Crockpot Black Bean and Barley Chili with Mushrooms and Kale

Crockpot Black Bean and Barley Chili with Mushrooms and Kale

I’m catching up on some blogging.  I have dozens of half-written blog posts that are just waiting to be finished and published. In addition, I have several recipes written on scraps of paper that need to be typed up and hundreds of food picture that need to be sorted and edited. I’m not short on content, just time.  I love blogging about what I am cooking, though. I love that I have created my own digital cookbook and I am happy I can share it.

This is a little something I cooked up this past winter. With this chili, I set out to make one thing and ended up with something totally different. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I ended up with a nutritious and hearty vegan chili that tasted great. I was happy with the results.

Crockpot Black Bean and Barley Chili with Mushrooms and Kale

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained
1/2 cup barley
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 4 cups water and 2 Knorr Vegetable Bouillon cubes)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste (I used 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
4 cups kale, chopped

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours.

Advertisements

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot (With a Vietnamese-Inspired Variation)

Crockpot Roast Pork

Happy New Year! I wish each and every one of you peace, happiness, love, and good health in 2015.

I am extremely happy to see 2014 go. It was the worst year. Ever. My oldest son said I say that about every year, but 2014 was truly a shit year. Good riddance! I am looking forward to better days in 2015.

What are your New Year’s Day food traditions? I have eaten black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for as long as I can remember. Greens (either spinach, collards, or cabbage) have become a tradition as well. Hey, I need all the luck and prosperity I can get. Pork is a commonly eaten food on New Year’s Day. I’m not a huge fan of pork, so I don’t typically include it in our New Year’s food tradition. Pork loin was on sale at Publix for $1.99 a pound this week, so we are having roasted pork loin today.

The crockpot is the easiest way to cook large chunks of meat and ensure they come out tender, like fall apart tender.  I almost never cook meats in the oven anymore. Plus, the crockpot is so easy. Did I already mention that? : )

Crockpot Roast Pork (640x480)

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot

Pork loin
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Place in the crockpot. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar and water. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the pork from the crockpot and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.

Meanwhile, you can make a gravy with the juices in crockpot. Whisk in a slurry of cornstarch and water (about 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and enough water to make it pourable) into the leftover liquid in the crockpot. Let cook and thicken while the pork is resting. It won’t get very thick. Alternatively, you can make a gravy on the stovetop using the liquid from the crockpot.

Variation: Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors (640x507)

One of my very favorite Vietnamese dishes is Bún thịt nướng. Bún thịt nướng consists of rice noodles topped with grilled pork and served with a fish sauce and a variety of veggies, peppers, herbs, etc… When I make Bún thịt nướng at home, I marinate the pork in brown sugar, garlic, and fish sauce. The marinade not only makes it taste good, but helps the pork to caramelize when it’s cooked. It’s delicious! Bún thịt nướng was my inspiration for this wonderful way to prepare pork loin in the crockpot.

I don’t usually make a gravy for the pork when I do this version. I strain the leftover liquid from the crockpot and serve it alongside the pork.

Crockpot Roasted Pork Loin with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors (640x444)

Roasted Pork Loin in the Crockpot with Vietnamese-Inspired Flavors

Pork loin
salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water

Season the pork loin with salt and pepper. Place in the crockpot and cover in brown sugar. Add the garlic, fish sauce and pepper flakes. Pour the water around the pork loin. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.


Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup (640x465)

I’ve been making this soup a lot lately. It’s so easy and tastes so good. A one cup serving comes in at about 90 calories. I’m a big fan of adding toppings to my bowl of soup right before I eat it. Shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocado, more fresh cilantro, and/or crumbled tortilla chips are nice additions to this soup.

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken tenderloins (about 1 pound)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and juices
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Add all the ingredients to the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours.


Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)

The past two months have been crazy-busy. Both of my sons are now in school. Their schools are in opposite parts of the city. I’m spending 4 to 6 hours a day in the car shuttling them around to school and appointments. Throw in there an emergency surgery for my cat, a dead air conditioner that required a complete system replacement, a ruptured eardrum, a variety of back-to-school colds, car problems, soccer practice and games, art workshops, and PTO meetings (I volunteered to be the Secretary for my oldest son’s school’s PTSO). Life has been hectic!

In hectic times, the crockpot comes in so handy. Butter Chicken is a popular Indian dish not usually done in a crockpot. The crockpot is a perfect cooking implement for this dish because the chicken turns out so tender. The addition of potatoes is not necessarily traditional, but it is delicious and gives more substance to the dish. This recipe makes enough for leftovers, which taste even better since the spices have had time to meld.

This recipe uses a lot of spices. I mix my own garam masala and curry powder. I have included the recipes for my spice mixes. You can buy already prepared Indian spice mixtures at some grocery stores or online at http://www.penzeys.com.

Butter Chicken and Potatoes (640x480)

 

Crockpot Butter Chicken and Potatoes

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 breasts), cut into bite-sized chunks
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 tablespoon curry powder (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
4 tablespoons butter
fresh cilantro, chopped

Cooked Basmati rice

Layer the onions, chicken, and potatoes in the crockpot. In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, Thai curry paste, spices, tomato paste, coconut milk, and cream. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Add the butter to the crockpot. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with Basmati rice. Naan bread would be wonderful with this too.

Recipe adapted from the one found here.

Curry Powder

2 T. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cayenne
1 tsp. ground ginger

Mix spices together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Garam Masala

2 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine spices. Store in glass jar.


Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn (640x480)

It has been so hot and humid in South Carolina lately. Who wants to cook on days like this? Crockpot cooking is perfect for hot days. It doesn’t heat up the house and leaves you plenty of time for summer fun.

We have been eating more vegetarian meals lately. Grocery prices have gone up so much that there’s not much room for meat in the budget. Grocery prices are ridiculous! The price of cheese alone has gone up 20% in just the past two weeks. What is going on? Everything is going up but the paycheck, so budget meals are a necessity. This meal is budget-friendly. Beans are cheap. I am able to get cans of beans at Aldi for 59 cents each. Dried beans are cheaper, but canned beans are so convenient. Paired with chiles from the farmers’ market and my garden, this chili is relatively inexpensive as well as nutritious.

This chili is even better the next day. Do you know what I did with the leftover chili? I made Frito pie (Fritos topped with chili and cheese) with it. So good.

Crockpot Vegetarian Bean Chili with Peppers and Corn

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chopped
1 – 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 15.5 ounce can cannellini  beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in the crockpot and cook on low 6 to 8 hours (or on high for 3 to 4 hours). Right before serving, stir in the cilantro.


Crockpot Chicken and Chicken Stock

Crockpot Chicken is so easy to prepare. It takes less than 5 minutes to get the chicken started in the crockpot. The chicken always turns out tender and moist.

Making stock from the left over bones and skin is super easy too. The only thing that I hate about preparing chicken and stock is the way it makes my house smell all day. I do not like the smell of cooking meat.

I’m on my first day of a low iodine diet (LID) to prepare for an upcoming radioactive iodine treatment (RAI).  My plan was to have one of the chicken breasts for dinner and then shred the remaining meat and making stock to use in  LID Chicken and Noodles tomorrow.

Crockpot Chicken (640x480)

Crockpot Chicken

1 whole chicken (I prefer hormone and antibiotic free)
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Some whole chickens have a packet of giblets inside. Remove any giblets and save for making stock. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the whole chicken in the crockpot. Season with kosher salt and pepper. You can also season it with a favorite spice mix, if you would like. There is no need to add any liquid but you could add other flavoring ingredients like garlic, herbs, vegetables (carrots, celery, onion), or citrus fruits (lemons, limes) at this time. I like crockpot chicken with a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and a whole lemon (cut in half). Replace the lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. The meat will be tender, moist, and falling off the bone. Remove all the meat and return the bones, skin, and any left over bits to the crockpot to make stock.

Crockpot Chicken Stock

chicken bones and skin from Crockpot Chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of whole pepper corns
kosher salt, to taste

Once your whole chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the crockpot. Remove all the meat and return any bones, skin, and anything leftover to the crockpot. Add the reserved giblets, if you have them. Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot, as well as, the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Fill the crockpot almost to the top with filtered water. Cook in the crockpot on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Making Chicken Stock (640x480)

Season to taste with kosher salt. When stock has finished cooking, ladle into a fine sieve to strain out the bones, veggies, herbs, etc… You can line the sieve with cheesecloth or a paper towel to strain the finer bits, if you like.

Straining Chicken Stock (640x458)

Refrigerate the stock. The fat will rise to the top and solidify. Skim off the fat before using the stock. I measure out the stock in 2 cups portions and freeze in a labeled Ziploc freezer bag for future use. It is okay if your stock is gelatinous. Some people prefer it that way and think it is more nutritious. It will liquefy when heated.


Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal (LID)

On January 30th of this year, I underwent a total thyroidectomy due to papillary thyroid cancer. The surgery went well although it left me with a 6 inch scar on the front of my neck. The next step in my treatment is to ingest radioactive iodine (RAI) to ablate any remaining thyroid/thyroid cancer cells in my body. One of the things I have to do to prepare for RAI is to go on a low iodine diet (LID) 2 weeks beforehand in order to starve any remaining thyroid cells so that they will more readily absorb the radioactive iodine.

The low iodine diet is quite restrictive. Iodized or sea salt (Kosher and non-iodized salt is ok), dairy products, soy products, seafood, sea vegetables, eggs, cured foods, foods containing certain red dyes, any foods containing the previously mentioned ingredients, and most commercial bread products are not allowed on the diet. Basically, I can only eat foods I prepare myself with allowed ingredients. Planning ahead seems like the best plan of action to ensure I make it through the diet at a time when I may be so exhausted from not having a thyroid. Crockpot freezer meals prepared with LID-allowed foods will be helpful.

This Southwest Chicken (I know I labeled my bags as Cilantro-Lime Chicken, but I think Southwest Chicken better describes the meal) recipe is based on a bunch I’ve seen on Pinterest and adapted to fit my needs and taste. It can be served with rice (basmati is best for LID and should be limited) or in a salt-free tortilla (the corn tortillas I buy do not contain salt).

Southwest Chicken Crockpot Freezer Meal

Southwest Chicken (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Per freezer meal (double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to make multiple meals):
1 pound chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 15.5 ounce can unsalted black beans, drained or 1 1/2 cups black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime

For each freezer meal, place all of the ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. It’s helpful to label the bag with a Sharpie before you add the ingredients. I write the date and cooking instructions on the bag. Remove as much as air as you can and seal the bag. Flatten out the ingredients and lay flat in the freezer. Once frozen, you can stand the freezer meals up vertically to make more space.

To cook, defrost the freezer meal in the refrigerator overnight. Pour ingredients out into the crockpot. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken, shred it, and then return it to the crockpot.

Serve the Southwest Chicken in salt-free tortillas (check label for other non-allowed ingredients) for burritos or tacos or with rice for a rice bowl. Some homemade LID-safe salsa would go perfect with these meal. If you are not on the low iodine diet, you can enhance your meal with cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, etc…. The possibilities are endless.