The dark days of a Northwest winter can make it a challenge to put together a home-cooked meal at the end of the day. But with a little advance planning, you can have a hearty, healthy dinner ready and waiting when you walk in the door. It’s as simple as dusting off the crock pot. Here are three wholesome and easy crock pot recipes that will help keep your belly warm all winter long.
Chili – Always a favorite one-pot meal, chili tastes even better when the temperatures drop. Luckily, it does well in the slow cooker. For the Love of Cooking, one of our favorite Portland food blogs, has a classic chili recipe you can use as a starting point. There’s also a vegetarian version, if you prefer. For the best flavor, try soaking dried beans overnight instead of using canned beans. If you’re a carnivore, be sure to sear your meat on the stovetop before adding to the crock pot.
Chicken & Quinoa Stew – Another Portland-based blog, The Nourishing Gourmet, replaces rice or noodles with quinoa in a hearty twist on chicken soup. The quinoa soaks up much of the liquid, so if you like more broth in your soup, you’ll want to add more to the recipe. It’s also easy to adapt the recipe with seasonal produce like mushrooms, squash or root vegetables.
Jamaican Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk – For those with slightly more adventurous tastes, try this Gluten Free Girl adaptation of pumpkin soup with warm Jamaican spices and coconut milk. The recipe follows a longer post by this Seattle food blog favorite that covers her experiences with slow cookers and recipes from her book, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow.
Despite what you may have heard, no matter how solid the recipe you follow, it is possible to mess up a good meal with a crock pot. You can avoid some common mistakes with these tips from Bon Appetit, including:
- Choose a dish that can hold its shape during the cooking process
- Use enough liquid to keep ingredients from drying out or burning during the cooking process
- Add herbs or delicate veggies to the crock pot shortly before serving
Have a favorite crock pot recipe of your own? Share it with us in the comments below.