Saturday, 22 February 2014

Simple Chicken Curry

Easy chicken curry
This week we decided to try a simple chicken curry, again from the Skinny Slow Cooker Recipe book. Again, it looked like there was a bit of preparation involved, so we threw everything together in the crock pot the night before, and kept it in the fridge overnight. It only took about 20 minutes, but 20 minutes is valuable time in the morning when you are trying to get everybody up and out.


The recipe calls for 500g chicken breasts. I used more, maybe 600g, because I was cooking for 5 people. But the rest of the ingredients were left unchanged. 

We cut the chicken, still frozen, into small pieces and threw them into the pot with: one onion chopped fairly small; 3 cloves of garlic, chopped; 1 generous tsp sundried tomato paste; about 1 thumb of ginger, peeled and grated; 1tsp each of garam masala, turmeric, ground cumin and hot chilli powder; one and half cups passata. This was mixed and left, covered in the fridge overnight, giving the chicken plenty of time to thaw. 

Next morning I gave it another stir and left the crock pot ready to go on, asking the au pair to switch it to low at 1pm. 

When I got home, about 6:30pm, I just put on a pot of rice to cook. When it was all ready, I turned off the crock pot and stirred in a large cup of low fat Greek yoghurt (the Liberte brand is delicious). 

The Result

To my horror, the curry curdled when I added the yoghurt! This made it look not so appetising - a fact noted by both kids when they saw it. However, the flavour was delicious. The extra hot chilli powder made it spicy, but not overly so, while the ginger and other spices, combined with the tomato, really added to the overall taste. The yoghurt cooled everything down and, while it wasn't as creamy as I'd hoped, it was a very good curry. 

I left out 1tsp low fat butter from the recipe. I wonder if that contributed to the curdling!

The Verdict

Once he got over the appearance, the teenager loved this dish, and went back for a second helping. There was no picking out of onions! He asked if I would make the curry again the next night! 

Ms Fussy Eater was less enthusiastic, but with some good excuses. She had been at a friend's sleepover party the night before, and I suspect that there was very little sleep involved! So, she was very tired and cranky. She was also still suffering from a sore throat caused by swollen tonsils (she has to have them out next month) and is refusing more food than normal. She ate some of the chicken though. 

There was a little bit of curry left over, about another single portion, which Hubby took for his lunch next day. 

So, overall, definitely a recipe I will make again. I will have to try to stop the curdling next time round. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Oriental Beef with Butternut Squash

Oriental beef with butternut squash

The second recipe I tried this week in the crock pot was adapted from a recipe I found in the Weightwatcher magazine for March 2014. This was a huge success, resulting in a hearty casserole that was just bursting with flavour. It was polished off so quickly that I didn't even get a chance to snap a photograph!


I learned my lesson from Tuesday morning, and did all my preparation on Wednesday evening, putting everything in the crock-pot dish and leaving it in the fridge overnight. On Thursday morning I just had to place the dish into the pot and switch it on!

Into the bottom of the pot went about half a large butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large pieces. I added to this 2 onions chopped, 1 star anise, 1 tsp Chinese five spice, 100ml orange juice, a piece of fresh ginger (finely sliced using a potato peeler), 5tbsp soy sauce, and about 600g lean stewing beef in chunks.  I didn't add any further water or liquid. This was all mixed together. 

I figured this would take about 8 hours to cook, so I asked the au pair to turn on the pot at about 10am. When I got home, about 6:30, I turned it to "keep warm" and prepared a large pot of mashed potato. 

The Result

This smelled wonderful as soon as I entered the house. The star anise and 5 spice gave it a really lovely flavour. The meat was perfectly cooked, very tender, without falling apart. The squash was well cooked, but still identifiable. It went very well with the mashed potato, which soaked up all the delicious sauce. 

The Verdict

There were no leftovers. Hubby went back for seconds. The teenager picked out the onion and ginger, but otherwise said it was very tasty. Miss Fussy Eater said it was a bit spicy, but she still finished everything on her plate. This will definitely be a favourite in our house. Low fat and inexpensive, while still yummy!

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Pork

Sweet and sour pineapple pork

Last week we made two evening meals in the slow cooker. The first of these was a sweet and sour pork from the Skinny Slow Cooker recipe book.


I prepared this recipe on Tuesday morning, before I left for work. In retrospect, I should have had everything organised the previous night, because it took me a good 20 minutes. I didn't brown the pork first, which was recommended in the recipe, but I don't think it made much difference. In future, though, I will have everything ready just to switch the pot on in the morning. 

So, I coated about 900g of lean pork pieces in 1tbsp flour. Into the crock pot went: 1 onion chopped, 1 red pepper chopped (the recipe called for green, but we prefer red), and 2 carrots cut into batons. Add to this the meat, the juice from one large tin of pineapple, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2tbsp lime juice and 1tbsp soy sauce. I added a small cup of water and mixed everything together. 

The recipe said to cook for 5 hours on low, so I left instructions for the au pair to switch the pot on at about 1pm, which she did. When I got home about 6:20 I added the chopped pineapple from the tin and put the machine to the "keep warm" setting. I just cooked a pot of rice to accompany. 

The Result

The sweet and sour pork had a good flavour, if a little mild. The sauce was quite thin and I am not convinced that the flour added anything. In future I might leave it out. Perhaps if I had browned the meat first, then coated in flour, it might have made a difference. The meat was very tender, and the pineapple still quite fresh. Overall, I was pleased with this and will make it again, probably with a few adjustments. 

The Verdict

The teenager quite liked it, though he was surprised at the pineapple - he's not used to pineapple except when it's just eaten as a fruit. He picked out all the onion, but that's quite normal. Otherwise he finished off everything. Ms Fussy Eater just had a plate of rice with some pork and carrots fished out of the pot. She hasn't been well recently and I didn't want to push things. She ate what she had on the plate, so that's a success. Hubby really liked the meal. Despite the recipe being for 6, we finished it all that evening between 5 of us. 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Fall Off the Bone Whole Slow-cooked Chicken


A couple of weeks ago I bought a book on amazon, for my kindle - The Skinny Slow Cooker Recipe Book. But I didn't even open it, until yesterday. It has 40 recipes for the slow cooker, all healthy and low in fat. I intend to try a few of these, and started yesterday with this Fall Off the Bone Whole Slow-cooked Chicken.

As I have previously mentioned, we like to have a proper Sunday dinner together. Roast chicken is often a favourite, but yesterday we decided to give this recipe a go.


I started by slicing two onions into rings, and putting these at the bottom of the crock-pot. Then I mixed together a tsp each of paprika and dried thyme with two crushed garlic cloves (I didn't have the onion and garlic salt specified in the recipe). This I spread over the top of the chicken, which weighed about 2kg. Then I put the chicken on top of the onion, put on the lid, and switched the pot to low. I left it for about 8 hours. 

Close to the end of cooking, we prepared some mashed potato, mashed carrot and parsnip, and some lightly cooked courgette. 

The Result

The chicken looked a bit pale, though it was brightened somewhat by the colour of the paprika over the top. It fell apart as I lifted it out of the pot, making it very easy to serve legs and wings, and chunks of breast. We served 5 good portions and still had a whole breast left over. There was also about 400ml of chicken stock, which has been retained for soup. 

The Verdict

Everybody enjoyed the chicken, which was tender and tasty. Both children finished off a chicken leg, the only complaint was that the skin wasn't crispy. The breast was tender and not at all dry. The teenager enthusiastically declared it all to be delicious. 

Definitely we will use this recipe again. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Slow Cooker Ham

On Sundays, we normally try to have a good old-fashioned family Sunday dinner, often a roast. Last Sunday, we thought we'd have a roast chicken, but unfortunately by the time we got to the local shop, there were no whole chickens available. Instead, we bought a nice piece of bacon; enough for dinner plus leftovers. This is always a favourite with the family, either boiled on the stove, possibly in coca-cola (a la Nigella) or baked in the oven. 

This time I decided to cook it in the crock-pot. I didn't follow a recipe, just went with my own instincts.


I chopped an onion and two carrots roughly and put them in the bottom of the pot. I trimmed the piece of bacon of any visible fat and put it on top of the vegetables. Then I put about half a cup of water into the pot, put the lid on and set it to high. We left it for about two and a half hours, and enjoyed the aroma from the crock pot as the ham cooked away.

In the meantime, we prepared some potatoes and vegetables, roasting them in the oven with some garlic. 

The Result

When we first opened the crock pot, the meat wasn't quite ready, but we could cut enough from it for dinner. We put the rest back into the pot, on high, for another half hour. It was absolutely delicious, with a lovely flavour from the meat, and a tasty stock which was poured over the plates, and some kept in the fridge for another day. The meat was very tender, though not falling apart. Mr Teenager went back for seconds and thirds.

There was plenty left over for some sandwiches during the week, and we also used some to make a delicious pasta dish on Monday - something resembling a healthy carbonara, where the stock was also used to make a yummy (if a little salty) sauce. 

The Verdict

Everybody agreed that the ham tasted delicious, especially the teenager, who gave it 17/10. Ms Fussy Eater, who was developing tonsillitis at the time, had no complaints. I will definitely use this cooking method again - very healthy, but full of flavour.