Slow Cooker Sunday: Vegetarian Chili

For today’s Slow Cooker Sunday dish I bring you one that is great for all you vegetarians who like a little kick to your dishes and also for you meat lovers who want the heartiness of your typical beef chili but want to take a break from the meat… A Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili that has butternut squash, beans and corn as its main ingredients.

To begin I diced a red bell pepper and yellow onion. I opted to go the easy route and bought the butternut squash already chopped. You really don’t want your butternut squash to be chopped too small as it will break apart while in the slow cooker.

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Next, I added the diced vegetables along with kidney beans, vegetable broth, corn, fire roasted diced tomatoes, garlic and the following spices; cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. I also added in two minced chipotle peppers in adobo. If you want to turn down the heat on this dish you can omit the chipotle peppers.

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I set my slow cooker to low for 8 hours. Truthfully this chili was probably done closer to 7 hours, but, I didn’t mind the texture of the veggies due to the extra cooking time.

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Can I just say I love butternut squash and how sweet it gets once cooked. In this dish the sweetness was a perfect balance to the heat!

 

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes

14 oz. kidney beans, drain and rinsed

4 cups (2 lbs.) butternut squash, peel and diced

2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced (remove the seeds to lower the heat)

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a 5 -to- 6 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Recipe from The Lemon Bowl

Slow Cooker Sunday: Kielbasa and White Bean Cassoulet

So, what exactly is a cassoulet you might be thinking? Well, it’s a slow-cooked dish from the south of France that usually contains meat, pork skin and white beans. This cassoulet has 2 out of those 3 things… Pork skin is the only thing missing.

In the bowl of my slow cooker I combined dry Northern beans, beef kielbasa that I sliced into 1-inch pieces, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and salt and set it to cook on low for 8 hours…

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But, after checking on it after 7 hours I decided that my cassoulet was done as I didn’t want my beans to turn into mush.

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To go along with this hearty soup I toasted 8 1/2-inch buttered baguette slices that I then cubed…

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And then topped my cassoulet with.

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Yum… This is the perfect dish for these cold winter days.

 

Slow Cooker Kielbasa and White Bean Cassoulet

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup dried white beans, Northern or Navy Beans

1 pound kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and black pepper

8 1/2-inch slices of baguette, buttered and toasted, cut into cubes

Directions:

Combine the beans, kielbasa, broth, tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 4 -to- 6 quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, until the beans are tender and creamy (check the beans after 7 hours) or on high for 5 hours. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve topped with the baguette cubes.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Slow Cooker Sunday: Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

This is probably the best I have ever made and tasted, well, there was this French Onion Soup I had years ago at a restaurant that I still compare all French Onion Soup’s I have had to this day. Maybe I should try making that soup one day. But anyhoo, I digress, as usual. Back to the soup at hand, an Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup that best of all is made in a slow cooker. There’s nothing better than dumping everything into your slow cooker and then coming back a few hours later with a great meal waiting for you.

I began by adding all of my vegetables to my slow cooker: corn, chopped onion, chopped carrots, sliced zucchini and garlic. I wasn’t sure if garlic could be considered a vegetable, but, adter a little research it turns out it can be.

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Next, I stirred in broth, tomato paste, salt and basil until the tomato paste had completely blended into the broth. I used tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano. I advise using this blend of tomato paste since it adds more flavor to the soup.

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I opted to cook it on the high setting for about 3 1/2 hours and then added in dried shell macaroni and a bag of frozen green beans and cooked it for an additional 45 minutes.

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Once it was done I served myself a bowl and topped it with shredded parmesan cheese. YUM!

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Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 small zucchini, sliced into half moons

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 6-ounce can tomato paste blended with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 9-ounce package frozen green beans

1 cup dried small shell macaroni

Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow clooker combine the frozen corn, onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic.

Stir in the broth, salt, basil and tomato paste until the tomato paste is completely blended into the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours (or on low for 7 to 8 hours). Add the macaroni and green beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Please note, if you cooked the soup on the low setting, set it to high once you add in the macaroni and green beans.

Serve in bowls topped with shredded parmesan cheese.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pulled Pork

So last week I brought you shredded beef, albeit it wasn’t supposed to be shredded, and this week I am bringing you pulled purk, which is essentially shredded pork. When I usually make pork shoulder I make it in the oven with a variety of spices, this time around I decided to try it in my slow cooker and I think I may be sticking with this method from now on. The meat came out extrememly tender and flavorful.

After rinsing a bone-in pork should I placed it in the insert of my slow cooker over a yellow conion cut into wedges. In a medium bowl I made a marinade by combining a variety of spices, including paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and oregano along with honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil.

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I made a few punctures into the meat using a knife and then poured the marinade over it.

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I cooked the meat on low for 8 hours…

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And then using two forks I shredded the meat and left it in my slow cooker on the warm setting for about 15-20 minutes so the meat could absorb some of juices that accumulated on the bottom.

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And like I said… It was delicious! You could eat this on its own or use it for a delicious sandwich.

 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

4 pound pork-shoulder bone in*

3 tablespoons paprika

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, cut into wedges

 

*you could also use a 3 to 3 1/2 pound shoulder without the bone

 

Directions:

Place the onion in the insert of the slow cooker and place the pork on top of it. Make a few punctures in the meat.

In a medium bowl combine all of the spices and then add in the honey, vinegar and olive oil to form a marinade. Pour the marinade over the pork and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Until the meat is fully cooked and tender. Shred the meat with two forks and allow it to sit in the juices in the slow cooker on the low setting for 15-20 minutes.

Recipe slightly modified from 100 Days of Real Food

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pot Roast

Usually when I make pot roast I make it in the oven and top it with beef broth and an array of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, onions, & green beans. Invariably though while the gravy turns out delicious, the meat is on the dry side. Enter my slow cooker. The answer to juicy fall of the bone meat every time.

To begin, I sprinkled a 4 pound chuck roast with a generous amount of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I then coated it with flour and browned it in an oil-coated skillet over medium-high heat. Next I transferred it to the inset of my slow cooker and topped it with carrots, celery, onions and mashed garlic.

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In the same skillet I used to brown the meat I made gravy using tomato paste, beef broth, red wine, bay leaves, fresh thyme, allspice, salt and pepper.

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Once the gravy had thickened slightly I poured it over the meat and vegetables and set the slow cooker to cook on low for 8 hours.

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After 8 hours I removed the roast from the slow cooker and placed it in a pan.

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And I mixed the gravy and vegetables with some chopped parsley.

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The meat was so tender that instead of slicing it it was better to shred it using two forks. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures as I was too eager to dig in and enjoy it. But, take my word; it was DELISH and incredibly tender.

 

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Ingredients:

1 4lb beef chuck roast

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup flour, plus more for coating

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 stalk celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges

3 garlic cloves, mashed

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup red wine

3 cups low-sodium beef broth

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped

Directions:

Sprinkle the roast with 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper. Coat in flour and shake off any excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the roast and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes Turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. Add the flour and wine and whisk until thick – there may be some lumps. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes.

Pour the gravy into the slow cooker over the roast and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours – the roast and vegetable should be tender.

Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Toss the vegetables with half the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir the remaining parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. If the meat is too tender you can opt to shred it using two forks. You can serve the meat and vegetables on a platter, moistening them with some of the gravy and serve the remaining gravy on the side.

Recipe from The Food Network

Slow Cooker Sunday: Butternut Squash Soup

Slow Cooker Sunday is back! Granted I will put the disclaimer in that I may not be posting every Sunday though. Thankfully I am covered for the next few Sunday’s as I have two recipes in my blog queue that I never posted. It’s a good thing recipes don’t expire! LOL! So, in honor of my first Slow Cooker Sunday post in a quite a few months and since its Fall I bring you a Butternut Squash Soup that’s super easy, super quick and super delicious!

Truthfully this soup couldn’t get any easier… I placed all the ingredients – butternut squash, chicken broth, coconut milk, chopped onion, brown sugar, soy sauce and crushed red pepper – in my slow cooker…

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And set it cook on low for 4 hours. Granted the before cooking and after cooking are pretty much the same, but, trust me this was 4 hours later.

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I then transferred the soup to a pot and used an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together until it was smooth. And then finally I stirred in lime juice, which really took the flavor of the soup up another notch. Citrus really does have a way of bringing out and bringing together different flavors. And that was it!

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Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chicken broth

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoon lime juice

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the lime juice.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 21/2 hours.

Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in lime juice and enjoy.

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Slow Cooker Sunday: Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna

I love lasagna; I just don’t like all the work that goes into it. It can be time consuming and making sure the noodles don’t tear while boiling them always deters me from making it. But those road blocks are gone since I found a winning recipe to make in my slow cooker.

To begin, over medium-high heat I sautéed mushrooms in olive oil for a few minutes and then added in baby spinach and continued sautéing until the mushrooms were tender and the spinach had wilted.

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Next I added in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt. Once the mixture began to boil I lowered the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.

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Meanwhile I combined ricotta cheese, shredded parmesan cheese and pepper in a small bowl.

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After spraying the inside of my slow cooker with cooking spray I spread 3/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of it. I then layered 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce…

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And topped it with another 3/4 cups of the sauce, the ricotta cheese mixture and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.

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I then topped the cheese with another 3/4 cup of the sauce and the remaining 3 lasagna noodles and finally the remaining sauce.

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After covering it and cooking it on low for 5 hours I topped it with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, covered it once again and let it stand for an additional 5 minutes until the cheeses had melted.

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And while it was delicious, unfortunately it didn’t stay together when I tried to cut it out of the slow cooker. Oh well! Taste wins over plating sometimes!

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Slow Cooker Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:

No Stick Cooking Spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 8oz. package fresh sliced mushrooms

1 6oz. package baby spinach leaves

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained

2 cups tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

6 dry lasagna noodles, uncooked

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

 

Directions:

Spray the inside of a 4-quart slow cooker with the cooking spray. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the spinach cook a few more minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and the spinach has wilted, stirring occasionally. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Combine the ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer 3 lasagna shells over it, breaking the shells to hit. Top with 3/4 cup of sauce, ricotta cheese mixture and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with an additional 3/4 cup of sauce and remaining 3 lasagna noodles. Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles.

Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or until noodles are tender. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until the cheeses have melted.

Recipe from Hunts

Slow Cooker Sunday: Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

For this week’s Slow Cooker Sunday meal I’m bringing you a dish with flavors from North Africa, specifically Morocco. Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food… Hence bringing together a multitude of wonderful flavors. So, it’s no surprise that this week’s Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew is full of flavor.

To begin I placed 2lbs. of cubed beef chuck in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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After mixing together ground ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a small bowl, I sprinkled it over the beef and tossed it to coat the meat.

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Next I added in a small diced onion and a can of peeled whole tomatoes (with the liquid) and crushed the tomatoes with my hands.

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And finally I put butternut squash chunks on top of everything and sprinkled salt over it and added water. If you cannot find fresh butternut squash use frozen instead.

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I cooked it on low for 7 hours and the aroma was amazing when I uncovered it.

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I served it over white rice and while it was delicious the first day it was even more so the following day as the flavors continued to develop.

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Slow Cooker Moroccan Spiced Butternut Squash and Beef Stew

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

1 small onion, diced

1 28oz. can peeled whole tomatoes (with liquid)

1 butternut squash (about 2lbs.) peeled and cut unto 1 1/2 cubes

 

Directions:

Place the beef in the slow cooker.

In a small bowl mix together the ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle over the beef and toss to coat well.

Add the onion and tomatoes with their liquid and crush the tomatoes with your hand.

Place the butternut squash chunks on top and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 cups water.

Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours, until the beef is tender. Serve over rice.

 

From Food Network Magazine, October 2015. Reynolds Slow-Cooker Favorites

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chicken Parmesan

Normally when I make Chicken Parmesan it’s because I have leftover breaded cutlets from the night before. I don’t know why, but, it just never crosses my mind to make Chicken Parmesan the same day I am frying up the breaded cutlets. Maybe it’s so I can have something different the following night… leftovers are good but they are even better when you can spruce them up into something different. For today’s Slow Cooker Sunday I am bringing you Chicken Parmesan that’s lacking the breading but definitely healthier without it and also because there’s no frying involved and you get some veggies in the mix – mushrooms and onions.

To begin I placed the mushrooms and onions in the bottom of my slow cooker.

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Next, I placed chicken breasts that I lightly browned on both sides over the vegetables.

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Following that I poured a jar of pasta sauce over the chicken. You can use your favorite pasta sauce; I used my favorite Francesco Rinaldi Three Cheese Sauce. I then sprinkled dried basil and oregano over it and placed a bay leaf in as well.

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After cooking it on low for about 7 hours I removed the cover and sprinkled it with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses and left it uncovered for about 15 minutes, until the cheeses were melted.

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Meanwhile I cooked spaghetti which I served with the chicken.

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Overall this was a nice alternative to the traditional chicken parmesan and definitely one that I will make again.

 

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients:

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 medium yellow onion, cut into thin wedges

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 jar (24 – 26 oz.) pasta sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Hot cooked spaghetti

 

Directions:

Place the mushrooms and cuts onions in the bottom of a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and lightly brown the chicken on both sides. Place the chicken on top of the mushrooms and onions. Pour the pasta over the chicken, add the bay leaf and sprinkle the basil and oregano over the sauce. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours.

Uncover, remove the bay leaf and sprinkle with the cheeses and leave uncovered on low for an additional 15 to 30 minutes, until the cheeses have melted. Serve over spaghetti.

From the book Crock Pot: The Original Slow Cooker Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

This week for Slow Cooker Sunday I am bringing you something different… Dessert. Most people don’t think of making dessert in their slow cooker. I know I usually don’t. I tried making brownies once and it was a complete mess. Thankfully I had lined the insert of my slow cooker with aluminum foil so the clean-up wasn’t that bad. Thankfully this week’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding wasn’t a total mess and gave me hope that dessert is possible in a slow cooker. With Thanksgiving coming up this week this may be a good alternative to the customary pumpkin pie or a good addition to your dessert table.

First though let me introduce you to the newest addition to my kitchen… A smaller slow cooker. The slow cooker I normally use is  5 1/2 – quart and while it is a great size, I have a wonderful slow cooker cookbook with amazing recipes that call for a smaller one. Hence this 4 – quart one.

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Now back to the recipe… To begin I cubed a small French baguette and set it aside.

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Then in a large mixing bowl I combined eggs, granulated and brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger and beat them until smooth.

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To that mixture I added pumpkin, milk, evaporated milk and vanilla extract and beat it until it was well blended.

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Before adding anything to the slow cooker I generously greased it with butter.

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Once I had done that, I placed half of the bread in the bottom of the slow cooker and drizzled it with 2 tablespoons of melted better. Next I poured half of the pumpkin mixture over it and topped it with 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. I repeated the layers…

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Then covered the slow cooker and set it to cook on high for 2 hours.

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After some careful inverting I transferred the bread pudding to a platter. Now, you could just serve it from the slow cooker – especially if you are serving it to a large crowd – but, if you choose to transfer it don’t make the same mistake I did. Let it cool for a few minutes before trying to flip it. I did it a little too soon after it was done and part of it fell apart. I will say that this definitely doesn’t look like your traditional bread pudding; it sort of reminded me of Monkey Pull Apart Bread. Regardless it was tasty although it didn’t have a strong pumpkin flavor. So it would be ideal for those who like pumpkin but don’t love it!

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup milk

1 (14-ounce) can evaporated milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing slow cooker

1 small French baguette, cubed

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, sugars, cinnamon and ginger and mix well with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin, milks and vanilla and continue beating until blended.

Generously butter the slow cooker insert and cover the bottom with half of the cubed bread and drizzle with melted butter. Pour half of the pumpkin mixture over it and top with half of the pecans. Repeat the layers.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours until set and puffed. Best served warm.

From the book The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook

 

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