Slow Cooker Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and bolts are a holiday cocktail party staple, we can’t imagine the season without them. It’s fun to experiment with different flavours — sweet, spicy, curried — but we also like sticking to this classic, dressed with Worcestershire and plenty of butter. Since our ovens are usually full of cookies, flaky appetizers and other goodies over the holidays, we like turning to the slow cooker to take care of the nuts and bolts. You have to be around to stir the mixture so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the crock, but they do cook up fairly quickly (compared to other slow cooker recipes at least).

This recipe appears in our book The Family Slow Cooker (which also includes a sweet snack mix) and can be easily adapted to use up whatever cereal or crispy snacks you may have on hand. We often leave out the peanuts out for friends who may have allergies and to keep the mix school safe. Read More

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is a staple around here, but we sometimes get tired of the usual cocoa mix (cocoa + icing sugar) swirled into warmed milk. Since we’re all fans of peanut butter and chocolate, years ago I tried swirling a spoonful of creamy peanut butter into hot chocolate, and it was a hit. Rich and delicious, it’s enough of an energy boost to take with you in a Thermos to the ski hill, skating, or when you come inside after some snow shovelling or snowman-building.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cocoa
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 3 cups 2% milk
  5. 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  6. 2 oz good dark chocolate, finely chopped (or a small handful of chocolate chips)
  7. marshmallows (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and cocoa to get rid of lumps; stir in the water until smooth, then whisk in the milk over medium-high heat. Heat until steaming. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and chocolate. Let it sit for a few seconds, then blend it with a hand-held immersion blender. Or for individual cups, divide the chocolate among the cups and pour the warm milk overtop. Whisk until perfectly smooth. Add marshmallows, if you like.
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Barley Banana Bread

 

Banana bread is a staple at all of our houses, but we always like to sneak in a nutritional boost wherever we can. This loaf is made with overripe bananas (the ones that tumble from the freezer whenever you open the door) and barley flour – along with regular all-purpose flour, it adds a delicious nuttiness and boosts fibre even more than whole wheat flour would. You can find it alongside the other flours in the baking section of most grocery stores, and once you try it you’ll find yourself using it in pancakes, cookies, muffins, cakes – and as a bonus, it’s Canada’s third largest crop (after wheat and canola), and more than half the barley grown in Canada is right here in Alberta.

Barley Banana Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 3 very ripe bananas
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1/4 cup canola oil
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 3/4 cup barley flour
  8. 1 tsp. baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt
  10. a handful of chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, raisins, coconut, fresh or frozen blueberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla with a potato masher - don't worry about getting all the lumps out. It will look sort of cottage-cheesy.
  3. Add the flours, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add any additions and stir just until blended.
  4. Spread into a buttered 8”x4” loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes, until golden and cracked on top and springy to the touch.
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Samarna’s Mutthiya Kebabs

My sister works with plenty of great cooks, but Samarna stands out as a truly exceptional home cook – she invited me to her kitchen earlier this year to cook, and made the most amazing ground meat kebabs – like large meatballs she shaped in the palm of her hands. They were simple, but delicious – you could make them with ground beef or lamb, and mix together a quick tzatziki to dip them in or dribble overtop. The perfect kind of food when you have a few extra people at the table.

Mutthiya Kebabs
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Kebabs
  1. 2 lbs ground beef or lamb
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 bread slice, finely crumbled with your hands
  4. 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  5. 1 tsp ground cumin
  6. 1 tsp chili powder
  7. ¼ tsp black pepper
  8. ½ tsp turmeric
  9. ½ tsp garam masala
  10. 1 tsp salt
Sauce
  1. 1 cup oil
  2. 1 onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 tbsp ginger & garlic paste
  4. 4 tomatoes, chopped
  5. 1 green chili, seeded and chopped
  6. 1 tsp red chili powder
  7. ½ tsp turmeric
  8. 1 tbsp ground coriander
  9. 1 tsp cumin
  10. ¼ tsp black pepper
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. 1 tsp salt
  13. fresh cilantro for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the meat, onion, bread crumbs, ginger-garlic paste, spices and salt with your hands. (When well-blended, the meat will change colour, becoming a little darker.) Shape the meat mixture into oval kebabs about the size of a small egg. Fry in oil in a shallow pan until they’re lightly brown all over. Set aside.
  2. In a pot set over medium-high heat, heat the oil and cook the onions, stirring constantly, until golden. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for a few seconds. Blend the tomatoes and chili and stir them in. Add the spices in the order given, stirring after each. Fry for two minutes, then add 2 cups of water, reduce heat, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir well and reduce heat to low.
  3. When the water has evaporated and oil has risen to the top, add the kebabs. Fry for a minute and add another two cups of water, cover and cook for 10 minutes, turning the kebabs every few minutes. When the oil has risen to the top again and the gravy is the consistency of Greek yogurt, serve topped with cilantro.
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Creamy Chicken, Corn & Vegetable Chowder

With so many veggies at their peak in the fall, it’s a great time to make a hearty bowl of chowder. This recipe makes great use of leftover roasted turkey and stock, too – often we’ll just use a meaty stock that has not been strained, rather than measure out leftover roast chicken or turkey. This soup is equally delicious with leftover chopped ham in place of the chicken.

As with most soups, ingredients can be played with and measurements are approximate – use what you like, add more carrots if you like carrots, add a handful of baby spinach (we did, when we reheated the leftovers) or chopped kale or chard. Soup is infinitely versatile, inexpensive, and can be frozen for a quick meal down the road.

Creamy Chicken, Corn & Vegetable Chowder
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Ingredients
  1. canola or olive oil, for cooking
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 stalk celery, chopped
  4. 1 carrot, chopped
  5. 1 cup leftover shredded roasted chicken or turkey
  6. 2 Tbsp. flour
  7. 1 tsp. thyme
  8. 1 L chicken stock
  9. 1-2 small thin-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and diced
  10. 1 cup sweet kernel corn
  11. 1/2 cup half & half (or to taste)
  12. salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Drizzle some oil into a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until soft. Add the chicken or turkey, sprinkle with the flour and thyme and cook, stirring, for another minute. Stir in the stock, add the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
  2. Stir in the corn, and cream if you’re using it, and allow the chowder to return to a gentle simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
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Herbed Bulgur Salad

 

Herbed Bulgur Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dry bulgur (cracked wheat)
  2. 1 cup boiling water
  3. big handfuls of fresh parsley and cilantro, leaves pulled off the stems and coarsely chopped (a bunch or two)
  4. a smaller handful of mint and/or dill
  5. a small handful of chopped toasted walnuts
  6. juice of a big, juicy lemon
  7. a good drizzle of good olive oil
  8. if you like: tiny tomatoes, crumbled feta, shaved cucumber
Instructions
  1. Put the dry bulgur into a bowl and pour the boiling water overtop; cover with a plate and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Pour off any water than hasn't been absorbed (I like to do this in a sieve, shaking it to make sure all excess moisture is gone) and transfer to a bowl and set aside or in the fridge to cool.
  2. Add the herbs, squeeze over the lemon juice and a good glug of oil, toss and add the toasted walnuts (and anything else you think would taste good). Serves 4-6ish.
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Many people overlook fresh herbs as a potential salad ingredient – classic Middle Eastern tabbouleh is a notable exception, loaded with flat-leaf parsley, grains and typically cucumbers and tomatoes. It’s a perfect candidate if you have all three growing in your back yard (or at their peak at the farmers’ market), but if you want to make use of a wider variety of herbs, this leafy, herb-heavy bulgur salad is packed with green goodness: parsley, cilantro, mint and dill, but you could use anything you have on hand and love. 

This salad is simple to make – bulgur is simply soaked in boiling water, so you can plug in the kettle and don’t even need to put a pot on the stove. A squeeze of lemon gives it a brightness and brings out all the green, herbal flavours, and a drizzle of olive oil adds richness, healthy fats, and smooths everything out. We added a handful of chopped toasted walnuts, but pine nuts would  be delicious too. Feel free to add tomatoes and cukes to make it more like a classic tabbouleh.