The according-to-plan week I hoped for last Sunday was derailed by a couple of snow days. Aside from my baking inappropriate amounts of cookies and a batch of sweet-and-spicy nuts while snowed in, we were prepared for the storm and had plenty of real food to enjoy, along with a fire we kept going all day long.
I was especially pleased with the Easy Chicken Chili, Made with Leftovers. I had roasted chicken on Monday night, and chopped up the leftover meat to use in this chili on Tuesday. It was fantastic! I recommend it, even if you need to cook up some chicken just to make it.
On Saturday night, J. and I went out to Sonora in Port Chester for a Valentine’s dinner. Our food was fine, we enjoyed the evening, but neither of us felt any urge to rush back (especially since it’s a half hour away — might as well go into the city). We were crowded in between two tables upstairs, and the servers had trouble negotiating between these three tables (ours in the middle) which backed up to their kitchen/staging area. Also, and this is such a silly complaint: please don’t serve my sangria with a bendy straw! The sangria was actually lovely, with lots of fruit and not too much sweetness. But the plastic straw made me feel like I was anywhere but in a white tablecloth restaurant.
On Sunday J. dug a path through the snow to his smoker, and treated us to smoked beef ribs and burnt ends. It was a Valentine’s Day labor of love, to be sure, topped only by the fact that when I dragged myself into the kitchen that night to clean up from the chaos, I found he had already done it all while I was reading to the boys.
Monday:Chana Masala (chickpea curry), basmati rice, naan (bumped from last week)
This week went awry early on, when A. came down with a mild virus and stayed home from school for a couple of days, which threw my schedule (including grocery shopping) off for the whole week. Other than a huge pot of chicken soup, I can’t think of anything I actually cooked. We ate soup, leftovers, ordered in pizza one night, and did just fine. We’re also in the middle of a busy weekend with both Saturday and Sunday dinners out of the house, so my stove must be wondering where we’ve been.
This coming week we’re celebrating a birthday on Monday, and I always like a reason to bake cake!
I realized this week that there’s another variable I need to consider while meal planning — do I have to run out briefly in the afternoon (say, to pick up a boy from a friends’ house nearby), and do I feel comfortable leaving the oven on while I go out for 15 minutes? The answer I came up with was no, I really don’t. Do you? (And yes, this is where the Crock-Pot shines!) I have to either plan to make things with long cooking times earlier in the day (like roasting a whole chicken), or not on days when, although I’m home, I have to run out briefly.
I’m hoping for a healthy week this week, which everything going pretty much according to schedule.
I spent some time over the past two weeks looking at Chick in the Kitchen site statistics for 2009, and thinking about ways I’d like this blog to grow in 2010. It was particularly interesting to me to see that my top five posts (by the amount of direct traffic they received) in 2009 were actually written in 2008!
I feel like those were really good dishes that, with the exception of the savory muffins, I come back to again and again. But it was still surprising to me that something more recent didn’t make the cut.
I do love the egg curry and have made it several times. I feel the same way about the Chicken & Figs. See the Coq Au Vin post reminded me that I want to try it again with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And the Scarpariello, well, it’s still not for me.
The most popular keyword search used to find my site was “chick in the kitchen.” I hope they found exactly what they were looking for here! Second and third place go to “slow cooker ratatouille” and “quinoa pudding.” And while simplyrecipes.com refers the most direct traffic to me, Facebook is (not surprisingly to me!) in the top five.
Most of all, my site statistics remind me that although I’m looking at anonymous numbers, all those digits represent real people worldwide who, even if just for a moment, came to read something I wrote. The thrill of that can’t be measured.
I was sure I had nearly a full bag of lentils in my pantry, but it turned out to be just half a cup. This turned out to be a happy mistake. Instead of the two full cups of lentils this recipe called for, I used a quarter of that and then filled in the rest with chunks of washed, but unpeeled, white potatoes from my farm share. They are perfect together, and create a really delicious Indian-inspired dish. Although there are green chiles in here, it’s not spicy, I promise.
I probably would have preferred the onions if I’d taken the time to caramelize them in some olive oil first. I also thought the flavor improved the second day, when my leftovers were reheated. Still, I will definitely make this recipe again, and it inspired me to think some more about other curry dishes for the Crock-Pot.
½ c. lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 qt. potatoes (4-6 medium), washed and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, diced
1½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried mustard
½ tsp. turmeric
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles
1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
4 c. vegetable broth
1.5 – 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, halved)
Place everything up to and including the vegetable broth in the slow cooker and give it a stir to combine. Lay the chicken on top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Stir and serve over rice, if desired.
Note: the original recipe suggests leaving the lid off the Crock-Pot while it is still on high for the last few minutes of cooking if you feel there’s too much liquid left for your taste. I didn’t do this, but did use a slotted spoon to serve.
I'm Dara, the Chick in the Kitchen. Living in the suburbs of Manhattan with my two school-aged boys and husband. Feeding my family something more diverse than a different shape of pasta each night. Read more about me and CITK, and keep in touch: