slow cooker

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Chiles en Escabeche

Cinco de Mayo 073 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Chiles en Escabeche

As I closed in on my first year of blogging, I thought it would be fun to make up a menu of five Mexican-style dishes to post on the five days leading up to Cinco de Mayo. The planning was fun, but the cooking and the photographing and the actual posting process itself…well, that part turned out to be not so fun.

Yet three Cinco de Mayo’s later, I continue my little tradition. Even though I know it is not going to be all that fun, I still enjoy collecting recipes and cobbling together these collections, so here we go.

Our first Cinco de Mayo 2014 dish is Chiles en Escabeche (a.k.a. tequila-pickled jalapenos and vegetables). Although I intended them as an appetizer, you can build a menu around these pickles, using them in everything from tacos, burritos, beans, soups and salads.

Cinco de Mayo 012 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Chiles en Escabeche

Because I am not a pickle connoisseur, when I sampled these peppers and veggies I thought they were not bad, but I did not know if my “not bad” assessment was all that accurate. Then as I was drafting this post last night, my Dad – who was visiting from out of town – told me to write something about how he is such a wonderful guy. I gave him a look to communicate something along the lines of “please go back to watching your television show.”

But sure enough, he did give me just the soundbite I needed to describe these pickles. Although paraphrased, it went something like, “You know those things are good when you have to put them away because of the heat, but then you pick them right back up because you like them so much you want to eat some more.” By the time Dad got to them, the peppers and veggies had pickled for one week.

I had to modify the recipe somewhat because I could not find (although I did not look all that hard) the chiles and squash varieties called for in the original. After prepping the vegetables, they and the pickling liquid must cook on low heat for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Just the time you need to make the other four dishes I have planned for you this week. Until then, past Cinco de Mayo menus are available here. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 048 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Chiles en Escabeche

Chiles en Escabeche
  • 8 jalapeno peppers
  • 5 Serrano peppers
  • 1 heaping cup of small cauliflower florets
  • 1 yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • ½ white onion, cut into ½-inch strips
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups cinder vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons blanco tequila
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 6 whole cloves
  1. Halve the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes.
  2. Place the prepared peppers along with all of the other ingredients - vegetables, liquids, and spices - in a slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook over low heat for 2½ hours. When done, the vegetables will be just tender when poked with a knife.
  4. Allow the vegetables and pickling liquid to cool to room temperature, then jar both together and store in the refrigerator. The pickles should keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
The original recipe called for 5 red Fresno chiles and 3 small guero chiles. I subbed 5 red serrano peppers for the 5 red Fresno chiles and left out the guero chiles. I also subbed a summer squash for the chayote squash.

Slow-Cooker Chicken with Lime, Honey and Soy

April 6 049 Edited Slow Cooker Chicken with Lime, Honey and Soy

When I read a recipe from a slow cooker cookbook,  I expect to use only my slow cooker. Imagine my surprise when the original version of this recipe called for frying the chicken, sauteing  an onion, and boiling a sauce all before slow cooking. Help me.

Still, I liked the idea of using Chinese Five Spice, honey, and lime, so I took what I wanted from the recipe to create a dry rub and a liquid marinade. Within minutes, my chicken was seasoned and simmering, and I was out the door to waste time in the best of ways. I.e. socializing with friends over adult beverages.

Then I came home to this.

April 6 059 Edited Slow Cooker Chicken with Lime, Honey and Soy

It may be worth noting that this recipe calls for chicken thighs as it is easier to overcook leaner cuts of chicken such as boneless, skinless breast in the slow cooker. Feel free to use the cuts of meat your prefer, just be aware you may need to monitor the cooking process more closely and/or reduce the cooking time.

I served my chicken over a mixture of basmati and forbidden rice, and then tucked the leftovers into an omelet. I imagine it would make for an equally good sandwich or maybe even work as a taco like this slow-cooker adobo chicken. Enjoy!

April 6 053 Edited Slow Cooker Chicken with Lime, Honey and Soy

Chicken with Lime, Honey and Soy
  • 1 to 1½ pounds boneless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (from 1-2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Optional:
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • Rice, cooked according to package instructions
  1. Mix the Chinese Five Spice, black pepper and wasabi powder together.
  2. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken thighs, then place the meat into a slow cooker.
  3. Whisk together the chicken stock, honey, lime juice, soy sauce, and minced garlic.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the chicken in the crock pot, turn heat to low, and cook for 4 to 6 hours until the chicken is tender.
  5. When done, remove the chicken from the slow cooker, place in a large bowl, and use two forks to pull the chicken apart into shreds.
  6. If desired, transfer the liquid left in the crock pot to a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce by half, about 10-12 minutes. Pour this mixture over the chicken before serving. (Or just reserve the liquid as is and pour over any leftovers to reduce dryness).
  7. Also if desired. serve over rice and top with green onion.
I used 1.34 pounds of boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. The original recipe called for 2½ pounds of bone-in chicken thighs.
You can add 1 teaspoon of coarse salt if desired. The soy sauce provides enough salt for my tastes.

Butternut Butter

Butternut butter 013 Edited Butternut Butter

This week’s winter squash feature, butternut butter, is the least labor intensive food item I have ever made. All I did was place the ingredients in a slow cooker, gave it a stir or two, and then processed the mixture until smooth. And voilà, a perfectly spiced spread. Consider this a gateway dish back into the kitchen after all the holiday baking.

I am not typically one for spreads. Plain butter will do just fine, thank you very much. Butternut butter has not changed my mind on this, but I do like its flavor that resembles apple butter. I can see myself substituting this for the piece of cinnamon and sugar toast I typically turn to when I want something sweet at night.

Butternut butter 024 Edited Butternut Butter

Other recommended uses straight from the cookbook include spreading butternut butter on bagels, pancakes or waffles. I think it would pair pretty well on a fluffy buttermilk biscuit too. Any other ideas out there? If you have one, I’d love to hear it.

If not, that’s okay too. Butternut butter is not for everyone. The good news is alternative squash recipes can be found in the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash links below. Enjoy!

Butternut butter 016 Edited Butternut Butter

Butternut Butter
Serves: 3 cups
  • 6 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Lightly grease the inside of a slow cooker.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and stir well to mix.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If possible, stir halfway through the cooking time. The squash should be very soft and the mixture should not look watery after stirring.
  4. If the mixture is watery after the allotted time, turn the slow cooker to high and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is absorbed. This might take 30-45 minutes.
  5. Turn off the slow cooker and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  6. When cool, use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender to process until smooth.
  7. Store refrigerated in a sealed container for up to six weeks.
I left my mixture to cook on low heat for six hours. The squash was soft but it was very watery after that time. I left it on high heat for another 45 minutes to absorb the liquid.