Design Mom » Slow Cooker Recipes http://www.designmom.com The Intersection of Design & Motherhood Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:09:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Slow Cooker Recipe: Peach Crisp http://www.designmom.com/2014/08/slow-cooker-peach-crisp/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/08/slow-cooker-peach-crisp/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:00:56 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=49401

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Images and styling by Lindsey Rose Johnson.

Are you ready for another super easy, super yummy recipe in my Slow Cooker Series? It’s peach season and one of my favorite ways to enjoy this glorious fruit is in a bowl of warm peach crisp topped with a big dollop of whipped cream — or a scoop of vanilla ice cream! I adore fruit pies and crisps — if I’m in a restaurant, and a fruity dessert is on the menu, it’s always the one I pick. A warm fruit crisp is my ultimate comfort food.

Happily, making a crisp at home couldn’t be easier. It comes together in just a few minutes and doesn’t require much attention after that. You literally toss everything into the slow cooker, set it, and forget it, as the saying goes.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

This recipe uses peaches, but you can also use nectarines, plums, berries, or any other favorite summertime fruit.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Peach Crisp
adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, diced, plus more for greasing slow cooker
6 very large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (can use 10-12 smaller peaches)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Instructions:

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, nuts (if using), cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the diced butter and cut into the dry ingredients with your hands or a pastry cutter until a crumbly, leaving a few remaining pea-sized pieces of butter.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 3-quart cooker. Place sliced peaches in the bottom and sprinkle with the cornstarch and add the extracts. Stir to combine making sure all of the cornstarch is dissolved. Top evenly with the crumbly mixture.

Set slow cooker to LOW for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or HIGH for 1 1/2 hours. When lifting the lid off the slow cooker, be careful not to let any water from the lid drip down onto the crisp or it can get soggy.

Spoon into bowls and serve warm topped with whipped cream or ice cream

Yields 4-6 servings.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Easy Peach Crisp. Works with any summer fruit!   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Notes:

- This recipe can be doubled for a larger slow cooker. Adjust cooking time accordingly. It will take approximately an extra hour on HIGH or two extra hours on LOW for a doubled recipe to fit a six-quart slow cooker.
- It will seem like there’s a lot of crumb mixture and that’s okay. If your slow cooker is taller than it is wide, it’s fine to use less crumb mixture, but with the long, slow cooking time, it will all cook through.
- A mixture of different peach varieties can be fun and delicious. Other fruit can also be used – plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, berries, etc.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup http://www.designmom.com/2014/07/slow-cooker-recipe-french-onion-soup/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/07/slow-cooker-recipe-french-onion-soup/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:00:48 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=46702

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! It’s time for another recipe in my slow-cooker series. I know. It’s summer and the last thing you’re probably wanting is a hot bowl of anything. But don’t let that stop you from entertaining the idea of French Onion Soup. It’s such a classic thing to eat. And it was made to be cooked in a slow cooker!

Is there anything better than a piece of cheesy toast dipped into a flavorful soup? I think not. So when you’re busy running the kids to swimming lessons or all of the other millions of things we all do during the summer, don’t worry about dinner. Just slice up a bunch of onions, pop them into the slow cooker, and when you get back add the stock and dinner’s ready that fast. The Gruyere toasts are ready in a flash too.

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

As I mentioned, for this recipe, the onions are cooked alone first, then the stock is added. This gives the onions ample time to cook down and get soft without melting away and disappearing into the broth. If you’d rather not go that route, just add everything to the slow cooker all at once and it will still be really good.

It’s great served with fruit and a very simple green salad like the French might make — torn Romaine with a flavorful basic herb vinaigrette. It’s a great summer meal and you’ll be surprised how even in the hot summer how a bowl of soup hits the spot. And yes, it’s also fantastic when it’s cold outside. : )

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

Ingredients:
For soup -
4 Tablespoons butter
6 pounds onions (about 6-7 large), halved and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
2 quarts chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

For gruyere toasts-
1 loaf sourdough artisan bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8-12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

For simple green salad-
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into pieces
Herb Vinaigrette

Soup instructions:
Place the sliced onions in the slow cooker. Melt the butter and pour over the onions. Add the thyme and bay leaves, season well with salt and pepper. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours. The onions will cook down quite a bit. Briefly check about halfway through the cooking time to make sure the onions aren’t burning. (They shouldn’t be, they should release enough liquid as they cook.)

After the onions have cooked and are softened, add stock and let cook for another hour, or until the soup is piping hot. (You can heat the stock before you add it to speed things up.)

To serve, ladle the hot soup into bowls and place a Gruyere toast on top. Eat immediately.

Slow Cooker Recipe: French Onion Soup  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

Gruyere toast instructions:
Preheat oven broiler to low. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange bread slices on the rack and top with a little shredded Gruyere. Broil for 3-5 minutes, checking frequently so they don’t burn.

Tips
- All of the ingredients, stock included, can be added to the slow cooker and then cooked rather than letting the onions cook first. The cooking time will be a little shorter and the onions may disappear more into the broth. Cooking the onions first allows them to soften, but they remain intact for a chunkier soup.
- Try to use a good boxed broth (homemade is even better!), but choose one that isn’t too salty. It’s better to add your own salt and have control over the amount.
- For a creamy soup, substitute 1 cup heavy cream for 1 cup of the broth.
- Any Swiss style cheese (not processed!) can be used in place of the Gruyere. Shredded mozzarella can also be used in a pinch.

P.S. — Find tons of delicious slow-cooker recipes your family will love right here.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad http://www.designmom.com/2014/06/slow-cooker-recipe-chicken-taco-salad/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/06/slow-cooker-recipe-chicken-taco-salad/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:18:27 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=48766

Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

It’s almost been a year since we moved to The Treehouse, and now that we have such a wonderful gathering space, we’ve really upped the frequency of get-togethers. We have a few standby menus that we like to serve to guests, and Taco Salad sits right at the top of that list — taco salad is like the easiest thing to serve ever!

Just lay all the toppings out on the table and let guests build their own. This is particularly great if you’re accommodating special diets. Vegetarians skip the chicken. Dairy-free eaters skip the cheese. Everything is naturally gluten-free. Everyone finds something they can eat. : )

Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

For this recipe we’ve used chicken thighs, which are really great for long, slow cooking because they are more flavorful and tender. It’s a snap to put together too. Just put everything into the slow cooker (or Dutch oven — that’s what we use!) and forget about it for a few hours.

Beyond that, the only other prep work is shredding the lettuce and getting the other toppings ready. It may not be a true 30-minute meal in that it cooks for several hours, but it sure comes together in a flash. I love those kinds of meals!

Let’s get cooking.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Taco Salad   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Salad

Ingredients:

CHICKEN
2. 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
10 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 ounce can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon salt

TACO SALAD
1 head Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced (or 1 bag salad mix)
18 ounce bag tortilla chips

TOPPING IDEAS
black beans
diced tomatoes
guacamole
sour cream
fresh salsa
queso fresco (or another cheese)
lime wedges
cilantro

Instructions:
For chicken – Place chicken thighs into a slow cooker or Dutch oven. Add the tomatoes and green chiles. Sprinkle the salt evenly over everything. Let cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-3.5 hours. If using a Dutch oven, cover with lid and place in a 300-325° F oven for about 3-4 hours, or until chicken is tender and shreds easily.

To serve – Layer 1 handful of tortilla chips in a shallow bowl. Top with some shredded lettuce and desired toppings. Serve immediately.

Makes 10-12 servings.

*Note – if using frozen chicken thighs, add an extra half hour to the cooking time.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros http://www.designmom.com/2014/06/slow-cooker-recipe-greek-gyros/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/06/slow-cooker-recipe-greek-gyros/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 16:00:53 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=45092

Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Greek food! Our family loves Greek food. None of our kids have ever actually visited Greece, but somehow they still feel connected, knowing that Ben Blair and I have spent time there. Or maybe it has nothing to do with that, and they just love the food! Which would make sense, because it’s so dang good. When I’m thinking of Greek food, I imagine lemon and oregano, strong feta cheese, light, summery, cucumbers and tomatoes and yogurt. Then I imagine all those foods combined. It’s magic, I tell you.

I think it’s safe to say that gyros are the most famous of Greek meals — a classic sandwich, with meat cut from a spit, wrapped in a pita, and topped with tzatziki (yogurt sauce). Happily, gyros are easy to make at home. True, they will not be as authentic as the kind you’d get from a sandwich cart in Athens, but they sure hit the spot when I have a craving!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

It’s nice to be able to toss everything into a pot, forget it, and let it cook slowly for a few hours until it’s time to eat. While the chicken is delicious on its own inside a soft pita bread, adding tzatziki makes it that much better. We like to serve our gyros with a simple Greek salad on the side. We use mixed baby greens and add some sliced cucumber, tomatoes, kalamata olives, crumbled feta, and a basic balsamic vinaigrette. For an additional side, roasted potato wedges cooked with lemon and oregano, or even potato chips, are great. If you’re serving a large group, you could also add a chickpea salad, fresh veggies and fruit.

And that’s it. A super easy summer meal that you can take with you to a park or eat it out on the patio.

Ready to get cooking?

Slow Cooker Recipe: Greek Gyros   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 2 large lemons
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 pitas
Lettuce, tomato, and lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions:
1. Combine the onions, chicken, lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper in a slow cooker. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours, or LOW for 4-6.
2. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed, before serving. It may need a little more salt and pepper.
3. Serve with tzatziki on pitas with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Add lettuce and tomatoes, if desired, or serve with a Greek salad on the side.

Makes 6-8 servings

Note: chicken breasts or thighs will work here. The thighs will be more tender after a longer cooking time. Chicken breasts will dry out more quickly, so a shorter time is better.

——-

Tzatziki — see the Olive Us how-to video here.

Ingredients:
1 large English cucumber
8 ounces Greek yogurt
8 ounces sour cream
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions:
1. Peel and grate cucumber. Squeeze the cucumber with your hands to release the liquid. Discard the liquid. Don’t skip this step or the tzatziki will be watery.
2. Combine yogurt, sour cream, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl. Stir in the cucumber and serve.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

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Slow Cooker Recipe: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/slow-cooker-recipe-bbq-pulled-pork-sandwiches/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/slow-cooker-recipe-bbq-pulled-pork-sandwiches/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 15:00:06 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=47867

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos and styling by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Memorial Day has come and gone and that means it’s officially summer! Our family loves a good barbecue — Ben Blair makes the best burgers ever. But every so often it’s nice to switch things up a bit, so next up in the Slow Cooker Series is pulled pork sandwiches. You could use any kind of sauce you want, but for this one, we’ve used a homemade bbq sauce of sorts with two secret ingredients!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

Let’s talk about these secret ingredients. Have you ever had bourbon bbq sauce? It has a nice smoky, sweet flavor. And true, you could add bourbon to the sauce recipe if you wanted, but this one uses liquid smoke and vanilla extract. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like cupcakes or anything. It’s really good. (Trust me!)

Plus, you can’t have pulled pork sammies without a pile of coleslaw, right? I’ve got a good homemade recipe for that too, and it’s as easy as can be to put together. The coleslaw in the pictures is made with a new coleslaw mix from Trader Joe’s that has shredded kale and Brussels sprouts too. You can use any kind of slaw mix you can find or like best.

Ready to get cooking?

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients:
One 3-5 pound boneless pork roast (shoulder or butt are best), trimmed of excess fat
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (start with less)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 cup water, if needed

Instructions:
Have a large slow cooker or Dutch oven ready to go.

Place the pork roast fat-side up in the slow cooker or Dutch oven. In a medium bowl mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Pour over the top of the roast. Cover with the lid. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or until the roast shreds easily. If the sauce is too thick or starts to smell like it might be burning, remove the lid and add some water. You may not need it – the roast might release enough liquid as it cooks.

After the cooking time, use two forks to shred the pork. Serve as is or on rolls or buns. Top with coleslaw or cheese, if desired.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

Easy Coleslaw

Ingredients:
10 ounce bag of coleslaw mix
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon or more honey
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
salt, to taste

Instructions:
Place the coleslaw mix into a large serving bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, honey, and poppy seeds. Taste and add salt if needed. For a sweeter dressing add a little more honey. Pour over the coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Makes 10-12 servings

Slow Cooker Recipe: Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade Coleslaw   |   Design Mom   #crockpot

TIPS
- Be sure to use a roast that has good marbling, but remove any excess fat or the pulled pork will be greasy.
- You can cook it on high, but it turns out much better if it’s cooked on low for longer. There’s less of a chance of it drying out.
- If you like, you can substitute your favorite bottled bbq sauce for the sauce ingredients in the recipe.
- You can also use chicken or beef in place of pork.
- The easiest way to shred the pork is while it’s warm with two large forks. Shred with the grain for longer pieces.
- Omit the ketchup for a tangier, lighter sauce. Just add a little more vinegar and honey plus a little water so there’s enough liquid.
- It might look like there’s a lot of sauce, but the meat will soak up a bunch after you shred it.
- Use extra or leftover bbq pork for burritos, pizza, or quesadillas
- This can be made ahead and frozen until ready to use, or about 1 week in the fridge.

Coleslaw tips:
- You can substitute bottled poppy seed dressing or any coleslaw dressing for the dressing ingredients.
- Any packaged coleslaw mix will work in this recipe. (The one in the pictures has shredded kale and Brussels sprouts in it.)

P.S. — Find lots more delicious slow-cooker recipes here.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Whole Chicken http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/slow-cooker-recipe-rotisserie-style-whole-chicken/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/05/slow-cooker-recipe-rotisserie-style-whole-chicken/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 15:59:22 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=47118

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Yay! Another installment in my Slow-Cooker recipe series. And I know you’ll love it. Ready for one of the easiest meals ever? Seriously. It’s almost as easy as picking up a rotisserie chicken from the store. : )

A good rotisserie chicken is probably our favorite quick dinner — just grab a baguette, some fruit and cheese, and maybe a few fun drinks, and you’ve got yourself an easy meal. Bonus: it’s also one you can take on the road for a picnic or to eat while you watch your child’s soccer game from the sidelines. And it’s so much better than hitting up the drive-thru.

Something about this meal always festive — casual + sophisticated at the same time. And it pleases everyone in the family!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

The great thing about slow cooking a chicken this way is that it ends up very juicy and flavorful. True, you don’t get the golden brown skin, but you get just as much flavor as you would with traditional roasting methods. The parchment paper is a little trick that will help keep the chicken from drying out. This same trick can be used for cooking pot roast or pork loin in the slow cooker too, so file that away for later!

No liquid is added to the slow cooker because we don’t want the chicken to get mushy. It will release a lot of liquid as it cooks, and the slow cooker is lined with a sliced onion, which will also provide liquid as it cooks. This is a much shorter cooking time, but makes for a really juicy chicken that isn’t under- or over-cooked. No one likes over-cooked chicken!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

The juices are really good, so be sure not to throw those away. Just like with Thanksgiving turkey, you can make a brilliant broth after all the meat has been removed. Just pop it back into the slow cooker and fill it up with water and you’ll have some amazing stock for soup or gravy.

Hungry yet? Let’s get started.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Rotisserie-Style Whole Chicken

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, between 3-5 lbs, giblets removed
1 extra large onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns (or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

Instructions:
1. Have a slow cooker, a large piece of parchment paper, and a piece of kitchen twine ready.
2. Combine the salt and spices together in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
3. Pat chicken dry outside and inside. Season well inside the cavity and evenly over the entire chicken. Use the twine to tie the legs together. Place the onion slices in the bottom of the slow cooker and put the chicken on top. Press the parchment paper against the chicken and tuck it down against the sides. Put lid on slow cooker and set to LOW for 4 hours, or HIGH for 2 hours. Don’t take off the lid!
4. After the end of cooking time remove the parchment paper and transfer to a serving platter. Slice and serve. Reserve the juices in the slow cooker for another use or turn into gravy.

Yields about 6-8 servings.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot Slow Cooker Recipe: Rotisserie-Style Chicken  |  Design Mom  #crockpot

TIPS AND NOTES
- You don’t need to add water to the slow cooker. The chicken will release plenty of juices as will the onion on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- The parchment paper helps keep the chicken from drying out.
- Tying the legs with twine helps ensure even cooking.
- For a lower fat version, remove the skin from the entire chicken and proceed with the recipe directions.
- After most of the chicken has been removed from the bones, you can put everything back into the slow cooker with the juices and onion. Fill up the slow cooker with water and place on LOW for 8-10 hours to make a flavorful homemade stock.
- Substitute any spice blend for the spices listed. Ready-made poultry seasoning is a great substitute, as is Cajun seasoning, for a spicier chicken.
- This can be modified for slow cooking in a traditional oven by placing the chicken in a Dutch oven with the parchment paper and cooking at 300 degrees F for 2-3 hours.

P.S. — More slow cooker recipes that my family loves.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/slow-cooker-tomato-soup/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/slow-cooker-tomato-soup/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 17:43:36 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45102

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

[ Update: Grilled Cheese with Pesto recipe added. ]

When I lived in New York, my friend Sara invited me to lunch at her house, and while we chatted she made grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed up a yummy box of tomato soup from Trader Joes. I adore this meal. It’s on my list of comfort meals for sure. But until Sara served it to me, I had considered it too plebian or boring for guests.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I had a lovely shift in thinking that day. Why wouldn’t I serve this comforting, beloved meal? And why stress out about a fancy meal, when I can be relaxed and enjoy my company — and serve a known crowd-pleaser at the same time? All of sudden, I could invite people over for lunch and it didn’t have to be a big deal. Which means I was more likely to invite someone over in the first place!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

I hope it’s safe to say, most people love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s definitely a favorite around our house. I can tell you I truly don’t raise my eyebrows at boxed soup, but in an effort to eat more whole foods, we have been trying to make more things from scratch. So for today’s recipe in my Slow Cooker Series, it’s all about Homemade Tomato Soup. That said, this soup is made with canned tomatoes. : ) Once summertime arrives, you can switch out fresh-from-the garden tomatoes. But for now this works. It’s pretty much one of those put everything into the slow cooker kinds of recipes, set it and forget it.

I’m always feeding a crowd, so I included a recipe to feed 10-12. If you have a smaller family, don’t worry, just halve all of the ingredients. However, I will say the leftovers don’t go to waste! They are great to send in a lunch box or pull out for a quick meal the next day.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Soup
Adapted slightly from Big Girls, Small Kitchen.
Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium sweet onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2-3 teaspoons salt (start with less and add to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 quart low-sodium organic free-range chicken broth
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
half and half or heavy cream (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan (for garnish, optional)

Slow cooker Version:
Place all of the ingredients, except for half and half and Parmesan into a very large slow cooker. Top with the lid and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 5-7 hours. The vegetables should be very soft at that point. If not, cook for another hour or so.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Alternatively, work in batches and puree soup in traditional blender. Be extra careful and don’t fill the blender too full, or it will splatter and escape from the lid.

To the pureed soup, add the half and half. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and extra basil.

Serve with biscuits, hot rolls, grilled cheese sandwiches, or breadsticks and a large green salad.

Stove-top Version:

Combine all ingredients in a heavy lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft. Allow the soup to cool slightly. Then puree in batches in a blender until very smooth. If you like a thinner consistency, add a little bit more stock or water. Serve immediately, or transfer the soup back to the pot and keep on low until your guests arrive.

Garnish with more fresh basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Tomato Soup from Scratch (plus Grilled Cheese with Pesto)   |   Design Mom  #crockpot

Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich
To make about 6-8 sandwiches

Note – this pesto has much less oil than traditional recipes so it doesn’t saturate through the bread and make it soggy. Add just enough to make it spreadable.

Ingredients:
1 large loaf sourdough or another kind of bread, sliced
1 lb. mozzarella, sliced
Butter, for cooking
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1-2 garlic cloves
2-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
1. Have a large skillet or griddle ready.

2. Prepare pesto — place basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil a little at a time through the feed hole while pulsing. Scrape down sides as needed.

3. Lay all the bread slices open and place the sliced mozzarella on half of the bread slices. On the other half, spread a little of the pesto. Close the sandwiches and spread butter on the outside of every sandwich.

4. Heat the skillet or griddle to medium-high heat and cook the sandwiches until golden on each side, lowering the heat if necessary so they don’t burn. Serve immediately.

P.S. — Find all the recipes in this series here.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/slow-cooker-recipe-overnight-steel-cut-oats/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/04/slow-cooker-recipe-overnight-steel-cut-oats/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:30:53 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45087

Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

It’s time for another recipe in my Slow Cooker Series — and this time it’s a breakfast option. Did you know how easy it is to make steel cut oats in a slow cooker? So easy!

Put them in before bed and when you wake, they’re warm and ready to dish up. Normally steel cut oats take nearly an hour to cook, which can be tough on a school morning. Using a slow cooker bypasses that hour on the stove, so there’s no active cooking time and it’s ready to go when everyone is getting up and going. It feels good to send the kids off to school with a wholesome warm breakfast in their tummies, and anything that frees up time on busy mornings is a plus!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats   |   Design Mom

This recipe makes quite a bit — 8 servings or so depending on how big the servings (or the appetites) are. And one of the best parts is that you can add your choice of toppings, so you can vary the options endlessly. You could even host a family oatmeal buffet!

Have you ever tried steel cut oats? If you’ve been meaning to, try this recipe first.

Slow Cooker Overnight Steel Cut Oats

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
8 cups water
2 cups whole milk
2 cups steel-cut oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (see note on the sugar below)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Optional toppings – fresh sliced fruit, nuts, coconut, dried fruit, ground cinnamon, honey, fresh cream. See suggested variations at bottom.

Instructions:
Grease the slow cooker insert with the butter. Place the water, milk, steel cut oats, brown sugar, and salt into the slow cooker. Stir.

Turn slow cooker on to LOW and cook for 7 hours. After the 7 hours, remove lid and stir.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oats   |   Design Mom

TIPS:
- If possible, don’t cook the steel cut oats for longer than 7 hours, 8 hours maximum. If they cook for longer than 8 hours on low, they will turn mushy. If you have a programmable slow cooker, this is a good time to use it.
- The edges and top might come out a little crispy. Totally fine, and it’s delicious (yet not photo-worthy). :)
- If you don’t have a slow cooker, or don’t want to go that route, you can soak the steel cut oats overnight with the water in a pan, add the milk and remaining ingredients in the morning, and it will cook for a much shorter time — like 10-15 minutes vs. 40-45 minutes.
- Buttering the slow cooker insert seems to help prevent it from sticking so much, though it will still stick a little bit.
- The sugar isn’t mandatory. It or another sweetener can be added to individual servings later.
- The normal ratio for steel cut oats is 1 part oats to 4 parts liquid. This recipe uses a 1:5 ratio to prevent the oats from drying out and/or burning. They will have a slightly softer, more cooked texture than stovetop steel cut oats.

Variations:
- Vanilla – add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- Apple Cinnamon – add 1 or 2 diced apples and 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the slow cooker and cook as directed above. You can also use 2 cups of apple juice for part of the water and omit the brown sugar.
- Banana Nut – add 1-2 mashed bananas, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. You can also substitute almond milk for the whole milk. Serve with toasted sliced almonds, walnuts, or pecans on top.
- Maple Pecan – substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar and serve with toasted pecans on top.

P.S. — More slow cooker recipes that my family loves.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Ridiculously Easy Shredded Ham http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-ridiculously-easy-shredded-ham/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-ridiculously-easy-shredded-ham/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:02:03 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45090

Slow Cooker Recipe: Ridiculously Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Images by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Are you ready for the easiest slow cooker recipe ever? You only need two ingredients for this ultra-simple recipe, but don’t underestimate how amazing it is. This is something our family loves, loves, loves. We learned this recipe from our friend, Emily, when we were brand new newlyweds (that seems like ages ago!), and it is so good and reliable, that the recipe has since been adopted by dozens of friends and by pretty much every one of my siblings. It’s also become part of our holiday tradition — we make it every Christmas Eve.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Super Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom   #crockpot

The bonus is that it’s the recipe that keeps on giving. The first night, you might serve this yummy slow cooker shredded ham as a main course, with a side of yams or carrots. The next day, it’s the perfect lunch served on bagels with cream cheese. Put the rest in the freezer, and pull it out the following week for creamy pesto, ham, and pasta. And you get all of that from one bone-in ham plus a little bit of water and a day of slow cooking!

It’s delicious in every season, and we make it throughout the year. Friends, I’m so happy to share this recipe with you! I hope you’ll love it as much as our family does. If you make it, I’d love to hear what you think!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Super Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom   #crockpot

Let’s be honest, this is hardly a recipe at all. It can be described more as “simple instructions”. As I said above, it’s probably the easiest slow cooker meal ever. You’ll need:

Ingredients:
One ham
Enough water to come up 1-inch in the slow cooker

Instructions:
Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until it shreds easily with a fork.

That’s it!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Super Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom   #crockpot

TIPS:
- You’re basically looking for the most inexpensive cut of bone-in ham you can find. It doesn’t even need to be sliced. It will be labeled Shank Portion or Butt Portion, and will be quite big. We usually by one that looks like this. The long, slow cooking time will make it incredibly tender and juicy.

- Even though you start with just an inch of water, the pot will fill with liquid as the day progresses. If the liquid level isn’t increasing — or if it’s decreasing, that means the pot is too hot. Add more water and turn down the heat.

- Get a really big ham if you’ll be feeding a crowd. This is a popular recipe and you’ll be amazed how quickly it disappears! But consider the size of your slow cooker. We definitely bought hams too big for ours before.

- You’ll know the ham is done, when it falls apart in shreds with a fork.

- To keep the ham from drying out when you serve it, save some of the cooking liquid and pour it over the top.

- This recipe can also be done in a big pot on the stove top. If I put the ham in by 10:00 AM, it will be ready for dinner around 6:00 PM.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Super Easy Shredded Ham  |  Design Mom   #crockpot

- Serving suggestions: I mentioned as a main course, on a bagel with cream cheese, or with pasta above, but it’s also wonderful as a breakfast meat (like inside an omelet), on a sandwich, or served with any complimentary vegetable as a main course.

P.S. — Find more slow cooker recipes your family will love here.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-clam-chowder/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-clam-chowder/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=45677

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today! Perhaps you’re cooking up a batch of Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage? Well, speaking of slow cooker meals, I have another recipe in my slow-cooker series to share today and it’s a classic: Clam Chowder!

Do you have a chowder-loving family? We seem to like every variation — potato chowder, corn chowder, and especially clam chowder. If we’re at a restaurant and clam chowder is on the menu, there’s a very high chance that I’ll order at least a cup of it. So it’s a no brainer that we would like to make it at home as well.

One new take on it now that we live in the Bay Area is serving it in sourdough bread bowls — it’s a San Francisco tradition! Since sourdough bread bowls are so easy to come by here, they’re a happy addition to our menu, but it’s certainly not a necessity. When we didn’t live here, we ate our clam chowder from bowls served with oyster crackers, crusty baguette, or even soda crackers on the side.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

Making clam chowder in the slow cooker takes a little longer, but allows the flavors to meld nicely — and there’s that bonus of prepping it in the morning and not having to think about it again till dinner. It’s super easy to put together. The only fancy ingredient is the clam juice, which isn’t 100% necessary, but adds more flavor. The bacon adds a little smokiness that goes well with the clams. Make sure to check out the notes below for variations and other tips for our very favorite clam chowder.

Also, I’m curious as can be: do you prefer Manhattan Clam Chowder (pink) or Boston Clam Chowder (white)?

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

Slow Cooker Clam Chowder

Ingredients:
12-16 ounces bacon, diced
2 onions, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans minced or chopped clams, do not drain
8 ounce bottle clam juice
4 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
6 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and fresh ground black pepper
fresh parsley, for garnish
bread bowls (preferably sourdough!) for serving (optional)

Instructions:
Have a slow cooker ready to go. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced bacon. Cook, stirring often, until bacon is crisp and the fat has been rendered. Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside to cool. Then refrigerate until ready to serve the chowder.

Carefully spoon out all but 1-2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat. (Place the bacon fat in a glass jar or bowl, let cool, then refrigerate for another use.) Add the onions and celery to the skillet. Cook for 5-10 minutes, scraping up any cooked on bits from the bacon. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds more.

Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, making sure to scrape the skillet clean with a spatula or wooden spoon.
To the slow cooker, add the clam juice, undrained canned clams, water, cream, potatoes, and thyme. Stir well. Place lid on slow cooker and set to HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours.

Check to see that the potatoes are tender. Taste and season well with salt and pepper. Warm up the reserved bacon. Ladle into bowls or bread bowls and garnish with the reserved diced bacon and fresh parsley.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

TIPS:
- For a thicker clam chowder, add 2-4 Tablespoons corn or arrowroot starch mixed with some of the water or cream at the beginning of cooking time. Flour can also be used, but it loses its thickening power after long cooking times.
- For a heartier chowder, add other diced veggies like carrots, leeks, or extra potatoes.
- For a hint of spice, add a few shakes of Tabasco or a pinch of cayenne.
- Fresh clams can be used in place of canned. Use about 5-6 pounds clams, scrub them clean, steam with a little water. Discard any that don’t open. Reserve any juices to add to the chowder. Pour them through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove any sand or sediment. Remove the clams from their shells and roughly chop. Proceed with recipe as directed.
-This recipe can be done on the stovetop in a stockpot. It will take about 30-45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Be sure to stir often so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

P.S. — More slow cooker recipes that my family loves here.

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Corned Beef and Cabbage http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-corned-beef-and-cabbage/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/03/slow-cooker-recipe-corned-beef-and-cabbage/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 18:08:54 +0000 Design Mom http://www.designmom.com/?p=45373

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Today, I’m delighted to share the second recipe in my Slow Cooker Series. This one is especially timed for March, and St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe you have some Irish ancestry? Or perhaps you just love Ireland — its people, culture, and food? Then this recipe is for you! But it’s not just for green-themed holidays. This menu is delicious any time of year you’re craving something hearty and warming.

As for the Blairs, we’ve heard our surname is English, Scottish, or Irish — maybe it’s all three! I know there is a Blair Tartan. In fact, when we were newlyweds, I wove Ben a sturdy wool scarf in the Blair Tartan pattern. I also know there is a Blair Castle in Scotland, so I mostly associate the name as Scottish.

That said, our kids feel much more connected to Ireland. Partly because in both New York and France they happened to make friends with Irish expat families, and partly because of our trip there. It was almost a year ago exactly — we arrived in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day! If you like, you can see images from our trip here.

How about you? Does your family feel any connection to Ireland?

Slow Cooker Corned Beef, Cabbage & Carrots. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

Now back to the menu. It’s a classic combo and it’s easy as can be, I promise! My recommendation? Make a big batch and have friends over for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, or work this into your monthly recipe rotation. You won’t be disappointed.

And now to the recipe: Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients:
One 4-5 pound corned beef plus enclosed spice packet
1 large onion, sliced
4-5 large carrots, peeled and cut into halves
1 small head green cabbage, cut into thick wedges
optional – parsnips, turnips, rutabaga
fresh ground black pepper
For serving – Irish soda bread, grainy mustard, parsley, mashed potatoes

Instructions:
Have a slow cooker ready. Line the bottom with the sliced onions. Place the corned beef brisket on top of the onions, fat side up. Sprinkle the spice packet evenly over the top. Add enough water to come up 1-inch. (Don’t add too much, or it will have too much liquid at the end.) Place lid on top of slow cooker and set to HIGH for 4-5 hours, or LOW for 8-10 hours.

If you are cooking it on HIGH, add the carrots after THREE hours. Place lid back on top and continue cooking. Add the cabbage during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

If you are cooking on LOW, add carrots after SIX hours. Place lid back on top and continue cooking. Add the cabbage during the last 60 minutes of cooking time.

The corned beef will be done when it is very tender and easily shreds with a fork. The veggies should be tender, but not mushy. Remove everything from the slow cooker. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and remove the layer of fat on top. Slice the corned beef on an angle against the grain of the meat. Transfer to a large platter and arrange the vegetables along the side. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired.

Serve with mashed potatoes, grainy mustard, and Irish soda bread.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

TIPS:
- Don’t be tempted to add too much water for this recipe. Some slow cooker recipes call for submerging the meat in liquid. Corned beef only needs about an inch of water in the bottom. The vegetables and meat will release more liquid as they cook.
- You can cook potatoes and other vegetables with the corned beef. Just be sure to add them near the last hour (or two hours for LOW) of cooking time or they will become waterlogged and mushy. Serving with mashed potatoes is one solution.
- If you like the vegetables to be more tender, add them to the slow cooker earlier. For vegetables that are less tender, add them later.
- Slicing the meat agains the grain will prevent a the meat from being stringy.  It can also be shredded.
- Don’t be tempted to add salt! The corning process makes the meat salty enough and also provides enough salt for the vegetables.
- The cabbage cooks very quickly. If you prefer it to be tender crisp, add it during the last 15 minutes. Remember that it will keep cooking more as the leftovers are reheated.
- The leftover sliced corned beef makes the best sandwiches ever, or you can also make corned beef hash by dicing it.
- This can also be done in the oven or on the stovetop. The cooking time will be much less. Follow the package directions for correct times.

P.S. — As I’ve mentioned before, these recipes can be used with an electric slow-cooker, or a heavy duty pot — similar to this. I currently go the heavy duty pot route, because I don’t own an electric slow-cooker at the moment, though I have in years past and know how helpful they can be!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Award Winning Three Bean Chili Deluxe http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/slow-cooker-recipe-award-winning-three-bean-chili-deluxe/ http://www.designmom.com/2014/02/slow-cooker-recipe-award-winning-three-bean-chili-deluxe/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 18:16:34 +0000 Lindsey Johnson http://www.designmom.com/?p=45085

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

We are exactly 7 months into our new life in Oakland, and frustratingly, we are still trying to get a handle on our family schedule. Coming up with dinners continues to be one of our biggest challenges — and I know that’s not unusual for families everywhere. In fact, I get emails almost weekly asking for tips and suggestions about weeknight meals and menu ideas. And I get it. So often at our house, we find ourselves looking at our clock and saying, “Dinnertime already?!” At which point, we cross our fingers that there are spaghetti ingredients in the cupboards, or order out for pizza, or hit the drive-thru.

But the whole family is pretty discouraged with the last-minute meals at this point, so Ben Blair and I have vowed to do better. Over the years we’ve gone through crummy eating phases now and again, so this isn’t the first time we’ve had to regroup. Luckily, at this point we know the big trick that works for us: We decide on the dinner menu before we start work that day.

This works for us because we aren’t caught off guard when meal time rolls around, and we can also note if any early prep needs to be done during the day (like marinating something), and work it into our schedule. It’s also a chance to check that we have the needed ingredients, and if not, we can also plan a stop at the grocery store into our daily errands. I don’t know if this trick works for all families, but for us it’s magic!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

In addition to deciding the dinner menu first thing in the morning, we’ve also been making use of slow-cooking techniques. Yes, it’s great to have dinner decisions made when mealtime rolls around, but it’s even better to have dinner cooked and ready to go! So I thought it would be fun to share a series of slow-cooker recipes that our family loves. Most will be longtime family favorites (like today’s recipe), and some will be new-to-us recipes we’re trying out.

I’m super excited about this new series! I hope it will be helpful to you, and I hope you’ll share your own tips and suggestions on every post. As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you in a recipe rut? Any particular foods you hope I’ll cover? Thoughts on the series in general? Let me know!

One more note before we jump into the recipe: I don’t actually use an electric slow cooker! Since we work at home, and aren’t leaving the cooking food unattended, we typically do our slow cooking on the stove top in a heavy pot (as described here). But these recipes will work for any type of slow cooking — crock pots included!

And now, without further ado, the first recipe in this new series: Award Winning Three Bean Chili Deluxe!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

The Blair family chili recipe has become legendary — it has been entered into chili-cookoffs all over the country. By us, by friends, by Design Mom readers. And it has won many, many times! It’s a pretty fantastic chili for several reasons, including how easy it is to make. It’s recipe my family has been making (and loving) for 14 years!

Three Bean Chili Deluxe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 heaping teaspoons chopped garlic (about 3-4 cloves)
3, 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
2, 16 ounce cans light kidney beans (do not drain)
2, 16 ounce cans dark kidney beans (do not drain)
2, 16 ounce cans black beans (do not drain)
1 entire packet of powdered Ranch Dressing mix
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 spoonfuls of the secret ingredient (which is cream cheese)

Directions:
1. Have a large slow cooker ready. In a skillet, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. Drain the fat. Transfer to slow cooker.
2. Add the remaining ingredients. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
3. Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onions. (Bacon is also delicious if you have any on hand!)

We also think this chili is just right thickness for chili-cheese hotdogs. Yum!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Three Bean Chili Deluxe. This recipe has won chili-cookoffs all over the country!   |   Design Mom

TIPS
- If the chili seems like it’s getting too dry while it cooks, add a little more tomato sauce or water. It’s supposed to be pretty thick, but you don’t want it to burn on the bottom.
- This chili just gets better as it sits and the flavors meld. You can make it several days in advance.
- This makes a big batch perfect for a big family or group. You can freeze the leftovers or keep them for about one week.
- Our recipe isn’t very spicy. If you like a spicier chili add more chili powder and cumin, or add some cayenne pepper, to taste.

P.S. — Need lunchtime menus? Check out this super helpful series of 23 lunch box menus your kids will love!

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