Sweet Potato Quinoa and Couscous Chicken Casserole in the Slow Cooker

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 Slow cookers seemed to be made for cooking beans, tomatoes, rice or quinoa or grains of any kind. I made this gluten free for a young friend who was going to be visiting and it came out so well that I wanted to share it with you. Actually I made a mistake and put in 1/2 cup of couscous by mistake and then added a 1/2 cup of quinoa – and frankly it made it divine! Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Quinoa Couscous Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs ( breasts are ok but tougher and dryer)
  • 2 Tbsp oil oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large leek chopped ( whites and light green only)
  •  1/2 cup quinoa 
  • 1/2 cup of couscous
  • 3 pound large sweet potatoes ~3-1/2 cups
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 large can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Chili
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 7 cups chicken broth*
  • Optional: fresh parsley

 

Instructions

  1. Saute the onion, garlic, leeks until translucent.
  2. Add the chicken thighs cut into pieces and saute for a few minutes
  3. Add all to the slow cooker along with the rinsed quinoa and couscous.;
  4. Remove the skins and chop the sweet potatoes into cubes adding them into the slow cooker.
  5. Drain and rinse the black and pinto beans and add those in. Add in the undrained tomatoes,  chili and paprika powder, and chicken broth.
  6. Place on high for 3-5 hours (It took 4 hours on high for my crockpot.)
  7. Using two forks, shred the chicken and stir all the ingredients together.
  8. Add salt and pepper and if desired fresh parsley.
  9. Serve immediately

 

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Changing your favorite recipes into slow cooker recipes!

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 ALLRECIPES is a great website and I got this fabulous tip from them – here is the link:


http://dish.allrecipes.com/recipes-tips-convert-slow-cooker/?prop26=whatscooking&prop25=5387083448&prop27=2017-01-19&did=121929-20170119&eaid=13631981&hid=3dd8bf9f54f4e4b1d93019915ccd0696fe74e136

If you have a favorite stovetop or oven recipe that you wish you could make in the slow cooker? If it has some moisture in it—whether from water, broth, wine, sauce, or canned soup—you’re in luck. Just about anything you can braise, stew, bake, or roast can work well in a slow cooker. Just keep some tips in mind when you’re converting a conventional recipe for your crock pot.

Top Slow Cooker Conversion Tips

  • Cut liquid amounts from a conventional recipe in half.

  • For maximum flavor and a more appetizing color, trim visible fat from meats and remove the skin from chicken, then coat the meat lightly in flour and brown in a hot skillet before adding to the slow cooker.

  • For every hour you’d bake, roast, or braise something, allow about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high in the slow cooker. (When in doubt, turn it on low and leave it all day or overnight.) The low heat setting is about 200F; high heat is about 300F.

  • To thicken or enrich sauces, stir in cream, sour cream, shredded cheese, or cornstarch slurries at the end.

  • Brighten flavors at the end with salt and pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar. A handful of fresh chopped parsley, basil, or cilantro doesn’t hurt anything either.

I would add a few other ideas:

1. I have drained off excess sauce just before the end of the cooking and thickened it with cornstarch, and then stirred it in and let it simmer with the last 30 minutes of cooking. It does the trick every time! It is also less calories than the cream, sour cream and shredded cheese options.

2. Seasoning definitely needs to be re evaluated before serving – I find that most of the time I need to add salt.

3. There is NO way to cook meat anything but well done in a slow cooker – medium or medium rare or rare just doesnt work. So its a good approach for braising, but not, in my opinion, for roasting.

4. Shrimp and most fish cooks so fast that if you convert a fish recipe cut the time for cooking down to no more than half an hour without testing for doneness – so that the fish does not overcook and dry out. Having said all of that – this is still my ABSOLUTELY favorite cooking tool  – just look at the delicious dish Chicken and Quinoa and Peppers in my very old Crockpot below. YUM!

 

 

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Love making birthday cakes for our grandkids

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 Jonah turned 8 this year! And he loves candy. So by his request I made a candy cake – ie a vanilla cake with white frosting and tons of sprinkles, lollipops, jelly beans, marshmallows hidden in the center and Scooby Doo chews – sigh – what a happy boy! Such a joy for me to do!

Yes I do use Betty Crocker Cake Mix – and frosting – why not? Its SO easy – and its really the decorations that matter most to Jonah.. So that is where I spend my time. Of course when we cook together – we do it from scratch a lot of the time – as that is the fun of being together. He loved it! And here is a gorgeous picture of Jonah taken just a few weeks before his birthday. A very handsome young man don’t you agree?

 

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Had no electricity for a few hours – ohh my -we are SO dependent on the grid!

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 For a few hours yesterday ( with all the bad storms in California) we were without electricity. OH MY we are so dependent on the grid – scary how vulnerable we are to sabotage and what damage it could do to our economy and indeed our lives. All is restored now  but it was a good reminder of all the things we take for granted.

Here is a great recipe that uses my favorite kitchen toy – the crock pot or slow cooker. But first – the lid to my slow cooker ( crockpot brand) cracked. I have had it for decades. I called the manufacturer – they apologized and replaced it – FOR FREE ( including paying the shipping!) HOW ABOUT THAT??? I was so surprised – and thrilled and said I was a huge fan but that I would let others know. Amazing service!

This recipe is really two recipes in one – the reason? I decided to make the sauce that went with it – instead of buying it – you can do either – you now have BOTH recipes! The combination of sauce and stew is about 300 calories a serving so a reasonable dish for a low calorie day. I adapted this recipe from ALL RECIPES website.

Beef Stew Spanish style 

Ingredients

·        1 pound beef stewing meat

·       1/2 cup chopped Spanish onion

·        2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups chopped red potatoes

·        1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

·        1 (12 ounce) jar sofrito ( this is the short cut – I actually made this sauce as it was not hard to do and that way I had lots over for another time)

·        1/2 cup pitted and halved green olives

 Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook beef in hot skillet until completely browned, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer beef to a slow cooker, retaining some of the beef drippings in the skillet.
  2. Return skillet to heat and heat the retained drippings. Saute onion and garlic in hot drippings until softened, about 5 minutes; add to beef in slow cooker.
  3. Stir potatoes, diced tomatoes, sofrito, and olives into the beef mixture.
  4. Cook on Low until beef and potatoes are fork-tender, 4 to 5 hours.

Sofrito Sauce

Goya Sofrito Tomato Cooking Base, 12 Oz _ Jet.com

Ingredients

  • ·        2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ·        1 medium onion, chopped
  • ·        1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ·        5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ·        1 teaspoon salt
  • ·        1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ·        1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ·        2 bay leaves
  • ·        2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • ·        3/4 cup canned tomato sauce

 

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Add the bell pepper, and saute until tender.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaves.
  5. Continue cooking until the mixture looks like a yummy green paste with oil around it.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes, if using, and cook stirring until all of the liquid is released.
  7. Gradually stir in the tomato sauce simmer until the sauce looks really red.
  8. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.
  9. Remove bay leaves.
  10. Now the sauce is done.
  11. You can add it to meat, rice, beans fish or potatoes.
  12. Thin the sauce down if necessary with water, wine, beer, or whatever is handy.

 

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Vegetable Slow Cooker Cholent

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This is the perfect low calorie filling comfort food for cold wintry evenings.

I have modified a recipe that is often prepared on Friday afternoons and left to cook in the slow cooker through Saturday lunch until ready to serve. This is vegetarian but you could just as easily add ground or chopped up chicken breast and thigh, or turkey or even ground beef ( low fat). Grains can be added too. All of these additions will add to the calories so I have not done so in this version. This will make enough for at least 10 meals – and I make it and freeze half or more than half depending on what our plans are for the week. But it is a wonderful way for calorie reductions while still feeling full.

SLOW COOKER VEGETARIAN CHOLENT

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp of Olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp chopped oregano
  • 2 Tbsp ground chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Turmeric
  • 4 Tbsp Curry powder
  • (if you like it spicy add Cayenne as much as you want- we don’t add this as we don’t like spicy)

Then add any vegetables that you have on hand but certainly include one cup of  each of the following ( If your slow cooker is smaller – then reduce all ingredients  above and below this line by half)

  • Chopped Onion
  • Chopped cabbage
  • Chopped carrots
  • Diced peeled yam
  • Diced baby potatoes
  • Chopped Fennel bulb
  • Chopped celery
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Diced Eggplant with skin
  • Sliced  Zucchini with skin
  • Sliced  Portobello Mushrooms
  • 1 large can of roasted tomatoes with sauce

 I have also sometimes added 1 cup of either BULGUR or QUINOA or BARLEY ( which you just throw in with all the vegetables in the beginning) but NOT Rice as it gets clumpy!

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and all the spices including Cayenne if you wish.
  2. Saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add the onions and saute for another few minutes
  4. Then add each vegetable sauteing each one for about a minute.until all are in the pan.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes ( be sure they are chopped up) and mix well so that all vegetables have a coating of the spices.
  6. Spray the slow cooker with PAM
  7. Pour the whole mixture into the slow cooker.
  8. If you wish to put it on all night – turn it on low.
  9. If all day – turn on low for about 5 hours and then high for about 3 hours
  10. Check the slow cooker to be sure the all harder vegetables ( e.g. Yams and Potatoes and Carrots) are submerged.
  11. Season with salt and pepper ( it will need a lot of this unless you put in Cayenne)
  12. Serve with steamed rice (  I prepare that in a rice maker so that the whole meal is ready when we are ie it can wait until we are ready!)
  13. YUM!

 

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Best Chili Ever! Using a tip that makes it taste amazing! In the slow cooker of course!

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 Chili in the slow cooker is one of my favorite things to make – soooo easy! I tried out this recipe and after a few experiments found a way to make it truly exceptional! ENJOY!

Little Farm Slow Cooker Chili ( serves about 14)

Ingredients:

Seasoning Mix

  • 8 tbsp of chili powder
  • 5 tsp ground coriander
  • 5 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 5 tsp paprika
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper ( I left this out as we don’t like stuff spicy)

Chili

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 lbs of ground beef ( or ground turkey or chicken)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • 2 large onions chopped small
  • 1 28 can of roasted tomatoes in sauce – chop the tomatoes small
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of lima beans
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1-2 cups of chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix together the seasoning mix and place aside
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil then saute the ground beef until no longer pink – remove,drain reserving the liquid if any, and put the browned meat into the slow cooker.
  3. Add garlic to the skillet and saute for a minute then add the onion and saute until translucent and soft.
  4. Add half of the seasoning and mix well so that the onions and garlic are completely coated
  5. In the meantime take the black beans and the red beans along with their liquid and puree in a blender – reserve on the side until ready to use.
  6. Add the tomatoes from the can which have been chopped into the skillet and heat gently.
  7. Mix the drained liquid if any from the ground beef with the 1 cup of chicken stock and add to the mixture and mix gently ( reserve the other cup of chicken stock in case the chili mixture is too thick)
  8. Pour the whole mixture over the ground beef in the crockpot and mix well.
  9. Add another 2 tbsp of the seasoning mix and mix
  10. Add the pureed beans and mix well
  11. Taste the mixture – if it is not spicy enough you can add more seasoning mix ( you have a few tbsp left)
  12. Make sure to taste for added salt and pepper
  13. Stir well and then finally drain the other beans, and add them – mixing very gently so as not to break the beans.
  14. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 4 hours then on high for the last hour.
  15. Serve with grated cheese, chopped onions and low fat sour cream

 

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Tres Leches Cake

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 I tried this recipe a few times until I gave up – the amounts just didn’t work – the cake pan was too big, and the liquids appeared too runny.

So I turned to Betty Crocker – and voila! Her recipe was fool proof! Here it is!

 

 
Premium Tres Leches Cake
  • Prep Time15MIN
  • Total Time1HR55MIN
  • Servings15

Ingredients

 

1
box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ yellow cake mix
1 1/4
cups water
1
tablespoon vegetable oil
2
teaspoons vanilla
4
eggs
1
can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1
cup whole milk or evaporated milk
1
cup whipping cream
1
container Betty Crocker™ Whipped fluffy white frosting

Directions

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease and flour or spray bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan.
  • In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
  • Bake as directed on box for 13×9-inch pan. Let stand 5 minutes. Poke top of hot cake every 1/2 inch with long-tined fork, wiping fork occasionally to reduce sticking.
  • In large bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and whipping cream. Carefully pour evenly over top of cake. Cover; refrigerate about 1 hour or until mixture is absorbed into cake. Frost with frosting. Store covered in refrigerator.
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Prime Rib from freezer to oven to table -no defrosting involved!

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This sounds crazy but it works! If you decide at the last minute to make prime rib – you need 2.5 hours! However if you were going to defrost the meat you would need at least a day! So I decided to try this out and it worked! It was delicious and as you can see – not too rare or too over cooked. A miracle!

 

Prime Rib Roast from Freezer to Oven to Table

Ingredients 

  • A 4 lb standing rib roast
  • Seasoning that you like -I use Max’ s seasoning which was in an earlier post or you could mix herbs plus kosher salt, paprika and brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 to 500 degrees
  2. Remove roast from freezer.
  3. Discard plastic cover, run under cool water and lightly wipe with clean cloth.
  4. Rub roast with any rub —
  5. Get a medium sheet pan and add a rack to it.
  6. Place the roast on the rack and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it every 10 minutes because it’s going to get hot. You want a dark-brown crust to surround the meat. Don’t open the door; use the oven light to check it. Wait for the wonderful smell, about 20 minutes.
  7. After about 30 minutes, turn down the heat to 250-300 degrees, and keep cooking it for about 20-25 minutes per pound for rare and 30-35 minutes per pound for medium.
  8. A 4-pounder would cook for about 2 hours.
  9. Once it’s done, turn the oven off, remove the roast and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it. ENJOY!

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Chicken Curry South African Style

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South Africans love curry. So do folks from the UK. South Africa has a large and prosperous Indian community ( you may recall that Gandhi lived there for a while). So curry is part of the normal menu in a South African home. This chicken curry is my favorite and easiest as it uses my favorite Slow Cooker.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Ingredients

·      2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs

·      1 large onion thinly sliced

·      2 large sweet potatoes peeled and diced

·      1 cup coconut milk 

·      1 cup chicken stock (Better than Bouillon)

·      15 oz can chopped tomatoes in sauce ( Pomi is a good brand)

·      2 tablespoons  curry powder and 2 tablespoons of turmeric (we get ours from local Indian markets but it is commercially available)

·      1 teaspoon salt

·      1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder  (we do not like spicy but for those who do – this is optional)

·      1 packet ( 12 ounces) green peas frozen and 1 packet (12 ounces) frozen of cauliflower florets ( we prefer fresh vegetables if you can get them  which will involve hulling peas and cutting the florets from the cauliflower)

·      2 tablespoons lemon juice

·      Cilantro optional garnish

Directions:

1.   In the bottom of the slow cooker whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomatoes in sauce, curry powder, turmeric, salt and cayenne.

2.   Add chicken thighs, onion, cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes. Using tongs, gently toss ingredients together to ensure evenly coated.

3.   Cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4 hours.

4.   Stir in peas and lemon juice 5 minutes before serving.

5.   Serve over rice and with plenty of fresh cilantro.

 

The South African Garnishes:

  • We like to serve with sliced bananas which have been sprinkled with lemon juice to stay fresh and not brown, with raisins, with coconut flakes, and with mango chutney ( Mrs Balls is good but we make our own).
  • In addition some add chopped peanuts.
  • Note:  Please add as much curry as your palette will tolerate!

 

 

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Another great slow cooker recipe – so easy!

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 Yes it is clear – the slow cooker is my favorite kitchen toy – I LOVE IT! Throw everything in and off you go on your day’s adventures and when you come home the house smells divine and dinner is ready! Go on, give it a try this year if you haven’t already!

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Dill Cream

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 bunch fresh dill, divided
  • 1 orange, cut into slices
  • 1 lemon, cut into slices
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) salmon fillet, skin on
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Orange wedges (optional)
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Preparation

1. In a large,slow cooker, place a piece of foil long enough to overhang sides. Coat foil and slow cooker sides with cooking spray.

2. Chop enough dill fronds to equal 2 tablespoons; set aside. Line slow cooker bottom with remaining dill, orange slices, and lemon slices. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons water.

3. Season flesh side of salmon with salt and pepper; place fillet, skin side down, on top of citrus. Cover and cook on LOW 2 1/2 hours or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Using foil as handles, lift salmon fillet out of slow cooker; let stand 10 minutes. Lift fillet off herbs, and transfer to a serving platter.

 

4. While salmon cooks, combine reserved dill fronds, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon rind, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl; refrigerate. Serve salmon warm or at room temperature with dill cream sauce and orange and lemon wedges, if desired

.

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