Beef Burritos in the slow cooker (with make ahead and freeze instructions)

I must have 3 trillion lists that I’ve found on Pinterest and all over the internet from super savvy ladies who make these mountains of meals and stockpile them in their freezer. Seriously they could feed their entire town for a year if they needed to. It makes me feel very inadequate considering I only having frozen berries and ice cream in mine. So I decided to try one and see how it worked out. All in all it was a great success.  It was easy to just pull the ziplock bag out of the freezer, thaw it for a bit and then just pour everything into my slow cooker. I honestly didn’t see it saving any time. The thawing time was far more than it would have taken me to chop the onion and measure out a few ingredients but it was nice to have it there and ready to go.  I cooked it on Sunday all day and then put it in a container in the fridge with other toppings to eat during the week.

A few weeks ago my supermarket had top round roasts on sale. I bought one, took it home, put it in the ziplock with a bunch of ingredients, zipped it up and put it in the freezer.  Easy. I wrote the instructions for cooking with a sharpie on the bag before I put the ingredients in so that I wouldn’t smudge it and I wouldn’t have to write with meat/tomato sauce to lean on.  I did add some of this seasoning to the slow cooker too. The best part-the beef was DELICIOUS!! It also didn’t make too much-I’d say enough for between 5-7 burritos depending on how much you put in each.

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Beef Burritos in the slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 2lb top round roast
  • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • taco seasoning to taste
  • 1 small can green chilies, drained

Optional Ingredients (to taste):

  • sour cream
  • grated cheese (don’t use pregrated-that stuff doesn’t melt nearly as well due to preservatives and anti-sticking additives–YUCK!!)
  • sliced avocado
  • salsa
  • burritos
  • refried beans 

Instructions:

  1. Write all cooking instructions on a large freezer bag and make sure it won’t smudge.
  2. Add all ingredients through and including the cider vinegar to the ziplock bag, remove all of the air from the bag and seal. Place in freezer flat to freeze.
  3. When you’re ready to cook it thaw the bag in some water until no longer frozen. Place contents of bag in the slow cooker and add the taco seasoning and chilies. Cook on low for 7 hours.
  4. After 7 hours carefully remove the meat and place on a board. Remove any fat and discard it.
  5. Pour the liquid through a strainer into a bowl, discard the contents of the strainer. 
  6. Add the beef back into the cooker and shred with 2 forks.  Pour enough of the strained liquid over the beef to cover it half way and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

Then make a burrito how you like it. This time I used beef, beans, a sprinkle of white cheddar and monterey jack, sliced avocado and sour cream. I put the burrito on my panini press to heat it up and melt the cheese and to give the burrito that nice crispy crunch.

Miniature Turkey & Quinoa Meatballs for the Slow Cooker

I had pinned this recipe a while ago as I’m always on the lookout for healthier stuff to cook in the slow cooker and they didn’t disappoint. They were easy to put together, smelled awesome while browning and I froze half of the meatball mixture in one bag and half of the tomatoes and onion in another bag to use at a later date . Easy peasy! These would be great on a toasted roll with melted provolone or added to other sandwiches. I just ate them plain and I really enjoyed them. They’re smaller than a golf ball, the tomato sauce is just right.  I served them with roasted broccoli.

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Miniature Turkey & Quinoa Meatballs for the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1lb 99% lean ground turkey breast
  • 1lb 94% lean ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for browning)
  • 2 tbsp pecorino romano cheese, freshly, finely grated
  • 2 tsp italian spices
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into rounds
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp white wine

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients through and including the white pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand, being careful not to over-mix.
  2. Roll each meatball to just under the size of a golf ball and set aside.
  3. Layer sliced onion on bottom of slow cooker insert, add 1 can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 the can of peeled tomatoes.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1/2 tbsp to the pan and, when the oil is shimmering, add a few meatballs to brown-about 1 minute on each side. Be careful not to crowd the pan. When browned snuggle them down into the tomato sauce in the cooker, stacking as more are browned.
  5. When all are browned add the white wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce to half then add it to the slow cooker.
  6. Add the remaining crushed and peeled tomatoes to the cooker, making sure that all of the meatballs are covered.
  7. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Be sure to brown the meatballs! It adds extra flavor and locks in moisture. Lean turkey dries out easily-browning will help avoid that.

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Adapted from howsweeteats.

Buffalo Chicken-slow cooker

This past Saturday was a very windy chilly day. It was sunny but you could tell that it’s still winter for the most part and hasn’t started the turn to spring. Much to my dismay.

I love buffalo chicken. I found a recipe for it and threw the ingredients in to my slow cooker at noon and was eating a delicious buffalo chicken wrap by 7:30. There is almost no prep-unless you consider twisting the cap off of the buffalo sauce bottle. You can do a lot with the finished product too. I made wraps but you could also wrap it in lettuce to eat or eat it with tortilla chips for a snack, put it on a salad—the list goes on and on.

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Buffalo Chicken-slow cooker

  Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (not frozen. I used 3-1 lb breast pieces)
  • 12oz bottle of Buffalo Hot Sauce (I used Tobasco brand)
  • 1oz packet of  Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (the dry stuff)
  • 2 tbsp light butter

Instructions:

 

  1. Place the chicken in the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over it and then sprinkle the dry Ranch Mix over that.
  2. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  3. Remove meat and shred with 2 forks. 
  4. Add the butter to the sauce in the cooker and stir to combine.
  5. Return chicken to the cooker, stir to coat chicken in sauce, and cook for another 30 minutes.

To make the wrap in the photo above I smeared some Ranch dressing on the wrap then piled on some chicken and then some celery.  Then just wrap it up and eat.

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Very slightly adapted from emilybites.com

Stout Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

I invited my Mom and Grandma over for dinner this past Saturday for a St. Patrick’s Day feast.  We play a mean game of Scrabble and drink a lot of wine at our get togethers-they’re always really fun. Our delicious dinner below. We had the, corned beef,  double roasted potatoes and sformato of carrots along with wine and bread. It was delicious! I will post the recipies for the carrots and potatoes separately.  They will be listed under the ‘holiday’ tab to the right.

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All too often corned beef is served after it’s been boiled to death and the fat sticks to it in a most revolting way. Unfortunately the carrots, potatoes and cabbage that people throw in with it rarely stay crispy or retain any of their original flavor-they are merely vegetables that taste like corned beef and are mushy.  Ew. Really. It turns my stomach just thinking about it.  That’s why I made the potatoes and carrots separately.

 Well I say no more!!! Corned beef can be absolutely delicious if prepared properly. The corned beef recipe makes corned beef the way I always wanted it to be-not mushy, not fatty and after being in the oven the tips of the top layer of meat are actually a bit crispy.  And the recipe is really pretty darn easy! The sauce that goes with it has a clean, slightly sweet, tangy, briny taste that allows you to alleviate the need for additional mustard all together if you want to (but I still had a blob on the side-I can’t get enough mustard). It reheats beautifully.

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Stout Corned Beef in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

For the Brisket

  •  2.5-3lb flat cut corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
  • 1 pint Murphy’s stout
  • 1 scallion, sliced thick
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pinches fennel seeds
  • Splash of cider vinegar
  • A few peppercorns

 For the Glaze

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1&1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

  1. Remove brisket from wrapping and rinse. Pat dry and place in slow cooker with the fat side down.
  2. Add everything for the brisket above to the slow cooker on top of the beef, set it on low and cook for 6-7 hours.
  3. When it’s cooked and the meat can be easily separated by pushing through it with a wooden spoon remove the brisket and set it aside. Remove all of the fat that you can and discard.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Strain the liquid in the slow cooker and discard the remnants. Place the strained liquid in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Allow to boil and then simmer a while to reduce slightly.
  6. Place the brisket into a shallow baking dish, pour enough liquid over to cover it half to ¾ of the way and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  7.  Serve immediately.

Spicy Honey Chicken (over quinoa) in the Slow Cooker

I really do like spicy and sweet foods-especially when I can let them cook all day and then put them over something delicious when I’m ready to eat with a minimum of effort. Yes-lazy days at their best. That day for me was Sunday this past weekend.  I wanted to catch up on some shows that evening and have a yummy and really easy dinner too so I made this delicious chicken and put it over quinoa which, I’m so happy to say, is easier than rice to cook. I always seem to burn or undercook rice. Anyway this chicken turned out so delicious-moist, flavorful, pretty darn waist-line friendly and enough for left overs the next day or 2. I served it over quinoa for no other reason than I’m bored of (fill in the blank) over rice. And it was yummy!!

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Spicy Honey Chicken (over quinoa) in the slow cooker

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 breasts)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp sriracha (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 medium scallions, chopped for garnish
  • quinoa, prepared as per package instructions

Instructions:

  • Combine ingredients from soy sauce through (and including) sriracha in a small bowl and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
  • Place chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker, season with pepper and then pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken.
  • Cover and cook on low for 3.5 hours.
  • After 3.5 hours remove the chicken and set it aside on a plate. Remove any bits of fat from the sauce in the cooker.
  • Mix the cornstarch and water well and then add to the sauce in the slow cooker and and then cook on high for 20 minutes to thicken. While the sauce is thickening shred the chicken with 2 forks.
  • After the 20 minutes add the chicken back into the cooker, stir to combine.
  • Serve over quinoa and garnish with the scallions.

Adapted from skinnytaste.com

Santa Fe Chicken in the Slow Cooker

It’s official. I love my slow cooker. I was looking around online for a new recipe and came across a chicken recipe for the slow cooker. I adapted it a bit and the recipe below was born.  Really easy and super tasty.  The chicken in this recipe was really nice and moist, easy to shred and the veggies, herbs and spices are just right for a great balance of taste. 

I like that this can be made in either 6 hours or 10 hours (great for weeknights after work). I would assume it freezes well but we didn’t have enough left to try.

I made a burrito/taco bar including sliced avocado, sliced tomato, lettuce, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa and large tortillas.  Husband at his like tacos and I made burritos out of mine and put them on the panini press to heat and make the tortilla crunchy.  YUM! I had 2. I was a pig. But  they’re GOOD!  And since it’s pretty low cal and low fat and since I used fat free sour cream and low fat cheddar cheese I didn’t feel so bad.

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Santa Fe Chicken for the Slow Cooker

Chicken Ingredients
  • 1&1/2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 4 oz can green chilies
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Toppings:

  • Fat free Sour Cream
  • Low Fat Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
  • Ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
  • Avocado, sliced thin
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro

Instructions:

  1. Place everything except the chicken listed in the ‘chicken ingredients’ in the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Place the chicken on top of the combined ingredients.
  3. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours.  30 minutes before serving shred the chicken with 2 forks (you don’t need to remove the chicken from the cooker-just stick your forks in and shred). Stir it all back together and let it all come together for the remaining 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is finishing cooking prepare the taco/burrito bar and lay out toppings.
  5. Serve on tortillas with toppings.

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Adapted from skinnytaste.com.

Chili Chili Bobili in the Slow Cooker

This is a good, thick, hearty, not spicy (but could be), chunky, not soupy chili.  You could easily make it spicier by adding some heat or if you have some bell peppers laying around or another can of beans you can put those in as well.  Feel free to make it just as it is or to adjust to your taste.

Also please excuse the photo. I forgot to take a photo the night I made it so I had to take one at work with the left overs (which were really good by the way).

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Chili Chili Bobili in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 4oz can green chilis (not drained)
  • 1 15oz can yellow/white corn just drained

Instructions

  1. In a large non-stick skillet brown the beef over medium heat. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add everything into the slow cooker along with the meat, mix thoroughly, and cook for 6-6.5 hours on low.

Serve with ideas: rice, egg noodles, tortilla chips, freshly shredded cheese, sliced scallions, hot sauce or cornbread.

Sausage, Peppers & Onions in the Slow Cooker

Sometimes you just want a nice big sandwich.  I found the original recipe on Melissa’s great blog http://iwasborntocook.com/ in the Top Posts of 2012 post and I immediately printed it out. I adapted it a bit with the cheese and rolls. Slow cooker on Sunday? Yes.  Sausage, onions and peppers on a roll? Yes. And I added the cheese.  Super easy, super yummy.  Would be great for football-watching days.

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Sausage, Onions & Peppers in the Slow Cooker

  • small amount of oil for browning
  • 3lbs Italian Sausage (I  used 2 lbs hot and 1 lb sweet but use any combo you’d like) cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (I used 2 red and 1 green)
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • sandwich rolls (mine were hot dog sized from Hot & Crusty). You’ll need substantial rolls to hold up to the sauce and contents.
  • provolone cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet heat a bit of the oil and brown the sausage on all sides. (This may have to be done in batches) Then place sausage in slow cooker.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for at least 4 hours.
  4. Half rolls, place cheese on either one or both sides, and toast until the cheese melts.  Spoon sausage mixture onto rolls and enjoy.

Note: my slow cooker is a 5qt and it was just about to the top of the insert so if you have a smaller cooker I’d make less.

Shredded Beef Tacos-slow cooker

Yummy yummy yummy!!! I love tacos. I love tacos even more when the beef has been cooking all day, the house smells awesome, and there’s creamy avocado, tangy sour cream, bright red tomatoes, oniony scallions and cheese on the taco. It’s like a bite of heaven.

I’m a big fan of the Skinnyms website. They have great recipies and hey-why not eat a healthy version of something delicious that won’t make you pop the button on your pants?

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Shredded Beef Tacos-slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 lb chuck roast
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can green chilies, drained
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice-1 lime
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

For taco assembly:

  • Shredded (not pre-shredded) cheddar and monterey jack cheese
  • A super-ripe tomato sliced, seeds and watery parts removed
  • Avocado-sliced
  • Scallions-chopped
  • Fat free sour cream

Directions

Place the onions, chilies and garlic in the bottom of a 5 quart slow cooker. Season the beef with salt and pepper on all sides and place on top of the onions.

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the tomato sauce, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Pour the spice mixture over the beef and cover.  The beef will not be completely covered-and it’s ok.

Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, then keep warm until serving.

Once the beef is cooked and tender, use two forks to shred the beef. If there’s any fat bits floating in the mixture pull them out with a spider and discard. Stir the beef with the cooking juices and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to serve.

This makes a ton of meat for tacos. I bought carb-balance Mission Tortillas (the small ones) and nuked them in the microwave for a few seconds to heat them up then set up the assembly line-tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado and beef.  Other ideas too: chipotle sauce, hot sauce, lettuce etc…

The beef also reheats really well for left overs. I had myself a nice lunch at the office the next day.

Recipe adapted from: http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-mexican-shredded-beef/

Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

I really am loving having a slow cooker that works perfetly. After years of thinking they were all like that old one that I had (which wasn’t old really) that sucked I had pretty much sworn off of them. But not anymore!

Black bean soup. Thick, yummy, hearty, a bit of heat, delicious. That’s it. Make it 🙂

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Black Bean Soup-slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped medium
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 medium smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 cup hot sauce (to taste)
  • fresh cilantro leaves chopped for garnish
  • fat free sour cream for garnish
  • chipotle sauce for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

 Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker and stir in the water, broth, black beans, ham hocks, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the soup has thickened and the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 6 to 7 hours.)

Remove and discard the bay leaves. Remove the ham hocks and any portion of them that may ramin in the soup (there are fat pieces and small bones so be careful to remove everything-a spider works best), let cool and discard. Puree 2 cups of the soup with a stick blender until smooth, then stir back into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce to taste, and serve.

Note: I added some Frank’s Hot Sauce in the last step as the soup needed a bit of a kick. It didn’t make it spicy-just gave it some heat.  Add it a little at a time and stir and taste until you reach your desired heat level. When serving I added a few squirts of my Goya Chipotle Sauce, a spoonful of sour cream and cilantro. The Chipotle Sauce gave it another dimension of taste without adding too much more heat.

This soup also reheats well.

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated. Their notes:

 Editors’ Choice Cookbook Collection.  From The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

 Why this recipe works:

We found that unsoaked beans worked fine in our slow-cooker black bean soup recipe. It was well worth the time and effort to sauté the aromatics before adding them to the cooker; the black bean soup recipe that skipped this step tasted flat. As for flavor, we knew we wanted a robust smoked pork presence. We tested our way through porky ingredients like bacon, kielbasa, ham, and ham hocks before deciding that the latter contributed all the depth we wanted. Once the soup was done—eight to 10 hours later—we stripped the meat from the hocks and stirred it into the beans. (I did not do this as basically everything was off of the bone-I removed the pices of the hock from the soup with my strainer and discarded them).

PREP-AHEAD TRIPS:  can store the following ingredients together:

1. Cook the vegetables as described in step 1, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator.

2. Pick over and rinse the black beans and refrigerate.

If the soup becomes too thick as it sits, thin to the desired consistency with either water or broth.

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