When the weather gets hot hot hot, I can't bear the thought of turning on the large stove in my small kitchen. So, this summer I'm committed to using my slow cookers more often, and trying to adapt some of my favorite stovetop and oven recipes. It's no secret that I adore Thai red curry anything, and I realized I had all of the ingredients for this slow cooker Thai red curry turkey in my pantry last week. To adapt my favorite stovetop recipe, I browned and drained the ground turkey before adding it to the cooker, added the fish sauce/lime juice/brown sugar flavorings at the beginning, and saved the coconut milk for the last half hour of cooking. I served it over rice (made in the rice cooker, which also keeps the kitchen cool); you can spoon the curry into lettuce or radicchio cups for a lower-carb option.
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What's in a name? If I named this dish pickled cabbage, it might conjure up images of clay jars of fermented, kind-of-smelly kimchi buried in the ground out behind the house, and to some, that's a real turn-off. So, I thought, why not call it pickled cole slaw? And then, go one step further and actually make it with store-bought cole slaw mix? Of course, you can shred green or red cabbage, and a few carrots, and make your own mix, but I let someone else do the work. Buy cole slaw mix in a bag at the grocery store and rinse in very cold water to perk it up. Add the seasonings for a quick brine, and this Asian pickled cole slaw is ready to eat in an hour. No need to dig up your back yard. Serve as a side dish with grilled chicken or meat, or in a fish taco.
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People who live in hot places -- countries close to the Equator -- know that spicy food cools you down by causing the body to perspire and throw off its heat. So, think of this vegan red curry tofu and kale as a kind of air conditioner for your palate. Make it mild or blazing hot, or anywhere in between, depending on how you like it, and how much cooling your climate demands. It sounds crazy, I know, but it really works, and the bonus is that this curry tofu tastes just like your favorite Thai take-out. Brown rice takes a long time to cook, so make that first, before you stir-fry the tofu and kale, or cook the rice a day ahead and reheat. If you're not strictly vegan or vegetarian, substitute fish sauce for the soy sauce.
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Old-fashioned curried chicken salad, the kind you find in the supermarket deli case, seldom floats my boat. Too much curry powder makes it bitter; too much celery overpowers the curry. Too much mayonnaise drowns it all. If that sounds familiar, then this curried chicken pasta salad with apricots and cashews just might restore your faith. Start with big chunks of chicken, add your favorite small pasta (I love the mini penne and mini bow ties), some crunchy Granny Smith apple, plump dried apricots, and cashews. Use mango-studded Major Grey's chutney in the dressing. Make all of the components ahead, and combine at the last minute for a very fresh, fruity, un-gloppy chicken salad.
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