Meals en Masse: Honey Chicken with Quinoa

Honey Chicken 13

Here’s another quick-to-make slow-cooking easy-to-freeze recipe that is highly satisfying and adaptable (which I adapted, of course, from i heart naptime). You can use fresh or frozen chicken breasts in the recipe, which means that even if you didn’t plan ahead you’re still going to be just fine.

Honey Chicken 1

Take 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine are frozen) and plop them in the bottom of a slow cooker pot turned to low.

Honey Chicken 3

Chop up 1 sweet onion into bite-sized pieces (the original recipe calls for onion powder but I think real onions are better).

Honey Chicken 4

In a bowl, dollop 1 tablespoon olive oil, the equivalent of 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a bunch of ground pepper, as much as you like.

Honey Chicken 5

Add to that as well 1/2 cup soy sauce and 3/4 cup honey and give it a good stirring.

Honey Chicken 6

Pour the sauce over your chicken and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Honey Chicken 7

And if you happened to have additional chicken breasts, you can chuck those in a freezer bag with more onions and more sauce (I made the recipe in triplicate) and chuck those in the freezer for later.

Honey Chicken 8
I realized just now that I wrote “April ’17” on these bags. I hope future me isn’t too sleep-deprived to think that they were made by an even more future-me.

The chicken is done when it falls apart on you.

Honey Chicken 9

I decided to go whole hog and shredded it with a fork to expose all the chickeny bits to the sauce.

Honey Chicken 10

I served it on top of a quinoa-bulgur blend that I cooked with just a little bit of lemon juice added to the water, a little bit of extra sauce, and garnished the whole thing with a pinch or two of white sesame seeds.

Honey Chicken 12

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… Squasage?

Squasage 23

I did not name this, for the record.  When I was looking up basic cooking times on the internet, I found one for sausage-stuffed squash that was entitled “Squasage” and now I can’t get it out of my head.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, I had this squash (I think it’s a kabocha?) that needed eating and this is what I decided to do with it — it makes a nice winter meal for two.

Squasage 1

Preheat your oven to 400°F and cut your squash in half.  I use a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds — it’s easier that way.

Squasage 2

Place the squash cut-side-up on a baking dish or in a roasting pan and brush with olive oil.  Dust with salt and pepper and roast for about an hour, until you can poke it all over with a fork with little resistance.

Squasage 3

In the meantime, rinse and drain 1/2 cup quinoa.  This is red quinoa.

Squasage 4

Dump the quinoa in a small pot with 1 cup broth (your choice) and bring to a boil.

Squasage 5

Lower the heat, cover it, and let it simmer until the broth is all absorbed.  It’ll look all fluffy with little white tails like this when it’s done, after about 15 minutes.

Squasage 11

You’ll also want to chop up some veg, about half an onion and half a red pepper.  Or a whole pepper.  Up to you.

Squasage 6

I had three Italian sausages here, but you can use two as well.

Squasage 7

Slice open the casing and dump the contents into a bowl.

Squasage 8

Heat up some olive oil in a pan and start sautéing your onions.

Squasage 9

When they’re soft and translucent, add your sausage and break it up with a spoon while it cooks.

Squasage 10

When it’s cooked completely, add in your red pepper and some herbs.  I used fines herbes, a combination of things like parsley, chervil, marjoram, and chives.

Squasage 12

Stir that around for a bit until the red pepper is softer.

Squasage 13

Then you can dump in the quinoa and lower the heat just to keep the whole thing warm until the squash is ready.

Squasage 14

In a small bowl, dump in a few teaspoons panko bread crumbs and a little bit of grated cheese (your choice).  Mix that together.

Squasage 15

When the squash is ready, lower the oven heat to 350°F and start spooning the sausage mixture into your squash halves.  You may end up with leftover mix, but it makes a great lunch the next day.

Squasage 16

When the squash halves are holding as much as they can, sprinkle the cheese/panko mix over the top and chuck it back in the oven for about 15 minutes, until everything is thoroughly warm, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are starting to brown.

Squasage 18

The result is an all-in-one, piping hot meal.

Squasage 21

We did find it easier to tip out the contents and scrape out the softened squash before mixing it all together and eating it.  It was less molten that way.

Squasage 26

EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST: Quinoa Oatmeal

Quinoa Oatmeal 17

I love, LOVE reading Thug Kitchen.  Believe it or not, this is actually how I cook most of the time.  With very colourful language.  I tend to tone it down so as not to offend your more delicate sensibilities.  However, you may find that sometimes the tenor of my writing changes a bit.  Usually you can blame that on a binge reading of Thug Kitchen, or a quick episode of Epic Meal Time.  If I had my own internet cooking show, you can bet there would be lots of yelling and throwing of things.  And probably more dropping-things-on-the-floor-then-picking-them-up-and-putting-them-back-in-the-bowl than you were really prepared for.  Because that’s real life for me.

Quinoa Oatmeal 5

Anyway, I’m a firm believer in breakfast.  Yup, I’m one of THOSE.  Don’t even argue with me.  And I love me my parritch, so this quinoa oatmeal with steel cut oats appeals to the hippy highlander in me.

Quinoa Oatmeal 1

Start with 1/2 cup quinoa, and give that a good rinse in a sieve so that you wash off all the bitterness.

Quinoa Oatmeal 4

Put 4 cups water in a kettle and set that on the stove to come to an almost boil (you’ll thank me for the shortcut later).

Quinoa Oatmeal 9

Now you’re going to plop a bit of olive or coconut oil (1 teaspoon) in a saucepan, followed by 1 cup steel cut oats.

Quinoa Oatmeal 7

Stir that around on medium heat until the oats start to smell nice and toasty.

Quinoa Oatmeal 8

Chuck in the quinoa and the water and bring it to a boil (which will be almost immediately because you already almost boiled the water, remember?), then lower it to a simmer and let it cook as it is for about 20 minutes.

Quinoa Oatmeal 10

Quinoa Oatmeal 11

Stir it occasionally so it doesn’t burn, but don’t fret too much about it.

Quinoa Oatmeal 12

Add in about 1/2 cup of whatever kind of milk you like and turn off the heat.

Quinoa Oatmeal 13

Serves 4, garnished with fruit and nuts or raisins and brown sugar or whatever floats your boat!

Quinoa Oatmeal 15

Quinoa Oatmeal 16

Quinoa Oatmeal 18

Easter (Eater) Dinner

On Sunday the Pie and I had KK, Il Principe, and D, J, and S over for an Easter feast.

I have a lot on my plate this week (and I’m not talking about food here) so I’m going to draw the recounting of this tale out as long as I possibly can.  I’ll try to give you a post a day about all the fun and fantastic things we ate.

I love to have dinner parties.  I think it’s my parents’ influence again.  I’m not really happy unless I can stuff someone else with food until he or she feels the need to lie down.  It really makes my day.

That said, entertaining, on a small or large scale, takes a lot of work and a lot of planning.  Timing is pretty much everything, and it takes practice to get it all to happen at the same time.  The Pie and I have it down to an exact science at this point.  We take a gander at what time things are supposed to be done, chuck them in the oven or on the stove at the various points in time we think they need to go in, then we shut our eyes tight and cross our fingers that everything will turn out properly.  Most of the time we’re right but it took years to get us to this stage.

I have also learned the art of making things ahead of time.  This saves a lot of panic in the kitchen when you’re trying to get everything finished at the same time.  If there are some dishes on your menu that can be popped in the microwave or in the oven for reheating at the last minute then all the better.  Another important thing to remember, and something that I only recently learned, is that you don’t have to make absolutely everything from scratch.  There is nothing wrong with adding store-bought chips to your dips, or purchasing bread as a side.  The more stuff you make the more complications you are going to have.  Besides, sometimes the store versions of things are actually better.  You don’t have to have absolute control over everything that goes on your menu, and so that is why, finally, it is also important to let other people give you a hand if they want to.  Kª wanted to bring a salad, and you know what?  I thought that was a great idea.  And it was a great salad.

Items to be posted this week:

Menu

Appetizers

White Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Dip (made the day before)

Pita Chips (store-bought — really, you don’t have to be a domestic maven all the time – I get the In Snax sea salt versions from In Foods Inc.  They are totally tasty.)

Mains

Ham with Cloves (pre-cooked for simplicity)

Red Curry Quinoa (made the day before)

Sides

Spinach Salad with Blueberries, Feta Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette (made by Kª – I don’t have a link because I didn’t make it)

Carrot and Parsnip Butter Mash (made the day before)

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon, Tarragon, and Toasted Almonds

Roasted Red Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt

Quick Drop Biscuits

Dessert

Strawberry Glazed Angel Food Cake (strawberry component prepared the day before)

Waiting for the feast.

Red Curry Quinoa

Our vegetarian experiment is drawing to a close, and I hadn’t yet made a curry.  I also had a lot of vegetables in my refrigerator that needed using.  In addition, I wanted to take advantage of my new stainless steel compost bin from Lee Valley and cut up a bunch of vegetables.  Hoorah.

I got the inspiration to make my own curried quinoa from fellow WordPress food blogger Lindsay at The Food Operas.

Dice up a medium onion, three medium carrots, three carrot-sized parsnips, a head of broccoli, a red pepper, and two stalks of celery.

Chop up some vegetables!

In a large saucepan (preferably one with a wide bottom), heat up some olive oil and chuck in your vegetables.  Cook until tender.

Pour in two large handfuls of quinoa, together with a can of coconut milk and a few tablespoons each of red curry paste and minced garlic (I like the stuff that comes in jars).  Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.  Before serving, add a dash of tamari or soy sauce and some garlic chili sauce to taste.

Let that sucker simmer!

We ate it with some na’an.  Mmmm.

I love my na'an.

Tabouleh tabouleh tabouleh

I really like the word tabouleh.  I remember eating it often as a kid.  It’s a good quick salad and it works well in a pita sandwich.

We made this recipe with couscous, but you can substitute it for quinoa or bulgur or other grains.

Stir the couscous and oil into the water and allow to expand for 2 minutes.

To prepare the couscous, bring a cup of salted water to a boil in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and pour in a cup of couscous.  Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir, and allow the pasta to expand for two minutes.

Return the couscous to a low heat on the stove.  Drop in 2 to 3 teaspoons of butter and stir until well-blended.  Allow to cool.

Add butter to couscous and stir on low heat until melted.

We got this tabouleh recipe from the Joy of Cooking (2006 edition) by Rombauer & Becker, and we replaced the bulgur with couscous, of course, and  we weren’t all that good at measuring, either, so we fiddled with the amounts.

Finely chop 2 to 3 tomatoes, 2 cups of fresh parsley, 1 cup of fresh mint, and 1 bunch of scallions or green onions. See my tips and tricks entry on how to finely chop herbs.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, emulsify 1/3 cup olive oil with 1/3 cup lemon juice.  To do this, I took a very small whisk and rubbed it between my palms until the liquid was creamy and custard coloured.

Use a small whisk to emulsify the ingredients.
Rub the whisk briskly between your palms until the liquid is custardy.

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, tomatoes, onions, and herbs together thoroughly.  Toss with the olive oil/lemon juice emulsion and serve.

Serve as a salad or in a sandwich.

We spooned the tabouleh into open pita pockets lined with baby spinach and home-made hummus and ate them with Garbage Soup.

Pita pockets with hummus, tabouleh, and baby spinach.