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.