Monday, February 11, 2013

In the Kitchen - Winter Meal Staples

Want to feel like a rock star?  Go to bed at 9:00pm, hit the gym the following morning before anyone else is awake in your house (or get out because they are awake too early), make scrambled eggs over sauteed spinach,tomatoes, and Parmesan for breakfast, and have dinner prepped and simmering before you leave the house again.  You'll feel like a super hero wife and mom for at least 24 hours.  Share some of these meals with a friend and you'll feel like a great friend too:)

Over a year ago I shared a couple of my favorite crock pot meals.  This winter I've come across a few other gems, some in the crock pot and one on the stove.  We can eat on these for a week and even the kids leave clean plates.

London Broil with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions
from Man Tested Recipes

1 onion, peeled, halved, and sliced  
1 (6 ounce) bag baby carrots  
3 to 4 potatoes, quartered  
1 (2 to 3 pound) London broil
Creole seasoning for dry rub (recipe follows)  
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup  
1/2 cup red wine  
2 cups beef broth (bouillon cubes can be used)

Creole seasoning:  
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika  
2 tablespoons salt  
2 tablespoons garlic powder  
1 tablespoon black pepper  
1 tablespoon onion powder  
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper  
1 tablespoon dried oregano  
1 tablespoon dried thyme

In a 3 quart slow cooker place sliced onion on the bottom, then the carrots, then the potatoes in layers.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, take the steak or roast and cut into 3 pieces (for sake of fitting in the slow cooker), and rub generously with the Creole seasoning all over. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in skillet and tip side to side to coat pan.  (Note: I just seasoned each side of the meat with the seasonings listed...I didn't measure and mix them together to create a rub.)  Place the seasoned meat in pan and sear on all sides until well browned. It will smoke a little so open a window or turn on vent. Take meat from pan and set aside on a plate. Take your ½ cup wine and pour in the pan to deglaze the good stuff that stuck to it during searing lightly run a spoon or fork around to help loosen it up (pan should still be hot enough to help bubble the scrapings off).  Stir in broth and soup.  Pour the liquid mixture from the pan into the slow cooker, getting as much as you can out of the pan. It may seem like there isn’t enough liquid, but the meat will produce the remainder as it cooks. Now place the meat in as well as you can, it will be a tight fit but will cook down, so if the lid doesn’t fit don’t worry. Set the crock pot to low for 8-10 hours, or high for 6 hours. After that set to keep warm. If the gravy is thin at the end, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water mix well. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into gravy, repeat until desired thickness is reached (I didn't find this necessary).  We ate this as is or over egg noodles.  So yummy!

Moroccan Chicken
my mother in law gave me this recipe from a magazine, but from what I can tell it came from

1 12oz bag butternut squash cubes (or peel and chop whole squash and use about 3 cups)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic (I just chopped up 3 cloves because we love garlic)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2-1 cup raisins (dried apricots work too)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 lb skinless chicken thighs
1 (10 oz) box cous cous
1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved (optional)

Combine squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chickpeas, broth, and raisins in slow cooker.  In small bowl stir together spices and broth.  Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on top of veggies and chickpeas and pour spices and broth mixture on top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Prepare cous cous according to package directions and fluff with fork.  Stir olives (if using; I don't) into slow cooker and serve chicken and veggies with cous cous.

Ham and Bean Soup
I truly have no idea where this recipe came from, but by the looks of the page in my recipe binder, I've had it for a while and made it many times:)

For the stock:
1 ham bone (I usually save the bone from a honey baked ham after a big holiday meal and freeze it until I'm ready to make this)
1 chopped onion
2-3 chopped garlic cloves
1 rib celery, chopped
1/8 tsp thyme
black pepper to taste
3 qts water

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add onion, garlic, and celery and saute for 5-7 minutes until the onions start to turn clear.  Add the water and ham bone.  Bring to a simmer (bubbles just breaking the surface, NOT a full boil) and continue simmering for about 2 hours. Skim any foam that comes to the top.  Add the thyme and pepper and continue cooking for 30 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  

For the soup:
1 large bag mixed beans and seasoning packet found in the bag (I usually use about 1/2 of the seasoning packet; I also don't worry about soaking the beans overnight because I usually let this simmer all day so they soften up just fine.)
ham chunks (the more the merrier)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 qts ham stock
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 bag baby carrots, sliced in half
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, garlic, celery, jalapeno, and carrots in olive oil over medium heat. Cook until onions start to turn clear.  Add stock, beans, ham chunks, and seasoning packet.  Bring to a simmer and let cook until beans are tender.  I cook it on medium low almost all day.  Add oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  This freezes well too!

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