Category Archives: Crock pot

These are recipes which can or should be made in a crock pot

Curry curious

Ever since I did my master’s degree with a Taiwanese adviser, I have been what I call ‘curry curious’. She would occasionally bring homemade Thai food for the lab, and it was always divine. I love ethnic food because they use so many spices which are usually not found in the typical American palate.

But contrary to popular belief, being spice-ed doesn’t have to mean spice-y (as in too spicy to eat, mouth on fire, tears running down your face). Wikipedia actually has quite an extensive list of curries from various cultures, the cooking methods, ingredients, and spice mixtures if you’re interested.

I think the most interesting tidbit is that the “curry powder” spice mixture, popular in the West, dates to the 18th century and is thought to have been prepared by Indian spice merchants to sell to the members of the British government and soldiers.

I have attempted Green Curry Chicken, and it turned out amazing. I began experimenting with different cuisines and techniques, like the Crock Pot Indian Chicken Curry and then more Thai with pineapple Peanut Chicken Curry. Clearly I need to try something other than chicken in my curries… anyhow.

All have been unique and delicious. I love the punch of spices, and the ease of a crock pot lends itself to long, slow cooking these curries taste best with.  I definitely will keep curries as part of my regular meals.

Especially because they are so easily customizable. Whatever meat is around, literally any vegetable, and some standard sauces (yogurt, coconut milk, stock, and/or tomato base) plus the combination of spices and I have a thick, complex stew to serve over rice or noodles.

Also, thought it seems like quite an investment, the spices are worth it. You don’t need to use much, so they will last a long time. Without further ado, enjoy my latest curry creation.

Ingredients:

  • ~6 pounds chicken (I used 2 thigh, 2 breast, and 2 drumsticks)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 yellow squash, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup peas and carrots
  • 2 tbsp garam masala (Indian spice mixture)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Step 1: Spray a crock pot. Add the coconut milk and diced tomatoes. Then add the chicken and all your diced vegetables.

Step 2: Douse it all in the spices you’re using. Give it a stir.

Step 3: Cook on low 4-6 hours, mixing a few times if possible.

Serve over rice, noodles, or bread. Enjoy!



Do you have a favorite ethnic recipe?

 

Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

Chili is definitely in my top ten favorite winter dishes. I suppose really all year, but especially in winter it’s nice to cook up a hot batch of thick, delicious chili to enjoy at the end of a chilly day. (See what I did there?)

There are also endless variations, from vegetarian chili, to Skyline chili like in southwest Ohio (go to Columbus or Cincinnati and have some if you don’t know what I’m talking about), chili over noodles, meatless chili, bean-less chili, sweet chili… you get the idea.

There are chili cook-offs all over the nation, there is even an International Chili Society. That’s how serious some people take this stuff. Their webpage explaining the history of chili is pretty fascinating.

Now, hardcore chili con carne people who believe beans have no place in chili and pasture raised longhorn beef is the only meat good enough to earn the name, will not like my laissez faire approach to chili. I’ve been known to throw in all manner of vegetables, use various preparations of tomatoes besides juice, and use all kinds of types of meat.

This version is a kind of white bean chicken chili, but it got a little Jen makeover, as most things coming through my kitchen do.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can navy beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • Dash chili powder
  • Optional: 1/2 cup milk

 

Step 1: Spray the Crockpot and add the chicken breasts. Turn it on low.

Step 2: In a blender or food processor, liquefy the can of kidney beans (or any other type really. This just adds a thicker, creamier texture) after you drain the can. Add water or some milk if you need to.

Step 3: Add the liquid beans plus all the other cans, milk, and any spices you want. (Garlic, onion, hot sauce, etc)

Step 4: Cook on high 4 hours or low 4-6. Take the chicken breasts out and shred them with two forks. Put back into the chili, stir and let sit another hour or eat immediately.

Top with whatever you like. I used plain Greek yogurt and shredded cheese, but salsa, cornbread, or avocado would also be delicious.

This chili is such a perfect combination of creamy and light. It has just a hint of spice from the diced tomatoes with chilies, but you could kick it up a notch easily by adding jalapenos or other peppers, or sprinkling on some hot sauce.

You could also use two cans white beans, kidney, black beans, whatever you have in the pantry. I’d really recommend not skipping the pureeing though, it totally adds that little ‘something’. I had leftovers for three days, and was not upset about it!

What’s your favorite kind of chili?

Soups for the Super Bowl

 

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, world! 
Today the Denver Broncos meet the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife stadium in New Jersey, far from either team’s hometown. And in case you missed it, yes, both teams are from state which have recently legalized marijuanna. However, the game is not being played in a state which has that legalized, so fans beware. Also, I’ve never heard it being accused of enhancing performance in sports, so anyone who thinks that is unfair clearly doesn’t know its effects.

Photo from the Up & Under Pub website
 

Regardless of who you are rooting for, you are likely either at home with a huge buffet of finger foods, or going to a pub/bar with copious amounts of burgers, chicken wings, beer, and french fries. And, may I say, I am jealous. Since I will be home, working on a midterm exam for my neuroscience course. Nonetheless, as a Denver transplant, I think I’m legally obligated to say, Go Broncos
.
Once the game is over, and the dreaded Monday rolls back around, all the office gossip will be who caught what pass, how many touchdowns were scored, and which commercials were the funniest/best/worst. And it’s likely many will have a bar food/beer/ buffet hangover.

The Big News!

Not to worry, just in time for the Super Bowl I’ve rolled out my first ever e-cookbook, and this one’s on the house! Seven Souper Soups, packed with recipes like my spicy Mexican-inspired Chicken Tortilla, the classic winter Butternut Squash Soup, hearty yet healthy Sausage and Kale, thick & creamy Baked Potato and more! Including a bonus Peach dessert soup, and cover drawing by Mike over at WebDonuts comics.

So if you would like a copy of 7 Souper Soups for your very own, I’ve added it to my Google Docs and made it public for anyone to view and comment on: 

You can also email me at BudgetEpicurean (at) gmail.com and I will send you the PDF as an attachment. I hope you enjoy these favorite recipes of mine and share with family & friends. Enjoy today’s festivities, and keep coming back for more! There are several projects in the works, so keep an eye out.

Mashed cauliflower & potatoes

One of my favorite healthy foods to hide is cauliflower. Because of its subtle taste and versatile texture, cauliflower can be hidden in many foods, the easiest of which is mashed potatoes. Most people cannot jump right into mashed cauliflower alone, so a 50:50 mixture is a good place to start.
From the family “Brasicaceae” (I don’t know how to say that either), cauliflower is related to broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts and collard greens. For the long history of cauliflower breeding, see Wikipedia. In one cup of raw cauliflower alone, there is only 25 calories, yet 10% of your daily recommended fiber and over 75% of your daily vitamin C! Bet you didn’t think a boring white veggie could help fend off colds, but it’s true. It has no fat of course, but also not much protein, which is acceptable. I don’t recommend mashed cauliflower alone as a meal. The World’sHealthiestFoods website recommends cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower a minimum of 2-3 times per week. Cauliflower has nutrients that help support the immune system, anti-inflammatory system, and antioxidant systems. It has been linked to some amount of cancer protection, likely because of these protective effects.


Ingredients:
1/2 head of cauliflower
4-5 potatoes
1 1/2 cups stock (chicken, beef, veggie, homemade)
Garlic salt

Step 1: Peel the potatoes, dice them, and cut the cauliflower head into florets.

This is veggie stock I made myself in a slow cooker earlier.

Step 2: Put the stock (or water) into the crock pot and then add in potato and cauliflower.

The cauliflower should break apart easily in your hands.

Leftover scraps of potato and cauliflower will go in the freezer until I have enough to make another batch of vegetable stock.

Step 3: Cook on low 2-3 hours or high 4-5 hours. Mash the potato and cauliflower together, adding any spices or more liquid if needed. You can now serve or doctor however you would normally use mashed potatoes. If you don’t tell, no one will even know the difference! 


What’s you favorite way to use cauliflower?

What to Do With Vegetable Scraps

With one big cooking holiday down (Thanksgiving) and another mammoth of a food-waster coming up quick (Christmas!) most households probably have a lot of food and vegetable waste.

What should you do with leftover vegetable scraps?

You know, the butt of carrots, potato peels, mushy tomatoes. If you throw it into the trash can and send it down to the curb, it’s out of your house, but then what?

Channel4 in the UK wrote an article about visiting a landfill, a common feature of pretty much every country in the world by now. It’s something we don’t think about too much in our hectic, fast-paced, self-centered world these days. 

According to an article by the Huffington Post, Americans throw away nearly half the food we buy each year.

This is a waste of good food, a waste of hard earned money, and a waste of valuable and diminishing space on this planet.

But if something in the back of your mind nags you every time you replace the trash bag, then this is one small step in the right direction for you.

We can all try to reduce the amount of food we buy at one time, plan properly to use the food we do buy each week, eat leftovers and creatively use leftover food, and find uses for even the most seemingly unusable scraps.

1. Compost
If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, then there isn’t much excuse to not have a compost pile.

Even if you ‘don’t have time’ or ‘don’t have space’ or ‘don’t have energy’ to have a garden, composting just makes sense, and you can spread it around trees or in flower beds or even give it away on Craigslist once made.

If done right it doesn’t smell bad, and merely requires occasional turning to aerate. There are certain things that are great for compose and others not so much. NEVER put meat or animal bones or fat into compost because they will attract wild animals and cause unwanted reactions.

For more information about how to build a proper pile see here.

Photo from I Dream of Eden.

2. Muffins
This of course depends on the type of food scraps you have.

Carrot peels or leftover sweet potato can become carrot cake muffins, or be added to homemade coleslaw. If you have veggie pulp because of using a juicer, you can substitute that for part of the wet ingredients in a muffin mix.

Pay attention to what was in the pulp you juiced though. I think cucumber/grapefruit/kale muffins might be a little weird.

But who knows.



3. Vegetable stock
This is by far my favorite option, since I live in an apartment and don’t have composting access yet.

What I do is store all the scraps in a bag in the freezer as I make recipes. Potato peels, slightly brown pieces, ends of veggies, etc.

Once I have a full bag I put it in the Crock Pot and cover it with water, adding any other herbs and spices that sound good. Then just leave it on low overnight or all day, usually at least 8 hours.

The nutrients and flavors will boil out of the veggies and create a beautiful, healthy, salt-free stock you can then use in future recipes. The best part? It’s totally free!

Just freeze the stock in plastic bags laid flat in the freezer, or in ice cube trays to make little cubes.

You can then pop these into soups, stews, flavor rice, or in whatever you normally use stock. This same theory works for meat as well.

If you’ve made a lovely roast chicken and have the carcass left over, toss it in the slow cooker with some water for several hours. If you have shrimp tails, a bone-in pork roast, corn cobs, or some T-bones, do the same for some flavorful bases to use in the future.



If you know of a way to use leftover scraps not mentioned here, please share with us!

 

Slow cooker chicken soup: “Just like grandma used to make”

When I was younger, Sunday was always early dinner, and almost always chicken noodle soup. Grandma or mom would put a pot of soup on to simmer, we would go off to church or on a Sunday drive around town, and come home to a house that smelled delicious and a pot full of warm delight. I like continuing that on my own, though I use the modern miracle of the crock pot so I don’t have to worry about it burning on the stove (that’s a hilarious story for another time…).

Since I had recently roasted a chicken, naturally I made soup from what wasn’t eaten the first day. We had eaten the legs and drums, so I cut off and saved the whole breasts for sandwiches for lunch the next day. The rest of the bird plus a few extras was made into a huge crock pot full of chilly weather goodness. There is nothing like coming home to the smell of homemade chicken soup!

Ingredients:
1 chicken carcass
3 large carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, diced
1 whole onion, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 pint fresh mushrooms
1 cup barley
1 tbsp butter
Water

Step 1: That gorgeous roasted chicken had a tray full of juices and spices that I added into the crock pot first. Waste not want not, and that’s some powerful flavor I don’t want to waste.

 Step 2: I diced up all the assorted veggies and added them and the chicken (skin, bones, extra meat and all) into the crock pot. I added water all the way to the top and put it on low all day (about 8 hours).

When I came home, the house just smelled amazing. The chicken had been brined in all that lovely salt and sugar and pepper and spices, so I didn’t even really need to add anything to the broth.

Step 4: I boiled 1 cup of barley in 1 1/2 cups of water with 1 tbsp butter for 45 minutes. 

Barley is a bit chewy, and I added some of the broth after 40 minutes to let the flavor soak in for the last 5 minutes. Maybe a 1/2 cup.

 

Just look at all those gorgeous veggies! And the sheen on the surface, that’s from the natural chicken fat that dissolved into the broth. Sure it isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for you, but boy howdy does it taste great! And you can let it cool in the fridge then skim the extra fat off the top.

The barley was surprisingly perfect for this soup. Normally I use egg noodles but didn’t have any on hand. The flavors blend so well and are perfect for nippy fall nights. It is so easy to make, and you will have leftovers for days (unless you share). I guarantee* you won’t get sick, or if you already are you will immediately feel better.

*Guarantee based only on personal experience, not actually backed by anything or redeemable for anything. But other experiences and comments are welcome to be shared. =)

Slow cooker ham & corn rice casserole

This is another creation born of needing to use up items left in the pantry. You’ll notice two themes in most recipes from times where I am either very busy (being a student) or in a state of flux (like moving), I use the slow cooker a lot, and recipes get a little weird.

I prefer the term “creative” but let’s not argue semantics.

Anyhow, the best template for any meal in a rush is “meat + carb + vegetable/fruit + liquid”, and I use it a lot.

You can have literally endless variations, and in fact nearly every meal ever is based on this formula.

For this recipe, I simply checked my food box and freezer to see what was left, then followed the formula with things I thought might go well together. This is what ended up happening.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed ham
  • 1 box rice pilaf with seasoning packet
  • 1 can corn with liquid
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup water

Step 1: Mix all ingredients in the slow cooker. Set on low for at least 4 hours; I left it for about 9 all day.

The rice didn’t end up being overly mushy, which I worried about, and the corn gave it a nice sweet flavor. Ham paired with this well, though I think chicken would’ve been even better based on past experience with the flavor of rice pilaf and the fact that I used cream of chicken soup rather than mushroom or celery.

But overall it was tasty, couldn’t be easier, used up a box and two cans from the pantry, and lasted for about 6 servings, so I call that a success.

Slow cooker soup-in-a-bag

Dinner can literally not get any easier than:
Step 1 – take bag out of freezer
Step 2 – pour in crock pot
Step 3 – hit “start”
Ok, maybe “pick up phone and dial Pizza hut” is one step shorter, but you have to order, wait, tip the delivery guy, their customer service is outsourced to Pittsburgh… it’s way healthier my way. In my humble opinion.

Maybe this is partially inspired by these things you see on Pinterest all the time about a salad in a mason jar. Which is a great idea, and someday I’ll try it. But anyhow, with bits and pieces from other meals, I just accumulated veggies in a bag and one day after I’d made chicken and had leftover bones and grease, I used that to create a simple soup.

Ingredients:
Chicken bones, skin, fat from 4 drumsticks
1 tomato, diced
1 potato, diced
3 whole carrots, sliced
1/2 white onion, diced
2 tbsp chicken flavoring
Dash garlic salt and Italian seasonings

That bag can be tossed in the freezer to be pulled out whenever you want a quick meal hot and ready for you that night.

Step 1: Put bag of ‘stuff’ into crock pot. Add seasonings if you want, or extra chicken meat if you want.

 Step 2: Add water until crock pot is about half full. Set on low all day.

This is easily customizable to whatever veggies or meat you like. You can also add a grain like noodles, rice, or barley. If you’re full vegan, don’t use chicken leftovers as a base, you can make your own veggie stock.

Crock pot: Creamy chicken & corn

Apparently this post is brought to you by the letter C. 
This is just something I came up with to continue using up things in the pantry and freezer, mixed with a love of Crock Pot cooking ease. If you’ve kept up on posts, you know I recently moved and have one huge box full of canned things as well as a shelf in the freezer I’m trying to eat my way through before I move to my next place in a few weeks… Anyways, so this recipe used up two cans and some chicken, as well as a box of rice. And it tasted great! (In case you’re concerned about that…)
Ingredients:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 cup corn (or other frozen veggie)
1 box rice side or 1 cup rice cooked
Frozen chicken – I used drumsticks because that’s what I found first. Thighs would work, as well as breasts or a whole chicken, just use another can of soup and extra milk for sauce if you use more than about 8 oz.

 Step 1: Spray the inner lining of the slow cooker. Add the soup and milk, mix together. Add the corn and chicken, cover and cook on low 6 hours or high 4+. I wouldn’t recommend less than 4 hours on high for frozen chicken, you want to make sure its cooked through and not get Salmonella poisoning. And Crock pots nearly never burn so feel free to leave it on low for a good long while.

Step 2: Before serving, cook your rice. You could use any of those $1 rice sides that go on sale regularly, or plain rice cooked. Add spices or extra veggies, soy sauce, sriracha, whatever you like to flavor the rice. Then put the chicken on top and pour on a scoop of corn cream sauce. The sauce is thick and creamy and the sweetness of the corn went perfectly with the wild rice I chose to serve it over. Delightful.

(Disclaimer: My boyfriend actually did the crock pot cooking part! So any guys reading, take note! You can use this simple recipe to impress the heck out of a new flame or long-time love with next to no effort on your part. Crock pots are culinary wonders for the cooking impaired, busy and/or lazy person.)

Crock pot: pork chops & veggie rice casserole

I openly praise slow cookers all the time for their many qualities. Here is yet another perfect example of a recipe that took me a matter of minutes to prep, then the machine did all the work for me throughout the day so that I came home to a lovely smelling house and a hot meal.

Ingredients:
2 large pork chops (or a small roast)
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup rice
1 cup frozen or fresh chopped veggies of your choice
2 tbsp garlic powder

I also made asparagus on the side. Just put 1 tbsp oil, 2tbsp lemon juice & some sea salt in a pan, and heat over medium until the asparagus starts to blacken and is soft yet firm.

 Step 1: As you can see, I like just taking out pre-frozen meat to use in the crock pot. I took out 2 pork chops I’d bought and frozen weeks earlier. Put the bouillon, corn starch and spices in the crock pot. Add the water and mix well.

 Step 2: Add the rice and veggies and mix into the watery spice mix. Place pork chops on top and cover. Cook on high 4 hours or low 6-8. Give it a good stir once if you can midday.

 The pork chops got so tender the meat literally just fell off the bone. So the small chunks of pork just got mixed into the rice for a casserole.

Since you know what ingredients you put in and can control what/how much vegetables go into this casserole, it is quite healthy. You could make it vegetarian or vegan easily too. Use tofu, add beans, etc. I might try brown rice next time too. Maybe throw in some tomato sauce too. Go crazy.