Crock Pot Chicken Masala

Back in 2007 I spent a month in India for a “HIV/AIDS and public health challenges” volunteer experience. It was absolutely amazing. We were completely immersed in the culture, which scared the crap out of me at first. I flew alone – for the first time alone and the first time ever on a plane for more than 3 hours. It was a 26 hour non-stop flight. I arrived at the Delhi airport, surrounded by a language I had never heard before (Hindi). My ride was no where to be found and I had no idea how to figure out how to contact him/her. Thankfully a half hour later I found them. And they didn’t speak English. They were employees of the NGO that my non-profit was affiliated with. They weren’t dressed very nice, but were nice to me. I couldn’t help but feel a little skeptical about the situation. Before we left the airport I tried to call my parents and J to let them know I arrived safely. My phone disconnected me 3 times and they were, of course, worried something happened to me. Thankfully it stayed connected long enough to hear I was OK and that they should call J to tell him I was safe. I then went with the two Indian men I had just met to an old van. Yes, one of those creepy vans without side windows. They loaded my luggage up for me and I sat alone in the backseat without a seat belt (because they don’t use those in India). I was honestly so scared that I might not make it through the night, but I knew I had to trust that everything would be fine. The ride was an experience I will never forget. It was my first glimpse into the chaos of Delhi driving. When we were at stop lights, children and women begged at our car (just like you may have seen on Slumdog Millionaire). I had never seen anything like this. We finally drove down a dark ally, my heart racing, and arrived at my hostel. The hostel keeper didn’t speak English, of course, and my two other travel partners hadn’t arrived yet, of course. The women at the hostel were very nice and helped me get settled into the room we (the 3 girls) would share. I was so scared and had no idea what was going to happen next. After I fell asleep there was a loud pounding at the door – it was my travel partners (but my mind went to the worst possible scenario, of course).

Taj

After that moment the trip improved greatly. One of the girls spoke Hindi, which made all the difference. Our experience was amazing. We were immersed into India. Working and living in conditions similar to those of the lower-middle class of India (which would be poor in the US). We worked with homeless children, men dying of HIV/AIDS who were disowned from their families, young boys who were already addicted to drugs, amputees who lost limbs from drug use, women who had been abused, and so many more amazing people. This was an experience I will never forget. I went from being scared to death of a country to not wanting to leave. I still hope to go back someday and experience India all over again.

loving her new glasses

A woman in Old Delhi who just was fitted for these new glasses

teaching English in the village

Teaching English in a Village

india-child in slums

A young boy in the slums of old Delhi

nutrition classes for eye healt

Nutrition classes in the slums of Old Delhi for eye health

 

During our time there we ate a lot of traditional Indian food. We usually ate whatever was prepared for the people we were serving, so there was tons of dal with rice and nann. We often ate with our hands. The food was absolutely delicious. I ate the best mango I have ever had in my life  – so ripe I could peel it with my hands. I fell in love with paneer and kheer (and probably put on a few pound because of it). Occasionally we’d venture out and eat at a local restaurant, which was always amazing. I only made the mistake of getting something too spicy once the entire month, was a pretty good success. 

thewhole group

Since being home, I have tried to make Indian dishes occasionally. The cumin, chai, cinnamon, and masala spices bring back memories instantly. A friend of mine made us Chicken Tikka Masala when I stayed with her in Madison a few months ago. It was so easy and SO delicious. I made this for J a few weeks ago and he loved it too. I served it with the very Indian side dish of green beans, haha, but it needed a vegetable! If I were doing it again I would add raisins to give it a touch of sweetness.

chicken masala

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
(unfortunately I don’t know the source of this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 24-oz chicken breast or thighs (1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or plain non-fat yogurt if you want a non-fat option)

Directions

  1. In a 4 or 6qt slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, and masala. Place the chicken on top, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours (or high for 3-4 hours).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare the rice before serving.
  4. Just before serving, stir the cream into the masala. Serve over rice with cucumber relish.

Curried Cucumber Ranita

Cucumber Yogurt Curry SaladIt’s that time of year when there are more cucumbers than you know what to do with. We had six in the refrigerator and I wanted something other than sliced cucumbers and pickles. I was going through an old cookbook with loose recipes inside and Cucumber Ranita fell out. I love when that happens. The recipe wasn’t quite what I wanted (cream, whole milk yogurt, spices I didn’t have on hand, etc…), I just used the recipe as an inspiration for this recipe. We served it at a family party a few weeks ago and it was a hit.

Curried Cucumber Ranita

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers, about 6″ in size
  • 2 cups plain yogurt, regular or greek – the regular worked just fine and wasn’t too runny
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, diced
  • 1/2 cup Madras Curry Paste
  • 4 oz orzo pasta
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup peanuts

Directions

  1. Prepare the pasta per directions on package. 
  2. Finely shred 2 of the cucumbers. Mix with the yogurt and cilantro. Add the curry paste and stir well.
  3. Quarter the remaining cucumbers. You may want to remove the seeds or use seedless, but regular cucumbers worked just fine for me.
  4. Mix the yogurt sauce with the pasta. Add the cucumbers, raisins, and peanuts. Stir well. Serve cold.

Bok Choy and Beef Pockets

Image from Steamy Kitchen (click image to visit site)

Bok Choy – have you ever cooked with it before? I haven’t but after getting a huge head of it in our CSA last week, I knew I was going to learn. After searching online I found a number of recipes for egg rolls using bok choy. We had some egg roll wrappers in the refrigerator from a different recipe I meant to make a few weeks ago (but never got around to…stupid board exam).

I decided to make more of a pocket than an egg roll, because it would allow for more filling to fit into each nutritionally meaningless wrapper. It also made them more filling. They were super easy and super delicious! I prepared the filling in advance, which made it easier to work with, because when it is hot it is very runny.

Bok Choy and Beef Pockets

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of bok choy 
  • 16-20 ounces of lean ground beef (we use grass-fed, which is so lean that we don’t need to drain any fat afterwards)
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers (16 count)

Directions
Filling

  1. photo (1)Prepare the bok choy by cutting and cleaning the leaves. You can use all the plant, including the stem. Chop into small pieces.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet to medium and add the ground beef. Once the ground beef is 50% done, add the sesame oil, garlic, and bok choy. Stir and cook down until the leaves wilt and the beef is completely cooked. Add soy sauce and more sesame oil, if needed.
  3. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until you are going to assemble the pockets.

IMG_0251

Pockets

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. 
  2. IMG_0252Place a wrapper on your prep surface. Using a slotted spoon, scoop 1 spoonful of mixture into the center of the wrapper.
  3. IMG_0253Fold up the bottom corner so the tip is in the middle of the pocket. Repeat on each side. Use a basting brush and water as needed to help the wrapper stick together.
  4. Place each pocket onto a prepared baking sheet with the folded sides up. You could coat them with egg using the basting brush if you’d like them to be more golden.
  5. BIMG_0254ake the pockets for 20-25 minutes. I turned mine after 15 minutes so both sides would be crispy and to prevent one side from burning. This did make them less pretty because the sauce from inside the pocket leaked a bit when the folded side was on the pan.

Chicken Shawarma on Pitas

Chicken Shawarma from eatingwell.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup(s) shredded English cucumber
  • 1/4 cup(s) low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoon(s) tahini
  • 2 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon(s) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound(s) boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon(s) canola oil
  • 4  6-inch whole-wheat pita breads
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 cup(s) thinly sliced romaine lettuce

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium.
  2. Stir cucumber, yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine garlic powder, curry powder, pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in another medium bowl. Slice chicken breast crosswise into 1/4-inch strips; toss with the spice mixture to coat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and toss to combine.
  4. Grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
  5. To serve, spread 1/4 cup of the cucumber-yogurt sauce on a pita  and top with one-fourth of the chicken, tomato, and lettuce. Fold like a taco (or roll closed, if using lavash). Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Asian Shredded Beef

Slow Cooker Asian Shredded Beef by A Year of Slow Cooking
modifications were made

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds boneless beef roast
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Madras curry paste
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or 6 cloves, minced)

Directions

  1. Use a 5 quart slow cooker. Trim any visible fat from the meat, and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rub curry paste onto the meat, and top with the ketchup and honey. Pour in the soy sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or until meat shreds easily with a fork. You may need to take the meat out and cut in chunks after 8 hours, then turn to high for an hour or so to get it to shred nicely (I did this).
  2. Serve over white or brownnrice, or over shredded cabbage. I used the cabbage, and we all liked it.

    **If you like you can add cabbage directly to the crock pot for the last hour of cooking.

Chicken Stir Fry

General Tso’s Chicken by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (16-ounce) package stir-fry vegetables

Directions

  1. Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put the chicken into the bottom of your crockpot and then add the garlic, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Toss the chicken to fully coat with the sauce ingredients.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, then add the frozen vegetables. Re-cover and cook on high for an hour, or until the veggies are fully hot and the chicken has reached desired tenderness.
  3. Serve with white or brown rice.

Teriyaki and Apricot Pork Chops

Teriyaki and Apricot Pork Chops in the Slow Cooker by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops
  • 2/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Use a 4-quart slow cooker. If you only have a super large cooker, that’s okay; you can put an oven-safe dish into your cooker (Pyrex, corningware, baking pan) to create a smaller cooking vessel— then load the porkchops into it.
  2. Put the chops into your slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the sauce ingredients and then pour evenly over the top of the chops.
  3. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Your chops are done when they have reached desired tenderness. Serve with rice and sauce spooned over the top.

Gyro Pasta

A few weeks ago we had a wedding reception for my brother, Joey, who got married in May down in Texas. He is in the army and is stationed in El Paso, TX. The family came up to meet our family and it was a wonderful time. My dad rediscovered gyros a few years ago when he found a gyro shop in downtown Appleton, WI called Gyro Kabob. It is a delicious little restaurant with authentic gyros, greasy fries, and cheap prices. Even my mom, who is a little picky when it comes to what she likes to eat, thinks it is amazing. Needless to say Joey’s wedding reception was the perfect excuse for my parents to introduce the rest of our family and our new Texan relatives to Gyro Kabob.

The gyros were a hit – so popular we ran out of pita bread! This left us with a few bags of gyro meat. Jason and I were lucky enough to bring some back with us. I recently defrosted some of the meat and made this pasta dish with it. Jason has devoured most all of it in the past few days. Since gyro meat is just shaved and seasoned lamb meat, you could use lamb or beef in this recipe.


Ingredients:
– Spaghetti Noodles
– 3 cups shaved gyro meat
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 cups green beans, chunked
– 2 whole carrots, sliced
– Garlic-herb infused oil*
– Feta cheese, crumbled**

Directions
1. Cook the noodles as directed. Make at least 3 servings per package directions.
2. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the carrots and green beans and cook until the carrots are bright orange.
3. Add the gyro meat and top with about 1/4 cup oil.*** Add the pasta to the skillet, and stir well. Simmer for 3-5 minutes with the lid on. Serve warm with feta cheese.

*I made this a few months ago with dried garlic, basil, and oregano. Just throw the dried herbs in a sealed container of oil and let sit for a few hours before using. If you don’t have this or want to make it, just use regular olive oil and add some garlic, basil, and oregano to the pan.

**Feta cheese usually comes in a chunk or crumbled. While the crumbled appears cheaper at first glance, it is usually twice as expensive when you look at the ounce price. Go for the chunk of feta and crumble it on your own to get more bang for your buck.

***It is not necessary to use this much oil, but I used it in place of sauce. 1/4 cup is 3 TBSP, so together this dish has 1 TBSP oil per serving

Coconut Chicken Curry

Since I went to India two years ago I have periodically craved curry and mangoes. Curry for obvious reasons. Mangoes because it was the first time in my life I had ever REALLY tasted a mango. They were so ripe we could peel them with out hands and they were so juicy wiping your hands was pointless. Occasionally I will find a mango that comes close to the flavor but close is as close as it gets…if you have tried a mango like this you know exactly what I mean.

Because I got my mango fix last week I also needed to satisfy my curry fix. We had a can of coconut milk in the pantry as well as some curry paste, so I figured I’d whip some curry together. This turned out delicious – we ran out of rice so I just ate the left over curry as-is 🙂

Ingredients
– 1 cup long grain rice
– 2 large carrots, halved and cut into slices
– 2 chicken breasts, chunked
– 1 big handful of pea pods
– 1 full stalk of broccoli, cut into florets
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 3/4 to 1 cup peanuts
– 1/4 can coconut milk
– 1/4 cup skim milk
– 1 tbsp corn starch
– 1/4 cup mild curry paste

Directions
1. Prepare the rice as directed on the package. Instead of water you can use vegetable or chicken broth.
2. In a small bowl and the milks and curry. Whisk until well combined. Add more coconut milk if you want it really thick. Whisk in the cornstarch. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet heat the oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the diced chicken breasts and cook until no pink is visible. Add the carrots and continue to cook for 2-4 minutes. Add the pea pots and broccoli, continuing to stir. You don’t want to add these too soon or they will get mushy before the carrots are done.
4. Once the broccoli is bright green add the sauce. Stir well and let stand until it begins to bubble. At this point lower the heat and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. Add more milk or curry if needed.
5. Stir in the peanuts just before serving.
6. Serve over rice. Use a ladle to cover in sauce.

Chicken Curry

This recipes goes hand in hand with the last recipe I posted. It was very quick and easy to make – it was ready in about 20 minutes. I had never cooked with curry before, but had eaten may fair share of curry when I went on a volunteer trip to India for a month back in August 2007 with CFHI. Here is a link to some pictures. You need to register to view them (I think), but I will work on moving them into an open viewer. The trip was 4 weeks long and was located in New Delhi, Old Delhi, and Jaipur. We also visited many rural villages. We spent the time observing various public health projects throughout the cities. The entire trip was very humbling and it was my first glimpse into true poverty. Don’t get me wrong, there are people in the US living in poverty, but nothing like this. It is something you can try to explain, but you can not understand until you actually see it in front of you. The trip was amazing and every time I hear anything about India I start to reminisce. Sadly, I have yet to see Slum Dog Millionaire because we are cheap and never go to the movies – I am very excited for when it comes out on DVD and plan to buy it immediately. Maybe that night Jason and I will need to enjoy some delicious chicken curry with some fresh Naan or Roti.

Chicken Curry

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • Canola oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into small strips
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups California blend vegetables, frozen  
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion; cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste; stir to mix. 
  2. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, milk and brown sugar; bring to a simmer. 
  3. Add California Blend Vegetables, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Stir in spinach and lime juice; cook just until spinach has wilted.
  5. Serve with rice, over pasta, on a sandwich, or in a wrap.