Slow Cooker Taco Soup

 

Slow cooker or crockpot.  However you say it, this is probably my most favorite kitchen tool.  How much fun is it to throw a bunch of ingredients into a pot, put the lid on, plug it in and come home to dinner?  I was at my sister’s house last week and she had just started her new job and asked me if I would mind throwing the Taco Soup in the crockpot and making the Sweet Corn Cakes (another recipe–stay tuned).  I was delighted to help out and we had just had this recipe a couple of weeks before at her house and I was excited to have it again!  You do need to brown some ground beef and add it at the end of the cooking time, but that was no problem.  I think you will really enjoy this–I sure did!  And of course the house smelled wonderful all afternoon.

This is a great dish to have during these crazy busy days leading up to Christmas, when we are all over-extending ourselves with holiday prep.  You know I’m right.

Slow Cooker Taco Soup
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  2. 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  3. 1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  4. 1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  5. 1 (15 oz.) can sweet corn, drained (I used creamed corn undrained--because who wants to drain that?)
  6. 1 (10 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
  7. 1 (10 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
  8. half an onion, chopped
  9. 1 cup chicken broth
  10. 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  11. 1 (1 oz.) packet taco seasoning
  12. 1 T. cornstarch + 2 T. water
  13. 1 lb. ground beef
Instructions
  1. Add all beans, tomatoes, corn, onions, peppers, enchilada sauce, chicken broth and taco seasoning to a large crock pot. Stir to combine. Cover with lid and cook on low heat 3-6 hours.
  2. Mix together the cornstarch and water to create a "slurry." Add to the soup in the crock pot as a thickener.
  3. Brown and crumble the ground beef in a large skillet until thoroughly cooked. Drain off the grease and add beef to crock pot and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with shredded cheese, tortilla strips, sour cream, etc.
Adapted from Life in the Lofthouse
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Slow Cooker Roast Beef

I could not tell you how many times I have prepared a roast this way.  I learned it from a roommate in college, and have used it ever since.  Everyone loves it and I rarely fix it any other way.  So easy, so delish.  This is my favorite roast beef dish.  It’s actually cooking in my CrockPot, as we speak.

Ingredients:
3-4 lb. chuck roast (cheaper cuts are fine, because the slow cooker tenderizes everything)
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
1 10-oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup (Golden Mushroom is great, as well)

1.  Place roast in slow cooker.
2. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast.
3.  Spread condensed soup over top of roast.
4.  Cook on HIGH 4-6 hours (you can cook this on low; just make the time adjustment.  I usually only have time to cook on HIGH!)

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese

This is a multi-use dish that is tasty and easy to prepare.  You will love walking in the door after work and remembering that dinner has been cooking for you all day and the aroma is calling you in.  This dish can be used with rice, as pictured, or without.  It would also be great as a taco or burrito filling–even as a dip with tostadas!
Ingredients:
2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (do not thaw)
1 can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes
1 can sweet corn, undrained
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing mix
1 T. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1 t. onion powder
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese ( I used Neufschatel)


1.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Top with remaining ingredients, ending with the cream cheese.

2.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend the cheese.
3.  When done, shred the chicken into bite-size or larger pieces and serve over rice.  Can also be served with burritos or tacos.
NOTES:  Serves 4-6.  Also makes a great dip!
Source:  Rita’s Recipes via Pinterest.

Pulled BBQ Chicken

My neighbor told me this recipe over the phone. Super easy and satisfying.

Pulled BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot
Ingredients:
3-4 Frozen chicken breasts
1 onion
smoked paprika
garlic powder
a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce- I used Stubbs original

Directions:
Slice up the onion and place on the bottom of your crock pot. Lay the chicken breasts over the onions. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Pour some of the BBQ sauce over the top of it all. Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked through.
Shred the chicken with a fork and add more BBQ sauce as needed.

Serve on rolls with lettuce or wrapped in a tortilla with blue cheese cole slaw.

Freezer Meal: Cafe Rio Chicken

A little confession.  I know the food is good at Cafe Rio.  I ate there once or twice on a trip to southern Utah a few years back.  But I don’t go ballistic nuts over it.  Just sayin’.  Maybe because I have had so much authentic Mexican food that I never feel like I have been deprived, you know? (Not sure if this is a copycat recipe or what, but my source is noted at the end of this post). This was really tasty.  I used it in a salad, but there was plenty left over to do burritos or fajitas, tacos…OMGoodness, this would be amazing in Sopa de Pollo!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz.  zesty Italian dressing
1/2 T. minced garlic
1 packet ranch dressing mix, combined with 1/2 cup water
1/2 T. chili powder
1/2 T. ground cumin

1.  Place all ingredients in a zippered freezer bag (gallon size). Close bag and smoosh all the ingredients together.  Place bag in freezer until ready to use.
2. Take out of freezer one hour prior to prep time–this is also a slow cooker recipe–OR run room temperature water over the bag for about 30 seconds.  Then, empty ingredients into a slow cooker.
3.  Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours.  Remove from slow cooker and shred with forks.

NOTE:  Great in tacos, salads, burritos, etc.

TIPS:  You might want to put this in two quart-size bags, depending on the size of your slow cooker.  What I have found with these recipes is that however you place them in the freezer is the shape and size you are going to have of your frozen meal.  Hopefully, that fits in your cooker.  Mine barely did on this.  But I tried a different recipe the other day (yuck!!) that I laid out flat to freeze and it wouldn’t fit my smaller cooker and even with my larger oval one I had to chop away at the corners of the food to get them down in order to get the lid on securely.  Good things to know before you start.

Source:  Chef In Training.

Quick and Easy BBQ Chicken

This is the most tender, juicy chicken, and it SO EASY!
 

Ingredients:
Chicken Breasts (as many as you need to serve your family)
Pepper
BBQ Sauce (your favorite bottled sauce, or homemade)

Directions:
1. Cut up chicken breasts into 3-4 pieces each, depending on the size of the chicken breast and the size you would like each cooked piece to be. (I make sure to trim off any fat.)

2. Put them in a casserole or baking dish. Put pepper on them if desired.

3. Pour on your favorite barbecue sauce. WE LOVE the Kraft Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Barbecue Sauce. I just put on enough barbecue sauce to cover the top of the chicken. Do not add water. Cover with tin foil.

4. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done. (Check the center piece and make sure it is not pink! The chicken should be white and have clear juices.) When I am feeding a large crowd and have 2 pans full of chicken in the oven, it will take about an hour to cook through. 

Note:
This can also be done in a crock pot!

Pictures:

Cut up chicken and place in pan.
 
Pour on your favorite barbecue sauce. We really like Kraft Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Barbecue sauce. 
 
 
Spread out the sauce. 
 
 Cover with tin foil and bake until chicken is done. (About 30 minutes.) Then ENJOY! You will love how it is so tender!



Itialian Lentil Soup

This is a family favorite. Healthy and delicious. Can be made over the stove or thrown in the crockpot. I have done both ways, just depends on what’s going on. It is so easy to throw in what you have. I have used fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, frozen grape tomatoes, it is such a forgiving recipe. I have also made it with real Italian pork sausage (I don’t like it that way, too greasy), chicken sausage links that I cooked and cut up, and with ground Italian style chicken sausage (my favorite.)

Italian Lentil Soup

1 lb. package Italian style chicken sausage
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 C. chicken or vegetable stock
tomatoes (one can diced or a couple fresh diced or a bunch of grape tomatoes, whatever you have or want to use.)
1-1/2 C. Dry lentils
Italian seasonings (Basil, thyme, oregano) or and Italian seasoning blend
1 (10 oz pkg) spinach or a bunch of kale, roughly chopped
1/2 C. cream (optional)

In a large dutch oven, brown the chicken sausage over med. high heat.
Add the veggies and cook and stir for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Pour in the liquid and add the tomatoes.
Add the dry herbs. I usually just sprinkle in some basil, oregano and thyme. Add salt and pepper if needed.
Bring the soup to a low boil, add the dry lentils and turn soup down to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the lentils begin to soften (about 15-25 mins.)
Stir in the spinach or kale and the cream, if using. Cook til greens are wilted.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

*If using a crock pot, cook the chicken and then dump in all the ingredients except the spinach and cream. Cook on low for a few hours, until lentils are soft. Then stir in your greens and cream, if using. 

Hamburger Lentil Soup

    This is a dish that is hearty, inexpensive, and delicious! It is one of my hubby’s favorites. It is also a good crockpot dish. You should try it while the weather is still wintery!

Hamburger Lentil Soup                                      
1 lb. ground beef
1 46 oz. can tomato juice (or puree about 3 cups of diced tomatoes, I use one jar of home-canned)
4 c. hot water
1 1/2 cups dried lentils (rinsed and sorted)
1 c carrots, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1/2 c. onion, minced or use dried minced onion
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. minced green bell pepper (I’ve never added this)
1 tsp salt (don’t skimp, I think it needs the whole tsp)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c brown sugar

Cook hamburger until browned.  Drain fat.  Add juice and water and bring to a boil.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or cook in a Crockpot all day on low or half a day on high.  Serves  8.

Source: Julie Roberts

Sausage, Peppers, and Bean Stew



As a side note, I used cranberry beans that needed to be rotated through my food storage.  They added a pretty color and sweetness.  I also added cubed potatoes because they go so well with sausage.

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 T olive oil, plus more for browning sausage if needed
5 links hot Italian sausage
2 (15.5 oz.) cans Cannellini beans, rinsed in cold water until no more foam appears
2(14.5) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried Greek Oregano
1 tsp. ground fennel
ground pepper to taste
2-3 bay leaves
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or use 2 cans chicken broth and add a little water to make 4 cups)
freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

1.  Chop onions, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper into pieces about 1/2 inch square. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, then saute onions and peppers until they begin to soften, then add to slow cooker.

2.  Squeeze Italian sausage out of casings and add to frying pan, adding a bit more olive oil if needed. Brown sausage well, breaking apart with turner as it cooks, then add to slow cooker.

3.  Pour beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water until no more foam appears, then add to slow cooker. Add tomatoes with juice, dried basil, dried oregano, ground fennel, black pepper and bay leaves to slow cooker. Pour chicken stock over other ingredients and stir to combine.

4.  Cook on high about 4 hours or on low for all day. Serve hot, with freshly grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling on the stew.

Source:  KalynsKitchen.com.

Crock Pot Chicken

This is sooooo easy!  It always comes out moist and delicious! 

Rinse off a whole chicken (I like free range organically fed)
Put in the Crockpot (do not add any water unless the chicken is frozen then add 1 cup of water)
Season with Salt, Pepper, Sage, Parsley, and Thyme
Cook on High for 4-5 hours or Low for 6-8 Hours.
Serve with your favorite sides.

Another reason I love this is because I love bone broth!  After I have taken as much meat off the bones that I can I put the bones back in the crockpot, add 3 quarts of water, turn on low, and let cook 12 to 24 hours (you can also add onions, celery, etc.).  I then strain the bones out and refrigerate or freeze my broth for the next time I make soup.   I really believe that the bone broth has been a HUGE reason my children haven’t gotten sick this winter.  If you get a chance look up the benefits of bone broth and you will be amazed.