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Top 10 Slow-Cooked Dishes You Can Make At Home

Top 10 Slow-Cooked Dishes You Can Make At Home

If you love cooking, there’s nothing better than being in your kitchen and preparing a beautiful, elaborate meal. After a long day at work, cooking can be a wonderful way to slow down and refresh your mind and body. Sometimes, though, we just don’t have time to juilenne the veggies, braise the meat, caramelize the onions, or reduce the wine sauce. On busy days like these, the slow cooker is your best friend in the kitchen. And don’t worry; the days of prepackaged crockpot casseroles are long over. With these 10 amazing slow-cooked dishes, you can enjoy the same gourmet taste without the effort.

1. Meatball Sliders

Top 10 Slow-Cooked Dishes

    Required ingredients: red onion, frozen cooked Italian meatballs, jar of marinara sauce, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper, cheese, Roma tomatoes, slider buns

    Combine the chopped red onions, meatballs, pasta sauce, vinegar and red pepper in a slow cooker. Cook covered on low for about five hours or on high for about two hours. Once cooked, stir the mixture evenly, and serve on a bun with cheese and tomato. For a zestier taste, top the meatball with fresh Italian spices like oregano, thyme, or basil.

    This dish is perfect as an appetizer for a party or a small dish for a potluck. The slow-cooked meat is tender and juicy, and it pairs perfectly with a lightly toasted slider bun. Try using Hawaiian rolls as the bun for a sweet and savory taste.

    2. Moist and Tender Turkey Breast

    Slow-cooked turkey

      Required ingredients: bone-in turkey breast, fresh rosemary, garlic cloves, water, brown sugar, black pepper, salt

      Place the turkey, garlic, and rosemary in the slow cooker, and cover with water. Sprinkle the sugar, salt, and pepper on top. Cook covered on low for four to six hours. Use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey has been safely cooked, reaching at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

      The best part about this recipe is that it yields enough juicy, slow-cooked turkey to feed the whole family, with leftovers to spare. Serve with blanched green beans and cornbread for a southern-style Thanksgiving feel, or make a sandwich with ciabatta and whole dijon mustard for a gourmet deli dish.

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      3. Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

      Creamy Soup

        Required ingredients: uncooked wild rice, skinless chicken breast, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, chicken broth, seasoning blend, butter, all-purpose flour, milk

        Add the rice, chicken, chicken broth and water to the slow cooker, along with minced garlic, bay leaves, and chopped onions, celery, and carrots. Cook on high for about two hours or low for about six hours. Remove the chicken, shred it, and allow the rest of the soup to cook for another two hours. Right before serving, melt butter and flour together, and mix in the slow cooker to thicken the soup. Throw in the shredded chicken and add salt and pepper.

        This recipe is unbelievably smooth and creamy, making it perfect for a cold or rainy day. This soup packs a nutritional punch, too; the veggies add a nutrient-rich boost to the heathy fiber of the wild rice and the protein of the chicken.

        4. Paula Deen Crockpot Mac and Cheese

        Mac and cheese

          Required Ingredients: uncooked macaroni, butter, cheddar cheese, eggs, sour cream, condensed cheddar cheese soup, whole milk, dry mustard, salt and pepper

          To prepare, boil the macaroni according to the package instructions, and stir together the butter and cheese in a saucepan. Combine all these ingredients into the slow cooker, stirring to mix well. Cook on low for about two and half hours.

          This recipe requires a little preparation before throwing everything into the slow cooker, but the extra step is worth it. The macaroni and cheese is rich and creamy, with a sharp bite from the cheddar cheese. If you don’t like cheddar, substitute for a milder cheese. To make the dish healthier, add some broccoli, spinach, or kale to the slow cooker for some greens.

          5. Slow-Cooked Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes

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          Chili

            Required Ingredients: red onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper, can of tomatoes, can of black beans, can of kidney beans, sweet potato, sour cream

            Add all ingredients to the slow cooker, including the liquid from the canned tomatoes and beans. Cook for about eight hours on low or five on high. Serve with sour cream and any garnishes you like.

            Chili is one dish that is made to be slow-cooked, allowing the spices to blend together. Requiring no preparation at all, this recipe yields a thick, mildly spicy vegetarian chili. The secret ingredient? Cocoa powder! The cocoa powder adds a subtle, complex flavor that balances the spices well. Serve with cheese or fresh green onions for extra flavor.

            6. Maple Bourbon Baked Beans

            Baked beans

              Required Ingredients: dry navy beans, bourbon, maple syrup, barbeque sauce, brown sugar, water, ketchup, mustard, molasses, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce

              Soak the beans overnight before cooking, rinse them well, and cook them for about 45 minutes on low in the slow cooker. Then add all of the ingredients to the beans, cover, and cook on low heat for around 12 hours. Depending on how thick you like the sauce, change the heat to the high setting or cook for a few more hours.

              This recipe will work for any diet in your family—it’s vegan, low sodium, and gluten free! Be sure to substitute the Worcestershire sauce for soy sauce if you want it to be vegan. Because you can change the cooking time and setting, the beans are sure to be the perfect texture for your taste. The sweet and tangy sauce plays on traditional Southern barbeque ingredients for a uniquely zesty flavor.

              7. Slow-Cooker Lasagna

              Lasagna

                Required Ingredients: Italian sausage, onion, tomato sauce, dried basil, salt, mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, uncooked lasagna noodles

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                Lightly cook the sausage, onion, tomato sauce, basil, and salt in a saucepan. In the slow cooker, layer the sausage mixture with the lasagna noodles and a mixture of the three cheeses. Cook cover on low for about six hours. Sprinkle extra mozzarella cheese on top right before serving.

                Lasagna is another traditional dish that’s easy in a slow cooker. Substitute the Italian sausage with chicken or turkey for a lighter meal, and add carrots, zucchini, or squash for extra nutrients.

                8. Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos

                Burrito

                  Required Ingredients: For filling: uncooked barley, frozen corn, can of black beans, can of tomatoes, green onions, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, red pepper; For burrito and garnish: fresh cilantro, cheese, lettuce, tortillas, sour cream, salsa

                  Add all of the ingredients required for the filling to the slow cooker, and cook on low for about four hours. Fill tortillas with the cooked filling, and top with garnishes like cilantro, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Serve with a side of salsa.

                  These vegetarian burritos are full of healthy ingredients. Lightly toasted tortillas and leaf lettuce provide a great crunch to the cheesy and flavorful filling. Drizzle the filling with fresh lime juice for a bite, or serve with guacamole for extra creaminess. Serve the filling cold with tortilla chips for a fun dip.

                  9. Easy Homemade Greek Yogurt

                  Greek Yogurt

                    Required Ingredients: whole milk, plain yogurt that contains live cultures

                    Cook the milk in a slow cooker on high until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the slow cooker off, let the milk cool for a couple of hours, and stir in the yogurt. Wrap the slow cooker in a towel, and let it sit overnight at room temperature. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth until it reaches the consistency you like.

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                    Who knew you can make your own Greek yogurt in a slow cooker? This surprising recipe is easy to make and cheaper than buying yogurt from the store. For safety, be sure to use a food thermometer to ensure that your yogurt reaches the correct temperature. The yogurt will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Serve this creamy yogurt with granola, fruit, or spices for a great breakfast or snack.

                    10. Slow Cooker Chocolate Candy

                    Chocolate candy

                      Required Ingredients: roasted peanuts, sweet chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, almond bark

                      Layer the ingredients in a slow cooker without stirring, and cook on low for about three hours. After cooking, stir the mixture, and drop into cupcake pan liners. Let the candies cool in the fridge, and remove them from the liners before serving.

                      These bite-sized chocolate candies are excellent as party favors or arranged on a small dessert plate. The rich chocolate and crunchy peanuts combine well, and you can add nearly any ingredient for a customized gourmet dish.

                      If you’re in a hurry but don’t want to pull out the slow cooker, try these simple and delicious veggie-packed pasta recipes!

                      Featured photo credit: Luca Nebuloni via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                      Boundaries are limits

                      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                      • When do you feel disrespected?
                      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                      • When do you want to be alone?
                      • How much space do you need?

                      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                      Sample language:

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                      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                      Final Thoughts

                      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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