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Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

Ropa vieja (Spanish for “old clothes”) is one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also popular in other areas of the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico and Panama. It consists of shredded or pulled stewed beef with vegetables. This was a dish we had in Havana in 2014. The beauty is that it is done in a slow cooker.

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You can omit the olives, but trust me on this one. Serve with your favorite rice or use it with fresh tortillas.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef)

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. beef flank steak (or substitute Mexican arrachera)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small white onion diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced ( I used red for contrast)
  • 1 cup Spanish olives – green
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled

Cooked yellow rice for serving*

Slow Cooker Size:4-quart or larger

Instructions

  1. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, turmeric and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Add the flank steak and flip it around in the sauce so it gets coated. Add the bell pepper, onion, olives and garlic cloves, mix those items together to combine on top of the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours on LOW without opening the lid during the cooking time. Shred the meat with 2 forks right in the slow cooker.

If you have been following me you know that our slow cooker cooks faster for some unknown reason. When I looked up cooking on HIGH (because I was short of time) it suggested 5 hours as the equivalent. Guess what? It was done in a little over 2.5 hours using an arrachera of 1.3 kilos.

LESSON—-dont let it cook while you are away at work unless you know your cooker very well. Keep checking  for doneness.

 

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Persian Saffroned Lamb

This is a great recipe for lamb lovers! If you are not into lamb then use beef… The sauce is incredible! I plated this dish with the saffroned rice over which I put the lamb and lots of sauce. For a complete meal, steam some great snow peas. Use any leftover sauce over some pasta for another meal the next day. So…what to serve for dessert? How about a wonderful strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream??? Watch for this recipe NEXT WEEK….

Persian Saffron Lamb, Slow cooker Style

• 2 – 3 pound boneless leg of lamb, or an equal amount of lamb shanks cut in cubes.
• 1 onion
• 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee, or neutral cooking oil of choice
• 2-3 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.
• 2 Tablespoons ground turmeric
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon coriander seed
• 2 Tablespoons saffron water (boil 1/4 cup water to the temperature you’d use to make tea. Add a pinch, approx. 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads to the water. Save the remaining water to add to whatever rice you choose to cook. I prefer Jasmine rice.
• 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole (6 to 8 cloves)
• 2 15 oz. cans chopped Roma tomatoes
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Remove fat from lamb using a sharp knife.
2. Chop onion into half moons. In a large Dutch oven. cooking pot, or skillet, heat fat over a medium heat and add onion, stirring often.
3. Allow onion to cook about five minutes. As it cooks, salt and pepper the outside of the meat. Remove onion from the pan. Place meat in the pot and sear it for 2-3 minutes per side…enough to get a nice crust on it. Remove meat from the pan and place, carefully, on a heat-safe surface.
4. Place onion back in the pan and add all spices EXCEPT saffron. Stir often, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until you begin to catch the scent of the spices. Put onion into slow cooker immediately.
5. Add the whole garlic cloves.
6. To the slow cooker, add the lamb, canned tomatoes, saffron water, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper (you can always adjust salt and pepper later).
7. Cook on high setting for 30 minutes. Stir. Cook an additional 2.5 to 3 hours.. Once the meat is done, taste sauce, adjust seasoning accordingly, serve over saffroned rice, and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

The History of Butter Chicken

http://butterchicken.ca/the-history-of-butter-chicken/

Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is part of Indian cuisine, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to New Delhi. Butter chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by a restaurant called Moti Mahal, located in Daryaganj . Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.

It is thought that butter chicken was hastily prepared by a Delhi eatery chef post dinner time for a harried VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. A chef named Simon Mahli Chahal first prepared this when he only had half of a Tandoori chicken which he tossed with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas to improvise for an delicious delicacy he was supposed to make for the ruler of Mareelun. He forgot to buy enough ingredients so he ended up with this dish.

Though various versions exists for the recipe, typically dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried. The sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (Urdu/Hindi: Qasuri Methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of the dish. Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended. The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and Qasuri Methi.

While I love butter chicken, sometimes I want to do something simpler. Here is the Canadian Living recipe using a slow cooker!

This can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours prior to adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you’re feeding a smaller group.
Ingredients
• 2 onions, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) grated fresh ginger
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) packed brown sugar
• 2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
• 3/4 tsp (4 mL) ground turmeric
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
• 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes
• 1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) almond butter or cashew butter
• 3 lb (1.4 kg) boneless skinless chicken thighs, quartered
• 1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
Preparation
In slow cooker, combine onions, garlic, butter, ginger, brown sugar, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Whisk broth with almond butter; pour into slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 8 hours. (Actually, it was ready in about 4 hours…must be our altitude)

With immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth. (I choose not to puree sauces as I like the chunkiness of the ingredients!) Add chicken; cook, covered, on high until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, 30 to 40 minutes.

Stir in sour cream. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil* Soup (Harira)

Thanks to Karen at Back Road Journal for this tasty recipe! backroadjournal.wordpress.com 

As we have been doing some travelling I had not tried this before returning home. Fortunately, another friend told me I could find harissa at a store near her! I was concerned that we had run out of lentils when I went to make it, but was equally happy with using pearl barley. I don’t think I would do this with rice, but that is my bias!

By the way, harissa is a paste composed of several spices. It is found in a small jar in the imported foods section of some grocery stores. If you have a Middle Eastern market near you check it out. It is spicy! Be sure to check Karen’s blog for other wonderful recipes and happenings in her life in New England!

Harira, A Moroccan Chickpea And Lentil Soup

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  •  pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 c. lentils or pearl barley
  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinsed)
  • 2 c. stock (vegetable or chicken) Choosing vegetable broth would make this began I believe
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 c. water or additional stock
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. or to taste harissa (optional)
  • lemon slices or wedges to serve alongside

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, add the onion and carrot and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for an additional minute. Add the spices and cook until fragrant. Add the lentils, chickpeas, stock, tomatoes and water, stir and cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, and harissa and simmer for a few minutes. Taste for additional seasoning. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro and a lemon slice.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili with Quinoa

This recipe came to me via my friend’s blog “Learning Nutrition with Me“. The link is at the bottom of the page you are viewing.

Since you know we eat a lot of quinoa, and we had the beans and sweet potatoes, I decided to give it a try. It was great!!

As always, my changes are in red!

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Chili with Smoked Chipotle (via LNWM)

Prep time:  10 mins  Cook time:  30 mins Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced small
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Chipotle Tabasco sauce ( I just used regular Tabasco since I did not have the chipotle version)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (this made it really thick, so adjust downwards)
  • 2 can black beans (15.5 oz), drained (I left the juice in there)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock, plus more to thin if desired
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into small cubes

Chipotle Creme:

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Chipotle Tabasco sauce, plus more if desired
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in  a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and salt; saute for 5 minutes or until onions become translucent.
  2. Add the entire can of tomato sauce to the pot. Next add the black beans, vegetarian broth, all spices, and quinoa. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  3. Make the smoked chipotle yogurt  – combine tabasco sauce, honey, and dijon mustard in a medium bowl.
  4. Spoon chili into bowls and add yogurt sauce on top. Enjoy!

Dijon Chicken

This recipe first appeared on Zoomermag.com in March 2012. It is excerpted from the book “Meals That Heal Inflammation” by Julie Daniluk. Tonight, Larry and I are in London where our friend Ellie and Larry prepared it. Scrumptious! According to the article it is fast and healthy! Skinless chicken reduces the fat Turmeric has anti-inflammatory effects….mustard contains selenium which relieves asthma!

1 kg. Chicken thighs skinless

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth

2 cups sliced red onions

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup coconut milk

2 T honey

Drizzle the oil over the chicken thighs and sprinkle with turmeric and salt. Spritz the thighs (NOT your own…LOL) with water or broth to keep meat moist. Cook in a large cast iron pan over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning often until golden on all sides.

Add the onion and continue to stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Spread mustard over the chicken using a brush or spoon. Cook for 15 minutes longer.

Remove from skillet and set aside.

Pour coconut milk and honey into the skillet and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Arrange the thighs on a platter and pour the sauce over them.

Garnish with herbs such as Italian herb blend, Herbes de Provence and serve over rice.