Slow cookers aren’t just for soups or chilies. There are so much more time-saving recipes that provide extra you can freeze for future busy nights. A tiny bit of planning will save you time and stress when dinnertime or a social potluck comes around. Just throw in all your ingredients (meat, veggies, rice/grains, seasonings) in in the morning and set to low. When you open the lid at dinner, the delicious aroma will fill your kitchen and everything will be cooked to perfection!
Make a wide variety of delicious dishes and treats for parties, such as applesauce, stews/bean soups, Chex mix, pulled pork for sliders (my daughter’s favorite), and even pumpkin-spiced lattes, or PSLs as well call them. Slow cooker pots are easily transported and used as a serving dish, which saves the number of dishes! No matter what your family or party guests are craving, the slow cooker can be used to make a dish everyone will love! See what ideas strike you the most and give them a try!
Meats for Mains
Pulled Pork for Sliders – A four-ounce pork shoulder mixed with BBQ sauce and a sprinkle of brown sugar can be cooked on low for 10 to 12 hours. The tender texture can only be achieved by cooking it low and slow. Shred with a fork and put in toasted mini whole-wheat buns with shredded cabbage for the ultimate slider.
Lasagna – Cook ground beef or lean ground turkey and mix with your favorite spaghetti sauce. Put a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker, top with uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles, a layer of ricotta cheese, a layer of low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese and then another layer of ground meat. Continue in this order for two or three layers and top the final layer with shredded cheese. Home cooked lasagna never sounded so easy!
Filling and Sides
Baked potatoes – Wrap in foil, place in the slow cooker and forget! Remove them at dinner and use them as a base for the meal (think chili stuffed potatoes), or as a side to the main course.
Apple butter – Mix sliced peeled apples, butter, sugar and a pinch of cloves and salt. Cook in the slow cooker on high for one hour, then reduce to low for about nine hours. Mash and whisk until smooth.
Sweet and Spicy
Hot spiced cider – To the slow cooker, pour in a jug of apple cider, a few whole cinnamon sticks and a pinch of cloves. Cook on low for about eight hours. This autumn brew will have your house smelling like a crisp fall night, and not to will taste great too! Use a plastic ladle for serving, so as not to scratch the interior pot.
Make your bread or dough – Use the slow cooker so the bread can rise and cook at the same time. This works for cinnamon rolls too. Layer parchment paper in the bottom to easily pull out the whole thing and minimize clean up. Search your slow cooker manufacture online and see if the brand offers some guidelines, as individual temperature recommendations for bread will vary.
Overnight oats – Wake up to a batch of sweet-smelling steel-cut oatmeal – you know the kind you never want to make because they take forever on the stovetop. Add two cups of cut oats (to serve about eight), with water, low-fat milk, a sprinkle of salt, a dash of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey and whatever add-ins you want. Some good combinations are pumpkin puree and chopped pecans, cubed apples and chopped walnuts or blueberries and almonds.
Peach, nectarine or pumpkin cobbler – All it takes is flour, milk, butter, sugar, fresh/frozen or canned fruit of your choice, a little cinnamon and baking powder. Combine ingredients in a bowl before adding fruit and pour into the slow cooker. Layer fruit over the mixture in the slow cooker without mixing, and cook on high for two hours or until firm.
Baked apples – Follow the same recipe for the apple butter, but do not mash the apples at the very end. Serve with non-fat Greek yogurt and drizzle of honey. This can be a healthy snack or dessert!
Who would’ve thought that all these delicious and time-saving recipes could be made in the slow cooker? You just saved yourself hours in the kitchen! Not only will you have an easy cleanup, but your guests or family will love your meals, snacks and desserts!