Slow Cooker Sunday: Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my favorite type of slow cooker recipe is the dump it in and forget about it kind. This beef ragu is just that. I added all of my ingredients to my slow cooker…

Set it to cook on low for 7 hours, shredded the meat, added it to some cooked pasta…

And had a delicious meal to pack for lunch.

 

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef chuck roast

1 15oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 sprig of rosemary

1 3-inch piece of Parmesan rind

Kosher salt

Black pepper

12 oz. fresh pappardelle

Directions:

Add the tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a slow cooker and whisk together. Add the rosemary spring and Parmesan rind. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Shred the meat with two forks, discard any fat, the rosemary and Parmesan rind and set the slow cooker to warm while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the past and cook according to label directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the meat and sauce from the slow cooker as well as the reserved cooking water. Cook on medium high heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each serving with olive oil.

Recipe from Food Network

Slow Cooker Sunday: Mushroom Spinach Tortellini

This is one of my favorite type of slow cooker recipes… set it and forget it. I actually made it overnight and then woke up in the morning and finished it. Granted, the one downfall of making something in a slow cooker overnight is that you are awoken by the smell of something delicious cooking. The downfall isn’t the deliciousness, but, the interrupted sleep of course. Especially on the weekend when you are trying to get the few extra minutes you can’t afford to get during the week because of work, school, life, etc.

To start, cook mushrooms and onions in a greased slow cooker insert (I sprayed mine with cooking spray) along with butter, vegetable broth and spices for about 7 to 8 hours, until the veggies are tender. Next, stir in refrigerated tortellini and cubed cream cheese and cook, covered, for an additional 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in the spinach and let it stand (covered) for an additional 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, stir in parmesan cheese and fresh parsley and enjoy!

If you plan on reheating this, add some vegetable broth to it prior to doing so. Doing so will give you a creamier sauce. The first time I heated it up I didn’t and while it was delicious, it didn’t have the same creaminess it did when it was done cooking initially. So, the second time I added a little broth and that did the trick.

Slow Cooker Mushroom-Spinach Tortellini

Ingredients:

8 oz. Mushrooms (I used baby bella)

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2  teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoons onion powder

3/4 teaspoons garlic powder

3/4 teaspoons dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon black powder

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups vegetable broth

20 oz. package refrigerated tortellini (I used Buitoni three-cheese)

8 oz. package cream cheese cubed, at room temperature

6 oz. bag of baby spinach

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

 

*Original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of Garlic & Herb Seasoning (Mrs. Dash)

 

Directions:

Spray the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add the mushrooms, onion, spices, butter and vegetable broth. Give everything a good stir and cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the tortellini and cream cheese and continue to cook on low, covered, for an additional 30 minutes. Stirring once halfway through.

Stir in the spinach and let stand for an additional 5 minutes, covered. Sprinkle with the cheese and parsley then serve.

Recipe slightly modified from Tiny Kitchen Capers

Slow Cooker Sunday: Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes

I’ve posted a fair amount of chili recipes and today I am bringing you one more… A Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes. This chili is loaded with kidney beans, black beans and chunks of sweet potato. And if you are not keen on spicy chili then this is the chili for you.

While I normally do most of my slow cooking on Sunday’s I ended up making this chili in my slow cooker overnight Saturday to Sunday since I had plans to go apple picking on this particular Sunday. I like to be home when my slow cooker is on, I know it’s completely safe and all, but, I just don’t like leaving it unattended. Also, if there happens to be a power outage I can always switch the dish to cook in the oven or on the stove as opposed to my entire meal being ruined because it didn’t cook properly, especially with a meat dish. I once read that if you do leave your slow cooker unattended and there happens to be a power outage and you’re cooking meat the best bet is to toss the food since you can never be sure of bacteria growing. And yes, I know it’s not any safer to have it on while I am sleeping, we can all recall how Jack died on “This Is Us” (even though the slow cooker wasn’t on but had a switch malfunction), in the back of my mind it’s safer thanks to my smoke detector and my keen nose. Speaking of my keen nose, the delicious aromas of this chili woke me prior to the 7-hour cooking mark and I couldn’t go back to sleep, so, I decided to check on it and happily discovered that the sweet potatoes were fork tender so I was able to turn it off and go back to sleep. If it had been on any longer the sweet potatoes would have turned to mush, but, as you can see from the picture below the sweet potato was intact.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 14.5 ounce cans of diced fire roasted peppers

1 15.5 ounce can of black beans, rinsed

1 15.5 ounce can of red kidney beans, rinsed

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Options for serving: sour cream, sliced scallions, shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips

Directions:

In the insert of your slow cooker combine the onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their juices), beans, sweet potato and 1 cup of water.

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, 7-8 hours on low and 4 to 5 hours on high.

Serve with your favorite toppings or eat on its own.

Recipe from Real Simple

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spiced (Candied) Mixed Nuts

Today’s slow cooker Sunday recipe is something perfect for this time of year… Spiced Mixed Nuts. If you are thinking they are spicy nuts sorry to disappoint you, but, these are more sweet over anything else, think candied nuts. Although, if you would like yours to have a little kick, add a teaspoon (or two) of cayenne pepper to the sugar mixture to get them sweet & spicy.

The original recipe called for a cup each of almonds, pecans, walnuts and cashews, which, in all honesty can get a bit pricey to purchase separately. So, what I ended up doing was purchasing a bag of roasted and unsalted mixed nuts from my local Trader Joe’s. It had approximately 4 cups of nuts which was just perfect and only cost $8. Included in this mix are almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans.

While you could simply bake these in the oven, cooking them in a slow cooker really gives the spices time to develop and flavor the nuts. In one bowl I whisked together an egg white with vanilla extract until it was well blended. I added in the nuts and stirred them until they were coated. In another bowl I whisked together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg & cloves and salt.

I then added the nut mixture to the sugar mixture and gave it a few good stirs to coat the nuts.

I sprayed the insert of my slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and then transferred the nuts into it. I also added in the extra sugar mixture that didn’t stick to the nuts. I covered it and set it to cook on high for 90 minutes, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes. Truthfully, my slow cooker isn’t one of those nifty digital ones that you can set the time, so, I set it for the least amount of time on high, 4 hours.

After the 90 minutes, I stirred in 2 tablespoons of water and covered it once again and cooked it for an additional 20 minutes on low. This will allow any of the sugar mixture that hasn’t adhered to the nuts stick. During those first 90 minutes there were a few times I thought that the sugar wasn’t going to stick but, it all came together during these final 20 minutes.

During the final 20 minutes I covered a rim baking sheet with wax paper, and once the 20 minutes were up I transferred the nuts to the baking sheet and let the nuts cool completely. I then transferred them to an airtight container. These were destined for a dear friend in another state, but, before boxing them up I had a few friends taste test them and they immediately put in their requests for a batch for Christmas!

These would make a nice a gift or a nice treat to have at home for yourself or for when guests arrive.

 

Slow Cooker Spiced Nuts

Ingredients:

1 large egg white

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup almonds*

1 cup pecan halves*

1 cup shelled walnuts*

1 cup unsalted cashews*

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons water

 

*Use any nut combination you choose. Or purchase a mixed bag as I did

**If you want sweet & spicy nuts add in a teaspoon or two of cayenne pepper to the sugar mixture

 

Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together the egg white and vanilla extract. Add the nuts and toss to coat.

In another large bowl whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg cloves and salt. Add in the nut mixture and toss to coat.

Using butter or non-stick cooking spray, grease the insert of a slow cooker. Transfer the nut mixture, along with any of the remaining sugar mixture, to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. After the 90 minutes gradually stir in the water and cook covered an additional 20 minutes.

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and spread the nuts on the paper and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pumpkin Cheesecake

I am sneaking in one more pumpkin recipe this season before the Holidays take over… A Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake. This is actually the third cheesecake I’ve made in my slow cooker. Earlier this year I shared with you a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake and a Sour Cream Cheesecake. Out of the three, this one is my favorite. What can I say… I am a fan of Pumpkin. I actually adapted this recipe for a slow cooker as the original one called for it to be made in a pressure cooker. While I do own one, only because it was my parents, I am a bit fearful of using it. I remember my mom always using it to make beans. She preferred using dry beans over can ones to make habichuelas guisada (stewed beans) so she would use the pressure cooker to soften them up before making them in the stew… YUM! Maybe one day I will work up the courage to using it, but, for now, it is perfectly situated on the back of a shelf in my cabinet.

I began by making the crust. In my food processor I pulsed graham crackers into crumbs. I transferred the crumbs to a medium bowl and added in melted butter, cinnamon and sugar and mixed it together until it was well combined. I then pressed the crumbs into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan that I sprayed with cooking spray.

Next, I made the filling. I beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth and then added in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, flour, and whipping cream and continued beating until it was well blended. Finally, I added in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat it until just combined. I then poured this into the prepared crust.

I placed a rack in the insert of my slow cooker and then filled it with a 1/2-inch of water (about 2 cups for my 6qt. slow cooker) and then placed the pan on top of the rack. I covered it and cooked it on high for 2 hours. The center should still be a bit wobbly and the rest of the cheesecake set. You don’t want to overbake it. After the 2 hours, I turned off my slow cooker and left it covered so the cheesecake could cool. After the hour, I removed the pan and transferred it to a wire rack so it could cool completely.

After refrigerating it overnight, the following day I enjoyed a slice!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 7 graham crackers)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

Filling:

2 8oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Spray a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Place a rack inside the insert of your slow cooker and fill with a 1/2 inch of water (about 2 cups for a 6qt. slow cooker).

In a medium bowl mix the graham crack crumbs, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. Press the crumbs in the bottom and slightly up the sides of the springform pan.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, flour and whipping cream and continue beating until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. Pour into the prepared crust.

Place the pan onto the rack inside of the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and keeping the lid on, let the cheesecake cool in the slow cooker for an hour. After the hour, remove the cheesecake and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least four before serving.

Recipe adapted from Dear Crissy

Slow Cooker Sunday: Maple Cinnamon Pear-Applesauce

I have an abundance of apples from my recent apple picking outing and while I have been enjoying eating them, I decided to use some of them to make a homemade pear-applesauce. Making homemade applesauce is quicker and easier than you may think. And healthier since you can control the level of sweetness. You could also customize the flavors by adding in different fruits (i.e. peaches, mangoes, cranberries) or different spices.

I began by peeling, coring and chopping 2 lbs. each apples (I used red delicious and granny smith) and pears (I used Bartlett). I added the apples along with pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, a cinnamon stick, lemon juice and water to the inset of a slow cooker.

I set it took on low for 4 hours and was left with apples and pears that were perfectly tender for the next step.

I removed the cinnamon stick and using a slotted spoon transferred the apples and pears to the bowl of a food processor. To prevent the sauce from becoming too watery I didn’t add too much of the juices. I then pulsed the mixture to my desired consistency, making sure no large apple or pear chunks remained.

I transferred the pear-applesauce to a container to let it cool and then covered and refrigerated it.

 

Slow Cooker Maple Cinnamon Pear-Applesauce

Ingredients:

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 pounds pears, peeled, cored and chopped

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup water

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker (at least 6 quarts) and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low until the apples and pears are tender, about 4 hours.

Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until desired consistency. You could also transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher for a chunkier sauce.

Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Recipe from Real Simple

If you would prefer to make this on the stove, increase the water amount to a cup and combine all of the ingredients in large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes.

For both versions (slow cooker or stove top) you could substitute apple juice for the water.

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Cinnamon Almond Oatmeal

After the first time my dad got sick and returned home from the hospital I used to make oatmeal every morning for breakfast for him and I. I wouldn’t say I mastered making oatmeal, but, I got it down pat as to how much milk to oatmeal to sugar ratio I needed to make the perfect bowl of sweetness and creaminess. Funny thing is, now a few years later I struggle to make oatmeal for just myself. It either comes out too sweet, too blah, too thick or too watery. Somehow I have forgotten the magical combination. Maybe I’ve somehow blocked it out since I can’t have those morning breakfasts’ with my dad any longer. Our subconscious is a funny thing! Thankfully, my slow cooker is the answer and one of best things about it is that I don’t have to worry about walking away while the milk is heating up and ultimately boils over and leaves a mess on my stove. I cannot even count how many times that happened to me. And cleaning up warmed milk is no fun task.

After combining all of my ingredients in my slow cooker and letting it cook on low for a few hours I had a delicious breakfast. I topped mine with almonds, but since oatmeal is so versatile you can pretty much top it with anything. Have you seen some of the flavors they sell in the instant packets?

I’ve come to realize that I am not a big fan of cinnamon so I think I will reduce the amount I use the next time I make it, or omit it completely. I am sure the honey would provide enough sweetness for it.

One last thing, this was the first time I’ve made steel cut oats. My reason for using them… I thought they would hold up better in the slow cooker since they are not processed as much as much as old-fashioned and quick oats. They take longer to cook due to their texture, but taste just the same.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almond Oatmeal

  • Servings: 5 (1 cup each)
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Ingredients:

1 cup steel cut oats

5 cups almond milk*

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of honey

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon**

1/4 teaspoon salt

Sliced almonds, for topping

*I used vanilla flavored almond milk

**Feel free to use more or less to your liking

Directions:

Combine all ingredients, except for the almonds, in your slow cooker and stir until well combined. Cool on low for 4 to 5 hours, or until desired consistency.

*I cooked my oatmeal for a little less than 4 hours. I was planning on refrigerating it to eat for breakfast over a few days so I didn’t want to cook it to a point where it was super creamy, it was a bit watery since I knew that as it cooled it would thicken up.