Crockpot (GASP!) Sesame Ginger Chicken (MEAT, yo!)

Oh hey, so I am still not eating any meat, but I have a hungry roommate who will appreciate this one.  Hopefully.  She seems to enjoy what I cook…I’m going on my gut here.  Anyway, I had some chicken in the freezer, and I really wanted to not have to think too hard about what to do with it, so I thought, ‘a crockpot provides for thought-free cooking,’ and here we are.

My feelings about crockpots are not super positive.  Part of me can see how if you have a million+ things to do, and don’t have hours to be in the kitchen, it can be useful.

However, I have the time, and I never remember seeing a crockpot in our house, or my grandmother’s–definitely not!  I learned how to cook everything on a stove or in the oven, not using shortcuts, etc.  And, thankfully, I happen to love the process of cooking, and have the time right now.

So, this brings me to why I am using a crockpot today.  I do have laundry to do…I will probably go work out later…but mostly, and I am going to be totally honest with you right now, Netflix just added every season of The West Wing, and hello, what an amazing show!

I know.  Awful.

The other part of me doesn’t really want to be dealing with meat right now because I am trying to discipline myself to clean up my diet, and the crockpot allows me to basically not touch the chicken at all.

But, y’all, it’s gonna be good!

So, here’s my crockpot Sesame Ginger Chicken recipe–appearing on my almost-Vegan blog:)

Sesame Ginger Crockpot Chicken

a bunch of chicken breasts (come on, you didn’t think I was going to get all specific, did you?)

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

In a bowl:

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon white pepper (or regular pepper–whatevs, I know not everyone has white pepper)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

1 tbsp sesame seeds

dash of soy sauce

dash of sweet and sour sauce, or whatever Asian-type sauces you’ve got

a whole mess of chopped garlic

tiny dash of cinnamon

red pepper (it always makes it in!)

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I could drink this. Seriously.

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Ready to go in!

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Ground ginger–good for you!! (That’s my “mess” of garlic in the bottom of the bowl there.

Stir all these together and dump the onion and spice mixture in over the chicken, and add one cup of water or your favorite broth.  Yeah, this is totally unnecessary

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Altogether in the crockpot!

Cook on low for 3-4 hours

You can serve this in lettuce for a low-carb wrap, over brown rice, on pita, whatever you fancy.  Chop up some  green onion to sprinkle over the top.  Check back for an update.  I just put in on, so I only have a few pictures.

Enjoy!

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Kale Chips–Possibly the Easiest Thing to Make, EVER

I know you.  You’re the person who bought Kale Chips the other day at Whole Foods, or wherever you shop, that tries to swindle you out of $5.00 for something that costs less than $2.00 to make.

Don’t buy Kale Chips.  Seriously.  You’re killing me.

Kale Chips

1 head of curly kale (green or red)

olive oil

nutritional yeast flakes or just plain ol’ salt and pepper

a bowl

an oven

a cookie sheet

a brain

hands

You get the picture…

Remove stems (about 4 inches) and rinse

Remove stems (about 4 inches) and rinse

Toss with olive oil, S&P or NYF

Coat leaves

Arrange on cookie sheet

Lay those leaves out!

Done

Place in bowl to eat

Bake at 350 for, oh, maybe 15 mins.  I never keep track.  I’m a horrible cook.

And don’t let me see you buying Kale Chips from the store–ever again!

* A couple notes * you can pull apart the leaves to make small chips, but it’s totally up to you whether you want to remove the rest of the stem that runs through the middle of the leaf.  When these bake, they dehydrate so much, it probably isn’t worth the work.

 

Quinoa with Lemon, Onion, Cilantro, Broccoli, and Avocado (V)

Ok, it’s getting a little crazy in this house today…I am posting again!  And this time it’s dinner!

Seriously though, I wasn’t going to get back on here tonight, but I’m not going to lie–it just tastes SO GOOD.

My friend Angie came over, so I threw a little something together last minute during our Breaking Bad marathon.

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I don’t know if the food is better than the TV show

Here we go:

Quinoa with Lemon, Onion, Cilantro, and Avocado

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 broccoli trees, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 lemon, to squeeze and serve

handful cilantro, finely chopped

pinch of red pepper (or more, if you have an addiction like I do)

1/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp earth balance, or you could use olive oil instead

1/2 avocado, diced for serving

(If you want to really go crazy and add protein, throw some baby shrimp in while the quinoa is cooking.  Otherwise, this is super awesome for a vegan dish!)

In a medium-sized saucepan, put your choice of fat, diced onion, and broccoli to start cooking.  Saute for about 3-4 minutes at med-high heat.  Deglaze with the wine.  Add cilantro, juice of 1/2 the lemon, and dry quinoa to pan.  Stir.  After a couple minutes, add two cups of water and bring to a boil, uncovered.  Stir again.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook for about 12-15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed, and the quinoa is a little fluffy.  (If you choose to add shrimp, put it in when you add the water.  They can be frozen, too, since they are super tiny.)

Serve in shallow bowls with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and cubed avocado. You could also serve with a little diced onion, or a little more red pepper.

ENJOY!!

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Super lemony quinoa

Garbanzo Bean Salad (V)

Happy NEW Year, people.  My resolution this year is to actually WRITE down what I cook.  Since I cook everyday, this is a slightly daunting task for me–I don’t follow recipes, so on the flip side, I never write anything down.

But here goes.

Today was a pretty productive cooking day.  I made the salad in the title, some kale chips, and baked some bread (both of those posts to come).

My focus this year is to clean up my diet even more–I am eliminating all animal products except eggs for the time being.  I would really like to continue this for the year.  I have been doing a lot of reading on supplements, etc., so I will be getting enough vitamins and nutrients from the foods I will be eating.

Actually, what I am figuring out right now is that I might be able to push myself to be an even more creative cook, because cooking with more grains and alternatives might lend themselves to ideas from ideas from ideas…make sense?

Cooking meat is always so straightforward.  I mean, you have many methods available, but the bottom line is, it has to be cooked to a certain temperature, and it can’t really be used as multitudinously as grains or vegetables (my opinion, but maybe I am right).

Thus begins my ovo-vegetarian journey.

By the way, if there is a (V) by a recipe title, that means Vegan, and (OV) will be Ovo-vegetarian.

And now, the salad!

Garbanzo Bean Salad

2 cups garbanzo beans (I buy dried, soak, and cook them)

1/4 large red onion, finely diced

1/2 cucumber, finely diced

handful cilantro, finely diced

teaspoon cumin

teaspoon black pepper

teaspoon dill weed

salt to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4-1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (to taste, as well.  I like a lot of vinegar)

Optional topping: avocado slices

Honestly, there is nothing to this.  I just love garbanzo beans (chick peas to some of you:)).

Just throw it all in a bowl and let sit for a while to let the flavors marry.

Clearly, I need to go buy more cumin.

Clearly, I need to go buy more cumin.

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Ready to combine

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And, done.

Enjoy this.  It’s pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Sprouted Bean and Quinoa Patties

As I was reading through the quinoa recipes on one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks, I showed my sister (who I am visiting right now), who had a burst of cooking energy and the idea to add beans to these wonderful Quinoa Patties that Heidi makes.

So, we went ahead with it, but tweaking it slightly to create some of the most delicious vegetarian (we used eggs as a binder, so it was almost vegan) multi-bean and quinoa patties!

Here is what we started with:

photo (1)These came from Costco, but if you buy in bulk from a store like Sprouts (I do), you can use whatever you have at home.  The bean trio has lentils, mung beans, and adzuki, which was nice and easy.  And they have really good flavor just cooked and tossed with some fresh onion and other spices!  Anyway, here is the recipe:

Quinoa and Multi-Bean Patties

1 cup of dry quinoa

1 1/2 cups of bean mix

5-6 eggs (6 if they are on the smaller side)

2 cups of breadcrumbs (any kind you like)

1 teaspoon bakin powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin (or more if you have a cumin addiction like I do)

1 teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 large onion finely chopped

a couple (or four) garlic cloves finely chopped

2 kale leaves finely chopped (we both have a Pampered Chef hand chopper which makes things super tiny, and if you have kids around, they can help pound on it)

After cooking, allow beans and quinoa to cool, and place in large bowl.  Add everything else–this is very easy!

Combine with hands until you’ve got a slightly sticky mix.

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Here’s where we deviated a little further: we just fried them in some olive oil on the stovetop.

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And let me tell you, these were absolutely FANTASTIC.  We dipped them in a few sauces to see what tasted good: sweet chili sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup (kids’ favorite).  The chili sauce kind of gave it an asian-y flavor, and the BBQ was super good, too.  Try them with any of your favorite sauces!

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YUMS.

The BEST Stuffing EVER.

This is my mom’s recipe–it is seriously my favorite thing she makes for Thanksgiving.  I’m making it, too!  She came up with this about 30 years ago.  I am JUST NOW starting to see recipes for stuffing that includes most of these ingredients (namely the sausage and wild rice).  She is one of the reasons I am a good cook.

Ingredients:
One box of Mrs. Cubbison’s cornbread stuffing mix (Vons, Ralphs or Stater Bros should have this)
CAVEAT: you can make this with day old cornbread that you have made (that’s how I do it)–make your cornbread from scratch if you can using real cornmeal.  Make cornbread up to two days earlier, set it out on towels and break it up.  Leave it uncovered to get it stale.  If you do it this way, you will probably need a 9×13 size cornbread.  
IT IS TOTALLY FINE TO USE THE MIX, JUST DON’T GET THE CUBED CRAP.
One cup of cooked wild rice
1/2 pound sweet italian sausage removed from casing
1 small onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 med apple diced finely (green or yellow)
3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup slivered almonds
sage or thyme or poultry seasoning (not a lot)
black pepper
1 stick of butter
1 cup chicken broth (you may need a little more, so have a little extra on hand)
Cook your rice–you will probably only need a 1/2 cup to yield 1 cup+
While the rice is cooking, dice your onion, celery, apple, mushrooms
In a deep frying pan (the biggest one you have), over medium-high heat, melt the whole stick of butter, and add sausage (make sure to break it up so it’s in small pieces), celery, onion, apples, mushrooms.  Saute until sausage is cooked.
Add chicken broth to make sure all the good stuff on the bottom comes up.  TURN HEAT OFF.  Then add stuffing mix, rice, and almonds.  Add seasoning now, too.  You will not need salt for this recipe! Combine all until it is the consistency of slighty tacky meatball mix.  You don’t want it drippy, but it needs to be saturated.
Put in large baking dish, 9×13.  HERE’S the MOST IMPORTANT PART: crack and beat one egg in a small bowl, and add it to the baking dish, incorporating it with your hands.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until crispy and brown on top.
I think you will love it as much as I do:)

Radical Education

Yesterday, while on lunch duty with the K-3 crowd, I asked one student what she had for lunch.  Before she answered (this being a first grader, so you know the answer is never the FIRST thing they tell you), she proceded to let me know that the hot lunch was chicken nuggets.  The following conversation ensued:

Me: Don’t you like chicken nuggets.

Girl: Well, I do, but I don’t eat them.

Me: Why not?

Girl: They have nitrates.

Me: (Knowing this, of course) Do they?  What are nitrates?

Girl: They’re a chemical that’s in some meat.

Me: Did your mom tell you about this?

Girl: No, my dad did.  He’s pretty smart.

Me: I’ll say!

Personally, I don’t think she’s missing out on her childhood because she doesn’t eat chicken nuggets (I am guessing that’d be some people’s argument to this little story).  We never had the luxury of eating out while growing up, so my mom made everything we ate.

I know I didn’t miss out on my childhood because I didn’t have chicken nuggets.

Kids say the funniest things, don’t they?

Stop the Presses! I Used a Crockpot

Youguyssss…I am not a fan of the crockpot.  Why?  Because I CAN’T CONTROL IT.  But seriously, I love cooking, and that involves more than just ingredients.  It’s the process, the prep work, the timing, everything.  And, I fancy myself a really good cook.

But this post is to inform you that I, the only person I know who doesn’t own a crockpot, actually used one.

I put a beef loin in the crockpot.  Then I dumped (super appetizing word, huh?) a jar of peperoncinis in the crockpot. I turned it on, and walked away.

BUT I KEPT THINKING ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG.  Is that supposed to happen?  Because everyone I know who “cooks” in a crockpot says they just forget about the thing as they go about their day.

I actually made THREE trips home to check on it throughout the day.  Which, I suppose was totally unnecessary  but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt like I was cheating.  Cheating on my kitchen, my food, myself.

I was definitely having a hard time with this.

I mean it smelled good and all, but it always smells good in my house because I am always cooking.

Was I missing something about this so-called glorious cooking device?

The beef came out great–very tender, and a little spicy–and it made for some great sandwiches.  A little mustard, some onion, but I have to wonder, can I really say I cooked it?

It’ll be a while before I use that sucker again, methinks.

Fitness Fail–When a Favorite Exercise Just Doesn’t Work Anymore

I was thinking the other day about how much I used to run…at my peak, I was logging 35-40 miles per week.  I ran four half-marathons and one full marathon in just under 2 1/2 years.  Coupled with my 3-4 cycling classes, plus at least an hour of weightlifting a week, I was working out A LOT.  I loved it, but I was going pretty hard.

And then the knee pain started.

It didn’t go away.

So, in June of this year, I started something I thought I always despised (or, at least thought was not a real workout): yoga.  Hot yoga.  Everyday.  Sometimes twice a day.

Let me say this, I have more muscle mass, more LEAN muscle mass than before when I was running, cycling, and lifting like a crazy person.

I still go for occasional runs, but yoga has become the predominate form of exercise for me.  Also, at almost 33 years old, I just think my body wanted a change.  And, my yoga studio offers a multitude of classes–even one using lighter weights–that have just completely changed my body.

I am ten pounds over my weight from when I was running, etc., but I look and feel

better than I ever have.

I’ll take those ten pounds.