We’ve all had it. The traditional holiday green bean casserole. Good stuff, but not much of a ‘wow’ factor. Well, scrap that and move on to this slow cooker holiday green bean casserole. Same idea, but oh, so much better. Anita told me to make this again before we were halfway thru the first batch. There’s nothing about it that’s not great. Beans in creamy Alfredo sauce, flavored with water chestnuts, mushrooms and pimentos (or in my case, roasted red bell peppers). A little cheese. And yes, French fried onions and toasted pecans. This dish screams holidays. I made this early enough in the fall to get fresh green beans, which I blanched first. Frozen beans work just fine too. If you’re like me you’ll want extra French fried onions. Oh no, they’re not for the casserole. They’re for munching while you watch everything cook in the slow cooker.
It’s summer. That means iced tea for me, and in particular, Snapple. This copycat of the fantastic bottled version hits the spot on a hot day for sure. Just toss a few ingredients into your slow cooker and in a few hours you get great tasting tea. I prefer peach- or lemon-flavored tea, but you can use any flavor you’d like. For lower calorie, lower carb tea use artificial sweetener and any one of the sugar-free fruit flavors of Torani syrup. I’ve found that some syrup flavors can be hard to find locally but thankfully, shipping isn’t bad so I ordered a few bottles online. You don’t have to worry about the syrups expiring either, so don’t be afraid to try several different flavors in your teas.
It’s not uncommon for me to dream of a meal the night after I’ve had it. What isn’t common is when I dream about a meal BEFORE I’ve even had it. I knew going in that this slow cooker jalapeno pot roast was going to be great. Of course, after a day in the slow cooker the meat was tender and easy to shred. And it has just the right amount of spicy kick to it. It’s definitely not a bland pot roast by any stretch of the imagination. I set out making slow cooker jalapeno pot roast for po boy sandwiches and that’s it. As soon as I came across the recipe I knew that that’s what I was going to do. And the sandwiches came out absolutely perfect. I could’ve served the pot roast over mashed potatoes or made an open-faced sandwich or even better, used it in tacos, but I wanted a sandwich with some cool toppings like tomato and onion and lettuce to contrast the spicy beef. Perfect!
Watching Emeril Lagasse is what got me interested in cooking. Years ago he had a show, Emeril Live. It was part entertainment and part cooking. Chef’s cooking fascinated me and inspired me to stop eating out of bags or containers. This chicken sauce piquante is one reason why I’ve never looked back fondly at the days when I scarfed down fast food on a regular basis. Nothing I ever had then could even come close to the flavors in this dish. Sure, there are a number of ingredients, and it takes a bit of time, but the end result is layer after layer of incredible rich flavor. Tomatoes, bell peppers, celery and even a bit of heat make for a sauce that was so heavenly I almost forgot about the delicious chicken. The original recipe for chicken sauce piquante called for a whole chicken, cut into pieces. I prefer thighs so I ended up using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead. In a dish like this one I wanted the extra richness of the dark meat in thighs. And, well, it was easier to use thighs!
I made a batch of tremendously good baked smothered chicken burritos the other day. The chicken was cooked slow all day, resulting in the perfect tender filling. I was still enjoying flashing back to those great burritos when I came across this idea for slow cooker cream cheese chicken taquitos. Just like the burritos, these taquitos are stuffed with fantastically tasty chicken that just falls apart as it cooks. The creamy chicken and melted smooth cheese needed a little kick in my opinion, so I topped the taquitos with diced jalapenos and spicy salsa. Then all was right in the world again!
Cold weather can sometimes make me ‘cooking lazy’. That’s when I just want to toss a few out-of-the-pantry and out-of-the-fridge ingredients into a slow cooker, turn it on, and come back half a day later to a done dish. Doesn’t mean it has to be all out of a can, but it isn’t all from scratch either. And it’s still good. And spicy. Gotta have spicy and these bold ranch pork chops deliver on that. I served these pork chops with warmed leftover mashed potatoes. The gravy from the slow cooker is great over mashed potatoes, but I think it’d be even better over grits, so I’ll give that a whirl next time. They’ll be instant grits, though, to keep with my ‘cooking lazy’ mood.
It was not a great day for grilling. I’ve always said that grilling is a passion not a season, but 50 MPH winds and blowing rain can make me rethink that philosophy. I was still jonesin’ for a chili dog so I brought out the slow cooker and satisfied my need for a good dog on a bad weather day. The dogs end up tender and they even absorb some of the great chili flavors. Topped with cheese, onion and jalapeno they hit the spot.
Cooking chili hot dogs in the slow cooker is a really great way to feed a crowd with no fuss whatsoever. You can easily double or triple this recipe if your slow cooker is big enough, ideal for that big game party!
We spent a week in a condo on fabulous Tybee Island, Georgia not long ago. I wanted to maximize our time on the beach, which meant that I wanted meals that I could prepare with minimal effort and time. Slow cooker spaghetti and meatballs was the perfect choice. And it was mighty tasty too. Yummy meatballs in a flavorful sauce, with the spaghetti already mixed in. It really doesn’t get any easier. I always like a little kick in my spaghetti and meatballs, whether they’re from the slow cooker or not, so I added a bit of red pepper flakes. You can leave them out if you like.