I don’t use my crockpot very often but when I do, I’m reminded of the easy and delicious meals that can be made in it. After all, there is nothing better than walking in the door at the end of a long day and being greeted by the smell of a warm meal waiting for you. It really is so easy……
And because it is fall, my cooking inspiration has turned to all things pumpkin. I’ve been baking up a storm with pumpkin inspired dishes over the past couple of weeks so when I saw the extra can of pumpkin puree sitting in the pantry I was inspired to turn it into an entree. And that is just what I did.
CURRIED PUMPKIN CHICKEN
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 15 ounce can coconut milk
3 tablespoons red curry paste, more or less to taste depending upon your personal preferences
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- Combine the pumpkin puree, coconut milk and curry paste in the bottom of a medium to large sized crock pot.
- Distribute the onion slices evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture.
- Nestle the chicken breasts into the sauce then top with the sliced apple.
- Cover the pot and cook the chicken on the low setting for six hours.
- Serve over basmati rice or rice noodles.
Duck is so plentiful here in Belgium that it has been making a regular appearance on our dinner table since we arrived in the country. I’ve been marinading, grilling and roasting it (and making good use of the resulting delicious duck fat) but have recently been expanding my horizons and cooking the meat in different ways. We are also fans of curry at my house, in particular red curry, so this recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine seemed like a natural fit. And I was right.
Like most curries, the ingredients are simple and variable but the results are always packed with flavor in every bite. Here crisp pea pods, chunks of fresh pineapple and sweet grape tomatoes are simmered in a rich red curry ladened coconut milk. Basil–the Thai variety if you can find it–and kaffir lime leaves add complexity to the dish. (You can find kaffir lime leaves in most Asian markets or as I do, in the Asian section of my local grocery store). And of course there is the duck; other meats will work as well but the duck makes the dish taste that much more luxurious. And since the curry cooks up so quickly it makes for a perfect weeknight meal. Enjoy!
THAI RED CURRY w/ DUCK
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 pound duck breast, cut into bite sized pieces
10 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 cup fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup pea pods
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
6 Thai chiles, stemmed
20 grape tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, white part only
Leaves from 10 basil stems
- Heat 1 cup of the coconut milk in a large pot over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the curry paste and continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is very aromatic, about 5 minutes more.
- Add the duck to the curry mixture and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the duck is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
- Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, and 3⁄4 cup water.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring, until the flavors have melded, about 2 minutes.
- Add the pineapple, pea pods, fish sauce, sugar, and chiles and continue to simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is fork tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the tomatoes, green onion and the basil and simmer the curry for 1 minute more; the tomatoes and basil should retain their shape and bright color.
- Serve the curry with steamed jasmine rice.
It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, its time to take a deep breath and prepare for the year to come. But regardless of the date, we all need to eat. For me, the holidays are the ultimate cooking frenzy where my stove and oven seem to be running non-stop. So now, I am digging into my collection of simpler meals to feed my family. But simpler doesn’t need to mean less flavorful as this soup adapted from Cooking Light can attest to.
Using frozen pureed butternut squash makes this soup cook up in a flash. If you don’t have any on hand it is readily available in most grocery store freezer cases or you can cook some up yourself. (The soup will take longer to make if you take this route but you can cook up the squash earlier in the week so once Friday hits you are ready to go). The Asian flavors add a nice surprise to what appears as an ordinary squash soup but that is what makes this soup so special.
THAI BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon red curry paste
4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3 cups pureed butternut squash
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
- Heat the oil in a soup pot set over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and saute 3 minutes.
- Add the curry paste, garlic and ginger to the pot and saute for 45 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add the broth, brown sugar, butternut squash, coconut milk, fish sauce and salt to the pot.
- Cover and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove the pot from the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth.
- Add the lime juice to the soup, stir well and serve, topped with the cilantro leaves if using.