Countdown to 2015: Slow Cooker

countdownto2015We’re continuing the countdown to 2015 with a round-up of my favorite slow cooker recipes from 2014.

I use the slow cooker fairly often and you can find 21 slow cooker recipes here (13 from 2014 alone). but here are my 4 favorites from the year!

I created my very own original recipe over the past two months, and it will be the very first Mexican Monday recipe shared of the new year – so be sure to stop on by January 5th!

This blogging countdown party is hosted by Sarah at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. Scoot on over to her page to see more round-up recipes.

Award Winning Cool Chili

BBQ-Pineapple Pulled Pork

Pork and Potatoes

Spicy Taco Cheese Soup

2014 Slow Cooker Round-up

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Did you know that your slow cooker can be used for more than just pulled pork, Chinese take-out at home, and tailgating cheese dips? It can also be used to have warm and comforting beverages ready for you after an evening in the cold.

For Thanksgiving we went to Alabama to spend the holiday weekend with my in-laws. On Black Friday we had intended to go walking through a Christmas light display downtown. Because it was a chilly night my mother-in-law whipped up a batch of hot chocolate so we could warm up when we returned.

We never did go check out the lights, though. We got wrapped up in a very competitive game of Harry Potter Uno. (Side note: Can you believe this deck of cards is now over $60!?)

But we did still get to enjoy some home made hot chocolate!

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 6 C milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 2/3 C hot water

Steps:

  1. Place condensed milk, heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in slow cooker.
  2. In a large mug or measuring glass, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Cook on LOW 3 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from Melissa at http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2013/12/14/slow-cooker-hot-cocoa/*

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

cocoa 1 FG1cocoa 3 FG1

Slow Cooker Pork and Potatoes

Yesterday I discovered yet another new reason to love the slow cooker! I didn’t think I could appreciate this kitchen appliance more, but turns out, it was/is possible.

I am very excited that I have the opportunity to stay home and raise my son. I feel very lucky and blessed that my husband is supportive of my decision and that together we can make it work. I absolutely love being able to see my son changing every day. Even the bad days are good. All it takes is one little smile to melt my heart and remind me that I made the right decision for our family.

When I was working I loved the slow cooker so that I wouldn’t have to prepare dinner when I got home. As much as I love to cook and be in the kitchen, after a stressful day at the office sometimes standing at the stove would be the last thing I wanted to do.

IMG_2748Now that I’m home during the day I feel like the slow cooker possibilities have multiplied! Have you noticed that there aren’t too many recipes that cook for more than 8 hours?! But now! Now I can cook something on high if I can’t get into the kitchen until later in the day!

Sure that’s all sunshine and daisies, but the real new reason I love my slow cooker is that while Stuart was at CrossFit instead of getting dinner going, I was able to sit on the couch and watch Chopped while my little man slept in my lap after a feeding. I didn’t have to play the dangerous game of putting him down in the hopes he didn’t wake up to get into the kitchen. These are the moments I live for.

Slow Cooker Pork and Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 C cooking sherry
  • 1/4 C Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless pork tenderloin chops)

Steps:

  1. Place potatoes in the slow cooker.
  2. In a bowl whisk together soup, sherry, mustard, paprika, Italian seasoning, and S+P. Pour over potatoes.
  3. In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season pork chops with S+P and sear on both sides for a couple minutes. Place on top of potatoes. Cook on high 3 hours or low 6 to 8 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from Laura at http://www.thecookingphotographer.com/2011/10/slow-cooker-pork-chops-in-dijon-paprika.html *

Slow Cooker Pork and Potatoes

Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken

As I sit here, trying desperately to come up with a Next Food Network Star style story behind the dish I find myself coming face-to-face with writer’s block.

I don’t have any personal connection behind this dish. And it has all of the usual selling points: Slow Cooker, Chinese food, Barbecue, chicken. Easy, fast, delicious. Wait? Chinese food and barbecue in the same dish? Absolutely!

Hoisin sauce is used in China in a similar manner that Americans use ketchup or barbecue sauce, and by shredding the chicken you get the same versatility you get with pulled pork barbecue. You can turn this slow cooker meal into lettuce wraps like the original recipe, serve it atop steamed brown rice like I did, or even make it into a sandwich.

Slow Cooker Hoisin Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar (8.5 oz) hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Steps:

  1. Place sliced onions and peppers in bottom of slow cooker. Season chicken with S+P and place on top of vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together hoisin, soy, water, ginger, and garlic. Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook on low 5-7 hours.
  4. Shred chicken and return to sauce.
  5. Serve with steamed rice. Garnish with scallions.

*This recipe is adapted from Rebecca at http://whoneedsacape.com/2014/05/crock-pot-chicken-lettuce-wraps/ *

Hoisin Chicken

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken

This Mexican Monday post is the first Mexican Monday meal I prepared in our new Ohio home. With a little one to care for and a house to turn into a home, I happily let my slow cooker do the work for me.

This creamy, saucy, shredded chicken goes great over top a pile of rice. It’s a hearty meal perfect for when the days and nights start to get a little colder.

This dish provides wonderful leftovers too (and I don’t say that lightly) – remake some rice or even turn it into another Mexican Monday favorite – enchiladas, tacos, or quesadillas. I even scooped it up with some tortilla chips.

The original recipe called for a can of Rotel, but as I’m breastfeeding and trying to avoid too spicy of food I substituted a partial can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onion. Next time I’d even add in a can of corn!

Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 C sour cream

Steps:

  1. In a slow cooker, combine cream of chicken soup, tomatoes, beans, and onion.
  2. Season chicken with S+P. Add to slow cooker.
  3. Cook on LOW 7 hours.
  4. Shred chicken and return to the slow cooker. Stir in sour cream.
  5. Serve over rice.

*This recipe is adapted from Sarah at http://themagicalslowcooker.com/2014/08/16/slow-cooker-fiesta-chicken-bake/*

Fiesta Chicken

BBQ-Pineapple Pulled Pork

Thanks to the invention of the slow cooker there couldn’t be any easier dinner than pulled pork.

It’s great for a crowd and fool proof. And all you need are two essential ingredients – pork and barbecue sauce. From there you can add even more flavor with a dry rub if you so desire. And sometimes it’s fun to add an extra ingredient or two.

In this instance, the addition of pineapple juice into the barbecue sauce! My mom actually made this and pureed some fresh pineapple in place of the juice. Dad said that he could actually taste the pineapple. When we made it using juice I couldn’t pick out the pineapple, but I’m sure it added to the sweetness.

Another wonderful thing about pulled pork, is that it makes for fabulous leftovers whether you simply reheat and place on a bun for more sandwiches or re-purpose it in a quesadilla like I did. Other great ideas include stuffed baked potatoes or pizzas!

BBQ-Pineapple Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 2 1/2 lb pork loin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C pineapple juice or pineapple puree
  • 1 C barbecue sauce
  • hamburger buns

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, S+P. Rub over pork.
  2. Place pork in a lightly greased slow cooker.
  3. In a small bowl combine garlic, pineapple, and barbecue sauce. Pour over pork.
  4. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. (If you’re home, flip pork loin halfway through cooking time)
  5. Shred pork and serve atop hamburger buns.

*This recipe is adapted from Danelle at http://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2013/08/slow-cooker-pineapple-barbecue-pulled-pork-sandwiches.html*

BBQ-Pineapple Pulled Pork

Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos

Hi,

So… I forgot to post on Mexican Monday yesterday…

As a result, you get the more popularly known Taco Tuesday.

Stuart picked out this recipe off of foodgawker to have on one of our Mexican Mondays, but I altered it by taking advantage of my slow cooker and using pork instead as it was on sale and chicken was not.

On this particular Monday we both had a long day at the office (due to the fact that we carpool), so the decision to use the slow cooker was even more clutch! And because we got home late and were very hungry, photos were not taken. I did think enough to snap a photo with the trusty iPhone. Please accept my apologies for the sorry photograph.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb boneless pork roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
  • lime

Steps:

  1. Place pork in slow cooker, fat side up. Trim some of the fat if desired.
  2. Top pork with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chipotle peppers.
  3. Cook on LOW 4-5 hours.
  4. Shred the pork and return to the sauce and squeeze with the lime. Keep warm until ready to assemble tacos.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos

Spicy Taco Cheese Soup

Over the past year or so my husband has gotten into adventure racing. Last year the obsession was Tough Mudder, and he even got me to join in one. (To watch the epic youtube video click here!) He completed his first (another video) with friends from work Nov 2011 and proceeded to do 3 more solo runs in addition to the one I did with him!

This year the thing is adventure racing. He does these events with the same friends who did the first Tough Mudder. There’s even a blog, Team Disoriented, that narrates their training, racing, and other related activities – you should check it out!

Last weekend they did a big training day biking for 32 miles after working on their canoeing skills for an hour. I offered to have dinner for them when they returned. I’ve been given a lot of slack for not attending their races as a spectator – especially when one team at their last event had a group of supporters who made them grilled chicken!

I knew that they’d be exhausted, sore, and cold by the time they finished so I decided to serve them something warm and filling. Additionally, I was working on a baby quilt so decided to take advantage of my trusty slow cooker. I have a CrockPot® cookbook and decided to take a look through that. I found a recipe by Kimberly Taflinger that sounded good. I changed some things and made it my own – the result was a thick, warm, spicy soup. I was drawn to this recipe because it closely resembled my Award Winning Chili. The leftovers were just as good in my lunch too. I recommend adding Fritos as a complimentary crunch factor to this soup, although Tostidos work perfectly well too.

An Original Recipe

 Spicy Taco Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1 lb processed cheese, cubed
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) corn, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 C taco seasoning (or 1 pkt)

Steps:

  1. Place all ingredients, cut slits in the jalapeno and leave whole, in the slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW 4-5 hours.

Taco Cheese Soup

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Award Winning Cool Chili

Every year at work we have a fundraising chili cook-off. Last year there were three categories: Original, Whoa, and Cool. For the purposes of the cook-off I used a little less heat than normal so that I wouldn’t cross the edge into “Whoa” where I knew my recipe had no chance. As you can probably infer from the title of this blog post, my original recipe won Best “Cool” Chili!

I developed this recipe my senior year of college when our Silver Wings chapter provided a chili dinner for the Air Force ROTC. It’s a tomato based turkey chili with corn. I don’t really like super meaty chili, so this recipe could almost border on a chunky soup level. It was such a huge complement when I saw that my pot of chili was gone first!

Award Winning Chili 1

My chili is the first recipe I ever created, and it’s exciting to know it’s a hit! I make it every year for Thanksgiving, so that if people get hungry before turkey time there’s something ready and waiting in a slow cooker. They can help themselves without getting in the way of dinner prep. It’s perfect for tailgates, potlucks, and quick dinners and easy lunches.

I decided that the Super Bowl was the perfect time to debut my chili on the blog!

An Original Recipe

Award Winning Cool Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (any color you prefer)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) corn, drained
  • 1 1/2 C chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano*
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme*
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram*
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary*
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley*
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp hot sauce, or to taste
  • salt, to taste

*If you have a spice blend, such as Mrs. Dash, feel free to use 2 tsp of that instead

Steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, saute onion and bell pepper until onion is translucent, season with a pinch of S+P if desired. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add ground turkey to the skillet and cook 10 minutes, or until cooked through, breaking up with a wooden spoon.
  2. In a large pot, or a slow cooker, add all remaining ingredients. When turkey is cooked drain any fat and add it to the chili.
  3. Bring chili to a simmer and cook on low heat at least 1 hour. If using a slow cooker, cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH 1-2 hours until hot. Remember, the longer you let it stew the stronger the flavors will be.
  4. Serve with your favorite chili toppings (i.e. shredded cheese, tortilla chips, oyster crackers, sour cream, yellow mustard) My personal favorite and my recommendation is to serve with Fritos corn chips.

Award Winning Chili 2

Balsamic Glazed Beef Roast

When the weather is gloomy, grey, and cold sometimes all you need is a hearty meal to warm your insides.

This slow cooker beef is accompanied by a beautiful, deep balsamic glaze.

I opted to slice the beef (I felt like the Grinch when he cuts the roast beast!) and serve alongside mashed potatoes and fresh salad. Roasted root vegetables would be a wonderful side dish option as well.  Another alternative would be to shred the beef and serve it over a bowl of brown rice.

The leftovers would make for a fantastic sandwich the next day too. (If you have any leftovers!)

Balsamic Glazed Beef Roast

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb beef chuck roast
  • 1 C beef broth
  • 1/3 C + 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 C brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Whisk together beef broth, 1/3 C balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, honey, red pepper flakes, garlic, and pepper. Pour over the roast placed in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW 8 hours.
  2. Remove roast from slow cooker, cover with tin foil to keep warm.
  3. Strain 1 1/2 C of liquid from the slow cooker. Over medium heat combine with remaining balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce.
  4. Create a slurry with the corn starch and 2 tbsp water. Pour into the glaze and stir to thicken. Continue to reduce to desired thickness.
  5. Shred or slice the beef and top with the balsamic glaze.

*This recipe is adapted from Danelle at http://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2013/12/balsamic-glazed-roast-beef-2.html*Balsamic Glazed Beef

Update May 2016: Shortly after settling into our new home in California I needed a simple dinner. I looked to my slow cooker recipes and was reminded of this recipe from my index. And then I scrolled down further and about wanted to die of embarrassment when I saw the photo! I knew I had to redo this roast. When you look below this paragraph you’ll notice how vastly different the pictures are! (I love my macro lens!) The only two differences I made were using agave instead of honey because of my less than one year old son who would be trying it, and a good quality of balsamic vinegar. I used a local, thicker balsamic. For a thick glaze, simply allow the mixture to reduce until you reach your desired consistency, if it gets too thick add a little bit of water to thin it out. Both of my boys loved having this beef for lunch the next day. (My husband and I did, too, for the record.)