1-best-winter-crockpot-recipesWINTER IS COMING. Has it arrived in your city? I live in Toronto and it’s pretty warm for November, so I’m not complaining. Though, the time for parkas, scarfs and toques will arrive. When that season arrives, I’ll be hibernating while catching up with all the shows that are on my list (goodness, there is so many great TV series). In addition, I’ll likely want to limit the number of times I head to the grocery store per week. Therefore, it’s time to get out the crockpot or slow cooker and prepare cozy meals to protect me from the chills. Here are top slow cooker recipes to warm up the body and soul, as the weather gets colder.

SLOW COOKER SOUP RECIPES:

First of all, we’ll start with a few soup options. Soups are cozy, comforting, and something I thoroughly enjoy when the weather is cold. Don’t you? So let me provide you with multiple options ranging from something healthy, hearty, creamy, and boozy (oh my).

Healthy

skinny-enchilada-soupThe thing about soups is that the calories can add up because it’s hard to keep it to one serving, non? But a balance of healthy soups with the heavier one won’t be too bad. Before you think I’m going to share a bland vegetables soup recipe, check out this Skinny Cheesy Enchilada Soup recipe by Domestic Super Hero. Sounds flavorful, eh? Please note that this recipe doesn’t include meat. Perfect for any vegetarian. But if you crave some ground meat, you can definitely add it in. You can include this for Taco Tuesdays at your household.

Ingredients
Olive oil cooking spray
Salt and ground black pepper

1 medium onion, diced
4 8-oz cans no salt added tomato sauce (or 32oz of your own sauce)
1 10-oz can red enchilada sauce
1 14.5-oz can great Northern beans, rinse
1 14.5-oz can black beans (this I added in place of the meat)
1 14.5-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup water
6-oz frozen corn
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
Fat free greek yogurt or fat free sour cream, for garnish
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend or fat free cheddar cheese
Instructions
For stove top

Spray a large stock pot with cooking spray and set over medium high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to become translucent. **(Add beef, season with salt and pepper again, and cooked until just browned. Do not overcook the beef. It will continue to cook as you finish the soup)

Add tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, beans, tomatoes, water cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Add salt if needed. Add corn, cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup fat free cheese and stir until melted.

Garnish with Greek yogurt or sour cream and your choice of cheese, if desired.

**If using beef, use 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef (95% lean). See Directions (**) for when to add meat. Also, I added the black beans as a meat replacement, so you can either omit those or leave them, shouldn’t matter.

Mexican Chicken Stew

slow-cooker-mexican-chicken-stew-6If you aren’t into ground beef and prefer something with chicken. I love this Mexican Chicken Stew recipe. Clearly, I’m on a Mexican cuisine kick! I like this recipe because I’m a fan of protein. I can’t survive on just carbs and veggies; I’ll be hungry within the next 10 minutes. This recipe is pretty hearty with chicken, beans, corn and vegetables, as well as being healthy. #Winning

Ingredients
8 chicken thighs (I recommend boneless & skinless)
¾ cup salsa
1½ cups chicken stock {plus more as needed}
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 can corn {340mL}
1 can black beans {19 oz, 540mL}
1 green pepper, diced
1 can green chilies
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
toppings
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado, cubed
½ cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
tortilla chips

Instructions
Combine all stew ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Stir in the lime juice and salt. Serve with cheese, avocado, Greek yogurt and tortilla chips.

Vegetable Soup

weight-loss-vegetable-soup-recipe-23Ok, it’s time to share with you the healthy vegetable soup. This one is called the Weight Loss Vegetable Soup by Spend with Pennies. I’m not a doctor so I can’t tell you that it’ll happen. But it’s a way to flush out all the booze you’ll be drink when holiday parties start to happen, non? The key to good, clean soup is to add flavors and herbs. So you’ll enjoy this one.

Ingredients
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced1 cup diced carrots
4 cups chopped cabbage (approx. ¼ head of cabbage)
1 cup green beans (1″ pieces)
2 whole bell peppers, chopped
1 can (28 oz) low sodium diced tomatoes
6 cups low sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon each thyme & basil
pepper to taste
2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups sliced zucchini

Direction
In a large pot cook onion & garlic over medium heat until slightly softened.
Add carrots, cabbage & green beans and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Stir in bell peppers, undrained tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, bay leaves and seasonings. Simmer 6-7 minutes.
Add in zucchini & broccoli. Simmer an additional 5 minutes or until softened.
Remove bay leaves before serving.

Hearty Chili

healthy-slow-cooker-chili-recipe-football-tailgate-2I love a good chili. One serving for lunch can fill you up until dinner. Since I’m on a healthy kick with the above recipes, let’s start with Healthy Slow Cooker Chili by Savory Nothings.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 pound lean beef cubed
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 cup onions chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 red bell pepperchopped
1 green bell pepperchopped
1 can 14.5 oz chili beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 can 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 can 14.5 oz kidney beans pureed
1/2 cup corn kernels
All your
favorite chili toppings

Directions
Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the oil and brown both meats. Add the onions and garlic and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.

Transfer to a 3.5 quart slow cooker and add all the other ingredients except for the puréed beans and corn kernels. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Minutes before the cooking time is over, add the puréed beans and the corn kernels. Stir well, taste for additional seasoning and finish cooking.

Turkey Quinoa Chili

Next up, this ain’t your regular chili recipe. I’m swooning over this Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili recipe by Well Plated. I love the added ingredients such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, and warm spices like chipotle chili pepper. Like I said, this ain’t a regular recipe.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
3 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1, 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1, 12-ounce beer (I used an IPA; any dark or amber beer would be great too!) or substitute additional low-sodium chicken stock
2 – 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
For serving: cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the turkey, onion, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Cook and stir, breaking up the turkey as you go, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and cumin, then transfer to the bottom a large slow cooker.

To the slow cooker, add the chopped sweet potatoes, quinoa, beer, 2 cups chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, and black beans. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in additional chicken stock if the chili is thicker than you would like (I added about 1/2 cup extra). Serve warm with desired toppings.

Boozy Soup

Who doesn’t love beer and cheese together? That’s why you’ll love this Crockpot Beer and Cheese soup recipe by Family Fresh Meals. They also recommend getting a pretzel bun to dunk in this soup. Oh, the gluttony!

Ingredients:
32 oz chicken broth ( or veggie broth to make vegetarian friendly)
12 oz beer
1 cup of carrots, finely diced or shredded
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup onion finely diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch

Directions:
Place all chicken broth, beer, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper into your crockpot. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.

Once time is up, remove lid and stir in shredded cheese, and heavy cream. Stir until cheese is melted. Next whisk in cornstarch. Recover and cook for 10-15 minutes longer.

For a smooth soup (which we prefer for this soup), use an blend soup in batches, or use an immersion blender before serving.

SLOW COOKER DINNER RECIPES

Enough about soups, let’s get to the main dish. The power of the slow cooker/ crockpot is that it makes it super easy to create beautiful meals for yourself and family. All you need to do is prepare before you go to work, so that it’s ready when you get back home. That’s pure luxury. It’s almost like having your own personal chef. I’m sure we all get exhausted after work that the last thing you want to do is cook. It’s so tempting to order in but it feels so good when you prepare your own meal.

crockpot-best-buyI like this Smart-Pot Digital Slow Cooker by Crock-Pot. It’s affordable but has four cooking settings such as two high-temperature (4 or 6 hours) and two low-temperature (8 or 10 hours). It has a capacity of 3.8L and can feed 4-5 people. Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe (I mention this because I’m lazy and love my dishwasher).

Chicken and Potatoes

slowcookergarlicparmesanchickenandpotatoesimg_8346editA perfect recipe to fit this slow cooker is by Damn Delicious, Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes. You’ll have to skillet your chicken for about 4-6 minutes before placing it in the slow cooker. Overall, the preparation is about 10 minutes while the slow cooker does the rest.

Ingredients:
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds baby red potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions
Season chicken with basil, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; drain excess fat and set chicken aside.

Place potatoes into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in olive oil, garlic and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the slow cooker in an even  layer.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and garnished with parsley, if desired.

Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

carolina-style-slow-cooker-pulled-pork-4Nothing beats a good pulled pork sandwich. But seems complicated to make, non? Not if you use this Easy Carolina Style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe by Plating Pixels.

Ingredients
2–3 pounds pork shoulder butt roast
3 tablespoons brown sugar, separated
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Instructions

If pork roast is frozen, defrost in fridge. Trim off any large sections of fat.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and smoked paprika, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Rub spice mixture all over the roast until it’s soaked in. Place onions in a layer on the bottom of slow cooker, place roast on top.

In small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients from apple cider vinegar to ground mustard, plus leftover tablespoon of brown sugar. Gently pour liquid over roast. You should have about 2 inches of liquid on bottom; if not add a bit of water.

Cook covered on low for 7–8 hours, until pulled pork is tender. Shred pork in slow cooker with a fork until flaked. Stir into liquid to incorporate flavor. Let sit for about 30 minutes, drain liquid and serve.

 

What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes you like to make? Please share in the comments below.