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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 September 28, 2020

                      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                      The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

                      At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

                      Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

                      One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

                      When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

                      So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

                      Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

                      This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

                      Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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                      When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

                      Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

                      One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

                      Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

                      An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

                      When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

                      Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

                      Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

                      We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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                      By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

                      Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

                      While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

                      I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

                      You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

                      Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

                      When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

                      Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

                      Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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                      Con #2: Less Human Interaction

                      One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

                      Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

                      Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

                      This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

                      While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

                      Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

                      Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

                      This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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                      For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

                      Con #4: Unique Distractions

                      Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

                      For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

                      To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

                      Final Thoughts

                      Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

                      We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

                      More About Working From Home

                      Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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