Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chickpea Spice Stew

Luckily this week's crock-pot dinner was a success because I was seriously thinking about giving up the mission, and the blog, after last week's failure. I'm still sort of feeling like I won't be able to keep this up for long, but I'll keep trucking for now. I'm not sure I will find enough recipes that are good for both Alex and me.

I made up this recipe, but chickpeas, tomato and curry is a pretty typical dish so I'm not gonna take full credit for it.

Chickpea Spice Stew

2 cans chickpeas (drained, rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup water

This was an easy one. All I had to do was chop the onion, and garlic, then put everything together in the crock-pot. I cooked it for 9 hours. We served it over some kale and cousous.
Really tasty stuff. The ginger gave it some spice, and I don't think you can go wrong with curry powder, and cumin. It made enough for lunch leftovers too. I think if I make it again I'll add more spices to give it even more flavor.

I'm not sure how much longer the blog will last. I'm enjoying the cooking, but I'm unsure about the whole slow cooking thing. I like the ease of it, but it seems like it's mostly set up for soups and stews, which aren't my favorite types of dishes. I also don't want to feel like I'm chained to the kitchen at any time. I started it so I would have motivation to cook more, but I don't know if I want to have it dictate my life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Squash Stuffed With Couscous

Yesterday I learned that cooking anything before work in the morning adds about 50% more stress to your day. Plus you smell like onions all day. I hope to never have to prep anything before work again, I vow to always do it before bed the day before.

I dragged myself out of bed (okay, Alex did the actual dragging) half an hour early in order to get my stuffed squash ready. I adapted this from Robin Robertson's recipe from her book Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and most of her recipes require some pre-cooking before you put things in the crock-pot. I'm okay with this, because I understand it will add to the flavor. While I have been enjoying being a lazy chef, I also want the food to taste good, it's kind of the point. There is definitely a difference between boiled onion, and sauteed onion. However, at 7am I was cursing myself for starting off my day with an extra dose of stress.

In all honesty the prep was not that difficult. Couscous is pretty fool proof, and sauteing onions and garlic is just time consuming with all the stirring.

I adapted the recipe to work in a 3 qt. Crock-pot, and to fit my tastes:

2 cups apple juice
1 cup couscous
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Splash of olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped (they are hard to chop, mine where more like crushed and chunked)
Sprinkle of salt
1 medium kabocha squash
1 cup water

I actually had to take a tape measure to the grocery store with me to find a squash that would fit into the pot. I got some strange looks. I can just imagine people thinking I have some serious OCD to need to measure my produce.

I started the couscous boiling in the apple juice while I sauteed the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When the couscous was done (about 10 minutes) I mixed the apricots, cooked onion/garlic, pistachios and salt together. I cut off the top of the kabocha and scooped out the seeds and stringy bits. Then I squished as much couscous mixture inside as I could, set the squash into the crock-pot and poured the water around it. I cooked it for 9 and a half hours.I gotta say I didn't love it, but probably because I cooked it for too long and it turned to mush. I should have put it in for about 6 hours, but the day got away from me and I got home too late. The flavors were great, but the texture wasn't that appetizing. Maybe I'll try it again one day when I'll be home rather than at work.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Curried Carrot Bisque

For recipe number two I decided to go with a soup. I wanted something easy that I could cook all day while I was away at work. The preparation for this dish was incredibly easy, all it involved was peeling and chopping, which I did after work yesterday (while waiting for my sushi to be delivered, that's sort of multi-tasking, right?). I put the chopped veggies in the fridge, then today before work I put it all in the fun-cooker (30 Rock anyone?), added the broth and spices, turned it on low, pet the cat and left for work. I'd like to say that was the last I thought about it until I got home... but I was nervous again all day. I'm sure the feeling will wear off but leaving a heated appliance on all day at home seems scary, and goes against everything my mother taught me about fire safety. I googled "leaving slow cooker on all day" a number of times. Thankfully when Alex got home before me he did not find a melted counter top or singed cabinet.

I used this Curried Carrot Bisque recipe but left out the milk. I wanna say I left it out because I'm healthy, but I just plain forgot it. I also didn't add the cilantro because I hate buying a whole bunch just to use a few sprigs as garnish.


8 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups chicken broth

Put ingredients in slow cooker, cook on low for 9 hours. I then ran everything through the food processor, and put it back in to the crock-pot for about half an hour to heat it back up. I really need an immersion blender because getting the food processor involved was messy business and added a lot of time.
It was tasty! It had an amazing deep savory flavor with some spice, but also some mild sweetness. I was worried it would end up being apple soup because there seemed to be as much apple as carrot but it all melded together. Definitely a success. We ate it with some acorn squash and corn pudding, check out that recipe here. It's not crock-pot recipes but I love 101 Cookbooks, Heidi Swanson posts amazing recipes and some of them are even easy enough for me to make.

It was nice to be able to contribute to the meal instead of Alex having to rush around doing all the cooking. The team work really paid off, I took care of the soup and Alex made the squash, and we actually got to eat before 9pm which doesn't happen often when we cook.

Fall has always been my favorite season but being able to cook all these delicious fall foods is making the season even better. Next up will be something with winter squash.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vegetarian Chili

Here goes! Recipe number one started off based on the sweet potato chili by Stephanie O'Dea over at A Year of Slow Cooking but it got sort of adapted. Seeing as this is the first thing I've ever made and I had no idea what I was doing I probably should have stuck to the original recipe... but it worked out. I added some fake meat, corn, and cumin. Cumin smells like B.O. but it's so very tasty. I also had to adjust the amounts to fit my small crock-pot.


1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 small can sweet corn
1 small can of tomatoes
1 small can of kidney beans
12 oz. meatless soy "ground beef"
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water

Throw ingredients in pot (except "ground beef"), set heat to low, and cook for 6 hours. I threw the soy crumbles in an hour before it was finished so they'd have a chance to heat up.

I was nervous all day while it was cooking. I even had a dream during my nap where Alex accidentally spilled the whole crock-pot and the chili was ruined. Luckily it ended up being awesome! Seriously tasty chili that I would most definitely make again. We both had seconds, and there's enough left for one more meal. We added cheddar cheese, and avocado, plus had some corn chips for dipping. I noticed at the end of cooking that it was a little watery so I added some corn starch but the flavor was great.

Here's a list of all the things we got done today while NOT slaving over a pot of chili:
-2 hour nap
-Oh hold with the cable company (they owed me $7, score!)
-Eating lots of Halloween candy that was bought "just in case" we get a trick-or-treater

It was such a wonderful lazy Saturday thanks to Crandall. That's the name for the crock-pot that seems to be sticking in our house at the moment.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Crock-pot, check.

Step one accomplished! I bought the cheapest, smallest slow cooker available. I almost got sidetracked by digital displays, and pretty colors, but I'm not ready yet to make an investment over $20. Also, with only two of us to feed, and zero counter space, small was necessary. It's not like I'm looking to cook a whole chicken, vegetables are small. It's a 3 qt. little stainless thing. I think I need to give it a name... you know, for blogging purposes? I'm not all that creative when it comes to naming things. My cat came with her name from the shelter, and I've never even come up with an endearing nickname for my husband. The GPS on our honeymoon got nicknamed Lady, but it was highly amusing to say "did you remember to put Lady in the trunk?" I'm gonna work on a name and see what sticks.

For the record, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slow Cooker Cooking says cooking a whole chicken is dangerous, so it's out of the question anyway. I only got to read a few pages on the google limited preview, I wonder what else is dangerous to cook.

Step Two: Cook

Okay, so, now I guess I actually have to use it. I have the blog, and I have the appliance. I think I need a recipe book so I'll look into that. For now I'm relying on the internet to guide me and I've been able to find a number of vegetarian recipes, which surprised me. I liked the sound of chili now that it's getting cold outside, and it's something I probably wouldn't prepare on the stove because of all the simmering and stirring time. Hopefully by tonight I will have some tasty, slow cooked chili in my stomach.

It Begins

For the past year and a half I've been planning a wedding. Even though I said I wanted a simple wedding, I still ended up spending most of my free time on the planning. Who knew my vision of "simple" was so complicated. I wanted it to LOOK simple, and I wanted the day to FEEL simple, but that actually takes a lot of planning to pull off. However, this was just a very long winded way of saying that I've now found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands that used to be occupied with thoughts like "ohh, I like succulents!" and researching things like the city clerks hours of operation.

So I've been setting some goals to fill the time, and one of them is to cook more. I hardly ever cook and I have a million excuses why not. I don't feel like cooking after a full day at work, my husband is a WAY better cook, I'm a little impatient when things don't turn out (I once stabbed a cake when the icing wasn't perfect), and also, I'm not really all that good at it. Even when I lived alone it was take-out most nights, and when I did "cook" my own dinner it was a plate of raw carrots, hummus and pita bread. So I'm taking on this challenge, and I'm starting small at first. Goal: Cook one meal a week.

Also, I want to make this as easy on myself as possible so I'm investing in a slow cooker, which is about my speed when it comes to cooking. Chop, throw in pot with seasoning, and leave it for hours. Okay, so I've never used a slow cooker before, I'm hoping this is as easy as I think it is. Actually, I don't even know anyone with a slow cooker. I live in New York where apartments are tiny, and people eat out a lot, especially people my age with media jobs. Or at least the ones I know. When I think slow cooker I think pot roast and soccer mom. I want to change this stereotypical view I have and reclaim the slow cooker as an urban chic way to be a slacker when it comes to cooking!

What I plan to accomplish is at least one full meal a week that is healthy, cheap, satisfying, and vegetarian, because Mr. is a vegetarian. What I want to stress is I'm not doing this because I think it's my wifely duty to cook. I'm absolutely certain he will still be doing most of the cooking. I'm still a little at odds with the wife title, I'll let you know when I've settled on whether I want to "reclaim" the title, embrace it, or whether I think the title means anything at all to me. I take marriage very seriously, but I don't like that it comes loaded with a title about what my identity should be. I recommend going over to A Practical Wedding for a great post on this topic.

So here goes! Step one: buy a slow cooker. Ha, yeah, I haven't done that yet.