December 27th 2011

Warm winter slow cooker meals

Is your slow cooker or Crock Pot sitting in the cupboard collecting dust? At this time of year, it’s a convenient, cost-efficient kitchen appliance that it’s time you’ve become friendly with.

Slow cookers are easy to use, produce great meals, and are the epitome of comfort food.

Here are our favorite, easy slow cooker recipes, ready when you are.

Green Chili

Serve over rice, with fresh corn tortillas, or over mashed potatoes.

4 fresh tomatillos – husked, peeled, and halved
3 Anaheim chile peppers – seeded and halved
3 jalapeno peppers – seeded and halved
1 medium onion, halved
1 green bell pepper, seeded and halved lengthwise
Olive oil, as needed
Sea salt, as needed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 (12 fluid ounce) bottle lager beer
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon good quality-chili powder
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Arrange the prepared tomatillos, Anaheim chiles, jalapenos, onion, and green bell pepper on a baking sheet. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon or so of the olive oil. Toss until well coated. Sprinkle with the sea salt.

Roast until the vegetables start to show brown spots and become fragrant and slightly soft, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Use a sharp knife to chop the vegetables into bite-size pieces.

Heat about 1 additional tablespoon in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pork and fry until browned on all sides, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Scrape the pork pieces into the slow cooker, careful to get all the bits from the pan. Add the vegetables. Mix well. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bouillon cube, beer, oregano, parsley, cumin, and chili powder.

Set the slow cooker on the Low setting, cover, and cook until the pork is very tender, about 6 hours.

About 1/2 hour before serving, put the cream cheese in a bowl. Use a spoon or ladle to scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the chili. Mix it into the cream cheese until smooth and well combined. Continue to add more chili liquid until the cream cheese is very diluted. Stir the mixture back into the chili. Cook for an additional 15 minutes on high with the lid removed.

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

A one-bowl wonder, this is a meal in itself.

1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon good quality chili powder
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
7 corn tortillas
Oil
Lime juice

Put the chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic in a slow cooker. Add the water and chicken broth. Add the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn, beans, and cilantro. Cover, and cook on the Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Drizzle generously with the lime juice. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.

Basic Jambalaya

A recipe open for additions, this version is simple, flavorful, and loves to be simmered all day long. Serve with rice.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen cooked shrimp without tails

Put the chicken, sausage, tomatoes with juice, onion, green bell pepper, celery, and broth in the slow cooker. Add the oregano, parsley, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and thyme.

Cover, and cook for 7 to 8 hours on Low, or 3 to 4 hours on High. Stir in the shrimp during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

Serve with rice, if desired.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.