Pork Carnitas are a favorite while dining at local Mexican restaurants. This recipe, made in the Crock Pot, made the work easy. I chose to skip the final step in the recipe and it was delicious. If you love the crispy pork, go for it. The pork is great in tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos….your choice!
Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below. The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions. Both were delicious and easy, peasy. We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!
During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times. Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness. By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE
1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
Add onions and carrots
Pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (I cooked for 4 hours)
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Beef Bourguignonne is savory, hearty meal of tender beef with rich flavors. I’ve enjoyed it many times with friends in their homes or in a restaurant but this was my first attempt to make it at home. It was easy to make and even better to eat.
CROCK POT BEEF BOURGUIGNONNE
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 lb. white button mushrooms, halved
1 bottle Pinot Noir
1 tbps. beef demi-glace
Place the flour in a large bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper, add to the flour and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to a plate, shaking off the excess flour.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Add the bacon, carrots, onions and garlic to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and mushrooms.
Off the heat, pour the wine into the sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the demi-glace and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add to the slow cooker, cover and cook until the meat is fork tender, 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Discard the bay leaves.
Transfer the beef bourguignonne to a platter and serve with steamed potatoes. Serves 10.
Wonderful, yummy Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale is a new favorite. I first enjoyed this soup at a Bunco gathering a few years ago and I asked for the recipe. The source, Pinch of Yum, is a favorite site for my daughters and I and this recipe doesn’t disappoint.
The title says ‘spicy’ but with one chopped jalapeno, it was not hot at all. If you truly want it hot, I would suggest adding 2+ jalapenos. With this batch, I only added the curry powder, but next time I will add the tumeric.
This soup is Vegan and Vegetarian. If you would like protein, adding some shredded chicken would be delicious. It’s fall y’all, and I’m cooking up a soup storm!
SPICY PEANUT SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO & KALE
2 tablespoons olive oil
half an onion, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes1
14-ounce can light coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry and/or turmeric
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup peanut butter
1–2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Saute until soft and fragrant.
Add sweet potatoes. I like to brown them a little bit with the aromatics to get them nice and flavorful.
Add tomatoes, coconut milk, water, spices, and peanuts. Simmer until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
Add peanut butter and kale. Simmer until everything is thick, creamy, and delicious. Top with more peanuts and a little cilantro if you’re obsessed like me.
Instant Pot: Cook everything except peanut butter and kale on high pressure for about 3 minutes with a quick release. (Sometimes I reduce the liquid when I make it in the Instant Pot by a cup or so, and then just add more as needed when it’s all done. But that is optional – it should work fine either way.) Stir in the peanut butter and kale after cooking. Voila!
Slow Cooker: Cook everything except peanut butter and kale on low for 6 hours. Stir in the peanut butter and kale. Don’t cook the sweet potatoes too long or they’ll fall apart on ya! Just cook until they pierce easily with a fork.
One last note. This recipe is inspired by an amazing West African recipe called maafe, or groundnut soup. I did what I always do and changed/added some ingredients based on what I love and what I had on hand (kale, jalapeño, coconut milk, cilantro, etc.) making it more of a cultural mash-up. That’s why I’m not calling it a proper West African peanut soup even though those are its roots.
Freezer Meal Version
3 cups chopped sweet potatoes, fresh or frozen
2 jalapeños, minced
half of an onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
Instant Pot Instructions: High pressure 8 mins + 10 mins natural release
Slow Cooker Instructions: High setting 6 hours
Final Step: Stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, and 1-2 cups chopped kale. Add water to thin to desired consistency.
Check out our full freezer meal posts with all recipes and instructions here!
Our book club met at my home for our March review of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. I must admit I did not care for the book and did not finish it. Others had the same difficulty, finding it complex and hard to follow, especially in the beginning. However, for those that finished the book, they thoroughly enjoyed it finding the Chinese Cultural Revolution to be similar to world experiences today.
Our potluck cuisine was Asian and my Asian recipe file is devoid of recipes. I found this wonderful Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken recipe online and will definitely make it again and again. Very flavorful and wonderful with rice and stir fry vegetables.
SLOW COOKER CASHEW CHICKEN
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cashews
Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken and shake to coat with cornstarch.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker. (Frankly, next time I make it I will skip this step)
Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. (Optional: If you like the cashews to be softer, you can add them during the cooking process. If you like more crunch, add them right before serving.)
Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
Service over rice. Optional: Garnish with chopped scallions.
Corned Beef and Cabbage is an Irish-American tradition, not one commonly found in Ireland. None the less, it is a tradition many of us treasure and cook only 1 time a year. I prepare this dish in my trusty Crock Pot and it’s perfect every time. This time I chose to omit the carrots and go with a basic beef, potato, onion, and cabbage meal.
Pair this dish with Irish Soda Bread and a beer (green) and have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE
1 raw corned beef roast (3-4 pounds)
1 head cabbage washed and cut into wedges
8 red skinned potatoes, washed
3 carrots (optional)
2-3 medium onions (optional)
1 cup water
salt and pepper
Place corned beef brisket in crock pot and top with vegetables, water, salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
If you like your cabbage a bit crisper, you can add the cabbage 2-3 hours before serving.
A few days ago I was watching the Rachael Ray show with Emeril Lagasse as her guest. He shared a recipe for a slow cooker/crockpot brownie. With a busy day coming up and the need for a birthday dessert, I decided to give it a shot.
I followed the instructions, shown below, to a ‘T’ and anxiously awaited the yummy results, enjoying the smell of chocolate in my home all afternoon.
After the allotted baking time of 3 1/2 hours, the brownies were still liquid in the middle. I have a fairly large crockpot so the brownies were probably thinner than in many smaller crockpots. Time was running out, so what to do? I tried baking a little while longer on low with no improvement. Finally I resorted to turning the crockpot on ‘high’ and you can imagine the burned edges and still uncooked center.
I was NOT a happy camper and kicked myself for not making the recipe shown below but baking, old-style, in the oven. I think this modification for traditionally baked brownies topped warm, with the chocolate hazelnut spread would be amazing. Skip the slow cooker method.
NOTE TO SELF: Never try to ‘bake’ a cake or brownie in the crockpot EVER!
SLOW COOKER BROWNIES (NOT!)
1 box of brownie mix
1 cup chocolate chunks, a mix of milk and dark (and I used some white chocolate)
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
Line the bottom of the slow cooker with some aluminum foil and spray it with a little non-stick spray.
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions and add chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into the slow cooker, set at a low temperature and cook for 3 hours.
Remove lid and cook for an extra 30 minutes to create a crunchy top. When cool, spread hazelnut spread on top and enjoy!
Hot Chocolate and the holidays just go hand-in-hand. That warm cozy feeling in your tummy while gathered around the fire or Christmas tree with loved ones is what Christmas is all about.
Daughter, Sarah, requested that we try this recipe for Christmas morning 2012 and it was delicious. It took a little longer to heat in the crock pot so allow plenty of time for it to warm to serving temperature.
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!
CHRISTMAS CROCK POT HOT CHOCOLATE
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
2 cups milk chocolate chips
6 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crock pot.
Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted.
Salsa Chicken in the crockpot is a simple, hearty dish and perfect to serve for a crowd. You can easily modify the recipe to match your taste, adding more vegetables, hotter chiles, etc.
I’m trying to avoid simple carbs so I served over quinoa with sliced fresh tomatoes. It would be fun to serve the chicken in a buffet with a variety of serving options (outlined below) to allow the guest to make their own finished product.
SALSA CHICKEN IN THE CROCKPOT
2 pounds chicken breasts (if large, cut in half)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
7 oz. can diced green chiles
16 ounce jar of salsa
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
salt and pepper
Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot and season with salt and pepper.
Add corn, beans, chiles and salsa. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or 8 hours on low.
About an hour before serving, shred the chicken in the crockpot and let simmer until ready to serve.
Serve with fresh tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, or salsa as you like.
Serving options: Use as filling in burritos or tacos. Serve over quinoa, baked potato, rice or noodles.
Easter and Christmas holidays call for a baked ham. Easy-peasy recipes allow the host/hostess to enjoy their family and friends and this recipe, coupled with the crunchy potato casserole (March 29, 2013 post), make preparation easy.
My family doesn’t enjoy spiral sliced hams, honey-baked hams, but they LOVE this recipe. The leftover ham makes wonderful sandwiches, too. Typically I purchase a Butt Portion Ham, often available for $.99-$1.39 a pound, a true friend of the family budget.
BAKED HAM CROCKPOT STYLE
Pour 1/2 up water in Crock Pot. Wrap precooked 3-4 pound ham in foil; place in Crock Pot. Cover and cook on High 1 hour then turn to low for 6-7 hours or until ham is hot. If cooking a larger ham, cook 1 hour on high and 8-10 hours on low.
Cathy’s method: I follow the instructions above put typically have to cut a few slices off the ham to make it fit in the Crock Pot and . I start the process about an hour before bedtime and then turn to low and cook 12-14 hours. The ham is juicy, tender and delicious.