Crock Pot Recipes, Side Dish Recipes

Crock Pot Skinny Mashed Potatoes

Crock Pot Skinny Mashed Potatoes

 

I realize it’s been been some time since my last post.  I apologize for all the grief and anxiety that you’ve no doubt been suffering from due to this absence.  So, accept my apology, dry your tears, and let’s get goin’ again.  Game on!

I’m reminded of a wise passage I once read on a small chalkboard outside a vendor at the farmers market (you know the chalk board signs I’m talking about).  At the top of the board was written in all caps “YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING”.  Below was drawn a large oval with about 5-6 small dots in it.  No colors, just a simple oval drawn with white chalk.

Below the oval was this:

“But I am not very good at drawing human beings, so I have drawn a potato instead.  But the potato is very beautiful too – in its own way.”

So, in the spirit of beautiful humans and spuds, I give you this recipe.

Crock Pot Skinny Mashed PotatoesCrock Pot Skinny Mashed Potatoes

 

The whole ‘mashed potatoes in a crock pot’ thing is obviously much more hands-off than cooking them the traditional way.  No big pot for boiling water needed here.

Why is this such a clever idea? Among others, here are 5 reasons:

  1. Frees up stove-top and oven space
  2. One dish to clean – you can even serve straight from the crock pot
  3. Potatoes are waiting and ready for dinner whenever you are
  4. Skinny … yes, skinny potatoes … no butter or heavy cream here (you won’t miss it)
  5. You will have plenty of time to devote to other dishes

Peel and quarter the potatoes, add to the crock pot with a little chicken broth and garlic, cover, and cook until they’re very tender.  Then mash them right in the pot with cream cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, chives and parsley.  Put the lid back on and turn the crock pot to warm. Voila! Your potatoes are ready whenever you are.  Serve as is or load them up with cheese, bacon, and sour cream.

Crock Pot Skinny Mashed Potatoes

 

I’m loving this super simple, hands-off, healthier approach to mashed potatoes.  Simply beautiful.

Ingredients:

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, minces
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup warm milk, if needed

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease the slow cooker insert with cooking spray.  Peel the potatoes and chop into quarters (or eighths if your potatoes are larger).  Transfer the potatoes to the slow cooker.
  2. Add smashed garlic and chicken broth.  Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
  3. Once potatoes are tender, turn the setting to warm.
  4. Add cream cheese, sour cream, salt and freshly cracked black pepper directly to the slow cooker insert.  Mash ingredients by hand using a potato masher, or with a hand mixer.  You do not want to over mix your potatoes, this will turn them gummy.  Mix until potatoes are just combined. Make them as lumpy or as smooth as you like.
  5. Add fresh chives and taste and season with additional salt or pepper if desired.
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley.
  7. To keep the potatoes warm, leave in the covered slow cooker on the warm setting for up to 4 hours.  If potatoes thicken too much, add a small amount of warm milk to thin them just before serving.

Makes: 6 cups of mashed potatoes

 

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Crock Pot Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This dish accomplishes three ever-important objectives. 1) Delicious taste. 2) The kitchen is filled with a wonderfully unique and enticing aroma. 3) Easy to make.  Three objectives met. One adjective needed.

Magical.

Indian food is all about the spices. While there are numerous spices to choose from, I brought this particular taste of India home by focusing on these basics. Sweet cinnamon, smoky cumin, spicy cayenne, lemony coriander, and warm garam masala.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This is far from an intimidating spice list.  In fact, I bet you have most in your spice cabinet. But even if you don’t, all of these spices are easily accessible and affordable. Garam masala was the only new spice I had to purchase to complete this dish.  Garam masala is a Northern Indian style spice blend.  The composition of garam masala differs according to regional and personal taste.  The specific blend I used is a tripart mixture of cardamom, coriander and black pepper.  Well worth the investment.

I like to serve this dish over fluffy white rice. As an accompaniment, a heaping scoop of cilantro yogurt sauce and a plate of warm naan.  Don’t skip the sauce, it brings a cooling balance to the dish.

We know you’ll be back for seconds. We know I’m about to steal an old, corporately-leprechaun cereal slogan.  You and I both know this dish is… magically delicious.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs chicken breasts, approximately 8 large chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 26oz container strained tomatoes, I prefer Pomi
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
  • Long grain white rice, prepared according to package direction, for serving
  • Naan bread, Firestone and Whole Foods Market make a great garlic variety, for serving
  • Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
    • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    • 1/4 white onion, very finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    • 6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken breast into 1 inch pieces and reserve.
  2. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine onion, garlic, ginger, strained tomatoes, olive oil, garam masala, cumin, sweet paprika, salt, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add chicken breast. Stir to combine, and nestle bay leaves into the sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 5 1/2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare yogurt sauce by combining all of the ingredients into a small bowl.  You can do this several hours before serving to allow flavors to meld together.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Whisk together half and half and cornstarch in a small bowl, and add to the slow cooker.  Stir well and cook with the lid off for an additional 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard.  Total cook time is 6 hours.
  7. Note: If you haven’t already done so, prepare rice.  Most long grain rice takes approximately 30 minutes to cook.
  8. Serve chicken with freshly chopped cilantro, white rice, naan, and cilantro yogurt sauce.

Servings: 10

Serving Size: 1 cup chicken and sauce, plus rice, naan and cilantro yogurt sauce

Note: You could easily make this dish on the stove-top.  Follow the directions as is, and cook on the stove-top for 2 hours over medium-low heat.  If the mixture starts to boil vigorously, reduce the heat to low and simmer for the remainder of time.  After 2 hours, add the cornstarch mix, and continue the recipe as noted.

 

 

Crock Pot Recipes

Crock Pot Recipe Round-Up

Hello old friend, It’s really good to see you once again.

In honor of the first day of Fall, I’m sharing with you a round-up of my favorite Crock Pot recipes.  Here’s easy escape from busy schedules and cold weather.  It’s crock pot time again.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Apple Butter

 

Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese Sauce

 

Crock Pot Chicken Caesar Sliders

Crockpot Chicken Caesar Sliders

 

Crock Pot Cinnamon Applesauce

Crockpot Cinnamon Applesauce

 

Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

 

Crock Pot Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps

Crock Pot Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps

 

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sliders with Classic Buttermilk Coleslaw

Crock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk Coleslaw

 

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

 

Crock Pot White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

 

Lubia: Lebanese Stewed Beef, Tomatoes, and Green Beans

Lubia

 

Crock Pot Recipes, Main Course Recipes, Sandwiches

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sliders with Classic Buttermilk Coleslaw

Crock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk Coleslaw

 

With August approaching and temperatures rising, I’m getting use out of my crock pot.  Sound like a strange concept? Allow me to explain.

The galley kitchen in my apartment heats up quickly when I’m using the oven.  My solution to this issue is simple. Get porky perfection simmering away on the counter top!  This results in my kitchen staying cool, my apartment permeating with sweet pork aromas, and summer on a bun awaiting my taste buds.

My pulled pork starts with a luxurious sauce.  A great balance of smoke, sweetness, and spice … in harmony with a slight tang from the apple cider vinegar.  Oh, how the pork cooks away in this smokey-sweet-spicy-tangy luxury.  The sauce seasons the pork.  The pork infuses the sauce with its juices.  After cooking time is up, the pork is falling off the bone and liquid gold is begging to be reduced and tossed with the finished product.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk ColeslawCrock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk Coleslaw

 

The beautiful color and crunch in this sandwich comes from delicious coleslaw.  My advice for the slaw is to shred the cabbage and carrot yourself.  Don’t mess with the pre shredded bag of coleslaw from the grocery store.  This little extra bit of effort put into the slaw makes an incredible difference.  Creamy but not overly saturated, tangy, and very fresh. This slaw marries beautifully and deliciously with the pulled pork.

Buttermilk ColeslawClassic Buttermilk Coleslaw

 

Look at these pictures. You know you’re ready for summertime crock potting.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk ColeslawCrock Pot Pulled Pork with Buttermilk Coleslaw

 

Pulled Pork Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you want it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 pound bone-in pork shoulder, cut into pieces to fit into your crock pot
  • 20 slider buns

Buttermilk Coleslaw Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (I used a mandolin)
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded (I used a mandolin)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 5 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a 6-quart slow cooker, stir together onion, garlic, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, smoked paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  1. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add oil.  Season the pork with the salt and pepper. Add pork to the skillet and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side until a nice crust forms.
  1. Add pork to the slow cooker, turning to coat completely with the sauce.  Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, or until pork is very tender.
  1. Remove the pork from the crock pot and transfer to a cutting board.  Remove and discard the bone and fat cap. Using 2 forks, shred the pork (I like to leave some small chunks to add a bit of texture to the final product).  Remove and discard any additional fat you discover while shredding.
  1. Transfer the sauce and cooking liquid from the crock pot to a medium stovetop pot.  Allow the sauce to settle for a minute and skim any grease off the top of the sauce.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat and allow sauce to reduce by half.  This should take about 20 minutes.  While the sauce is simmering, skim any additional grease off the top.  Once sauce is fully reduced and skimmed, add the meat to the pot and toss to allow the pork to soak up the yummy sauce.  At this point, the pork is ready to serve.  You could also transfer the pulled pork back to the crock pot on the “keep warm” setting until you are ready to serve.
  1. Meanwhile, prepare the buttermilk coleslaw.  Combine green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot and spring onion in a large bowl.  Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper in a separate bowl; mix well.  Toss the coleslaw mixture with the dressing.  (Note: I did not use all of the dressing; add only as much as you need to lightly coat the coleslaw.)  You can prepare the coleslaw mixture and dressing several hours before serving the sliders.  Keep refrigerated separately.  Coleslaw should be tossed with the dressing just before serving.
  1. Build your slider: Toast your buns, top with a generous amount of pulled pork and a scoop of coleslaw.  Hot sauce, extra bbq sauce, or pickles are optional.

Servings: 10 (Serving Size: 2 sliders)

 

Crock Pot Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Lubia: Lebanese Stewed Beef, Tomatoes, and Green Beans

Lubia

 

My dear grandmother just turned 95 years old.  A trip to Florida was in order!

I love listening to my grandma’s stories.  Especially when they involve family history and traditions.  My grandma learned to cook from her Lebanese mother-in-law.  After my grandparents wedding, a crash course in Lebanese cooking quickly ensued.  Lubia was grandpa’s favorite meal.  (Obviously she had to make it flawlessly.)

A savory combination of either beef or lamb, green beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  The cinnamon brings a lovely warmth to the dish.  It really makes it.  An unmistakable comforting smell will engulf your kitchen.

I cherish the time my grandmother and I spent together this past week.  I look forward to passing on her stories and traditions.  I look forward to recreating the deliciousness, sweet smell, and comfort of this Lubia dish.  Always.

Note: Crock pot and stove top instructions included below.

LubiaLubiaLubia

Lubia

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs beef or lamb stew meat, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 26 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 lbs green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Rice, for serving

Crock Pot Directions:

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.  I prefer a cast iron pan for this.  Add half of the stew meat and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning the meat as each side browns.  You want to form a nice crust on the meat.  Once all of the meat has browned, remove it from the pan and reserve.   Add the remainder of the meat to the saute pan, and repeat the browning process.  Add browned meat to the crock pot.

In the same pan you browned the meat in, saute onion and garlic.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  (These brown bits will add plenty of flavor to the dish.)  Add onion and garlic to the crock pot with the browned meat.

Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, green beans, cinnamon, salt, and pepper to the crock pot.  Stir well and cook for 6-8 hours on low heat.  Add fresh parsley, and serve over your choice of rice.  I prefer white jasmine rice, or rice pilaf.

Servings: 6 (Serving size: 1 1/2 cups of Lubia, 1 cup of rice)

Stove Top Directions:

Follow directions as is … except, add the browned meat and onion/garlic mixture to a stockpot on your stove top instead of your crock pot.  Add additional ingredients as directed.  Cover and cook over low heat for 2-3 hours. Finish as directed above.

 

 

Crock Pot Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

I made this incredibly healthy and delicious chicken for a taco dinner.  Obviously this salsa chicken can be used for a multitude of different dishes, not just tacos.  Obviously your kitchen will smell great when this chicken is cooking.  And, obviously it’s simple and easy to make. (It is a crock pot recipe, after all.)

Five minutes and a few simple ingredients is all you need to get this delicious chicken simmering away.  My favorite, and the most obvious, uses for this salsa chicken are as follows. (1) Set up a “make your own” taco bar. (2) Dive into a delicious burrito bowl. (3) Make a super duper healthy taco salad.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(1) If making tacos, simply serve with your favorite traditional taco fixings and tortillas.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(2) If making a burrito or burrito bowl, whip up some cilantro lime rice, homemade black beans (recipe below), cabbage slaw (recipe below), pico de gallo, and guacamole.  Add some sour cream and fresh cilantro and you’ve got perfection!  If you don’t like cabbage, substitute shredded lettuce.  Add cheese if you please, and be sure to remember the tortilla chips for scooping the burrito bowl.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

(3) A super duper healthy taco salad requires shredded lettuce, fresh cilantro, pico de gallo, roasted corn, red bell pepper, fresh avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, and a mound of salsa chicken to top it off. (Hot sauce optional…or in my case, mandatory!)

Options galore.  Enjoy crock pot salsa chicken any way you choose.

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz jar medium salsa
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, and finely diced (use the whole jalapeno if you like it spicy)
  • 1 oz (2 tbsp) taco seasoning, homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 lbs chicken (breasts, thighs, or a combo)

Directions:

Combine salsa, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, taco seasoning, and lime juice in the bowl of your crock pot.  Stir to combine.  Add chicken. Stir to coat chicken.  Cook on High for 4 hours, or Low for 6 hours.  Chicken will be falling apart. Turn crock pot off and shred chicken in cooking liquid.  Serve chicken in tacos, in burritos/burrito bowl, or on a taco salad.

Note: Makes wonderful leftovers, and will last for several days in your refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe for Cabbage Slaw: Combine 3 cups shredded red cabbage, 2 chopped green onions, 1 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar, 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Recipe for Black Beans:  Soak 1 lb dry black beans in 6 cups of water for 8 hours or overnight.  Drain beans and rinse beans well.  Add beans and enough water to cover the beans, plus another inch or 2 to a large pot.  Bring to a boil for 15 minutes.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are tender (1-2 hours typically). Check beans after 1 hour.  My beans took an hour and a half to fully cook.  When making black beans to compliment your salsa chicken, toss cooked beans with lime juice, salt, and pepper, or use your cooked beans to make this recipe.  You can also use drained and rinsed canned black beans.  Note:  I like to freeze cooked and cooled beans in 1 3/4 cup increments (equivalent to a 15 ounce can) to be used in future recipes.  Note to self:  I should write an entire post on preparing beans from a dry state.  I have so much to share with you.  This takes a little bit of time, but it’s a much healthier option.  Plus, it’s much less expensive than using canned beans.

Breakfast Recipes, Crock Pot Recipes

Crock Pot Apple Butter

apple butter

I live on the windiest corner in Chicago.  Seriously.  Those pictures you’ve seen of people walking at a 45 degree angle, fighting the wind with hats and  scarfs flying through the air?  Those pictures were taken outside my apartment!  Earlier this week the high temperature was -15 degrees F, -40 if you include windchill.  Think of that bone chilling cold on the windiest corner of Chicago.  It was rough.  This resulted in plenty of time spent inside cooking, baking, reading, and wearing fluffy slippers.

apple butter

My hibernation yielded some tasty food, of course.  A highlight was this delicious apple butter.  If you’ve never had apple butter before, you must try this recipe.  Apple butter is simple.  Apples, sugar, and spices cooked way past apple sauce and into a thick, spreadable, jam like consistency.  My version is low in sugar and makes a healthy alternative to store bought spreads.

My favorite way to eat apple butter is on a toasted and buttered English muffin (butter AND apple butter…yes!).  I also like to mix it into Greek yogurt or warm oatmeal, served on top of pancakes, or heat it up and spoon it onto vanilla ice cream.

Apple butter, a crusty slice of toasted bread, and a hot cup of tea.  It was the perfect snack for crazy cold windy, stay inside, days.

apple butter

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Mutsu apples which is a hybrid of Golden Delicious)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in your crock pot and stir well.  Cook on low for 10 hours.  Remove crock pot lid, and process with an immersion blender for 1-2 minutes until smooth. (If you do not have an immersion blender, pour contents into a blender, puree, and return puree to crock pot.)  Increase the heat to high and cook for an additional 2 hours with the lid off.  This will concentrate and reduce the apple butter.

Cool to room temperature, package in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.  You may also can the apple butter by following instructions here and store in your pantry for 1 year.

Makes: 2 cups

Note: The apples for this post were gifted to me from Cardellio Family Orchard.  A beautiful private family orchard in Bruce Township, Michigan.

apple butter