Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

I cannot believe I haven’t talked about this yet. This is the first recipe that we made in our new slow cooker and it is absolutely fabulous. (Kudos to ArachneJericho who recommended it to us!) I’ve already made this three times and we haven’t even owned our slow cooker an entire month!

I love barbecued pulled meat. Chicken and pork especially. But I’ve never really attempted to make it myself because it seemed so complicated and involved lots of oven-time, which heats up our small kitchen incredibly. (However, in the winter, it makes for a nice room to play board games while watching the snow fall!)

I’m not a fan of recipes that call for adding one bottle and two cans of this or that to meat in a slow cooker. I’d rather add all the little tweakable ingredients and wind up with something amazing waiting for me at dinnertime. This fits the bill. It’s easy – the sauce can be made up the night before – and relatively inexpensive, since bone-in chicken leg quarters, drumsticks or thighs are usually the cheapest chicken cuts you can find in a store. Most importantly, it’s delicious.

The only problem with it is that it’s not well suited to throwing together in the morning before work. I have done it on LOW, it took about 6 hours, but more would not have been terribly beneficial. This is one you want to prep in the morning, leave the crock in the fridge and stop by at lunch to turn on the slow cooker so dinner is ready when you get home.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken [printable recipe]

Lightly adapted from Food Thinkers
Serves 2 with lots of leftovers or 4 with very few

  • 2 to 4 chicken breasts and/or leg quarters, skin removed, bones optional
  • 385g | 1 1/2 cups ketchup1
  • 40g | 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 20g | 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 15g | 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2g | 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1g | 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix up everything but the chicken in a small bowl. Arrange chicken in one layer on the bottom of a 4 – 6 qt slow cooker and pour the sauce over evenly. Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Remove bones if necessary and shred chicken well. Mix shredded chicken with sauce well then serve.

Notes:

  1. Ketchup manufacturers are FINALLY seeing the light! Hunts now proudly exclaims that their ketchup contains no high fructose corn syrup. Heinz has about three different types of ketchup that are really good – Simply Heinz, Reduced Sugar Heinz (uses Splenda), and Organic Heinz (which tastes the best, in my opinion). Using a not-so-sweet ketchup is key to a great sauce.
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Salsa Verde

The harvest is winding down but some veggies besides squash are still showing up on our farmer’s market stand in spades. Notably for the past week or so: tomatillos in green, white and purple!

I picked some up last week and then bought four pounds this week to put up for the winter. I’ll probably continue to buy pounds of them until they’re out of season.. which could be as early as tomorrow. It all depends on frost.

This is what I’m turning them into: a mild, rich salsa verde. I used a jalapeno in one batch and fruity red peppers of unknown name in another. You want something not too spicy but not too mild. Floral is a bonus.

Artis absolutely adores this salsa and so do I, which is why I’m putting up so much for the winter. I think this is my best salsa yet.

Salsa Verde [printable recipe]

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin, divided
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt, pepper
  • non-stick spray

Halve tomatillos and spritz with non-stick spray. Season with salt, pepper and half of the cumin. Broil until sizzling and browned in spots, about 10 minutes.

In a food processor, add onion, jalapeno and garlic. Pulse to roughly chop a couple of times. Add tomatillos, lime juice and remaining spices. Pulse until finely chopped. Taste, adjust seasoning as needed.

Posted in dairy-free, gluten-free, mexican, recipes, sauce, side, snack, untranslated, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian | 2 Comments

Latvian Bean Salad

Latvian Bean Salad

Summer’s almost over, sadly enough. The quantity of produce we can acquire from our local farmer is diminishing week by week with squashes taking over the bulk of the offerings.

I’ll miss being able to pick out fresh cucumbers or be enticed by overflowing baskets of colorful peppers. Eggplants are disappearing, our little ghost eggplant, no longer so little, has stopped blooming. The three eggplantlings that are still growing will be our last for the year. The two purple brussels sprouts have grown into monsters with tiny brussels sprouts forming at the base of every leaf. They love the chill of autumn, a welcome respite from the high temperatures of summer. We’re hoping to have sprouts from our garden by Thanksgiving. For $1.50 spent on a whim, they’re giving back in spades.

We’ve begun saving seeds from our Mexibell pepper plant so we can try to have one again the spring, along with seeds from the banana peppers we love to buy from our local farmer. We learned a lot this year about gardening – next year, we’ll try again on tomatoes and zucchini.

Today’s recipe is a traditional Latvian recipe that my husband grew up with. Of course, the beans he used were from his mom’s garden: big, red and white patterned beans that were buttery and soft. One day, I’d like to grow some too, but I don’t think they’re well suited to Utah’s dry desert climate. Luckily, peruano beans make an excellent replacement, even if they’re smaller.

It’s an easy recipe, just combine handfuls of everything until you have enough for however many people you need to feed.

Latvian Bean Salad [printable recipe]

  • cucumber
  • carrot
  • cooked beans, any varieties but the bigger, the better
  • sour cream or mayo
  • horseradish
  • salt

Peel, seed and dice cucumber into small cubes. Wrap a peeled carrot in a bit of plastic wrap and microwave for about a minute to make it more tender. Remove wrap (carefully!) and let cool. Dice into small cubes. Toss cucumber and carrot with beans, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then stir in a spoonful of sour cream. Add a bit of horseradish to your taste if you like.

Posted in dairy-free, gluten-free, latvian, recipes, salad, side, untranslated, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Slow Cooker Chili

I promise it won’t be all slow cookers all the time, but I do have this nifty new toy. :D We’re working on adapting some of our favorite Latvian recipes to it, like plovs and šķovēti kāposti, which we think are very well-suited. (The plovs was made to my father-in-law’s recipe, which is braised in a sealed roasting pan in the oven. It worked well but there’s still some testing to do before I write the final recipe.)

One thing I really wanted to do with our new slow cooker was make a real chili. I’ve tried before on the stove, but never had a successful chili worth sharing. In fact, I’ve only made one successful chili in my life: the Three Bean Vegetarian Chili. Even so, it’s not quite what I think of when I think chili so I wanted to try again with a more traditional recipe.

I’m really happy with this one. It came out beautifully and absolutely delicious. It also scales well, since the original recipe made enough for 12 and required a much larger cooker than we have. Cutting it by half made it fit perfectly in our 5qt and it should still fit in a 4qt.

Slow cookers are ideal for this kind of meal – the longer it cooks, the better it gets, so this is definitely a recipe to throw in before leaving for work. I cooked it for 8 hours until we couldn’t stand it any more and dug in, but it easily could have gone another two. I might add this just keeps getting better — the following day’s leftovers were superb.

Now, I used a mix of ground beef and TVP chunks. I wanted to see how the TVP chunks would stand up to this form of cooking in particular. I’m happy to say that they did great – they were indistinguishable from beef! I love TVP – the extra fiber and ability to take on whatever role is required makes this one of my favorite ingredients. If you have the finer TVP, it will still work fine, but if you can get chunks, you won’t be sorry. I found mine marked as “Soy” in the local Mexican grocery.

Slow Cooker Chili [printable recipe]

Adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook
Serves 6

  • 1/4 lb lean ground beef, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup TVP chunks1 + 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 14oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 sweet red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 cans pinto beans OR 3 cups cooked beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp pasilla chile powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • salt
  • oil

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions until soft.

Combine all ingredients in a 5qt to 6qt slow cooker and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6 – 8 hours.

If it is too thin, let it cook longer with the lid off. The longer it simmers, the better the chili will be.

Notes:

  1. Alternatively, use 1/4 lb pork sausage for carnivores or 1 whole cup of TVP chunks and omit the beef for vegetarians and vegans.
  2. A note for carnivores: Since my beef is home-ground from extra-lean roasts and used in small quantities, I didn’t bother to cook it separately. If you’re using a fattier grind, definitely cook it prior to putting it into the cooker to get rid of that fat. It won’t be nice in the chili. Smoked sausage would also be excellent in this dish, but I’d definitely brown that first to get as much flavor as possible into the chili.
Posted in american, dairy-free, gluten-free, ground meat, one-dish, recipes, slow cooker, untranslated, vegan, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Slow Cooked Pintos Picadillo

Recently, we gave in to temptation after we cashed in our change jar and bought a handsome new 5qt programmable slow cooker. We’d been talking about it for several months and after talking it over with a close friend of ours who loves her slow cooker, we decided to do it.

To go along with it, she recommended “Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are” by Robin Robertson. We had a lot to learn and while I know meat dishes are incredibly popular for slow cookers, we also love to eat vegetarian dishes.

I have to say, I love this book. It has some fantastic recipes and so far, we’ve tried a few and been incredibly happy with the results. I also love the slow cooker we bought – it’s the right size for us and looks wonderful in our kitchen. The only bad thing I can say is that summer is hanging on here in Utah and the temperatures have been far too high to really be in the mood for the kinds of stews and chilis that slow cookers excel at. Winter is almost here so I’m excited to make full use of this fun new toy of ours.

A couple of days ago, we decided to make another recipe and decided on a vegetarian version of picadillo. Boy, is this ever good. If you have a slow cooker, this should definitely be on your shortlist! It’s sweet and spicy, but not too spicy. It’s just right, especially with a glass of wine.

Pintos Picadillo [printable recipe]

Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are
Serves 2 to 4

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans1 or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 banana peppers, chopped or 1 can chopped green chiles
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • oil

Over moderate heat, saute bell pepper and onion in oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 4qt slow cooker and stir in garlic, beans, tomatoes, chiles, apple and stock. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

When the dish is finished cooking, stir in cooked rice, olives and walnuts. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with sour cream.

Notes:

  1. I think this would be great with any bean really. Reds would be delicious, for example. Next time I think will mix reds and blacks.
Posted in american, dairy-free, gluten-free, mexican, one-dish, recipes, slow cooker, untranslated, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Flor de Calabaza Sopa (Squash Blossom Soup)

You know how I mentioned in Spicy Tortilla Soup that there was a squash blossom soup in the same movie that I wanted to make?

I remembered on Friday to ask my local farmer if he still had any squash blossoms. It’s getting really late in the season, but he still had some left. (He also told me that during the height of the season, he was filling and selling 350 bags per day. Per day! Each bag contains between 3 and 4 dozen blossoms and sells wholesale for $2 — retail is between $2.50 (at the ethnic grocery I shop at) and $5 (or more at the yuppie shops).

He scrounged up a half bag – only about 3 dozen small blossoms – which I bought for a buck. I love buying produce from him! We get such great stuff.

Now, as I mentioned before, squash blossoms are highly perishable. They must be used within 48 hours of purchase so they don’t go to waste. I used 2/3rds of my small bag to make this light and floral soup. The other third went into quesadillas with shredded cheese and a bit of salsa. (Which is also fantastic.)

Unlike stuffing and frying, sauteing blossoms calls for the green “cap” to be cut off. Doing this makes it easy to remove the stamen and any stray little prickly leaves. Don’t skip this step, the prickles are uncomfortable to eat!

We also tossed in a “Mexi-bell” from our garden. They’re just ripening now, turning from dark green to bright red seemingly overnight. Mexibells are a hybrid bell pepper that is both sweet and spicy. It combines the best of sweet bells and jalapenos! I’m glad we decided to pick one up for a couple of bucks at Walmart — it was definitely worth it!

This soup is wonderfully light and makes an excellent first course or side soup for a Mexican-themed meal. I chose to preserve the texture of the various ingredients, but you can also puree it with some cream for a luscious rich soup.

Flor de Calabaza Sopa [printable recipe]

Serves 2

  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups / 90 g squash blossoms, cap and stamen removed, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced or sweet red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt
  • sour cream (optional)

In a medium saucepot over moderate heat, melt butter. Saute onion with a pinch of salt until translucent, then stir in garlic and the chile pepper. Continue to saute, stirring frequently, until the peppers are tender. Add the blossoms and cook just until wilted, about 45 seconds. Season with cumin and stir in broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Taste, adjust seasonings accordingly. Serve with sour cream as is or puree.

Posted in dairy-free, gluten-free, mexican, one-dish, recipes, side, soup, untranslated, vegetable, vegetarian | 1 Comment

Spicy Tortilla Soup

We watched a great independent Latino comedy called, “Tortilla Soup” on Netflix Instant. I wish that there were recipes from the show, but alas, I’ve not been able to find any. There was this squash blossom soup, you see, that looked amazing. If I can get blossoms from my farmer this late in the season, I think I’ll try that next.

The day after we watched the show, I put together a version of tortilla soup inspired by the movie, attempting to recreate as best I could what I saw on screen. While I don’t know how close it really is, it certainly came out beautifully!

Spicy Tortilla Soup [printable recipe]

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh, ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped1
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken2,3
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced OR 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • oil
  • salt
  • sour cream
  • Flour-Corn Tortillas, cut into 1/4″ strips and fried or baked until crispy

In a medium saucepot set over moderate heat, saute onions in oil with a pinch of salt until tender. Add garlic and jalapeno, continue to saute for another 2 – 3 minutes until everything is tender and fragrant. Season with cumin, oregano, thyme and dried cilantro (if using), deglaze with a bit of chicken stock.

Add chopped tomatoes, remaining chicken stock and veggie stock. Stir well. Bring to a simmer, increasing heat if necessary, and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree roughly with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender (return to the pot when finished). Stir in chicken, fresh cilantro (if using), lime juice and cheese. Cook for 2 minutes more.

Serve with a garnish of tortilla strips and sour cream.

Notes:

  1. Roughly a bit less than a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. You can use it all easily.
  2. Like leftovers from a roast chicken or a rotisserie chicken.
  3. If you’re vegetarian, use cooked black beans instead and add them with the tomatoes. A tablespoon of nutritional yeast is also great (I used this myself).
Posted in chicken, dairy-free, gluten-free, mexican, recipes, soup, untranslated, vegetable, vegetarian | Leave a comment