Monday, August 19, 2019

Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

     School is back in session, and whether or not you have children or are a teacher, you might be having to change you schedule. Those schedule changes can be tough at times, leaving you tired and sometimes scrambling for easy food ideas. So I figured that I'd share with you some of my favorite, prepare-ahead crock pot recipes. As always, these are vegetarian/vegan friendly and all gluten free. Feel free to throw in some chicken, beef, or pork though if you would like.

1. Lasagna is always a hit in any household. This one is especially awesome because it uses zucchini and eggplant in place of noodles, so you can prepare it the night before and put it on high as soon as you come home, you'll have a healthy, home cooked meal in just a few hours. Using the veggies means that the noodles won't be overcooked and mushy, no matter how long they soak before being cooked. Bonus, the veggies add a bit more nutrition for those picky eaters that don't like to eat their veggies. There is a bit of an issue with the veggies making this lasagna a bit soggy if you don't bake or grill them before hand, however the lasagna is still tasty if you just discard the excess liquid before eating.

Veggie Lasagna

2 medium Zucchini
1 medium Eggplant
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 medium Green Bell Pepper, diced
16 oz Ricotta Cheese or Silken Tofu
`2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese or Substitute (my favorite is Rice cheese)
For the sauce:
¼ medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into chunks
½ stalk of celery, cut into large chunks
½ medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 16 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
3 tbsp fresh Parsley leaves, chopped
3 tbsp fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

     For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency, you should have it a bit thick because it'll thin out a little in the cooking process.
     Slice the zucchini and eggplant lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick or thinner, to resemble lasagna noodles. *optional Grill or Bake these veggies to reduce the liquid. Grill- preheat a grill or grill pan and grill the “noodles” for about 2-3 minutes, flip and repeat. Bake- preheat your oven to 500 degrees and place the “noodles” on a cookie sheet (don't use wax or parchment paper as it will burn) and bake for about 5-8 minutes. Work in small batches, do not stack your “noodles.”
     If you are using the tofu option, make sure you drain the tofu well and mix it up before you start layering.
     Start with a spoonful of sauce, or a few, to just cover the bottom of your crock pot. The lay out the first layer of zucchini, covering as much of the bottom as possible. Spoon out some ricotta/tofu and sprinkle your onions and bell peppers over it. Next layer the eggplant over that. Spoon out some ricotta/tofu over that. Sprinkle on your onions and bell peppers, then spoon a little more sauce and sprinkle some mozzarella. Then do a layer of zucchini, and repeat alternating zucchini and eggplant until you reach the last layer. For this, simply spoon out more sauce and use the remaining bit of mozzarella.
     Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Uncover and reduce to “keep warm” (or your lowest setting) for 30 minutes to 1 hour to help reduce the liquid left in the bottom of the pot. Serve hot and enjoy!

2. Who doesn't love tacos? This recipe is a great one to stick in the crock pot for a few hours and forget about it. It does have a lot of prep involved, cutting up veggies and whatnot. Just get everything ready the night before and you're good to go!

Quinoa and Cauliflower Tacos

1 cup Quinoa, uncooked and rinsed very well and drained
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1 15oz can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Chunky Salsa
1 lb Cauliflower, riced
1 medium Red Onion, diced
¼ cup fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1-3 teaspoons Cayenne or Chipotle Seasoning (put as much as you'd like, it can get spicy)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Your Choice of Toppings
my family likes Green Onion, Tomatoes, Avocado, Lettuce, Shredded Cheese, and Sour Cream

     Rinse your quinoa very well. You can also toast it to enhance the flavor, but this step is optional.
     In a crock pot, combine all ingredients, stir them up well, cover and cook on high 2 ½-3 hours.      Quinoa tends to get mushy when cooked for long periods of time, so I don't recommend cooking on low with this recipe. If you crock pot runs low, you can cook it for an additional hour without the quinoa being too mushy, but keep an eye on it.
     When the quinoa is cooked through, it's time to pile on your toppings and enjoy!

3. This next recipe is one that I grew up eating and is always a hit. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals, and they're pretty darn easy to throw into a crock pot and forget for a few hours.

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

6 medium Bell Peppers (green is standard, but this recipe works just as well with yellow or red)
1 ½ cups Rice, cooked ahead (works best if cooked the day before, or longer)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
½ cup Mushrooms, diced
1 Celery Stalk, diced
¼ cup shredded Carrots
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 can (14oz-16oz) Diced Tomatoes, with the liquid
2 cups cooked Lentils
3 teaspoons Parsley
1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Cheese or Substitute of your choice (I like Colby Jack for this)

     Cut off the tops of the peppers, clean them out and place them in the crock pot.
     In a bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (minus the cheese) and stuff each pepper with about 1 cup of the mixture. Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or on high for about 3-4 hours.
     Remove lid and sprinkle on the cheese. Cover and cook for an additional 15 min, or until the cheese melts. Serve hot and enjoy!

4. Jambalaya and Gumbo are some of my favorite foods. So of course, I have a version that uses my crock pot! This one is a great one to cook on the cooler days of the year, though it's great year round I tend to crave it in the Fall. The other great thing about Jambalaya is that there are barely any rules. Some people say that it's not Jambalaya without sausage and/or shrimp, but you can make it with anything you want. As long as there's rice, Cajun seasonings, and the “Holy Trinity” (onion, celery, and bell pepper) you can really change it up in endless ways.If you'd rather make Gumbo, simply add a cup of sliced Okra and serve the cooked rice separately.

Vegan Jambalaya

2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
3 Bell Peppers, diced (green is standard, but red and yellow work well, or try 1 of each)
1 Jalapeno, diced (if you like extra heat, leave the seeds in, if not seed that pepper)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb Vegan Gluten Free Sausage, sliced
1 can White Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14oz-16oz) Diced Tomatoes, and the liquid
4 cups Veggie Broth
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
½ cup fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Thyme
½-1 teaspoon Cayenne (or more if you like it super spicy)
1-2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups uncooked Rice

     Combine all ingredients, except the rice, in your crock pot. Stir well and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
     Remove lid, add rice, give it another good stir. Replace the lid and cook on high for an additional 20 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice. Continue to cook another 5 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Enjoy!

5. Stroganoff was a staple in my house when I was growing up. I still love it, even now, and it's a great dish to cook in the crock pot.

Mushroom Stroganoff

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 lbs Mushrooms of your choice (I usually use a blend of portobellos and white buttons), leave any very small ones whole, and half or quartered larger ones 
1 medium Onion(yellow or white), roughly chopped
3-4 cloves Garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Paprika
3-4 teaspoons Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup Sour Cream or Vegan Sour Cream
Cooked Gluten Free Noodles

     Combine all ingredients, except the sour cream and noodles, in your crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. 
     After 4 hours, stir in remaining ingredients and serve. Enjoy!

     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

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