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!



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!


Friday Food Notes

February 18, 2011

I took my gift card and headed to Whole Foods today.  I had a relatively short shopping list – 5 items – but, of course, once I got in the store, I remembered a whole bunch of other things I wanted to buy, and ended up spending 75 bucks and filling three of my reusable bags.  Well, thanks to the gift card, I didn’t spend a penny, but still – things add up, quickly, at Whole Foods!

I’m starting to notice where the deals are at Whole Foods.  And a lot of them involve Whole Foods’ store brand, 365 Everyday Value.  Wanna play a little guessing game?

Guess how much for a 6-oz Nonfat Yogurt?

Answer: 69 cents!

How much for a 10-oz jar of Raspberry Fruit Spread?

Answer: $1.99!

Final Question:  How much for a 1-quart box of low-sodium chicken broth?

Answer: $1.99!

You have to admit you’d think those were good prices in other grocery stores, wouldn’t you?  I’m a pretty savvy shopper, and I sure think so.

I came across another good deal in the meat department.  I was looking to pick up some chicken, and found that if you bought in bulk, you can get a good price.  This package of chicken thighs weighs in at over 3.5 pounds, and cost only $6.93 – that’s $1.99 a pound!

And I love that it’s separated into three bags – one went into my fridge (I have plans to use it this weekend), and two went into my freezer for future use.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the label boasts that the chicken has been “air-chilled” – and that’s the first time I’ve ever heard that phrase before.  Have you?  I had to look up what it meant, and basically, it means that after the birds are killed, they’re sprayed with chlorinated water and housed in cold-air chambers to prevent bacteria from forming, as opposed to being dunked in vats of iced, chlorinated water, which supposedly leeches out some of the chicken’s flavor.  Huh – good to know, I guess!

I went to Whole Foods after my workout at the pool (more on that later), and I was craving some post-exercise protein, and I ended up coming home with a product I’ve never tried before – salmon jerky!

I love me some jerky (and have blogged about a great farmers’ market jerky purveyor).  It’s a great healthy snack: high in protein, and low in calories and fat – the only check in the cons list is that it’s high in sodium, so don’t eat tons.  I’ve had beef and turkey jerky tons of times before, and even elk jerky (which I bought at the airport in Stockholm), but never fish jerky, so this was an exciting day for me!  And, it was no surprise to me that I loved it.  This particular brand’s (WildCatch) pieces were a little thick, but the flavor was great, and it was very satisfying – it hit the spot!  It won’t be a regular item in my cupboard, as it’s pricey ($7.99 for 4 ounces), but I also saw at Whole Foods bags of Ahi Tuna jerky, so I may have to pick that up at some point.

Lastly, I’ve been staring at the delicata squash that’s been on my counter for the past few weeks (ever since I picked it up on a prior trip to Whole Foods), and earlier today I decided it was time to create a destiny for it.  Here it is, next to the pummelo I bought on that same trip:

I’m happy to announce that the squash’s time is soon up – I have a plan.  The squash will become part of my dinner on Saturday night, as well as part of dinner for my aunt, uncle, and cousins, who are all coming over.  Don’t you worry – I’ll document the squashes last hours, and share the recipe, afterwards.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

OH!  I wanna share my pool workout before I wrap this up.  It was a great day at the pool – after an hour, I was exhausted, and felt very productive.  Here’s what I did:

  • 800 yards warm-up (200 IM, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 IM)
  • Ladder, all freestyle:  1oo, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100 (the final 200 and 100 were all-out sprints) – total: 1600 yards
  • 200 yards cool-down
  • GRAND TOTAL:  2600 yards!


Keep it up, David!

Full Cart at Whole Foods

February 1, 2011

Yesterday, I made a shopping list of groceries that I wanted and needed, and last night I took all my reusable grocery bags and headed off to Whole Foods.  You may recall I went to Whole Foods briefly last week, but that was more of a quick stop to pick up a few things than a full-on grocery shopping extravaganza.  I decided to go to the Whole Foods in Tarzana – I had heard that it was wonderful and huge, and I like huge, especially since the Whole Foods closest to me is kinda tiny.  I never really hang out in Tarzana, but it’s a straight shot on the freeway, and only took me about 20 minutes to get there.

Here’s the Whole Foods there – it’s the newest Whole Foods in the Valley, having opened last May:

And the word on the street was correct – it is gigantic.  Probably three times the size of the one nearest me.  Here’s the produce section:

They have a bulk food section that I’m excited to shop in (although I didn’t do any shopping there last night):

I’ve never seen so many varieties of rice in my life!  I couldn’t even fit them all into one shot:

They also have a huge prepared foods section, with a wine and tapas bar in the center:

Now, on to my purchases.  According to my receipt, I bought 63 items, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve bought so much food at one time.

I spent $32.64 in the produce department.  Here’s my haul:

It’s all the usual suspects: carrots, celery, pears, tomatoes, and other things that I’m sure you recognize.  The large tub in the back right is spinach.  There’s a mini-watermelon back left.  My mind was racing as I walked the produce section – so many new things to try!  I do love trying new things (read prior posts about trying buddha’s hand, seckel pears, and passion fruit, just to name a few), but today I limited myself to two new things:

On the right is a delicata squash.  I read about these in the December issue of Eating Well magazine, and they intrigued me because the skin is super thin, so you don’t need to peel them, and squashes are pains in the ass to peel.  I had never seen a delicata squash at the store before, though, so when I saw them last night, I immediately threw one in my cart.  I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but perhaps one of the Eating Well recipes, which you can read here.

In the middle is a pummelo.  I had never heard of pummelos until last week, when Julia, another blogger documenting her weight-loss journey, tweeted about them (you should definitely check out Julia’s blog, here.  She’s lost 148 pounds and well over 100 inches off her body – completely amazing).  A pummelo is the largest citrus fruit in the world, and according to what I read online, is a milder, sweeter version of a grapefruit.

On the left is an apple – it’s just there as a size comparison.

In the dairy section, I picked up yogurt, cottage cheese, and a carton of egg whites:

And a variety of other proteins and veggies in the refrigerated cases, frozen food aisle, and at the service counter:

What’s wrapped in the butcher paper is a surprise, for now, but I’ll definitely blog about the contents!

And here’s everything else:

There’s pantry items (beets, cannellini beans, jam, olive oil), snacks (raisins, rice and corn cakes), condiments (ketchup, mustard, 2 bottles of light salad dressings), sparkling water, and a bag of whole wheat pitas.

The total damage was $129.12.  I swiped one of the gift cards I was given on TV (I was given a stack of cards in smaller amounts, as opposed to one card for the entire amount), and the cashier waited for the receipt to print up.  As she pulled it from the machine, she said, “Thank you very much, you still have a balance on the card of… whoa!”  She stopped mid-sentence as she look at the figure, which was in the $300 range.  “That’s some gift!” she exclaimed, as she handed me the receipt.  “You have no idea,” I said, then thanked her and headed to the car.

Here’s my favorite part of the Tarzana Whole Foods:  The parking garage is underground, beneath the store, and they have one of those escalators for shopping carts!  Call me a nerd, but I think these things are soooo cool.  Here’s my cart coming down the escalator:

Keep it up, David!