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Category Archives: Slow-Cooker/Crockpot

Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce


Dennis and I have been eating out a lot now that I work through the dinner hour.  I finally got fed up with the unhealthy food and the weight gain we’re both experiencing, and decided to cook up enough real homemade food on my days off to last us for the week.  This meat sauce was the first thing I threw together, and Dennis was in heaven!

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This is an old picture from 2009 but I had to include it. Dennis eats everything with chopsticks-he's obsessed!

I’m not completely back on the healthy bandwagon, but this meal is a good start. The sauce is hearty, flavorful & robust, and very low in fat. I chose to sweeten the sauce mainly with carrots, and you may find this balances the acidity of the tomatoes enough for your taste, but I decided to add some agave nectar to mine to sweeten it a little more. You could also try upping the carrots to 2 cups.

Serve this over whole wheat pasta along with a salad and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious meal!

Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

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1 pound bison, venison, or lean ground beef
2 links mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a large skillet, cook the meat and onions until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Do not drain unless you used meat with a higher fat content. If you used the suggested meat, you will have a little broth in the pan with only a tiny amount of fat, which I like to leave for flavor.

Meanwhile, add the undrained tomatoes and carrots to a 4-quart (or larger) slow-cooker and puree using an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, do this with your regular blender). Stir in the tomato paste, agave nectar, oregano, basil, garlic salt, bay leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir in the meat mixture and cover.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10-12 hours, stirring caramelized sides back into the sauce. When complete, stir well, fishing out the bay leaves, and add salt to taste. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

Recipe source: inspired by The Cooking Photographer

Creamed Corn

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Until I married Dennis, I defined creamed corn as that uber-sweet yuck that comes in a can.  My first Thanksgiving with my in-laws, however, brought to light the real stuff that puts the canned goop to shame.  My sister-in-law, Joan, is in charge of the creamed corn in the Miller family, and she brings it to every single family gathering we have, for which my husband is eternally rejoicing and thankful.

It’s a Miller-family staple, and one of Dennis’ favorite foods.  At Thanksgiving, the creamed corn is just as important to him as the turkey.  Although I’ve brought it to my own family reunion before, I rarely make it at home (I prefer to indulge in desserts rather than side dishes), so he is super excited to pile it on his plate at every holiday gathering.  He got lucky recently, however, because I decided to make it in lieu of the usual mashed potatoes to go with our meatloaf.

Creamed corn the Miller way (OK, I know lots of you already make it this way, but to me, it will always be the Miller way) is buttery, creamy, has just a bit of tang to offset the sweet corn, and is crazy delicious.  It’s homestyle comfort food at it’s finest!  If you want to do it up completely Miller-style for a big gathering, triple the corn, double the other ingredients, and throw it in a crockpot to heat all day, stirring to combine everything once it’s hot, until it’s time to eat.

Creamed Corn

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1 bag frozen sweet yellow corn
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
1 stick salted butter*

Melt the cream cheese and butter together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once they are melted and pretty smooth, stir in the corn. Continue cooking, stirring every few minutes, until heated through. Serve hot.

*If using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.

**The above recipe is the long-loved and family-approved version, but I tried adding 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to the latest batch since Teri adds it to hers, and Dennis loved it. He doesn’t like sweet in his savory foods and usually adds extra salt to combat the corn’s sweetness, but he didn’t have to do that with the addition of garlic powder.  I like this corn either way, so it’s up to you.

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

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I saved a recipe for “Perfect Pulled Pork” that I found in a magazine in an ad for pork, but since I don’t like pork (other than bacon, of course), I decided to try the recipe with beef and turn it into barbecue beef sandwiches.  It worked famously!  I’m not a huge meat eater, but I kind of went crazy for these and was so sad when the last of the leftovers were gone.  I can’t wait to make them again.

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

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Printable recipe with picture

5 lbs. beef roast
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2-3 cups barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)
Soft sandwich buns
Dilly Cucumber Salad or coleslaw (optional)

Combine all seasoning in a small bowl and rub evenly over roast. Place meat in a 6-quart slow cooker; add water. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until beef is very tender. If you are at home, I recommend turning the roast over halfway through cooking time because the top will get a little dry. Place beef on large cutting board or platter and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour out all the juices from the crockpot. Pull, slice, or chop the meat and return to crockpot. Stir in as much barbecue sauce as you desire. Serve on buns and top with Dilly Cucumber Salad or coleslaw, if desired.

Serves 16-20

Recipe source: adapted from the National Pork Board’s Perfect Pulled Pork

White Chili (Crockpot recipe)

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My friend, Ashley, shared this recipe with me recently and I had to make it ASAP because although I’ve saved countless recipes for it, I’ve never actually made it or even tried it!  I have to say it’s very tasty, especially made her way with corn chips on the bottom and cheese on top (usually around here this is called a Frito pie).  You just can’t go wrong with salty corn chips and cheese in your chili!  Sooo good!  Unless of course you’re watching your calories, then you’d be better off sprinkling a bit of cheese on top with just a few corn chips for garnish, as I did above.  However, the chili is so good it can totally stand on it’s own. Any way you serve it would be great!

So here’s the recipe Ashley’s sister gave her when she got married (awww, those recipes are the best!) and that she has graciously permitted me to share with you!  Enjoy!

White Chili (crockpot recipe)

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2 large white onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups cubed (raw) chicken
2 cans white kidney (great northern) beans, drained & rinsed
1 can garbanzo (chick peas) beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilis (I used 7 ounces)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
corn chips
shredded cheese

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Transfer to slow cooker.  Add all other ingredients; except cilantro, corn chips and cheese.  Cook on low 6-7 hours (high for 4 hrs).  Stir in cilantro and serve over corn chips with cheese on top!

Recipe source: slightly tweaked from Ashley Allen

Jimmy Fallon’s Crock-Pot Chili

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Funny man Jimmy Fallon can cook?  Apparently so!  This is his recipe for chili in the crockpot (OK, slightly, very slightly tweaked by me) and honestly it’s the best chili to ever come out of my kitchen!  I bought a 12-pack of beer two years ago (does beer ever go bad??) so I’d have it on hand whenever I felt like making my favorite buttery beer bread (seriously the best bread evar!), so I was super excited to finally get rid of the last two cans of it when I made this chili, one for the chili and one for the bread to go with it.  Win-win!


Jimmy Fallon’s Crock-Pot Chili

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3 1/2 pounds ground beef
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 habanero chile, seeded and very finely chopped
1/4 cup chile powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped with their juices
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
1 (12-ounce) bottle amber beer
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Tortilla chips, for serving
Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
Chopped tomatoes, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

In a large skillet, working in batches if necessary, brown beef over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper; drain in a colander, discarding fat, and set aside. Add olive oil, onions, garlic, and habanero to skillet; season with salt. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. In a 6-quart Crock-Pot, combine beef, onion mixture, chile powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper; stir to combine. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and beer; cover and cook on high, stirring occasionally, for 5 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Add kidney beans and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve with desired toppings.

Crockpot Meatballs and Peppers in Cranberry Chili Sauce


I have brought these meatballs to our family’s Christmas eve party for the last two years and both times they disappeared quickly, followed by high praise. For good reason–they are the best party meatballs evah! Even if you don’t add the peppers, they’re great, but the peppers add some nutrition, some beauty, some class, some variety, some color, and, most importantly, some extra flavah!

Betty Crockah! Respiratah! Operatah! What’s for dinnah? ……..supercalifragilisticexpialidociousah!

I apologize. I’m sort of crazy with exhaustion right now and am finding the strangest things amusing. You should try replacing the ending letters of words with “ah” when you’re tired, too. It makes exhaustion more interesting.

Anyway.

I’m squeezing this recipe in this week (and I have so many more to come–sorry I’m a procrastinator!) because you so need to bring them to your own Christmas eve party this year and then keep making them for things like New Years, the Supah Bowl (hehehe), potlucks, etc., etc. They are the best evah! Wait, I already said that. I’m so tired.

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Crockpot Meatballs and Peppers in Cranberry Chili Sauce

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Printable recipe with picture

1 (5 pound) bag frozen Italian meatballs
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 (14 ounce) cans jellied cranberry sauce
2 (12 ounce) jars chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional but recommended
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Place the meatballs in crockpot. Slice all the peppers into strips, discarding the cores and seeds, and place on top of the meatballs. In a large saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce, chili sauce, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and some pepper, and bring to a simmer. Whisk while heating until the sauces combine and you have a smooth sauce. Pour over the peppers and meatballs; do not stir. Cook on the low setting for 8 hours or on high for about 4 to 5 hours. Stir well to incorporate the peppers before serving. To make these into a meal, serve over rice.

Recipe source: adapted from The Cooking Photographer

A big thanks to my husband, Dennis, who took the photos for me because I’ve been so busy!  God bless him.  He’s the best.  Evah. :)

Crockpot Refried Beans

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I started making refried beans in the crockpot a couple months ago and I’m so head over heels for this version that I’ve begun eating them 1-2 times per week.  I’ve only ordered bean and cheese burritos at restaurants maybe twice in my entire life but making them at home with these beans has made me slightly obsessed .  They are so good!  I don’t think there’s a week that’s gone by that I haven’t had at least two bean and cheese burritos in the last couple months and I’m still not sick of them. 

These beans are a lot better than store-bought–so good that you could just use it as a dip for tortilla chips as-is.  I actually just eat them with a spoon sometimes. :)  Besides the wonderful flavor & the ease of preparation, they’re also fat-free, high in fiber and a good source of protein.  You can’t go wrong!

Crockpot Refried Beans
Printable recipe

3 cups dry pinto beans (rinsed)
1 onion, diced
2 T minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt 
1 teaspoon pepper
2 t ground cumin, divided
9 cups water

Put all the ingredients in a crockpot, using only 1 teaspoon of the cumin, and cook on high for about 8 hours.   After they are done, drain all of the liquid out into a bowl.  Set the liquid aside–do not discard.

Mash beans and add the reserved liquid, a bit at a time, to desired consistency.  They will thicken over time so add more liquid than you think you need, making them a little runny.  Stir in the remaining teaspoon cumin and serve. 

Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  These freeze extremely well, just put them in an airtight container and when you’re ready for them, defrost overnight at room temp or 2 days in the fridge before using.  If they get too thick after refrigerating, just stir in some water when you reheat them.

Makes about 6 cups

Nutrition Info (per 1/2 cup): 67 calories; .3 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 704 mg sodium; 13 g carbs; 4 g fiber; 4 g protein.

Recipe source: adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

To heck with fussy bean burritos with rice and all kinds of other add-ins.  My favorite bean burritos are the simplest: I sprinkle some mild cheddar in the middle of a flour tortilla, plop some beans on top, roll up and microwave for a minute or until hot.  Now that’s the best 2-minute dinner I’ve ever had!

Ultimate Beef Stroganoff

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I know I sound like a broken record, but you’re gonna have to get used to it: this is another great recipe from My Kitchen Cafe!  I’m actually starting to wonder why I even have a food blog because I’m just stealing Mel’s recipes and putting them on my own!  Well, at least you know when I post them they have been approved not only by her family but mine so you can probably trust that it’s gonna be good.

Not only was this delicious, it’s so easy!  I love preparing meals in the crockpot because after coming home from work,  the last thing I want to do is start dinner.  Usually I’m starving and just want to sit down and eat.  This meal is perfect for career-women and Moms.  And just anybody that loves an easy and delicious meal!  Slow-cooking the meat makes it super tender and it practically melts in your mouth.  Scanning the ingredients, I thought it sounded too simple to be very impressive but it just goes to show that sometimes simple is best!

THE ULTIMATE BEEF STROGANOFF
Printable recipe

Put in crock pot:
2-3 pounds stew meat
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 onion, sliced

Mix in a bowl and pour over meat:
¼ tsp. garlic salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups beef broth or stock (made up from cubes or granules)
1 tablespoon ketchup

Cook in crockpot on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. When cooked make a simple roux by whisking 1/3 cup flour with enough apple juice (about 5-6 tablespoons) to make a thick but still pourable flour mixture. Whisk the roux into the crockpot and add 4 ounces sliced mushrooms.

Cook on high for 15-30 minutes. Then stir in ½ cup sour cream. Serve over pasta, rice or baked potatoes.

*Freezable Meal: The leftovers of the stroganoff can be frozen. Mel stores the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and then thaws in the refrigerator (usually takes about a day) and reheat over medium-low heat in a saucepan on the stove.

Veronica’s Notes: I didn’t have apple juice so I just used water for the roux.  Though it didn’t seem to suffer for it, I hate that I might have missed out on the full flavor experience so next time I will be sure to have apple juice! I also used a ton of mushrooms (four times what’s called for) because I had a ton of mushrooms and didn’t want them to go to waste.  Still tasted good!  So if it bothers you to only use half of an 8-oz container, go ahead and put the whole thing in. Lastly, if you’re wondering about those fabulous fat noodles that look homemade, they are Essenhaus Amish Country Kitchen Extra Wide Homestyle Noodles.  I found them on the bread aisle in the grocery store.  You can purchase them online here or use their store locator to see if they are sold near you.

Recipe source: My Kitchen Cafe

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