Slow Cooker Beef & Bacon Chili

Slow Cooker Beef & Bacon Chili

Fact: chilis and slow cookers are a match made in heaven. Chili cooked on the stove is great but the slow cooker really does bring it to new heights. On the stove, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to burn and due to the thickness it’s hard to get it heated evenly without stirring fairly often. That’s where the slow cooker comes in. You get a nice even cook with no burning on the bottom, plus you get a much more tender meat that falls apart easily and the beans are always fully cooked. This chili has a lot of great stuff going for it, even before you begin the process of slow cooking. Ground beef meets crumbled bacon meets smoky chipotle spices. The secret ingredient in this one is apple cider vinegar, which adds just a hint of tanginess. This is THE “Game Day” chili, folks. Serve it with rice or Corn Muffins on the side or have it as is. Garnish with whatever fixin’s you like: grated cheddar, avocado slices, chopped green onion, sour cream and sliced nacho style jalapenos are all great choices.
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Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Soup

Cabbage Roll Soup

September is almost upon us and the shortening of the Summer’s daylight hours is just starting to get more noticeable. So in honor of the impending Fall weather I thought I would make a hearty slow cooker soup to celebrate. This soup’s humble ingredients go perfectly together and create a delicious and satisfying dish. This soup is pretty much a deconstructed cabbage roll recipe and the broth is flavored with herbs, Worcestershire and paprika. The cabbage and beef becomes fall apart tender after slow cooking it for hours. Garnish with grated cheese and parsley.
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Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken Stew

Moroccan Chicken Stew

It goes without saying that slow cookers are an excellent way to get a great meal together without a lot of time and effort. I’ve made all sorts of Moroccan inspired food but I had never tried using a slow cooker to cook them. This recipe combines a whole chicken, fragrant chili paste, chickpeas and spices together in one flavorful dish. If a whole chicken isn’t on hand, you can always use about 4 lbs of bone-in thighs, drumsticks, etc. I would recommend using bone-in varieties, that way you can make a flavorful stock later! I’ve found that some of my best stocks come from Indian and Moroccan spiced dishes. The slow cooker really allowed the flavors from the chili paste, preserved lemons, garlic and spices to merge together. You can make the Harissa paste a while in advance before you get started and that will help save time. If you don’t have chickpeas on hand, you can easily substitute potatoes in for them. Serve with rice and plain yogurt to cool things down. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.
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Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

I tend to go in phases with meals and lately I’ve been really into using my slow cooker. Even though it’s almost July and not exactly slow cooker season, I’ve been enjoying the convenience of letting it do most of the work! Luckily there hasn’t been a heat wave yet to suppress my use of it yet. This recipe is a lovely combination of slow cooked chicken, white beans, peppers and spicy tex-mex flavors. I love the way slow cookers treat all kinds of meat–it just falls apart so nicely! And this recipe is no exception, the chicken turned out perfectly cooked and fall apart tender. As usual, slow cookers can vary by model so feel free to adjust cook time depending on how hot your cooker runs. This recipe can be adjusted based on your timing needs as well: cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. I used chicken breasts for the meat but feel free to mix it up and add dark meat–thighs, wings, etc. It all gets shredded in the end anyways and that is about all the work that is required for this recipe. It doesn’t get much better than that!
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Slow Cooker Beef & Vegetable Soup

Slowcooker Beef and Vegetable Soup

I used to eat alphabet soup with beef and veggies all the time as a kid. This recipe brings me back to those days. Even though this soup knocks anything canned out of the park, the flavors remind me just a bit of the soup I used to have back in the day. This recipe is easy to throw together, and then the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you. Something about the slow cooker really brings together the flavors of the beef, the vegetables and the herbs. I used high quality ground beef for the meat and fresh oregano and thyme for seasoning. While this soup is great for winter time, it also works perfectly year round as an easy weeknight meal.
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Beef Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup

Tex-mex food is awesome in pretty much every form, including soup! A lot of the U.S. has been dealing with some epic winter weather so to all of you fighting the deluge of snow (hey Chicago!), enchiladas are the perfect winter comfort food. This recipe is super easy to make with hardly any prep time involved. You can buy pre-made enchilada sauce at the grocery store but it’s fresher and easy to make at home. In my opinion it’s worth it to whip up a batch before you start cooking the soup. It can be made several days ahead of time as well if you’re short on cooking time. Possible toppings include: tortilla chips/strips, avocado slices, cilantro, lime slices, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream…I could go on. The end result was delicious with minimal effort. It can be easily converted to the slow cooker, just add everything into the pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours or 3-4 hours on high!
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Slow Cooker Shredded Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Once I had a batch of Pickled Corn Salsa ready I took a nice pork shoulder and slow cooked it for some tasty tacos! The pork is marinated in tomatoes, onions and spices and slow cooked for about 4 hours in a crock pot. The pork ended up being succulent and fall apart tender. I was really happy with how soft and flavorful it turned out. The acids from the pickled salsa complimented the richness of the shredded pork. For garnish, I added a touch of lime and queso fresco.

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Tomato Curry Stew with Chickpeas and Potatoes

This stew is a staple recipe for me as it is easy to put together and is healthy and flavorful. When I want something light and healthy this is one of my favorite go to recipes.  I use the slow cooker and all it requires is chopping the veggies and throwing everything in the crock pot to cook for about 8 hours.  All the veggies get nice and soft and the flavors of the curry marinate until the stew is bursting with good curry flavor. I served it with warm curried rolls and topped with yogurt.
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Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian peasant soup that translates to “pasta and beans.”  It’s a soup that can be made with several types of pasta, usually tubettini, ditalini, or conchigliette. Prosciutto or pancetta is used for the base to give it a nice smoky flavor. I wanted to make a big batch so I used a slow cooker to cook the beans and broth. It turned out great, though I forgot to cut up the rosemary and it should really be finely chopped. Just before serving I mixed in the cooked pasta. I strained the rest of the noodles out before putting it away to prevent them from absorbing all the broth over night. The soup was great with a warm, crusty baguette and grated parmigiano reggiano.

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Pumpkin Soup with Pancetta and Sage

This soup is surprisingly easy to throw together and it creates such a delicious aroma in your house! The smell of pancetta and sage slow cooking for hours is how I think a kitchen should smell when it’s cold and damp during the Fall season.  You could easily use canned pumpkin or make the pumpkin puree yourself with this soup.  Also, substituting any kind of tasty winter squash would work well with this recipe.  After dicing up the veggies and pan frying the onion and pancetta, you can sit back as the soup simmers for several hours on low heat.  I garnished the soup with a little crispy fried sage and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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