I'm Just Here To Cook…and Eat!


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Slow Cooked Turkey Loin

The slow cooker really has proven to be a good purchase. I had a lot of chores to do today including some not in the house. But it didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy a slow cooked, beautiful meal for dinner!

I am learning, though, that there are certain tricks to crock pot cooking and I really should listen to the experts of my cookbook. Earlier in the week, I tried to make my beef stew in the crock pot without any precook. You know, the beef stew I cooked with my sister a couple of months back. I just threw everything in the pot and cooked it on low for 8 hours. Well, there’s a reason it was not posted! I will admit it came out bad. It was bland and watery.

So today I experimented, but this time I did some precook and I also used flour which I did not use much of in the beef stew. I had some turkey loin in the freezer that needed to be used so here I went.

Turkey Loin in Tomato Sauce

ingredients

Turkey Loin
1/2 onion sliced
2 garlic gloved, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp flour
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 potato sliced and cubed
Salt and pepper
1/2 can cannellini beans
4 oz fresh spinach

directions

Sauté onion and garlic in oil with oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper for about 7-8 minutes. Add the red wine and reduce. Add the flour and cook 1 minute. Add chicken broth and combine to make sure there are no flour lumps left.

Add to the slow cooker with potato and crushed tomatoes. Mix. Salt and pepper the turkey loin and nestle into the sauce. Cook on low for 6 hours.

After 6 hours, add the beans and spinach. Turn to high and cook another 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Recipes: to pre-cook or not to pre-cook?

I woke up this morning a bit early to start my prep work for my second slow cooker meal ever. As I’m chopping up the ingredients and getting out the skillet, I can’t help but remember my sister talking to me about this when she first got her slow cooker a few months ago. She had been on a hunt to find a cookbook which didn’t require pre-cooking in a skillet.

After reading my cookbook , it seems that pre-cooking builds depth of flavor. My sister has told me that she has tried recipes that require pre-cooking by not pre-cooking, and the dishes have come out great.

Now that I’m on a ramble again, I made this pork chop recipe by following the recipe exactly, but do plan to test the difference in the future. If I can get the same flavor without the pre-cook, how awesome will that be? The best part of a slow cooked dinner? Walking in the house after a long day of work to the amazing smell of a beautiful dinner. Anyone have any crockpot tips to share?

Smothered Pork Chops with Onions and Bacon

Slow Cooker Revolution: One test kitchen. 30 slow cookers. 200 amazing recipes. By America’s Test Kitchen copyright 2011

ingredients

4 ounces bacon (about 4 sliced), chopped
3 onions, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 tsp brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/3 cup flour
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 bay leaves
6 (7 oz) bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4 in thick, sides split to avoid curling
1tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

directions

1. Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5-7 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat left in skillet.

2. Add onions, 1 tsp sugar, garlic, and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are softened and well-browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any brown bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

3. Stir remaining sugar, soy sauce, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork is tender, 6-8 hours on low or 3-5 on high.

4. Transfer pork chops to serving platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard bay leaves. Stir in vinegar and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon 1 cup if sauce over chops and serve with remaining sauce.

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I served roasted asparagus on the side. Real simple. Bake asparagus drizzled with oil and season with salt and pepper in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

My first ever slow cooker attempt. It was pretty cool! There was a bit of prep work, but after that it literally just sits and cooks into yummy goodness. Here’s what I tried for my first recipe. The store didn’t have chicken thighs so I replaced with chicken legs. I also forgot to drain the diced tomatoes (oops!). It came out wonderfully! Enjoy!

Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution: One Test Kitchen. 30 Slow Cookers. 200 Amazing Recipes. By America’s Test Kitchen copyright 2011

ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
5 tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
12 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
Salt and pepper
6 oz Swiss Chard, stemmed and leaves sliced 1/2 inch thick

directions

1. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, thyme, tomato paste, garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes, and transfer to slow cooker.

2. Stir in tomatoes, broth, wine, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.

3. Gently stir in chard, cover, and cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon 1 cup sauce over chicken and serve with remaining sauce.

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Slow Cooker Week

With some of my birthday gift money, I bought myself a treat. I’ve never been into crock pots. Quite frankly, they make me nervous! But my sister recently got one and she loves it! So I thought I’d give it a world. I’m so excited to dive into reading this cookbook tonight! Look out for slow cooked recipes this week!

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“That’s okay, I make lamb”

This is by far my favorite line in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding… “You don’t eat no meat?!? That’s okay, I make lamb.” It is quite surprising when a person doesn’t eat meat, let alone lamb, in my family. But lamb is definitely not for everyone. But what I do always say is try something at least once. And even if you’ve tried lamb once or even twice, if you’ve never tried it Greek-style, you’ve never tried it. So try it again. (Okay now I do sound like a true Greek!)

The best part about a slow roasted Greek-style leg of lamb on Easter is the leftovers. I am food lucky enough to get two Easters since half my family is Catholic and half my family is Greek Orthodox. Greek Easter is normally a different day than Catholic Easter because of the way the calendars fall. But I digress. Both Easters are full of leg of lamb goodness which means both Easters lead to lamb leftovers which means two chances to make homemade gyros.

Very similar to the souvlaki post I made earlier in the month, a gyro with left over lamb meat is very easy. Just chop up some left over lamb and serve in a pita with sliced onion, tomatoes, crumbled feta, shredded lettuce dressed with oil and red wine vinegar, and Tzatziki sauce if you like (I don’t eat this). Serve some cheese (Greek kasseri is a holiday staple) and kalamata olives on the side and enjoy!

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