It’s winter’s last gasp! And I’ve got four slow-cooker recipes to help tide you over.
The slow-cooker is one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools. Just dump a bunch of food in there and push “on.” Go to bed, or to work, and when you get home/wake up, you’ve got a complete, nutritious meal waiting for you, that only dirtied one dish!
If you don’t have a slow-cooker, a) You should seriously get one – they even make single-serving models! And b) You could do all these dishes on the stovetop. They won’t take as long, but require a lot more attention. Stovetop instructions included below.
Hang in there, kids. No winter lasts forever…not even in Boston.
1. Lamb Stew
I’m Armenian (by half), and Armenians love lamb. If you don’t like it, I have two things to say:
- Substitute beef in this dish and it will still be awesome.
- Most people who “don’t like lamb” have not had properly butchered or prepared lamb. When overcooked, it gets really stringy and the gamey flavor takes over. Lamb should be served medium-rare, always. Unless you’re slow-cooking it, like in this stew. It’ll just fall apart (yum). This is an excellent “gateway to lamb” dish.
Serves 6, technically, but last time I made it my man and I polished it off in two sittings.
- 1 lb. lamb, kebab cut
- 2 T quinoa flour
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 5 turnips, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 6 C chicken stock (or 1 qt. + 2 C water)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, whole
- Handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
In the bottom of your slow cooker, toss lamb in flour until well coated.
Place all the vegetables on top of the meat. Add stock, rosemary, bay leaves, and salt.
Cook for 6-8 hours in the slow cooker. Add parsley and black pepper about 10 minutes before serving. Be sure to fish out the bay leaves and rosemary stalks.
Stovetop instructions: Proceed as above, but sear the floured lamb before adding the veggies and stock to the pot. Cook on low for two hours.
2. Overnight Oats
Problem #1: Hot breakfasts take too long to prepare on busy work mornings.
Problem #2: Cold smoothies are deeply unappealing on cold, snowy days. And granola bars, muffins, and other convenience foods are unsatisfying and unhealthy.
How ‘bout this: Wake up to a house filled with the aroma of apple cinnamon oats, and BOOM! Breakfast is ready.
Serves 4. You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to five days.
- 3/4 C steel-cut oats
- 4 C unsweetened hemp milk
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped and separated
- ¼ C walnuts, chopped
- 1 T honey (optional)
- 1 T grass-fed butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Pinch salt
- Splash of lemon juice
Set one of the chopped apples aside, spritz with lemon juice and store in the fridge.
Place everything else in slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 8 hours. Stir before serving, and add some remaining chopped apples and a few fresh chopped nuts.
Stovetop instructions: Get everything ready the night before and soak in a pot overnight. In the morning, cook on low for 30 minutes or until oats are cooked through and mixture has thickened.
3. Turkey Chili
I still like making chili on the stovetop, but when I have a busy week ahead, this recipe is a great go-to. It makes plenty of leftovers, which you can pre-portion and freeze for future busy weeks.
- 3/4 lb. ground turkey
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, cut into rounds
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 hot pepper of choice, chopped (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 5 T chili powder
- 2 T cumin
- 2 tsp chipotle powder
- Salt to taste
- Drizzle of olive oil
Brown the turkey in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut and chop all your veggies.
Place the turkey at the bottom of your slow cooker reservoir and pile all the veggies on top. Add seasonings, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil and stir to combine.
Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste before serving. (Warning: your house will smell like chili for two days.)
Admittedly, this recipe is best in the fall, with fresh, local apples. On the other hand, the best way to eat out-of-season apples grown a thousand miles away? Cook the snot out of them and purée.
Makes a half gallon of applesauce.
- About 12 apples, any variety – my favorite for this recipe are Rome apples
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp. cinnamon powder (optional)
- 1 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
Core apples and cut into chunks. Don’t bother peeling them.
Place in slow cooker with cinnamon sticks and lemon juice. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. (Enjoy the aroma!)
Fish out cinnamon sticks, and scoop apples into a blender or food processor, blending in batches until smooth. You can leave it chunky if you like, but I find the skins to be a bit troublesome that way.
Taste, and add cinnamon and ginger if you like.
Serving ideas: Mix into hot cereal. Stir in some almond butter and top with granola. Add to yogurt. Reheat for a warming dessert or breakfast.
Stovetop instructions: Same, except add a little water to the bottom of the pot. Cook low and slow for about three hours. Keep an eye on the heat for the first hour or so – you don’t want the apples to burn.