21 July 2015 African-Style Chicken Stew, Slow Cooker Style

It’s been a hot week in New England and that makes cooking more of a chore. This week I had planned a West African Chicken Stew – something I’ve made several times – but rather than add heat to an already hot kitchen, I decided to pull out my slow cooker. DSC_0577

I get a feeling of accomplishment when preparing a slow cooker meal. For one thing, once it is set up, there’s no more cooking prep to do.  And the aroma of what’s in the cooker fills our space for most of the day.

This recipe is an amalgam of sorts. The original recipe was adapted from Mark Bittman’s VB6 Cookbook, but the cooking method came from this link ReadySetEat.com. Peanut butter, sweet potatoes and chicken – tasty, enjoyable and filling.

African Style Chicken Stew

adapted from Mark Bittman, The VB6 Cookbook


2 Tbsp oil (I use coconut oil)

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp minced ginger

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 (approximate) cups water or vegetable stock

1 1-lb can chopped tomatoes, undrained

1/2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 lb kale or other greens

1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (garnish)


1. Prepare the sweet potatoes and onions. Add to the bottom of a slow cooker (I spray the cooker insert so things don’t stick). Prep garlic and ginger.

2. Add oil to a 10-inch skillet, Add garlic and ginger and let these cook for a minute or so being careful not to burn them.  Add the chicken thighs and brown (5-10 minutes). Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if using)

3. Add peanut butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Now add about 1/2 cup water or stock to thin the mixture. Mix and then add in the can of chopped tomatoes (do not drain the juices out).  Mix well and be sure to coat the pieces of chicken thigh.

4. Add this pan mixture to the slow cooker, layering it on top of the sweet potatoes and onions.  Add water/stock to cover the sweet potato layer (about another 1 1/2 cups). Cover the slow cooker and set on high for 7-9 hours. Add additional stock/water throughout the cooking process if things seem to dry out.

5. About 15-20 minutes before serving, add the greens to the slow cooker, stir and recover. Continue cooking until the greens are wilted.

6. Adjust seasonings as needed at time of serving and serve in bowls. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts.

16 January 2014 A Basic Caprese Salad

2014-01-12-foodie-015The middle of winter is not necessarily when you expect to find tomatoes, is it?  These, though not vine ripened, did actually grow on a farm in Massachusetts. They are Ugly, an apt name for this variety, and they were delicious!

Basic Caprese Salad

  • Ripe tomatoes, washed and sliced at about 1/4 inch
  • Fresh mozarella cheese, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and pepper2014-01-12-foodie-066


  • Wash and slice the tomatoes and arrange on a serving dish
  • Slice the cheese into rounds, put one round (or 1/2 a round, if the fresh mozarella is quite large) on each tomato slice
  • Top with a freshly washed and dried basil leaf
  • Drizzle with olive oil
  • Sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!


13 January 2014 Roasted Root Vegetables

We visited a local market, Idylwilde Farms in Acton this week – one of my favorite places tImageo go. It is a place where high-end food products and wines can be found right next to the most beautiful produce imaginable. Our challenge this week was to find locally grown produce and, despite the fact that we’re right smack in the middle of January, we were able to do just that.

The parsnips and carrots are both from Western Massachusetts. One of my favorite winter veg side-dishes is, roasted root vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweetness of both the carrot and parsnips making this one satisfying treat for a winter meal.

Roasting vegetables, especially root vegetables, is a fairly simple process: hot (400 F) oven, chunks of cleaned veggies coated with olive oil, some seasonings of choice, and about 20 minutes. Here’s the “master” recipe for tonight’s dish:

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips  2014-01-12-foodie-055

  • About 3  large parsnips, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
  • About 3 large carrots, cleaned, quartered and chunked (2 inch long chunks)
  • Good quality olive oil to coat. Tonight I used half basil infused, half good old EVOO
  • A couple of handfuls of herbs – tonight we used fresh rosemary, salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Clean and cut the parsnips and carrots. Place in a large bowl.
  • Add the olive oil to coat generously.
  • Toss in the herbs and salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Spread in a single layer in a large baking pan.
  • Place in preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Test vegetables for doneness, remove from oven and serve.


04 Jan 2014 Kale Chips

2014-01-05-foodie-022We finally got an opportunity to visit the Chelmsford Agway Winter Farmer’s Market this weekend.  Not only was a great excuse for breaking out of the house after the end-of-week snowstorm, it was reinvigorating to visit with and buy from local farmers and businesses.

And it was the perfect catalyst for getting both Adrien and me back on track with our food collaboration project, Four Nights a Week. Check out Adrien’s blog for more great photos.

This week the kale looked great so we bought a bunch from local farmer, 2014-01-05-foodie-013Jones Farms and some very tasty salsa from Town Farm Gardens in Brookfield, MA.

Kale Chips (adapted from many many recipes)


  • Bunch of kale
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse Salt


  1. Thoroughly wash the kale leaves. Cut the thick spines off the leaves and rip into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Dry the kale (water and oil don’t mix). I used my salad spinner for this. Put the kale in a large mixing bowl so you can toss the olive oil and salt with the leaves.
  3. Drizzle on the oil – enough to coat (not drench). I’m guessing a couple of tablespoons were enough. Now sprinkle on the coarse salt.
  4. Spread the kale in a single layer on baking sheets. Don’t make the mistake of putting all the kale on one sheet or the leaves won’t crisp up.
  5. Bake at 325 F for 10 minutes or so — watch the leaves so that they dry and crisp but don’t brown.  Also, I know there are some bloggers recommending using a microwave, but I would not….. too easy for leaves to catch on fire.
  6. Take the pans out and let things cool off until you can handle. Serve and enjoy.


08 Jan 2014 My Own Greens and Sweet Potato Soup

2014-01-05-foodie-002Is there anything better than a nice hot soup on a wintry evening? I don’t think so.  Another item we picked up on our visit to the Chelmsford Agway Farmers’ Market was sweet potatoes. Not the beat up ones you see in big box food stores either. These were inspirational.

And that’s how the idea for making a Greens and Sweet Potato Soup came to fruition.  I already had fresh baby spinach left from a previous shopping trip in the refrigerator, so creating the soup just became an exercise in putting together what tastes appealed.  So here’s the result, but if you’re feeling inventive, substitute away.

2014-01-05-foodie-054                      2014-01-05-foodie-007

Greens and Sweet Potato Soup


  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Small bunch of fresh baby spinach, cleaned and stemmed
  • Stalk of celery, chopped finely
  • Half an onion, minced
  • Clove of garlic, minced
  • Olive oil for sauteeing
  • About 2 tsp of Garam Masala
  • Couple of shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock


  1. Start by sauteeing onions, garlic, and celery in oil until the onions are limp.
  2. Throw in the Garam and pepper flakes for a few seconds so their oils are released.
  3. Add the cubed sweet potato and give them a minute or two.
  4. Now add the 4 cups of vegetable stock. Cover the pot and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the spinach, stir around a bit, cover and cook until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper if you wish) and serve.


05 August 2011 Cucumber Salad with Olives, Oregano, and Almonds

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. Cooking for Two 2012. (2012) Brookline, MA: Boston Common Press Limited Partnership. p 74.

My Comment: Cucumber salads are the epitome of refreshing on hot summer days.  As a big fan of America’s Test Kitchens, I knew this salad would be perfection – a descriptor I would NOT have used with my previous iterations of this salad. Thanks to the chefs at ATK, here is a salad that has crunch and flavor.


2 small cucumbers, peeled, halved length-wise, seeded and sliced thin
2 1/2 TBSP white wine vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp  lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 TBSP chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
1 small shallot, sliced thin
12 tsp minced fresh oregano
1 1/2 TBSP sliced almonds (toasted & chopped coarse) I omitted these


1. Line baking sheet with paper towels and evenly spread cucumber slices on sheet. Refrigerate while preparing dressing.

2. Bring vinegar to simmer in small saucepan over medium-low heat; continue to simmer until reduced to 1 TBSP, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperatures, about 5 minutes. Whisk in oil, sugar, lemon juice, 12 tsp salt and pinch pepper until well combined.

3. add cucumbers, olives, shallot, and oregano to dressing and toss to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes, then toss to redistribute dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with almonds.  Serves 2.

Nutrition information (almonds included):

Calories (60), fat (3.2 g), Carbs (8.2), Fiber (3.9), Protein (1.0).  Hormonal carbs (Metabolic Effect = 3.3)

30 July 2012 Grilled Peppers Piedmontese

Have you ever noticed how your weekly food bill creeps up when you don’t menu plan?  In addition to changing the way we are eating so that we’re more conscious of hormonal carbs, this week I was inspired to do more meal planning when we realized our food bills were getting out of control.  This recipe from the Boston Globe Sunday magazine seemed a good fit for an interesting side –

Copyright © 2012. Adrien Bisson Photography.

and at 6.9 grams fat and -58.8 hormonal carbs (yes!) it’s right on target for eating metabolically. We served with a lean boneless skinless chicken breast which shared the grill and was simply seasoned with salt and pepper.



Grilled Peppers Piedmontese

Adapted from Reid, Adam. Out of the oven, onto the grill. The Boston Globe Magazine. July 29, 2012. p 16.

Copyright © 2012. Adrien Bisson Photography.Globe Magazine. (July 29, 2012). p 16.


1 dry pint grape tomatoes (halved)
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling if wanted
Salt and black pepper
3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise through the stem, membranes and seeds removed.


In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, 2 TBSP oil, 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper to taste, the parsley and half of the basil.

Prepare a medium fire charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high for 15 minutes (if using gas, adjust burners to medium).

Grill the peppers open sides down until the edges char (6-8 minutes). Turn the peppers, divide the tomato mixture among them, cover the grill and grill until peppers are tender but not collapsed, 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange the peppers on a platter and drizzle with oil (I didn’t) and sprinkle with the remaining basil just before serving hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Serves 6.  PER SERVING: 328 calories. Total fat 6.9 grams, Total carbs 4.7 grams, Fiber 1.1 grams, Protein 62.4 grams.


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