Winter is officially here. The temperature is frigid, the trees are barren, and the sun setting around 5 o’clock – it’s just depressing. I’m sorry bu Winter is simply awful. (My apologies to those of you who prefer bitter winter over sweet summer.) There are only three things that keep me from falling into a deep hibernation during the winter months: my boyfriend, my job, and my crock pot. As for you lovely folks, there’s not much I can do to help make winter more bearable for you – I can’t share my incredible boyfriend or my amazing job, nor can I teleport my crock pot to you. However, I can share some of my favorite crock pot recipes that help me get through the cold days (bundling up in my toasty bed, dreaming of summers gone helps too).
NOTE: Slow cookers are all different, so cooking times may not be exact.
1. Butternut Squash, Chicken and Quinoa Soup
*Recipe and images from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 small butternut squash (~4 cups)
- 1 can (15.25 ounces) kidney beans
- 1 can (15 ounces) corn
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 packet (1.12 ounces) fajita seasoning mix
- 5 cups chicken broth
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Optional: fresh parsley, sour cream, cheddar cheese
- Remove the fat from the chicken and rinse the quinoa.
- Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into small bite-sized pieces (or buy pre-chopped butternut squash for an even faster prep).
- Rinse and drain the kidney beans and corn.
- Lightly grease your slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add in the chicken, quinoa, chopped squash, kidney beans, corn, undrained tomatoes, garlic, and fajita seasoning packet. Pour in the chicken broth and give everything a good stir.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the quinoa is cooked through and the squash is very tender.
- At this point you can remove some of the squash and mash it with a potato masher and then put it back in the soup. This is totally optional, but makes it a bit heartier.
- Add some salt and pepper to taste and any other seasonings desired. Garnish with optional toppings.
2. Hot Apple Cider
*Recipe and images from Bakerette
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 orange sliced
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and stire.
- Turn slow cooker on low and let it “steep” until hot enough to drink (about 1.5 to 2 hours).
- Remove cloves, and cinnamon sticks before serving.
3. Taco Bowl
*Recipe and image from I Teach Third
- 1 ½ pounds of boneless chicken breasts or tenders
- 2 cups of your favorite salsa
- 2 cans of corn (do not strain)
- 1 packet of taco seasoning
- Prepared Rice
- Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream
- Place the chicken, salsa, corn and taco seasoning in the crock pot and cooks on low for 6-9 hours.
- Take the chicken out of the pot and shred with a fork or with a hand mixer.
- Mix the chicken back into the ingredients in the crock pot.
- Prepare the rice and serve with a generous scoop of the chicken mixture on top. Garnish with your desired toppings.
4. Everything But the Kitchen Sink Soup
*Recipe and images from Bless this Mess Please
- 1 pound lean ground meat, such as hamburger, elk, or turkey
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups cooked brown lentils
- 2 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 4-6 carrots, sliced
- 4-6 potatoes, sliced thin
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 medium zucchini, quartered and then sliced
- 1 quart crushed tomatoes
- 1 quart beef broth
- 1 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
- 2-3 tbsp fresh chopped basil
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a skillet cook the ground meat, onions, and garlic until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
- Add the meat mixture to a large 6-quart crock pot along with all of the other ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
NOTE: This makes a HUGE batch of soup. It’s completely fine to substitute dried herbs for fresh ones. Feel free to swap out ingredients to suit your taste!
5. Honey Dijon Pork & Apples
*Recipe and images from Eat at Home
- 1 ½ lbs. pork chops, boneless or bone-in
- 5 small apples, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place pork chops on bottom of crock pot.
- Stir honey, Dijon, salt and pepper together, pour over apples and onions and toss to coat.
- Place apples and onions on top of pork chops in slow cooker.
- Cook 5-6 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.