Slow Cooking Sunday – Squash, Sweet Potato and Harissa Soup

Before I start this post, I would like to say that I am available to hire for food styling and food photography. Look at my mad skillz below! So much effort with the sprig of parsley, eh!

Wow, its been a while since I last posted a slow cooker recipe. I still use my slow cooker regularly, I just don’t bother to photograph and blog the meals. Plus most meals are unphotogenic slop.

I bought this book for cheaps recently, and it has some great soup recipes in it. Here is my recipe for a tasty soup which I have slightly adapted from a recipe published in it.soupySquash, Sweet Potato and Harissa Soup

Ingredients
1 chopped onion
1 chopped stick of celery
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 teaspoons of harissa paste (depending on how spicy you like things!)
Around half a large squash
2-3 sweet potatoes
1 chopped carrot
700ml-1 litre vegetable stock (I used boullion powder)

Method
Put all the ingredients into your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
Once cooked blend with a hand blender until smooth and serve.
Serves 4-6
soupy soupy

Slow Cooking Sunday – Falafel

Wow its been a while since I published a Slow Cooking Sunday post on here!

My reason is – I just kind of got bored of slow cooker meals, because they all kind of taste the same and are all kind of on the runny side.

While we are on the subject of samey meals, check out my pinterest account if you please (I deleted my old account, then recently decided to rejoin it). I basically pinned a board of the same recipe over and over again, containing chicken thighs, soy sauce and sugar. Which is also not very healthy. You can follow me if you fancy it!

Last Thursday I was in the mood for falafel, and I had been wanting to try out this recipe I saw on the Crockpot lady’s blog for a long time. I just wanted to see for myself if it would work. Its one of those things you don’t really believe can happen until you see it with your own eyes. Can the appliance famous for making watery, sloppy stews really produce crunchy falafel balls?

The answer is yes it can. I don’t know how, as it was really steamy in there. But it did. I cant explain the science behind it, but my guess is that I turned my slow cooker into one of those healthy fryer gadget things………that took four hours to cook falafel……….hmm, maybe not!

Well anyway, they were delicious. I used this recipe from here, but using chickpea flour and some frozen coriander (all I had to hand, my local Morrisons let me down it had no fresh parsley!) and garlic powder instead of a clove of the fresh stuff.

I forgot to take a picture of my ingredients, and I am afraid you will have to take my word for it that these were yummy. You know how with some food blogs the photo’s have you salivating? It’s called food porn. My photo’s below are the opposite. More food mourn if you will!

The balls pre cooking.ballsThe balls after cooking. I left them for four hours on high, they were slightly dry, I recommend doing them for less time and don’t do what I did (that’s go out), keep an eye on them.nibbled ballsIts weird. My slow cooker seems to have a cooking blind spot as one of the falafel balls was not done on the bottom. Strange.
odd ballFalafel pitta. Yummy! They would have been amazing with some cucumber yogurt dressing. I just could not be bothered to make any.

pitta

Slow Cooking Sunday – Meatballs

I have been wanting to try out making meatballs in my slowcooker for a while. A few weeks ago I finally got round to trying it out.

My verdict? They were OK. Well, the meatballs were fine, but the sauce was very thin and runny. Next time I will try using a tin of tomatoes instead of passata, to see if it makes any difference with the consistency of the sauce.

Whats that I hear you say? Did it make things any easier by making meatballs in a slow cooker? Well not really, as it is a little time consuming and fiddly preparing the meatballs. So after going to all that bother you may as well cook them on the stove top and have dinner ready 20-30 odd minutes later…

But the beauty of using a slowcooker for this meal, is as always, that once you have done the prep work and bunged everything in the slow cooker and switched it on (very important – do not forget that part!) You can then go about your day with the knowledge that your dinner dilemma is solved for the evening. So for that reason I would make this meal again. It’s perfect for, say – if I was working in the afternoon only (which I do on a Thursday) and I want my dinner ready and waiting when I get home.

Ingredients
750g Mince (I used pork)
Handful of parsley chopped
Few basil leaves chopped
1 egg
1 slice of slightly stale bread whizzed into breadcrumbs
Half tsp black pepper
As much grated parmesan as you want
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic granules
1 carton passata
1 dried bay leave
1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Directions
With the first nine ingredients – put them all in a bowl and mix together then shape into ping-pong or golf sized balls. Put them straight into your slow cooker bowl (raw!) and pour tomatoes (passata, tinned, a jar of spaghetti sauce what ever is your preference) over them. Add the bay leaf and vinegar if you fancy doing so. Then cook on high for 4-6 odd hours or low 6-8 odd hours depending on your quantities and fierceness of your slow cooker.

Sorry about my great big whooping shadow on the plate! What can I say, I was hungry so took a very quick picture!

This meal serves 3-4 people. Rob had the left overs the next day as I was out and left him them to fend for his self with. He added some cornflour to the sauce to thicken it when he reheated them on the stove and said they were very nice. Job done!

Slow Cooking Sunday – Stuffed Peppers

This is just a quick post put together from a few photos of a meal I cooked earlier this week. Im currently hanging like a bat in a cave after a weekend away camping at the Kent VW show. Living with a VW nut I get dragged along to these things from time to time, and at these events there is no much to do apart from sit around drinking all day.

I know, it is tough for me but sometimes you have to make these sacrifices. I did not take any pictures, so I cannot write up a review on here. If you wish to learn more about the VW scene here is a great post which I starred in my google reader written by the wonderful Vintage Vixen. Oh, and I was dancing to the Birdy Song at three in the afternoon in a field. What? All the hipsters do it, don’t you know!

Back to the food, the slow cooked food no less. I took a recipe for roasted Moroccan Peppers from a book I bought at The Works for £2.50 to base mine on. I have just listed some of ingredients I used and left it up to you to decide how much you wish to add of each. This is such an easy recipe to adapt and could be made with quinoa or bulgar wheat or with feta cheese or with what ever you fancy/have in your cupboard.

Ingredients
2 peppers
cous cous (sorry I did not weigh it, I judged by eye how much I would need for 2 people, maybe google will be more helpful than me?)
1 tsp harissa paste or to taste
juice of 1 lemon
sultanas
sunflower seeds
half a ball of mozzarella (save the rest for homemade pizzas – yum)
spinach

before cooking

Directions
Slice peppers in half and discard seeds and pif.
Boil kettle add water needed to cous cous according to the instructions on the pack.
Mix in harissa paste, lemon juice and whatever else you fancy. I added some spinach as I love my leafy greens, but in hindsight maybe I should have wilted it first in a frying pan or added into the cous cous at the boiling water stage. You live and learn.
Stuff peppers with cous cous mix then layer the cheese slices on top of them and place into slow cooker and cook on high for around 2-4 hours. (I did around 3 hours so the cheese had melted and the peppers were lovely and juicy)
Serve and enjoy!

after cooking

plated up

Slow Cooking Sunday – Ham In Coke

Right, this recipe is as simple as they come. It uses just two ingredients to produce some slightly odd but very tasty results, so I am told.

In our house I make this as sandwich meat for Rob’s packed lunches, it’s more economical than buying packs of sweaty wafer thin ham or at least it would be if I could stop Rob from helping himself to thick slices cut straight from the fridge as a snack!

If you use a search engine to look up recipes for slow cooker ham in coke, you will see a lot of recipes that say rub this in, then finish in the oven, boil down the juices etc, which I am sure all taste great. But I don’t see the point of using the slow cooker if it is just for one stage of the cooking process and will create more washing up. Basically I have adapted this recipe to the easiest possible method/lazy girls way!

Ingredients

A cut of ham or gammon, make it a unsmoked one
A bottle of coke, make it a full fat one. The sweeteners in diet drinks will not work.

Directions

Unwrap the meat, put it into the slow cooker.
Pour the coke into your slow cooker until your meat is fully covered.
Drink the rest of the coke.
Switch slow cooker on to low then cook for 8hours minimum. NB I tend to cook this overnight. This time I forgot to set my alarm properly, so it ended up cooking for nearly twelve hours, but it was fine. The only problem was that it tasted slightly of cheap coke, so I would recommend to not be a cheap skate like me and buy the branded stuff that a jolly father xmas drinks or otherwise know as the devils teat juice.
Pour away your cooking juices and leave to cool and slice.

Its hard to make a photo of a lump of meat look appealing!

I apologise to any veggies out there for the gratuitous meat shots!

Yeah, you have probably gathered that I do not eat this, I make it out of love for Rob as boiled bacon is one of his fave things, but I do not want to stink out the whole house making it. I have also made this with Dr Pepper (verdict – v.good) and have been asked to try it next with Cherry Coke. This ham could also be made with ginger ale, lemonade or just plain water!

Slow Cooking Sunday – Maple Mustard Chicken

This is a lovely and very easy recipe that I found here, when I was searching for something completely different, but it was a lucky find.

I love slow cooker recipes that have very few ingredients. The fewer the better I say! This one has just four, but it could really have just two. I did not think the paprika added anything to it, and the black pepper you could skip and just put a grinder on the table to add later. In fact Rob did do just that, as I could not be bothered to tell him I had already added pepper to the chicken!

Ingredients
6 chicken thighs (not pictured as they are pugly) I used thighs with skin and bones but took the skin off them.
3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
1.5 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
A sprinkle of paprika
A shake of black pepper

Directions
Put the chicken in the slow cooker bowl. Mix maple syrup and mustard in another bowl, then pour on chicken. Add the paprika and pepper if you want to, but its not essential.
Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low, depending on how fierce your slow cooker is.

Terrible photo, sorry peeps.

Well this was very simple and tasty. Its a keeper that’s for sure.

Top tip, if you have a slow cooker get yourself one of these. I got mine for three pound in Morrison’s BTW. Rob likes a bit of sauce (ooh matron!) with his food, so in order to serve the cooking liquor/gravy, a stainer is invaluable as chicken thighs are fatty little so and so’s.

Even if you remove the skins like I did, you will still get a lot of grease in your sauce during the cooking process. So your arteries will thank you for buying the jug.

Slow Cooking Sunday – Cajan Stew

Its a cajun dance party – not yuck! It also turns out that I don’t listen to my own advice! I said yesterday that its probably best to follow a tried and tested recipe rather than improvising when it comes to using a slow cooker.

Today I Ignored that and just made it up as I was going along! I decided I would like to make a cajun type stew/jambalaya type thing. So I gathered what ingredients I could find together and bunged them all into my slow cooker and hoped for the best. It turned out alright! So I can hold my head high and share the recipe here with you.

Slow Cooker Cajun Stew

serves 4

Ingredients
• One smoked sausage
• One onion
• One tin of sweetcorn
• One tin of tomatoes
• 2 tsp Cajun spice mix and any other spices or herbs you fancy. I added a little dried thyme & oregano (not pictured) and a few turns of this chili and garlic grinder I picked up in Poundland.
• Some chicken stock (not pictured). I did not use a measuring jug, but I’d hazard a guess and say I added about half a cup. Go easy on liquids with slow cookers, they are not your friend. Nothing will thicken up in them, and you don’t want dinner to be too watery.
• About a quarter of a bag of frozen sliced peppers (not pictured).

Directions
Chop sausage and onion. Open cans, add it all to your slow cooker bowl with the spices. Mix it. Switch on and cook. Easy!
I cooked mine on high for around three and a half hours, but on the slow setting I guess it would take around 7 hours.
The beauty of this meal is that there is no raw meat, the sausage is already cooked. So its only the onion that needs to be cooked. It is just a case of letting all the flavours meld together.
When you have judged your onion to be cooked, serve it with rice. I served mine with some quinoa (ooh get me! Yep I read far too many food blogs!) as I have a shed load of it about to go off soon.

Top tip – slow cookers are great for when your other half goes out and does not tell you what time they will be home. You can just keep dinner cooking until they finally show their sorry ass, and it wont be overcooked. (Unless they are really, really late. Then you throw dinner in the bin.)

Slow Cooking Sunday (On A Saturday!)

 I have owned a slow cooker for a few years now. I purchased one after years of my mum telling me how handy they are etc. Apparently I could come home from work to a waiting cooked meal! So I caved in and bought one (also after finding this blog many moons ago I must admit!) but the so called time saving device did not really fit in with my lifestyle and working hours.

I used to wake up at 6.15am-ish then catch my bus to work at around 7.35am-ish, in order to start work at 8.30am. Then get home each night at around 6.30 – 6.45pm. Meaning I was out the house for nearly 12 hours, when most slow cooker recipe cooking times are for around 6 – 8 hours. Plus I could not be doing with preparing a meal first thing in the morning. And if I did bother to do so, it meant I would be home to a very overcooked meal.

Trust me this is not nice experience, I once cooked a curry in my slow cooker while Rob and I met our friends down the pub, thinking it would be ready when we got home. We *ahem* got held up *cough* at the pub and came home to a burning smell (yep you can burn stuff in a slow cooker – who knew?) and then had to fish out the chicken thigh bones of our dinner of charred slop. Eww! – Yeah we ate this meal, we had spent our kebab money on beer, waste not want not!

Saying that, not being a microwave owner, my slow cooker comes in handy for those “I cant be bothered to cook” days. These days I currently work two part time jobs and now have more time at home. So I have the option of using my slow cooker more.

I have eaten some really tasty meals from my slow cooker, and then made some really bland, terrible meals in it over the years. So I have decided to make a little feature on here and share some of my more successful recipes on here from time to time. Its called – you got it! Slow cooking Sunday!! It took me all of 5 seconds to think up that catchy little title! – Yep it shows!!

Here are a few little tips I want to share with you first, from what I have learnt over the years using my slow cooker:

Do stick to the times stated on a recipe. If its on the slow setting use the slow time, not the fast setting time. Duh, obvious! But I have served pink chicken thighs to a dinner guest. Whoops!

Do not use bay tree leaves picked from your garden. I once made a sausage casserole and used two bay leaves from my bush♥ in my garden to use as the recipe stated. Unfortunately they made the casserole taste like I had pored some cheap pine toilet cleaner in it! It was so overpowering, bleugh! A word to the wise here – slow cookers do not like fresh herbs, use dried supermarket herbs wherever possible. In fact I think you are meant to dry out bay leaves first for any recipe to make them more palatable! Whoops!

Do not use your slow cooker to reheat leaftovers. My meal tasted luke warm and gummy. Its not safe apparently. We lived to tell the tale though.

You can bake bread in it apparently! I cant wait to try this recipe out!

Finally If you are like me, you are best to follow an existing recipe rather than making up your own one.

 

Coming up on sunday – an actual recipe!

♥ Not funny. Stop sniggering.♥

A Vegan Science Lesson and a Vegan Dinner

I love me some Etsy as you might have already guessed from this blog. I heart Etsy so much in fact that I willingly signed up to most of their mailing lists. This product was on the Etsy “dudes” email I received a few days ago.

Poor Kermit

This is why I love Etsy, for all its extreme crafting. It is not just about the nice knits like granny squares and wrist worms. Now the squeamish cannot get out of their biology lessons anymore!

Also here is a vegan recipe for when you are free-styling cooking with no kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 quarter of a squash you got to use up
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Half an onion leftover from cheese and onion crumpets the other day when you had a cooker *sigh*
  • water
  • curry powder

Directions

Spend 10 minutes looking for your slow cooker, find said slow cooker in mess piled on dining room table under dust sheet. Clean dust off slow cooker. Go to top of stairs landing space and plug in slow cooker, fill kettle from bathroom sink and boil it on top of washing machine plugged into an extension cord in the dining room. Drop stock cube straight in slow cooker. Pour in boiled water after carefully carrying kettle upstairs. Gather remaining vegetables from fridge in the lounge and locate knife and chopping board from spare bedroom. Chop veg, plonk in slow cooker. Switch on slow cooker and leave soup cooking for 5odd hours. After cooking time find your hand blender then bung it in the slow cooker bowl then try to blend soup without it splattering everywhere and fail. Try to blend every last lump of chopped veg and fail. Realise that you forgot to add the spices earlier. Add a little bit too much curry powder by tipping it straight in the soup instead of using a measuring spoon. Serve and enjoy. Voila!

soup landing ahoy!

BTW I am not vegan but for what ever reason I really enjoy reading vegan food blogs. I almost feel as if I am absorbing some of their healthy, nutritious vibes through my computer screen, because if I served Rob lentils for dinner he would leave me!