Oh how I love my crock pot. The best thing in the world is to come home after a 12 hour day and have dinner bubbling happily away on the counter, the house permeated with the smell of cumin and cinnamon. This weekend I chose 2 slow cooker recipes from Cooking Light to prepare for our weekly dinners and lunches. It’s going to be a crazy week with everyone out working or at school all day every day, and evening activities 4 out of 5 nights. Having two solid pots of hearty goodness ready will be economical and helpful. First I made a slow cooker beef stew (Daube) on Sunday afternoon, and prepped chick pea chili which I took out of the fridge Monday morning, set in the crock pot, and left for 12 hours.
The Beef Daube is basically beef stew, but the surprise ingredients that gave this a unique flavor were an orange peel in the bouquet garnie and some nicoise olives. I also used a fantastic red wine, which I’m convinced added some depth to the flavor as well.
As a bonus, after forgetting to buy thyme, I checked my garden and sure enough, green was overtaking the winter brown on my thyme. I managed to get several fresh springs!
The Daube was wonderful! After slowly percolating for 6 hours the olives don’t present themselves as OLIVES but they add a uniqueness to the stew that elevates it past the expected.
This picture up there is actually from Cooking Light. Unfortunately THIS picture represents the point at which I remembered I ought to take a photo. While there is still some left, out of the fridge it wasn’t very pretty. And being that I didn’t get to eat dinner until after 9 last night, I didn’t want to heat more up just to snap a pic.
The Chick Pea Chili, also from cooking light, went into the crock pot yesterday morning and cooked alllllll day. The surprise ingredients in this slow cooked stew were green olives and cinnamon. Despite the fact that the chick peas started with a boiling soak, sat in liquid all night, and cooked for over 12 hours, they retained a surprising tooth. I’d say its neither an asset nor a detriment, just surprising. The overall flavor of this dish was fantastic. My kids LOVED it. The dish lies somewhere on the spectrum between a chili and a curry (thanks to the cinnamon) making chick peas the perfect protein for the flavors. Sprinkled with some cilantro, this was heaven.
Both dishes are diet friendly, both coming in under 400 calories. I may be obsessed with the slow cooker. Prepare to hear all about the wonders of stews, though I expect grilling to quickly replace that obsession as it gets warmer.
On a final note, I’ve become a wine hoarder. I am currently stockpiling just over 20 bottles, which I am loath to drink or allow to be drank. I only open one if I have already bought it’s replacement. (Self employment = depression era obsession with stock piling resources of all kinds). But I didn’t get to the store to buy wine to cook with so I grabbed what I thought was a cheap bottle. I’ll have to look it up, because regardless of price, this was a delicious wine. Dry, but with a round dark cherry flavor to it and a hint of vanilla on the finish (my FAVORITE aspect in any wine)