Spicy Korean BBQ Tacos with Tangy Slaw

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Before we moved to South Carolina for school, we were lucky enough to work on a unit (we were ICU nurses) with some amazing people who became great friends. Luckily for us, several of them share our love for food and cooking. Along the way, one recipe sort of became known as “the recipe,” and got passed around and around via email. We got it from Mike, who got it from Christy, who got it from… someone? As best I can tell, the recipe actually originates with the blog, My Kitchen Addiction.

This is “the recipe” because everyone loves it. We’ll use my family as Exhibit A. We go to the Outer Banks with my extended family on my dad’s side every summer. Traditionally, each night one pair of adults would cook dinner for the entire family – we’re talking 30+ people. After my grandparents died, there ended up being a free night. As one of the oldest grandchildren, I decided that my generation should probably step up and take over cooking one night… especially when you consider that we’re still getting a free vacation out of our parents for a week each summer! Two summers ago, Selim and I announced that we would take charge of that extra night, and that we’d be making this dish. There was immediate skepticism… my family prefers staples like hamburgers, spaghetti, steak, and tacos. They also think that Selim and I like “fancy, weird food.”

Well guess what? They all loved it! People came back for seconds and thirds. One of my cousins ate so much that he actually vomited. Not kidding. Moral of the story? This dish is delicious and everyone loves it. We’re sure you’ll love it too!

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Spicy Slow Cooker Korean BBQ with Tangy Slaw

Ingredients: 
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  • 1 large onion, finely dice half and roughly chop the other half
  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder (or other smoky pepper)
  • 2 1/2 – 3lb beef bottom round or shoulder
  • 3 tbsp flour
Slaw
  • 5 cups shredded vegetables (cabbage, carrots, peppers, whatever you want)
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Zest & juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Also
  • Tortillas
  • Extra limes, for garnish
  • Extra basil, for garnish
Instructions: 
  1. Combine the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. [This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated to save time.]
  2. Place liquid and beef in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
  3. At some point while your beef is cooking, prepare the slaw. Whisk together all ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Refrigerate until ready to serve. [This can also be done ahead of time.]
  4. After 10 hours, pour the liquid out of the slow cooker into a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Let the meat remain in the slow cooker, with the heat turned off.
  5. Stir the 3 tablespoons of flour into 1/4 cup of water. Whisk together so it is well-combined and forms a what resembles a paste.
  6. Stir the flour/water paste into the saucepan. Stir while adding so it combines thoroughly into the liquid.
  7. Continue simmering until the liquid has thickened to your liking. We reduced ours by maybe a 1/3.
  8. Return thickened liquid to the slow cooker. Use two forks to shred the meat and mix with the liquid.
  9. Make tacos with the meat and slaw on top of warmed tortillas! Garnish with additional basil or a squeeze of lime.
Serves 6.

Post-dinner notes: This also goes great over rice, if for some crazy reason you’re sick of tacos! And, as per usual, I am not making any claims that this is an authentic, traditional dish the way your Korean grandma would make it.

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Slow Cooker Cider Brats

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Fall leaves, looking towards the Blue Ridge Mountains ❤ ❤ ❤

Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!

So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)

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Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.

[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]

Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.

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Slow Cooker Cider Brats

Ingredients: 
  • 5 large bratwursts
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 12oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
  3. Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)

Slow Cooker Chicken & Cauliflower Tikka Masala

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The slow cooker seems to fall out of popularity in the summer, I guess because most of the recipes you think of as traditionally going in a slow cooker are more “fall” or “winter” recipes. But it’s really perfect for summer! Just think, you don’t have to turn on the oven and heat up your house – your cool haven from the heat. I decided last night that I want to make something in the slow cooker for that reason and because I had some things to do today and wanted us to be able to eat whenever Selim was home and ready.

As you may have noticed, we like to share recipes from all different parts of the world. As I’ve said before, I’m not swearing to the authenticity of any of these, as my family has been in the US for a few hundred years and long ago lost whatever culture we may have had. But we love to try anything with a lot of flavor. Selim has a special attachment to Indian flavors, as he grew up eating real Indian food, homemade by a real Indian grandma. I had no illusions of making food that even slightly compares, but decided to give it a whirl.

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Selim’s Take: My wife isn’t good at surprises. She tries, but either she’s not good at them or I’m good at ruining them. (Ally: He’s good at ruining them.) I was in the OR all day with a couple challenging cases, from an anesthesia stand-point, but I knew that Ally would be trying to make something new for dinner tonight.  While grabbing a quick lunch break, I saw a snapchat from her with some onions and garlic in a pan.  Not exactly a divulging picture, as most great meals start with those classic ingredients.  We both really like Indian food and we often dabble with the spices, sauces, and flavors that are characteristic of the diverse food from that country.  The house smelled delicious when I got home, but I couldn’t quite put me finger on what exactly we were having for dinner.  To tell the truth, I didn’t figure out what was in the slow-cooker until I saw the naan onTM2 top of the refrigerator. I really wanted to take a peek/taste, but I resisted. I know it’s tempting, but you should never (or rarely, maybe, possibly only once to turn/stir) because it will add ~20 minutes to the cooking time every time you lift that lid off. Luckily, it was worth the wait. There are a lot of amazing flavors and spices in this dish, although it is really not spicy at all. We might need a little more heat next time.

PS: You should also make raita to go with this!

Slow Cooker Chicken & Cauliflower Tikka Masala

(Adapted from this recipe from Wanderlust Kitchen)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 large (~10-12oz) chicken breasts
  • 1/2 of a large head of cauliflower
  • 1 can (13.5oz) light coconut milk
  • 1 can (13.5oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
Instructions:
  1. Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Saute for ~8 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another 3-4 minutes. Afterwards, add these to the slow cooker.
  3. Cut your chicken and cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Add these and all of the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stir everything up so well combined.
  4. Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 5 hours. At this time, remove the lid and stir a few times. Leave the lid off and turn slow cooker up to high. Cook like this for another hour to thicken the sauce some.
  5. Serve over rice and/or with warm naan.

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Makes 4-6 servings.