Who said weekday dinners had to be boring? It’s simple to keep the fresh and fun with just a little preparation. Stock your kitchen with staples like whole-wheat pasta, organic fish, poultry, meats, and organic fruits and vegetables (go frozen if you can’t buy fresh). Then, either cook double on the weekends when you have time and freeze (this way you don’t have to worry about your meals during the week), or put food up in your slow cooker in the morning.
I have been a big advocate of freezing doubled meals ahead for many years.
Recently, however, I gave my Crockpot a second look while putting it away on a Motzei Shabbos. I remembered an old recipe I had featured in my book, Not Just A Cookbook entitled Shipwreck Stew. It was a delicious meal I prepared on those cold days when my children were much younger and my schedule was more hectic. I would put all the ingredients in the crockpot right after my children left for school, then plug it in and forget about it for eight hours! In this way, no matter how busy my day was, I knew I would have a nutritious meal ready for my “crew” that evening. I could be involved in any myriad of school activities, or my Tupperware business, and not feel pressured to rush back home to cook supper.
I decided to try another recipe I had acquired using chicken. This time I put the slow cooker on HIGH, which meant the food would be ready in 4-5 hours. It could also cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. I added sweet potatoes, halved and walked away.
The result – the entire house had the most wonderful aroma. When a family member dropped by in the afternoon, he inquired what was I cooking that smelled so good. This recipe will now become my “go to” recipe when I have little time to prepare a meal.
I used a whole chicken, while only needing a half. The next day, I used the cooked chicken in another recipe I share with you below. This flavorful pasta dish calls for cooked chicken, Dijon mustard, onion, and parsley – and a delicious meal can be had in just 30 minutes.
There are several important things to remember when using a slow cooker. Now, most of the people I speak to never remember to hold on to the instructions that come with their appliances, but it’s a good idea to keep a file with all those booklets in one place for future reference as they are something you should hold on to until you are completely sure of the proper way to use the appliance.
Remember that many vegetables benefit from slow cooking which allows them to develop their full flavor – without the overcooking that can happen in the oven or on your stovetop. When cooking recipes with vegetables and meat, place the vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker, before the meat.
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
4-6 lb. roasting chicken
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsps. fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. dried thyme
Juice of one lemon
1/3 tsp. paprika
4 sweet potatoes, halved
Place the onion in the cavity of the chicken and rub the skin with the oil. Place chicken in the slow cooker. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken and sprinkle with remaining seasonings. Add sweet potato halves. Cover and cook on Low 8-10 hours or on HIGH 4-5 hours. Serves 4-6
Speedy Ziti with Zesty Chicken
1 pound whole-wheat ziti, or other medium shape, uncooked pasta
12 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 package frozen peas (10 oz.), defrosted and drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, spray large skillet with Pam; warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the Dijon mustard and flour. Very gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Bring the broth to a boil and stir in the lemon juice, peas, and parsley.
When pasta is done, drain it well. Toss pasta and cooked chicken with sauce, season with salt and pepper and serve. Cook time is 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Over 550 recipes and tips are featured in Rochelle’s humorous and entertaining cookbook, NOT JUST A COOKBOOK. It also features many “multi-ethnic” recipes that were adapted for the kosher cook. Rochelle’s book examines food around the year by month. Her new DVD recipe organizer includes the book. What a GREAT gift! Check out www.youtube.com/cookbooksoftware for recipes and to order your copy online, or call 718-258-0415 for store information. Rochelle is available for cooking demo events for fundraisers as well as Tupperware demonstrations. Call to find out about the SUPER 40% OFF MODULAR SALE NOW going on!!Rochelle Rothman