What’s for Dinner?

January 27, 20126 Comments

Have you ever waited to see the movie everyone is talking about? People keep saying you have to see it. You’ve just gotta see it. And then said movie is nominated for numerous awards, further heightening the intrigue. You walk into the theatre sure you are the last soul on the planet to see this revolutionary film. You are expecting tears, chills, a band of angels and life transformation. But instead what you get is a good movie. Just a really good movie. “Really?” you think to yourself. “That’s it?”

I assure you I’ve seen exactly zero of the current gotta-see-it-now films. My “really?” moments lately are brought on by my slow cooker, which I’m becoming acquainted with…well…very slowly. And a bit unsteadily. It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve been giving the slow cooker a regular workout practically since I pulled it from the styrofoam padding immobilizing it in the shipping box. But the same thing keeps happening repeatedly – after carefully choosing the recipe, completing the prep, then waiting all day long for it to be ready there is but one word that comes to mind as the first bite crosses my lips. “Meh.”

(Tangential commentary – is anyone else getting a kick out of the weekly “meh” list in The New York Times Magazine‘s One-Page Magazine?! “Not hot, not not, just meh.” This is now my first Sunday morning read. Last week’s edition is here. Love!)

Perhaps the problem is that I’ve never been a fan of tender, falling off the bone meat. Or that I prefer most foods barely cooked. Or maybe it’s a problem of expectations and anticipation – too high and too much, leading to inevitable disappointment. This week, I share a second recipe from the slow cooker. As promised, it’s vegetarian. This is the best of my recent experiments. There have been many others, most not worthy of a mention. I’ll keep at it. Can this many people be wrong?

What’s in Season?

Avocado| Lemon | Spinach

What’s for Dinner?

The List

2 lemons
5 cloves garlic
1 pound baby spinach
1 small bunch fresh dill
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 small knob ginger root
2 mangoes
1 ripe avocado
Fresh cilantro

8 oz. farfalle (bowtie) pasta
2 – 15.5 oz. cans black beans
Brown sugar
6 whole wheat flour tortillas
Brown rice

4 – 6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

10 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts
4 oz. creme fraiche
Parmesan cheese
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

6 responses to “What’s for Dinner?”

  1. Andrea says:

    If you like your food barely cooked, then the slow cooker is probably not the best tool for you. “Tender, falling off the bone meat” is what it does best! That said, you might look for recipes that cook for less time. I’ve made this before and really enjoyed it: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/12/crock-pot-chicken-enchilada-soup.html

    • Alicia says:

      Oh, I am determined to make this thing work for me dammit. I am learning you can make all sorts of things in the slow cooker….bread, playdough, soap. Yes, soap! Not sure I’ll be doing that but it’s fun to think outside the proverbial box.

  2. Karmen says:

    hi – I’m with you on the slow cooker thing but for me, it seems that slow cookers are supposed to make things easy but I’ve found that all the recipes that sound good to me involve quite a bit of prep time by either browning the meat or saute-ing vegies etc. which obviously make it all taste better in the end. But then I figure if I’m going through all that, then why not just cook it all right then anyway? I’m still looking for that great, delicious recipe where you truly throw it all in and voila – excellent meal! That being said, I did just cook a really tasty “pork & beans” recipe from the “spilling the beans” cookbook. (as well as a way-too-good salad recipe with blue cheese & candied ginger. let me know if you’d like the recipes!
    Minnetonka MN

    • Alicia says:

      Karmen, you’ve hit on the big slow cooker myth! You really can’t just throw it all in and expect something amazing. The prep seems to range from minimal to very involved (at which point, I say why bother?!). I’ve found a few slow cooker cookbooks from the library and I’m uncovering some interesting techniques and ideas. I hope to share them soon!

  3. Lynda says:

    Thanks for sharing your crockpot experiences, Alicia. I have similar preferences with food, so I am finding this very helpful.

    • Alicia says:

      Lynda, I think part of my issue is that I’ve gone about it backwards. I’ve found recipes that are made for the slow cooker, then decided to make them. But what I should be doing is figuring out what we want to eat, THEN figuring out how to do it in the slow cooker. There is a difference and I think this is part of my problem.

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