Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet Potato and Leek Soup with Epic Bacon Sandwich

In spite of my recent slow cooker fails, I decided to give it another go today. Tyler was seriously considering banning me from the appliance. Much as I banned him from the power drill years ago- I'm the only one who gets to use sweet power tools in our house. I think I am redeemed with this recipe. In fact, we may have both redeemed ourselves today. I made a kick-ass soup, he fixed the microwave by flicking the breaker back on (baby steps people, baby steps).

One Year Ago: Chocolate Pudding 

Serves 6
Adapted from My Invisible Crown
  • 5 small or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large leek, cleaned well and green end removed, chopped roughly
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup half and half
Mix all ingredients except half and half. Turn slow cooker to low for 4 to 6 hours. Puree using an immersion blender right in the crock pot or transfer (carefully!) to a blender. Mix in half and half. Serve with a little freshly ground pepper on top.

A friend introduced me to this sandwich on the weekend. If you can find cheese bagels it's extra epic, but still pretty good with regular bagels too. 
  • bagel, halved and toasted
  • herb and garlic cream cheese
  • 3 slices cooked bacon
Spread cream cheese on both sides of bagel. Top with bacon and sandwich together. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs

Dang, it got cold out quick, didn't it? I've used the slow cooker 3 times in the last week. Two of which were fails. One night last week I was going to try a whole chicken with root vegetables in the slow cooker. The darn thing didn't turn on and raw chicken sat on the counter. All. Day. That went in the garbage (after a Facebook poll. I wanted to be sure before I threw it away. The poor chicken gave it's life for nothing!).

The next day I threw some marinated chicken thighs I'd stashed in the freezer into the Crockpot as I rushed out the door. The key to the slow cooker is it traps all the moisture to braise and stew all day. This does not happen if you leave the lid off a crack. What happens then is all the moisture evaporates and you have to chip marinade-turned-charcoal off the bottom of the pot. Super fun. 

Of course, being me, I didn't order pizza for dinner. I made spinach gnocchi. From scratch. Because I am a crazy person.

Finally, last night, Crockpot success! I'll admit, this is not a typical Four Seasons Kitchen meal with jarred sauce and frozen meatballs. Hey, I'm not above a little help from Mr Ragu once in a while. I figured this would be super quick and easy for Tyler to make while I was at work. Turned out amazing, healthy, and dead easy.

Serves 4
Adapted from Paleo Pot via Pinterest
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar tomato sauce, thinned with a bit of water if your brand is really thick
  • 1/2 box frozen meatballs (I used PC Blue Menu Chicken Meatballs. Yum)
  • handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Cut your squash in half across the diameter (i.e. not lengthwise). Scoop out seeds and pulp. Save the seeds to roast as you would pumpkin seeds if you wish.

Pour sauce into slow cooker. Place squash in slow cooker cut side down. Spread meatballs around squash in the sauce. Cook on low about 6 hours.

To serve, remove squash from slow cooker using tongs. Hold with tongs and scrape squash out of skin with a fork. Mix basil into sauce, ladle sauce and meatballs over squash. Serve with Parmesan.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Broiled Teriyaki Salmon with Kale Fried Rice

I've been on a kale binge this week. Maybe my body is trying to counter-act the Halloween chocolate. I gave up on kale in my smoothies- do you have to sharpen blender blades or something? Mine isn't pureeing the kale any more. Chugging a drink rife with hearty leaves that have done battle with the blender and won is not pleasant first thing in the morning, believe me. So what to do with this giant bunch of kale? Kale salad. Kale fried rice. And maybe some kale chips if you please.

Raw kale + roasted sunflower seeds + dried cranberries + chopped apples + balsamic vinaigrette = addictive kale salad.

Parker enjoys all these things, aside from the kale, separately. But mix them together and call it a salad and it's a no go. I don't get kids. This must be how men feel their whole lives about women. Just can't figure them out.

The recipe for the fried rice is from Gwyneth Paltrow's first cookbook. Still one of my favorite cookbooks. The rice is dead simple. You don't need a recipe, really, but I'll provide you my modified recipe anyway of course. Paltrow calls for the kale to be cut small, "the smaller you cut the kale the more it becomes about the rice." I decided to chop it to oblivion in the food processor. Parker likes to help press the button. And then, being three, he asked me to wash the food processor so he could chop up his cars. Whaaa?

Serves 4
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter 
Cook your rice the day before you plan to make this. Just let it bubble way on the back of the stove while you make whatever else you are having for dinner that day. Drain and stash it in the fridge until ready to use. Cooked rice can also be frozen flat in freezer bags for quick thawing.
  • Teriyaki Salmon recipe
  • 1/2 lb kale, stems discarded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cold cooked brown rice (I used a brown and wild rice blend)
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if from frozen
  • 2 green onions, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp Ponzu-soy sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
Chop kale finely in a food processor (or go nuts with a knife). Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil. Add kale and saute until crisp and bright green with a few browned pieces, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add rice and stir to combine everything. Spread rice into a flat layer and fry a few minutes, stir and spread it out again. Repeat, stirring every few minutes, until rice is crisped and smells nutty. Add green onion and peas, stir to combine. Turn off heat, add Ponzu or soy and sesame oil, stir to combine.