It's cold enough to freeze a fjord outside. Worse yet, you're hungry. But what could you possibly cook that requires almost no fuss, and, more importantly, allows you to spend as much time on your couch, under a blanket, watching reruns of "Boardwalk Empire"?
RECIPES: 5 Ways to Spice Up Your Prepackaged Ramen
Look no further than your slow cooker. This glorious appliance might take several hours to prepare a hearty meal, but it's still one of the most convenient ways to whip up a delicious dinner. And, with a few easy ideas from our friends at Cooking Classy, Simple Comfort Food and My Life as a Mrs, there's no need to scour your cookbooks for a decent recipe.
RECIPE: Slow Cooked Beef and Mango Quesadillas
Before you settle in on the couch, run to the nearest grocery store and pick up a few simple ingredients for one of these superb slow-cooker suppers.
(My Life as a Mrs.)
Easy Pot Roast
This recipe is one of my all time favorite Crock-Pot® dishes," says Tina from My Life as a Mrs. Her "easy pot roast" is very aptly named, too. It's a true one-pot meal — and a classic one, at that. "I’m not sure where this [recipe] originated," she writes, "but this is how my momma always made it." As far as we're concerned, that only sweetens the pot.
- 28-ounce bag of mini potatoes, rinsed and pierced with fork (Tina used mini-yukon golds)
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast
- 1 packet onion soup mix
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Cracked black pepper
- 1 small bag of carrots (may substitute baby carrots)
Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Add potatoes and onion quarters, then top with the chuck roast. Add onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, red wine vinegar, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, at the very least. During the last hour of cooking, add the carrots to the slow cooker, making sure to submerge them in the cooking liquid. When done, serve the meat and vegetables in a bowl with some broth, along with a chunk of crusty bread.
(Simple Comfort Food)
Chorizo and Bean Soup
This chorizo and bean soup recipe from Dax Phillips at Simple Comfort Food takes a little more effort at first (namely, soaking the dried beans overnight), but it gets extra points for being healthy and versatile. "It is a perfect meal for lunch or dinner. Heck, maybe even breakfast," writes Dax, who often brings this hearty soup to work. And since this meal is loaded with nutrient-rich beans and veggies, there's no reason you can't enjoy it three times a day.
- 1 pound mixed beans, dried
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 links chorizo, thickly sliced
- 1 link venison sausage, thickly sliced (optional)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 whole bay leaf
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 whole baguette
Soak the beans overnight in cool water. Drain and rinse the next morning, then set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add in the sliced sausages and brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. After they've browned and released some fat, add the carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Give everything a good stir, then let the vegetables sweat for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a slow cooker along with the vegetable stock, water and beans. Stir everything to combine, then add the bay leaf and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set the slow cooker to high, cover, and let it cook for 4 hours. When done, adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with a slice of the baguette.
French Dip Sandwiches
Don't let the name fool you — French dip sandwiches are an American invention, classically made with thinly sliced roast beef and plenty of "au jus" for dipping. Jaclyn Bell at Cooking Classy uses shredded beef instead, but her one-pot version is just as tender and delicious as the original. "Serve this sandwich with a side of kettle chips and you’ve get a dinner that couldn’t get any simpler," writes Jaclyn.
- 2 1/2 lbs beef chuck roast
- 1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (if using regular soy sauce, reduce the salt added)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 hoagie buns or 2 crusty baguettes cut into thirds
- 6 slices Swiss, Provolone or Muenster cheese, optional
Place the chuck roast in a slow cooker. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, liquid smoke flavoring, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Pour mixture over the roast, cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 hours. When done, transfer the roast to a cutting board; shred with two forks. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the cooking liquid from the slow cooker into a separate bowl. Return the shredded beef to the slow cooker (while the unit is off) and pour 1/2 cup of the broth over the shredded beef. Toss to evenly coat. Place the beef on buttered and toasted hoagie buns or sliced baguettes (Jaclyn prefers the baguettes for a crispier, less-soggy sandwich) and top with sliced cheese. Serve immediately with a side of the remaining broth for dipping.