Spiced Halibut and Lime Skewers Recipe

Photo by Sarah Elliott

I don’t know about you, but to me the perfect recipe is one that is tasty, easy, healthful, and appeals to everyone in my family.  That is a tall order for sure.  Most people that I talk to in my classes struggle with having a wide range of great entree recipes and that’s where I have a hard time, too.  I only like seafood, but my younger daughter doesn’t.  My husband likes everything well done, but I don’t.  My son likes everything plain and simple, but the rest of us like strong flavors.  You know how it goes.

Spiced Halibut Skewers|Pamela Salzman

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Black Bean and Beet Burger Recipe and Video

If you’re new here, I am OBSESSED with veggie burgers.  I have two posted on this website — a black bean and brown rice burger with smoky red pepper sauce and a chickpea burger.  Both are hearty, flavorful and delicious.  This black bean and beet burger might just be my favorite.  If you don’t like beets (and I know you’re out there,) I’m not sure if this will change your mind since you can definitely see the beets, but the burger tastes like more of the spices in the mix than anything else.  Check out my YouTube video here on how to roast beets.

These are great for Meatless Mondays and so perfect for back-to-school since you can make a batch and freeze them for an easy weeknight dinner.  I have pulled them straight from the freezer and cooked them frozen, just like you could with a store-bought one.  I love to eat a veggie burger on a bed of greens with a sauce or spread of some sort, cooked onions and avocado.  Of course the kids and my husband love eating them as a true burger on a bun with or without cheese.  My favorite buns are any of the sprouted Food For Life Baking ones, toasted.  The family is really into the “Million Dollar Buns” by Dave’s Killer Bread.  I wrote about Dave’s Killer Bread in one of my Friday Favorites.  Some of the varieties contain canola oil which I avoid like the plague (refined, pro-inflammatory, usually GMO, blech) and the buns contain canola oil so they’re a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of food.

Although I include all types of whole foods on this site, including animal products, I do think we should be eating a mostly plant-based, anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic diet.  These burgers fit the bill and still keep all the burger lovers in my house very happy, too.

4.4 from 5 reviews
Black Bean and Beet Veggie Burger Recipe and Video
Author: 
Serves: 6 patties
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces beets, steamed or roasted, and peeled (1 large or 2 small)
  • 3 cups black beans, or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup cooked, cold brown rice
  • ¼ cup dried figs, diced small
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Unrefined coconut oil for cooking patties
  • Sprouted grain hamburger buns, for serving (optional)
  • Accompaniments: grilled onions, avocado, tomato, cheese, sprouts
Instructions
  1. Quarter the beets and pulse along with 2 cups of the black beans in a food processor until roughly chopped.
  2. Add beet-bean mixture to a large bowl, along with the next 13 ingredients (remaining black beans, brown rice, dried figs, oat flour, red onion, garlic, smoked paprika, brown mustard, ground cumin, ground coriander, thyme leaves, salt, pepper). Stir to combine, mashing the mixture together with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  3. Using a half cup measure, form six patties. Cover them with parchment paper or plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet or on a griddle pan, heat an ⅛ inch of oil. Add the burgers and cook over medium heat, turning once, until browned and heated through, about 6 minutes. Serve with desired accompaniments.

 

 

Moroccan chicken with dates recipe (slow cooker version, too!)

Moroccan chicken with dates | Pamela Salzman

You all know I live in Southern California and perhaps you know we are having a very mild, but super dry winter.  We actually have a serious drought happening here.  And you might also know that 99% of my entire family lives in the New York/New Jersey area.  And they’re having a veerrryy different kind of winter.

prep the chicken

So most of our phone calls the last few weeks have been kind of like this:

Me: “Hi!  It’s me.  What’s new?”

Sister/Mother/Father: “It’s snowing.  AGAIN.  The kids are off from school.  AGAIN.  It’s absolutely freezing out there.  Seriously, this is the worst winter EVER!”

Me:  “Bummer.  But I asked, ‘what’s neeeewwww?'”

Same old, same old.  I miss the talks we used to have about currents events, movies, what we’re making for dinner, what we ate for lunch.  Interesting, riveting stuff.  Instead, it’s all blizzard all the time!  Thankfully, winter doesn’t last forever and they’ll all be able to get back to business before we know it.  Easy for me to say, I’m sure.

onion, carrots, coconut oil and spices

 

prepped

But if I were in the middle of a polar vortex, I would quickly buy a one-way ticket to L.A. I would make super-warming foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We may not be able to control the weather, but we can control the thermal nature of what we eat.  And I say, heat me up!  High on my list would be this Moroccan chicken with dates which I taught in my classes last February.  I know it seems like there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but half of them are spices, all of which are warming to the body, and anti-inflammatory, too.  These spices, including ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and a pinch of cayenne are also quite flavorful and make this otherwise simple chicken dish, something very special.  There’s also a little bit of sweetness from the cinnamon and from halved dates which rank as one of my favorite foods on the planet.  A little earthy, a little sweet, a touch spicy and a little tart — it’s one of my favorite chicken recipes!

slice open the dates to remove the pit

In these images, and for dinner last night, I served this with an apricot couscous (I’ll post the recipe next week.)  This will have a very tasty, but brothy sauce which just begs for something to sop it up.  Couscous, which is pretty dry, is the perfect side dish.  But you don’t need to make it with any seasonings or herbs.  Even plain would be just the right side for this dish.  Otherwise, if you’re gluten-free, steamed rice, quinoa or millet would be amazing here.  I also served it for dinner with simply sautéed Swiss chard, but check out this recipe for raw grated carrot and beet salad.  That would be fabulous, too.

bring to a simmer before added browne

add chicken to mixture

I have made this recipe in the slow cooker, as well.  Please read the directions for how to adjust this recipe for the slow cooker.  Both versions are amazing and will help warm up your core.  At least until the next snowfall or tomorrow, or both, as the case might be!

Moroccan chicken with dates | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 9 reviews
Moroccan Chicken with Dates
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts such as breasts (I like them split), thighs or drumsticks, seasoned with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt when you get home from the market or brined for an hour (1/4 cup kosher salt + 2 cups water) EXCEPT if you use kosher chicken. See this post for how and why to brine chicken.
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil or olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (feel free to add more if you like it)
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 5 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 12 dates, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, if you like it
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the pot in one layer. Do not overcrowd. Cook until browned on the underside, then turn over and browned on the other side, about 15 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet or platter and repeat with remaining chicken if there’s some still left to do.
  2. Add onions and carrots to the pot and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add cinnamon sticks, salt and remaining spices. Sauté about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  4. Add stock, 3 Tablespoons lemon juice and dates. Deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, add chicken pieces back to pot skin-side up and cover. Lower heat and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through, about 40-45 minutes. An instant-red thermometer should read 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
  5. Add lemon juice to pot and stir to combine. If sauce needs thickening, transfer chicken to a platter and simmer sauce until it is reduced. Sprinkle everything with cilantro and serve.
Notes
SLOW COOKER VERSION:

Use bone-in, skinLESS pieces of chicken
Use a skillet to brown chicken, and sauté vegetables and spices.  Add only ¾ cup of stock to the pan and the same amount of lemon juice as in the original recipe to deglaze the pan.  Do not add the dates until 20 minutes before serving.
Transfer the browned chicken, and the vegetable, spice, stock and lemon juice mixture to the slow cooker and cook covered on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.
20 minutes before serving, stir dates into the slow cooker.  Add remaining lemon juice and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

 

Black bean and pumpkin soup recipe

black bean and pumpkin soup | pamela salzman

Nothing is as comforting to me as a one-pot, hearty meal in a bowl.  I love substantial soups and stews, especially ones with beans or legumes.  I very often make soups on the weekend for lunch or for a Meatless Monday dinner.  They also make a fantastic school lunch for the kids the next day.  This black bean and pumpkin soup is P-E-R-F-E-C-T for a chilly fall day, especially on Halloween if you want to send everyone off with a filling, warm meal.  This is almost like a chili because of the beans and the small amount of cumin and oregano, but not quite as thick.  My favorite ingredient in here is the pureed pumpkin which gives the soup a little body.  So much nutrition in one bowl!

veggies prepped

This soup is a really easy one if you use canned pumpkin and canned beans.  I’m so glad more manufacturers are responding to our desire for BPA-free products.  There are more and more companies who are using cans without BPA.  That is particularly relevant to this recipe because I know you can find organic pumpkin puree in BPA-free packaging by a company called Farmer’s Market or by Pacific Foods and organic black beans in BPA-free cans by Eden organic.  A gentleman behind the customer service desk at Trader Joe’s told me they don’t use BPA in their cans, except canned tomatoes.  I haven’t verified this yet with the company, but I am excited if that’s the case!

cooked black beans

BPA-free pumpkin options

Also exciting is the fact that for the first time in a loooong time, I have Mr. Picky’s Halloween costume ready to go.  This never happens in our house quite this early, as in a week before Halloween.  Poor kid one year made a Batman costume the night before out of grey baseball pants and an cape from an old zombie costume of his sister’s.  This year he is going as a punk rocker complete with wig and (temporary) nose ring.  All of his costumes must involve eyeliner or face paint and this year will be no exception.  My girls are not trick-or-treating this year.  I think the novelty has worn off.  That and my husband said there will be no teenage children of his trick-or-treating without a costume.  I agree — way lame.

soup in progress

Ideally the girls will stay safe at home with a few friends and a pot of black bean and pumpkin soup on the stove and enough in their bellies that they only feel the need to eat a couple pieces of candy and not a basketful.  Believe me, I am not the party pooper you might think I am.  I know full well that on Halloween night, Mr. Picky will take all of his candy and hoard it behind the extra towels underneath his bathroom sink.  I leave them there without letting on that I know his little secret.  Until Valentine’s Day when I need to make room for the fresh loot.

Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!  This Thursday is exactly four weeks before Thanksgiving.  You know what that means!

black bean and pumpkin soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 ½ cups diced green cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • a pinch or more of cayenne or to taste (optional)
  • 4 ½ cups cooked black beans or 3 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed (click here for how to cook beans from scratch)
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree or 1 15-ounce can (not pumpkin pie filling) (click here for how to make pumpkin puree from scratch)
  • 2-3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, cabbage, cumin, oregano and cayenne* and toss to coat with the oil, onions and garlic.  Sauté for a couple minutes or until the vegetables no longer look raw.
  3. Add the beans, cilantro, pumpkin puree, salt and pepper and stock.  Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.  Cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 18-20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.
Notes
I have made this soup several different ways. If you want a little more heat, you can sauté a diced jalapeno pepper (do this in Step 1) and/or add a teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper (add this with the other spices.) If you want a little smokiness without the heat, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika with the other spices. You can also puree part of the soup for a thicker consistency. Lots of options!

 

 

 

Moroccan carrot and beet salad recipe

London has been amazing!  Freezing, but amazing!  At least we were prepared with our winter outerwear for the unseasonably cold temperatures.  We have seen so much and the kids have really enjoyed it all.  After our month in Europe this summer, we learned a bit about how to keep the kids engaged and not wanting to kill each other.  We also learned that Mr. Picky, who is 9, has a 1 1/2 hour time limit in any museum (2 hours if he just ate breakfast.)  Whatever we didn’t get to see will just have to wait until our next visit.

This week we have also booked a private guide each day, which has taken the pressure off my husband from whatever palace or neighborhood we are checking out.  Besides going to many of the major sites, we also had a tour of London’s East End and its many outdoor markets, a rock tour (think The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, not One Direction), and a Shakespeare tour.  All worth it and much more interesting for the kids!  We are leaving London today for Chewton Glen in Hampshire.  My husband visited when he was a child and loved it. I’m hoping it’s still as wonderful 30 years later and I’m hoping we make it in one piece since my husband will be driving us there.  On the other side of the road.  You know I’ll give you all the details either way!

Now I hope you didn’t think I was going to scamper about England this week and forget about you cooks.  Rubbish!  Although I’ve been tweeting what I’ve been up to and posting a few things on Facebook, I didn’t want the week to go by without something for you to try in the kitchen.  Believe me, after a week of scones and mash (not at the same time, of course), I’ll be ready for a few salads like this when I return home.

First of all, if you think you hate beets, you may not hate them raw so stay with me here.  This salad converted everyone who thought s/he didn’t like beets.  I am fairly obsessed with chopped and grated salads.  One of my favorites is my grated carrot salad with avocados and sunflower seeds.  I love vegetables cut into small bits so that you get a lot of different flavors in one bite.  And grated vegetables can actually be a totally different experience from their whole counterparts.  This is completely true with respect to carrots.  If you haven’t tried the carrot salad I just mentioned, you absolutely must!

The one thing you do need to do for this salad is go into your garage behind the piece of exercise equipment, pull out the Cuisinart box and find the medium grating disc which I’m hoping you didn’t throw out thinking you would never use it!  If you did, go to the manufacturer’s website or thegourmetdepotco.com where you can buy missing or broken parts to almost any appliance.  The grating disc is amazing, one of my favorite kitchen tools especially since I broke up with my mandoline.  No love lost there.  I use my grating disc to make very quick work of shredding cheese, onions, potatoes, zucchini, apples, cabbage, and of course carrots and beets.  One tip I can give you is that many food processors give you the option of feeding your food through the wide part or the much narrower feed tube.  In the case of carrots, I like to process them horizontally the wide way for longer shreds for a salad and through the feed tube for short shreds which are better for carrot cake or carrot muffins.

I was doing a Moroccan-inspired menu last month and I desperately wanted to include a carrot salad.  Many Moroccan salads are too sweet for me and include dried fruit plus lots of honey in the dressing.  In my opinion, carrots and beets are already rather sweet, so this salad is dressed with a cumin-orange-lemon dressing, a little tart and just a little sweet.  You can leave this as grated veggies and dressing for a fab 5-minute salad or make a little extra effort and add the delightful fresh herbs which turn this into something really awesome.  I eat this without feta since I’ve gone dairy-free (moment of silence), but if you can handle a little goat or sheep cheese, add it and you won’t be sorry!  Either way, this is a juicy, crunchy, thirst-quenching, gorgeous salad which happens to be super nutritious and alkalizing.

I have served this salad with all sorts of fish dishes, simple roast chicken, frittatas and vegetable stew.  I’m sure it would be great with lamb or grilled beef kabobs.  My point is that you don’t have to be eating a Moroccan meal to enjoy this.  A little heads-up about eating red beets, though. If you’ve never tried them, just be aware that when you eliminate, there will be a tinge of hot pink/red.  I can’t tell you how many stories I heard of people calling their doctors or googling “hot pink poop.”  On the other hand, eating beets can be a good indication of how efficient your digestive system is.  If you see beets later that day or the next, things are moving nice and quickly.  But if it takes 4 days for those beets to appear again,  you probably need a little more fiber and water in your diet.  Just a thought.

Ok, that’s all I have for today, friends.  I’m leaving the hustle and bustle of London for the English countryside and hoping to make it in time for Afternoon Tea which has become my favorite way to wind down after a busy day.  I know some people like a glass of wine at 5, but I’m not sure they’ve tried sitting down to tea with a warm homemade scone.  Brilliant!

Moroccan Carrot and Beet Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled
  • ¾ pound fresh beets (about 2 medium beets), trimmed and peeled (with a vegetable peeler), greens saved for another use
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (measured after it has been chopped)
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • 6 Tablespoons unrefined cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I like goat feta)(optional)
Instructions
  1. Using the shredding disc of your food processor, shred the carrots and beets. Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl.
  2. Add herbs to serving bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl or in a screw-top jar, combine lemon juice, orange juice, sea salt, cumin, paprika and olive oil.
  4. Pour enough dressing on top of carrot mixture to coat lightly and toss to combine. Add more if desired.
  5. Add feta on top of salad and taste for seasoning. If you dress the salad early, the dressing will pull water from the vegetables and make a pool at the bottom of your serving bowl. You can just serve from the top or pour off some of the liquid no problem.
Notes
Salad can be dressed the day before and herbs and feta added just before serving.

For a delicious, spicy note, add about ¾ teaspoon harissa to the dressing.

Slow cooker vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes (stovetop version, too!)

As I type this, my slow cooker has been on for 36 hours straight.  Is that allowed?  I am officially obsessed and I completely understand why you all have been too while I was under a little rock.  Wow!  I made this awesome sweet potato chili the other night, then washed out the insert and put in some beef bones to make beef stock while I slept.  Then the next morning strained the beef stock and made a grass-fed beef brisket with veggies that I turned into a delicious sauce for pasta.  I’m on fire!

Are you gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday?  I love football, so I am always excited for the big day.  What I’d really like to know though, is why does everyone make chili for the Super Bowl?  Or a lot of Tex-Mex food?  I take that back.  My family in NY will be eating sausage and peppers and a baked pasta of some sort.  Maybe it’s just Southern California, but everyone I know is ripening their avocados for guacamole to go on top of their tacos or nachos or what have you.   Just curious since I am one of these people too and I’m not quite sure how I got to be.

I do try and mix it up a little every year, but somehow chili makes it onto the menu in some way.  I have been alternating between Vegetable Chili (my favorite) and Deer Valley Turkey and Black Bean Chili, which I serve alongside a baked potato bar, corn bread and Mexican Chopped Salad which I have a feeling doesn’t resemble anything you’d get in Mexico but sure is the perfect salad to go along with everything else Tex-Mex-y.  I’m in a bit of a conundrum this year with only two days to go until Super Bowl Sunday because I have no menu yet!  There are too many things I would love to make, including this fabulous chili as well as Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos or even this terrific-looking vegetarian tortilla soup recipe I spotted on Foodily.  Alas, I have a mere one slow cooker.

Fear not, good people.  I will share with you how to make this recipe on the stove in case you either do not have a slow cooker (yet) or you only have one slow cooker and you are planning on making my slow cooker chicken tacos.  I like to have a good balance of different food groups even on Super Bowl Sunday so that it’s not just chips and animal protein all day long.  Personally, I think chili is an easy dish to do vegetarian.  All those beans are super high in fiber and protein so they’re really filling and it’s the spices that make everything taste delicious, not the meat.  This chili is really interesting because it includes a bit of sweet potato, one of my most favorite foods.  There’s a touch of cinnamon and cocoa powder which you can’t really taste, but pairs great with the chili powder.  I didn’t add any leafy greens, but in retrospect I think a few chopped leaves of chard, spinach or kale would have been a nice addition at the end.  This Super Bowl I’m rooting for you to eat something healthful!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil (or skip this if you don’t want to pre-saute vegetables)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds to make it less hot or use half or omit altogether)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (depending on salt in tomatoes)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce container chopped or diced tomatoes with the juice (I prefer to use Pomi from a box or tomatoes in glass jars to avoid the inevitable BPA in canned tomatoes.)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed (click here to learn how to cook beans from scratch, otherwise Eden Organics doesn't use BPA in their cans)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 pound total, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup water (use 2 cups water if cooking this on the stove)
Instructions
  1. Omit this step if you cannot bear to pre-cook anything when using a slow cooker. I like to sauté my vegetables because I think it adds more flavor, but feel free to dump everything (omit the oil) into the slow cooker and press “start.” Otherwise, heat oil in a large skillet (if not using a slow cooker, sauté in a large pot) over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and garlic and sauté until onions are tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add spices, salt and pepper and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. If your tomatoes are unsalted, use 2 teaspoons salt.
  3. Add tomatoes and their liquid and cook for another minute or two.
  4. Pour the onion and pepper mixture into a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Stir in beans, sweet potato and 1 cup water. (If cooking on the stove, add remaining ingredients to the pot plus 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and everything is nice and thick, about 1 hour.)
  5. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with desired toppings such as tortilla chips, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and sour cream.
Notes
I have also served this with cooked quinoa and millet, which was delicious. Also, I think adding some chopped fresh leafy greens about 10 minutes before serving would be very nice, too. Swiss chard, spinach and kale would all work well.

 

Slow cooker chicken tacos recipe

You have all waited patiently while my life changed with the arrival of my new slow cooker. Apparently, I am very late to this party.  I had no idea there was this whole huge world of slow cooker devotees.  There are even websites devoted to only slow cooker recipes.  I could wallow in self pity right now, knowing that all these years I could have been starting my dinner first thing in the morning and then return at 6:00 pm to a fully cooked meal.  I could think about all the fall apart tender meats I missed out on or the flavorful soups and stews that could have been.  But who can be down when you’re in love?  Not me, friends.  Because I am in LOVE with my new slow cooker.

I use the words “slow cooker” instead of Crock Pot because Crock Pot is a brand which I don’t have.  But for all intents and purposes, they are used in the same way.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, I am not trying to sell you one here and I will provide directions in this recipe for how to make these tacos without one.  But seriously people, this machine rocks.  I don’t know what took me so long to get one.  I think part of my resistance was that I don’t have any room in my kitchen to store it.  I still don’t, but I did give away a box of Disney DVD’s in the garage to make space for it.  (Shhhhhh!)  I also never had a job where I left early in the morning and didn’t return until 6:00 pm to a house of hungry human beings.  Until now.

The irony is that I bought my sister a slow cooker a few years ago when she had her second baby because she does have a job like that.  She has been raving about it ever since!  A few months ago, I gave my other sister the same slow cooker when she moved into a new house and I think she just started playing around with it.  But I’ve used mine a few times a week since mid-December and I’m hooked.

Listen, no one needs a slow cooker, but here is why I love mine:

–if you spend a little time before you leave for the day, your slow cooker will make dinner and keep it warm for you until dinnertime;

–slow cookers cook at low heat for longer time.  Lower heat prevents nutrient loss.  Also, cooking above 350 degrees (which a slow cooker does NOT) can create AGE’s (advanced glycation end products) which are very inflammatory to the body and considered carcinogenic (ugh.)  Yup, you heard that right.  Preparing food in a slow cooker is better for your health!

–slow cooking can be very beneficial to tougher, leaner cuts of meat by breaking down the muscle and creating a very soft, tender meat;

–you can leave it unattended for up to 12 hours without overcooking your food or worrying about burning your kitchen down.

Again, I am new to slow cookers, and although I have learned a lot just by trail and error, I am no expert.  But so far, I’ve noticed that I prefer the recipes that ask you to brown meat or saute vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker.  You get much better flavor that way.  Yes, I realize you’re getting another pan dirty, but it’s worth it and you’re getting it over with in advance.  Also, I’ve made many non-slow cooker recipes in the slow cooker and just reduced the liquid a bit since there’s almost no evaporation happening and a lot of condensation.

The recipe I’m posting today is a super easy one which I made on Sunday.  This is truly a measure, dump and press start recipe.  I used two different kind of chicken parts to see how they would both turn out and I’ll tell you the truth — although my family much prefers white meat, no one could tell what was what.  Both the thigh and breast meat were super fork-tender.  I personally think thighs have more flavor, but that’s just me.  Everyone L-O-V-E-D these!  I set up a taco bar with lots of toppings so they could just help themselves so I could sit on the couch with a cozy blanket and the new issue of Bon Appetit while watching the football game.  Bliss.  Slow cooker + Me = Together Forever!

Any slow cooker love stories out there?  I want to know it all — how and when you met, how you keep the passion alive, recipes for success, etc!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs (I used 2 breasts and 3 thighs.)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup prepared tomato salsa (I used pico de gallo.) + more for serving
  • suggested accompaniments: corn tortillas, guacamole, salsa, shredded lettuce, cilantro-lime slaw
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in slow cooker and sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, salt and pepper. Add garlic and salsa and rub around to combine. Cover; cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Either shred the chicken with 2 forks right in the slow cooker or transfer to a plate to shred. Moisten chicken with cooking juices and serve with desired tortillas/taco shells and toppings. You could even serve the chicken over rice with salsa and diced avocados.
Notes
Leftovers are great in a quesadilla!

Oven method: preheat oven to 350 degrees. In step 1, place all ingredients (except accompaniments) in a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 2 cups water or chicken stock. Cover and bake until chicken is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Proceed with step 2.

 

Deer Valley-Style Turkey and Black Bean Chili Recipe

Are we having fun yet?!  Good, good.  I have been running around the house yesterday and today like a busy bee, very excited that the big day is almost here.  I’m taking a quick breather from the Thanksgiving marathon just to touch base and check-in with you all.  Hope everything is going according to plan and that you’re enjoying the process.  What I am not doing today, however, is sharing a Thanksgiving recipe on the day before Thanksgiving because I know you are all planners and that ship has sailed!

Instead, I thought I would give all you super organized and efficient people a great way to use up any leftover turkey you might have on Friday.  I always make turkey stock and a simple turkey vegetable soup the day after.  I have also given in to chicken pot pie or shepherd’s pie with turkey.  But I also think it’s nice to make something on Friday that tastes NOTHING like the dinner you just spent a month thinking about!  It’s actually one of my strategies for getting everyone excited to eat leftovers even the day after Thanksgiving.

This recipe is inspired by the fabulous chili at the Deer Valley ski resort in Utah.  I first skied Deer Valley in 1994 when my husband and I were engaged.  He and his family have been going to the resort since it first opened over 30 years ago.  It is a really special place and we are fortunate to be able to go there a couple times each year with the kids.  Although I enjoy skiing and Deer Valley is absolutely stunning, I’m not super gung-ho about getting out there early and making the most of my day on the slopes.  I’m really in it for the food.  My favorite part about skiing is building up a good appetite and rewarding myself with a nice hearty lunch.  I actually start thinking about this turkey chili when I sit down on the chair lift for the first run of the day!

Turkey chili is one of the few items that the resort serves every single day.  I happen to notice the the lunchrooms also serve a roast turkey plate every single day.  Hmmm, could it be the kitchen needed to find a way to use up yesterday’s roast turkey?  Hmmm….  Anyway, we all love this chili because it’s lighter than a beef chili and a totally different take on the typical red, tomato-based ones that are so common.  This one is lighter and tastes fresher, perhaps because of all the delicious vegetables.   Regardless, all the signature shops on the mountain and many of the local grocery stores sell the special seasoning packet and the dried black beans in addition to the recipe so you can make it at home.  For $7 or $8 plus the cost of the turkey, vegetables and stock, you can make this pot of deliciousness at home.   Hmmm….$8 for 1/2 pound of dried beans and a few dried spices.  It wasn’t long before I decided I need to figure out what the heck was in that seasoning packet!

I can’t say this turkey chili is exactly like Deer Valley’s, but it’s close enough and I’m not sure my kids have noticed.  For sure I use half the amount of butter than the recipe calls for and I omitted the leeks, which I think don’t make or break this chili.  I also don’t use canned creamed corn, because ugh — canned and creamed and sugar don’t go with corn — so instead I just make a little corn puree.  The only ingredient you may not have lying around is masa, which is ground dried corn that’s been treated with lime.  It’s what corn tortillas and tamales are made from.  I have to say, it does thicken up the chili and give it a fabulous Southwestern corn flavor.  It’s also not an expensive ingredient, so I say definitely go for it.

Alrighty, dear readers, that’s all the time I have today. I am elbow-deep in sweet potatoes and butternut squash and my kids are starting to bicker about who gets to pick the music we listen to while we work.  Ahhh, sounds like Thanksgiving!  Hoping you all have a lovely holiday.  xoxo

 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Deer Valley-Style Turkey and Black Bean Chili
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (you can use oil, but it won’t be as good) -- vegans can use organic Earth Balance
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into 1-inch cubes or cooked turkey, cubed -- vegetarians and vegans can add 5 cups of additional vegetables and beans
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery, about 3 stalks
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded (or leave seeds for extra heat) and finely diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • ¼ cup masa harina (more if you like a thick chili)
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (cut back if you don't like spicy)
  • 2 Tablespoons maple sugar or natural cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (double if you’re using unsalted stock)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 ½ cups of chicken or turkey stock, divided* -- vegans can use vegetable stock
  • 2 ¼ cups frozen sweet corn, thawed (about 12 ounces)
  • 5 cups or 3 15-ounce ounce cans cooked black beans (drained and rinsed)
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large pot. If using raw turkey, add half the turkey and sauté until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining turkey. If using cooked turkey, do not saute in butter, but add in step 3.
  2. Add the onion, pepper, celery, jalapeno, and garlic to the pot and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the masa harina, spices, sugar, salt and pepper to the pot and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Return turkey and any accumulated juices back to the pot.
  4. Add 4 cups stock, 1 cup corn and the beans to the pot. Take the remaining 1 ¼ cup of corn and puree with the remaining ½ cup stock in a food processor (a mini processor works too.) Add the pureed corn to the pot. Mix well and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered for 25 minutes. Serve with desired condiments (sour cream, cheese, minced onion, cilantro) or serve on top of a baked potato.
Notes
*If you only have stock in 32 oz. containers, no need to open a new one just for a ½ cup of stock. Puree corn in ½ cup water.

 

 

 

Deer Valley-Style Turkey and Black Bean Chili | Pamela Salzman