Food is all about connection, whether it's making a meal in the family kitchen or bonding with friends over a divine cheese plate. In this new weekly column, I want to connect with you about everything from our nation's changing eating habits to the local foodie scene to what's cooking in my kitchen. Look for cooking tips and food trends, with a particular focus on clean, healthy eating and how to put together simple, satisfying recipes. This week, an introduction to our new version of the long-running #CookClub feature.
Sometimes, the stars align, and you have all the right ingredients in your fridge to whip up a wholesome, healthy, hot weeknight dinner.
Then there are the nights — much more common, in my experience — when you just don't, and putting anything on the table that's not a bowl of cereal is a struggle.
We hear you, which is why we're rolling out a new iteration of #CookClub, the online cooking community we started in September 2013. We're simplifying things a bit, featuring new recipes each week in this space and online. Recipes will lean toward quick, easy dinner ideas that fall in the 30-minute-meal category. Seasonal ingredients will play a big role, as will ease. In general, we want these to be something home cooks can replicate.
And we'll refocus on #CookClub's original spirit of improvisation. The recipes will be simple enough to allow room for you to tinker, to put your spin on the ingredients. We can learn from each other through our kitchen mistakes and innovations.
If you make the week's dish, share with us how you made it your own by snapping a photo and posting it to Twitter or Instagram with the tag #CookClub, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mstark17.
This week we're easing our way out with a slow cooker recipe that's about as hands-off as you can get, yet deceptively tasty. I'm always leery of slow cooker recipes that have too few ingredients; where does the flavor come from? But creamy peanut butter works wonders on these chicken thighs, which can cook in as few as four hours or as many as eight. Dark meat holds up better to the long cooking time, staying tender and juicy. (Bone-in thighs are tastier than boneless in this case, too.) Serving the thighs on a bed of herbed rice helps keep the dish fresh and bright. Consider green beans or peas on the side.
Now back to that improvisational spirit for a second. Let's say you don't own a slow cooker. This dish can also be made by combining all of the ingredients in a large pot and letting them cook down and simmer for at least 45 minutes.
For the full interactive #CookClub experience, check out tampabay.com/cookclub, where you'll find links to our weekly Twitter chat, highlights (including lots of fun kitchen tips) from past chats, Instagram photos from other #CookClub members and a new recipe each week.
Contact Michelle Stark at (727) 893-8829 and email@example.com. Follow @mstark17.