With autumn finally here, now’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into some of those classic and creative crock-centric recipes, loaded with flavors that take… their… sweet… time… to develop.
We just love the way a good, hearty slow-cooked meal satisfies our comfort-food cravings, and the way it can fill the kitchen – and your whole home – with rich, enticing aromas all day long. If it’s been a while since you last pulled out your favorite slow-cooker, here’s a brief reminder of why it’s always an awesome idea.
Slow cooking is good cooking
There’s no substitute for time! The lengthy cooking times involved with slow cooking enable better distribution and integration of flavors in many recipes. And the lower temperatures can reduce the chances of scorching foods that get stuck to the bottom of a traditional pot or in the oven.
Dinner done easy
Many slow-cooker recipes can be assembled and left unattended in the cooker nearly all day long. Just set it, forget it, go to work, and come back to a delicious hot meal! And there’s no need to clean up multiple pots and pans afterwards… just wash out the crock and whatever prep utensils you’ve used.
Slower can be healthier
High heat levels are notorious for breaking down nutrients in foods, reducing a recipe’s overall nutritional value. And there is at least some evidence suggesting that high cooking temperatures can produce substances that are linked to serious health concerns.
It can even save money
Slow-cooking recipes are perfect for less-costly cuts of meat, making even the toughest roasts and chops meltingly tender and delicious. Save the premium cuts for special occasions! Plus, slow cookers use less energy than standard ovens so you can save on utility costs.
Need a new slow cooker?
Before we get to the delicious part, we would be remiss not to mention a couple of our favorite slow cookers. Both are very easy to use, highly rated, and available from a variety of retail sources.
The Kenmore 5-quart model uses minimal countertop space and when you’re finished, the removable ceramic insert and tempered glass lid are dishwasher-safe for effortless cleanup.
The Kenmore programmable 7-quart model gives you extra capacity for family-size meals, digital controls and LED display for easy programmability, plus a dipper/sauce warmer that can go straight to the table.
And now, on to the recipes…
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
By KARI KARCH
This recipe is super-simple, really delicious, full of hearty flavors, and richly nutritious too, thanks to the leafy organic kale.
2 (24 oz) jar tomato basil pasta sauce
9 thick wavy lasagna noodles
24 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
4 cup organic kale, chopped
2 eggplants, sliced
2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated
Fresh flat leaf parsley
Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom so the noodles won’t stick. Break noodles so they fit neatly and cover the bottom. Cover with 1/3 of the ricotta then top with kale, eggplant, sauce. cheese, and end with noodles. Repeat layers two more times. Top with a bit more sauce and cheese.
Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6. Turn off slow cooker and let rest for 45 minutes before serving so the lasagna has time to set up.
Cut into squares and serve with chopped parsley. Happy Eating!
Healthy BBQ Pulled Chicken
By The Schmidty Wife | Fresh Foods
A big, hearty crock of BBQ chicken is perfect for entertaining friends and and family on game day. For a few other great recipe ideas to go with your game-day plan, check out our recent post: Football Is Back!
Food blogger Lauren from The Schmidty Wife has a BBQ chicken recipe designed to please both your taste buds and your gut, with her sweet and savory clean-eating-focused ingredient list!
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, diced
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke*
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
dash cayenne pepper
Our mouths are watering already! For how to prepare, visit Lauren’s recipe here.
Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Brandy Cider
By Team Savvy Cooking
Slow cookers aren’t just for preparing the main course. Nothing says “fall” like a warm, spiced cider drink… something sweet to mull over with friends!
8 cup apple cider
1-1/2 cup brandy
2 tablespoons dried orange peel
1-1/2 tablespoons whole allspice
6 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 hearty apple, (Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith) roughly chopped
extra brown sugar or sugar in the raw, (for rimming the glasses)
small cinnamon stick, (to garnish each glass)
Mix the liquids. Add the apple cider and brandy to the slow-cooker and turn on medium.
Roughly chop the apple into bite-sized pieces and add to the slow-cooker. The apple bits should float on top. Then mix the rest of the ingredients into the slow-cooker and cover.
Add the cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel, allspice, raisins and brown sugar to the slow-cooker and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Seal the slow-cooker with the lid and allow to cook on medium heat for 2 hours.
Serve and garnish
Ladle cider into sugar-rimmed glasses or mugs and garnish with a small cinnamon stick. If you aren’t going to serve right away or have leftover cider, you can store it in the refrigerator and reheat later. Note: This recipe can be made vegan, but not all brandy is vegan so you should check the label.
Looking for more slow cooker recipes? Find them here for fresh ideas all season long!