Clean eating | Dairy-free option | Soy-free option | Gluten-free option | Nut-free
My girls LOVE Taco Night. Something about being in charge of their own meal and what goes in it. Not to mention it’s messy, which makes it fun. But I’m going to be honest: it’s not always been my favorite. First, the taco seasoning packets. Gross, am I right? Have you seen those ingredient labels?! Well, Alton Brown’s taco seasoning takes care of that REALLY quick. And clean too! Make it once and keep it in a small jar or even a little Ziploc bag to use a couple tablespoons at a time.
Second, as a mom, I find that once I’ve assembled everyone’s burritos the way they want them, once I get mine assembled and sit down, the meat is cold. That’s where this new crock pot recipe comes in. It features the same taco seasoning as our usual ground turkey, but the meat stays warm as long as I need it to! Plus more veggies! It came from an unlikely source: one of those easy video recipes you see in your Facebook feed that are usually semi-homemade, from processed ingredients. But with this easy and clean taco seasoning, it’s a cinch to keep the artificial junk out.
Clean Taco Seasoning
Original recipe here
- up to 2 Tbsp. chili powder, depending on how spicy you want it
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. paprika (he uses hot smoked, I use Hungarian–both are delicious)
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want it
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or jar.
- Store in an airtight container (jar or Ziploc bag) for up to 1 month.
Slow Cooker Easy Chicken Fajitas
Adapted from here
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved
- 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (see above)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- 10-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained (check the ingredient label on this one; sometimes spices and preservatives are added here)
- For serving: tortillas (use whole-grain or gluten-free and check ingredient labels for hidden soy and other junk), cheese, sour cream, beans, avocado slices, or anything else that sounds tasty!
- Place half of the sliced peppers and onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Lay the chicken on top, coating on all sides with taco seasoning. Top with garlic, drained tomatoes, lime juice, and remaining peppers and onion.
- Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.
- Remove chicken and cut or shred, then return it to the crock pot for 10 more minutes (on LOW) to absorb more of the juices, while you prep your toppings.
- Assemble tacos/burritos/fajitas however you want!
Clean Eating | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free | Gluten-free
Happy New Year! Anyone else feeling a little sluggish after all of the treats and traveling and lack of schedule? I’m beyond ready to get back on track and back in control of normal, healthy life.
This easy crock pot meal is a staple in our home, especially on Thursdays when we have swimming until 5pm. I love being able to come home to this delicious smell and serve up a warm, comforting, healthy meal to my wet-haired, often shivering–yes, even in Florida–young ones. I make the rice before we leave and it’s still warm when we get home to eat. The chicken practically shreds itself when you stir in the final ingredients, and the sweet potatoes soften to make the texture rich and creamy.
Crock Pot Chicken-Chickpea Curry
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 8-oz can tomato sauce OR 1/2 can diced tomatoes in juice
- 2 Tbsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- optional: up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 med. onion, thinly sliced
- 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- cooked brown (for clean eating) or Basmati rice
- In the bottom of your slow cooker, whisk together first 6 ingredients until incorporated.
- Add chicken, onions, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes; use tongs to toss until coated with curry mixture.
- Cook on low 8 hours or high 3.5-4 hours.
- 5 minutes before serving, stir in peas and lemon juice, shredding chicken with the tongs.
- Serve over warm rice.
Paleo | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean Eating | Gluten-free | Nut-free
Lesson one: No amount of processing can save a poorly lit photo. (Thanks for nothing, Standard Time.)
Lesson two: However it may look, this stew tastes incredible. And it’s easy. And clean, paleo, low-glycemic, dairy-free, soy-free, and kid-approved!
Browning the beef beforehand sounds like an extra step, but it is SO important to the full flavor of this dish. And it’s a quick way to get your kitchen already smelling delicious before you even turn on the crock pot! Put this one on your list for the cold, busy weeknights ahead. (Please send some of that cold down here to Florida!)
Paleo Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Original recipe here
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs stew beef (cubed)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large dice
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
- 1 onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
- optional, to thicken broth: 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the beef chunks, season with a little salt and pepper, and sear on all sides. Dump into your slow cooker and cover with the remaining ingredients, except tapioca starch.
- Cook on high 5-6 hours, or on low 8-9.
- Optional: if you want to thicken the broth, 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, whisk the tapioca starch with 2 Tbsp water. Pour the mixture into the stew, stirring gently, until distributed throughout, and allow it to resume cooking.
- Remove bay leaves and enjoy! In the unlikely event that there are leftovers, they reheat beautifully.
I printed this recipe off a long time ago, while I was getting paid to stare at a computer screen 40 hours a week, from an online community that I don’t think exists anymore. The date on the bottom of the printout says 3/28/2008. And I never made it! It sat neglected in my recipe binder for one reason:
So I finally broke down & bought the $1.28 bottle & made these. Can you believe that it took me three & a half years?
(Note: This smells very vinegar-y while it’s in the slow cooker, so I expected a Carolina-type sauce, but it’s actually quite mild.)
From the Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker cookbook
- 3 Tbsp. canola oil
- 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder cut into 3 equal pieces
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup light molasses
- 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Brown both sides of the pork & transfer to the slow cooker. Saute the onion in the oil until golden.
- Add vinegar & deglaze the pan, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring it just to a boil.
- Pour sauce over pork. Cover; cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-10 hours.
- Shred the pork on a separate plate & discard any pieces of fat. Skim grease from the sauce, then return the pork to the sauce, stir to combine, & serve on rolls.
When the weather gets cooler — & trust me, the 60-degree lows we’ve experienced around here the past few days have actually been sweatshirt-worthy — I start craving the comfort food. This is, as the title would suggest, the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, creamy, savory, & you hardly even have to chew! How’s that for comfort?
My friend Kelli made this for us years ago, when we were first married. It was so delicious I couldn’t believe how easy it was. I’ve lightened it up just a tiny bit since. It heats up great for leftovers; just be sure to cook up enough rice to serve with it later!
Creamy Crock Pot Chicken
- 4-6 frozen chicken breasts, depending on size
- 1 pkt. powdered Italian dressing mix
- 3/4 stick (6 Tbsp.) butter
- 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
- 1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup (Campbell’s or Kroger brand)
- Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker.
- Sprinkle dressing mix evenly over top. Slice up butter into chunks & distribute evenly on top of that.
- Cook on low 5 hours or high 3 hours.
- Shred chicken with 2 forks.
- Add soup & cream cheese; mix well.
- Let sit in warm Crock Pot several minutes to allow cream cheese to melt.
- Stir again & serve over rice.
What is your ultimate comfort food?
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I can officially call myself a housewife: I have now cooked pork chops.
That were ridiculously on sale.
In my slow-cooker, even!
It was an interesting meal, too: The Munchkin was tired & hungry & didn’t stop screaming the entire time. She also didn’t eat a single bite of pork chop or orange. Dinner for her was a peanut butter sandwich & like 2 bites of strawberries. Eh, well, you win some, you lose some. We thought the chops tasted delicious! My Husband The Skeptical was completely won over, even though he generally doesn’t think meat should be cooked with fruit; the orange zest isn’t detectable in the taste of the finished product.
This is another one from The New Slow Cooker. You really need to get this book. Like, really. I’ve posted my alcohol-free version (no cooking wine). Also, I have to be honest: their salad dressing was super bitter. So I’ve included the tastier orange vinaigrette dressing I like, from Better Homes & Gardens.
- 6 bone-in pork loin chops, each about 1 1/2 inches thick
- salt & pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large shallots, halved & thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar (it calls for white; I used red)
- zest of 2 oranges (reserve oranges for salad below)
- Season chops generously on both sides with salt & pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sear chops until golden brown on both sides, working in batches if there are too many. Remove to a plate.
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan. Return it to medium heat. Add shallots & garlic; saute until just beginning to brown.
- Pour in broth to deglaze the pan. Stir in vinegar, zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, & several shakes or grinds of pepper.
- Pour pan contents into bottom of slow cooker. Stack chops on top.
- Cover & cook on low 7 hours. (I only made 2 chops & they were done after less than 6.) Chops will be tender.
- Place one chop on each plate to serve. Drizzle some of the braising liquid over each chop. Add salad, below, & serve.
Spinach Orange Salad (with BHG dressing)
- oranges from above
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
- baby spinach
- Segment oranges: Use a sharp chef’s knife to slice off the top & bottom of the fruit so you see the flesh.
- Follow the contour of the orange to slice off strips of skin & pith, revealing the fruit on all sides.
- Slice wedges out of the orange, between the membranes if you can. (I found a navel orange to be a little “sloppy” on the segmentation…) Cut into smaller pieces, if desired. Set aside.
- In a jar with a lid, or a Tupperware, combine vinegar, juice, oil, sugar, & mustard. Cover & shake well. (Your kids will love helping with this step!)
- Mound spinach onto plates, top with a few orange segments each, then drizzle with salad dressing.
Do you have a certain “housewife” dish you’ve never made either? Confession time: my other one is lasagna! Any recipe suggestions for that one?
I may or may not still be avoiding using my oven. So here’s another slow cooker recipe for you!
I saw this recipe months ago over at Talkin’ Chow, Playin’ House, but never found a roast on sale enough to merit trying it.
Now, this is definitely comfort food, so I wouldn’t blame you for waiting to try this until it cools off. It definitely seemed odd to me, seeing this out my window (we have a nature preserve right behind us, & it’s so humid that the windows fog up every morning) & then tossing a big, hearty roast into the Crock Pot. It’s a jungle out there! Literally! But oven vendettas are stronger than heat & humidity.
Whenever you do decide to give it a try, I promise you that you won’t be sorry. My only suggestion would be to season your roast more generously than the Martha recipe suggests (Yes! Even she isn’t perfect sometimes! There is hope for the rest of us!), because the beef tasted bland in comparison to the AWESOME carrots.
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch (a little more if you want a thicker gravy at the end)
- 2 Tbsp. cold water (or stock, if you’ve got a container already open; I used chicken broth)
- 2 lbs. carrots, peeled & cut into thirds
- 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
- 3-lb. beef chuck or rump roast, fat trimmed
- 2 Tbsp. (plus a splash) Worcestershire
- salt & pepper, or seasoning of choice (I think a Steakhouse Seasoning grinder would do a fabulous job)
- Stir together cornstarch & water (or stock) in bottom of slow cooker until smooth, using a non-scratching utensil.
- Add carrots & onion to slow cooker. Season with salt & pepper; toss to combine.
- Season both sides of roast generously. Place on top of vegetables. Drizzle with Worcestershire.
- Cook on high 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
- When finished, slice thinly against the grain. (If you can! Mine was so tender it just shredded. Not the worst problem to have, right?)
- Place meat & veggies in a serving dish, then drizzle with the gravy & serve. Or serve the gravy on the side. (I found there wasn’t enough of it for the latter.) Yum!
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