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Crock-Roasted Chicken

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Okay, I’m just going to come out and say this.  Back in August I finally experienced my “that’s it!” moment and decided I was going to do something about the butter weight I’d accumulated.  I joined Weight Watchers and started losing weight.

Three months later I’ve lost 19.6 pounds and am just 2.4 pounds away from my first goal — which was to lose 10% of my body weight.  I wrote a little bit about changing my relationship with food back in September, and wondered if this would change mise en place.  It’s been pretty quiet around here, so it apparently did.

I can admit that I may have been a little embarrassed, worried about how “being on a diet” might affect my foodie cred (lame, I know). But being on Weight Watchers has also forced me to recalibrate all of the things in my life.  Finding time every day to work, exercise, eat well (i.e. actually taking time to eat lunch and not just shoving a slice of pizza into my face between paragraphs), cook, shower, relax, pay attention to my partner, family and friends, and oh yeah, sleep, has been a challenge.

So forgive me if after all that blogging hasn’t been high up on the priority list. Finding balance hasn’t been easy, but I think I’ve got it. My secret weapon: our new slow cooker!

About a month ago I dragged Jeff out to the Bay to purchase a slow cooker.  Once home in the elevator a neighbour noticed the box and lamented that our lives were about to be transformed.  And boy, was she right. After a long day at work we can come home to a hot meal without lifting a finger. We’ve enjoyed chili and stew and soup and the best roast chicken I have ever had in or out of a restaurant.

What are you waiting for? A slow cooker is definitely the secret to eating well on the run.

Crock-Roasted Chicken
Adapted from Prevention Guide Slow Cooker Recipe Book

Ingredients:

1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 1/4 to 4 lbs)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Rinse and pat chicken dry, removing any visible fat. Discard giblets and neck. Coat 4-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray.

2. Combine paprika, onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper in bowl. Stir in warm water by the teaspoonful until thick paste forms. Coat chicken inside and out with seasoned paste before placing in cooker, breast side up.

3. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours (or on high 3 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours). Remove chicken from cooker. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and carve. The meat will be so tender it will just fall off the bones.

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

There were a few catalysts behind my decision to make this salad. The first was a very bizarre craving for sesame oil. The second was Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.  Without getting too deep into the politics of food, Bittman’s incredibly rational approach to conscious eating has certainly inspired me to eat a little less meat.  But I digress.

All I really have to say is that this salad is delicious.  It’s quick and easy and is perfect for dinner or lunch.  The recipe says it yields four; however this did us for one dinner and two lunches.  Jeff has a hollow leg and there was no way 2 oz. of beef were filling it up.

The dressing for this salad is so delicious, it would be great on any number of things.  Chicken, fish, you name it.

Thai Beef Salad
From Mark Bittman via the New York Times

Ingredients:

8 ounces skirt or flank steak, leftover or raw
6 cups torn salad greens (mixed is nice)
1 cup torn fresh herb leaves (mint, cilantro, Thai basil or a combination)
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 medium cucumber, peeled if skin is tough, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 small fresh hot red chili, like Thai, or to taste, minced
Juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla, available at Asian markets) or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar.

Method:

1. If you are starting with raw meat, start a gas or charcoal grill or heat a broiler; rack should be about 4 inches from heat source. Grill or broil beef until medium rare, turning once or twice, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness; set it aside to cool.

2. Toss greens with herbs, onion and cucumber. In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients with 1 tablespoon water; dressing will be thin. Use half of this mixture to toss with greens. Remove greens to a platter.

3. Slice beef thinly, reserving its juice; combine juice with remaining dressing. Lay slices of beef over salad, drizzle remaining dressing over all, and serve.