Slow Cooker

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Recipe Swap: Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Published May 24, 2013 by jenmatteson

I got pretty busy over the weekend and didn’t get around to Meatless Monday, but hopefully next week I’ll get there!  We had a lovely weekend of family, friends, and even a little gardening.  Last summer, we put a vegetable garden in the back, which I absolutely love!  We also put in the foundation for a front garden, but didn’t actually get to putting plants in it.  My parents have a gorgeous garden, several actually in their gigantic yard, and were kind enough to split almost anything they could and send it home with Nate and me.  We ended up staying all night, sitting by the fire, playing some cards when it decided to downpour for a short time and enjoying some cocktails, so we didn’t get to planting them that day, but we got everything in the next.  We are both so excited!

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

We’ve just been so busy with work, softball, gardening/yard work and other activities, that I had really let this recipe swap slip away from me.  This week’s swap is Blogger Choice, hosted by Sarah at Taste of Home Cooking.  I got another blog that I hadn’t WC-Recipe-Swap-badge-1visited in the past.  I love when that happens!  I was assigned Ashley’s blog, Cheese Curd in Paradise.  Thankfully, it’s not a blog all about cheese curds or I would have been in trouble ;P  When we do bloggers choice, I try not to go directly to the chicken category and sift through the other categories that interest me, but nothing really grabbed me, so I visited my old standby, chicken.  As soon as I saw the beergarita tacos, I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  It’s made in the slow cooker, perfect for our suddenly overwhelmingly busy schedules, we love chicken tacos, beer, and margaritas.  I make a margarita chicken (have yet to blog it) on the grill that is so flavorful and juicy, I figured this would be somewhat similar, and probably just as delicious.  Even better, there is basically two steps.  Dump ingredients in the slow cooker.  Shred.  Done and done.

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

The chicken turned out really flavorful.  I combined the ingredients, minus the chicken the night previous, so all I had to do was put the chicken in the slow cooker, pour the mixture over it in the morning and turn it on.  Bam!  But, the mixture didn’t smell so good in the morning, so I was slightly concerned.  However, they did turn out really juicy and lovely.  Nate and I both had two, and we made a salad from the leftovers for lunch today.

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Beergarita Chicken Tacos

Source: Cheese Curd in Paradise
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup margarita mix
6 oz lager beer
1/2 tsp lime zest
3 jalapeno peppers, diced (seeded for less heat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 /2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
tortillas
cilantro, shredded cheese, non-fat plain Greek yogurt (all optional for garnish)

Directions:

1. Place chicken into slow cooker (using frozen breasts is fine, and actually recommended for long cooking times).  Mix all remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over chicken.  Cook on low for approximately 8 hours, or until chicken is easily shredded with a fork.  Shred chicken breasts between two forks (I just leave it in the slow cooker and do this, but if it’s easier or you’d rather, go ahead and remove the chicken, shred it, and return to slow cooker).  Continue to cook until heated through.  Serve on tortillas and garnish as desired.

See what the others ladies cooked up for the Bloggers Choice Swap!

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Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Sandwiches

Published May 15, 2013 by jenmatteson

I absolutely love the slow cooker, and it is so underused in my kitchen.  Especially in the warmer months.  We tend to do a whole lot more grilling; who doesn’t?  But, the slow cooker is good in the summer too because it doesn’t heat up your kitchen, and you can enjoy the wonderful weather in the evening instead of trying to get dinner on the table at a reasonable time.  We’ve all been there.

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Sandwiches

I saved this recipe about a month ago for several reasons.  1) As mentioned above, I need to use my slow cooker way more.  2) I like the sound of all the ingredients in this recipe. 3) I’m a sucker for any type of pulled pork sandwich. 4) I had a pork shoulder in my freezer that I had purchased on sale a few weeks back calling my name (and this recipe’s name).  Normally, I probably would have just made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with the pork shoulder, but we’re adventurous and wanted to try something a little different.  This was perfect.

Everything came together super quickly, and I had everything on hand already – with the exception of a lime.  I pretty much always have lemons and limes on hand, but just happened to be out when I was pulling this together. Seeing as though I was doing it before work, I really didn’t have time to run to the store, so I forged ahead without the lime juice.  I feel like that was a mistake.  The pork was still really tender, moist and delicious, but it seemed like it was lacking a bit of freshness, which I’m sure the lime would have contributed.  The cilantro mayonnaise was great!  Nate said he didn’t think it added much to the sandwich, but I liked it and it was a change from my usual BBQ and/or hot sauce.  When we had leftovers, we added a little mango Habanero hot sauce to our sandwiches and they were awesome!  This would be an excellent meal for company on a Friday night so everything is ready to go when you get home from work and you have little prep.  You can focus on cleaning those last little places and getting cocktails and appetizers out instead of worrying about the main event!

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Sandwiches

Source: Adapted from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

For the pork:
1 onion, halved and sliced
3 lb boneless pork shoulder (butt would work, too)
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp dry minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
juice of one lime
1/4 water
hamburger buns. toasted (toasting is optional, but it keeps the bun from getting overly soggy)

For the cilantro mayonnaise:
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

1. Arrange onions on bottom of slow cooker.  Place pork shoulder on top.

2. In a small bowl. combine brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle over pork.  Pour lime juice and water around pork.

3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, until pork very tender.  Meanwhile, combine ingredients for cilantro mayonnaise and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Remove roast from slow cooker and pour liquid into bowl.  Return roast to slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Skim fat from reserved liquid and pour about 1 cup skimmed liquid over pork.

5. To serve, spread cilantro mayonnaise on one side of the bun and top with pork.

Four Bean Turkey Chili

Published October 14, 2012 by jenmatteson

It is the perfect time of year for chili, and I had the perfect opportunity to make it this past weekend.  We had just gotten back from visiting my best friend in Duluth, and our neighbors were coming over to watch the Vikings game (the 3-1 Vikings at the time!).  Everyone has their own recipe for chili, and many are probably like mine; it changes a little each time, but generally the ingredients stay the same.  Growing up (and still), my dad always made a big pot of chili that would last my family for an entire week.  This is where I first learned to make it myself.  I pretty much stick to his recipe, with a few small changes.

I like to make turkey chili, but this would be just as good with ground beef, chicken – whatever YOU like to make your chili with.  Additionally, use whatever types of beans you like.  I use black, dark kidney, white kidney, and chili beans.  For some reason, the liquid in the beans kinda grosses me out, which is why I choose to drain my beans, except for the chili beans, because that liquid is seasoned and delicious and doesn’t look like some weird clear gelatinous goo 😛

The awesome thing about chili is that it is so versatile.  Not just with what ingredients you put in it, but how you eat it.  Of course there’s the traditional way of in a bowl with some choice toppings, but you can also make chili fries, chili dogs/brats, chili burgers, baked potatoes topped with chili, nachos, chili tacos or taco salad, and so on and so forth.  The possibilities are endless, so make a huge pot of chili and don’t be afraid to try it in a new vessel!  If all else fails, chili freezes super well, so you can either put a large amount in gallon sized zip-top freezer bag, or individual servings in quart sized zip-top freezer baggies.

Four Bean Turkey Chili

Source: Pigzilla Original, adapted from Mr. Pigzilla (my dad)
Servings: A LOT, probably 12-15

Ingredients:

olive oil
2 lbs lean ground turkey
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers, diced (I use one yellow, red, and green)
4 jalapeno peppers, diced (and seeded for less heat)
1 large onion, diced
1 can low-sodium black beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium dark kidney beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium white kidney beans, mostly drained
1 can low-sodium chili beans
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes
1 12 oz beer (I use whatever I have on hand, this time I home-brewed Oktoberfest)
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and brown meat.  Add garlic for last 2 minutes of browning.  Drain and transfer meat to large stock pot or slow cooker.

2. Using the same pan, add olive oil and saute peppers and onions over medium heat until slightly soft, about 3-5 minutes.  You may have to work in batches depending on how large the skillet is.  Transfer to stock pot or slow cooker with turkey.

3.  Add all beans to stock pot or slow cooker with turkey and vegetables.  Add tomatoes with all juices.  Using a wooden spoon, break up whole tomatoes into smaller pieces.  Add beer, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If using stock pot over stove top, simmer mixture for at least one hour to let flavors develop and alcohol cook out of the beer.  If using a slow cooker, cook on high for at least one hour, or low for 2-4 hours.

4. Stir in cilantro just before serving.  Garnish with desired toppings (raw white or green onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, tortilla chips, cheddar jalapeno beer bread,  Greek yogurt/sour cream, corn bread…).

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Published September 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

A few nights ago I hosted my second fantasy football draft at my house.  I must say, the Madtown Muskrats will be pretty good, so my cousins best watch out!  I planned on making some pulled pork sandwiches using a 3-4 lb pork shoulder in the slow cooker with some beer.  I didn’t have any small bottles of our homebrew, and I didn’t want to use an entire 22 oz bottle (seeing as though it was 7 AM before work, it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea to drink the rest of it 😉 ).  So I grabbed a bottle of black cherry soda that had been in my fridge for probably close to a year and prayed for the best.  I’ve seen several similar recipes using Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke, so I figured what’s the worse that can happen?

It actually turned out really well, but I couldn’t even taste the black cherry soda – sort of a disappointment, but the meat was tender and flavorful (too spicy for some, but that is easily adjustable).  After cooking and shredding it, I removed the bone and added some BBQ sauce.  Not homemade, but maybe that’ll be on my list for next year.  I like Ken Davis BBQ sauce.  It’s affordable, smokey, a hint of tangy, and no spice (you might be thinking what has happened to me, but really it’s just because I can add my own heat, but others can’t take it out if it is already in the sauce).

I served Nicole, from Prevention RD’s, bacon coleslaw with the pulled pork sandwiches.  I didn’t put the slaw on my sandwich that night, but I did with the leftovers, and boy did I miss out before.  What a great combination – and bacon on pork?  Oh yeah, I did it.

What would you have made for a fantasy football draft?

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

3-4 lb pork shoulder (pork butt or tenderloin would work too)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried jalapeno peppers
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp salt
olive oil
12 oz black cherry soda (or use your favorite – or in my case, what you have on hand)
1-2 cups BBQ sauce
hot sauce to taste
favorite buns

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix cumin, garlic powder, oregano, jalapenos, chili powder, pepper and salt together.  Sprinkle generously over pork and drizzle with olive oil.  Rub in seasoning so it is evenly distributed.  Place pork in slow cooker and add soda.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

2. Drain juices.  Shred pork with two forks or in a stand mixer (I removed a lot of the fat on the pork so it wasn’t mixed in before shredding).  If you used a shoulder, be sure to remove the large bone.  Add BBQ sauce and hot sauce to taste.  Season with more salt and pepper if desired.

3. Serve pulled pork on buns and garnish with additional BBQ sauce, hot sauce, and/or coleslaw as desired.

Recipe Swap: Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Published August 13, 2012 by jenmatteson

The theme of the most recent recipe swap was “Too Hot to Cook”, so all the recipes submitted were ideally no cook recipes, so at least no stove/oven, but grilling and slow cooker were allowed.  I submitted my Chili Lime Shrimp Salad.  I received Tina’s blog, Tasty Treats by Tina, and she submitted sloppy joes.  This was originally a swap recipe she’d received in the past, but altered to her own liking the second run, so I went off of her recipe.

I was a bit hesitant as I’m very particular about sloppy joes, and I’ve only liked my mother’s recipe growing up (and still).  My only change to her recipe is to use ground turkey instead of ground beef.  No biggie.  Nate and I love them; I guess I should blog it sometime – though I’d have to get permission from Mrs. Pigzilla 😉

Anyway, I did the same thing with Tina’s recipe and substituted turkey meat for ground beef, and omitted tarragon, really just because I didn’t want to buy any just before leaving on vacation.  I also adjusted the measurements for my own taste.  After tasting it after it’d been in the slow cooker for a while, it was a little too tomatoy for my taste, so I did add more mustard to combat that.

In the end, they were pretty tasty.  Nate commented that they were a little too sweet, and I even lowered the amount of brown sugar it called for.  Next time, I’d probably omit the sugar as I find it unnessicary.

Sloppy Joes

Source: Tasty Treats by Tina
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

i lb ground turkey
1/2 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
5-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 can tomato paste
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. In a large frying pan, brown turkey meat over medium heat.  Drain and add to slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients, mix, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  *Since I only used 1 lb of turkey meat (vs. Tina’s 2 lb ground beef), I only cooked my sloppy joe’s on low for about 4 hours.

2. Serve on toasted bun.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Published July 1, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve had this pork tenderloin in my freezer for about two months; I bought two because they were on a great sale, and used the first one for the hoisin glazed pork tenderloin.  I’m not a big pork eater, but when I do eat pork, I prefer tenderloin versus a chop, as the meat is so much more, well, tender.  I decided to throw it in the slow cooker with some seasoning and salsa to make some tacos for Friday night dinner.

On on a side note regarding “slow cooker” vs. “Crockpot”…some people wonder why I use the term slow cooker as opposed to Crockpot.  Well, if you don’t already know the answer, it’s because Crockpot is a (well-known) brand of slow cookers, where as slow cooker is what the appliances is actually called.  Think about tissues and Kleenex, or lip blam and Chapstick.  I don’t know why, but it drives me crazy when people refer to lip balm in general as Chapstick.  I’m a Blistex girl myself.  I do own a Crockpot, but  I still refer to it as slow cooker.  Okay, rant over.

As per usual when I have something in my slow cooker, when I got home from work, my house smelled amazing.  I don’t know how the cats can stand the insanely awesome aromas all day long; it would drive me crazy.  I shredded the pork and left it on warm as we had to run a few errands before dinner.  All I could think about was pork tacos and I was getting crankier and crankier the longer they took.  Finally, we got home and were ready to eat dinner. As usual on Friday, we didn’t get around to it until after 9 PM, which means my pictures don’t turn out quite as well.  But believe me when I say these were yummy.

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

4-5 lb pork tenderloin
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper
1 cup salsa

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, mix seasonings.  Add tenderloin to slow cooker and sprinkle seasoning mix over the top.  Add salsa, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. After 6-8 hours, shred tenderloin with two forks, and mix with remaining liquid in slow cooker.  Serve in soft or crunchy tortilla shells, over rice or over salad with desired toppings.

Slow Cooker BBQ Beer Chicken

Published May 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

I sat at a golf course all day long…sponsoring a hole for my company.  It sounds nice, but if you’re not from Minnesota, you don’t know that it wasn’t a beautiful day, and there were torrential downpours on and off.  I suppose I should be thankful for the fact that it wasn’t storming all day long, but still…wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

The point of the story is that it was a perfect spring day to use my slow cooker.  Not only was I starving by the time I got home, but I was in no mood to make dinner.  Thankfully I thought ahead and started dinner before I left in the morning.  I found this recipe a few weeks back, maybe months, from Jessica at How Sweet it Is.  Anything using chicken breasts in the slow cooker for an entire day…sign me up!

I used a little less chicken, probably 2 pounds, and used frozen chicken breasts so that they could cook a little longer before I got home from work.  The only thing I omitted was onion powder, but not because I don’t like it, but because I didn’t have any on hand.  As Jessica suggested, I used a little more beer because the sauce I was using was a bit thicker.  Plus, I couldn’t use only 8 oz of beer and let the other 4 oz go to waste! The result was a little runny, but really, it was no problem because the chicken was so super moist.  I didn’t add the additional barbecue sauce directly to the slow cooker before serving, instead I added it to my sandwiches directly so it wouldn’t get watered down.  The flavor of the chicken was amazing; I added a little hot sauce to mine to spice it up!  I could definitely see this being a regular in our dinners because it’s so easy, we almost always have the ingredients, oh, and it’s delicious!

Slow Cooker BBQ Beer Chicken

Source: How Sweet It Is
Servings:  8

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
12 oz beer (I used a lager)
32 oz barbecue sauce, divided
hamburger buns

Directions:

1. Season chicken with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Place chicken in slow cooker.  Add beer and  24 oz barbecue sauce and cook on low for 8 hours (you can cook for longer if you use frozen chicken breasts, mine cooked for almost 10 hours and probably could have cooked longer).  Shred chicken with two forks.

2. Preheat broiler.  Place sliced hamburger buns sprayed with olive oil under broiler until well toasted, about 2-3 minutes.  Place shredded chicken on top of buns, add remaining barbecue sauce and serve.

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