Moroccan Crockpot Chicken

I have been wanting to make Moroccan food at home for a while. What makes Moroccan food delicious is the “warm” spices and slow cooking. Often Moroccan food is cooked in a tagine, which allows for slow cooking that holds in a lot of moisture. Now, I don’t have a tagine. When I was thinking of making this recipe, I thought about how I could cook the  dish without a tagine, and my trusty crockpot came to mind. (Not only that, but it makes it a lot easier for me.)

The prunes in this may seem a little strange, but they break down in the slow cooker and make a wonderful sauce. Plus, they help keep the chicken nice and juicy. This is actually surprisingly good.  I was a little suspicious of how the flavors would meld, but they do so beautifully in this dish.  I can see this soon becoming a quick and yummy favorite at our house.  Additionally, it is quite healthy and my husband says it tastes like fall. 🙂

Moroccan Crockpot Chicken adapted from The Perfect Pantry

1 medium onion, minced

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp olive oil

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat

9 oz pitted dried prunes

1 Tbsp honey, or more to taste

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp chicken broth

1 cup sliced almonds

Mint (optional)

In a bowl, mix the onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, garlic and oil. Add the chicken and coat. Let marinate for 20 minutes.

Place chicken, marinade, and prunes, honey and broth in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5 hours. Let cook until the last hour, then stir and add almonds.

When cooked all the way through, finish with mint.

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Mezgaldi (Moroccan Onion) Sandwich

Lunch.  If you are like me, lunch is a dreaded word.  Its so . . .  curious.  I know exactly what to eat for breakfast.  Fruit.  Yogurt.  Granola.  Dinner involves protein and root vegetables whipped into sides.  Lunch is this strange meal in the middle of the day, when I am busiest.  And usually away from home.  So it has to be portable.  Ugh.  Lunch is such a drag.

If you are shaking your head in agreement at this point, I’m assuming you are also like me and resort to salads and sandwiches for your common lunch fare.  While I have nothing against salads and sandwiches, they can get a bit . . . mundane.  I decided liven up my lunchtime and take my Moroccan kick to the sandwich department.

I do not know what it is about Moroccan spice mixture that makes everything delicious, but I will not argue with it.  In fact, I’ve been slathering it on a lot lately.  This open-face sandwich takes the cake.  Essentially, it is just a layer of  neufchatel on crusty bread, topped with mezgaldi.

The topping is really what makes it great.  Mezgaldi is a Moroccan onion mixture.  Actually, it is commonly referred to as a “mezgaldi of onions”.  Basically, it is onion baked in a deliciously spicy marinade.  It has a nice kick, which is why I paired it with neufchatel cheese.  The cheese has a nice calming effect on the onion.  Neufchatel is very similar to cream cheese.  In fact, cream cheese or mascarpone would work well with this dish, too.

Mezgaldi is commonly eaten as a side or main dish.  I made quite a bit of it and had leftovers, so I decided to make it into a sandwich.  The recipe is from a fellow blogger, Kayotic Kitchen.  Make the dish and enjoy.  Use the leftovers for the sandwich for lunch the next day.  You will be happy I shared this with you.

Mezgaldi of Onions

4 medium-sized onions (I actually only used 3 larger ones)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
3 Tbs oil
2 Tbs water
1 Tbs sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice onions.  It is alright to have rather large slices of onion, especially if they are a sweet onion like Vidalia.  They will be roasting for a while, so its good to make slices approximately 1 inch thick.

Mix spices and oil together in a small bowl.  Brush this mixture on both sides of each onion slice.  Place onions in a baking dish.  It is fine to layer them, as, again, they will be roasting in the oven for a while.  Pour the leftover mixture over the onion.  Sprinkle the 2 Tbs of water down the sides of the baking dish.  This will allow the onions to steam in their sauce.

Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake approximately 45 minutes.  Onions will be done when they are soft.

Halfway through cooking, take the onions out halfway through the cooking process and spoon the sauce on the bottom of the pan back over the onions.  Then, sprinkle the sugar over the top of the onions to help carmelize them.  Make sure each onion gets a little sugar on top!  Cover up with the foil and cook until done.

Some people suggest cranking the heat for the last 10 minutes to help with carmelization.  If you do, I would suggest taking the aluminum foil off.  Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Carrots

I’ve been experimenting with different ways to incorporate more vegetables into my diet lately.  After all, we are supposed to have 4-5 servings a day and I’m not sure I’m getting that.  After searching on the internet for some recipe ideas I stumbled across a recipe for Moroccan-style carrots that intruiged me.

Firstly, let it be known that I love carrots.  Back when I was a picky eater, and vegetables were a four-letter word to me, I was introduced to carrots.  They were one of the first vegetables I instantly liked.  They can be cool and crisp; a refreshing treat with a creamy dip.  Or they can be roasted, tender and complex.  Plus, carrots are one of the vegetables that can actually be better for you after they are cooked.

Now, I know some of you currently picky eaters are out there thinking, “Gross, cooked veggies.  I don’t like mushy, stinky cooked carrots.”  And this is where I say you are WRONG!  There are a couple of main reasons I have found some people claim they don’t like cooked vegetables.  1) They have only had badly cooked vegetables (ie: overcooked, dry, or mushy) or 2) They have not tried seasoning their vegetables.  Well, here’s my tips to ensure you will have delicious, healthy, nutritious carrots for dinner.

Step 1:  Cutting the vegetables.  It is very important that all of your vegetable pieces are approximately the same size.  Do not skip this step or you will have some mushy, overdone carrots, and some hard, underdone carrots.  If you cut them up so they are all approximately the same size, everything will cook evenly and they will all be done at approximately the same time.

Step 2:  Do not cook vegetables for long!  Veggies (unless very starchy) rarely take longer than 20 minutes to cook.  You should be watching vegetables carefully anytime you cook them because they will go from almost done to overdone fast.  Make sure to keep an eye on them and test them with a fork for tenderness.  Take your vegetables off the heat the second BEFORE you think they are done.  This is because all food cooks for a short while after you remove it from the heat.

Adapted from Pikelet & Pie

Approximately 2 cups of carrots, trimmed, washed and peeled.

1 1/2 Tbl olive oil

1 Tbl butter

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp corriander

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat.  While the oil and butter are heating through, combine all of the spices together in a bowl.  Once the butter is completely melted, add carrots.  Cook until almost fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your carrots.   Add the spice mixture to the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes are coated and the spices are slightly toasted.  Turn heat off and splash lemon juice over carrots.  Cover with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Mix well and serve warm.