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Why haven’t I made this before?! Simple and delicious. Just meat and veggies. My aunt said it was my grandpa’s favorite, and I can see why. I love vegetables when they’re been cooking in delicious cooking liquids all day (I can’t wait for the ones from in the turkey at Thanksgiving). And pickling spice? So good! I think I might try making my own next time too!

corned beef and cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage
via martha stewart

2 celery stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges (root end left intact)
1/2 pound small potatoes, halved if large
6 sprigs thyme
1 corned beef brisket (about 3 pounds), plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
Grainy mustard, for serving

In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place celery, carrots, onion, potatoes, and thyme. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice; add enough water to almost cover meat (4 to 6 cups). Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 4 1/4 hours (or 8 1/2 hours on low). Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 minutes (or 1 1/2 hours on low). Thinly slice corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables, cooking liquid, and grainy mustard.

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Simply delicious. Mondays are our night for slow cooker meals. Husband leaves work a bit early to get ready for his hockey game and it’s nice when there’s a meal ready, as he usually has little time at home before he heads out. This pork ragù was simple, hearty and over rice it’s perfect for a pre-game meal. I served mine over a roasted spaghetti squash to keep it paleo, and the combination was dreamy. Definitely my favorite alternative the traditional noodles.

pork ragu

Slow Cook Pork Ragu
adapted from damn delicious

2 tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup finely grated carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup uncooked rice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parlsey

Season pork loin with orgeano, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, rubbing in thoroughly on all sides. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add pork loin and sear both sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place pork loin into a slow cooker and top with crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and wine. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Remove pork loin and bay leaf from the slow cooker and shred the meat before returning to the pot with the juices; season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and keep warm for an additional 30 minutes. Cook rice according to directions. Serve immediately topped with pork mixture and fresh parsley.

The temperature around here dipped for about, oh, two days, and I immediately thought, “time for soup!” This simple recipe had a whole lot of kick (especially after I accidentally doubled the cayenne!) and I doubled the vegetables to kick up the heartiness too. Simple, perfect flavor. Husband threw it over some rice for leftovers the next day too, the seasoned broth providing just the right sauce. We’ll be seeing this one again, come fall.

Lentil Soup with Beef and Red Pepper

Lentil Soup with Beef and Red Pepper
via bhg

1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup French lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 medium coarsely chopped red sweet pepper
1 medium chopped onion
2 medium sliced carrots
3 stalks sliced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup snipped fresh parsley

Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 3/4-inch pieces. If desired, in a nonstick skillet cook beef over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Place meat in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in broth, lentils, water, sweet pepper, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Stir in parsley. Ladle soup into bowls.

We got a little rain and a little sun today, but it’s still just cold enough for me to crave a hearty stew. This is a great twist on a classic! I’ve made plenty of kale stews, but lemon and feta here really change the flavor up — a brighter, lighter stew for spring.

mediterranean kale and cannellini stew with farro

Mediterranean Kale & Cannellini Stew with Farro
via bhg

4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
14 1/2 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup farro, rinsed, or kamut
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh green kale or Swiss chard
15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
Snipped fresh parsley or basil

In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine broth, tomatoes, farro, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt. Cover and cook on high-heat setting about 2 hours or until farro is tender but still chewy. Stir in kale, beans, and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 1 hour more.
To serve, sprinkle each serving with cheese and parsley or basil.

I had never made meatballs from scratch before. And I might never buy them from the store again. Homemade meatballs are amazing! We meant to make these in the slow cooker like it called for in the original recipe, but got started a little late and just ended up cooking them on the stove top. No matter, they were still utterly delicious. We served them over a tiny bit of pasta, but next time I might try a little polenta instead (the true Italian way, or so I’m told).

sunday meatballs

Italian Meatballs
adapted from design and dishes

For Meatballs
1.5 pounds lean ground turkey (or any mixture of ground beef or pork if you’re not counting calories)
1/4 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 egg
1 large clove garlic, crushed
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

For Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil or parsley

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8 cup each (no more than 2 inches across). Set aside in the fridge for about a half hour.
In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn. Add crushed tomatoes and bay leaf. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. Drop meatballs into the sauce, cover and simmer about 25 minutes (or on low in the crock pot, for 4 to 6 hours). When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve over pasta or polenta.

I love slow cooker meals on a Monday. Even though it’s the beginning of the week, it is always the night I have the least amount of energy. Coming home after work to a house full of delicious smells is by far the best way to start the week. That and curling up with my favorite Syfy shows and favorite husband. This was my first attempt at a dish with Indian flavors and I’m in love! And completely shocked that I actually got it right the first time. Also, I think I’ve found a gold mine in Meal Planning 101, as grocery shopping could be one of my least favorite things to do on the planet.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Slow Cook Chicken Tikka Masala
via meal planning 101

Chicken Tikka:
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1/4-1 tsp cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
6-8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone-in)

Stir all ingredients except chicken into the bottom of a large plastic container. Add the chicken and coat the chicken completely with the marinade, cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

Masala:
1 can 28 oz. diced tomatoes
1 can 5.5 oz tomato paste
2 inches fresh ginger, grated (store your ginger in the freezer and it will be super easy to grate)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp tikka paste (could use mild curry paste instead, but add about a tbsp of lemon juice)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried coriander

1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
Salt
1 cup cream
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Turn your oven to broil. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack over top. Take the chicken out of the marinade (discard the marinade) and place on the baking rack. Place under the broiler about 6-10 inches from the heating element and broil on each side about 10 minutes. You could also do this on the BBQ. You don’t have to worry about cooking the meat all the way through, you are just looking for a nice browned color.
While the chicken is broiling, in a pan over medium high heat, add about a tsp or two of oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes to soften. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few more minutes until the mixture is nice and fragrant. Place the mixture into your crockpot. To that, add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garam masala, tikka paste, cumin, chili powder and coriander. Stir together. When the chicken is done broiling, add them straight to the slow cooker and stir into the masala (sauce). I have cooked and experimented with this dish quite a few times, and it by far tastes the best when the chicken is first broiled and then slow cooks in the masala sauce. It gives the sauce a real richness of flavor. Slow cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low 6-8 hours.
Before serving stir in 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala and salt if it needs it. I find this just brightens up the spice flavors a bit. Then stir in the cream and fresh cilantro. Serve a chicken thigh with lots of sauce over basmati rice.

I’ve always got one eye out for slow cooker meals, since there’s not many things better than coming home to the whole house smelling like dinner and being able to dive right in. I made this pot of chili the cheating way; I didn’t prep anything properly except the beans (and I left out the peppers since my stomach’s been a bit sensitive lately), but it still turned out amazing.

Black Bean & Mushroom Chili
adapted from eating well

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, or ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, or ground cardamom
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped
5 1/2 cups mushroom broth
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)
1 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack, or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight in 2 quarts water. Drain the beans, discarding soaking liquid.
Place the beans and all remaining ingredients (except the last three) in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Mix well. Turn heat to high. Put the lid on and cook until the beans are creamy, about 8 hours.
Garnish with cheese, sour cream & cilantro and serve.