Monday, 19 May 2014

Sweet Asian Chicken

UntitledMr Teenager was still at home, sick, on Thursday. So, his dad decided to work from home that day, to keep an eye on him. We had already decided to try this recipe for Sweet Asian Chicken, from the Skinny Slow Cooker Recipe Book, which doesn't take too long to cook, so it was good that Hubby was there to monitor it. In fact, Hubby prepared the whole thing, from start to finish.


This didn't take much preparation, apart from chopping meat and vegetables, and it was all done on Wednesday evening. To serve 4 people, we used just 3 large chicken breasts, which were cut into pieces. Into the crock pot went the chicken pieces, along with: 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 onion, chopped; 1/4 cup honey; 2tbsp tomator puree; 4 tbsp soy sauce; 2 carrots, cut into batons; some crushed chilli; 1 cup orange juice; and 1tsp cornflour mixed with a little water.

Next day, the crock pot was switched on to LOW and left for about 6 hours. At the end, we cooked some plain noodles - one of the children's favourites.

The Result

This was a tasty dish with some good flavours. The chicken was well cooked. There was plenty of sauce, which went quite well with the noodles. The carrots were a little too soft, but not mushy. This fed the family of 4 people quite comfortably, with no leftovers.

The Verdict

Usually Ms Fussy Eater likes Oyster Sauce with her noodles, and we often just pick out the bits of chicken and carrots that she will eat. This time, to our dismay, we found we had run out of Oyster Sauce, so she had to go without. We didn't give her too much of the juice, just plenty of chicken and carrot, but the flavour was not disguised the way it usually is. To our surprise, Ms Fussy Eater admitted to quite liking the sauce. Success!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Italian Pork Chops

The last time I cooked pork chops in the slow cooker, it was a huge success. I'm sorta surprised that I haven't cooked them since. This week was a good opportunity. As I said in my last post, it was a busy, busy week, when I felt that I was constantly trying to catch up with myself. To complicate matters, Mr Teenager came down with a bad cold on Wednesday morning, probably after the very wet Car Boot Sale, and had to stay at home from school. While I couldn't be with him all day, I went to work later than usual, and left earlier to work from home. This gave me plenty of opportunity to ensure that the Italian Pork Chop recipe, again from Slow Cooking Properly Explained, was cooking for just the right amount of time.


On Tuesday evening, we got together the ingredients and assembled them in the crock pot. I trimmed the fat from the chops (I used 5 nice thick ones) and browned them quickly on both sides in a non-stick pan.

Into the bottom of the pot went: 1 onion, chopped; and one red pepper, chopped. The recipe actually called for a green pepper, but I prefer the flavour of red. The chops went in on top of the onion and pepper.

Then we added: 2 courgettes, sliced; 6 tomatoes, skins removed and chopped; 4 green olives, sliced; 1tsp dried oregano; 1 tbsp red wine vinegar; one chicken stock cube, and a splash of water.

Next morning, I remembered to turn the crock pot on LOW, and left it for about 6 hours. Initially I was going to serve this with rice, but at the last minute I cooked up some wholewheat pasta. It was a good accompaniment.

The Result

The large amount of courgette in the dish meant that the sauce was copious and quite thin. I think next time I'll use less courgette. Otherwise, the flavour was lovely, and the meat was beautifully tender, almost falling apart. Eating it with the pasta worked very well. Mr Teenager, despite his bad cold, coated his dinner with an avalanche of parmesan, and then ate up everything on his plate.

There was lots of sauce, too much for 4 people. Again, we had leftovers, which hubby will take for lunch at work.

The Verdict

This was a good family dish, and very easy to prepare. Even Ms Fussy Eater finished her meal, although she was not given any courgette on her plate. There were no complaints, and Mr Teenager gave it a thumbs up.

So - another successful pork chop recipe for the collection.

Beef in Red Wine

UntitledThis last week was a busy one. At the weekend, we had lots of activity, including the Car Boot Sale at Mr Teenager's School, so I spent lots of time last Saturday baking for the cake stand. The weather on Sunday was atrocious and we spent about 5 hours standing outside in the wind and the rain (and cold) raising funds for the school. On Sunday afternoon, after we came home, we lit a fire and I fell asleep on the sofa. I don't think I quite recovered all week.

On Monday I had a big day at work, with a visitor coming from the UK to give a seminar, which was to be streamed and recorded. No pressure! I though it would be nice to invite my visitor and her husband to dinner on Monday evening. So, we chose this recipe for Beef in Red Wine from the Slow Cooking Properly Explained recipe book.

We did all the preparation on Sunday evening, after I had roused myself from the sofa, and let the crock pot overnight in the fridge. On Monday morning, I got the slow cooker all set up. The recipe said to cook the casserole on LOW for up to 10 hours, so I knew I could safely leave it all day.

After the seminar, while I was having coffee with my guest at about 3pm, she casually asked what was on the menu that evening. It was at that point that I suddenly had the horrible realisation that I had forgotten to switch the slow cooker on! Panic stations! I phoned my neighbour, who very kindly let herself into the house and turned the crock pot on. At that stage it was too late to give it the long, slow cooking that it needed and instead I had to cook it on HIGH for a much shorter amount of time. All the same, when I got home shortly after 6pm, I was hugely relieved to smell the wonderful aroma of garlic, thyme and red wine cooking together.

In total, the casserole had about 4 hours of cooking on HIGH. I suspect that the dish would have been even nicer if it had cooked longer and slower, but I have to admit that it was pretty good. We served the beef in red wine with brown rice, but I think it would also go very well with some mashed potato.


On Sunday night we cut about 750g of round steak into cubes. We fried 1 onion, chopped finely, in a little olive oil, until browned, then added the beef. Once the meat was browned on all sides, it went into the crock pot with the onion. To this we added: 12 black olives; 1 garlic clove, crushed; 5 large tomatoes, skinned and with seeds removed; 150g button mushrooms; 300ml red wine; 1tsp dried thyme.

This was cooked on Monday for about 4 hours on the HIGH setting - but see above.

The Result

When I got home, the aroma from the pot was just wonderful. The sauce of the casserole  looked quite thin, though, so I added 1tsp cornflour mixed with a little water. Once served, the rice soaked up a lot of the juice anyway.

There were 5 of us for dinner, Ms Fussy Eater was out at her gymnastics class. There was plenty for everybody, with enough left over to make a generous lunch for hubby next day.

The Verdict

Well, our guests seemed to enjoy it, and all the plates were cleaned. I'd like to try this recipe again, with a longer, slower cooking. I think the meat wasn't as tender as it could have been.

I didn't get a picture of the dinner, so please enjoy a photo from the Car Boot Sale instead.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Shredded beef tacos

It's been a little while since I last posted on this blog. I was travelling last week and my mother-in-law came to visit, so the crock pot stayed in the cupboard. I do love my MiL, and I appreciate all she does for us, but when I come home I find all sorts of strange things in my fridge and on my pantry shelves. It takes me a couple of days to get everything straightened out the way I like it.

Shredded beef tacosJust before I went away, we made this recipe for Shredded Beef Tacos, from the Australian Women's Weekly easy slow cooking book. I had a nice piece of round steak and considered making a stew, but the weather was getting warmer and the children like the notion of assembling their tacos at the table, so I went with this instead.


I was off work, so didn't need to get prepared the night before. Instead, on the day, I assembled everything in the crock pot. First I mixed together 1/4 tsp chilli powder and 1tsp each of ground cumin, ground coriander and paprika, and then rubbed this all over the beef (about 2 lbs of good quality round steak). I put this into the crock pot and added: a beef stock cube; 2tbsp sundried tomato paste; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; and half a cup of water. This was cooked, on the low setting, for about 7 hours.

When cooked, I took the beef out of the pot and shredded it roughly, using two forks. The shredded meat went back into the sauce.

The Result

We served the shredded beef with flour tortillas and an assortment of sides: shredded lettuce, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, grated cheese. Each person assesmbled their own tacos according to their own tastes. For Ms Fussy Eater, this means nothing except beef, and very little sauce. For Mr Teenager, large helpings of grated cheese are involved.

The beef was delicious, in quite a spicey sauce. The original recipe calls for a sliced red chilli, which I didn't add. I'm quite pleased because I don't think Ms Fussy Eater would have been able for any further heat. There was a lot of shredded beef, probably enough for at least six people. We had our fill and there were leftovers which went into sandwiches during the next few days.

The photo was taken after we had eaten our dinner, so it depicts just the leftovers!

The Verdict

Ms Fussy Eater enjoyed her two tacos, even without anything more than the shredded meat in them. Mr Teenager declared the whole thing to be delicious.

I would certainly make this again, perhaps even adding the extra chilli.