Winter brings short days, ice, snow, colds, and being stuck inside, all making cooking dinner difficult. Here are 5 slow cooker recipes to help warm a chilly week!
There’s something about a slow cooker that’s magical. You dump a few or a lot of ingredients into a pot, stir it, shut the lid, and hope it smells amazing in 6 to 10 hours. Then, at the end of the day when you trudge through the door and kick off your shoes, it happens. The smell descends upon your nostrils and you remember that a wonderful dish of warm goodness awaits you and it’s already cooked - magic! That, my friends, is the power of the crock pot. I love mine and I know you do too if you have one. If you don’t, stop reading this, go purchase one, and come back; you won’t want to miss out on these slow cooker recipes!
I was thinking about what seems like the never-ending winter this year, and how cold and long weeks have been, especially for anyone north of Texas. Everything takes more time, getting dressed, turning on the car, driving. It’s just an icy cold mess out there. So I thought I would gather my 5 favorite slow cooker recipes so you can have some warm, family-friendly comfort food during your week. From pot roast to creamy Italian chicken, these easy recipes should help take the edge off of winter’s icy chill, and give you some of the best slow cooker dinners you'll ever eat!
Mama's Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots
Let’s be real, I’ve never seen my mom cook with a recipe. Occasionally she will pull one out, but she stops following it immediately. The recipe lies on the counter, quickly forgotten and covered with flour, a dish cloth, or utensils. If I had to describe her cooking madness/art, I would say she cooks with her eyes and her heart. She can tell just by looking if something is enough.
My parent’s recently began the adventure of owning a small restaurant and the menu boasts, “Mama’s Gumbo,” which is currently the talk of their small town. Needless to say, my mama is a good southern cook! Growing up it was common for my mom to make a pot roast on a Sunday afternoon. I thought she worked so hard when I was a little girl, because everything was so soft, tasted so perfect, and the gravy was just right; however, that was before I knew the magic of slow cooking. I don't have my mama’s recipe (because she doesn’t even have one!), but I found one that has most of what I find in her pot roast. If you follow your heart, you may get close to hers... But it’s probably best to stick to the crock pot recipes! Find it here.
Big Sis' Pulled Pork
Let me tell you that my older sister is near perfection. She married young and now has 3 beautiful children, all before 30 and she is a smoking hot mom. She is hyper-organized, loving, fun, home schools her kiddos, decorates cakes as a hobby (eessh), keeps up with a fun and wild husband, and loves, loves, loves cooking shows, particularly Rachael Ray.
Anyway, with her busy lifestyle she definitely appreciates the magic of crock pot dishes. Her favorite is a pulled pork recipe she got from, who would have guessed, a Rachael Ray show. I think it’s awesome. This is basically one of the Food Network recipes, and I get to have it all the time! The picture above isn’t my sister’s easy slow cooker dinner recipe, but has similar ingredients, particularly the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. This recipe has been used at my parent's restaurant (but cooked in a pressure cooker) and is a HUGE hit. Your family is sure to love this and it will make an easy mid-week dinner.
- 2 yellow onions, 1 sliced, divided and 1 chopped
- 3- to 4-pound pork butt (or other cut)
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder
- Ground mustard
- Whole cloves
- 1 cup ginger ale, such as Canada Dry or Root Beer, such as Boylan's
- Favorite barbeque sauce (top choices are: Sweet Baby Ray's Original or Sweet/Spicy and Sticky Fingers - Memphis Style)
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Sandwich Bread - Preference: Ciabatta bread (use a light glaze of olive oil and garlic)
- Some fun additions: sandwich or oval kosher dill pickles, banana peppers, and/or Provolone cheese (optional)
- Cut one onion in slices place at bottom of slow cooker. Season the pork with salt, pepper, garlic, little bit of ground mustard and add a few cloves along the crease of the pork. Place pork in slow cooker on top of the onions and place the rest of the onion slices on top of the pork.
- Add ginger ale or root beer. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 9-11 hours; depends on the size of the pork and how much time you have until you want to eat. I recommend slow/low.
- You can turn the pork over for a more even cook halfway through. Try not to open the lid too much despite how AMAZING it will smell.
- Once pork is cooked through remove it from the slow cooker. Empty out the liquid and shred the pork using your hands/fork. Dice your second onion and place it in the slow cooker. Mix barbeque sauce with Worcestershire, to taste, and add to the slow cooker along with the shredded pork. Mix it all up and keep on low heat for minimum of 1-2 hours.
- Toast Ciabatta bread, rub lightly with garlic clove and drizzle very lightly with olive oil.
- Cut up and top bread with shredded pork. Make a sandwich or eat open-faced topped with Provolone cheese, pickles, banana peppers or more sauce!
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Mother-In-Law's Steak and Vegetable Soup
My mother-in-law just may be the most wonderful person. She has fed me so much throughout my 24 years on this earth since she has known me for 22 of them! Whenever we have a get-together, she is on top of the food prep planning because she doesn’t want to miss a thing when her kids (and extended family) come home. I’m always amazed when I get to her house and each meal is thought out and prepped and ready to go. On top of that, they taste amazing!
Unlike my own mother, my mother-in-law loves a good recipe. Since she is a little more recipe-minded, I’m going to give you two of her personal favorite dinner recipes because they are tried and true. I personally cannot decide which is my favorite: the stew recipe or the chicken; but they are both divine! The pictures boast of the same food, but they aren’t hers. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Let the comfort food commence, starting with this beef stew recipe followed by a yummy chicken slow cooker dinner!
- 1 pound boneless round steak, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1-14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
- 3 cups water
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 celery ribs, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups frozen mixed veggies
- In a slow cooker, combine the first 12 ingredients (all but frozen veggies).
- Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.
- Add frozen vegetables and cook on high for two more hours or until the meat and veggies are tender.
Mother-In-Law's Creamy Italian Chicken
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- 1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
- ¼ cup water
- 1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
- 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
- 1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
- Hot cooked rice or noodles
- Place the chicken in slow cooker.
- Combine salad dressing mix and water; pour over chicken.
- Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.
- In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and soup until blended.
- Stir in mushrooms.
- Pour over chicken.
- Cook 1 hour longer or until chicken juices run clear.
Grandma's Honduran Beans
Via Saumya's Kitchen
My grandparents were missionaries in Honduras for over 30 years. They are incredible people, full of love for so many and always looking for ways to create a better world by changing lives, one person at a time. My Grandpa’s favorite meal is probably his wife’s beans and cornbread. Rightly so, they are amazing. My grandma mastered bean recipes while living in South America because, of course, they know how to make a pot of beans.
I love going into their home and smelling a crock pot cooking a pot full of beans… there is nothing like my grandma’s beans. My grandma doesn’t have a recipe for this except to toss a little of this and a little of that in a crock pot. I called her and asked her the other day, and she gave me some pretty open instructions. So I thought I would give you my version of her beans. This recipe is one of those no-measurement kinds, so brace yourself and prepare to get creative! You can eat these as a soup, or strain them for tacos. They are pretty fabulous either way. And, it’s another recipe to add to your crock pot cookbook!
- 1 bag of red beans (small red beans would be best)
- 1 sweet onion (or two small ones)
- Cloves of garlic (4 or 5 or however many you want)
- Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
- Garlic Salt
- Brown Sugar
- Optional: Rice, tortillas, or cornbread, cheese, and sour cream
- Prepare your beans your favorite way. Some people like to soak them overnight, I prefer to bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, cover them, and let them sit for an hour. I then drain them, add them to the slow cooker, and cover with water. Whichever way you choose, rinse them and cover them with water when you've added them to the slow cooker.
- Then add everything: diced onion, garlic cloves, etc.
- When it comes to the ketchup and BBQ sauce, I don't know what to tell you but to squirt them in the pot! I add around 3 or 4 long squirts of both. It really flavors the broth. Taste test to see if you’re missing anything in the end, and if you are, add more ketchup for a tomato taste or BBQ sauce for a little sweetness.
- Add the salt, pepper, and two or 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.
- Let the beans cook on high or low until they are tender. Just look at the cooking instructions on the bag to find the best fit for your day. (I usually shoot for 8 to 10 hours so it cooks while I’m at work.)
- When the beans are tender, taste the broth. It should be the perfect balance of sweet and salty/garlicky. Add more of anything to balance taste out.
- Serve with brown rice, tortillas or corn bread, cheese, and sour cream.
I hope you plan to use if not all, at least some, of these recipes during a chilly week this winter. It’s wonderful to come home after a long cold day to a hot dinner that you don’t have to put any more energy into. What is your family’s favorite slow cooker meal? As always, pass this post on to any of your friends who love a good slow cooker recipe. Thanks for taking time to be here!
**Featured image via SheKnows