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: Corn & Bean Enchilada Bake

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as many Slow Cooker Sunday recipes. It’s for a few reasons, one of them, I am running low on recipes. Quite a few of the recipes I have shared have been from this cookbook. While I haven’t tried them all, there are some dessert recipes I would like to try, I have tried those that sounded most appealing to me. Another reason, a lot of the recipes I come across are usually for 6- 10 servings, great if you are cooking for 2 or more people, but, since I cook for just myself that’s way too many leftovers. Don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers (especially since it means I don’t have to cook everyday),but, after eating the same thing for lunch & dinner after two or three days it just doesn’t taste the same by the 5th or 6th time eating it. And yes, I could start working on creating my own recipes, but, I am more comfortable creating recipes for stovetop and oven cooking. So, I did some research and came across the answer, a slow cooker cookbook with recipes geared towards 2 people. No more leftovers for days and days and days.

There’s a little bit of everything in this cookbook. A section on poultry, beef, breakfast, desserts and even seafood. Although, I always avoid making seafood in my slow cooker. I feel like since seafood cooks fast enough there’s no reason to slow cook it. Also, seafood odors can linger and cooking it in a slow cooker for hours on end may not be that delightful. So, I am geared with a new cookbook and ready to start using my smaller slow cooker to whip up some delicious meals that won’t be lasting me days on end.

First up, I made a Corn and Bean Enchilada Bake.

In a medium bowl I combined a chopped tomato, chopped onion, minced garlic, a minced jalapeno pepper, a can of black beans and corn.

After spraying the insert of my slow cooker with cooking spray I layered the ingredients for the enchilada.

I poured salsa verde in the bottom of the slow cooker. While the cookbook does include a recipe for homemade salsa verde I decided to go the easier route and used store bought. I then topped the salsa with 3 corn tortillas, overlapping them. I poured half of the bean mixture over the tortillas and topped it with more salsa verde and finally shredded cheese. I repeated the layers once more and then covered the slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 6 hours.

After the six hours the cheese had melted and the tortillas were soft. And I had the perfect sized meal for 2 lunches and 1 dinner.

Corn and Bean Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 8.5oz. can yellow sweet corn

1 1/4 cups salsa verde

6 corn tortillas, taco style

2/3 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the first 6 ingredients.

Spray the insert of a slow cooker with cooking spray.

Pour 1/3 cup of salsa verde in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place three of the tortillas in the slow cooker overlapping them. Pour half of the bean mixture over the tortillas and the top with half of the remaining salsa and half of the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Recipe from The Complete Slow Cooking for Two Cookbook

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Cream of Vegetable Soup

When I set out to make this soup I intended it to be a creamy potato soup, but, thanks to the addition of one too many carrots (and some other vegetables) and switching up the recipe I was following a bit this ultimately became a delicious Cream of Vegetable Soup.

In my slow cooker I combined cubed red potatoes, a chopped onion, sliced carrots, sliced celery with chicken broth. I set it to cook on low for 8 hours, until the vegetables were tender.

And then, using my immersion blender I blended all of the ingredients together to create a creamy vegetable soup and then stirred in about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Slow Cooker Cream of Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

6 red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt& Pepper

 

Directions:

Combine all the vegetables and chicken broth in the slow cooker. Cover and set to cook on low for 8 hours, until the vegetables are tender.

Using an immersion blender, blend all of the ingredients to your desired consistency. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup a little at a time in a food processor or regular blender.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

I’ve made quite a few pasta dishes in my slow cooker, but, I think this Spinach Lasagna Roll-Up dish is the best pasta dish I have made in my slow cooker.

To begin, I boiled a 1lb. box of lasagna noodles until they were barely al dente, about 10 minutes. I rinsed them under cool water and set them aside. I then made the filling by combining ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan, Italian seasoning, eggs, and chopped spinach. For the spinach I used a 10oz. package of frozen chopped spinach that I thawed overnight and then squeezed the excess water out of.

Next, I poured about 12oz. (1 1/2 cups) of marinara sauce in the bottom of my slow cooker, reserving the remaining marinara sauce. I then laid out a few of the lasagna noodles and cut them in half crosswise and spread a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture across each half. I then rolled them and placed them seam-side down in my slow cooker. I continued this process until I was out of ricotta mixture. I only had about 2 or 3 lasagna noodles remaining. Once the bottom of my slow cooker was filled with the roll-ups, I spread a little sauce on the noodles before placing the remaining roll-ups on top to prevent them from sticking together while cooking.

Finally, I poured an entire jar of marinara sauce over all of the roll-ups and set my slow cooker to cook on high for 3 hours.

After the 3 hours, I poured the remaining 12 oz. of sauce over the roll-ups and left it on high for a few more minutes so the sauce could warm up.

I then carefully removed the roll-ups using a large spoon and transferred them to a dish. Unfortunately this picture doesn’t make them look all that appetizing (I was losing the sunlight), but trust me it was good. Next time I might add some mushrooms to the mixture as well and also, plan on serving this when I am having people over. This made a fair amount and I was eating left-overs for a week (lunch & dinner). Definitely got tired of it by Wednesday… LOL!

Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

1 pound lasagna noodles (not no-boil)

1 16oz. container ricotta cheese*

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 large eggs

1 10oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out

2 24oz. jars marinara sauce

*I used whole milk ricotta

 

Directions:

In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the lasagna noodles per the package directions until barely al dente, drain and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, Italian seasoning, eggs and spinach. Stir until well combined.

Pour half a jar of marinara sauce into the bottom of a slow cooker, spreading the sauce evenly. Set the remaining sauce aside.

Cut each of the lasagna noodles in half crosswise and spread a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture across each half. Roll the noodle up and place seam-side down in the slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spread a little sauce over the noodles when layering them on top of one another.

Pour 1 jar of sauce over the roll-ups and cover the slow cooker and set to cook on high for 3 hours. Pour the reserved half jar of sauce into the slow cooker and allow to hear through before serving.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites