Baked Potato Soup-slow cooker

The really chilly weather is here and I’ve been looking for a great potato soup recipe. I came across Pink Parsley’s recipe and adjusted it a bit to lessen the calories and also more to my taste. I used light cream and light cheese. It came out so well and even better-it’s lighter! Below is my version. This soup is FABULOUS!!! It’s really easy to make and you can adjust the toppings to whatever you’d like. Make it SOON!! You’ll be happy you did!

Baked Potato Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp bacon grease (I keep some in the fridge. If you don’t cook the bacon for the toppings and keep 2 tbsp in the pan)
  • 5 small-medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 lbs Russet potatoes (about 4), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 8oz light sharp cheddar cheese, grated, (do not use pre-grated)
  • 3oz light colby jack cheese, grated, (do not use pre-grated)
  • 1/2 cup of light cream
  • 1/2 cup of light sour cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided

Toppings:

  • light sharp cheddar cheese, grated (do  not use pre-grated)
  • sliced scallions
  • crispy bacon pieces
  • light sour cream

Place 2 tbsp bacon grease in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until browned.  Then add the garlic, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until everything becomes fragrant. Then stir in the flour, stir it constantly for a minute or so until the flour is no longer white. Then stir in one cup of the chicken broth, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan, until the mixture has thickened. Then pour it into the slow cooker.

To the slow cooker add the remaining 3 cups chicken broth, all of the potatoes, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.

After 5 hours test a piece of potato to make sure it’s cooked through. If not cook it for a bit longer, until they’re to desired texture.  When the potatoes are done cooking place 3 cups (without liquid) into a bowl, add the light cream, and mash until smooth. Add them back into the slow cooker, stir in the sour cream and cheddar cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melty and has come together.  You can cook the bacon for the topping during the last 10 minutes.

Serve hot topped with sour cream, grated cheese, scallions and bacon bits or anything else you’d like on top.

Other topping ideas: crispy pancetta, a squirt of Dijon mustard, chives, creme fraiche–whatever you like!

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup-slow cooker

Well, 10 days after hurricane Sandy a snowy nor’easter showed up. I was SO glad that I had prepped some of the ingredients for this soup days before and then put it in the slow cooker in the morning before I left for work. Having a delicious soup waiting for me after work on a dark snowy night was great.

I like this recipe for many reasons. 1) it’s from Cook’s Illustrated so you know it will work  2) there aren’t really many ingredients  3) you can prep some of the ingredients days before  and then throw it together in 5 minutes  4) it was really really tasty!!!

Note: if you’re using dried beans you’ll have to soak them overnight.

Tuscan Cannellini Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, minced
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 8 teaspoons)
  • Salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans (2 1/4 cups), picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for serving)

 Instructions

  1. 1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pancetta and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onions, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Transfer the pancetta and onion mixture to the slow cooker insert and stir in the water, broth, beans, Parmesan rind (if using), bay leaves, and pepper flakes until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the beans are tender, 10 to 12 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 8 to 9 hours.)
  3. 3. Add the rosemary sprig, cover, and continue to cook until lightly fragrant, about 15 minutes longer. Remove and discard the bay leaves, rosemary, and Parmesan rind (if using). Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste, and serve, sprinkling individual portions with the Parmesan and olive oil (if desired).

So the shortcut: cook up the onion and pancetta a few days beforehand (up to 3), put in an airtight container and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to  make the soup.

MMMM parmesan rind.

Chili in the slow cooker

If you can’t already tell i LOVE LOVE LOVE my new slow-cooker.

I’ve made so many chili recpies over the years but wanted to try a new one and I came across Jimmy Fallon’s chili recipe on Martha Stewart’s website. It was for the slow cooker and sounded pretty good. This is my adaptation. It came out great!! My slow cooker is a 5 quart and this was almost to the top rim so any smaller size cooker will not be good to use.  The recpie called for 12 ozs of amber beer so I bought a pint bottle of one of my favorites as you can see below but you could use any amber beer. The benefit of buying a pint bottle-you get to drink the remaining beer that doesn’t go in the  chili.

 

 

Chili in the Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3.5 lbs ground beef-the leaner the better
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped small
  • 1 large shallot chopped small
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced or put through a press
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/8-1/4 cup chili powder depending on taste preference
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 28oz cans San Marzano tomatoes-if whole chop them up or use diced, with juices
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 12 ozs amber beer, I used Fullers London Pride
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8 oz can corn, drained
  • tortilla chips for serving
  • Grated Cheddar Cheese (grate your own) for serving
  • Sour cream for serving
  • Cilantro-fresh chopped for serving
  • 2 cups white rice, prepared as per package directions, to serve underneath chili (my husband’s idea)

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary add beef, season with salt and pepper,  and  cook until no longer pink. Transfer beef ot a colander to drain fat. Repeat until all of the beef is cooked.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tbsp oilve oil to skillet and add the onions, garlic and serrano, season with salt and cook until translucent.
  3. Add the beef and onion mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Then add the spices and stir to combine. Then add the tomatoes, cilantro and beer. Cover and cook on high, stirring occasionally, for 5 hours.
  4. Add the beans and corn, stir to combine, and cook another 30 minutes. Serve in bowl with desired toppings and/or rice.

Sloppy Joes in the Slow-Cooker

Football season is back and I love making yummy food to have while we watch it. Since I’m now obsessed with my new slow-cooker that works so well I wanted to make Sloppy Joes. I looked all over the internet for a slow-cooker Sloppy Joe recipie for a slow cooker and didn’t find any that sounded right so I came up with my own. They were so delicious!! Just the right amount of sauce and a bit tangy. Perfect for a chilly Sunday evening. The ingredient list is small and they’re very easy to make. I eat mine open-faced as you can see below. They’d be great with some grated cheese on them as well.

Sloppy Joes in the Slow-Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2-2 cup ketchup
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a medium skilled over medium-high heat brown the beef until it’s almost done and then drain out the fat. Add the green pepper and onion and cook until the beef is done. Then drain again.
  2. Add the other ingredients and stir to combine. Add everything to the slow cooker and cook for 2 hours on low. Serve on toasted buns.

Note: the ketchup amount is to taste as I like mine a bit more ketchup-y. But do what you like 🙂

Hearty Beef Stew-Slow Cooker

After making the Enchilada Soup the other day I wanted to use my new pretty slow cooker again so I turned to Cook’s Illustrated.  I have a subscription to their online site and this recipe is from them. There’s also a VERY useful tutorial about how to cut a large piece of meat into small ones. Since I bought a 5lb chuck roast for this it was useful to read before I started in on the cutting. I’ll paste that at the end of the recipe.

This stew was good.  Tasty, heart, meaty.  Since it was the first time I made it I followed the instructions. Next time I’ll put less potatoes and more carrots and peas and perahps some other veggies. I served it over egg noodles.

Hearty Beef Stew-Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (see illustrations below)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped medium
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes (about 6 medium), scrubbed
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

Instructions: 

  1. Dry the beef thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Distribute half of the beef in the skillet and cook, without stirring, until well browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Stir the meat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until completely browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Transfer it to a slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and heat 2 more teaspoons oil until just smoking. Brown the remaining beef and transfer it to the slow cooker.
  2. Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red wine; turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits off the skillet bottom. Pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Stir the chicken broth, 1½ cups of the beef broth, thyme, and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Following the illustrations below, nestle the potatoes and carrots around the edges of the slow cooker. Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours on low or 6 to 7 hours on high.
  4. When the meat is tender, remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and transfer to a carving board; allow them to cool slightly. Set the slow cooker to high (if necessary). Whisk the flour with the remaining ½ cup beef broth until smooth, then stir into the slow cooker. Quarter the potatoes and return them to the slow cooker. Continue to cook on high until the sauce is thickened and no longer tastes of flour, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving

To keep the potatoes from falling apart during the long cooking time, put them into the slow cooker whole and nestle them around the edges of the cooker, where the heating coils reside. This recipe takes 9 to 10 hours on the slow cooker’s low setting or 6 to 7 hours on its high setting.

From CooksIllustrated.com  Serves 6-8

And here’s their useful meat-cutting info:

Step-by-Step

Cutting Stew Meat

For stew meat pieces that are cut from the right part of the animal and regularly shaped, we suggest buying a boneless roast and cutting the meat yourself. A 3-pound roast will yield about 2 1/2 pounds of beef, perfect for searing in two batches.

  • 1. Pull apart the roast at its major seams (delineated by lines of fat and silver skin). Use a knife as necessary.
  • 2. With a knife, trim off excess fat and silver skin.
  • 3. Cut the meat into cubes or chunks as directed in specific recipes.

Recipe Testing

Arranging the Vegetables in a Slow Cooker

  • In recipes where the meat is only in the slow cooker for 4 to 5 hours, it is important to arrange the vegetables around the edges of the slow cooker, nearer the heating elements, so that they will cook evenly. Also, this technique is useful in recipes where potatoes are added whole to the stew.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Years ago , I believe it was for my wedding shower (must’ve been 2005), I received a slow cooker.  It was from our registry, a Cuisinart 6qt, and it was pretty and shiny. Unfortunately it had the same problems many others had with the same cooker(so I see on the Amazon reviews)-a rattling cover, steam sneaking out and running down the side of the insert into the holder and making the screws rusty. In other words-I didn’t trust it. I used it maybe twice.

So recently I bought a new one–this gorgeous DeLonghi model from Amazon and I fired it up this weekend. It’s wonderful! It cooks evenly, it’s easy to clean and it’s gorgeous looking don’t you agree? I trolled the internet looking for reviews and this one consistently got the highest marks.  No rattling, no steam coming out. Just works like it says it will.

Here it is in action. I don’t have a lot of counter space but it still fits really well!!

Yummy Time!!

So anyway I wanted to use the new cooker and I looked all over for a good chicken soup recipe. As always, Gina at SkinnyTaste, came through. This is my adaptation of her recipe. It was delicious!! You can make it spicy or not, up or lower the veggies and beans or use different beans. It’s very versatile. I had a variety of fixings on the side to top it too-tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, avocado and chipotle sauce too.

Note: the Salsita, chipotle powder and chili powder are all to individual taste in the recipe below.

Slow Cooker Enchilada Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Salsita (chipotle hot sauce). Goya makes it. Or you can use 1 chipotle in adobo-but be careful-they’re hot. I found the Salsita gave a bit more control with the heat.
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  •  15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • shredded cheddar cheese for topping
  • fat-free sour cream for topping
  • tortilla chips for topping
  • avocado for topping

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and Salsita and bring to a boil. Add cilantro and remove from heat. Pour into crock pot.
  2. To the slow cooker add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
  3. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt,  cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder and Salsita to taste. Serve in bowls and top as desired.

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