Slow Cooker Sunday: Triple Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes baking in my slow cooker is a hit or miss situation. I recently made a Banana Bread Pudding in it and that was a definite hit and I once made a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that was more burnt than cake. I don’t let those mishaps discourage me though. I recently tried making brownies in my slow cooker and while they tasted good, there were a few pieces along the edge that were burnt. But, I believe I know what the problem was. The recipe called for a 5 quart slow cooker and I used a 5.5 quart slow cooker. You wouldn’t think it would make a difference, but, having a slightly larger slow cooker means that my brownies were probably slightly thinner than the recipe intended, hence the baking time I followed was too long which resulted in slightly burnt brownies.

I prepped my slow cooker by spraying the insert with non-stick cooking spray and then lining the bottom with parchment paper that I then sprayed with the spray as well.

After making the batter for the brownies I poured it into my slow cooker and smoothed the top with a small offset spatula.

And while I let the brownies cook for 3.5 hours, I really should have let them cook for only 3 hours and then uncovered the slow cooker for the final 30 minutes of cooking. Truth be told, I am not greatest at gauging when I should take my brownies out of the oven. I know they are supposed to be slightly underdone when you take them out, but, I inevitably leave them in a minute or two too long because I don’t want them to be too underdone. I should learn by now. So, while I had a feeling my brownies were done at 3 hours, I ended up leaving them in too long and I ended up with burnt edges, but, I was able to salvage most of them and they were delicious.

You may be wondering why I don’t have any pics of those brownies I did salvage…. Well, by the time the brownies cooled and I sliced them it was too dark in my house to get a good picture. It’s so much easier to take pictures during the summer months! I debated whether or not to share the recipe since there were so many mishaps, but, they were good nonetheless and worth another try at perfecting. Or maybe just baking them in the oven instead!

Slow Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

  • Servings: 14 brownies
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Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces*

1 cup sugar

3 large egss, lightly beaten

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Non-stick cooking spray

 

*I used 1 1/3 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Spray the insert of a 5-quart slow cooker with the cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then spray the paper with the spray as well.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and the bittersweet chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate and butter has melted. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Stir in the eggs, then add in the flour mixture, the walnuts and chocolate chips. Stirring everything together until just combined, be sure not to overmix. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker insert and smooth the top.

Cover and cook on low for 3.5 hours*. Uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the insert from the slow cooker and run a knife around the edges to loosen the brownies. Place the insert on a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Turn the brownies out onto a cutting board / work surface and slice into 14 brownies. Store in an airtight container.

*If using a larger slow cooker your cooking time will be less. I used a 5.5 quart slow cooker and I probably should have uncovered them for the last 30 minutes at around the 3 hour mark.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Slow Cooker Sunday: Barbacoa Beef

My second new recipe of the New Year and it’s another slow cooker one and while this is a savory one, it’s just as good as the sweet Banana Bread Pudding from two weeks ago. This time around I made barbacoa in my slow cooker. Barbacoa is a way of cooking meat that results in the meat being very tender. Usually by steam cooking it. While you can use different types of meat for barbacoa I opted to use chuck roast.

I added all of the ingredients to the insert of my slow cooker and gave it a few good stirs. Don’t be concerned by the small amount of liquid required. The meat will release its juices while cooking and keep in mind this isn’t a stew, as I mentioned, with barbacoa you are steam cooking the meat. You are going to use the meat for tacos, a burrito, burrito bowl and so forth, so while you do want the meat tender and juicy, you don’t want it to be soaking.

After cooking for 8 hours on the low setting the meat was perfectly tender and perfect for shredding.

I transferred the meat to a bowl and using two forks shred it into bit-sized pieces, leaving any juices in the insert of my slow cooker. I then transferred the shredded meat back to my slow cooker and let it soak up some of the remaining juices for about 10-15 minutes while my slow cooker was on the warm setting.

Finally, I transferred the meat to a dish.

I opted to use the meat to make quick and easy burrito bowls, so I made cilantro lime rice and pico de gallo to go along with it. Along with the rice and pico de gallo you could also add in shredded cheese, sour cream and/or guacamole.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef

Ingredients:

3 pounds chuck roast*, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup beef broth

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 chipotles in adobo, chopped (if you like your meat spicier add in 1 more)

1 4oz. can chopped green chiles

Juice from 3 limes (1/4 cup)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Salt and pepper

* I used 2.5lbs. of chuck roast cubes meant for beef stew

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) to the insert of your slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until beef is tender.*

Once the meat is ready remove it from the slow cooker, leaving the juices behind, and transfer to a bowl and using two forks shred the meat.

Remove the bay leaves from the liquid and transfer the shredded meat back to the slow cooker. With the slow cooker set to the warm setting let the meat sit in the liquid for 10-15 minutes.

Transfer the meat to a serving dish and season with salt and pepper.

*I left my meat in for 8 hours.

Recipe from Chef Savvy

 

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups basmatti rice

1 garlic clove, minced

2 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about 2-3 limes

1 cup lightly packed cilantro, leaves and tender stems, chopped

Directions:

In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the rice and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cooke the rice until it has begun to lightly brown. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the water, salt and zest and raise the heat to bring the rice to a rolling boil. Cover the pot and then reduce the heat to low to maintain a low simmer.

Cook for about 15 minutes (check you package from instructions). Let sit for 10 minute and then fluff with a fork.

Pour the lime juice over the rice and add in the cilantro and toss everything to combine.

Recipe from Simply Recipes

 

Pico De Gallo

Ingredients:

3 cups grape tomatoes, quartered

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 cup lightly packed cilantro, leaves and tender stems, chopped

Juice from 2 limes

Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Gently toss the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours so flavors can marinate before using.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Banana Bread Pudding

It’s been a while since I have used my slow cooker and even longer since I have used it to make dessert but recently I decided to dust it off to make a bread pudding, well, not just any bread pudding, but a Banana Bread Pudding. If you’re not a fan of banana flavored desserts don’t worry, the banana flavor is not overpowering.

The night before actually making the bread pudding I did some prep work. I cut a loaf of Challah bread into cubes and then toasted them in the oven for 20 minutes at 300 F. While the bread was in the oven I generously greased the inside of my slow cooker insert with softened butter. The recipe called for one tablespoon, but, I ended up using about 4 tablespoons. I have “baked” things in my slow cooker in the past and regardless of me following the directions to a T my items have always been burnt. I’ve chalked it up to not using enough butter and I didn’t want that to happen again.

After removing the bread from the oven I let it cool for a few minutes and then placed it in an even layer inside of my slow cooker insert.

In a large bowl I combined the ingredients for the custard – eggs, half-and-half, granulated & brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mashed bananas – and whisked them together until they were combined. I then poured this mixture over the bread in the insert and pressed the bread into the liquid to submerge it. I covered it and then refrigerated it overnight.

The next morning I removed it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes uncovered.

After the 30 minutes I placed the insert inside of the slow cooker base, covered it and cooked it on the low setting for about 4 ½ hours. The bread pudding will rise considerably while it’s cooking, mine almost touched the cover.

Once the bread pudding was done I removed the insert and let the bread pudding cool before inverting it onto a dish.

I attempted to make a caramel sauce to go along with the bread pudding but I had two failed attempts. The first time my caramel had a burnt taste to it and the second time my sugar never melted. So, I decided to nix the caramel sauce and just enjoy a piece with vanilla ice cream. Which was just perfect.

The was by far the best bread pudding I have ever made and I will definitely be making it again.

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. Challah Bread, cut into cubes

3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

8 large eggs

4 cups half-and-half (1 quart)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 medium ripe bananas, mashed

vanilla ice cream and/or caramel sauce for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 F

Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring them halfway through toasting. Let them cook for 10 minutes.

Grease the insert of your slow cooker with the softened butter.

Once the bread is cool, transfer it to the slow cooker and arrange in an even layer.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and then add in the half-and-half, both sugars, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mashed bananas. Whisk everything together to combine.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread and press the bread to submerge it into the liquid. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator, uncover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the insert into the base of your slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or on low 4 to 5 hours. The bread pudding is ready when it is set and not jiggly in the center. The internal temperature should be above 175 F when tested. It will be considerably puffy, but will subside as it cools.

Remover the insert from the base and let the bread pudding cool for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Alternatively, you could just serve it from the insert itself.

Enjoy with ice cream and/or caramel sauce.

Recipe slightly modified from Simply Recipes

Slow Cooker Sunday: Corn Chowder

One of the best things to make in your slow cooker is soup. I normally make corn chowder during the summer months on the stove thanks to the abundance of fresh corn available, but, for this recipe, I used frozen corn and you guessed it, my slow cooker. And to be honest, using frozen corn requires a lot less effort. Shucking corn and getting the kernels off the cob is just not fun.

In a small bowl I combined 1/2 cup of the frozen corn along with a ¼ cup of diced red bell pepper and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. After stirring it together I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and then refrigerated it until my soup was ready.

In my slow cooker I combined the necessary ingredients for the chowder and then set it to cook on low for 8 hours. In case you are wondering, no, I didn’t cook the soup with the thyme on top, after taking this picture I gave the soup a good stir so the thyme sprigs could work their magic while the soup was cooking.

After the 8 hours I transferred 2 cups of the soup to a blender and blended it until it was smooth and then returned it the slow cooker along with heavy cream and butter. I stirred the soup until the butter had melted and then it was ready to enjoy.

I served it topped with the pepper and corn. You may be tempted to pass on the corn and pepper topping but trust me don’t. The fresh lemon juice from the mixture adds a nice taste to the soup.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Ingredients:

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 cups (32 ounces) frozen corn

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

2 14.5 oz. cans of chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

Directions:

In a small bowl combined the diced pepper, 1/2 cup of the corn and the lemon juice. Stir together and the cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

In your slow cooker add the remaining corn, potatoes, chopped onion, garlic, thyme salt and pepper. Stir everything to combine and then cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove the thyme springs and transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended soup to the slow cooker along with the heavy cream and butter. Stir the soup until the butter has melted.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the reserved corn and pepper mixture.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Slow Cooker Sunday: Shredded Mexican Chicken

I would like to say Slow Cooker Sunday is back, but, considering I don’t have many slow cooker recipes lined up to try I will say that it will slowing be appearing on Sunday’s. I have been focused on getting recipes together for the holidays, finishing up some craft projects, holiday crafts and a few other things. While I have been trying out new baking recipes when it comes to cooking I have been taking the easy route and making stuff that I am familiar with, can make quickly and require minimal ingredients. Today’s recipe is actually a two-parter. While you can use the chicken for this recipe to make some delicious tacos or burritos, I used it to make a Skillet Tamale Pie. That recipe will come later in the week.

To begin I placed 4 boneless chicken thighs in the insert of my slow cooker. I sprinkled about half of a 1 oz. package on taco seasoning over the chicken and then tossed the two together to coat the chicken. I then poured a 24 oz. jar of salsa over the chicken and gave everything a good stir. I covered the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 4.5 hours.

After 4.5 hours I removed the chicken from the slow cooker and shredded it using two forks. I placed the cover back on my slow cooker so the sauce in there could remain warm. Without the cover on, slow cookers begin to lose their heat quickly.

Once shredded, I returned the chicken to the slow cooker and added in the remaining taco seasoning. I gave everything a good stir and then covered it and let it continue to cook on the low setting for an additional 30 minutes.

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

Ingredients:

28 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs (4 pieces)

1 package taco seasoning mix*

24 oz. mild salsa*

 

*I used Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning Mix

** I used Chi-Chi’s Mild Thick & Chunky Salsa

 

Directions:

Add the chicken to a 4 to 5 qt. slow cooker and toss with half of the taco seasoning mix.

Pour the salsa over the chicken and stir to combine. Cover, and cook on low setting for 4 to 4.5 hours, or until chicken is very tender.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board to shred. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker along with the remaining taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. Cover and continue to cook on the low setting for an additional 30 minutes.

Recipe from Pillsbury

Slow Cooker Sunday: Baked Beans

I usually don’t pull my slow cooker out during the summer months. Which is kind of backwards if you think about it. Summer would be the perfect time to use it since it would mean I don’t have to turn my oven or stove on and inevitably add more heat to my already warm (or sometimes hot) house. I think my avoidance has to do with the type of meals I think of when it comes to slow-cooking… Hearty ones perfect for colder months. But, I decided to use it earlier this month to make Baked Beans. I attempted to make them last summer, but, even after soaking my beans overnight and cooking them in my slow cooker for nearly 10 hours my beans didn’t soften. This year I tried a new recipe and a short-cut to soaking my beans and the finished product was one just as delicious as some of the famous canned ones available at your local supermarket.

To save time, I diced the bacon and onion needed for the recipe the night before. To easily dice the bacon I placed it in the freezer for about an hour so it could firm up.

While most slow-cooker recipes for baked beans call for you to soften your beans by soaking them in water for 10 to 12 hours prior to cooking, I opted to take a short-cut. Instead, I rinsed them and placed them in a covered pot with water and brought them to a boil over medium-high heat. After letting the beans boil for 15 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat and let the beans soak in the water for about an hour. After an hour I drained the beans.

Once the beans were ready I layered the ingredients in the slow cooker. I spread the bacon on the bottom of my slow cooker, I then placed the beans over the bacon and finally I sprinkled the onions over the beans. I turned my slow cooker on to the low setting and covered it while I made the sauce.

To make the sauce, I whisked together water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard in a large bowl until smooth. I poured the sauce over my ingredients in the slow cooker and covered it again and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You do not need to stir your ingredients together for this recipe. As the beans cook the flavors will develop and once the beans are ready you will give everything a good stir then.

At the 6 hour point I tasted the beans to check on the flavor and the doneness. I thought the flavor and tenderness of the beans was perfect. Unfortunately since I made these for my 4th of July BBQ I was crazed with getting things ready so I completely forgot to take a picture of the beans when they were done. But, trust me, they looked and tasted delicious!

 

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Ingredients:

1 pound dried navy, pinto or great northern beans*

1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cups water

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

 

*I used pinto beans

 

Directions:

Go through the beans and pick out any debris or broken beans. Transfer the remaining beans to a colander and rinse with cool water. Transfer the beans to a pot and fill with water (a few inches above the beans) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the beans boil for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let them sit covered for an hour and then drain.

Spread the diced bacon in a single layer in the insert of a slow cooker. Add the drained beans on top of the bacon and then the onions on top of the beans. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low. Do not stir the ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine the water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard and whisk together until smooth. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

At the 6 hour mark check the beans for flavor and doneness. If need be add salt and pepper to taste.

Beans are ready when they are creamy and tender.

Once ready stir all of the ingredients together and enjoy!

Recipe slightly modified from The Kitchn

Slow Cooker Sunday: Scalloped Potatoes

In my last Slow Cooker Sunday recipe you may recall that I mentioned purchasing a new booking filled with recipes tailored for 2 people. Well, I was beginning to lose hope that the recipes in the book were good. I had two fails, well, they weren’t really fails, I just didn’t like the way they tasted in the end so that’s sort of a fail, but, more so due to my taste buds than the recipe itself I should say. But then I tried another recipe and my faith was restored. Sounds kind of funny to say about a cookbook, but, I am sure some of you will understand. No one likes buying a cookbook only to discover that a majority of the recipes you try aren’t appealing. So, what was this recipe…? Scalloped Potatoes. You might be scratching your heads wondering what could be so special about them since you could easily make them in the oven – which I have. But, the few times I have made them I ended up with overcooked and undercooked potatoes in the same dish. No Bueno! Following this slow cooker recipe I ended up with perfectly cooked potatoes that held their shape and didn’t fall apart easily… YAY!

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture to share with you. The one picture I did take didn’t make the dish look all that appetizing. I was planning on baking a cake and wanted to move my slow cooker out of the way to pull out my stand mixer so I transferred the potatoes to a dish without taking a picture of them in the slow cooker and when I transferred them, even with my best effort, I wasn’t able to transfer them as one dish and then ended up breaking apart a little. Oops!

I began by slicing three russet potatoes into thin slices. They were roughly 1/8-inch thick. In a medium bowl I combined a chopped yellow onion, minced garlic, grated Havarti & white Cheddar cheese, dried basil, salt and pepper. After spraying the insert of my slow cooker with cooking spray I placed a layer of potatoes and then sprinkled the cheese mixture over it. I did this a few more times ending with a layer of potatoes.

In a small saucepan I heated heavy cream and butter over high heat until the butter melted. I then poured this mixture over the potatoes and sprinkled the top with grated parmesan cheese.

After covering and cooking it on low for 7 hours I had the best scalloped potatoes I have ever made.

 

Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup grated Havarti cheese

1 cup grated white cheddar cheese

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

Spray the insert of the slow cooker with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and Havarti & Cheddar cheeses. Stir to combine.

Begin by placing a layer of potatoes in the bottom the slow cooker, top with the cheese mixture. Continue this layering pattern finishing with the potatoes.

In a small saucepan heat the heavy cream and butter on high heat until the butter melts. Pour this over the potatoes and then top with the Parmesan cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Complete Slow Cooking for Two Cookbook