Gomen Wat (Ethiopian Collard Greens)

These collard greens were the perfect complement to the very spicy Crockpot Doro Wat.  I used this recipe from Solidarity Eats (the recipe for collards is towards the bottom of the page) which was pretty simple.  The collards are cooked with chopped onion, and seasoned with garlic, turmeric, paprika, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

The recipe was even easier because I used Wegman’s Clean and Cut Collard Greens.  Sometimes it’s worth every penny to have someone else do the work!  I liked these collard greens so much that I am sure I’ll be making them before the next Ethiopian night.  🙂

 

ethiopian collards

Crockpot Doro Wat

Since my family was going to be together on Memorial Day weekend, I thought it would be fun to try something totally different: Ethiopian Night!  I have been to a local Ethiopian restaurant and really enjoyed the food, and I did some research online to try and recreate the meal.  First up was a chicken dish, Doro Wat.

When planning this meal, I was optimistic that we’d be spending all day playing at the beach.  So I thought using a crockpot recipe would be very convenient.  As it turned out, I had plenty of time to cook since it was rainy and cold, but it was still nice to have the crockpot do the work.

I merged 3 different recipes to come up with the one below, and I already cut back on the quantity of spices.  But I have to warn you that this version is still HOT.  I used the Berbere spice from Penzey’s, and the first ingredient is cayenne pepper.  So I recommend you adjust the amount of seasoning based on your family’s tastes.

My family forgave me for this oversight, and despite the heat level, almost everyone enjoyed this dish.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was flavorful, and it was most certainly a fun ethnic dining experience.  I served the Doro Wat with collard greens and injera, which I’ll tell you about later this week.

 

ethiopian plate

 

Crockpot Doro Wat

3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 large Vidalia onions, peeled and chopped
1 t garlic salt
1 t dried thyme
1 T Berbere seasoning
1 c. red wine
3 T tomato paste
Juice from 1 lime

Place chicken and onion in the crockpot.  Sprinkle spices, and toss to coat.  Add wine and tomato paste, and stir well.  Cook on High for 5-6 hours.  Add lime juice; stir, and serve.

Pasta Salad Skewers

Finally, a recipe that seems fitting for a summer holiday weekend.  I made these Pasta Salad Skewers for my cooking club, inspired by a pin that I saw from Babble.  They are meant to inspire kids to eat vegetables, but I think they’re fun for adults too!

I used cheese tortellini, grape tomatoes, peppers, cucumber slices, artichoke hearts, and olives.  The original recipe included fresh basil leaves, which would have been a nice touch.  You could even include grilled vegetables like onions, zucchini, and mushrooms.

The skewers are a clever way to serve pasta salad, and would complement any BBQ.  I offered a salad dressing for “dipping” that’s not pictured.  Whether you make these skewers or not, have a great Memorial Day!

 

pasta salad skewer

Baked Potatoes in the Crockpot

I got on a roll last weekend with my crockpot, and after cooking a turkey breast, I used it to bake potatoes.  I got the idea from a Budget Bytes post, and just had to try it myself.  She baked white potatoes, but I wanted to try both white and sweet.

The method is simple.  First, you wash the potatoes and pat them dry.  Then, prick them with a knife in several spots.  Rub them with a little olive oil, and wrap them up on foil.  Place them in the crockpot, and cook on High for 4-5 hours, or Low for 8-10 hours.  That’s it!

The original recipe warns against crowding too many potatoes in the crockpot, so I cooked 2 white potatoes, and 2 sweet potatoes.  Both of them came out great!  In a blind taste test, I don’t think I could tell the difference between a traditional baked potato and the crockpot version.

You might think of potatoes as a fall/winter food, but potatoes make a great lunch or dinner any time of year paired with a big green salad.  And when it’s 90F in your kitchen, you’ll be happy you don’t have to turn on the oven.  Enjoy-

 

 

crockpot potatoes

Turkey Breast in the Crockpot

There’s nothing like a turkey sandwich with freshly roasted turkey.  Some of the deli stuff is OK, but most of it is salty, and the texture just isn’t the same.

I admit, cooking a whole turkey is very intimidating, and I’ve never actually done it in my own kitchen.  Instead, I’ve cooked turkey breasts which yield all white meat, without all the fuss. And now I discovered you can cook a turkey breast right in the crockpot!

This recipe, inspired by Skinnytaste,  is perfect for summer.  You don’t have to heat up the kitchen by using the oven, and you can either make a turkey dinner, or use the meat for sandwiches for the week.  If you find a turkey breast on sale (I got mine for $1.19/lb. at Target) it can also be cost effective compared to deli meat.

The turkey in this recipe came out amazing; it was tender, juicy, and reminded me of Thanksgiving.  I did have some trouble with the gravy not thickening up very well.  Gravy is really not my ‘thing’, so I played with it a little but gave up pretty quickly.  If you do love gravy, I think the cooking liquid in this recipe is a flavorful base, but you may need to add more flour.

Even without perfect gravy, I am calling this recipe a success!

 

crockpotturkey

 

Crockpot Turkey Breast and Gravy

1 T oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 t minced garlic
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 c. flour
2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/2 c. white wine
2 t seasoning (I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor, but the original recipe called for sage)
1 (4-5 lb.) turkey breast

Heat oil in a frying pan.  Add onion, garlic, and carrot, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown.  Add flour and 1 c. vegetable broth.  Stir to combine, and break up any lumps.  Pour mixture into the crockpot.  Add remaining broth, water, wine, and seasoning to crockpot, and stir.

Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper, and place in crockpot, breast side up.  Cook on Low for 5-6 hours, until an instant read thermometer registers 165F.  Remove from crockpot, cover loosely with foil, and allow to set for 15 minutes.  Remove skin, and carve away.

For gravy, allow liquid to cool slightly in the crockpot for 10 minutes.  Remove visible fat with a spoon.  Strain remaining liquid into a saucepan.  Simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.  (Note: My gravy didn’t thicken up well, and needed more flour.)

-Adapted from Skinnytaste

Asparagus and Huevos Bowl

As promised, here is one way which I enjoyed my Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans.  I was inspired by Closet Cooking’s Asparagus Huevos Rancheros, but I ditched the corn tortilla.  The layers include the rice and beans, freshly steamed asparagus, a fried egg, and sliced avocado.

You could add some salsa verde, or queso fresco, but I was very happy with this combination.  The other ingredients balanced the spice level of the rice, and this was both delicious and filling.  It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

 

asparagushuevos

Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans

I hope everyone had a great Cinco de Mayo.  I celebrated by making this dish, inspired by Closet Cooking’s Cilantro Lime Refried Beans.  It was great, but a lot spicier than I expected and had me reaching for a margarita!

The original recipe is a clever take on refried beans, using white beans instead of the traditional pinto beans.  The  cilantro and lime flavors are fresh, and perfect for spring.  The jalapeno adds the heat, but you can leave that out of course.

You could eat the rice and beans all by themselves, or along side something like Oven Fajitas.  I ended up using this dish as the base for another meal.  Come back tomorrow to see; you won’t be disappointed!

 

cilantrolimericebeans

 

Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans

1 T canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 t minced garlic
1 t cumin
1 (15 oz.) can white beans
1/2 c. water
1 c. cooked rice
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
2 T lime juice

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add onion, and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, until starting to brown.  Add pepper and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes more.  Add cumin and stir to mix.  Add beans and water, and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Using a potato masher, mash about 1/2 the beans in the pan.  Add cooked rice, cilantro, and lime juice and stir well.  Cook on Low until heated through.

-Adapted from Closet Cooking

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Lasagna

This recipe does not photograph well.  Actually, it doesn’t look that great in person either.  But since I gobbled it up, enjoying every bite, I decided to share it with you.

I started with this recipe from the Crockpot Recipe Exchange.  But there was something that bugged me about using a whole bottle of BBQ sauce in a lasagna.  I can’t claim to always avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (hello, ketchup!) but I thought I could do better.  You might say I was inspired by the Penzey’s BBQ Seasoning in my spice cabinet.

Just like in my Crockpot Vegetarian Lasagna, there’s a lot of extra sauce.  It’s perfect for scooping up with some freshly baked bread.  I really liked the BBQ flavor as a spin on traditional lasagna.  So even if this was a mess in my dish, it was a yummy mess, and I’ll make it again.

 

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Lasagna

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 T Penzey’s BBQ Seasoning
1 (24 oz.) container fat free cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
6 oz. lasagna noodles, broken as needed
2 c. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 c. shredded, cooked chicken breast

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, sauce, paste, and BBQ seasoning.  In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan, and egg.

Layer in your crockpot as follows:  1 c. sauce; 2 oz. noodles; 1/2 cottage cheese mixture;
3/4 c. reduced fat cheddar; chicken; 2 c. sauce; 2 oz. noodles; remaining cottage cheese mixture;
3/4 c. reduced fat cheddar; 1 1/2 c. sauce; 2 oz. noodles; remaining sauce; remaining cheddar.

Cover and cook on Low for 4-5 hours.  Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

-Adapted from the Crockpot Recipe Exchange

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

I promise, we’ll get to the chicken pot pie, but first I have to share a great customer service story.  I blogged about my Built NY lunch bag right after I got it for Christmas in 2010.  Since then, I have used it almost every weekday.  It’s carried breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and a few times in grad school, all three!)  It has ridden on trains, buses, and planes.  There have been countless spills, and each time, it’s come out of the washing machine completely clean.

I was a little bummed when the strap broke last week, but to be fair,the bag was (over) stuffed with a container of overnight oats, a container of chicken pot pie, a piece of fruit, and an ice pack.  I emailed the company, thinking ‘it can never hurt to ask.’  They got back to me quickly, and said they’d check for a strap in the warehouse.  When they found one, they immediately shipped it to me, free of charge.  The bag is back in action!

builtny lunchbag

 

Now, onto the main dish.  I was inspired by this chicken pot pie recipe from Eating Well, which features a biscuit topping.  Like most aspects of life, I went ahead and made things a little more complicated.  Note that this is NOT a weeknight dish.  I had boiled the chicken the day before, and it still took well over an hour to prepare from start to finish.  Then I had to let it cool before I could eat it.

This is a great pot pie recipe though, and the leftovers were incredible.  The filling was rich, and the biscuits were tender.  You could easily adapt this further to whatever vegetables you have on hand, and you could expand the recipe to feed a larger crowd.

 

chickenpotpie

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

1 T + 2 t canola oil, divided
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped carrot
1 (10 oz.) package sliced mushrooms
2 c. vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
1 c. frozen broccoli, thawed
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, boiled, and shredded
1/4 c. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1 t thyme
1 T cold butter
3/4 c. nonfat buttermilk

Heat 2 t canola oil in a large frying pan.  Add onion, celery, and carrots, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add mushrooms, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is evaporated.  Add 1 1/2 c. vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.  Mix cornstarch into remaining vegetable broth, and add to pan.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, until thickened.  Add broccoli and chicken and stir well.  Add yogurt, stir well, and remove from heat.  Pour filling into a 2 qt baking dish.

To prepare biscuits, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, and thyme.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter.  Add buttermilk and 1 T oil, and stir just until moistened.  Place large spoonfuls of biscuit dough on top of the filling.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting.

-Adapted from Eating Well

 

Wegman’s Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein

Have I mentioned yet that I live near a Wegmans?  It’s a grocery store that has some of the specialty items stocked at Whole Foods, some value items like you’d find at Trader Joe’s, and a full liquor store.  Plus a hot and cold food bar that makes a great lunch or dinner.

Wegmans has a seasonal magazine called “Menu”, with recipes that use ingredients you’ll find at the store.  They’re designed to be quick, convenient, and health oriented.  I decided to put their Sesame Chicken with Lo Mein recipe to the test.

List in hand, I walked into Wegmans.  To be fair, I am still not very familiar with the store layout.  It took a bit of time for me to find all the products I needed.  Eventually I was able to round up the following: cleaned and cut green beans, cleaned and cut Asian slaw, Teriyaki seasoned chicken thighs, lo mein noodles, and a bottle of Sesame Garlic Sauce.  I had oil and minced garlic at home.

wegmans sesame chicken ingredients

 

The recipe calls for just 20 minutes of “active time”.  Now, I am not a speed demon in the kitchen, but 20 minutes would be very tight.  You need to blanch the green beans and the noodles, stir fry the chicken, and then mix it all together with the sauce.  The steps were fairly simple though, and you don’t need a lot of cooking experience to execute the recipe.

I wasn’t sure that I’d like using a bottled sauce, but I really did like the taste of this dish!  I had a friend for lunch, and she enjoyed it as well.  There was a part of my brain screaming, “you could make this all from scratch and it would probably be so much better, and less expensive, and have less sodium…..”  But I was also grateful that I had time to do errands that morning, and the meal was still less expensive and healthier than typical take-out.  So I am calling it a win!

 

wegmans sesame chicken