Archive for the ‘Slow cooker’ Category


Cocktail Meatballs and Kielbasa

December 31, 2013

It’s been a month and a half since my last post… I suppose I could make an excuse for the silence, like the busy-ness of the holidays or some such. Honestly I’ve had the time to write, I just haven’t felt like I had much of anything interesting to say. I don’t know if it’s lingering effects of the mono, or just the fact that it’s so dark all the time, but I haven’t felt like doing much of anything lately. I’m hopeful that now that I’m finished with holiday obligations, I’ll be able to find a little more energy and motivations for the activities I enjoy. I’m certainly still cooking; we’ve got to eat! How about starting with some party appetizers?

My husband and I hosted our first Christmas open house party back in 2006, before we were even engaged. It’s become an annual tradition for us, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s the only time of year when we have a lot of people over at once (we’re usually the types to have one other couple over for dinner, very casual), and it’s a perfect excuse to make a ton of finger foods. Appetizers are some of my favorite foods to make, but since we rarely have dinner parties, I don’t have many occasions to serve them. I really should remedy that this coming year. In fact, I think I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution: host a more formal dinner party for 6 (or 8) twice in 2014.

These meatballs and kielbasa are perfect for an open house because they can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a slow cooker for the duration of the party. The recipe also makes a large quantity, so unless you have 50 people in your house, you’re not likely to run out. The sauce is sharp and tangy-sweet, a delicious mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire. These have been a bit hit for three years in a row, so I don’t have any plans to take them off the menu any time soon. Enjoy!

Cocktail meatballs and kielbasa

See recipe


Flageolet Gratin with Fennel

November 13, 2012

Posting this one for my friend, who requested some good vegetarian slow cooker recipes; this is one of our favorites from The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Although this dish is called a gratin, it doesn’t contain any cheese and can be made vegan-friendly by substituting olive oil for the butter in the topping. It’s hearty enough to be served as a vegetarian main course, or it would also make a great side dish in a more omnivorous meal.

Flageolet beans have a wonderfully creamy texture, although they are sometimes hard to find. I buy them from a local spice/baking distributor (Niblack foods), but you could likely get them at a natural foods store or a well-stocked grocery store. I love how the crunchiness and spiciness of the breadcrumb topping contrasts with the milder creamy beans. No blandness to be found here!

Flageolet gratin

See recipe


Carbonnade with Collards

June 18, 2011

Carbonnade is a delicious Belgian stew traditionally made with beef, onions, and beer. This version from The Healthy Slow Cooker adds collard greens to make the dish a healthier, more balanced meal. Although collards are more popular in the south, they’re a perfect green to grow here in New York because of their hardiness. My dad has grown them in his garden every year since I was a kid, and they’re always one of the last surviving plants in the garden, lasting through several late-fall frosts! They have a coarser texture and more pronounced flavor than chard, but they are not as bitter as mustard greens. Make sure you remove the tough center stems before cooking.

For beef-based recipes, I prefer to use the lower heat setting and longer cooking time in my crock pot because the beef always turns out extremely tender (even the really cheap cuts)! Even though the recipe says to cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, it always falls apart into much smaller pieces by the time it’s finished. Be sure to brown the beef very well in the first step for the best flavor.

Carbonnade with collards

See recipe


Vegetable Curry with Lentils and Spinach

April 20, 2011

Although this coconut curry may not be as photogenic as the coconut Bundt cake that I posted the other day (haha!), this dish from The Healthy Slow Cooker is both delicious and nutritious! As with all of the slow cooker recipes I like to make, this one can be prepared the night before to cut down on prep time in the morning. Indian spices and heat from cayenne pepper combine with the sweetness of coconut milk and sweet potatoes in a wonderful balance of contrasting flavors, and spinach and lentils are both packed full of nutrients. If serving this curry over brown Basmati rice or with whole-wheat naan, it makes a perfect light-yet-complete vegetarian supper.

Vegetable curry with lentils and spinach

See recipe


Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

April 14, 2011

The season for hearty soups is quickly coming to an end, although I will probably manage a couple more in the next few weeks before it gets too warm! Since I changed jobs a few weeks ago and I’m working 8-5 again, I’m getting more use out of my slow cooker now than I was during the winter when I was working odd hours. This recipe, which is from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, is a traditional slow cooker recipe that calls for more meat than I usually want to buy (3 pounds of good-quality chuck roast is expensive!), so I generally cut back on the amount of meat and add extra carrots and onions to make up the bulk. However, I wouldn’t recommend adding extra barley because it will make the soup too thick, almost like porridge. The meat and vegetables can be prepared separately the night before to save time in the morning, so this is a perfect light weeknight supper for cold, rainy early-spring evenings. There’s nothing better than arriving at home after a long day of work to savory aromas that permeate the entire house!

Beef and barley soup

See recipe


Beef and Chickpea Curry with Spinach

March 1, 2011

I’m not vegetarian, but a lot of the meals I make put more emphasis on the vegetables rather than making the meat the centerpiece.  The Healthy Slow Cooker is a perfect cookbook for flexitarian eaters like me; most slow cooker books emphasize large roasts (5 pounds of meat? How do people afford this??), but this book’s recipes typically call for 1-2 pounds or less of beef (more for chicken, but the author prefers bone-in chicken). Many of the recipes are also vegetarian or vegan-friendly as well.

One of my favorite crock pot dishes from this book is this beef and chickpea curry. While it does take a little bit of extra time to brown the meat and soften the vegetables before adding to the slow cooker, the flavor this extra step adds is marvelous. I usually do the pre-cooking the night before (keeping the browned meat and the veggies in separate containers in the fridge), then it’s super fast in the morning to throw everything in the slow cooker before work.

Beef and chickpea curry

See recipe