Crock Pot Chana Masala

Crock Pot Chana MasalaSo I recently riddled my fans on Facebook about whether they would want a crock pot chicken marsala or crock pot chana masala recipe… and of course, you guys asked for both! So as promised, I have created both recipes and I’m sharing them with you this week. First up, is chana masala (even though I made the other recipe first!), but since that is the smell filling my house, it is the first to write up and share. It’s like the amazing fumes are traveling through my body and out my fingertips as I type.

You might recognize this dish from your local Indian buffet. With just a few ingredients, but plenty of seasonings and flavor, it’s a great side dish. Served with rice and naan bread, it makes a fantastic dinner. I think it’s a great introduction to Indian food too because it’s not too potent or unfamiliar in flavor.  I would still consider myself a novice with cooking Indian food and I much prefer to go out and eat someone else’s delicious recipes than my own, but sometimes it’s nice to try something new and customize it yourself.

(I really like the Simply Organic herbs from Amazon. I think they are affordable and a quality product. I’ve linked each ingredient so you can buy them if you’d like to use what I use, too. I do not work with them directly, but I do use them consistently.)

So here’s my go at crock pot chana masala. I hope you are inspired to try cooking something new, too!

Crock Pot Chana Masala

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Serves: 8-10 people

1 28 oz. can chick peas, drained

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, NOT DRAINED

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 yellow onion, diced (= about 1/2 cup)

1/2 t. ground coriander

1/2 t. cumin powder

1/2 t. turmeric powder

1 t. garam masala powder

1 t. minced fresh ginger

1 T. fresh cilantro leaves, sliced

1 lime, cut into wedges

Put all ingredients in crock pot and mix together. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze for flavor, a side of basmati rice and naan bread for a complete meal.

Summer Series, Day Five: Crock Pot White Ratatouille

Crock Pot White RatatouilleI’m seriously considering moving to the beach. Sunshine, seafood, salty air… it’s all good for my soul. As long as I have a good internet connection, I might just be willing to carry my crock pots up and down the east coast and showcase local flavor and attractions. Ok, I’m putting it out there– where should I go next and who can hook a girl and her crock pots up?! I’ll feed you!

I used the rest of my finds from this week’s farmer’s market to make ratatouille for dinner tonight. I love the fact that I used the same kinds of ingredients, but in a new way to make a totally different presentation!

Farmers Market OBXI have never seen pure white patapan squash or white eggplant before in this region, but I was delighted to experiment with these adaptations to the standard variety.  I also used yellow cherry tomatoes instead of canned diced red ones. Such a delightful dish to cook low and slow while we played all day.

While we normally do adventures as a family, today we decided to go in two directions– literally. My husband took our oldest to the beach to tiptoe in the shark-infested waters and fly a kite in the salty breeze. I took our youngest on a bike ride down the main road of the island. I’m so glad I bought a bike rack for my car so we could all bring our bikes to the beach. It’s so much easier than trying to rent them upon arrival! The sidewalks in Avon are flat and easy and the breeze felt fantastic even thought it was a scorching day. We all enjoyed the sunshine and a bit of solitude. There is something about experiencing the wind on your face and the sun on your back,  just taking a deep breath and exhaling gratitude. I’m not kidding when I tell you that staying here in the Outer Banks has really been cathartic for all of us.

But back to the food, of course! By the time we hit the beach, the bikes, came back to swim in the pool at the house, and got cleaned up… dinner was ready and no work was needed. Another amazing day is complete and it’s time to chill on the porch with a few cold drinks and listen to the birds and cicadas chirping in harmony.

Crock Pot Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

3-4 large white patapan squash, softball sized (about 1-1.5 lbs)

3 small white eggplant, 5-6 inches in length (about 1 lb or less)

1 sweet onion, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1 c. broth (chicken or vegetable)

Mix all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve with rice, noodles or fresh bread and butter. If you can’t find patapan squash, you can substitute yellow squash.

Crock Pot Chicken and Artichokes

This easy and delicious dish can be made with just a few items from your pantry!

This easy and delicious dish can be made with just a few items from your pantry!

Happy Valentine’s Day, crock pot lovers! I hope you’ve enjoyed the day and if you care nothing about this Hallmark holiday, I hope you had a fabulous Saturday.

I thawed out some chicken a couple days ago and didn’t decide what to do with it until today. I wanted something easy that even the kids would eat, and didn’t want to go to the store to get any supplies.

One of my favorite pantry items that I always keep stocked is a small jar of artichoke hearts in a marinade. They are great on fresh salads, complement tomato-based sauces on pasta, or create a delectable antipasto plate when you need a quick appetizer. The dressing is also a fabulous sauce.

I also had a basket of fresh cherry tomatoes from a local farm that I needed to use before they went soft. Even in North Carolina, it’s cold at this time of year, but I love that I can get fresh tomatoes that were greenhouse grown.

With a few basic ingredients you really can put together a delicious dinner without needing a trip to the grocery store.  Happy Love Day!

5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pint cherry tomatoes

6 oz jar of artichoke hearts in marinade (DO NOT DRAIN!)

3 cloves garlic

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve alone as an entrée or over pasta or rice.


Crock Pot Beef and Barley Stew

Here’s your history lesson for today, folks… let’s learn about barley. If you are a “meat and potatoes” kind of person, barley is a great item to add to your grocery list. Barley rations go all the way back to biblical times, I think, it’s healthy, hearty and inexpensive;  is one of the world’s top harvested grains; and here’s a fun one– one of its main purposes is for producing beer and malted beverages.

Now that you’ve done your studies, let’s prepare your eats! This stew is meaty and thick and satisfies the hungriest belly. It is a meal in itself, but I prefer a small bowl of it with a side salad— and a beer, so I can be consuming barley in multiple forms. 🙂 This is a nice variation to the common beef stew.

On a nice fall day like today, your house will be filled with the warm smell of meat, vegetables and an easy dinner. Enjoy!

1 lb. beef stew meat chunks

1 c. baby carrots

4 stalks of celery, cut into chunks

1/2 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, NOT drained

1 cup pearl barley

3 c. water

1 t. black pepper

1 t. salt

1 t. celery seed

Add all ingredients to the crock pot in this order. Give a little stir, just enough to promote mingling. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Crock Pot Gumbo

I opened up my weekly CSA delivery and was so excited to see the ripe, fragrant produce. One thing in particular caught my attention– OKRA. The first thing I thought of was some hot, spicy gumbo.  I think half of what I unpacked is going to end up in the gumbo— okra, tomatoes, basil, corn, green pepper… now if only I stopped at a farm for some chicken and then headed to the coast for some shrimp, but I guess I’ll have to buy those at the grocery store.

Gumbo is a perfect recipe for the crock pot because it needs to simmer for a long time to fuse all those flavors together. Cut your veggies into small pieces so you can have a bit of each morsel in your mouth! This soup would also freeze really well, so make the gumbo for dinner this week and then enjoy all these fresh treats again later this fall when they aren’t so available.

This soup can also be made vegetarian if you leave out the chicken, sausage and shrimp. I’d amp up the amount of veggies though and maybe get a little more okra, so that this tastes more robust and unique than just vegetarian vegetable soup.  You can also use Morningstar Farms chicken strips (fake meat) if you’d like to add some protein.  Enjoy!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 lb. okra, sliced

1 c. of corn (cut off of fresh ears)

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

3-4 ripe, sweet tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

2 stalks celery, sliced

4-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. salt

1 t. black pepper

1/2 t. cayenne pepper

1/2 t. paprika

1/2 t. chili powder

1 T. parsley

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

2 T. Tabasco sauce

2 c. water

3 pork sausages, cooked and sliced

1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned

2 c. cooked white rice

Combine all vegetables in crock pot. Add liquid ingredients. Sprinkle with all seasonings. Place chicken pieces on top of mixture next. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add shrimp, sausage and cooked white rice and cook for an additional 1 hour on low.

Crock Pot Cincinnati Chili

If you are unfamiliar with Cincinnati chili, let me explain to you how this is different from what you might think. This is more like a spaghetti sauce, than a stew. It usually has some combination of allspice, cinnamon and sometimes cocoa powder in it. There are no beans cooked in this pot and it is not meant to be consumed by itself. It is however, an amazing topper for hot dogs, spaghetti, french fries or even in a tortilla! When you eat this, there are different ways of presenting it– five in fact! Two-way would be spaghetti and chili, three-way adds finely shredded cheddar cheese, four-way diced onions and five-way would be all of the above plus some dark red kidney beans. Crazy enough– you can also top it with oyster crackers and hot sauce, if you so choose.

Skyline and Gold Star are probably the most common brands of Cincinnati Chili and you can get it at the fast-food restaurants or in cans at the grocery store.  But since I don’t live in the Great Lakes area anymore, I make my own crock pot Cincinnati chili using my best friend’s mom’s recipe. Yes, it’s three degrees of separation, but it’s still so good! So to “K” and “R”— thank you for sharing your recipe with me, it’s better than the original!!

1.5 lbs. ground beef

1 29 oz. can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz can peeled whole tomatoes

1 onion, diced

1/2 t. allspice

1/2 t. cinnamon

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1 1/2 t. chili powder

1 t. white vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

Brown meat in a pan, then add to crock pot. Add all ingredients and stir well. Cook on high 4-5 hours. Smash peeled tomatoes while still in the crock pot. Remove bay leaves before serving. See notes above for different ways of enjoying your Cincinnati chili, including on a hot dog, on french fries, in a tortilla, or most commonly on spaghetti and topped with finely shredded cheddar cheese.

Vinaigrette Salad

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist —

the problem is entirely the same in both cases.

To know exactly how much oil one must put with one’s vinegar.”

Oscar Wilde 1856-1900, British Author

Dinner was not a crock last night. We grilled out brats and had cold side dishes, drank chilled wine and enjoyed time with friends.  Sometimes I really enjoy the contrast of a hot main dish and the refreshment of cold accompaniments. I made a vinaigrette salad last night that everyone seemed to really enjoy, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you too.  Tomorrow I’ll use the crock pot, but this was a nice change. 

Making a vinaigrette salad takes only a few ingredients, but just the right balance (as Oscar Wilde said in the quote listed above). You want chemistry and harmony and simplicity in the perfect mix. Depending on the potency of your ingredients, you may want to divide the dressing measurements in half and add a bit at a time until you get a good balance. Remember that when the vegetables marinate, they will absorb some oil and vinegar and release some water, so you might want to drain the salad a little bit before serving.  Enjoy!

1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

2 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz. can green beans, drained and rinsed

3 T. fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 c. extra light olive oil

3 T. red wine vinegar

1/2 t. salt

1 t. coarsely ground pepper

Mix all vegetable together, then drizzle with oil, vinegar and seasonings. Toss salad together and then add parsley and mix one more time. Refrigerate at least an hour and then drain, if needed, before serving.

Crock Pot Ratatouille

In the Pixar movie by this name, the character Linguini says “Ratatouille. It’s like a stew, right? Why do they call it that? If you’re gonna name a food, you should give it a name that sounds delicious. Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious. ” But with Remy’s help, Linguini learned to cook, to enjoy it and to share great delicious dishes to others.

In our house, this movie is a favorite because it also teaches lots of great lessons. For example: we shouldn’t judge others based on their families or where they came from, you should pursue your interests with passion and dedication, you shouldn’t steal from others, in order to have great success we all need to work together and there will always be people to criticize, but even more people we can make happy.

This recipe is easy to make, maybe even for a movie night with your friends or family.  Enjoy and remember “anyone can cook!”

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
2-3 zucchini, sliced ½ inch thick
2-3 yellow squash, sliced ½ inch thick
1 medium onion, sliced into strips
2 cans diced tomatoes, NOT drained
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil, just until onion is soft. Put eggplant, zucchini and squash in crockpot. Add onion and garlic on top, then both cans of diced tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
Serve on top of egg noodles. Top with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Vegetarian Lentil Soup

There used to be this great Greek restaurant that I frequented that served lentil soup in a styrofoam cup. It was always hot and fresh and the lentils were soft without being mushy. I would frame my entire meal around saving room and money for the soup.  This recipe mirrors the flavors and warmth of the soup but without a disposable cup. Unlike my vegetarian vegetable soup which is savory and chunky, this lentil soup is hearty and robust with even more amazing health benefits. Lentils are high in protein, iron, amino acids and when you add in the lycopine in the tomatoes and then all the vitamins, folic acid and antioxidants in the spinach… this soup is like a power boost for your whole system. Oh yeah, and it tastes amazing too.

 Feel free to serve it in a real bowl and maybe with some crusty bread instead of saltines.

2 cups lentils

8 cups vegetable broth

1 onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, chopped

6 oz. fresh spinach, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. salt

1/2  t. pepper

1 t. oregano

1  t. cumin

2 bay leaves

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 T. red wine vinegar

Put everything in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours, but add the vegetable broth LAST. Most likely, you won’t have room to pour all the liquid in yet. Once the vegetables have all cooked down, then add the rest of the liquid. My 5-qt crock pot is filled to the rim by the time everything is included.

This soup also freezes really well, so save half the pot for a meal another time.