Shape this meat loaf the night before and refrigerate- then pop it in the cooker the next morning.
1 8-ounce can pizza sauce
1 beaten egg
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green sweet pepper
⅓ cup fine dry seasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
Reserve ⅓ cup pizza sauce; cover and chill. In a medium mixing bowl combine remaining pizza sauce and egg. Stir in onion, green sweet pepper, bread crumbs, garlic salt and pepper. Add ground beef and mix well.
On a sheet of foil, shape a 6-inch round meat loaf. Lift and transfer meat and foil to the slow cooker. Press meat away from sides of the cooker to avoid burning.
Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 9 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours (or to 170 degrees internal temperature).
Spread meat with the reserved ⅓ cup pizza sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover cooker and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
Carefully lift meat loaf with foil and transfer to a serving plate; discard the foil.
Fat 20 g total
Protein 20 g
Carbohydrate 8 g
Sodium 510 mg
Potassium 360 mg
1 ½ pounds of beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
½ cup sliced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups low sodium beef broth
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup water
4 cups hot cooked noodles or rice
In a large skillet brown beef, half at a time, in hot oil. Drain off fat.
Combine beef, mushrooms, onions, garlic, oregano, salt, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf all in the slow cooker. Pour beef broth over all.
Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Discard bay leaf.
If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Mix together sour cream, flour, and water. Stir about 1 cup of the hot liquid into sour cream mixture. Return all to slow cooker, stir and combine. Cover and cook on high-heat setting for 30 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.
Serve over hot cooked noodles or rice.
Fat 20 g total
Protein 36 g
Carbohydrate 38 g
Sodium 368 mg
Potassium 474 mg
Choose the right cut: Chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders and lamb shanks (think fatty and tougher meats) become meltingly tender with the moist, low heat of a slow cooker. Leaner cuts like pork tenderloin tend to dry out. Likewise, dark meat chicken — thighs, drumsticks, etc. — will remain juicier than white meat breasts.
Keep the lid closed: Each peek you take during the cooking process will add an additional 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time. And curb the urge to stir; it’s usually not necessary and tends to slow down the cooking.
Care for your crock: The ceramic insert in a slow cooker can crack if exposed to abrupt temperature shifts. In other words, don’t place a hot ceramic insert directly on a cold counter; put down a dishtowel first. The same goes for using a filled insert you’ve stowed overnight in the refrigerator: Let it come to room temperature before putting it in a preheated base.
Browning boosts flavor: You can certainly just pile food into the slow cooker, turn it on and get tasty results. But when you take a couple of minutes to brown your meat and saute your vegetables before adding them to the crock, you’re rewarded with an additional layer of deep, caramelized flavor. (This is doubly true with ground meat.) Want a thicker sauce? Dredge the meat in flour before browning.
Don’t use frozen food: Loading a slow cooker with icy ingredients will keep food in the danger zone where bacteria can flourish (40 to 140 degrees F). So make sure your meat and vegetables are fully thawed before turning the cooker on. The exception: Prepackaged slow-cooker meals sold in the freezer case are fine to use as long as you follow the package’s directions.
Avoid overcrowding: For the best results, fill a slow cooker between one-half and two-thirds full. Go ahead and cook big roasts and whole chickens; just make sure you use a large crock and that the lid fits snugly on top.
Trim fat: For silky sauces and gravies, take a minute or two and cut the excess fat from the meat. Skip this step and you risk ending up with oily, greasy cooking liquid. When possible, remove chicken skin too.
Layer wisely: For even cooking, cut food into uniform-size pieces. Place firm, slow-cooking root vegetables like potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the crock and pile the meat on top.
Set the heat level: A general rule of thumb is that cooking on the low setting (170 degrees F for most models) takes about twice as long as cooking on high (280 degrees F on most models). Keep in mind that some cuts of meat and recipes are better suited to one setting over the other. (See tips on choosing the right cut, above.)
Add dairy last: Sour cream, milk and yogurt tend to break down in the slow cooker, so stir them in during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Watch the wine: Because the cooker is sealed, the alcohol in wine doesn’t evaporate out as it would in a regular pot or skillet. Just a splash goes a long way.
End on a fresh note: A sprinkle of fresh herbs or squeeze of lemon juice at the end of simmering can brighten flavors and cut through the richness of long-cooked recipes. Other excellent finishing touches: hot sauce, citrus zest, grated Parmesan, good-quality olive oil or even sautéed garlic.
Adjust for high altitude: For high-altitude cooking, add an additional 30 minutes for each hour of time specified in the recipe. Legumes take about twice as long as they would at sea level.
Unplugged means unusable: Forgot to turn on your cooker (or accidentally tried to “cook” your meal on warm)? Any food that sits between the temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees F can harbor bacteria. Toss the contents and start again.
1 ½ to 2 lb boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered (1 ¼ pounds)
¾ cup water
1 ½ teaspoons instant beef bouillon granules
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
Apple wedges (optional)
Trim the fat from the pot roast. In a large skillet brown roast on all sides in hot oil. Drain well.
Place the onion, then sweet potatoes in the crockpot. Place meat atop vegetables. (Cut roast, if necessary to fit.)
In a small bowl combine water, bouillon granules, celery seed, cinnamon, and pepper. Pour over meat and vegetables.
Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours
Remove meat and vegetables from cooker and place on platter; reserve juices. Skim fat from juices. Pass juices. Or, for gravy, pour juices into a glass measuring cup. If necessary, add water to equal 2 cups of juice. In a saucepan stir cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water; add juices. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Serve gravy with roast and vegetables. Garnish with apple wedges if desired.
If you prefer, skip the gravy and spoon the juices over the meat.
Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 328
Fat 10 g total
Protein 30 g
Carbohydrate 30 g
Sodium 282 mg
Potassium 655 mg
2 baking potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into chunks (3 1/3 cups)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole-kernel corn
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (1 cup)
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of low sodium tomatoes
1 diced jalapeno
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 10.5 ounces)
2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
4 (6-inch) fresh corn tortillas, cut into strips
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Place first 6 ingredients in an electric slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Place chicken on top of vegetables, and add broth. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
Remove chicken from slow cooker; shred with 2 forks. Return chicken to slow cooker. Stir tortilla strips into stew. Garnish with parsley, if desired. Flavor with 1 tsp of Cholula hot sauce per serving.
Fat 6 g
Protein 32 g
Carbohydrate 47 g
Sodium 476 mg
4 small baking potatoes (about 6 ounces each)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup), divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Scrub potatoes; rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Coat potatoes with cooking spray; pierce potatoes with a fork. Rub 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt evenly over potatoes; place in an oval 6-quart electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly.
Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp into a medium microwave-safe bowl, leaving a 1/8-inch-thick shell. Mash pulp with a potato masher. Stir in milk, yogurt, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until thoroughly heated.
Spoon potato mixture evenly into shells; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Arrange potato halves in bottom of slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese melts. Sprinkle each potato half with about 1/2 teaspoon chives and about 1 teaspoon bacon.
Caloriesfromfat 0.0 %
Fat 12.7 g
Satfat 1.2 g
Monofat 0.6 g
Polyfat 0.1 g
Protein 4.9 g
Carbohydrate 15.8 g
Fiber 1.9 g
Cholesterol 7 mg
Iron 1 mg
Sodium 193 mg
Calcium 126 mg
Place onion in a 6-quart electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray; top with carrots and potatoes.
Combine broth, next 3 ingredients, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over vegetables.
Combine paprika, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; rub over chicken. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables.
Cover and cook on LOW for 3 1/2 hours or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender. Garnish with additional thyme, if desired.
Caloriesfromfat 0.0 %
Fat 4.9 g
Satfat 1.1 g
Monofat 1.7 g
Polyfat 1.1 g
Protein 21.7 g
Carbohydrate 20.7 g
Fiber 3.2 g
Cholesterol 80 mg
Iron 2.6 mg
Sodium 454 mg
Calcium 51 mg
Trim the visible fat from a 3-pound, boneless pork shoulder or butt.
Cut into bite-size cubes, removing and discarding additional fat as you go.
Rinse the pork pieces in cold water and place them into the slow cooker liner; turn the slow cooker to high to begin cooking the pork as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a sauce pan, combine:
1 1/2 cups of commercial tomatillo salsa (also called salsa verde or green salsa)
1 3/4 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
1 thinly-sliced onion
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds or ground cumin
Bring this mixture to a boil over high heat, and then pour it over the pork in the slow cooker. Slice three plum tomatoes and gently stir them into the pork. Cover and cook on high for six to seven hours.
When the pork is tender enough to pull apart, spoon it into a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Cover it and keep it warm. Transfer the sauce and vegetables to a large skillet. Skim off and discard the fat, and then bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, removing any froth from time to time. Boil gently for about 20 minutes to thicken and intensify flavors.
Stir the cooked pork and a quarter cup of chopped cilantro into the sauce in the skillet. Heat through before serving, and then you’re ready to enjoy!
Fat 15 g total
Cholesterol 104 mg
Protein 27 g
Carbohydrate 6 g
Sodium 211 mg
Potassium 413 mg
Dice hard vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, winter squash and/or rutabagas), and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker insert.
Cut any meat you’re adding into bite-sized bits and add it on top of the vegetables. Stick with fresh meats; processed meats like ham, corned beef and sausage can contain upwards of 1,000 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Season with fresh or dried herbs.
Add tender vegetables like corn, peas and okra.
Cover with sodium-free bouillon dissolved in water. For creamy soups or chowders, stir in a half cup of heavy whipping cream (liquid, not whipped), or 1 cup of half-and-half or evaporated milk.
Cook on high for 6 to 8 hours (or on low for 10 to 12 hours).
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 15g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Vitamin A 44%
Vitamin C 2%