On The Side: Slow Cooker Garlic Smashed Potatoes

My second side dish idea this week is a slow cooker recipe. I LOVE the slow cooker. You dump it all in, forget about it and come back to something delicious. You can set it up before work on a weekday or get dinner prep out the way on a weekend so you can relax.

The theme of these sides is easy-peasy. By making “smashed” potatoes instead of mashed, you don’t have to bother with a mixer or a lot of manual labor. The slow cooker makes the potatoes so incredibly soft, they practically fall apart.


In a few hours, magic’s going to happen

Plus, mashed potatoes aren’t that hard to screw up! If they aren’t super smooth and fluffy, they are kind of a bummer. This technique is more rustic (that word cooks use for not-so-pretty) and a lot easier to get just right. It’s also a crowd-pleaser. The only side dish that my friends & family have requested of me more is the last one I’ll be sharing in a couple days! Garlic smashed potatoes are a very, very close second.

Note that this recipe makes four decent-sized portions, it’s not going to make an overwhelming amount. Double up if you want to feed a crowd or have a bunch of leftovers!

  • 2lb red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onion (white & light green, reserve tops for garnish)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp half & half
  • salt & pepper
  1. Grease the inside of the slow cooker. Add the quartered potatoes, butter, garlic, green onions, thyme, rosemary & sage. Stir gently to evenly distribute. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8, until potatoes are extremely soft and easy to smash.
  2. Reduce the slow cookers heat to the warming setting (or low) and add the sour cream, half & half, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a large spatula or potato masher, smash the potatoes until all ingredients are well incorporated. If you need more moisture, stir in more half & half by the 1/2 Tbsp until you reach your desired consistency. Garnish optionally with sliced green onion tops & a dollop of sour cream.

I do like mashed potatoes, very mush so, but for me, some dishes need a little more texture. For example, I love making this with fried chicken. It’s perfect alongside barbecue too, with some greens or slaw.

Of course, you could always whip these up with a mixer if your family prefers that. But maybe give it a shot. I’ve had people look at them like I was just being lazy, but when they eat them, they love that there’s actually something to chew on.

Speaking of texture, the green onions contribute to that as well. It’s just one more unexpected little crunch in there. I like chives too, but since I was using the onion bottoms cooked into the potatoes, why waste the tops? It ties it all together.

This is also become my Thanksgiving potato dish. I love that I can free up stove space by making them in the slow cooker. Using red potatoes and leaving the skin on saves prep time too. It’s also one less platter or bowl to clean up, because when I set up my “buffet”, I keep the potatoes in the crockpot on warm.

Alright everyone, I’ll be traveling soon, so make sure to follow my instagram for some more foodie adventures. I’ll be back with a sweet new recipe in a couple weeks. See you then!

Recipe Redux: Coconut Curry Chicken

First off, I want to thank everyone who’s reads, follows and support this little blog of mine. I started this to stay motivated to keep cooking and try new recipes. The fact that I now have a rapidly growing social media following and all this amazing feedback from family, friends and strangers alike is un-be-lievable. It’s encouraging and humbling. I’m just so glad you like me, you really like me!

My last post was a milestone: my 50th post! Not bad, since I only started this project last January. Do you remember what my first post was? Well, if you don’t, I’ll give you a hint. It’s in the title. Coconut curry chicken.

I’m trying to start a little weekly ritual of making dinner for some of my girl friends who also had their significant others deploy recently. When I am cooking for other people, I feel like it’s not really the time for experiments. I like to do recipes that are tried and true, but after making them so many times, they tend to change and evolve a bit.

It’s been the better part of a year that I have been working on this blog. It’s not really a surprise that time and experience have improved my cooking, so I want to do some posts where I go back and revamp some of my older recipes, ones that you folks may have missed way back when.

I’m not saying the originals aren’t any good. In the case of the coconut curry chicken, I actually just added onto it, making it a little more complex.

For reference, here is my first blog recipe. I didn’t really talk much back in the old days, huh? I guess I’m getting less shy.

And here is the version 2.0!

Yields about 6 servings.

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 4 celery stalks, sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tsp garam masala*, divided
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • salt & pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic, stirring for about a minute until fragrant. Add onion, celery, carrot and peppers. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender.
  2. Add 2 tsp garam masala, curry, cayenne and a dash of salt and pepper to the saucepan and stir for 1 minute until vegetables are well coated. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Put the chicken into a slow cooker, and season with remaining tsp of garam masala, and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce and veggies over the chicken, and cook on low for 4 hours. Serve over rice with an optional garnish of fresh parsley or cilantro.

*If you are having trouble finding garam masala at the store, you can make your own. I have used this recipe when I was in a pinch.

I love to break out my slow cooker when fall rolls in, even though it is still in the high 70’s where I live. I just can’t control my New England roots. No joke, October 1st I was loading all this into the cooker while sipping a hard apple cider, pretending the palm trees were changing colors.


Not the prettiest when it’s cooking, but it smells fantastic

For the record, this recipe does not have a strong coconut flavor. The coconut milk thickens the sauce in place of something like heavy cream and adds a subtle sweetness. Actually, if you took the chicken out of this dish, it would be vegan/vegetarian.

Again, there is nothing wrong with my first post. Consider that the express version. This new take definitely has more prep involved with all the extra vegetables. Try out whichever way works for you! I’m just a sucker for all the great produce still available here in California. I get so happy seeing all the colorful veggies sizzling together in the pan.


It’s the little things

I’m excited to revisit some more recipes with everyone! Time to get back to work, browse through my blog and see what else I can come up with. Hopefully I’ll be back soon with another recipe!

My Favorite Kitchen Toys, Part 1

I’m going to start off with my most prized kitchen possession, my Kitchenaid mixer. Every homecook and baker I talk to has this or wants this. My family gave me one for Christmas this year and I honestly don’t think a gift has been more exciting since my mom got me a Furby and a Tamagotchi in the late nineties. There’s something magical about them.

Just like my approach to cars, color is most important. I went with aqua sky (yes that’s the real color name). I wanted something that was classic, but not the obvious red, white or black. I try and hide most of my toys away when I am not using them, but my mixer is always displayed where everyone can see it. It’s the kitchen equivalent to an Andy Warhol screen print. Bold, modern but classicly designed and a piece of pop culture.

Beyond the beauty, it’s changed my baking life. I’ve made bread, bagels, pizza dough, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, all these things that were so scary to me, all from scratch. I need to start investing in some fun attachments. Or if anyone from Kitchenaid happens to see this, send some my way, I’d love to review them! (Wink wink)

They can be pricey, but they are worth every penny. I have the 5 quart artisan mixer and it generally retails for around $279. The accessories aren’t cheap either, hence me not having any yet. There’s meat grinders, an ice cream maker, a spiralizer and more. I have my eye on one of the pasta attachments. I would love to make all my own pasta from scratch some day.

My mixer is my current favorite, but a close second is the first big kitchen toy I ever got: my slow cooker. I got my first one five or six years ago, but now I have two. Such a lifesaver at thanksgiving to have mashed potatoes in one and mulled cider in the other. I actually might do a whole post in the future on slow cooker cocktails, they are so great for parties, particularly at the holidays.

When I was living in Massachusetts, it was my tradition every year on the first really chilly weekend of the fall to get my slow cooker out and make chicken cacciatore. From that day until spring I would use it pretty much bi-weekly. I would love getting snowed in during the winter so I could watch movies and use my slow cooker.

A few recipes I’ve shared so far on my blog have utilized it. I make pulled buffalo chicken for a number of different dishes often and my very first post, coconut curry chicken, is also done in the slow cooker. I love making big batches of pasta sauce that I can jar, soups and stews, mashed potatoes, chili, you can do so much. Of course the red meat eaters out there use it for pot roasts and beef stews. Honestly the possibilities are endless.

I moved to California last Septemeber and have had to adjust to autumn and winter tempatures being in the 70s. Not complaining, but it was weird to not see leaves changing and walking past houses with Christmas lights when I was wearing shorts. But I still got my slow cooker out and made my chicken cacciatore to force the feeling of the seasons into my home.

I like to slow cook on lazy weekends, but it can also be a real time saver for a busy family. Throw everything in, set it on low and forget about for a few hours. The only hard part is resisting the urge to open the lid to smell and taste along the way. There’s also one for every budget. They can range from $20 to hundreds of dollars. I think I remember my first one being around $100, for a large 6.5 quart Cuisinart, which has held up beautifully over a number of years and a lot use. I lucked out and inherited my second, smaller cooker for free from my sister when she was cleaning out her kitchen. Score!

Of course fancy gadgets aren’t going to make you a good cook, it’s about what you do with them. But it certainly helps out the execution of meals when you have quality equipment. It’s fun too. I get so pumped whenever I get a new kitchen toy to play with. Unfortunately (but fortunately for my wallet) I only have so much space left in my kitchen, but look out for a couple more posts featuring my other cooking essentials in the future!

Coconut Curry Chicken

This is a simple and delicious approach to Indian food that’s not intimidating and doesn’t come with a long list of ingredients. This recipe can be on the spicy side, so feel free to omit the cayenne or cut back on curry for a milder dish. The sauce is prepared on the stovetop before being added to the slow cooker, so it’s easy to taste as you go and adjust it to your liking. My husband and I love spice and he was wild about this dish.

Yields about 6 servings.

  • 2 lbs (approx. 8 pieces) boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 13.5 oz coconut milk
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • salt
  • pepper
  • green onions or fresh parsley (optional)
  1. Cut the chicken thighs into chunks and place them in a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Cook the onions and celery, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until onions become translucent.
  3. Add garam masala, curry, cayenne and a dash of salt and pepper to the saucepan and stir for 1 minute until vegetables are well coated. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and tomato paste.
  4. Once sauce is well blended, pour over the chicken and stir to coat completely. Cook on low for 4 hours. Serve chicken and sauce over white or jasmine rice. Sprinkle with chopped green onions or chopped parsley if you want.

The chicken and sauce hold up very well for leftovers. I’d suggest making rice fresh per serving instead of combining and refrigerating all together.

Happy cooking!

{follow me on twitter & instagram: @thepickygourmet}

 

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