Crockpot Freezer Cooking

This was posted on a facebook friends page (Katherine that would be you!) and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The crockpot is one of my favourite tools especially in the winter months.  The food that you cook is so flavourful and rich tasting and just overall comforting. When I saw this idea I thought it was so so smart. Check out the blog it came from (Kojo-designs).  This person has created a months worth of meals prepped in one afternoon – all to be cooked in the crockpot.

IMG_0741-1024x769

 

The beauty is that you just toss everything into the crockpot in the morning and at dinner you have this amazing fully cooked delicious dinner! I will add to the “idea pot” here and tell you that when I make a brisket or anything with lots of sauce, I save the leftover sauce and freeze it so that if I make the meal again or something similar I can just throw in the frozen leftover sauce and it saves time and money.

I also have a vacuum sealer so the food doesn’t burn in the freezer.  Great investment.

 

Thats my blog for today – Enjoy!

 

 

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Friday Night Dinner With Old Friends

I may have mentioned in previous posts about my friend Fern who is my oldest friend (not in age but in years we’ve known each other 😉 )

Last Friday I went over to Ferns in the afternoon so we could cook a nice dinner together for Friday evening.  Her dad, husband Ian one of her sons Chase along with another old friend (again not in age but years known) Liz all came for dinner.

I went over about 2:00 in the afternoon so we could take our time and hang out.  We made the honey sesame chicken recipe I have posted before on brown rice along with brussel sprouts seared with chestnuts and bacon pieces and a great salad.

There is a small story behind the brown rice I have to admit.  I am not good at making rice.  I do not have a rice cooker and my rice always comes out a bit mushy or wet even though I follow the guidelines exactly.  This time Fern gave me a box of Uncle Bens converted brown rice.  How could I go wrong? Well I started following the instructions for something else on the box and in my defence there were about 3 different methods of cooking the darn rice.  I added way too much water and thankfully Fern came to the rescue and dumped half the water mid way and saved the rice from being porridge. I don’t think I will ever live that down as the whole time we were cooking (and drinking wine) I kept saying “I don’t think this rice is right”

We lucked out since Ian (Ferns husband) just bought a restaurant downtown that serves fabulous cheesecake so he brought home a great assortment for us to choose from along with a great chocolate “babka” cake Liz brought.

When all was said and done, it was a really great day and a lovely evening with old friends and great food.

salad

 infamous rice
chicken and sprouts
chicken on rice
Couldn’t resist this picture too – When I got up to bring something to the table and came back to sit down – this little girl was in my seat – think she wanted to join the fun! She was quickly shoo’d off the chair but what a face!!!!
dog

Chicks in Charge Retreat

I just love that name!  We just had our annual Chicks in Charge (women running their own businesses) retreat at Sheryls country home.  I always come back exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened! This year was no exception.  Food always seems to be the key to getting everyone connecting – we eat like royalty when we are there starting with Sheryls initial lunch which was once again outstanding.

We had poached salmon, roasted green beans, mushrooms, walnuts and baby potatoes, pesto marinated tiny heirloom tomatoes and a kale and mango salad. That was just lunch!

poahed salmon

Kale salad

roast veg

tomatoes

Snack time (as though we needed more food….) Amy made an incredible flourless, sugarless chocolate cake (sugar was in the chocolate only – it was divine).

cake

Dinner was my turkey chilli (click for link to recipe) with toppings that included guacamole, shredded old cheddar cheese and low fat sour cream along side a great mixed green salad and home baked oatmeal cookies made by Victoria.

Breakfast the next day was a fabulous frittata with peppers, onion, mushrooms and zucchini (I forgot to take pictures again – forgive me,  we just dove into the meal) made by Nancy. We also had Eloise’s home made granola (click for recipe) and yogurt along with regular and gluten free muffins.

Lunch was leftovers of the day before but the main course was Mariannes fabulous coconut curry chicken – so so good. Below is the recipe. Well worth trying it was devoured by the chicks.

Coconut Curry Chicken

I usually DOUBLE this recipe, and freeze the extra portions.  Can be served hot or cold.

Ingredients                                                                           Substitute

¼ cup coconut oil                                                                Canola oil

¼ cup (or less) Dijon mustard

2 tbsps.  regular mustard (e.g., French’s)

½ cup coconut nectar                                                        Honey

½ tbsp. or more Curry Powder

1 tsp.  lime juice AND grated rind

1 tsp. salt

Garlic

1-1.5 lbs. boneless chicken thighs (~12)                        Boneless chicken breasts,                                                                                                             sliced

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan.  Pour over chicken.  Cook for 45 mins. at 350 degrees.   Enjoy!

Believe it or not, we also managed to have a great guest speaker (Wendy) and business and life discussions from morning till night and then again the next day.  Now you understand why we leave feeling exhausted, stuffed with good food, invigorated and enlightened!

Till next year!

Leftover Brisket with Friends

As many of you who read this blog will have figured out by now, I love sharing food with friends.  It is one of my favourite things to do.

This time the sharing took place with my friends and neighbours just a couple of doors over. Zannat (who writes a great blog I follow “food 4 happiness“), made steamed collard greens with garlic – of course anything made with garlic in my books has to be good. I brought over leftover BBQ brisket and sweet potato and cauliflower mash.  The great thing about brisket is, it is always better the next day or even two days after. Below is how I made the potato mash.  See the beef brisket link above for the brisket recipe.

brisket

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Mash – perfect comfort food

1 potato per person

1 handful of cauliflower pieces per person

Boil or steam both the above ingredients till soft enough to mash (you may need to drain them well so mash is not too watery)

Combine both in a bowl and add a spoonful or two of yogurt and a handful of grated old cheddar cheese (yes that is the secret ingredient!)

I use a hand mixer to really blend the ingredients well. Mix till fluffy and there are no lumps.

Serve and enjoy!

Brisket in BBQ sauce – Slow Cooked

After a big storm here a couple of weeks ago we had a power outage for two and a half days!  While the things in the freezer stayed pretty well frozen I had a brisket in there that started to get a bit of freezer burn so I decided to cook it. As you may know, a brisket is quite a bit of meat so I figured I needed help eating it.  I invited my friends/neighbours over for dinner to help out (including sending them home with a care package). I was still left with half a brisket that was very very tasty.  The next morning I got a call that a cousin in law passed away and I went over that night to be with my cousin and family and brought the rest of the brisket for everyone to have for dinner – nothing was wasted and it was perfect comfort food.

Below is the recipe I used for this brisket – please note that I pretty much make it up as I go so every time I make it, it is a bit different. This was a BBQ style brisket cooked in a slow cooker.

Brisket

Ingredients

1 brisket (whatever size you want)

1 tin of finely diced tomatoes

2 tbsp of harissa spice mix (if you don’t have this then just add a pinch of cumin, cardamom, mustard powder, black pepper and a bit of cayenne (really you can’t go wrong so mix spices as you like)

1/2 cup of your favourite BBQ sauce

1/2 cup of sweet chilli sauce

1/4 cup of water or beef broth

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 tbsp of steak spice

1-2 large onions sliced thinly

1 tbsp chopped garlic

Directions

Trim excess fat off brisket leaving a thin layer. Mix all dry spices and rub into meat and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours up to overnight (I leave it overnight).

Brown onion (thinly sliced) and add garlic when onions are almost done.  Pour into a slow cooker. Add half the wet ingredients (sauces and tomato) to the onion mix at bottom of pot.

Sear meat on both sides in a large pan browning the outsides a bit.

Put meat on top of sauce and onion mixture and pour the rest of the sauce over top.

Cover slow cooker and turn to “low” heat and cook for 7 hours.

After 7 hours in the slow cooker – turn meat over and leave on warm for an hour or two.

When ready to serve, slice meat against the grain and pour sauce from pot over top.  If the sauce has too much fat on top skim it off with a spoon before serving.

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup

Check out this recipe from a fellow blogger  – it looks delicious and something that would go down well after a day out shovelling snow and playing outdoors.

Since this will be the last post this year – Happy New Year to all!  Here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup.

Chunky Chicken and Vegetable Stew

This is one of those meals that you make with whatever vegetables you have sitting in your fridge and don’t want to have to throw away in a few days. I made it for a bunch of people so my recipe is for 8. Cut it accordingly to suit however many people you want to feed. It also freezes well.

chicken stew

chicken stew in bowl

Ingredients

8 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I would have used chicken thighs too but my company doesn’t like dark meat)

1 butternut or acorn squash (can likely use any squash you like)

3 carrots – large dice (1” pieces)

3 parsnips – large dice (1” pieces)

Green beans – cut into 1.5” pieces (use as many as you like)

2 red peppers – large dice (1” pieces)

2 large onions large chop (big pieces)

Mushrooms – as many as you like – I used large button mushrooms and cut them in half so I had large pieces.

3 tbsp hoisin sauce

4 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of chili powder

1 large can chick peas (just because I love to add chickpeas to everything!)

1 small can of corn niblets

1 large can diced tomatoes

Directions

Season raw chicken with just pepper (many of the ingredients have some salt in them so no need to add). Cut chicken into pieces about 1”. Pour a bit of hoisin sauce over and mix up a bit. Do not use too much sauce as it doesn’t take much to flavour the chicken. Maybe 1.5 tsp per 4 chicken breasts. Saute the diced chicken until slightly browned (the hoisin helps with the browning). Put into slow cooker.

Take onions that have been chopped in large chunks and saute in the same pan as the chicken till lightly browned. The onions will clean up the bits lefts by the chicken which adds flavour. Put the onions into the slow cooker. Saute the mushrooms in the same pan (add a touch of olive oil if you need to) and then put them in the slow cooker too. Next, throw in the carrots, squash and parsnips and saute lightly until you see a few browned edges (doesn’t have to be much). Add to the slow cooker. Now add the chick peas, corn and diced tomatoes along with the mustard, brown sugar and the spices and orange juice to the slow cooker and mix everything together. Turn slow cooker to low for 3.5 hours.

Once the stew has cooked for 3.5 hours, add the green beans and red peppers and cook on low for another hour as these items do not take as long to soften and cook. You can saute them first if you like for a bit of added flavour but not really necessary. Serve over brown rice or pasta or quinoa (something to soak up the juice). I add a bit of grated parmesan on top.

Honey Sesame Chicken

I got this recipe from another food blog called:

http://www.foodiewithfamily.com

I made this yesterday and while it involved a bit of prep work – it was well worth it.  This recipe is not something I would make often just because of the amount of honey used however it really is quite the dinner. I served it over quinoa as opposed to rice. Really you just need something to absorb some of the delicious sauce.

Ingredients

    • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (use whatever pieces you like – dark meat is just more moist – I use bone in chicken thighs and skinned them myself)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 3/4 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup minced onion (I just finely grated one small onion)
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced – I used 5 because you can never have enough garlic!)
    • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup of water
Instructions

Very lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and sear them in a frying pan to brown them slightly. Then place them in the slow cooker.

Whisk the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, canola and sesame oils, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes together in a mixing bowl and pour over the chicken thighs. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate and cover lightly with foil, leaving the pan juices in the slow cooker.

Stir the cornstarch into the water with a fork or small whisk until dissolved. Whisk the mixture into the pan juices in the slow cooker. Re-cover the slow-cooker and turn the heat to high. Let it cook and thicken for 15 minutes.

Carefully transfer the chicken back into the slow-cooker. Serve the pieces of chicken over the hot cooked rice (or whatever you fancy), spoon the sauce over the chicken and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.