Monday, February 18, 2008

Dieter's Dilemma & Crockpots Ahoy!

My cousin in NY sent me an email about a bit of furor that I caused her dieting group:
I am very active on the email support system from my diet.

Anyway.......there are always new people coming on thinking they have a better way to format the email forum. This week someone suggested a blog type. Many of us were saying they don't see how a blog could work, & several people my age, didn't even know what a blog is (sort of like me a year ago). So I said "My cousin has an incredible blog, so if anyone wants to see what a blog is, go to www.hatchet........" Well I hadn't been on since Thursday or so. Well you wouldn't believe the amount of poor deprived people who are only eating veggies, fruit & milk, that went on to read the whole story of blueberry scones. They were freaking out!!!! "Why did Janet tell us to read about heavy cream and sugar & blahblahblahblahblah.............." I felt so bad but it was sooooo funny. Thought you'd get a kick out of it.
And to those poor folks, after I stopped laughing at the email, I humbly apologize. I hope the scones didn't traumatize you too much and to make it up to you, I shot a few pictures of food that are probably on your allowed list.
Celery. Celery is good, right?

Pears are also very nice. A good shot to your sweet spot, as it were.

And, um, a little subliminal advertising. The carrots, they're good for you! The celery got lonely.

Just, whatever you do, don't search my blog for cake. It may break you. And I don't want that to happen - Janet would probably never forgive me.

Uhh...and you may want to skip this, too:
Old fashioned chili with salsa cruda from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. No, really, that's the title!

I've got a crockpot, I said. Send me recipes, I said. Get a book, you said. So we went shopping.

We did look at the Fix It and Forget it book. I picked that one up first and flipped through it. Then I handed it to Eric and he ixnayed it. You were right in that it has very easy recipes and they do look really fast to put together. The problem is that many of their recipes rely on "convenience" foods and convenience foods often contain MSG (and other multi-syllabic unpronounceable ingredients), to which I am horribly allergic. Gives me migraines which sucks mightily. Eric also complained that there were no fresh ingredients listed and that was the end of that.

It's not that we're not willing to cook dinner, it's that we're not allowed to cook dinner by the tiny twin tyrants that run the house currently. What with the screaming, nursing and crying, it has put a damper on the cooking. Add in Caitlin's end-of-day shenanigans and it's no fun at dinner time.

The other problem is that we're food snobs.

I totally admit to it.

I, Hatchet, am a food snob. [Insert sound of crickets.]

I'm sorry, weren't surprised? Oh. Yeah. Well, I guess you've been reading some of the food entries, haven't you?

Don't follow the links! Nooooo! Hey! What are you doing down here anyway?!

So, there we were: Eric ready to call off the search for a recipe book and I, determined that there must be a crockpot recipe book that was meant for us. And there was! And is! And it's a tome, I tell you! Unfortunately, other than the images on the front, spine and back cover there are no pictures in this cookbook. What's up with that?! I like pictures. They make me think either Yum! and they sell me on the book. I'm visually oriented (also not surprising to you).

After flipping through it, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook received the Eric stamp of approval and we were out of there. I paged through it on the way home and started making plans. Eric, however, got to choose the first item we made in the crockpot and he chose Old Fashioned Chili with Salsa Cruda. That night (Saturday), he ran out to pick up the ingredients we were missing and on Sunday morning while the twins were happy hanging out in the dining room, I put it together and into the pot. Yummy smells filled the air all day long. Eric made up the Salsa Cruda (raw salsa) after I was done with the first part and tossed it into the fridge.

Sunday night, with Pop-pop and Nana-Sue over for a visit, we feasted.

This is the final product:
It was so good, you needed to see that picture again.

Chili is on the bottom of the bowl, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, then the salsa (the whole dish is very mild) and a few slices of avocado. Not exactly dieting food, but not too bad, either. At least, not in a scones and heavy cream sort of way. Heh!

Caitlin had it tonight over potatoes that were partially scooped out and she loved it, too! Good for the whole family. Not hot, though, so if you like chili that sets your tongue on fire, this won't be the recipe for you.

Want to make it? Here's how:

Cooker: medium round or oval
Setting: Low for 8-9 hours, add salt during last hour (Unless you are at high elevation, like we are, in which case set it to High for 8 or so hours.)

2 lb ground sirloin
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 med. green, yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves (or more!), minced
2 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 14.75 oz cans diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth or water
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste

Salsa cruda:
3-4 large ripe tomatoes, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime (or more!)
Garlic powder to taste
Salt to taste

For serving:
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Sliced avocado
  1. In a very large skillet over med-high heat, cook beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is no longer pink, breaking up any clumps; drain off fat. Transfer to slow cooker and add kidney beans, tomatoes, sauce, broth, chili powder, oregano and cumin, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW (or at 3000' and higher: HIGH) for 8-9 hours, stirring occasionally (I didn't.), if possible. The last hour, season with salt.
  2. To make the salsa, combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until serving. If you must make it the night before, add cilantro and lime at the last minute. (Note: to save time on all that dicing, you could just chop the ingredients into quarters, toss it into a food processor and give it a few one-second pulses. Not too many, you don't want mush.)
  3. Serve chili in bowls topped with salsa, cheese and avocado slices.
Now I know that they say crockpots maintain moisture, but seeing is believing. Even here, in the land where it is unusual to say, "Wow! It's humid today!", the crockpot had a fair amount of liquid left in the chili when we were ready to eat it, so we took the top off and let it continue to cook down for awhile longer. We also didn't wait for 8 hours, probably more like 7, but it was gooooood! And it was easy! And it made dinner time a thousand times easier than normal. And there are leftovers, so we had food instantly ready for dinner yesterday and tonight as well as for lunch tomorrow.

Tomorrow night? Potato and Leek Soup.


Anonymous said...

Cousin from NY here! That's great,
Tracy! I will, of course, direct everyone back to the blog now & I guarantee they will love it. FYI the Salsa Crude & the Avocado are right up our alley! We'll just put it over Field Greens! Holding at minus 67 lbs in NY, with love to the twin tyrants & little cousin

Kim said...

That chili actually isn't really that bad for you! If you just hold the cheese, you're good to go! :-)

Mommy Daisy said...

Too bad you didn't like the Fit It & Forget It. Did you happen to see the Lightly version? That's the one I had and most of the recipes have fresh ingredients similar to the chili recipe you posted. Anyway, I'm glad you found a good one. It looks yummy!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

MD: ,missed the Lightly version, but I think we've found a winner! It was super yummy.

I still wonder about the lack of photos. Are they worried everything looks like glop when it comes out of the cooker?

Missy said...

I have the lightly version, so it must be the other one that has convenience food, because I was surprised when you made the comment regarding convenience food, as I did not recall that being the case. At any rate the one you have sounds like a darn good cookbook, and one I may have to check out. We usually try to do at least one crock pot meal a week during the school year. I would do more, but well..I have no good reason. Maybe I just need another cookbook to inspire me......

Rachel X said...

You are a very cruel woman. I just had to follow the food link didn't I? Sigh. Back to the diet. *cry* :)

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Sorry Rachel! When you're no longer dieting, though, you can try them out!

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