Category Archives: main dish

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I LOVE my slow cooker and I am super excited because I just got this new Crock-Pot Slow Cooker after my old one died.  Slow cookers are amazing tools for busy cooks, and I love that I can set mine up in the morning and come home to an incredible meal after being at work all day.

Just about once a week, I cook up a whole organic chicken in the slow cooker.  Not only does that mean we have a delicious roast chicken dinner once a week but it also means that I can make sandwiches with the chicken for the rest of the week or use the chicken in another meal.  I love doing whole chickens in the slow cooker because it is easy and it gives me control over what I put on my chicken (as opposed to buying a rotisserie chicken at the store). I also have control over the type of meat I purchase.  The final reason why I LOVE roasting chickens in the slow cooker is because I then get to use all the bones and skin and other little non-edible bits to make my own chicken stock in the slow cooker.  Not only is homemade chicken stock better for you than the stuff in the cans or boxes, but it tastes a million times better too!

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

This is more of a method rather than a recipe.  Please feel free to play around with it, add spices of your choosing and most importantly, have fun!

Ingredients:

1 5-6 lb chicken (preferably organic)

kosher salt

white pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

Directions:

1. In a clean sink, rinse chicken thoroughly.  Make sure to remove the giblets for a later use (chicken stock!). If you are not using the giblets right away, you can freeze them.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

3. Place the chicken breast side down in the slow cooker.  I have done the chicken both ways, breast up and down.  I think that breast down keeps the breast more moist, but then the skin from the breast side will not get crisp.  It’s your call!

4. Generously sprinkle the chicken with seasonings.

5. Cover and cook your chicken for about 8 hours on low.  It is done when juices run clear.

6. Remove from slow cooker and enjoy! Mine usually falls apart a bit because it has been sitting on the warm setting for a while after it finishes cooking.  The presentation isn’t the most amazing but the taste is outrageous! 

DO NOT throw away the liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker or your bones, skin and other little bits of the chicken you are not going to eat once it is cooked.  This will all be a part of the slow cooker chicken stock.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, grain free, low sugar, main dish, nut free, paleo, slow cooker, toddler approved

Garlic Scape Soup

Garlic scapes are the jewels of late spring/early summer.  Scapes are the “flower stalks” of hard neck garlic plants.  Farmers cut off the scapes so they do not inhibit the growth of the bulb.  Scapes are beautiful and delicious and can be found at farmer’s markets this time of year.  Read more about scapes here.

I discovered garlic scapes last year at the Montclair Farmer’s Market and have been waiting patiently for them to reappear at my new local market in Sunnyside.  Low and behold, they did!  There are a lot of different scape recipes out there on the good ol’ internet that I want to try such as scape pesto and scape carbonara.

However, I have an amazing cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  I constantly leaf through this cookbook, staring at the gorgeous photographs and dreaming of making every recipe.   One recipe has been on my mind for quite some time now-Garlic Scape Soup.  It is a simple recipe that yields a fantastically green-colored luscious soup.  Unfortunately, when I went to make the soup, I realized that I only had half the amount of garlic scapes that I needed, so I made a few substitutions.  The soup was still delicious! I definitely recommend buying this book (or her newer cookbook, Super Natural Every Day) and making this soup!

I served this soup alongside some crusty bread and a caprese salad.  A delicious, light, vegetarian summer meal!

The next time I make this soup I want to drizzle a bit of truffle oil over the top courtesy of The Filling Station.

Garlic Scape Soup

adapted just slightly from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen garlic scapes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 scallions, chopped
3 large russet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1/2–inch pieces
5 cups vegetable stock
3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
juice of ½ a lemon
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup half & half

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, then add the scapes and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and scallions and sauté for 1 additional minute.

2. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

3. Remove from heat, add the spinach and puree using a hand blender. (I was at my mom’s house and she does not have a hand blender.  I had to use her food processor, which worked fine.  Just make sure to process the soup in batches so the hot liquid doesn’t come squirting out and burn you.)

4. Season soup with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5. Stir in the half & half.

6. Pour into bowls and serve!

Leave a comment

Filed under gluten free, grain free, low sugar, main dish, soup, vegetarian

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

For Brian’s birthday a number of years back, I made a huge Mediterranean feast.  We both love Mediterranean food: salty feta, briny olives, creamy tzatziki, flavorful meats and fishes.  I created a whole menu based on our love for these foods which included my first attempt at stuffed peppers.  I got the original recipe from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook which I received as a present from a co-worker a number of years ago during a holiday present swap.  These peppers were filled with the flavors of the Mediterranean: rice, olive oil, quality tomatoes, currants, parsley, pine nuts.  The flavors were a lovely balance of sweet and savory.  They came out beautifully and everyone seemed to love them.

Recently, we have been eating a lot less carbs during dinner and I wanted to make a stuffed pepper that reflected our eating changes.  I swapped out the rice for lean ground turkey and decreased the olive oil significantly from the original recipe.  What resulted was a sweet-savory protein packed dinner.  I served it with garlic broccoli.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

2 large red bell peppers
2 ounces pine nuts
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-1.3 pounds lean ground turkey
1 cup strained tomato (or no salt added tomato puree)
3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ cup dried cherries or currants
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350

1. Toast pine nuts in a large sautee pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.

2. In the same pan, still on medium heat, add the olive oil, chopped onion, and a pinch of salt. Sautee 5-10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

3. Push the onions to the side of the pan and add the ground turkey.  As the turkey begins to cook, break it up and mix it in with the onions.  Cook turkey until no pink remains.

4. Add strained tomato, parsley, dried cherries, cinnamon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt.  Cook down together on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

5. While mixture is cooking, cut peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and place the peppers in the dish.

6. Divide meat mixture equally among the 4 pepper halves.  The mixture will be slightly overflowing.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until peppers are tender.

8. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Leave a comment

Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, grain free, low sugar, main dish

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Quinoa is one of the most amazing and versatile ‘grains’ out there.  Quinoa is not a true grain, and is actually more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds than to grains like wheat or rice (thanks Wikipedia).  Quinoa is gluten free and a complete protein which makes it perfect for people with gluten intolerances and for vegetarians.  I personally feel that it is an amazing food for just about everyone!  You can typically find quinoa in a white or red variety and for this recipe I used red.

Lately, I have been making a big batch of quinoa salad on Sundays and eating it for lunch throughout the week.  I have been throwing together lots of different ingredients with the quinoa to create really interesting salad combinations.  Below you will find one of my favorite combinations which combines cilantro, lime, black beans and quinoa goodness.  I kept this version meatless, however, this would work well with some cubed chicken tossed in.

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 15 oz. can black bean, drained and rinsed
1/4 red onion, diced
5 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 avocados, cubed
*1 cup cilantro lime dressing

Cook quinoa in water or chicken broth according to directions on package.  Toss the cooked quinoa with the olives, pepper, tomatoes, beans, onion, scallions, avocado and dressing.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to eat later on in the week.  Bring back up to room temperature before serving.  Serves 6.

*Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and gorgeously green in color.

This dressing is phenomenal served on just about anything!  Brian and I also love to make a huge Mexican salad tossed with this dressing.  If you would like it sweeter, you can add a tablespoon or two more honey to the blender.

20 Comments

Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, low sugar, main dish, salad, vegetarian

Sloppy Toms

When I think of Sloppy Toms (the ground turkey version of a sloppy Joe) I can’t help thinking of the Adam Sandler song Lunch Lady Land!

I love Sloppy Joes and Sloppy Toms and wanted to create a recipe that reflected my eating habits.  That means using organic ketchup and not putting the meat on bread.  Unlike others, I don’t have fond memories of eating Sloppy Joes all that often as a child.  We didn’t EVER have canned Sloppy Joe meat like Manwich or anything like that (Thank you mom! And if my memory is not serving me correctly, please don’t tell me the truth!)

Since I choose not to eat gluten filled bread at the moment, Brian and I ate this deliciously sloppy meat over a mixture of sweet potatoes and cauliflower (note the orangey color of the mixture-kind of fun!).  It all worked well together-but feel free to serve this meat over buns of your choosing!

Sloppy Toms

Ingredients:

20 oz. lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup canned tomato sauce
3 oz. tomato paste
½ c. organic ketchup (NO HFCS in this house!)
1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Spray a large nonstick sauté pan with cooking spray.  Cook ground turkey, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is cooked through. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, red wine vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, paprika, salt and pepper, mix well. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until mixture has reached desired thickness.

Serve over mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, mashed sweet potatoes, (or a combination of the previously mentioned), or hamburger buns.  Enjoy!


Leave a comment

Filed under egg free, gluten free, main dish, nut free, toddler approved

Transylvanian Goulash

My book club just finished reading The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coehlo.  This is a very special book club for three reasons.  One, it is all women.  Two, the women who participate are amazing! Three, we match up the food we are serving to the setting of the book we read.  We each bring a dish and it turns out wonderfully.  We meet about every six weeks and I look forward to our meetings immensely!

The Witch of Portobello has many settings, but the main two are England and Transylvania.  At first I was thinking about my healthy version of Shepherd’s Pie, but then I got to thinking about Transylvania and what interesting dishes I could make from that part of the world.  I decided on a Transylvanian Goulash recipe and low and behold I found one I could make in my Crockpot!  Yay!  (I have yet to disclose how much I LOVE my Crockpot! Well, there you go…I LOVE my crockpot!)  Then I found some cool looking sweet Hungarian paprika at the market.  See how neat the container is?

I looked at quite a few recipes in order to create my own.  In our group we have some different eating styles.  In particular, I try to eat gluten free and one of the lovely ladies cannot eat dairy.  So this is a non-dairy, gluten free version of goulash that,  if I do say so myself, is pretty tasty.

Transylvanian Goulash

32 oz. bag sauerkraut (not the kind from a can, please!)
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tablespoon Penzeys Beef Soup Base* plus 3 cups water OR 3 cups beef broth
4 pounds beef chuck, stew beef, cut in 2-inch cubes
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
Sour cream (for the dairy tolerant, to pass on the side)

Wash sauerkraut under cold running water, strain well, pressing out excess water.

Heat oil in a 5-quart casserole; add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly colored, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper, then season with salt and cook a minute or two longer. Stir in paprika, pour in 1/2 cup of broth and bring to boil. Add beef cubes and stir.

Transfer beef mixture to crockpot.  Pour remaining broth, tomato sauce, sauerkraut, and caraway seeds over mixture.  Mix all ingredients together.  Cover  and cook on high for 4 hours. If crockpot turns to warm automatically, keep it on warm while you whisk rice milk and arrowroot powder together.  Pour rice milk and arrowroot powder into the crock-pot and mix together with the other ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep on warm until you are ready to serve.

Pass sour cream on the side for the dairy-tolerant.

Serves 8-10 depending on serving size.

Tastes even better the next day!

*Just as an aside, I do not get an special kickbacks from Penzey’s…I just really LOVE their spices and soup bases!

1 Comment

Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, low sugar, main dish, nut free