Category: Slow Cooker


Spiced Carrots and Winter Squash

The Soup Sisters have declared this the “Year of the Vegetable.” We would like to add more great vegetable recipes to our repertoire.

While browsing through a cookbook from my local library – Taste of Home’s Skinny Slow Cooker – I came across this recipe. I like the idea of using a slow cooker for the vegetable dish, so it can be prepared ahead and be all ready when it is time to eat.  I plan to give it a try soon.

Makes 6 servings.   16 carb grams per serving.

Ingredients

  • 6 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups cubed peeled winter squash (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

Place carrots and squash in a 3-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; drizzle over vegetables and toss to coat. Cook, covered, on low 4 to 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Gently stir before serving.

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Since March is already almost half over, I thought it appropriate to post the recipe I would like to use for our April Soup Sisters Web-Cook-Along.

Food.com says this recipe will take about 30 minutes prep and 1 hour for cooking for a total of 90 minutes. I will probably use our slow cooker as suggested in Step 8 of the directions, which will add about another hour to hour and a half of cooking to my time.

I would also like to get feedback as to which weekend works best for everyone (April 7/8, 14/15, 21/22, 28/29) and time of day (last time was 3:30/12:30/10:30). I know with Daylight Savings Time starting again Hawaii is an additional hour later – I was thinking maybe using 4:00/1:00/10:00 (I know it’s about the same as last time for Hawaii, lol) start times.

http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-and-gnocchi-soup-351456

What I find nice about this site is that you can increase the number of servings and it will adjust your ingredients list. I have increased my recipe to 8 serving; this recipe doesn’t reference the ingredient amounts in the directions so we’ll be ok (the site warns that it does not adjust the ingredient amounts referenced in the directions).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups celery , chopped fine
  • 1 ½ cups onion , chopped fine
  • 1 cup carrot , grated very fine and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons garlic , minced
  • 2⁄3; cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 8 cups chicken broth or 8 cups fresh chicken stock
  • 3 cups cooked chicken (white meat works best) I will be using a rotisserie chicken.
  • 1 ½ cups fresh spinach , Julienne cut
  • 32 ounces gnocchi (potato dumpling)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and sauté until soft.
  3. Add flour mixing well, cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add heavy cream, milk and chicken broth mixing well.
  5. Cook and stir until mixture thicken and comes to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and stir in chicken, spinach, gnocchi and remaining seasonings.
  7. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  8. Cook over low heat 8-10 minutes until gnocchi become tender. (you could also place the ingredients in a Crock-Pot and cook on low for 1-1 ½ hours , this really makes the flavors come together.).
  9. Serve with Hot garlic bread sticks and enjoy.

I made this yesterday. Wow – was it good! Definitely 5 Spoons!

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4-lb boneless pork butt roast, trimmed, cut into 1½-inch pieces (often labeled as boneless Boston butt)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions:
1. Puree 1 can hominy and 2 cups broth in a blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
2. Microwave onions, tomato paste, 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, chili powder, and oregano together on high power, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
3. Stir remaining 2 cans hominy, remaining cup broth, tomatoes with juice, and soy sauce into slow cooker. Season pork with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Toss carrots with remaining tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, and wrap in an aluminum foil packet. Lay foil packet on top of stew. Cover and cook until the pork is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
4. Transfer foil packet to plate. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Carefully open foil packet (watch for steam) and stir carrots with accumulated juice into stew. Let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.) Stir in cilantro and lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

You may want to serve with lime wedges, minced fresh cilantro, minced onion or scallions, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, rice, and/or warmed tortillas.

Evaluation:  In step 1, I pureed the chicken broth and canned hominy together. It was easy to do and resulted in a nice, thick, and flavorful base for the stew. I wish I could have found Juanita’s hominy at our store. It is a brand of Mexican-style hominy said to be lower in carbohydrates and especially delicious. I will be looking for it in the future and plan to buy a few cans to keep on hand.

For the next step I used a bag of frozen onions instead of chopping fresh ones myself. I concluded that one bag was equal to 3 medium onions. Using the frozen onions was easy, and I was perfectly happy with the results. Cooking these ingredients together in the microwave instead of sautéing them on the stove is a great technique.

For step 3, I added only one can of hominy instead of two in an attempt to cut down on the carb-count, and I used a three-pound roast to save some money, yet I still felt that the resulting stew had a very generous amount of meat. The most difficult part of this recipe for me was cutting the pork up. I always find cutting raw meat to be distasteful. I prepared and enclosed the  carrots in a foil packet as instructed and was very pleased with the outcome. The carrots were cooked perfectly. I will try to remember in the future to use this technique for carrots when using the slow cooker. I wonder if it would be good for other vegetables as well.

Since I wanted the stew to be ready to eat in less time than suggested, I decided to try pre-heating the broth, hominy, and tomatoes in the microwave before putting them into the slow cooker. I set the slow-cooker on high and was pleased to find that the pre-heating did speed things up quite a bit. The stew was ready to eat in just under four hours instead of 5 to 7.

Step 4 – There was not much accumulated fat to be removed, but I did spoon off what I could. The stew’s consistency was fine, so I did not add any broth. I don’t like the flavor of cilantro, so I left that out, but I did add the lime juice at the end. It was fun to squeeze the fresh lime (cost was only 33 cents), and I think it added a nice touch of flavor. I think toppings of diced avocado and sour cream would have been a great way to serve the stew. I’ll try to do that next time.

With its deep and rich combination of flavors, Dandy husband and I both liked this stew very much. It truly was delicious. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

Garden Minestrone Evaluation

My sister HoosierRoots and I made the Garden Minestrone soup together on a Sunday in January during a Skype session. I thought it was quite successful – very delicious, as did my Dandy husband. There were some things that I want to remember to do again, and there were a couple of things that I might do differently next time.

Roots and I began the night before by putting the white beans to soak. I am glad that I used dried beans. Next time I might use even more. Then, on Sunday, we started by microwaving the first ingredients together, as per the directions. I can’t say that I have ever used the microwave for this step before. Instead I have always sautéed the onion and other flavorings together on the stove. But this worked quite well and was easy to do. I will try to remember to use this technique when preparing other dishes. I found that I did not have any red pepper flakes, and so I had to leave that out.

We stirred the ingredients into our slow cookers as directed in step 2 of the recipe. I found that I had 2 cups of leftover beef broth, and so I decided to use it up, combining it with the chicken broth. That meant the soup stock was made of one-third beef broth and two-thirds chicken broth along with the tomato sauce and flavorings. And I will say that it was especially delicious!

After the soup cooked for several hours, Roots and I again joined together for step 3. I had a yellow summer squash already, and so I used it instead of a zucchini. It was a bit more mature than I would have liked, and so perhaps I should have cooked it a little longer. At any rate, it seemed somewhat underdone in the end. I also wish I would have cut it into smaller pieces. I quartered it, as the recipe directed, but since it was too big, the pieces were not really bite size. Maybe, too, if the pieces had been smaller, the squash would have cooked more completely.

I was happy that I was able to find swiss chard at the grocery store. Actually, I realized as I began that I could not remember ever having cooked with swiss chard before. I washed it, cut out the central ribs, stacked the leaves, and sliced them as directed. That all went well and was not too difficult, and the swiss chard was wonderful in the finished soup – one of my favorite parts! I will definitely be using it again, although next time I will probably cut the slices in half across their width so that the pieces are more bite-sized. I did not put the pasta in, as I was trying to make the soup as low-carb as possible.

When the soup was finished I stirred in the basil, but as I did not have fresh, I used dried – about 2 teaspoons. Perhaps I should have added the dried basil earlier in the cooking – maybe way back at the beginning, but it tasted fine. If it were summer, I would have loved to have used fresh basil straight from my garden. In fact, as Roots has already pointed out, it really would be best to prepare this soup during the summer, when garden produce could be used. I served the soup with grated Parmesan cheese – a nice touch. The recipe also suggests serving it with extra olive oil, but I was not sure what to do with it, and so I did not do that. I wonder if one is supposed to just drizzle some on top of the soup after ladling it into the bowls. Anyway, the soup really was quite delicious and not too difficult. And I am sure that any number of other vegetables – whatever one had on hand – could be added.

Smoky Shredded Chipotle Beef Filling

Another ATK Slow Cooker recipe –

Ingredients

  • 2 onions , minced
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper , stemmed, seeded, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • boneless beef chuck roast , trimmed and halved
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Microwave onion, chili powder, chipotles, oil, garlic, jalapeno, tomato paste, and cumin in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir tomato sauce, sugar, and liquid smoke into slow cooker.
  3. Season beef with salt and pepper, add to slow cooker, and coat evenly with sauce mixture.
  4. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9-11 hours on LOW or 5-7 hours on HIGH.
  5. Transfer beef to large bowl, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces, discarding excess fat; cover to keep warm.
  6. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon.
  7. Toss shredded beef with 1 cup braising liquid; add more liquid as needed to keep meat moist and flavorful.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Filling can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, let filling thaw completely before using.

Garden Minestrone

The Soup Sisters are “back at it” – this time with Garden Minestone in the slow cooker from the America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker cookbook.

Ingredients

  •   1 onion, minced
  •   4 cloves garlic,minced
  •   1 Tbs oil oil, plus extra for serving
  •   1/2 tsp dried oregano
  •   1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  •   6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  •   1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  •   1 cup dried Great Northern or Cannelini beans (picked over and soaked in salt water overnight)
  •   2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  •   1 zucchini (8 oz), quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  •   8 oz Swiss chard, stemmed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch thick
  •   1 cup small pasta, such as ditalini, tubettini, or mini elbows
  •   1/2 cup minced fresh basil
  •   Salt and pepper
  •   Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions

  1. Microwave onion, garlic, oil, oregano, and red pepper flakes in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir broth, tomato sauce, soaked beans, and carrots into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.
  3. Stir in zucchini, chard, and pasta, cover and cook on high until vegetables and pasta are tender, 20-30 minutes. Stir in basil, salt & pepper to taste. and serve with Parmesan cheese and extra olive oil.