Year two of the blog will bring a new culinary challenge. I’m going back to the basics and am challenging myself to actually use the cookbooks I have. The internet makes it so easy to be inundated by recipes, that we often forget about the ones sitting right under our noses in our beloved cookbooks. My new challenge is to try at least one new recipe a month from each of my cookbooks. Feel free to join the challenge, either with the books I choose or using the cookbooks on your own shelves.
I'm excited to announce I've added yet another appliance to my kitchen: a slow cooker! I've been collecting slow cooker/crock pot recipes on my Pintrest board just waiting for the day that I finally get a slow cooker. Thanks to my friend Allie, I now have one! I got the 3.5 quart size, because anything bigger is just overkill when you are only cooking for 2 people. It's the perfect size and I even found space for it in my kitchen cabinet (although Tom was skeptical). It's very pretty and matches my new food processor nicely.
For my first slow cooker meal, I decided to try this chicken tikka masala recipe. We were a little nervous that I was going to burn my building down while this cooked on low for 8 hours, but I came home to my apartment all in one piece. Tom was mainly concerned we were going to blow a fuse and that the fuse box would burst into flames. Irrational fear? Maybe, but backed by some facts. Apparently he watched a story on the news about a type of fuse box in SF apartments that has a defect where instead of the fuse breaking or switching off when it's overloaded, it just bursts into flames. We have that type of fuse box. To set our minds at ease I looked up how much energy slow cookers use versus other household appliances. It turns out that slow cookers only use about as much energy (200W) as leaving the TV on all day. That can be compared to a hair dryer that uses 1200W, so we felt better about that.
I cut this recipe in half so we wouldn't be eating tikka masala for weeks and it seemed to work out well. The recipe didn't specify whether you were supposed to cut the chicken into chunks before putting it in the slow cooker so I investigated. I found a comment on the blog from a person asking the same question and the blogger replied that she did cut the chicken into chucks first. However, if I made this again I would not cut the chicken first. I thought the chicken ended up a little dry and I'm pretty sure that by cooking the breasts whole, more moisture would be locked in. It's something to give a try.
The only thing that takes some thought before making slow cooker recipes is figuring out when you are going to do the recipe prep. You can either get up early and do it in the morning (cutting onions is not my idea of a great way to wake up) or you can do it the night before. I prepped everything the night before and just threw it in the fridge. I put everything in the slow cooker removable bowl thing, but I think next time I'd store it in the fridge in a different container. When I took the cold bowl out of the fridge I was worried about heating it up with the fear that I would crack the bowl. They say that you are not supposed to move the bowl from extreme temps (and the fridge probably is not considered extreme) but I ran the outside of the bowl under warm water so that it wasn't as cold by the time I turned on the slow cooker.
Raw chicken and stuffs.
With everything prepped the night before, all I had to do was put the bowl in, turn on the cooker and set the timer. Mine (and most if not all programmable slow cookers) switch to warm after the cooking cycle is complete. So cool!
The recipe has you add in the cream (I used half and half) and corn starch at the end of the 8 hour cycle and cook for another 30 minutes. Then you are ready to eat!
Adding in cream and corn starch.
I ended up making this a little too spicy for me, but Tom really liked it. I topped mine with plain yogurt to cut the spice a bit, cooked up some brown rice and served it with whole wheat naan from Trader Joe's.
I'm super excited to try more recipes! It's awesome to come home and have dinner already cooked and the prep dishes from the night before done...if you're good like me :)