Recipes

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Ever on the hunt for easy, family-friendly recipes, I tried to make a simple chicken and vegetable curry with minimal spice (to please Mr. Boring Meat and Potatoes Palate) in the slow cooker last weekend. Can I just say…wow! This is a definite winner! It’s officially added to our regular rotation.

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I kept it bland, but you can amp up the spice if you like, and serve over the rice of your choosing (or plain).

The original recipe called for cauliflower, which I love but Mark hates, so I doubled up the other veggies, in particular the Brussels Sprouts since they’re a fave in our house. You can really customize this however you like, though, and make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. If you keep the chicken, though, I think you’ll be pleased to find that it cooks down into flavorful, really moist shredded pieces in this recipe. Perfect for spooning onto a sub roll for lunch the next day!

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Freeze leftovers or take them for lunch all week long. I paired this with a salad for lunch one day, and this veggie dish another. (Belgian Salad? Brussels Sprouts? Do we have some kind of weird theme happening here?) Again, this has no heat to it whatsoever, so fear not, wimps! Mark can’t even tolerate a hint of spice, and it didn’t hurt this dish one bit.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

INGREDIENTS

I bought all mine at Trader Joe’s but all are widely available.

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1 medium white OR red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, light
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (about half one fresh lemon)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Start by chopping all your dry ingredients: peel and cube the sweet potato, dice the red pepper, and chop the onion. Place all veggies in the slow cooker (including frozen Brussels sprouts) except the frozen peas and lemon juice. Pour in wet ingredients (coconut milk, tomato sauce, chicken broth) plus the beans, drained and rinsed, and curry powder. Stir, then place chicken breasts on top. I cut mine in half first, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

Set slow cooker for low and cook 8 hours, stirring occasionally if you are home. Or, cook on high for four hours. Just before serving, pour in the frozen peas and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Enjoy with rice on the side, or plain.

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If you are making this vegetarian, be sure to increase the amount of vegetables to compensate for the space the chicken would have taken up, and cook for less time (about 6 hours on low). If you decide to add the cauliflower back in, the original recipe calls for 1 cup chopped. If you’d like for this to be spicy, I’d recommend adding 1 tsp cayenne (or hot sauce to taste) at the beginning when you add the curry powder.

You really can’t go wrong with this one. I hope you like it! Great for having a crowd over, or just for stocking up for the work week and before all that cooking over the holidays.

My other go-to for weekend cooking, especially right before a week like Thanksgiving when your kitchen is focused on holiday prep, are these vegetarian stuffed shells. So easy, so yummy, so filling. So Italian (just like me! And Georgia, who is VERY interested in helping in the kitchen these days).

This year, I am making Balsamic Roasted Green Beans and Homemade Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving at my dad’s house (gotta climb into the Wayback Machine for that first recipe!) And Georgia can eat everything this year ~ how exciting! Here’s what she looked like last Thanksgiving at just three months old 😦 I would be sad, but I remember how poorly we were sleeping back then, and I’d much rather take the craziness of toddlerhood with everyone getting a full night’s sleep.

Chicken curry recipe adapted from SarahFit, who says each of the five 3-cup servings has about 300 calories. She also puts the total cost at less than $25, which sounds about right. Cheap, healthy and tasty ~ awesome!

Recipes

Healthy Baked Spaghetti

This is my lightened-up version of a comfort food favorite.  Chock full of seasonal vegetables, this dish features reduced-fat cheese as well as vegetarian crumbles instead of ground beef or sausage. And by using gluten-free rice pasta, you reduce that “bloated” feeling you get after eating a heavy pasta meal. I served it with a tasty mixed greens salad tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy this heart-healthy dinner and treat yourself to a glass of white wine with all the calories you’ve saved!

Ingredients

  • 1 package whole wheat or rice pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray for your casserole dish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • vegetarian meat crumbles (such as Morningstar meal starters)
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced (you could use any color)
  • salt & Italian seasoning to taste (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups mushrooms or another seasonal veggie (I used up a zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

Set a large pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta until it’s a few minutes away from being done, as it will continue cooking in the casserole dish and you don’t want it to fall apart. Drain and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion once it’s hot, stirring frequently until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant, and then the vegetarian crumbles. Stir in the bell peppers and the mushrooms (or zucchini, like I did) and Italian seasoning & salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softening (about another 5 minutes).

Add the crushed tomatoes, water, and basil, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook, simmering, another 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a casserole dish or 9×13 glass baking pan.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the sauce.

Spoon half the spaghetti mixture into the casserole dish, then sprinkle half the cheese on top. Repeat with the other half of the spaghetti and cheese.

Cover loosely with foil sprayed with cooking spray and cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. (Don’t let the foil touch the cheese!)

Let stand for five minutes and serve hot.

What makes this healthier:

  • Not using butter to grease the pan or cook any of the ingredients.
  • Substituting lower-fat cheese without sacrificing flavor.
  • Replacing ground beef or sausage with my favorite vegetarian crumbles, by Morningstar (these have not only great flavor but believable texture, which is key for recreating dishes you may have grown up with).
  • Whole wheat or rice pasta (which I prefer because it’s gluten free, keeping my stomach pain-free with the added bonus of preventing bloat).
  • Serving with a side salad instead of outdoing your pasta portion!

I really hope you enjoy this. It’s adapted from a Bobby Deen recipe I found in Food Network Magazine, and has made its way into our regular meal rotation.

Recipes

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been raining a lot this week, and work these days is a ball of stress wrapped in a germ-infested box…cue the comfort food and a night on the couch watching Friday Night Lights.

This recipe is a set-it-and-forget-it speciality, inspired by something I saw in Real Simple Magazine (love). You can leave it in the slow cooker all day on low and come home to a cozy vegetarian meal that is hearty enough to leave carnivores satisfied, too. Personally? I liked serving it with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and some multigrain tortilla chips, like these.

Other good topping ideas include shredded sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, a splash of hot sauce, sliced radishes, and even a drizzle of some high-quality olive oil. Do your own thing with it.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 large  sweet potato, peeled and diced into medium chunks
  • 1 onion, diced (I used yellow; next time I’d definitely do red)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 can black beans (15.5 oz), rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP chili powder (or, sub red pepper flakes or hot sauce)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I had a small piece of stone-ground chocolate from Taza hanging around, so I used that instead!)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

*Note: Mark really hates kidney beans, so I subbed cannellini beans plus a handful of lentils to replicate the flavor and heft.

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large (4 to 6 quart) slow cooker, including the liquid in the cans of tomatoes and beans, and heat on low for 7 or 8 hours (or on high for 4 or 5 hours to shorten cooking time). When it’s done, serve warm with your favorite chili toppings.

Did you buy a bag of sweet potatoes for this recipe, and now you’re not sure what to do with the leftover spuds? I love this recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen for Burritos with Black Beans & Roasted Veggies. This gal roasts everything together then slaps it into a sprouted tortilla with melted cheese, and YUM.