Category Archives: slow cooker

Holiday Chicken Sausage Soup

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While most people absolutely love the holidays, they aren’t always my favorite time of year. I wouldn’t call myself a grinch, but I find the energy can be a little crazy.  The Christmas music, advertising, and holiday media tornado can be overwhelming.

In reality a lot of us don’t have stress-free holidays.

That being said, if I ever feel stressed or sad, I tend to enjoy cooking it off. :-]

I love any reason to make a hearty soup. The soup I made yesterday I got from Oprah Magazine (the only “women’s magazine I tend to read). It’s a Kale Soup with Chicken Apple Chardonnay Sausage. It calls for Andouille Sausage but I changed the recipe.

Ingredients:

6 lightly packed cups chopped green curly kale, stems and ribs removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 links chicken apple chardonnay sausage (Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp thyme
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 can chopped or diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp. salt plus more to taste
1 tsp honey (optional)
4 cups slightly undercooked brown rice

Directions:

1. Bring 10 cups water to a boil in large Dutch oven or heavy pot.
Add kale and boil 5 minutes. Drain in colander and set aside.
2. In a pan warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion to and cook until onion is translucent, 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, peppers and sausage, and cook until peppers soften, 5 minutes. Mix in thyme and allspice, stir and cook 1 minute.


sausage and peppers

3. Cook your brown rice til somewhat soft.
4. Add rice and all ingredients and put in slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours or on low 6-8 hours.

We enjoyed this with a loaf of batard Sourdough bread purchased at my favorite local grocery called The Pasta Shop on College Ave in Oakland. It’s nice to serve the soup with Sourdough because the bread soaks up the juices like a sponge. Add a pinch of margarine (or you can use butter) which tastes absolutely flavorful and melts in your mouth.

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Flavorful Moo Shu Rolls

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Moo Shu Rolls are really fun to eat, and for anyone on a high protein low carb diet, this is an appetizer for you. We use lean meats so in order to make the dish taste good you will need to make sure you add plenty of spice and flavor, and use a slow cooker that soaks up all the good juices. Moo Shu Rolls are fun to eat and a satisfying balance of salty sweet. The meat is a little salty, and the bibb lettuce provides a sweet crunch.

This recipe was adapted from this Slow Cook It recipe book.

Moo Shu Roll Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground lean beef (7% fat or less)
1/2 ground turkey (original recipe calls for pork–feel free to use either)
1 large portobello mushroom cap, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
20 Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves
3 carrots, shredded
10 thin scallions, sliced
5 radishes thinly sliced

You will need a slow cooker for this recipe.

Moo Shu Roll Directions

1. Combine beef, mushroom, onion, and garlic in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Mix broth, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and five spice powder in small bowl; pour over beef mixture. Cover and cook until flavors are blended and sauce is slightly thickened, 4-5 hours or 8-10 hours on low.

2. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon beef mixture in center of each lettuce leaf. Top each with about 1 tablespoon carrots, 1 tablespoon scallion and 1 tablespoon radishes; roll up.

I served this dish with a dollop of smoky hot grain mustard and the Trader Joe’s aoli mustard. You also might want to add a yogurt based sauce.

Per serving (2 rolls) about 94 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 27 mg Chol, 144 mg Sod, 5 g carbs, 11 g Prot, 1 g Fiber.

Mom’s Spicy Savannah Collard Greens

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Mom watching one of the thousands of soccer games
throughout the years.

My mom is an art professor and a wildly creative artist. She moved to the south after I left for college–she resides in a house with a porch in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah has a rich history–one including all the mystery of a southern port–the location that inspired “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Savannah is lovely, but it’s not always as sparkly as Paula Dean’s “just add butter” recipes. It also has a long messy history of violence and crime. While we acknowledge that, today we’ll stick to the non-controversial universally-loved aspect of the south, the food.

If you’ve visited the south and been to any traditional southern restaurants, chances are you’ve been exposed to collard greens. Collard greens are eaten on New Year’s day alongside black eyed peas and cornbread to ensure wealth in the coming year. The leaves are supposed to represent folded money.*

If it weren’t enough reason to eat collard greens to participate in this southern tradition and enjoy them for flavor, they have their share of health benefits.

Spinach eating Pop-Eye would approve of my mom’s collard green recipe–not just because mom is sweet like Olive Oyl–but collard greens are known for their cancer fighting agents–at least according to the veggie worshiping researchers at UC Berkeley.

Spicy Savannah Collard Greens Ingredients

  • 1 large Chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Mushrooms, peppers (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • I lb chopped Collard greens
  • Veggie broth, 3 cups and chopped fresh tomatoes or 28 oz can chopped tomatoes with juice (organic low sodium the best)
  • Hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)
  • Salt and peper to taste
  • If using fresh tomatoes add in toward the end.

Mom’s spicey collard greens instructions

  1. Lightly saute onion and garlic (and mushrooms green or red pepper if used) in olive oil
  2. Add in crushed red pepper flakes
  3. Add chopped greens,
  4. Cook another minute
  5. Add  broth/ canned chopped tomatoes
  6. Simmer and season for about 45 minutes until greens are soft.


Always better when enjoyed with an innocent glass of red wine

How do you enjoy collard greens? Please feel free to add your own recipe below!

more photos


Mom holding my Cousin Kate’s one year old daughter
beautiful baby Finley

This photo was taken two weeks ago at the Nike Women’s Marathon at 6am
in San Francisco. My mom generously cooked dinner for me that night
when I hobbled around the apartment. Glad to report this was after an
afternoon of spa mani pedis. She’s coming to visit the bay again in early
December and I intend on showing her the foodie side of the East Bay.

My mom is my hero. She has a unique softness about her. She never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings or burden anyone. She would give me or my brother the shirt off her back. It’s rare you meet people that are so strong yet so soft. That’s my mom.


Slow Cooked Smokey Barbecue Chili

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I tell you this every time I post a recipe, but I’ll tell you again. I love to cook because it’s creative. There are generally so few activities that get us away from the computer, and allow us to use our hands. That is precisely why the kitchen is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Yesterday was a quiet day at home. I spent the morning with the ladies from Team In Training going for a Saturday morning jog, brunch and then drifted through my favorite local Farmer’s market at Lakeshore in Oakland.

On a Fall day with three hours to do as I choose there is no greater joy than pulling out the slow cooker and losing myself in some heavy duty chopping.

Dish purchased at Cost Plus World Market

Slow cooked food always tastes better. The dish soaks up all kinds of flavors given that it has more time to marinate. That being said, slow cooked chili is one of my favorite things to make. It opens up your pores just as much as a salsa dancing class would. And if you like spice and flavor, there’s no shortage of variations you can do. I like to kick the heat and spice into high gear. You can control how spicy the dish is with the optional ingredients listed below.

You don’t have to make this in a slow cooker but it adds a lot of flavor.

Smokey Chili Recipe Ingredients:

1 lb heirloom tomatoes (the fresher the better)
1/3 cup of smokey barbecue sauce
1 lb extra lean beef (organic if possible)
1 green bell pepper chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 yellow onion chopped
1 can of Cuban black beans
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup low-fat cheddar cheese
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Optional Chili ingredients:

1 cup Israeli cous cous or another grain to serve with
chili powder or chipotle seasoning [check out the Rancho Gordo Chili Powder found at the SF Ferry Building or Farmer’s Market]
2 Habanero Peppers

Directions:

1. Spray pan with olive oil spray or pam. On medium heat saute the chopped onions in garlic. Chop green pepper and add. Once soft, add ground beef and break up the meat in the pan. You might add some of your chicken broth to avoid having to use olive oil and keeping the meat moist.
2. Heat slow cooker and add in all chopped ingredients stirring every 45 minutes or so. Add water if soup is too thick. Heat on high for about 4 hours on high, or 8 hour on low.
3. Serve with Israeli cous-cous and a spritzel of cheese on top garnished with cilantro or fennel.

I always just use what I have in the fridge or pantry. There’s no sense in starting your car up and driving to the market for one small ingredient.

I garnished my soup with fennel rather than cilantro. Fennel, while probably an uncharacteristic garnish, still tastes wonderful. Frozen cilantro went into the soup but wouldn’t have looked very becoming on top of the meal.

I took one bite of this soup and melted on the kitchen floor. The fresh heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market and all the spices made this dish an absolute pleasure to eat.

And…

To dress the table for your meal, depicted below are a feast of Dahlias.


Heirloom tomatoes, golden beets, carrots and cucumbers from Lakeshore Farmer’s Market.  Fresh veggies make all the difference. Once you get your veggies directly from the farmers you won’t ever want to get your veggies from a plastic case at Trader Joe’s again. I promise you this.


Crisp Apple Cobbler

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The reason the creation of the “cobbler” has become a traditional culinary art is because it’s universally loved. Who doesn’t love warm gooey fruit topped with a crunchy flakey topping?

Thank God for the slow cooker–now I can actually make wonderful treats packed full of flavor with less work. The flavor from the slow cooker decreases the chef’s reliance on flavor steroids like oil, butter or any kind of cream—I know I can have that without starving my sweet tooth.

The slow cooker I have is pictured below–referred to me by Jacob’s mom Ella. This is a really affordable purchase considering the value. This small powerful machine makes your life much easier!

Cuisinart PSC-350 Programmable Slow Cooker - 3.5 Quart

Ingredients for Crisp Apple Cobbler:

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3 large red/orange organic fuji apples
2 baby granny smith apples
2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use agave or honey). My dear friend Simone gave me fancy honey which was a treat.

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2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup oats
1/3 cup of light coconut milk

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1/3 cup of Kashi cereal (any kind will due but preferably low sugar)
1/3 cup chopped walnut pieces
1/3 cup apple sauce

Directions to cook Cobbler using the Slow Cooker:

For the apple mixture:

Heat the slow cooker
Peel and cut all apples into bite size pieces
Put them in a bowl
Mix in 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, honey or brown sugar
Put apples in slow cooker on high heat

For the top of the cobbler:

Mix in oats, cereal, walnuts, apple sauce, coconut milk, and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Add or subtract according to your own taste (add raisins, or other various nuts. Use interesting oils other than vanilla (almond oil etc).
Pour over the top of the fruit in the slow cooker.

It’s supposed to be a lil messy! Here’s a photo of mine from tonight…

Let it sit for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The trick with the slow cooker is the longer you wait the better it tastes.

And wallah.

It’s warm and flavorful on the inside with that hearty crunchy kick on top. Add some 0% Fage yogurt or Trader Joe’s fat-free frozen yogurt and you will be in heaven.

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Here is what mine looked like below (notice dessert always includes Tea).

A little bite of heaven…