How To: Slow Cooker – Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

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Last week I was lounging by a pool, running in shorts, and enjoying daily 2 for 1 happy hours.

Now, I’m bundled up in a parka, glued to the treadmill, and have 2 slightly under the weather kiddos. Reality bites!

One benefit to being home in our lovely Toronto winter – this spicy chicken. Are you also freezing your little tush off? This spicy chicken will warm you up. Okay, I’m lying, nothing can warm you up from this past weekend’s -22 degree weather. But, I do promise it will make ya sweat a little.

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Really, it is so simple. A little hot sauce, a little oil, a sprinkle of spices. Done. It is quite a bit salty, so just keep that in mind – nothing a large glass of beer water can’t fix.

The homemade ranch dressing is totally optional. I find it does a good job at cutting the heat. But you could leave it out or simply top with a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of plain old mayo.

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I’m normally all for a slow and low cook in the slow cooker – a set it and forget it type of meal. But cooking the chicken breasts on high keeps them from drying out, which they have a tendency to do. And it also means it’s the type of dinner you can throw together in the afternoon with two sick kids hanging off your legs.

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While I’m missing that Florida sun, this chicken makes being home totally worth it – right?

Dara

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Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Serves 4
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Well Plated

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cups Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (mixed with 1 tbsp water)
  • 4 sweet potatoes

Dressing

  • 5 Tbsp low-fat mayo
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper

Note

This recipe comes together so quickly, making it the perfect weeknight dinner. You could also serve the chicken over your favourite grain, on top of a salad, or as a sandwich on a nice crusty bun.

Directions

1. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray and place the chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Whisk together the hot sauce, canola oil, garlic powder, and salt. Pour over chicken. Cook on high for 1.5 hours, until chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove to a plate, shred using two forks, and set aside.
3. Add cornstarch mixture to slow cooker and whisk to combine. Cover and continue to cook on high another 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Add chicken back in and stir to evenly coat with sauce. Reduce temp to warm.
4. About an hour or so before chicken is done, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and bake in a 400 degree oven on a foil lined baking sheet for about an hour, or until soft and cooked through.
5. Cut sweet potatoes down the middle with a knife and push down with a spoon to create a little well in the middle. Top with chicken and drizzle with ranch dressing.
Dressing
6. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl.

How To: Slow Cooker – Orange and Honey Braised Carrots

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Yup, that’s right. TWO slow cooker recipes in a row. And BOTH vegetarian. How about that?

I tend to agree with Erin – most vegetarian slow cooker recipes do result in a pile of mush. But just like our daal, I have found when treated correctly, you can still get the same oven or stove top texture, but without having to actually be home.

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This recipe comes from Ricardo magazine, who generously gifted me a copy of their November issue. When I came across this carrot recipe I was intrigued – braised carrots in the slow cooker?! It totally works! And is totally delicious.

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This recipe cooks in about 4 hours – the perfect amount of time when you have an errand or two to run in the afternoon, or just want to free up some oven space when prepping a meal. I followed the recipe almost to a T- I did cut the butter in half because while I wanted the flavour, I also wanted that natural and sweet carrot flavour to shine.

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Slow cooker daal, slow cooker carrots – what vegetarian recipe will we slow cook up next?!

Dara

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Slow cooker Braised Carrots

Serves 4
Meal type Side Dish
From magazine Adapted from Ricardo Magazine

Ingredients

  • 10 large carrots (peeled and sliced in half lengthwise)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 Cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

These carrots would make a delicious side dish for roast chicken or salmon. You could substitute the honey for maple syrup if you would like.

Directions

1. Butter the bottom of your slow cooker. Add carrots on top and pour the orange juice over top.
2. Drizzle with honey and season with salt and pepper. Cook on high for four hours, or until carrots are tender.
3. Plate carrots and drizzle some of the cooking liquid on top.

 

 

How To: Slow Cooker – Lentil and Carrot Curry Stew

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As of this past Friday, it is officially spring!

Can we finally say good bye to that cold winter weather?? I am so done with the heavy winter jacket, boots, hats, and gloves. Bring on the capri pants, tank tops, and spring jackets.

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Now winter isn’t all doom and gloom – there is one redeeming quality to this season that I do enjoy. The slow cooker.

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The slow cooker has not only become my weeknight dinner saviour during my busy work weeks, but it’s perfect for cooking up a comforting stew for the cold winter nights. But fear not, the bright flavours in this lentil curry stew are also perfect for welcoming in the warm spring weather.

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Phew! No need to throw away the slow cooker, our Monday dinner hero, just because the weather is FINALLY starting to get above the freezing mark. And what a relief because no one should miss out on this delicious vegetarian lentil curry stew!

Dara

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Slowcooker Lentil and Carrot Curry Stew

Serves 6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Slender Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups red lentils
  • 4 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 4 Cups vegetable broth
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger (grated)
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1 5 oz can tomato paste
  • 1-2 Handfuls kale (chopped)
  • Greek yogurt and cilantro (to garnish)

Note

While this hearty vegetarian curry is great on it's own, you could serve it with some bread or over some rice or quinoa to make it more of a meal. Chopped swish chard or spinach could be substituted for the kale.

Directions

1. Place all ingredients except for kale into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
2. After about 8-10 hours, turn slow cooker to warm and mix kale into stew. Place lid back on until kale has wilted.
3. Serve topped with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and some cilantro.

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How To: Slow Cooker – Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

I have a confession to make –

Before making this recipe and writing this post, I had never used my slow cooker before. Crazy, right? And if you too are one of those ashamed slow cooker virgins, I promise after one use, it will become one of your favourite kitchen tools too.

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It may surprise you that after our delicious pulled chicken and lentil stew recipes, I had yet to break out my crockpot. What finally gave me that push to break-in this appliance? A barely two week old beautiful newborn who requires constant use of my hands and…other parts. That is the beauty of a slow cooker. With minimal prep and assembly, you have a delicious meal on the table that is basically hands-free.

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This sweet and sticky chicken is reminiscent of your favourite Chinese take out sesame chicken, without all the greasy fried batter. The slow cooker creates a tender chicken breast coated in a rich and thick sauce.

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Once the chicken is done, a simple shred and addition of a cornstarch slurry to thicken the remaining sauce finishes this dish off nicely. I loved this chicken over rice or another grain of your choice, but I think it would also work great as a sandwich or taco filling.

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And if you happen not to be suffering from lack of sleep and baby brain, add the sesame seeds that you set aside but forgot to use for a nice crunchy finish.

I have a feeling you may be seeing many more slow cooker posts in the near future!

Dara

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Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 5 hours, 15 minutes
Total time 5 hours, 25 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Family Fresh Meals

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/8 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 2 Cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tsp cornstarch (dissolved in 3 tbsp water)
  • sesame seeds (to garnish)

Note

This slow cooker chicken is best served over rice or another grain of your choice to soak up all that sweet and sticky sauce. I also like it served with some sort of simply steamed green - broccoli, kale, spinach, or swiss chard would all be great.

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.
2. Combine honey, soy sauce, garlic, onion, ketchup, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Pour over chicken and cook on low for about 5 hours.
3. Once chicken is cooked, remove from slow cooker and set aside. Add corn starch mixture to sauce and cover and cook on high for about 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.
4. Shred chicken with a fork and knife and add back to sauce in slow cooker. Serve over rice or quinoa and garnish with sesame seeds (if you can remember!)

 

How to: Slow Cooker – Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

I sure did eat instant oatmeal back in the day.

Maple and brown sugar was the first flavour to disappear from the variety pack. Followed by apple cinnamon and peaches and cream.  Bringing up the rear was boring old plain, of course.

These days, the excessive packaging, the artificial flavour and ‘caramel colour’ (both actually on the ingredient list) in addition to the measly portions have put me off the instant and on to the homemade.

I also find the least processed variety of oat, steel cut, the most delicious.  Maybe it’s my scottish roots, but the nutty flavour and chewy texture in a warm bowl of hearty oats makes me feel like grandma’s giving me a hug.

The only thing instant oats have over steel cut is the instant part.  Unless you’re a make ahead junkie. Which I am. Which I hope you aspire to become.

Slow cooker to the rescue. Again!

This perfect make ahead dish can be put together in less than 10 minutes on Sunday night, enjoyed hot on Monday morning and portioned out in to bowls to be reheated (with an extra splash of milk or water) for breakfast throughout the week.

Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel cut oats (rinsed well until water runs clear)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 apples (chopped in to bite sized pieces)

Optional

  • toasted chopped nuts

Note

Steel cut oats can be cooked stovetop too.  4 parts liquid to 1 part oats: bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about 30 minutes.

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

If you’re not in to the apple cinnamon flavour combo – check out our quinoa ‘oatmeal’ flavour options and mix it up to your own tastes.

If you would prefer to try it without milk, you can double the water or try apple cider, soy or almond milk.

Any which way you make it, oatmeal is sure to get your day started on the right foot.

Erin