Tag Archives: slow cooker

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

How are your health resolutions going? Are you going strong or have you fallen off the bandwagon already? No shame either way. I’ve met some of my goals, slipped at others. Here’s the thing I think most people forget: it is a goal for ALL of 2018. So if it takes until December 31 to do it, that is 100% ok.

My #1 advice I can give you if things aren’t going so well is to TRY AGAIN! But before trying again, think about what went wrong. For me, I often make really good goals then don’t set myself up for success. For example, I wanted to eat more vegetables at lunch. But then didn’t buy anything. Oops! So now I bought a bunch of salad stuff that is really easy to throw together at lunch or into my smoothie at breakfast. Magic! I’m eating more vegetables.

Another tip to succeeding is to move decisions from a hard time to an easy time. For example, if you made a resolution to eat breakfast, help yourself out and make things ahead of time. Then, when it is morning and you are rushed and busy it is easy to eat rather than easy to skip it.

This overnight oatmeal is great for that. You mix it and put it in the slow cooker before you go to bed. Then you have warm, healthy breakfast waiting when you get up. This is great for families with a variety of schedules because everyone can just grab some when it is convenient. Just don’t forget to plug in the slow cooker like I did once. That leads to frowns in the morning.

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal (Serves 4-6)

(Sorry no pic right now. Life happens a lot in the morning at my house.)

¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups skim milk
1 cup water

1. In a glass bowl, mix ingredients.
2. Place bowl inside slow cooker. Pour enough water around bowl up as high as the oatmeal mixture.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Stir and serve.

Nutrient Analysis (amount per serving):

Calories: 198
Protein: 6 gm
Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: less than 1 gm
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 43 gm
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 60 mg

Recipe Notes: It does HAVE to be steel cut oats. I have used the Coach’s oats from Costco, which work well. You could mix everything straight in the slow cooker. However, it is likely to burn/stick to the sides and bottom and be somewhat difficult to clean. Putting it in the bowl keeps that mess from happening. Also, I think it is a gentler cook in the bowl. So I have cooked mine for longer than 8 hours and it is fine.

Variation: Peach Oatmeal

Add in 2 large peaches, sliced (about 2 cups) or 28-ounce can sliced peaches in juice, drained; 1 teaspoon ginger; 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg; and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Nutrient Analysis (amount per serving):

Calories: 222
Protein: 6 gm
Fat: 1 gm
Saturated Fat: less than 1 gm
Cholesterol: 3 mg
Carbohydrates: 48 gm
Fiber: 2 gm
Sodium: 60 mg

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Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

December is such a busy time of year for most of us. Lots of gatherings, shopping, school functions, sporting events, etc. I usually have a pretty open schedule and found myself booked 3 of the 5 work days this week. What?! However, busyness doesn’t mean you have to get take out. You are spending enough money everywhere else this month, you don’t need to eat out a ton too.

Enter your slow cooker. This awesome piece of kitchen equipment is the busy cook’s best friend. Throw some food in early in the day, cook some sort of starch to go with it, and you are good to go.

This ratatouille is perfect for a cold December night. Super hearty and filling, you won’t even miss meat. The goat cheese in the polenta adds the perfect tang. It’s just all around delicious. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta (Serves 6-8)

Slow Cooker Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille:
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
2 small red or yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-­inch pieces
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¼ cup all-­purpose flour
¼ cup tomato paste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

Polenta:
6 cups low-­sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 ½ cups polenta or cornmeal (not instant)
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1. Place the eggplant and zucchini in a large colander and toss well with the salt; let sit for about 45 minutes. Rinse well to remove the salt, then dry well, gently squeezing out excess water with a kitchen towel. Add to the slow cooker that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-­high heat. When warm, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the flour and tomato paste. Cook until the mixture is thickened
and the flour disappears, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes with their juices, thyme, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, crushing the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon, until thickened and smooth, about 6 minutes.

3. Mix with the vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours, until the vegetables are tender. Turn off slow cooker and stir in Parmesan cheese and basil.

4. About 30 minutes before vegetables are done, add the stock, cornmeal, and ½ teaspoon pepper to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-­high heat, whisking frequently to prevent lumps. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until creamy and thickened, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and goat cheese.

5. To serve, ladle polenta into individual bowls, spoon ratatouille on top, and serve immediately. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 330
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 46 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 579 mg

Recipe Notes: The eggplant is less bitter if you peel it and if you let it sit a bit with the salt. If you are pressed for time, it will still work if you don’t do either step. It might be a bit more watery, but not enough to kill it. I don’t love the taste of cooked red onions generally, so I prefer to mix and match here. I’m sure fresh herbs would be delicious here, but I don’t remember to buy them or the store doesn’t have the one I want. If you can’t find or don’t eat goat cheese, I would probably sub in more Parmesan. Or maybe cream cheese. I tried blue cheese once and didn’t love the combination personally, but it is an option as well.

Source: Slightly adapted from Epicurious.com

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Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pie is not the recipe you expect to appear on a food blog right before Memorial Day. It should be burgers, fries, summery salads, fruity desserts, etc. But I’m sitting in my slippers and wearing a sweatshirt in my chilly house, since I refuse to turn on the heater this late in May. From my friends’ posts on Facebook, many others have a weekend ahead lacking in sunshine and summer.

While I fully intend to do my cookout on Monday (rain or shine), until then, I’m basking in some warm, hearty comfort food. This pot pie is on my list. I made this for company recently, and there were no leftovers with smiles all around on how delicious it was. Honestly, I think I even liked this better than most chicken pot pies I’ve had. So many more flavors with all the different vegetables. Enjoy!

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie (Serves 6-8)

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced baking potato
1 ½ cup diced carrot
1 ½ cup diced parsnip
1 cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 (8-ounce) packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
¾ cup low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuit topping:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preparation

1. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add potato, carrot, parsnips, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and return to heat. When oil is heated, add onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add to crockpot. Add salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.

3. Heat remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 ½ tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add peas and thyme. Stir contents of crockpot to combine.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours.

5. When vegetable mixture is almost done, make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist.

6. Increase heat to high. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 equal mounds. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are done. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 365
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 555 mg

Recipe Notes: I normally don’t like recipes that require any cooking before you put things in the crockpot. But it is nice to get a little bit of color on the veggies first. I’m sure it would still turn out if you skipped that step. Feel free to adjust the vegetable amounts or types. I was probably a little under on the mushrooms – a few were bad in my packages and my husband doesn’t love them anyway – and a little over on the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. I never have buttermilk; I just make it with skim milk and lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Right after I got married, I got my first real job. I actually needed to cook dinner consistently for the first time AND didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I found myself turning to my slow cooker a lot. But we could only eat so many meals doused in cream of chicken or mushroom soup, so I began to look around for other ideas.

The great thing about these peppers is that they are very adaptable. Change up the ingredients as much as you’d like – corn, different beans, olives, different peppers, etc. The only downside I have found is the timing. If you leave these to cook for a long time, they kind of fall apart. They still taste great, but the presentation leaves something to be desired. I do think these taste better than peppers in the oven though, since they have more of a sauce.

Enjoy!

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers (Serves 6)

crockpot stuffed peppers

6 bell peppers (any mix of colors)
½ yellow onion, diced
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 jalapeño, seeds and membranes removed per preference, diced
½ cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 cup brown rice
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup salsa

1. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds, stems, and cores. Dice pepper tops and place in a medium bowl.

2. To pepper tops, add onion, beans, corn, jalapeño, cheese, rice, taco seasoning, and half the can of tomatoes. Stuff peppers with mixture. Place peppers in crockpot. If you have an filling left over, pour it over the peppers in the crockpot.

3. Combine remaining tomatoes and salsa. Pour over stuffed peppers. Put lid on crockpot. Cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 263
Protein: 10 g
Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 9 mg
Carbohydrates: 47 g
Fiber: 9 g
Sodium: 436 mg

Recipe Notes: You can use any color of bell peppers. I tend to prefer the flavor of red or yellow peppers, but green are usually cheaper. The recipe originally had ground beef instead of beans. It was tasty that way, but I like the vegetarian version. You could also split the cheese in half, mixing half in the stuffing and sprinkling half on top. I have found the cheese on top often gets lost when you are serving, so I don’t bother. Also, I ALWAYS have extra stuffing. If you could fit an extra pepper or so in your crockpot, you might want to use them.

Source: Adapted from Semi-Homemade Cooking 2

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Italian Braised Beef over Polenta

At my house, it is beginning to warm up and feel like spring and summer might actually happen. I spent so much time at the park yesterday that I got my first “tan” line of the year. But Mother Nature is tricky. Every year this happens, and then every year there is a random snow storm or cold streak that makes us all depressed again.

In anticipation of that cold streak, I bring you this hearty, Italian dish. It is warm, sticks to your ribs, and tastes amazing. Even better, it cooks in the crockpot, so you could make it on a spring or summer day without heating up your house.

Enjoy!

Italian Braised Beef over Polenta (Serves 4-6)

IMG_6294label

½ tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds boneless chuck roast (or about that much)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ – 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 ¼ cups cold water
1 cup polenta/corn meal
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.

2. Add chuck roast, pepper, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and basil. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 7 ½ hours, until meat is falling apart and shreds easily with a fork.

3. Add vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while preparing polenta.

4. Combine broth, water, and polenta in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently until polenta begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese.

5. Shred meat with 2 forks. Serve meat with sauce over polenta.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 391
Protein:  37 g
Fat:  12 g
Saturated Fat:  3.5 g
Cholesterol:  116 mg
Carbohydrates:  34 g
Fiber:  4 g
Sodium:  275 mg

Recipe Notes: The original recipe called for pork. I’m sure that would be delicious as well. The original recipe had you sear the meat on all sides in oil before sautéing the vegetables. My meat was frozen, so searing wasn’t an option for me. I still think it tasted fine. I generally skip that step in lots of slow cooker recipes. My meat usually is frozen, but I also just don’t find that big of a flavor difference worth the mess or time it takes to sear it. I think it is a personal preference.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Spaghetti Squash with Marinara

Now that it is fall, we can start talking about fall and winter squashes, which are my favorite.  First up, spaghetti squash.  I had honesty never tried this until last year, and I was blown away by how much I liked it.  You really do feel like you are eating spaghetti!  It isn’t carb free, but it is definitely lower in carbs than regular pasta.  Only 10 g of carbs for 1 cup cooked squash compared to 37 g of carbs for 1 cup cooked spaghetti.

This spaghetti squash with marinara is so incredibly simple but it hits all those satisfying, homey notes of a regular spaghetti dinner.

Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce (Serves 2-3)

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 cups marinara sauce

1. Slice spaghetti squash in half widthwise. Scoop out seeds. Pierce with a fork a few times.

2. Pour sauce into bottom of crockpot. Place squash on top of sauce, cut sides down. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 5-6 hours, until squash is tender when poked with a fork.

3. Remove squash. Shred pulp into spaghetti like strands. Serve with sauce.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 160
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 34 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 232 mg

Recipe Notes: You can also cook meatballs in the crockpot along with this.

Source: adapted from recipes online

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