Monday, March 11, 2013

Chicken in Honey Sauce

I've been pretty busy finishing up fellowship and grant applications and actually finding time to work on my dissertation, so my blogging has been set aside a bit. Since this week is spring break, I thought I'd take this time to catch up a little bit.

About a year ago (7 March 2012), I made this really easy "Chicken in Honey Sauce" from the Crock Pot Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes Cookbook. I love really quick and easy recipes for the crock pot because I generally don't have much time in the morning if I'm going to school so something I can just throw together is key. This is that type of recipe. You put chicken breasts (boneless, skinless) into the crock pit and season with some salt and pepper.

Then you mix together honey, soy sauce, ketchup, oil, and garlic and pour it over the chicken. That's everything in terms of prep. It cooks on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Another thing about this recipe is that it doesn't have anything that will go bad or you can't freeze beforehand, so if it turns out you're not going to make it the week you buy the ingredients, that's ok. I actually got most of the ingredients for this mid-February 2012, but didn't make it until March. And I know the date that I made it because I have the receipt from when I noticed that I didn't have enough honey and had to run out that morning to get some.

This is what it looked like before turning it on.

And this is what it looked like when it was done cooking.

I copied the picture in the cookbook and served it with a vegetable and rice (though not the vegetable or rice in the picture. The cookbook recommends that you "garnish with sesame seeds before serving," but not having sesame seeds on hand and not wanting to buy some just to garnish this dish, I left that step out. Now, as you can see from the picture from the cookbook (below), mine looks nothing like the chicken that they picture in the cookbook. This is another reason why I think that the food that they use in their images wasn't actually cooked in a crock pot.

Now, this dish seems like it's high calorie, but it's mostly because of the ingredients in the sauce, and you don't eat all the sauce. But, not taking that into account, if you have one breast per serving like the book suggests, it comes out to 611 calories per serving. Of course, you can load your plate up on veggies and have only half a breast, like I did, and it would be only 305 calories per serving. In terms of cost, this is great for stretching your stipend. If you have only half a breast per serving, you end up only paying $2.58 per serving ($5.16 if you have a whole breast) and you have more than enough food to last you into the following week. Of course, I didn't have to buy everything for this, so I paid $1.85 per serving for the half-breast size serving and $3.70 per serving for the whole-breast size serving. So this is good for stretching your stipend and it's really good too. I noted in the cookbook that it was "very tasty" and that my husband gave it an "A-."  Not an A, but still pretty good.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew

I'm posting another old recipe today, from the Crock Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes Cookbook.  On October 4, 2011, I made the Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew recipe. When I think about stew, I always think of my mother's beef stew, but this is an interesting alternative.

It's also really easy to make because you just throw everything together into the crock pot.  The only thing then that takes time is cutting everything into cubes for the stew: boneless, skinless chicken breasts, peeled sweet potatoes, peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, and carrots.

You also add a large can of whole stewed tomatoes (undrained), spices (salt, paprika, celery seeds, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg), and fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth. I didn't add the salt, as usual. You mix it all together and then cook it, either on low for six to eight hours or on high for three to four hours.

This is what it looks like before turning it on.

And this is what it looks like after cooking.

The recipe suggests that you serve it sprinkled with chopped fresh basil, but I skipped this -- not on purpose actually, I just fotgot.  So I just served the stew with a salad, which made a perfect meal. It actually came out not that unlike the picture in the cookbook, as you can see by comparing it with the picture below. The recipe makes about six servings, which makes it only about 207 calories per serving. With a salad, the meal is only around 350 calories. Thus, you could easily add some bread or something to make it more substantial -- or have seconds.

It's also pretty cheap to make, which is awesome for the grad student budget -- especially for 2011 when my husband and I were both in school. If you had to purchase everything, it would only be about $5.33 per serving.  Of course, I already had some of the spices, so I only spent about $3.85 per serving. And this was really good! As I mentioned at the beginning, this was a yummy alternative to the standard beef stew. I highly recommend it: it's tasty, cheap, and super easy to make.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Three-Bean Turkey Chili

This is another post of some of my old recipes, from November 3, 2011. I still cannot find my charger for my camera and there are a ton of more recent pictures on there. Alas.

So, I love making chili in the crock pot because it's basically what it was designed to do -- I mean, you can cook anything in a crock pot, but soups, stews, and chilies definitely come out the best. This Three-Bean Turkey Chili is from the Crock Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes cookbook. This might actually be the first recipe I'm posting from there! The cookbook is good, but there are definitely some overlaps with the Crock Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook.

This is amazingly easy. Basically, you brown ground turkey and chopped onion on the stove and then put it into the crock pot after draining off the fat. Then you add everything else: diced tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce, diced green chilies, and chili powder. What makes this super easy, is that all those ingredients are canned, leaving only the ground turkey and onion for the cook to prepare. Anyway,  you stir everything together, then cook it on high for 6 to 8 hours.

This is what it looked like before turning it on.

This is what it looked like when it was finished cooking.

You definitely want to stir the chili when it's done before serving.

Now, while the chili was cooking, I made cornbread from a Trader Joe's mix and I ended up serving the chili with cornbread and a salad. Great meal. Of course, the cornbread doubles the amount of calories in the meal, but it was so yummy! I wrote in my cookbook that this was a "really good, solid chili" and to "serve with cornbread."

So the recipe says that it makes 6 to 8 servings. For 8 servings, then, the calorie count for the chili alone is 285. Since a serving of the cornbread is 290 calories, that makes the total, including salad, about 725 calories. Not bad. For 6 servings, you have 380 calories for the chili alone and 820 for the whole meal. Without the cornbread, this is pretty low-calorie chili.

I chose to make this because I already had black beans, chickpeas, ground turkey, and chili powder on hand. Thus, for 8 servings I would have only paid $1.09 per serving, and that includes the cornbread! For 6 servings it's not much more: $1.45 per serving. Of course, if you had to get everything, it'd be $2.52 per serving for 8 servings and $3.35 per serving for 6. (Without the cornbread, it'd be $2.18 per serving for 8 servings and $2.91 per serving for 6.) Of course, and I can't believe that I haven't said this on the blog yet, but YMMV depending on what part of the country you live in -- food could be more or less expensive there. Regardless, with this chili you can have a nice, healthy meal for less than $5 per serving!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Traditional Chicken Curry

The last semester was really hectic for me with teaching for the first time and applying for dissertation fellowships and this blog has clearly reflected that, in that I didn't have any time to update. But this upcoming semester should be a lot calmer, so I'm going to try to be a little more consistent with updating and plan to do so about twice a month, around the 1st and the 15th of every month. This gives me a little more leeway than trying to update every other weekend.

So I made this Traditional Chicken Curry from the Indian Slow Cooker cookbook over a year ago (on 28 September 2011), but I can't update with anything I've made more recently because I can't seem to find the charger for my digital camera and all the photos that I have on there are stuck there for now. I'll keep looking... I'm sure I put it somewhere after my France trip and I'm pretty sure that I didn't leave it in Paris... (For my vegetarian friends, I just noticed that the same author now has a Vegan Indian Cooking cookbook, that apparently has both slow cooker and stove-top recipes.)

This is a pretty simple recipe, but you need a food processor for it. I was able to use the "food processor"-type attachment for my immersion blender which was effective, but it's not great for these things, especially because of the size. My parents got me an 11-cup food processor for Christmas, so from now on I'll be able to use that for these types of things. So first, you mix onion, tomato, ginger root, and garlic in the food processor until it comes out smooth. Now, I didn't have the exact amount of ginger for this that the recipe called for, so I added some dried ginger as well, approximately according to this substitution policy. Would it have tasted different if I had used all fresh ginger? Perhaps, but this recipe worked with a mix of fresh and dried.

After you have a paste, you add salt (though, knowing me, I probably left out the salt), turmeric, garam masla, vegetable or canola oil, plain yogurt, red chile powder, and dried methi leaves. I got the methi leaves from (this is the kind I purchased, but I would have gotten ones that were Prime eligible, so I didn't get these exact ones).

This paste gets poured over chicken in the slow cooker. Now, the recipe calls for "3 pounds (1.36 kg) skinless whole chicken, cut in about 8 pieces including the breast, legs, and wings (boneless can also be used)." As people who have followed this blog can guess, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

To this, you add a cinnamon stick, green cardamom pods, whole cloves, and halved green chiles. I also got the cardamom pods from Then you cook it on low for 8 hours.

This is what it looked like before I turned it on.

And this is what it looked like after cooking for 8 hours.

An optional step is to add 1/2 cup boiling water toward the end of the cooking time if you like your dish with more broth.  I did not do this. The recipe suggests serving this "over a bed of basmati or brown rice or with roti or naan." As you can see from the pictures, I served it over basmati rice with a salad.

Now, since this was so long ago, I don't remember how many servings I got out of this, but the cookbook says you get 6-8 servings. I imagine that a lot of this depends on how many pieces of chicken you end up with. In terms of calories, this is a pretty substantial meal, especially if you only end up with 6 servings. Not counting the rice, I calculated that this is about 380 calories for 8 servings and 510 for 6. With the rice, that ends up around 530 to 660 for the meal, not counting the salad which, with dressing, can bring your total up to over 700 or 800 calories -- a full mean for someone my size and even substantial enough for my husband (though I'm sure he went back for seconds).

Cost-wise, this is still under $10/serving if you have to buy everything. I calculated based on my purchases around $5.81/serving for 8 servings and $7.74/serving for 6. I had to get most of the ingredients for this recipe, though I already had turmeric and garam masala from the Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes I had made over the summer (and the vegetable oil, of course). So I spent around $4.64/serving for 8 servings and $6.19/serving for 6. You could eat this meal for 3-4 days of a week and have spent under $50 total for your dinners for that week. Pretty good for those of us still on a graduate student's budget.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Red Beans and Greens

At the end of last February, I made another vegetarian dish from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook: Red Beans and Greens. Even though I've noted several times that this cookbook has helpful suggestions on the side about which tell you which steps you can do ahead of time, since last year when I was only working on my dissertation prospectus and often not going to campus at all I just made the whole thing in the morning.

In this case, though, because the beans needed to soak overnight, I followed their suggestions and made part of it the night before and stuck it in the fridge so I could just quickly throw everything together thing the morning and just turn on the crock pot.

In this case, I cooked onions and celery in a skillet with some oil until they were soft, then added minced garlic, oregano, salt (except I skipped the salt), pepper, thyme, allspice, and bay leaves. After that cooked for about a minute, I added some of the broth and then put everything in a plastic container in the fridge for the night.

The next morning when I got up, all I had to do was add the mixture from the fridge, the beans, and some more broth.  It cooks on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours, so I turned it on low and went off to campus.

When I returned from school in the evening, I cooked the greens, steaming them until they were cooked, then tossing them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper.

This is what the beans looked like when they were done cooking,
before adding anything else.

After cooking the greens, I made a mixture of paprika dissolved in boiling water that I stirred into the bean mixture and took out the bay leaves. Then I added the greens to the mixture, and ate!

This was really good and I noted on the recipe that I served it with rice. The recipe says that you should get 8 servings out of it, but I actually think I got less, maybe about 6, because even though the recipe doesn't say it, I think the author intended this to be a side dish. Regardless, it was really good and I would definitely make this again. And, if you compare the picture below, the picture almost actually looks like what I made (theirs is just less liquidy)!

So, if you had served this as a side dish, it would be 174 calories per serving for the 8 servings. However as I served it, it was 232 calories per serving plus the rice, so about 382 calories. That plus a salad is a reasonable meal for me.  It might not be for my husband, but for me that's fine. Now, I should note that I didn't use the full amount of greens that the recipe calls for, just what I had in my produce delivery, but I calculated the calories based on the recipe, not what I actually did. Now, for a side dish, this ends up being pretty pricey! $5.70 per serving for everything (but a more reasonable $2.38 per serving as I made it). Of course, if you get fewer servings out of the recipe, serving it as a main course instead, the price jumps to $7.84 per serving if you have to get everything. Of course, since I had many of the items on hand, it was only $3.17 per serving for me -- basically, I ended up getting a whole week's worth of dinners for around $20 -- and that will really stretch your stipend.