Sometimes making lots of different recipes all the time has its drawbacks. For one thing, when my kids were super-little (not that 3 and 5 are ripe old ages, but you get my meaning), my mother remarked once or twice that they might tend to forget in between servings that they actually liked a certain food — that what was “old” would always seem “new” simply because I let recipes languish so long unrepeated. For another, I forget sometimes about recipes we have really enjoyed. Frankly, J. and I, and even the boys to a certain extent, are supremely unfussy eaters. We tend to like almost everything, and the kids will at least EAT most of what is served to them with very little trouble right now. (THANK. GOD.) So for me, if there’s kale in the house, I’m making it every which way; if it’s chicken, it won’t show up the same way twice in 30 or 60 or even 90 days; and even the good old standbys like spaghetti get tweaked and twisted a bit from time to time.
I’m not much good with cooking consistently.
So when I have the opportunity to recall something brilliant and delicious that we’ve ignored for a while, it’s like rediscovering an old friend. Take, for example, the other evening, when I had made gluten-free chicken nuggets from scratch to appease the kids, and I was sort of rattling around the kitchen not really feeling inspired by the vegetable options. It wasn’t until I came across a random rogue sweet potato — also, itself, forgotten — that it occurred to me to revisit a certain sweet potato and green bean dish we had LOVED when I first concocted it.
I’ve also been nudged now…oh, probably a dozen or more times…by blog readers to post a recipe for a certain slow-cooker chicken dish. At first I didn’t want to post it because I didn’t like all the ingredients (it’s based on one of those heavily processed slow cooker recipes that are all over the place) and I was still tweaking it. Then I simply forgot. And then, as sometimes happens, the recipe fell out of favor with the kids, and I got bored with it, and it wasn’t until today that yet ANOTHER reminder from somebody over on the RRG Facebook page jostled me enough to decide that I ought to drag that one, dusty and groaning, from the recipe file. Just because my kids aren’t fond of it (anymore) doesn’t mean someone else’s might not be; and who among us can’t use another good slow cooker recipe, anyway?
Finally, in a conversation somewhere else in the world, I overheard a request for a recipe for homemade fruit dip. I didn’t have one, so I didn’t offer anything. But it nagged at me for a day or two, until at last I realized that I DO have a recipe that would make an excellent fruit dip, I think. It wasn’t conceived of for that purpose, but in fact, that might be exactly the right use for it. I’ll likely give it a shot with P. sometime soon, since he’s a fruit kid, a dipping kind of kid, AND the kid who gave me the original thumbs-up on the recipe when I made it for him as a topping for a cinnamon English muffin. He asked for more on the side, as I recall…and then drank it. Which means it’s probably worth sharing.
So here, friends, is something that’s been a bit scarce around here lately: A recipe bonanza! Three recipes, all forgotten and rediscovered in some fashion, and all deserving of a place on Red, Round, or Green.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Green Bean Salad
This can be served warm or cold. It was originally part of a recipe-testing project that required me to use Trader Joe’s products, so you’ll notice that in the dressing I recommend using one of their items, but it can easily be substituted as I note.
4 cups peeled, cubed (1 inch) sweet potato (approximately 2 medium potatoes)
2 cups green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Honey Apple Butter OR 3 tablespoons any of the following: apricot preserves, apple butter of your choice, or 3 tablespoons honey.
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
On a large sheet pan, toss sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. black pepper until evenly coated. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove sweet potatoes from the oven. Add green beans to the pan and stir. Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast for an additional 10 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.
In a small bowl, whisk together Honey Apple Butter, Dijon mustard, olive oil, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. chili powder, and ¼ tsp. black pepper.
Transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss until evenly coated.
Slow Cooker — “West Indies” Chicken
This one is a remake of a slow cooker recipe originally published by Sandra Lee from the Food Network. Years ago, I picked up one of her slow-cooker cookbooks on clearance just to see if the recipes would inspire me to create some less processed versions for our family. Her West Indies Chicken was easily the only one we really ended up caring for in any fashion, but it still took me quite a while to reinvent it in a way that pleased us.
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 recipe Peanut Dipping Sauce (can be made with alternative nut butters or sunbutter)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker, stirring well to combine. Cook on LOW for 8 hours. Serve over brown rice, cous cous, or quinoa.
This is delicious on an old shoe. Okay, probably not. But it’s deceptively simple and really, really good. You could omit the raisins if you want a smooth dip. P. and I really liked this on cinnamon English muffins with the raisins sprinkled on top, but if you stir the raisins into it it’s fun to scoop on celery sticks for a new twist on ants on a log.
1 cup greek yogurt (or plain yogurt, strained)
½ cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup creamy almond butter, preferably with salt (if yours is a no-salt variety, add about 1/2 tsp. salt to the dip)
½ cup raisins
Combine yogurt, ricotta cheese, bananas, and almond butter in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add the raisins, if desired, and stir to combine.