What’s in the Crockpot? Part Three

February 20, 2011

I had my crockpot fired up at 9:30am yesterday.  What’s inside it, you ask?  That’s the point of today’s game!  So bone up by playing the previous installments (which you can find here and here), and get your thinking caps on, because it’s time to play!

WHAT’S IN THE CROCKPOT?

BALSAMIC CHICKEN WITH SQUASH AND PEARS is in the crockpot!

Believe me, the dish is way more appetizing than it looks!  This recipe, like the Tuscan White Bean Spread I recently made, came from the Good Housekeeping Light & Healthy cookbook that I got as a Christmas present:

And, also like the Tuscan White Bean Spread, I modified the recipe.  I like modifying recipes.  The main change this time around was that I adapted the recipe from being made in a skillet on the stove to being made in the crockpot.  I knew I was going to have a busy day today, and being able to throw everything in one vessel and not worry about it was going to be a big help.

The other notable modification was the addition of this guy:

It’s the delicata squash I picked up at Whole Foods a few weeks ago!  I’ve never had delicata before, but since it’s not uncommon for squashes to be turned into sweet dishes (by roasting them with brown sugar and cinnamon, for example), I thought it would pair nicely with pears (homophones!), and so, at 9am yesterday morning, I started hacking it apart.  First, I cut it in half, lengthwise, and scooped out the seeds:

Here’s where I started LOVING delicata even though I hadn’t tasted it yet: the skin is super thin, so you don’t have to peel it!  At all!  Peeling squashes can be a pain, so skipping this step made me a happy camper.  I then cut each half into slices, and they all went into the crockpot:

Then I added chicken.  I added both chicken breasts and the chicken thighs that were such a great deal, and ended up with 7 pieces of chicken to put in the crockpot, which was perfect, because I was having my aunt, uncle, and cousins over for dinner, and there was going to be six of us:

Next was the pears – three Bosc pears, which I quartered, cored, and sliced:

Into the crockpot they went.

Finally, a sauce.  I whisked together 1 cup of low-sodium chicken broth, 5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of flour:

I poured that over the other ingredients, popped the lid on the crockpot, and turned it on Low.  It cooked for about 8 hours, at which point it looked like the picture near the beginning of the post.  Here it is, all plated up:

The chicken ended up really tender and juicy, and the thighs (there’s one on that plate) just fell off the bone.  The squash and pears ended up a little mushy, and most things that get crocked for 8 hours do, but all in all, it was a delicious dish, with both sweet and sour notes.  I definitely look forward to getting another delicata, and soon!

Here’s what else was on the plate:  Steamed green beans.  How to make them: get green beans, then steam them.  The third component is a couscous/quinoa blend.  I intended it to be all couscous, but I didn’t think I had enough to serve 6 people.  I’m also getting a little tired of couscous, so at the store, I picked up a bag of quinoa, which I had never cooked before, and I made the couscous and quinoa in separate pots on the stove, and when they were done, I mixed them together in a serving bowl.  The couscous was cooked in low-sodium chicken broth, and I added shallot.  The quinoa was cooked with saffron and garlic (just to switch it up, and because I didn’t have enough chicken broth to go around).

My family really enjoyed the meal, as did I, and even with the various components, it was really easy to put together, and really healthy, too!  You should give it a try.

Keep it up, David!


What’s in the Crockpot? Part Two

February 4, 2011

How lucky are you, to have two games in one week!  I’d say really lucky.  I still don’t know if What’s in the Crockpot? is as popular as the the original version of this game, What’s in the RediSetGo?, but I trust that you all will let me know your thoughts in the comments section.  That’s what comment sections are for.

Before we play, though, I wanted to give a quick update to the egg re-boil I mentioned earlier this week.  As you’ll recall, I messed up hard-boiling some eggs by not cooking them long enough, so I re-boiled them, and was unsure of what would happen, or if they’d be edible.  The other night I tried a couple re-boiled eggs, and while I wouldn’t recommend them, they were edible.  Just chewy.  Very chewy.

OK – that’s out of the way, so back to the game.  Make sure your apron is securely tied around your waist, and your bonnet is securely tied around your chin, because it’s time to play!  Are you ready?

WHAT’S IN THE CROCKPOT?

SEITAN AND VEGETABLE STEW is in the crockpot!

Let’s jump back to the beginning.  A few days ago, I invited my friend Lisa to come over for lunch, thinking I’d whip up something healthy and delicious.  Then, at 11pm the night before she came, I realized that I hadn’t thought about what I was going to make.  So I started rooting through the fridge and cabinets, and voila!  A made-up-on-the-spot recipe was born.

When I got up in the morning, the first thing I did was prep a bunch of vegetables:

From left to right, that’s mushrooms, carrots, red onion, red pepper, 1 sweet potato, and green pepper.  Into the crock they went.

Then I added a box of seitan:

I first heard of seitan a few years ago, when I started eating at a vegan restaurant, Lotus Vegan, that had opened not far from me.  I saw it on the menu and asked what it was, and our waitress responded: ‘wheat meat.’  That piqued my interest enough for me to order it, and I liked it.  Its texture is very similar to chicken, and it tastes good.  I bet you could fool some people and actually pass it off as chicken pieces in a recipe, even.  I’ve had it a couple times at restaurants since then, but the other night at Whole Foods was the first time I’ve seen it a store, and, therefore, the first time I’ve bought it.

The box calls seitan ‘wheat protein,’ and it’s 120 calories a serving, with 2 grams of fat and 320mg of sodium.  From what I can glean from the interweb, it’s basically made from the protein that’s left in a wheat stalk after you wash away all the starch.  I also found a recipe to make your own seitan, but it looks like it’d take close to two hours to make, so I’d rather let WestSoy make it and have Whole Foods sell it to me for $3.39.

So the 8 ounces of seitan went into the crockpot with the veggies, and I also added some plum sauce:

A serving of plum sauce has 100 calories, no fat, and 520mg of sodium.  Since there was just two of us having lunch, and I anticipated having leftovers, I added 2 and 1/2 servings of plum sauce – 5 tablespoons.  I didn’t add any more liquid, because I know, from years of crockpot usage, that crockpots draw more liquid out of their ingredients than you could ever imagine.  So I powered the crock to ‘high’ and walked away.

Four hours later, Lisa were here, and we were chatting away.  We made a simple couscous to go along with the stew, which involved adding 3 scallions, 2 cloves of garlic, and a teaspoon of basil-infused olive oil to some plain couscous, and a pinch of marjoram, because neither Lisa or I had tried marjoram before, and it was sitting there, unopened, in my spice rack.

The end result:

The couscous was still a little bland.  I don’t make couscous too often, and I always forget that you really have to punch up plain couscous a lot (more than we did) for any flavor to come through.  Lisa also suggested making it with vegetable stock instead of water, another great idea.  The stew was tasty.  The plum sauce added a little sweetness but wasn’t too strong, and the seitan added a nice bite.

Keep it up, David!


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