3 Ways to Summer Love Your Slow Cooker
You may think Crock Pots are old-fashioned or just for hearty comfort food recipes like green beans and ham or pot roast, but that’s just a CROCK (ha! see what I did there?). Actually, the slow cooker is an awesome and often-overlooked summer life hack.
Why? Well, mostly because the humble slow cooker magically frees you from spinning sweaty circles in the kitchen fro hours when you’d rather be cooling off at the pool or enjoying your A/C to the max. The only thing it doesn’t do is the chop prep or pour you a glass of wine – maybe someday, I’m hoping.
So anyway, this little appliance, which you may not have used but a handful of times since you registered for it (cuz you’re just supposed to register for one, right?) and received at a bridal shower ages ago from aunt Nelda, may just turn out to be your best friend all summer long.
Step 1. Take out that hidden gem of cookware right now and blow off the dust. Behold it like Indiana Jones did the sacred stone in the Temple of Doom, because tonight is going to be a game changer. Your load is about to be lightened. It’s summer time and the livin’ is about to get easier. Step 2. Try one of these light, summery slow cooker recipes to get you started.
Sunday Funday Salsa Chicken
It just doesn’t get any easier than a two-ingredient entrée. Have some frozen chicken breasts on hand? Check. A jar of salsa hiding in the back of the pantry? Check. And we’re in business. Pro tip: remember to thaw frozen meat or poultry (in the fridge) before adding to your slow cooker.
Follow our easy recipe and then serve this tasty chicken dish with frozen corn that’s been heated in the microwave, then drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt. (Olive oil has beneficial polyphenols, which can help with heart disease and cancer prevention.) Or pair with fruit or anything green you’ve got. Avocado slices count as both!
Cooking Time: 8 – 10 hours on low heat or 5 hours on high heat
- 2 ½ pounds Chicken breast
- 1 jar salsa (16oz)
- Place chicken in slow cooker.
- Cover with salsa of your choice.
- Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 5 hours (always follow the cooking recommendations that came with your slow cooker for specific cuts of meat. Each appliance will vary.)
- Go to the park (jake sure the lid of the slow cooker is firmly closed)
- Return and enjoy
Easy Summer Sweet Potato Soup
This dish is hearty and delicious yet light enough for summer. Plus, it tastes great either hot or cold. Pro tip: for easier clean up, spray or coat the inside of your cooker with oil before adding ingredients. Also, never reheat your leftovers in the slow cooker – use the stovetop or oven.
Cooking Time: 8 hours on low heat or 5 hours on high heat
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 3 large sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tsp. dried tarragon
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 cups packed baby spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add broth, sweet potatoes, onion, celery, and garlic to slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 5 hours). Potatoes should be soft.
- Go the pool or chillax in the backyard while your kids go crazy in the sprinkler.
- Once cooked, turn slow cooker off and add the coconut milk, spices and herbs. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, ladle the soup into a blender a little bit at a time, mix, and pour into a separate pot. Repeat the process until all the soup has been blended. Once blended, return the soup to the crock pot.
- Stir the baby spinach into the blended soup, cover the pot, and allow to sit for 20 minutes (until spinach is soft).
- Serve hot if you’re still drying from a day at the pool or cold if you’re still hot from being out in the sun. This soup is great with a garnish (sliced almonds, a dollop of sour cream, and some cilantro are a favorite).
Presto Potato Mustard Chicken
Get your kids involved in cooking by adding ingredients to the slow cooker, cover with the lid, and presto!—when you come back home, the flavors have melded together, the vegetables and protein have softened, and, with no work, dinner is ready! They’ll be amazed at how it happened. You’re a genius at efficiency, and your kids think that they are expert chefs.
And who knows; maybe they’ll take ownership and come up with your next slow cooker meal. Just remember that when you’re making your own slow cooker creations, choose meals with a high moisture content, like stews, soups, chili or dishes made with sauces or salsa.
Cooking time: 5-6 hours
- 5 Yukon Gold potatoes or red potatoes
- ½ cup mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 chicken breasts
- 5-6 chicken thighs (always follow the cooking recommendations that came with your slow cooker for specific cuts of meat. Each appliance will vary.)
- ½ cup water
- Scrub and rinse potatoes very well. Leave skin on and chop into cubes. Place into mixing bowl.
- In a measuring cup, combine mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Add chicken to mixing bowl, then add in mustard mixture. Thoroughly combine.
- In slow cooker, add ½ cup of water and then add chicken and potatoes. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or defer to your slow cooker manual instructions. Chicken should easily fall apart.
- Serve with a mixed green salad and high five your kids for helping make dinner so easy and delicious.