International Cuisine: Chrov Plov

My oldest two sons were born in Kazakhstan. We feel so blessed to have the chance to celebrate and explore another culture. And we truly love the country, people, and food (!) of Kazakhstan. March 22 marked the Kazakh New Year (Nauryz) and so we enjoyed celebrating with friends and eating some traditional dishes. This was one of my absolute favorites but I will be sharing four different recipes throughout the coming weeks – they were all delicious.

The recipes were adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2 – my mom and I both have recipes in the book as well as many other talented cooks (how is that for a shameless promo! :)). Please feel free to check it out – the fundraiser is put on by Two Hearts for Hope and all proceeds from the sales of the cookbook benefit orphans in Kazakhstan. And the cookbook features many different types of recipes in addition to several Kazakh recipes.

CHROV PLOV
adapted from Cooking for Kaz: Meals for Hope, Volume 2
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1 c. rice, uncooked
¼ c. almonds, chopped
2 T. currants
2 T. raisins
6 dried prunes
3 T. dates, chopped
4 T. butter
¼ c. dried apricots, cut into strips
1 T. honey
2 c. water

Soak dates, currant and prunes in warm water for 15 minutes. Remove and pat dry, mix with apricots and raisins. Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat and add the fruit mixture and almonds. Reduce the heat to low and stir for four minutes. Stir in the honey, rice, and water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, serve hot.

*I very successfully made this in my rice cooker by adding the sautéed fruit, almonds, butter, and honey to the rice and water in the cooker.

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Slow Cooker: Appetizers

What do you have planned for the weekend? Company? Olympics? I think these two cheesy appetizers will be perfect for your weekend plans.

We loved this orange cranberry dip. It was delicious! I used the zest and juice of one fresh orange – yum!

ORANGE CRANBERRY DIP
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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8 oz. cream cheese
2/3 c. shredded swiss cheese
2 Tb. orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c.  dried cranberries

Plug in your Little Dipper to get it started warming up. Shove the block of cream cheese down into it. You may need to squish it in with a spoon. Shred the swiss, and add it. Grate the orange and add the zest. Add the orange juice and pecans. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. When the cream and swiss cheese have fully melted, stir in the dried cranberries.

Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.

We’ve established how much I LOVE brie. And so when I saw that the crockpot lady had a slow cooker brie recipe, I really, really wanted to try it! However, I haven’t tried it yet. I have all the ingredients and I plan to but instead we’ve had strep and haven’t felt like eating a whole lot. But I decided that I should still share it so you can try it. And I will try it when we are feeling better. 🙂 It looks amazing!

APRICOT WALNUT BRIE
(Adapted from crockpot 365)
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1 large round or wedge of brie (the round I used was 13.2 oz)
1/2 c. chopped dried apricots
2 Tb. brown sugar
2 Tb. water
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Use a 1.5 mini round crockpot. If you are going to use a big one, put the brie in an oven-safe dish. As long as the dish and the crockpot heat together, you’re all good.

Cut the top rind off. Put the brie into the crockpot. In a bowl, mix the chopped apricots, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, water and rosemary together. Spoon on top of the brie. Sprinkle on the chopped walnuts.

Cover and cook on high for 1-2 hours, or on low for about 3. Check after an hour in both cases just in case. Serve with your favorite crackers or fruit slices.