Please help me brainstorm around this flurry of snowflakey meal requirements
November 27, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me add new dishes to the menu. Difficult level: kosher-style, pescaphobic, non-dairy, mushroom hater.

I am so bored with cooking dinner. I want to add some dishes to the rotation. BUT I am cooking for someone who is extremely picky. Please help me by suggesting dishes, or even better, recipes. I would love some crockpot options. I've read all the previous crockpot askmes and come up empty/uninspired, so please don't just send me to A Year of Slow Cooking. I really want suggestions of specific recipes or dishes.

Also, please, no diatribes about how people shouldn't be so picky. That is guaranteed to be not helpful.

Doesn't work:
Anything with any kind of seafood, including vegetarian sushi
Anything with milk or cheese in a dish with meat or chicken
Anything with a cream sauce
Anything with mayonnaise or sour cream
Anything that is super cheesy
Anything that is gloppy
Sausage (even beef sausage)
Anything that looks like it is in a white sauce (like curry with coconut milk)
Indian food
Korean food

Does work:
Stuff that has more discrete bits: fajitas, tacos, stir fry, shish kebabs, roasted chicken, steak, hamburgers, hot dogs
Chicken soup
Pasta or gnocchi with meat sauce or meat balls
Corned beef
Cuban flavors
Thai flavors
posted by bq to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Does ruling out "Anything that is gloppy" basically rule out anything that has any kind of sauce thicker than chicken soup? Because that would leave behind a vast swathe of the stuff you can make in a crock pot.
posted by XMLicious at 12:36 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Easiest mexicanish chicken: Take 2 chicken breasts, put in crockpot. Top with 1 packet of taco seasoning, top that with 1 jar (you know, the normal sized jar) of salsa. Crockpot until it's done (I've done it on high in 4 hours and on low from frozen in 10 or 12).

It shreds super easily and then you have shredded chicken that you can use for tacos or enchiladas or (even easier!) taco salad -- which is like tacos but instead of bothering with the actual taco shells just hit a bag of tortilla chips a few times until they're in smaller pieces and then mix all the approved taco ingredients together in a bowl (or separately for picky eaters to mix as desired).
posted by brainmouse at 12:39 PM on November 27, 2012

How is Chinese/Middle Eastern food viewed? I am not suggesting any direct recipes, but there is plenty of stuff from both of those that would fit the criteria. (Stir Fry?)

Thai idea: Prik King. It's a Thai curry that does not use coconut milk. It tends to be a little spicy, but it's really good.
posted by Hactar at 12:46 PM on November 27, 2012

How about brisket?

Get a brisket that will fit in your crock pot.

1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
1 Jar marinara sauce (the better the sauce, the better the sauce)
1 lb bag of baby carrots

Put everything in crock pot and cook on low until you get home from work. The meat will be shredded, the carrots cooked, and the sauce, mmmmm.

Serve over egg noodles. Bubbe couldn't do any better.

In the same family is Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken with bones
1 Jar Marinara sauce
Sliced onion
I'd put in mushrooms, but you can leave them out

Trow in crock pot. Cook all day. Serve over pasta.

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches?

Corn Soup

1 can creamed corn
Equal amount milk (use corn can to measure)
1 pat butter

Serve with sandwiches. Mom did egg salad, but you can do bagels and cream cheese and lox if that works.

I had a great Kosher Chinese Cookbook that taught me how to do Fried Rice.

Pre-cooked rice, now cold (you can use the frozen rice in the freezer section or just left-overs)
Chopped chicken (left over, or freshly sauteed)
Grated ginger
Soy sauce
Peanut oil
Chopped green onion
Frozen mixed veggies
1 scrambled egg

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and season with salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Cook and Set aside everything in a separate plate. Cook the scrambled egg. Chop into pieces, set aside. Add more oil, when hot add rice, and frozen veggies. Toss until it's warm, drizzle soy sauce over it. Add back the chicken and egg. Toss around. Garnish with green onion.

Pad Thai will work too. Use a recipe that uses Tamarind.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Because that would leave behind a vast swathe of the stuff you can make in a crock pot.

I know.

How is Chinese/Middle Eastern food viewed?

Chinese food mostly good, Middle Eastern food mostly bad (hummus, tahini, tzatziki, baba ghanoush, falafel, and shwarma are verboten).
posted by bq at 12:53 PM on November 27, 2012

I agree with Hactar, what about Chinese flavors? Maybe fried rice? Large sautee pan over high heat, saute ginger & garlic in peanut oil. Add your favorite vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, celery, carrots all work great). Season with a mix of hot sauce, soy sauce and honey or your favorite bottled sauce. Move all the veg to the outside edges of the pan, add cold leftover rice. Let it get crispy, then stir a little. If eggs are ok, add an egg and stir until the egg is cooked. Or lettuce wraps? Sorry to self-link but I just made these on Sunday and they were a big hit, you could use leftover roasted chicken instead of turkey, of course.

On preview: ok, I won't suggest falafel, then! Bummer.
posted by hungrybruno at 12:58 PM on November 27, 2012


(Okay, I add a dash of white vinegar at the end to finish it, as well as chipotle in adobo sauce to taste, and a billion cloves of garlic. If you let it simmer for a long time, it becomes thick and delicious and not gloppy at all, though you may want to fiddle with the balance of beans to water.)

Excellent on top of corn cakes, or with grilled chicken and slices of avocado. Or salsa.

Sweet potato fries with a dusting of spices on top.

Sweet potato ravioli in an olive oil sauce with sage.

Frittata? Can be done with roasted vegetables or potato slices (really nice with rosemary and sauteed onions) without cheese.

Actually, if Chinese food works-- you can get rice paper and wonton wrappers pre-made at many Asian/international grocery stores. Make summer rolls with sliced vegetables and chicken with lemongrass or spiced tofu. Make dumplings with whatever you want inside.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Crockpot stuffed peppers.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2012

How about whole roasted chicken? There's so many ways to flavor it, and you can roast with veggies to make it a whole meal. I also really like this sorta Thai-ish chicken salad (you can of course change up the veggies for whatever is preferred):

Easy Chicken Salad with Sweet Red Chili Sauce
Serves 2

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon or lime juice
2 T Thai sweet red chili sauce (such as Thai Garden brand)
1 T fish sauce
2 T canola oil

Canola oil, for pan
1/2 pound chicken tenders
Salt and pepper
6-8 thin stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 small to medium head red-leaf lettuce, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, sweet chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce. Add the canola oil and whisk briskly to combine. Taste, and adjust ingredients as needed.
2. Heat canola oil to cover the bottom of a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper, and then carefully place into the pan. Cook until nicely browned on both sides and cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and set aside.
3. Add the asparagus to the pan, adding more oil if needed. Cook until just tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Toss the lettuce with as much dressing as you like (you won't use all of it). Brush additional dressing on the chicken, and then slice into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken and asparagus to the lettuce and toss together, adding more dressing as needed.

Some other thoughts:
These pitas are great, and easy enough to leave off the yogurt sauce:
A favorite of mine, and super easy (can leave the cheese off the top, use alternate pasta, etc.):
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:22 PM on November 27, 2012

Pollo guisado (Puerto Rican / Dominican dished chicken). Chunkier version. Crockpot version.
posted by nangar at 1:26 PM on November 27, 2012

My family's general notice sabbath dinner:
Veal shoulder
Carrots (2)
Leak (1)
Balsamico (1 tablespoon)
salt and pepper and anything else you might like.
(More seasonal vegetables can be added)

Brown the shoulder of veal in the oven.
Place it in a pan with a carefully rinsed leak and two rinsed carrots
Add two cups of water flavored with a tablespoon of balsamico and seasoned with salt and pepper (thyme and bay-leaf optional)
Cook at 175 degrees celcius till the juice which comes out is clear when you stick a pin into the meat. The sauce in the pan will be exquisite.

Serve with Hasselbach potatoes: Take two or three medium size potatoes and clean them thoroughly. Cut thin slices but not completely through. Season with olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe rosemary. Bake them in a pan alongside the meat.

My family is big on fish, so I don't have that many recipes without
There are two versions of leg of lamb, though.

#1 Twice forgotten lamb; a translation of robbers' lamb into everyday fare: Massage a leg of lamb with salt and pepper, then grill it on all sides till it is brown. Wrap this in foil with the best fresh herbs available - if it's only parsley, it will still be great. Bake it at low heat for 2-3-4 hours. Whatever fits into your schedule, just turn down the heat as is practicle. In the foil will be the best sauce.

#2 Provencal: slice one or two pounds of potatoes very finely. Place them in an oven pan, covered with chopped or crushed garlic to taste, thyme, a lot of chopped parsil, two cups of beef broth (can be substituted by veg or chicken). Massage the leg or two shoulders of lamb with plenty salt, pepper and crushed garlic, and place it upon a rack over the pan, and use the roast/hot air function to cook it for whatever time the package or butcher says (very different from shoulder to small leg to big leg)

To go with this you might like a ratatouille: In a crockpot or something similar, oil the bottom and sides. Then place layers of thinly sliced eggplant, courgette, bell-pepper, ripe tomatoes, onion and garlic. Add salt, pepper, thyme, basil and oregano during the layering, to taste. Cover with canned crushed tomatoes, maybe a little vegetable broth. Bake for at least 45 minutes, maybe 90 at a slow heat. Tastes great cold as well

For leftover lamb-slices (works with veal as well), I'll make a sauce of onions, garlic, reduced crushed tomatoes, capers, (one tiny secret salted and oiled anchovy), lemon juice, salt, pepper tabasco and a drop of balsamico. Fresh herbs if I have them, but I don't in November. Warm the slices of meat in the sauce, serve with fries, and a salad. Receive endless love and praise.
posted by mumimor at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2012

It seems like vegetables are generally OK... if so, how about ratatouille? You can serve it as a side dish, or as a main dish over rice. Also, if cheese + vegetables is an acceptable combination, you can partially bake a pie crust (frozen, if that's OK, is easiest), layer in some softened goat or cream cheese, then spoon in the ratatouille. Drizzle with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese, and bake in the oven (350 or 375) till everything's golden.
posted by scody at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is this for a kid or an adult? I only ask because I made some muffins in class that had sour cream in them, but they definitely didn't have the sour cream taste to them. If it's for a kid I'd be inclined to try to sneak some of that kind of thing by and see what happens.

Also, why these restrictions? Diet reasons? Religious? Just doesn't like the stuff? I'm guessing it's a mix but it can get people thinking in different directions.

bq: "Anything that looks like it is in a white sauce (like curry with coconut milk)
Thai flavors

These two kind of contradict. And that's why I'm thinking it might be OK to try to sneak some stuff.

You can mix hamburgers with a ton of different rubs/seasonings. Once my kitchen finally gets clean at home Because I know that's what I'm getting for Quonsmas, right? I'm going to make a coffee rubbed burger. But you can really do it with anything.

In the same vein, you can do black bean burgers really easily too.

- Drain beans
- Puree the mess out of them
- Put in whatever flavor elements you want to use
- Put in bread crumbs to absorb moisture (this amount could be 0 depending on how long things have been out and what you've already put in there)
- Form into patties
- Bake around 350-400F. I'm pretty sure it was only 10-15 minutes in the oven. You don't have to worry about under cooked since there's no meat. Overcooking will obviously be bad if it goes too far, but you should be able to catch it when all that's happening is more drying. And that's not a bad thing at all with these babies.

bq: "Does dogs"

I know this won't change anything with your person's eating habbits, but hot dogs are just a cured emulsified sausage.
posted by theichibun at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2012

Come to think of it, the authentic way to eat tortellini is "in brodo", meaning in a chicken soup. THis can taste great and be very filling.
Another classic Italian dish is bean soup with pasta, so you make an herb-based bean soup and add pasta and parsley for the last ten minutes and it's just great.
Here, we love our veggie days, when the main course is a dish of lentils: I soften the basic veggies, onion, carrot, leach, celeriac, garlic, then add a cupful of lentils and a liter of broth, either vegetable of chicken. Cooks for 40 minutes, pasta added for the last ten minutes optional
posted by mumimor at 1:52 PM on November 27, 2012

Picadillo is a great crockpot dish.

This is a good basic crockpot lamb stew (I don't use the peas, and I put half red wine--Malbec is good---and half water).
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:47 PM on November 27, 2012

Picadillo sounds awesome. How do you serve it?
posted by bq at 5:42 PM on November 27, 2012

If you can buy corned beef it is surprisingly easy to make your own pastrami - and it is so, so good.

Buy some uncooked corned brisket, the fattier the better. Rub it with the paste mixture I describe below. Steam it for two hours, either over a pot of water, or on a rack in a covered roasting pan over a few cups of water in an oven set to around 300 degrees Fahrenheit (about 140 centigrade) until it is really tender. I don't have a crockpot but it would probably work well in a crockpot with a very minimal amount of water: you don't want the paste to wash off!

Fresh, hot, pastrami sandwiches made with crusty bread and mustard are divine.

Pastrami paste mixture:

You can use whole spices (which taste better and give a nice crunchy feel to the outside) or powdered ones. I describe how to grind whole ones below, but in any event this is the recipe:

2 tablespoons coriander
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne or other hot chili pepper
3 tablespoons sweet paprika (smoky paprika if you have it)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, more or less to get a thick paste.

Mix to a smooth paste and rub over the corned beef. Leave it to sit before cooking for as long as you like, but I recommend at least an hour.

If you're using whole spices then put them in a dry frying pan and cook them over a low heat until the essential oils fill the kitchen and make you want to cough. Let them cool and pulse them in a food processor until they're mostly powder but still have a bit of character. If your food processor isn't working then don't do it in a coffee grinder if you want to use it for coffee ever again. If you have a mortar and pestle that would work well, or you can try putting them in a Ziplock and crushing them with a rolling pin.

Note: if you cook your pastrami in the oven the drippings can be reduced down to a paste, which is like the concentrated essence of pastrami, and is the best thing ever.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:07 AM on November 28, 2012

« Older How can a high GRE score benefit me?   |   My processes, they are Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.