Overnight Crockpot Baked Beans

While I will admit to a fondness for baked beans, I’ve always shied away from the canned version because I am not a fan of sweet foods. Sure, I’ll indulge if I encounter the canned version, but I won’t buy them unless I have a serious craving.

Yeah, I crave baked beans.

If the craving is minor and time is plentiful — or I know I need a killer dish to bring to a barbecue — I go straight for my crockpot and let the beans cook overnight. The slow cooker does all the work of cooking the beans through while developing a rich sauce that is just sweet enough with some tangy and spicy flavors to balance that sweetness. Best of all: no soaking required! I just toss everything into the crockpot, and let it work while I catch up on TV and much-needed sleep.

Shakshuka-Style Greens and Eggs

I’ve never been a huge fan of tomatoes, though I am trying (and finding them to be less, well, icky than I tell myself). But when I tried an Israeli shakshuka — a dish traditionally made with tomatoes and peppers — in a restaurant, I fell in love. It’s a breakfast dish, but I’d eat it any time of day or night.

One evening, I was playing with tomatillos and greens, considering a chile verde type dish. I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t have any pork handy. I did have eggs, and it made sense to add the eggs to the dish. Voila! Later, I poked around the Internet for ideas to improve this dish; weirdly, what I found came out as a cross between one of my favorite ways to prepare greens and this final dish. The real difference is the tomatillo, which adds a lot of tanginess to the dish (and makes it a bit juicier than the greens alone).

Serve this to vegetarians and they will think you’re a genius. Serve it for brunch. For dinner. Take leftovers for lunch. You will thank yourself. I promise.

Easy Hungarian Beef with Paprika (aka Goulash)

I like to pretend it’s my Hungarian heritage that draws me to to this dish, but the truth is I love stews of all kinds, at any time of year. This braised dish sits on the back of the stove for a few hours, filling your house with the scent of paprika and yumminess. Oh, and it’s effortless to make this dish gluten free!

To offset the heat of the paprika, the recipe uses a bunch of onion. These cook down into the sauce to add a rich sweetness that will have you reaching for second before you realize it!

My recipe calls for a thick sauce that clings to the beef, but if you like a looser, soupier sauce, that is fine. The sauce will soak into buttered noodles, rice, or even gluten-free rolls.

Easy Chicken Pho

As with so many of my recipes, this is not truly authentic. I’m lucky there are many Vietnamese restaurants in Southern California that serve delicious gluten-free pho (both beef and chicken). I’m also aware that every place I’ve ever gone has a slightly different variation of the broth.

Some are salty and a bit spicy. Some have a bit more sweetness. Most are very rich, with intense meat or vegetable flavor.

These different flavor profiles make me confident my soup is just fine for those times when I don’t want to venture outside to get my pho fix. And when I say this soup is addictive, you can either take my word for it, or, well, become an addict yourself!

Yes, beef pho is traditional, but I haven’t mastered a good beef broth (I’ve mastered an okay beef broth), so I stick with chicken when I’m dining at home. Some things, I believe, are best left to the experts.

Chicken Tikka Masala

For reasons unknown, most Chicken Tikka Masala dishes in restaurants are on the bland side. This is great if you’re introducing someone to the idea of Indian food, but these dishes are not palate-pleasers.

This recipe, based on Madhur Jaffrey’s, is full of flavor. Ginger, garlic, cumin, and various other spices bring tons of flavor. Grated tomato melts into the dish, adding even more flavor. I love serving this at parties or dishing up for leftovers during the week. It just gets better with time!

Chicken and Ginger Meatballs

I love meatballs — there’s something, well, fun about round food. And meatballs are easy to make, even when you’re gluten free. I made these meatballs — with tasty ground chicken and a lot of ginger! — for a party at a friend’s house. There were actually three kinds of meatballs (I was feeling overachieve-y that day), but these were the hands-down favorite.

Since then, I’ve made them whenever the mood strikes (and whenever ground chicken is on sale). They’re delicious with chicken wraps or on top of rice noodles. I mix up a quick chile sauce with a bit of lime juice, chile paste, and fish sauce to pour over the noodles or as a dipping sauce. Of course, my gluten-free ponzu would work just as well!

Under Pressure

As I think I’ve mentioned about a thousand times, I use a lot of chicken (and vegetable stock). And years ago, I realized that I was spending a small fortune to buy stock. I much prefer to make it myself, and it really doesn’t take that much active time.

In the past, I’ve set a pot on the back burner of the stove, added some aromatics like onion and garlic, tossed in some seasoning like salt and peppercorn, added the chicken carcasses I’ve bagged and tossed in the freezer. And for the next couple of hours, the stock or broth or whatever you prefer to call it would simmer away. I put the liquid in one-cup size containers and freeze them until needed. Continue reading “Under Pressure”

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