The days are getting shorter as we enjoy all our fall activities. At the end of the month we celebrate Halloween, and then we shift gears for November. Today let’s think of all the warm and cozy food we enjoy as the weather is colder and darkness lengthens. There’s something so comforting about a hearty, warm meal when you get home. Nothing makes a meal easier than a slow cooker or crock pot. I want to share some of my favorite crock pot comfort food ideas that will fill your home with delicious aromas and warm your heart.
This one pot meal is hearty and inexpensive. Cheaper cuts of beef are usually used and root vegetables are inexpensive and plentiful. The most popular cut of meat used for stew is chuck. You may also use a variety of roasts like bottom round, round tip, top round, and pot roast. Remove excess fat and cut into chunks. Don’t try to cook stew in a hurry as the meat will be tough. Slow cooking is what makes the meat tender and melt-in-your mouth beef.
Slow cooker pork & sauerkraut is the ultimate hearty meal for a cold evening. The pork is perfectly juicy and tender after simmering with sauerkraut and apples. You can use pork loin (not tenderloin) or shoulder roast. I’ve even made it with lean pork chops.
Stuffed cabbage is an old-fashioned family favorite. It’s a hearty meal that’s easy to make. Using a slow cooker makes this dish even easier to prepare on a busy day. Make a flavorful combination of ground beef, pork, and brown rice stuffed into pre-boiled cabbage leaves.
Chicken Cacciatore is an easy dish that brings lots of warmth, flavor, and comfort but with only 15 minutes prep. Italian chicken cacciatore usually uses a mix of chicken parts and is slowly simmered on the stove. I like a healthy chicken cacciatore slow cooker approach. Making chicken cacciatore in the crock pot achieves the same tenderness and depth of flavor as the slow-simmer method, with less hassle.
Autumn is pumpkin time in every sense of the word. Because it is crammed full of antioxidants, many of us believe that pumpkin can help to corral free radicals. To explain, free radicals allow certain kinds of cancer to quickly multiply and spread. Tests revealed that those who regularly consume foods containing alpha and beta carotene had a lower risk of contracting throat, pancreas, stomach and breast cancer. It makes sense to try adding pumpkin to other foods to increase their nutritional value. Of course, they also make everything taste good.
My slow cooker chicken Stroganoff is a a leaner Stroganoff. I used boneless, skinless chicken, low salt chicken broth, low fat Greek yogurt or low fat sour cream for the classic flavor with fresh mushrooms and onion. This great weeknight meal takes less than 15 minutes to prep, then the slow cooker does the rest.
This pantry recipe requires ground meat, herbs, crushed tomatoes, and milk to make a go-to-sauce for pasta, stuffed peppers, and even lasagna. Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce with tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Most of us aren’t used to adding dairy to tomatoey, meaty sauces, but adding milk to your bolognese adds such a richer depth of flavor, and results in much more tender meat. Add a little wine to the simmering meat; the alcohol will burn off but the wine adds another note of flavor.
It’s time for some serious comfort food, and my first thought is soups and stews. One of the easiest and heartiest meals, Beef Barley Soup with vegetables is even better when made in a crock pot. It’s filled with tender beef, hearty vegetables, and plump barley. You spend so little time for such a wonderful filling meal. Put it on and leave it alone while you do something else. Add crusty bread or rolls and dinner is served.
I hope you’ve found at least one of these recipes to sample. Happy Fall and Happy Eating!
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