Category Archives: Slow Cooker

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Soup

Three posts in one week! It’s a miracle! After being away from this blog during our whirlwind spring of weddings and travel it is soooo good to be back. I hope I’m not boring you too much with the Whole 30 thing. I promise not to talk about it allllll the time. Really, I’m just making good, clean food here. You can label it whatever you want or don’t label it at all. Just make it, enjoy it, and feel good. That’s all anyone can ask for, right?

This week I had a mega hankering for my favorite slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. It was a little chillier here in Chicago (though still nice) so I knew it would be great for lunches. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint.

I updated my favorite slow cooker chicken tortilla soup recipe by ditching the beans and corn and packing in even more veggies than before. The result was stellar. It has all of the same kick and flavors as my beloved recipe with an even greater nutritional bonus. That’s what I call a win-win.

Soup’s on!

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

#Whole30 Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1.5 lbs)
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, mined
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup salsa (read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any funky ingredients like sugar)
  • 2 to 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • Juice of 1 lime

Preparation

Place the chicken breasts, tomatoes, and chicken broth in the slow cooker. In a microwave-safe glass bowl add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, garlic, olive oil, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Mix to coat everything evenly in oil and spices. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 2 more minutes. Stir. If veggies aren’t softened, microwave 1-2 more minutes. Dump the veggies into the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. When it’s done cooking, remove chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return chicken to slow cooker. Mix in salsa and spinach. Continue cooking on low for 15 to 30 minutes more. Right before serving, squeeze juice of one lime.

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Let’s be honest. If you live anywhere within the Polar Vortex it’s hibernation time. I’m pretty much in hibernation mode between now and March. At first I try to fight it–making plans and lists of fun things to do–but I’m throwing in the towel and just letting it happen this year. For me, hibernation means tons of time at home (many weekends included), fires in the fireplace, movies on TV, reading books, plenty of sleep, and a healthy dose of laziness.

It also means warm, comforting meals. That’s where the slow cooker really shines. If you ask me what’s the one must-have kitchen appliance it would, without a doubt, be a slow cooker. Seriously. If you’ve been on the fence about getting one, just do it. It’s worth every single penny and doesn’t even require that many pennies. You can score a great slow cooker on Amazon.

I adore chili and this is a super healthy version you can make that requires minimal prep time. The only thing you have to do is brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Conveniently, you can chop your veggies in the time it takes the meat to cook. Dump it all in the slow cooker and you’re good to go. I even snuck some spinach in there for an extra dose of greens in your day.

Stay warm out there!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (keep the seeds if you like it spicy, discard if you don’t)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (I used an orange & yellow)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups frozen yellow corn
  • 2-3 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Avocado for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste, cook until it starts to brown. While turkey cooks, chop your veggies. To the slow cooker add jalapeno, onion, pepper, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and red chili pepper flakes. Add turkey. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add corn and spinach. Cook on low until spinach wilts, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls and top with chunks of avocado or any other desired toppings.

*Note: I’ve made this recipe using beans and tomatoes in BPA-free packaging (boxes and glass jars). Although the measurements of those packages differ slightly, I’ve tested the recipe both ways and it works so use whatever you have available.

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod 

 

Slow Cooker Beef Chili

Slow Cooker Beef Chili ABalancedLifeCooks.comWell, here we are. The Monday after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday for those who plan on doing a little holiday shopping. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Our long weekend was everything I hoped for and more: Lots of cooking, eating, and relaxing. Our Thanksgiving for three was a total success, 12 pound bird and all. I loved cooking the whole meal and now I’m ready to host Thanksgiving for 20. Who’s coming next year?

So let’s talk chili. If you’ve had your fill of turkey for a while (I know we have) this chili offers the ideal diversion and then some. I don’t know what’s taken me so long to make beef chili in the slow cooker, but it won’t be long before I make this exact recipe again.

Even Robert, who’s the most chili obsessed person I know (one time at a diner he ordered a chili cheeseburger and a bowl of chili IN THE SUMMER) declared it top 5 meals of all time. High praise indeed. The secret ingredient, cloves, comes courtesy of the chili his mom makes, which I finally got to taste last time we were in Kansas. Just trust me on this. A mere 1/4 tsp of ground cloves makes all of the flavors pop and provides a special type of heat. Not a spicy heat, but a warming heat. I’m so thrilled to finally have a go-to beef chili recipe and I hope you love it as much as we do.

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Slow Cooker Beef Chili

Serves 6-8

Ingedients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 85%)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • Salt and pepper, if needed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

Preparation

In a skillet, heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef starts to brown. Add chili powder, cumin, and cloves. Mix until everything is coated.

To the slow cooker add browned beef mixture, kidney beans, and tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add frozen corn and cook on low for 5-10 minutes until thawed and heated through.

 

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

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Brrrrrrrr! It’s downright wintery around these parts and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Monday it SNOWED big fat fluffy flakes. I love the cold! I love the snow, skiing, sweaters, cozy blankets, comforting foods, fires, hot mugs of tea, baking cookies…I could go on. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune when this weather lingers well into March and April– sometimes even May, ugh–but for now, I’m one happy camper.

Whether you’re as psyched about the frigid temps as I am or wish you were tanning on a caribbean beach, I have a meal that will warm you right to the core: Slow cooker 11 bean soup. It’s vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. I’ve noticed there aren’t enough meatless meals around these parts. I’m going to change that for you!

I have a secret behind this meal that takes very little work: Use a dried bean soup mix. I’m sure you’ve seen them before–the packages usually contain dried beans and a spice packet. Except in the recipe below, we’ll toss all of the instructions aside and use mine instead. Deal? Deal. I used this mix by Frontier Soups that I found on our honeymoon. You can buy it online. Another good option is Hearty Eleven Bean Soup from World Market. Any kind will do (and it doesn’t need to have exactly 11 kinds of beans) as long as it already includes a spice packet. Then you just chop up some veggies, dump it all into the slow cooker, and stir in some tomatoes and spinach at the end. Wrap your chilled hands around a warm bowl of this soup, cozy up to someone you love, and I promise we’ll all make it through the winter just fine.

Slow Cooker 11 Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 package dried bean soup mix with a bouquet garni (packet) of herbs such as Frontier Soups Hearty Meals Minnesota Heartland Eleven Bean Soup 
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 (32 oz) cartons of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

In a slow cooker, add dried bean soup mix, bouquet garni of herbs, carrots, celery, onion, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add tomatoes and spinach. Cook about 10-15 minutes longer until spinach is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

I have a new BFF in the kitchen. Her name is wine. I’ve cooked with more bottles of wine in the past two months than I can possibly count. (Just see here, here, and here.) It’s simply the best flavorizer around and any time I add wine to something I’m cooking I know I’m taking it to the next level. I’ve heard it said (achem…Ina Garten…achem) you should cook with wine you’d like to drink, which I interpret as you should use good, high-quality wine and not, like, the boxed stuff.

But you know what? I happen to enjoy drinking Trader Joe’s two buck chuck thankyouverymuch, so that’s what I tend to use when I cook. I usually pick up a bottle of red (merlot) and white (chardonnay) every week when I do my shopping. Two bottles of wine for $6? (They’re actually $2.99 each). Sign me up!

Of course, the bonus of cooking with wine is it would practically be a sin not to pour yourself a glass while you cook. And when you’ve just sweat your way through an hour-long heated Yoga Sculpt class a glass of wine is pretty much all you need (after a big glass of coconut water of course!)

Oh my, I sound like a lush.

But really, when it comes to elevating the quality of a meal with wine I can’t think of a better example than this chicken stew. I’m sure we’ve all had chicken stew before and it always tastes delicious. But add some white wine after sauteeing the onions and garlic and you’ve got yourself a fancy shmancy stew that’s totally weeknight doable AND uses the slow cooker. Win! You can even think of this stew as a classier and healthier version of chicken pot pie since there’s no crust or cream. Serve it with warm cornbread muffins and it’s still every bit as crowd-pleasing and filling.

Slow cooker chicken stew via ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

olive oil

2 onions, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

12 oz red potatoes, cut into bite-sized cunks

5 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen peas

Preparation

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown chicken on both sides. Add additional oil as needed. Transfer chicken to bowl when browned.

While chicken cooks, add potatoes, carrots, and 1 Tbsp olive oil to a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on high in 2 minute intervals, stirring in between, for a total of about 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add to slow cooker.

Once all chicken is removed from pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in pan. Add onions, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme. Cook about 10-15 minutes until onions soften. Stir in flour, cook 1 minute more. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan. Whisk in 1 cup chicken broth. Transfer contents of pan to bottom of slow cooker.

Add chicken and any accumulated juices to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.

Once cooked, transfer chicken to cutting board and shred using two forks. Add chicken back into slow cooker. Add 1 cup of peas, cover until peas are heated through, about 5 minutes. When ready to serve, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

My little slow cooker has been quite busy this week–and rightly so. We’ve had some of the coldest days here in Chicago in years. Having lived in New York, Utah, Vermont, and now Chicago I like to think I’m pretty good about the cold. But the truth is all I want to do is snuggle up in about 10 blankets by the fire, drink tea, and read books all day. Since there’s life and work to keep up with, plus the fact that we don’t have a fireplace, I tried to create that same level of comfort with our meals this week. Not only does the slow cooker guarantee a warm-you-from-the-inside dinner, it makes the house smell incredible for hours, which is a kind of cozy, homey comfort for me.

Let’s talk about this chili because it turned out even better than I imagined–and I already had high hopes. There are just so many different flavors: onion, garlic, jalapenos, chiles in adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Get your spice rack ready!

If you ever thought vegetarian meals are lacking in flavor (does anyone think that?) this meal would surely prove you wrong. Although the first few steps require a little more work than the typical toss in the slow cooker approach, they are so, so worth it.

Just chop your onions, jalapenos, and garlic cloves. Sautee in some olive oil. Your home already smells amazing.

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Add your spices.  Cook about 10 more minutes.

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Add some veggie broth and scrape up brown bits (aka flavor)

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Pour everything into the slow cooker.

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Wait 7 hours…Party.

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Garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro (not pictured) and sliced avocado. Serve over brown rice or quinoa if desired.

Have a great weekend! I start Sculpt training tomorrow. Freaking. Out.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp dried oregano

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water

1 pound dried black beans, picked over and rinsed

10 oz white mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (about 2 chiles minced)

2 Tbsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle chile in adobo

2 bay leaves

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

Salt & pepper

Garnish: chopped cilantro, avocado

Preparation

1. Heat about 1 Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, jalapenos, and garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Saute until vegetables brown and soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup vegetable broth, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add to slow cooker.

2. To the slow cooker add: remaining vegetable broth, water, beans, mushrooms, minced chipotles, adobo sauce, and bay leaves. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

3. When done cooking, discard bay leaves. Transfer 1 cup of cooked beans to a bowl and mash with potato masher or back of fork until smooth. Return mashed beans to slow cooker. Add tomatoes into chili. Once heated through, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution 

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

There are some healthy foods that make me feel even healthier than others. I realize this is completely ridiculous. Like spinach? Broccoli? Eh, those are old-school healthy. Kale is better, but Swiss chard is like crazy-super healthy probably because it’s a mystery to me. I feel the same way about lentils. Once you put lentils into a meal it automatically shoots the health-factor through the roof. It’s practically impossible to make an unhealthy meal once you’ve added lentils into the mix. Only good things can happen.

Every time I cook lentils I think of Dr. Oz. I remember reading an article in Time magazine about how he cheated before undergoing a colonoscopy and ate the day before. During the test his colon was dotted with lentils, which obscured the result. I’m not sure why that stuck with me, but it’s probably because it’s just totally absurd. You blew your colonoscopy because you ate lentils? Seriously Dr. Oz? The story would’ve been way better if his colon was clogged up with a cheeseburger.

Truth be told, I have iffy feelings about veggie stews because they can end up kind of mushy (gross), but this meal fell into no such trap. The carrots, cauliflower, and lentils maintained a slight firmness to them even after hanging out in the slow cooker for 8 hours. Meanwhile, the flavors totally melded together–just as they should in a stew. It tasted earthy, a little bit spicy, and just a bit sweet. I loved, too, how every bite was packed with so many different ingredients. It’s a huge bonus, but I’ll admit the prep requires quite a bit of chopping. Problem solved: I chopped all of my veggies the night before and stored them in reusable containers in the fridge (see below). They were ready for action the next morning. 

The recipe makes a lot (you should probably be smarter than I was and freeze some), which is why I ate the stew for two dinners and three lunches last week. Let’s just say that by the end of the week I practically felt like the patron saint of health. As a result I was totally okay calling movie theater popcorn and a diet coke dinner Saturday night when we saw Skyfall (so good!) Balance : )

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

Serves: At least 6

Ingredients

1 cup chopped onion (about 2 small or 1 large onion)

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 large leek (or 2 small), white and light green parts chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like it spicier)

Salt & pepper

1 head cauliflower, chopped into tiny florets

14 oz dried green lentils, rinsed and picked through

1 (28 oz) can no salt added diced tomatoes

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

Preparation:

Combine onion through salt and pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion and carrots soften. Add to slow cooker. To the slow cooker add cauliflower, lentils, tomatoes, and broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen originally from the Weelicious cookbook

 

Tex-Mex Chicken Stew (Slow Cooker)

I always thought that if you weren’t dining out for Valentine’s Day you should cook something with meat. What better way to show your love than with a thick, juicy pan-seared ribeye or boozy beef bourguignon? But as V-Day rolled around the idea of meat became less and less appealing to me. I had just returned from a week in L.A. where many of my meals were light and summery (think: fish tacos, mussels, giant kale, veggie, and quinoa salads, and especially daily fro-yo!) and the idea of beef just seemed…heavy. Plus, I wanted to show myself a little love that day and make it to a yoga class, which meant I didn’t have all evening to cook. There’s also the fact that since Robert would likely be working until 9 or 10 pm slaying accounting dragons I’d probably be dining alone (I can’t wait that late to eat!) So as much as I wanted to whip up something spectacular, I also wanted to be practical and make a meal we’d both enjoy that wouldn’t be too heavy and would provide ample leftovers that we could continue eating throughout the week.

Two things came to mind: Make it spicy (his fave) and use the slow cooker. I browsed through my slow cooker cookbook and landed on this recipe. Done. The heroes in this dish aren’t the main ingredients (chicken, corn, and black beans), but the things you add at the end: Chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Without them you’d have a pretty great chicken stew that’s similar to a chili. However, those garnishes brighten the flavors and the chiles lend a smoky depth.

While this meal is no beef stroganoff (a serious contender when I was recipe hunting) I’m pretty sure neither of us were disappointed. And in case I had any doubt, Robert’s text the next night at 10:15 pm when he got home from work and heated up dinner (“Best. Leftovers. Ever.”) was pretty high praise from a guy who loves leftovers.


Tex-Mex Chicken Stew
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
2 onions, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
2 cups frozen corn
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
Canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (I used 2 chiles, minced) plus 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime

Preparation
Add onions, jalapenos, garlic, tomato paste, oil, and chili powder to a microwave-safe bowl (such as glass). Microwave in 1.5-minute intervals, stirring after each one, for a total of about 6 minutes, until onions are softened. Add to slow cooker.

Stir broth and tomatoes into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours until chicken is tender.

Transfer chicken to cutting board. Allow it to cool slightly and then shred using two forks. Stir corn and beans into slow cooker and cook on high for about 10 minutes. Add shredded chicken, chipotles, chipotle sauce, and allow to heat through–about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon stew into bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro and squeeze of a slice of lime.

Minestrone Soup (in the Slow Cooker!)

Will someone please put this argument to rest once and for all: Fifty percent of the people who ate this meal (me) think it’s pronounced minestrone (no eeeeeeeeee) while the other fifty percent of the people who ate this meal (achem, Robert) think it’s pronounced minestroneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Anyone? Anyone? Maybe Giada could weigh in.

No matter what you call it, I was pretty darn pleased with how this soup turned out.  I’m no stranger to minestrone soup, but this was the first time I ever made it in the slow cooker. Why that’s awesome: It allowed me to use dried beans (so much better for you than the sodium-laden kind that come in a can crawling with the endocrine-disrupting chemical BPA), but without babysitting a pot on the stove for three or more hours. Slow cooker recipes rock for that very reason–lifting the lid disrupts the cooking process (because it allows steam to escape) so it practically forces you to spend your misty Sunday doing other things for about seven hours. Some suggestions for how to pass the time: Develop an obsession with Pinterest (I think I need a Pintervention) and watch Midnight in Paris. Just in case you were wondering.

Lately, I’ve been making a big pot of soup on Sundays and eating it for lunch throughout the week–an easy and delicious way to gobble up a heap of veggies at one time. As a matter of fact, I’m going to warm up a bowl of this minestrone right now. Mmmmmm.

Minestrone Soup (in the Slow Cooker!)

Ingredients
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1  (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried cannellini beans (directions for soaking below)
3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into ribbons
1/2 cup small pasta such as mini elbows
salt and pepper

Preparation
To soak the beans: Place 1 cup of dried beans in a bowl and cover with water so water comes several inches above beans. Leave bowl, uncovered, out overnight. Drain before using.

To make the soup: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and some salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until onion is softened, about 5 to 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can place onion, garlic, oil, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and microwave, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.) Whichever method you choose, once onion has softened, transfer mixture to slow cooker.

Add broth, tomatoes, soaked and drained beans, and carrots into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 5 to 7 hours.

Stir in zucchini, chard, and pasta. Cover and cook on high until vegetables are tender and pasta is cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Slow Cooker Revolution

Chicken with Carrots & Mushrooms in a White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream Sauce

Sunday night I wanted to cook—and eat—a feast. Sure, the holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to subsist on lentils and Napa cabbage for the next 11 months. To get back to the idea behind the blog that birthed this blog, I’m all about living a balanced life. So while I may have eaten a few more cookies and drank a couple of extra glasses of wine during the holiday season than I ordinarily would, I definitely didn’t go off the deep end. I didn’t shove my head into a bag of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Chips and swear that I’d detox when I got home. And though I did a fair amount of sitting, napping, iPad surfing, and relaxing, I also went with my family and our dogs on daily 5 to 7-mile long hikes through the woods in Vermont (sadly there wasn’t enough snow to ski). Truth be told, I enjoyed every single bite and sip of those treats during the holidays, making the indulgences entirely worth it. And when I returned home to Chicago last week, I just got right back into the swing of how I normally eat—plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins—and not an ounce of guilt.

But Sunday I wanted a true Sunday night feast—one of those meals that satisfies more than just your belly. One of those meals with a couple of different components even if it means working your way through a mile-high pile of dirty dishes afterward. I wanted one of those meals that means you have to spend most of the afternoon in your tiny galley kitchen in your warm apartment with occasional breaks to snuggle beside your football-watching boyfriend and ask, “who is this Tebow guy?” and then, “would you rather roasted or mashed red potatoes?”

Since comfort and slow cooking are pretty much synonymous, I decided on a recipe from another holiday gift: Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen. Normally, slow cooker recipes involve throwing a bunch of items into the appliance, setting it on low, and leaving it alone for 8 hours. This is not one of those recipes. There’s a heck of a lot of peeling, chopping, and cooking involved before the food even goes into the slow cooker for 6 hours. For me, that made this an even more perfect Sunday night meal—it combined the pleasure of the preparation with the rich smells and tender results of slow cooking. It also features one of my most favorite sauces: White wine and cream. Yes, please! So here it is: Chicken with carrots and mushrooms in a white wine, tarragon, and cream sauce served alongside braised kale, mashed red potatoes, and homemade cloud biscuits (recipe coming in a future post). In my experience, this meal pairs very nicely with a viewing of the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

Chicken with Carrots & Mushrooms in a White Wine, Tarragon, and Cream Sauce

Ingredients:
5 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
1 ¼ pound cremini mushrooms cut into halves or quarters
2 onions, minced
½ tsp dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup flour
¾ cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 bay leaves
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup minced fresh tarragon

Preparation:
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, skin side down, and brown lightly. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 Tbsp oil and the remaining chicken. Allow the chicken to cool slightly and remove and discard the skin.

Add 2 Tbsp oil to the pan along with the mushrooms, onions, thyme, and ¼ tsp salt. Cover and cook until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer the sauce the slow cooker.

To the slow cooker, add the chicken broth, carrots, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Place the chicken into the slow cooker (it’ll be a tight fit). Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

Once it’s done cooking and the chicken is tender, remove the chicken and veggies from the slow cooker and tent with foil. Let liquid in slow cooker settle for about 5 minutes and skim fat from the surface. Discard bay leaves. Whisk in cream and tarragon and add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken breast and vegetables.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution