She’s an Easy Lover! Slow-Cooker Recipe For All!

This has been an odd weather week in San Diego. And, yes, “odd weather week” is a very rare description for this part of the country. I still find it amusing when the weather forecasters tell us to buckle up for a major warm up. Usually that means we will go from 70 degrees to 73. What is truly pathetic is that I feel it, and I get annoyed with the “heat spell.” So whether you are in San Diego braving 73 degrees and some humidity blowing in from Cabo or you are in Cleveland, Ohio feeling a true summer warm up, you may want to avoid standing over or near your oven or stove. That is when the most easily loved appliance comes into play. I always thought of slow cooker meals being more for the winter season, but I’m loving it on these hot warmer days. Another huge benefit, the ability to walk away! So even if you are home, no need to tend to the pot! This truly is an easy lover. I’m pretty sure Phil was referring to a slow cooker.

I have two recipes that I really loved making (and eating) this week. The first might not sound so “Summery” especially due to the pumpkin addition, but I love Fall, and I already miss it. Yes, we get Fall in San Diego. It goes from 70 to 68. Leaves fall to the ground! Stop judging me! The first recipe caught my eye in the San Diego Union Tribune which was adapted from Michele Corbett’s site, http://www.cookingonthefrontburners.com. I made a few changes, but if you would like to see the original recipe, please check out Michele’s website. The second recipe is from Martha Stewart’s site, but I’ve made a couple of changes to the original recipe. For the original recipe, check out: http://www.marthastewart.com/341733/slow-cooker-greek-stuffed-peppers.

Meaty (or Not) Pumpkin Chili

16 oz ground sirloin (or ground turkey, or ground chicken, or tempeh, or tofu – You get the idea.)

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, if needed

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 chopped yellow, red, or orange pepper

3 cloves minced garlic

2 cups crushed tomatoes

4 ounces can diced green chilies

1 cup pumpkin pie filling (not puree)

1 cup chicken broth

2 Tablespoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

Toppings – sour cream or Greek yogurt

  1. Brown the ground sirloin in a Dutch oven (or similar pot). Drain most of the fat. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. You can add a bit of grapeseed oil if the ingredients start to stick to the bottom of the pot. *If you opt to go the vegetarian route, simply add the tempeh or tofu after the vegetables have sautéed, and continue sautéing until heated throughout.
  2. Add tomatoes and chilies and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add pumpkin, broth, seasonings, and beans. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with sour cream or yogurt.
Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Greek Stuffed Peppers

5 large bell peppers

1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)

1/2 cup quinoa (*You can really use any type of grain. Just don’t pre-cook the grain. Add it to the mix uncooked.)

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic clove, minced

1-2 teaspoon dried oregano

Spoonful of Sambal Oelek (*This really is to taste. I like food with a kick, so I put in a good amount. You can skip it all together if you prefer your meals on the mild side.)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (*Make sure to go easy on the salt since feta is salty.)

Chicken stock or water, about 1/2 cup (*This is added to the bottom of the slow cooker to ensure the peppers do not stick. You just need enough liquid to coat the bottom, then the peppers are placed in the liquid upright.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.
  2. Add beans, feta, quinoa, scallions, garlic, oregano, and sambal oelek to bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture; place upright in slow cooker. I opted to add a 1/2 a cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the slow cooker just to ensure the peppers wouldn’t stick. Cover; cook on high, 4 hours.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges.

On another note, I purchased Organic Edamame Spaghetti at Costco last week. The only ingredients are water and edamame. I had to give it a try. The box has two recipes listed, both of which are very high in fat content. I opted to simply cook the spaghetti and serve it with a mushroom tomato sauce topped with Parmesan. I’m glad I tried it, but I will not buy it again. The flavor was not remarkable, but what really got me was the texture. It was spongy. I am left with a lot of the stuff, so I will use it, but I will stick to eating edamame the old-fashioned way – from the pod!

Edamame pasta

I hope everyone has a great week, and you can rest assured I will be fixated on the Cleveland Cavaliers capturing the NBA Finals trophy! Go Cavs! #allin

Take Care and Happy Eating!

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Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

Well, the breaking news story in San Diego is the rain, and with good reason! We need it. And when it comes, it brings some problems like flooding and car accidents. Ah, the drawbacks of living here. I’m taking a cue from my French Bulldog, Monsieur, and I decided to stay in and write. Actually, if I was taking his cue I would sleep all day on the sofa. He is living the dream. Also, he partied pretty hard last night at Thorn Street Brewery (http://thornstreetbrew.com/). He, like his parents, is a Cleveland Cavalier fan.

Cavs Sir

This week I noticed a delicious sounding recipe in the UT San Diego Food Section (May 13) that I will make, mostly likely on Sunday. I think Marrakesh Carrots from Joy the Baker would be a perfect side dish! http://joythebaker.com/2015/05/marrakesh-carrots/ If you haven’t stopped by her blog, you should.

Spelt and Lamb Meatballs 4 to 6 servings

4 scallions

1/4 cup parsley

1/4 cup dill sprigs, more for garnish

2 fat or 3 smaller garlic cloves, grated

2 1/4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, or to taste

1 red chili or jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 cups cooked spelt or other whole grain berries

1/2 pound lamb

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for frying (*I would use another kind of oil for frying – one that can take high heat like grapeseed oil or regular olive oil, for example.)

Lemon wedges, for serving

  1. Slice scallions, keeping the light green and white parts separate from the dark green. Put scallion whites and light green slices into a food processor along with parsley, dill, garlic, salt, chili, cinnamon, allspice, black pepper, and paprika; process until everything is well minced. Add the spelt and process until the spelt breaks down into a rough, chunky paste.
  2. Transfer spelt mixture into a bowl and add lamb and olive oil. Knead mixture with your hands until well mixed. It should hold together nicely. Form into 1 1/4-inch balls and either cook immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one day.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a skillet, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add just enough meatballs to fit one layer with space between each piece; they should not touch, or they won’t brown as nicely. Fry meatballs until well browned on all sides, then remove to a plate. Add more oil to the pan and fry another batch or two, as needed. (Alternatively, to broil meatballs, lay them out in a single layer, not touching, on a rimmed baking sheet or two. Drizzle with oil and broil until browned, about 4 to 10 minutes, checking often and shaking the pan occasionally to help them brown all over. *This is how I plan on making mine.)
  4. Serve with lemon wedges and the reserved scallion greens and dill sprigs.

On another note, it’s my Mom’s birthday today! It is always a major bummer, to say the least, being so far from family. Some time ago, she took a bunch of old school slides and had them burned onto a disk so we could look through them. There are some amazing images. There are photos of the family, before I was even a thought in my parents’ minds, sitting around a television watching The Beatles’ first televised appearance and my mom meeting Lucille Ball outside of her house in Beverly Hills. Just for the outfits alone, these photos are priceless! So in your honor, Mom, here’s one of my favorites. Seriously, you should have been in an Alfred Hitchcock movie!

Mom on a BoatTake Care and Happy Eating! And Happy Birthday, Mom!