Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Next up...

We've eaten fish every day since Saturday...and although we love fish, it's time to try another chicken or possibly a pork chop recipe (depends on what's on sale).  So many recipes, so little time and stomach space!

It's been a busy week for both of us, so no mid-week crock pot fish dish and probably no crock pot meal on Friday either.  However, Saturday and Sunday - crock pot meals for sures!

A blogger from our local paper posted a great local recipe for the crock pot - Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Chicken in case you're interested in trying it.   We'll be trying the recipe out (scaling it back for two people) but not right now.


Crock Pot Poached Salmon in Wine for two

HE SAID: Very good (he ate leftovers too)

The lower carb plate, this was quite filling.
Here's our second fish recipe from this past weekend.    This was much better...first of all, salmon is fattier which equals moister fish.   Secondly, we cut the fillet into 2 inch wide pieces and added a packet of sazon.  Oh and we love cooking with wine.  Wine makes everything so yummy!

We love salmon...prefer it raw as sushi and spicy salmon bowls, the fattier, the better.  We're tempted to buy the huge slab of salmon at Costco, but that's way too much for the two of us to eat and we prefer not to  freeze the fish.

This fits nicely into a 2-qt crock pot.  Served with Japanese rice and we stir fried some bean sprouts with chinese peas in a little bit of sesame oil and Bragg's Liquid Amino instead of shoyu (soy sauce).

Note: the reason for the leftovers - trying to save money and eat healthier at work during lunch.  To make just two servings, cut down the fish to 3/4 to 1 lb. - depending on how much each of you like to eat and if you're going lower carb like we are, you'll need a little more fish.

Here's our recipe:

Serves 2 (plus leftovers)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3-4 hours on low

1 - 1 1/2 lbs. fresh salmon fillet (pick the fattiest looking piece)
3/4 c. dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced (ok to use some of the rind if you wish)
5 olives (stuffed with pimentos), sliced
1/4 t. kosher salt
pepper (to taste)
1 pkg. sazon
1 - 1 1/2 T. olive oil

Grease crock pot with olive oil.  Cut salmon fillet into 2 inch wide pieces and place in crock pot.  Add wine, olives, salt, pepper, lemon juice and sazon.  Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on low.


Crock Pot Au (Marlin) for two

HE SAID: Good, but a little dry, try adding butter.
SHE SAID: Good, but too dry, should've cut the fish into smaller pieces.

This tasted better than it looked
We've been eating a lot of chicken lately, but on Valentine's Day we attended a wedding and had two wonderful fish dishes...inspiration...we should have fish this weekend.  Found some nice pieces of au (marlin) and salmon fillets - fresh too!

Decided to make the au (marlin) on Saturday night in a light wine sauce.  Shouldn't have added the asparagus in...wished we sauteed them separately.  The sauce was nice and light, it flavored up the fish and mushrooms nicely.  Next time we'll cut the fillets into 2 inch wide pieces.  The outer edges of the fish was juicy and tasty.  The middle was too dry and lacked flavor.


Serves 2 (plus leftovers)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours on low
2-qt. crock pot

1 1/2 lbs. au (marlin) or a flaky white fish fillet
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 lemon, juiced (add some of the rind too if you wish)
pepper to taste
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 T. olive oil

Grease crock pot with olive oil.  Cut fish fillet into 2 inch wide pieces and place in crock pot.  Add mushrooms, wine, lemon juice (and rind), pepper and salt.  Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on low.

We served this with Japanese rice and white corn.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Crock Pot Shoyu-Wine Marinated Chicken Wings for Two

HE SAID: They taste great, but next time make thighs.

Wings, Japanese rice and white corn
We made these wings for Super Bowl Sunday last week and loved them.  Had 9 wing pieces ("flats" and "drums") left so we decided to make more wings.  We knew we'd be out for a couple of hours trying to get in a sunset photo shoot and with the cook time for these wings set at 3-4 hours, the wings would be ready as we returned.

We really could have gone with just 7 wings since we only ate 3 each...Safeway's wings are HUGE!  The sauce can accommodate up to probably 12 wings, depending on how large your wing pieces are.  Prep time is about 5 minutes, but we highly recommend marinating the wings for at least 4 hours.


Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours on low

Serves 2, 2-qt crock pot

6-8 wing pieces ("flats" and "drums") - depending on how many wings you want to eat
1 c. low sodium shoyu (soy sauce)
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. sugar (we use truvia)
1 t. ground ginger

Mix all ingredients except chicken in a bowl.  Put chicken in a gallon size ziploc (we put our ziploc into a foil pan just in case).  Pour half of the marinade into the ziploc bag and refrigerate wings for at least 4 hours.  Refrigerate the remaining marinade.  Flip ziploc bag several times, maybe every hour or so.

Drain marinade from bag, pour wings into a 2 qt crock pot, cover with remaining marinade.  Cover pot and cook on low for 3 hours or until chicken is cooked all the way.

We had our wings with Japanese rice and corn.

Enjoy, we did!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fluffy Rice...It's All About the Rice Cooker

3 cup rice cooker made in Japan
Have you ever noticed how fluffy and shiny rice is a good Japanese restaurant?  Go to any authentic Japanese restaurant and the rice just looks and tastes better.  After a conversation with some students in Japan, their Australian English teacher chimed in "it's all about the rice cooker"!  Jason, lives in Japan, owns an English school and married a woman from Japan years ago.  Several years ago they decided to give living in Australia a try.  Jason said the didn't care for the rice they found in Australia, it just wasn't the same as Japanese rice.  He ordered rice from Japan thinking that would be the answer to their rice cravings.  The rice came and much to their disappointment, the rice was still a bit dry.  They thought perhaps it's the rice cooker.  They owned a Japanese brand rice cooker in Australia, but it wasn't made it Japan...and that is what apparently makes all the difference in the world.  After ordering a rice cooker MADE in Japan, they found their rice to be shiny and fluffy, just like in Japan.
See rice in the background

If you don't believe us, try it!  The male half of this couple thought the female half of this couple was exaggerating when she said, the rice is coming out too dry because of the cooker.  Tonight we tried the rice cooker made in Japan given as a gift by some hula students.  Shiny, fluffy, moist rice.

We'll try to take a better picture of the rice.  Trust us, the same rice cooked in a cooker made in Japan comes up much better than the same rice cooked in an American made Japanese rice cooker.  See photo of the cooked rice, see how shiny it is?  We used the same amount of water in this pot as we would in the American made pot.

We're seriously considering bringing back some 3 cup rice pots from Japan for gifts!

Crock Pot Spanish Braised Chicken for Two (plus leftovers)

HE SAID: Thought it was dry and agreed not as tasty as other dishes we've tried.
SHE SAID: This was ok.  Not as tasty as our Chicken Fricassee (Cuban style).

Finished product
This week has been a busy week for time to cook in the crock pot...but we definitely had time this weekend!  Here's another recipe we saved from Stephanie O'Dea's blog, but we tweaked the recipe a bit since we had white wine already in the house.  Wanted some leftovers too for work lunches, so we made enough for dinner for two and one day of leftovers.

Reading Stephanie's recipe reminded us of one of our favorite Cuban dishes "Chicken Fricassee".  There are many versions of this dish, including a Puerto Rican one which we've made also, but our favorite is still the Cuban style.  We were tempted to turn the Spanish Braised Chicken into Fricassee, but decided we should try something new.  Mmm..we'll have to make Chicken Fricassee in the crock pot soon!  So many recipes to try, so little time!

The cook forgot to follow Stephanie's suggestion of cutting the chicken in half to help with the dryness.  Our chicken came out dry.  The leftovers were cut in half and sat in the crock pot for an hour in the juices...hope this helps.  We had thighs in our hands at the market, wished we stuck with thighs.

Here's our tweaked's almost the same as Stephanie's.


Serves 2-3, 4-qt crock pot

1 T. butter
4-6 chicken breasts (cut in half)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried thyme
1-2 bell peppers, sliced (used one since it was a large bell pepper)
1 medium red onion (sliced into rings)
1/2 c. white wine (original recipe called for brandy)
1/2 an orange, juiced
12 lg. green olives, chopped (stuffed with pimentos)

After 7 hours
Plug in crock pot and turn on low before you chop veggies.  Add butter and spread around pot.  Add chicken.  Add all dried spices on chicken.  Cut bell peppers and onions, mince garlic (we use the already minced garlic from Costco), add to chicken.  Top off with wine and orange juice.  Chop olives and sprinkle on top.  Cover and cook 7-8 hours on low.

We served this with Japanese (short grain) rice and white corn.  As mentioned earlier, it didn't wow us, but it was still good.  Perhaps it would come out better with thighs and the brandy.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crock Pot Marinated Chicken Wings - party sized

HE SAID: very good.
SHE SAID: yum!  Will make again, but will use chicken thighs instead - easier to eat, to which he replied "yeah!"

Super Bowl Sunday was coming up and of course the female part of this couple had to use the crock pot to make our potluck contribution.  Wish we photographed the wings, we didn't realize how darn delicious they would be!  The chicken becomes very moist and oh so tasty!  Since we will be making this again soon, a pic will be posted then.

We found this recipe under the name "Marinated Slow Cooker Wings" on and made some adjustments to our taste and blood pressure needs.  Here's our recipe:


4 - 6 qt crock pot

20 chicken wings (not wing tips)
2 c low sodium shoyu (soy sauce) - we watered down the shoyu a bit
1 3/4 c white wine
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T sugar
2 t ground ginger

Place chicken in a gallon sized baggie (we also place the baggie in a foil pan just in case).  In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Pour half the marinade on the chicken, keep the other half for cooking (refrigerate).  Seal bag up, coat chicken with sauce and refrigerate overnight.  We turned the bag of chicken a few times before going to bed to ensure even coating.  When ready to cook, discard marinade from bag, place chicken and the reserved marinade into your crock pot, cook on low for 4 hours.

After we adjust this recipe for thighs and a party of two, we will post the new recipe!  We're thinking of serving the thigh style recipe with Japanese rice and stir fried veggies.

Enjoy...we sure did!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan

HE SAID: it was ok (keep in mind he loves pasta and ordered this on our third date).
SHE SAID: not bad for a crock pot recipe, but nothing beats the real thing

Photo from Stephanie O'Dea's site.
We are still tweaking this recipe, but we rate it a 10 for easy recipe with a great taste.  We almost used our homemade marinara sauce (well, our friend Pam's recipe for marinara sauce) and hindsight, we should have went with our first instinct.  Also, we had 5 pieces of chicken thighs which came out very moist and tender...a little too moist and tender for Chicken Parmesan.  We thought we adjusted the time correctly for the 5 pieces of chicken, but our cheese was overcooked - we didn't even recognize it when it came out of the crock pot!

We used our 4-qt crock pot for this recipe and it was a bit overfilled.  Next time we will use the 6-qt crock pot which we haven't used yet!  Our chicken didn't look anywhere near as nice as Stephanie O'Dea's looked!   We used some gemelli and rotini pasta since we had 1/3 of a bag of each waiting to be boiled.


serves 2 (plus one leftover meal), 4-qt crock pot

2-4 boneless chicken breasts (we used boneless skinless thighs, stick with breasts)
1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 t kosher salt
1 T olive oil
1 beaten egg
sliced mozzarella cheese (we used fresh - it was on sale)
favorite jarred marinara (we used an organic one, we wished we used homemade)
your choice of pasta

Spread olive oil into the bottom of the crock pot.  Whip the egg in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients including the shredded parmesan cheese.  Dip the chicken into the egg, the coat with the dry mix.  Place chicken into crock pot.  Layer 2-3 slices of mozzarella on the chicken - we covered the chicken with the mozzarella.  Pour entire jar of marinara on chicken/cheese.  Cover crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.  Serve over pasta...and some Luccio Moscasto d'Asti!

We cooked our chicken parmesan for 7 hours, will try 6 hours next time, hopefully that will help the mozzarella.  Again, we like the recipe, just need to tweak it a bit and use the homemade marinara!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crock Pot Foil Packet Fish for Two


HE SAID: Good! Didn't care for the fish we chose.
SHE SAID: Good..ditto!

During our quarterly Costco run (we go more than that, but the quarterly trip is the big one) we decided to pick up a bag of frozen fish. Costco has those individually wrapped fish that are supposed to be great. We wanted Tilapia since we were trying out Stephanie O'Dea's Foil Packet Fish recipe. Couldn't find any Tilapia, so we chose another white flakey fish, Pacific Cod...being from Hawaii where fresh fish is always available, we were quite disappointed with the Pacific Cod from Costco.
Photo from Stephanie O'Dea's site.

We were however pleased with the recipe. For the two of us we used 3 small pieces of fish in our 2-quart crock pot. Not too much adjusting from the recipe. We served with Japanese rice and probably could have cooked the fish the entire 4 hours since the cheese wasn't melted all the way.

We too made it with cheddar cheese since we still had some left from the Skyline Cincinnati Chili we made. We also prefer parmesan cheese in the mix.

We tried this recipe again with swordfish from the local market but altered the recipe..instead of lemon, we added chili oil (lots of it - to taste - we like our food spicy) instead. We really liked the fish this way. Served it with Japanese rice and stir fried chinese cabbage (won bok) or Napa Cabbage.

Will be trying other fish with this recipe and probably various spices. We're thinking even shoyu (soy) and ginger or shoyu and white wine sauces.  For now, here is our Foil Packet Spicy Fish Recipe...

RECIPE (2-qt crock pot):

3-4 fillets of tilapia (or other white fish)
1/4 c mayonnaise (we used Cupie - Japanese mayo)
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
chili oil - to taste (we used 2-3 tablespoons)
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of pepper (we recommend a pepper grinder)

Mix all ingredients except the fish in a bowl.  Lay out a piece of foil for each fish (enough to fold over into a sealed packet).  Place a piece of fish on the foil, coat in the mayonnaise mix on all sides, fold up the foil into a sealed packet - be sure all folds are facing up.  Put all packets in a 2-qt crock pot, cover and cook on low for 2-4 hours.   Fish is done when it flakes easily.  We usually cook for at least 3 hours - ours has never dried out.  Careful when opening the packets, steam will come out of your packets when opening.


Crock Pot Salsa Chicken for Two


HE SAID: Pretty good, could be spicier, would eat it again
SHE SAID: Yum and soooo easy!, great as leftovers

What to make, what to make? That's always the question! Here's another great recipe we found on Stephanie O'Dea's blog. We chose it for it's simplicity since one of us had to work and the other ran household errands - wow, what an easy recipe, but it's so flavorful!

Photo from Stephanie O'Dea's site
Salsa Chicken...mmm. We went with 8 small chicken thighs (which looks more like 6 regular sized thighs) and used the 2-quart crock pot for this recipe. We're not into beans, so next time we'll be using half the beans. It was great and so tender!

Another way to serve this...we did this with our leftovers (and wished we served more of the sauce with the chicken the first night!)...make "pulled chicken" open faced sandwiches. For our starch we made homemade guacamole (the better way to go) since avocados were on sales $1 a piece. We've also made something similar to what Stephanie O'Dea suggested..creamy sauce. We usually add in cream of mushroom soup with the salsa...we've only tried this in the oven, but will try it in the crock pot soon!

Enjoy! We sure did! All 8 thighs were gone after two meals!

Breakfast in the crock pot

We tried two recipes from Stephanie O'Dea's blog, reducing the recipes to only feed the two of us...we didn't care for either since both were either over or undercooked. We're not sure if these recipes just come out better making a big batch or if we didn't adjust the cooking time enough. In any case, waking up to your breakfast ready in the crock pot sounds wonderful.

The two recipes we tried are Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole and French Toast Bake Recipe. We made some adjustments to the Hash Brown Casserole since we stay away from sausage (used left over chicken) and left out the bell pepper since we didn't have any. Made half the recipe, cut the cook time in half and the casserole was dry and hard. We're not giving up on this recipe...we may try it again in the future. We (well, the female half of this couple) was pretty excited about the French Toast Bake and had high hopes for it since the male half enjoys French Toast. The top two pieces came out decent, the underneath was hard and overcooked, the middle was spongy and wet. Tried Stephanie's suggestion on leaving the crock pot open (still cooking) for 30 minutes...didn't help our batch. Again, we reduced the recipe by half. This could be one of the reasons the recipe didn't come out well.

As mentioned, we're not ready to give up on breakfast in the crock pot recipes but last weekend we made French Toast on the stove!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Our first crock pot meal - part 2 of 2

HE SAID: Not exactly the same as Skyline, but pretty close. Enjoyed it!
SHE SAID: Like it! Will make again!

The female part of this couple was born and raised in Hawaii, Chili is always served with rice...actually most dishes were served with rice, but with the variety of restaurants in this State, the changing demographics and health conscious diners, most restaurants here now offer a variety of starches or veggie substitutes.

Cincinnati Chili is ordered several ways (none with rice). The male part of this couple said he always had it three-way: chili on top of spaghetti topped with cheddar cheese. The chili is a bit spicy, so if you're not into spicy, cut back on the chili powder. This recipe was just right for us, although the male part of this couple said it's pretty close to Skyline, but not quite the same. Next time I'm trying the boiling of the ground beef.

The photo to the right was borrowed from Our chili looked similar minus the onions and with more cheese.

We used our 4-quart crock pot for this. The pot fed two of for dinner (generous servings), the male part of this couple had one serving of leftovers and we stored away two containers (each would feed both of us) in the freezer. We wouldn't cut down the recipe to feed two people just one time..make the whole crock pot! The female part loves this beans. We made some whole wheat spaghetti for the chili. Next time we may try the chili on soy dogs for chili dogs!

We actually took from a couple's what we tried.


Seves 6, used a 4-quart crock pot

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 hours on low


1 quart cold water
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 c crushed tomatoes
1 red onion, diced (you can use two, we prefer less onions)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T unsweetened cocoa
1/4 c chili powder
1 t cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
2 T cider vinegar
1 whole bay leaf
1/4 t ground cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t kosher salt
cooked whole wheat spaghetti
shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you like)

In a frying pan, fry ground beef with onions and garlic. Drain fat. Pour beef mixture into crock pot, add the rest of the ingredients (except for the pasta and cheese), cook on low for 4-6 hours. Pour chili over spaghetti and top with cheese to serve this dish "three-way".


Our first crock pot meal - part 1 of 2

Before we get into our first crock pot meal...a note about this blog. The decision to blog came last night as the female half of this couple shared a bunch of recipes with her family. Therefore the first 8 recipes we are posting do not have photos. We will try out best to include at least a photo of the finished dish although the female half of this couple really likes Stephanie O'Dea's blog where she shows a pic of all the ingredients, the food in the crock pot just before it's cooked and the finished dish.

Now on with our first crock pot meal...the female half of this couple has been wanting to eat chili for a while now. The great thing about chili's like stew, it tastes better the next day...and in our case, it freezes well. We decided on Cincinnati soon as it was announced via text to the male part of this couple, the female part of this couple got a text back saying "go with Skyline". The male part of this couple doesn't get excited about is to sustain one's body in his opinion and he certain doesn't live for this and that when it comes to food. However, he does live for his mother's cooking hee hee. So, the female part of this couple was quite happy to get a response other than "whatever you want" out of the male part of this couple. Off she went searching for Skyline Cincinnati Recipes for the slow cooker.

Bottom line, we tried a recipe, but we fried the ground beef in a pan instead of boiling it. I thought the recipes that suggested boiling the beef were incorrect. Apparently it makes a big difference. The male part of this couple lived in Ohio for 5 years, so he's had Skyline Cincinnati Chili before. He would be the true taste tester.

See our next post for the actual recipe and results!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Welcome to our blog!

We recently purchased a crock pot after being inspired by an article written by Betty Shimabukuro in the Star Advertiser on January 5, 2011...well ok, the female half of the couple was inspired :-) It's been a cold and wet winter in Hawaii and envisioning warm stew-like meals cooking in our kitchen sounded wonderful. We checked out Stephanie O'Dea's blog mentioned in Betty's article and saw how easy some of the recipes were...not to mention how healthy some of there were! FYI - we signed up for Stephanie O'Dea's blog and she's still posting recipes, but is doing it once a week instead of daily.

Photo courtesy of
After reading many articles on how to select a crock pot and many, many reviews, we settled on the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Crock Pot since most times we really only needed the 2 or 4 quart, but what about the times we wanted to have family or friends over for dinner...or of course as was the case today, we needed to cook up some chicken wings for a Super Bowl party? We made the purchase through Amazon only because we saw "free shipping". Usually "free shipping" on Amazon means free shipping to the Continental U.S....which means Hawaii and Alaska are excluded. We added the crock pot to our "cart" continued through the purchase steps and whaddya know? We got the crock pot on Amazon WITH FREE SHIPPING! Woo hoo!

The Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Crock Pot arrived on time on our doorstep and we (well, the female half of this couple) was anxious to try the crock pot out. FYI - as mentioned in some of the reviews, the first time we used the crock pot, there was a "burning wire" smell, but it only happened the first time.

More on what our first recipe was, how it turned out and the other recipes we've tried since!