, cut in to 1/2" slices  (I used Mexican style, like a brat)
2 cups onion, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp chipolte chili, minced (about one chili)**
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp instant tapioca
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup minced cilantro

1. My method: Heat oil a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add garlic and chipolte, and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add chipolte, stirring to incorporate, about 1 minute.   Transfer to a slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes, broth and tapioca.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into tomato mixture.   Cook 4-5 hours on low. 

2.  Using a large spoon, skim excess fat from surface of stew.  Break chicken into pieces with tongs.  Stir in corn and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  (Adjust stew consistency with extra hot broth as needed.)  Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cider Braised Squash Puree  (modified from America's Test Kitchen, Slow Cooker Revolution)  gluten free, vegetarian

Give me a big bowl of mashed squash and I am a very a happy person!  I'm still working my way through those 30 squash from the garden this Fall - tho I have given away at least 10 so making progress with the rest.  A chicken dinner called for a veggie and I found this to experiment with.

I like the simplicity of the chop and plop, cooking time listed was off (I had to adjust the heat and cook longer), and I think this could be a very versatile and easy side dish for a Holiday meal.  No oven required!  Could even make ahead and re-heat!

I did think 2 tbsp of brown sugar was a bit too much and next time I will try maple syrup instead. 

3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" chunks (I went smaller)
1/2 cup apple cider plus more as needed
salt and pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp heavy cream, warmed (I used 1/2 n 1/2)
2 tbsp brown sugar (honey, maple syrup, or sweetener of choice would also work; can omit too)

1. Combine squash, cider and 1/2 tsp salt and pepper in a slow cooker.   Cook 4-6 hours on low (I needed the full six.)

2.  Before serving, melt the butter, add the cream and brown sugar, and pour over squash.  Mash with a potato masher.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.  Can keep warm for up to two hours on "warm" setting. 

Curried Lentil Soup (modified from America's Test Kitchen, Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2)  gluten free, vegetarian

This was a very tasty dish.  The curry flavors aren't overwhelming, the ginger adds a much needed brightness (especially when outside temps are sitting at 0*), and it's filling without being heavy.

My main modification was I used significantly less broth than called for - I wanted this a bit more stew-like in consistency than soup.   I started with four or five cups in the slow cooker, then added the remaining cup(s) toward the end of cooking. 

My lentils never did get "tender", but were more al dente, which I prefer.  I like having a little bit of "bite" or resistance to my beans.  That being said, the Husband thought it was a bit chewy for his taste. 

This made enough for 7-8 meals. 

2 cups onion, chopped
2 tbsp grated ginger, divided in half
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tsp curry powder
8 cups chicken broth (I used 4-6 cups)
1 cup lentils  (I used French Green Lentils)
**ATK notes any lentil will work except red or yellow
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, minced 
salt and pepper

1. My method: Heat oil a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add ginger, tomato paste, and curry powder and cook for 1-2 minutes or until onions are just beginning to soften.  Transfer to a slow cooker.  Stir in lentils, broth and carrots.     Cover and cook until lentils are tender 6-7 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

2.  Stir in chopped tomatoes and remaining 1 tbsp ginger and let sit until heated trough, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cilantro (if using) and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

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