11 Slow Cooker Side Dish Recipes

I love my slow cooker. You can do basically everything in a slow cooker. From foods that can cook all day, to classic BBQ, all the way to even gorgeous desserts like cheesecake, the slow cooker can do it all.  Slow cookers save time and keep the house cool. And they are an awesome way to prep food for a crowd! I absolutely love using my slow cooker for gatherings. It makes my life so much easier.

SlowCookerSides

If you’ve never used your slow cooker to make side dishes, pull it out and give it a try! These 11 side dishes you can make in your slow cooker are the perfect thing. These recipes are easy to put together and are definitely crowd pleasers. They pair well with summer food and some of them are perfect for parties and holiday dinners.

11 Easy Slow Cooker Side Dishes

loaded-cheesy-potato-casserole

Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole

honey glazed carrots in the slow cooker done

Honey Glazed Carrots in the slow cooker 

slow cooker corn casserole

 

Corn Casserole in the Slow Cooker

hashbrown casserole

 

Hashbrown Casserole in the slow cooker

Winter Squash in the Slow Cooker

Acorn or Butternut Squash in the slow cooker

homemadeapplesauceingr.jpg

Homemade Apple Sauce in the Slow Cooker 

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Baked Beans in the Slow Cooker

scalloped potatoes done

Scalloped Potatoes in the Slow Cooker

sweet potatoes and apples done

Sweet Potatoes and Apples in the Slow Cooker

slow cooked apples and butternut squash

Apples and Butternut Squash in the Slow Cooker

 

pinterestsides

Slow Cooker Beer Brats (or Italian Sausages)

Slow Cooker Beer Brats

I’m not going to lie.  I was skeptical when my sister told me about Slow Cooker Beer Brats.  I’m not a fan of beer and the thought of cooking a brat in it didn’t sound too good.

But she said they turn out so flavorful – not tasting like beer, but just so good.  The fact that they cook in the slow cooker was a plus for me too.  I love a good slow cooker recipe!

So I tried them and my sister was right.  You’ve got to make these!

We topped them with ketchup, mustard, diced onion, mild banana peppers.  I was out of relish or we would have added that too.  These brats can handle a lot of toppings.

One thing that surprised me is how the brats browed during the cook time.  I didn’t expect that since they were cooking partially submerged in the beer.

This recipe couldn’t be easier, since it has only two basic ingredients.  This is summer cooking at its simplest – 2 minute prep, slow cooker doesn’t heat up your house, go have fun while it cooks – my kind of recipe!

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in the Pressure Cooker

One of my favorite slow cooker recipes is Chicken Curry.  I’ve also made a quick skillet version of this recipe.  It’s just so good!

This time I decided to try chicken curry in the pressure cooker.  I’ve been experimenting with altering slow cooker recipes for the pressure cooker.  Over all, this works really well.

For this recipe, I started with frozen chicken tenders.  On top of the chicken, I added salsa (nearly any type will work) and curry powder.  I set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 12 minutes.  It takes around 20 minutes to reach full pressure though, so the total time for this recipe is about 35 minutes.  That’s pretty fast, especially since it started with frozen chicken.

Which method you choose – slow cooker, skillet or pressure cooker – entirely depends on the amount of time you have available and when you have that time.  If you have a few minutes to load the slow cooker in the morning, but need dinner done as soon as you walk in the door, then that’s the best method for you.  On the other hand, if you have 35 minutes to wait on dinner to cook in the evening, the pressure cooker is the way to go.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in pressure cooker.
  2. Set the pressure cooker on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  3. When the cook time is up, do a quick pressure release.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot.
  5. Add coconut milk to pressure cooker. Stir into sauce.
  6. Return chicken to pot.
  7. Serve over cooked rice.

 

Slow Cooker Desserts Series

Slow Cooker Dessert Series

Let’s talk about dessert. You probably know that I have a huge sweet tooth, and I absolutely love having something delicious to sit down with at the end of the day. Bonus points if it includes ice cream! You also probably know by now how much I love my slow cooker.

Did you know that there are dozens of sweet, decadent desserts that you can make in the slow cooker too? I took my love of slow cookers and my love of desserts and decided to take slow cooking to a sweeter place than tacos and soups. Once I tried making dessert in the slow cooker, I was hooked. Now I’m always looking for ways to convert favorites into slow cooker desserts that I can whip up without turning my oven on at all.

I love making cobblers and crips in the slow cooker because they are super easy desserts by nature, and I like easy! You can add a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, and it is the perfect summer treat. But there’s more to slow cooker desserts than cobblers. You can make cakes and it makes even something fancy like cheesecake in it too. There are literally so many sweets you can make in the slow cooker–and I’m excited to keep trying more things and finding new favorite treats to make in the slow cooker!

SlowCookerDessert

In the mean time, these are some of my favorite slow cooker sweets. If you’ve made dessert in the slow cooker, I’d love to hear what your favorites are!

11 Slow Cooker Desserts

  1. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
  2. Salted Caramel Cobbler
  3. Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
  4. Blueberry Crisp
  5. Chocolate Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust and Nut Topping
  6. Brownies and Cherries
  7. Apricot Crisp
  8. Chocolate Cobbler
  9. Salted Caramel Apple Cake
  10. Apple Caramel Crisp
  11. Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Caramel Sauce

plus Sweet Heat Chex Mix!

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Vacation Food – Saving Money – Dry Ice is your Friend

Packing Food for a Family Vacation

My extended family has been vacationing together for a number of years now.  Sometimes we do Disney World, sometimes the beach, but we always use this method for bringing our food along.

I’ve updated this post, which originally was published in 2009.  The photos are not great quality.  Every year I think I should try for better pictures, but it’s vacation and I forget in the midst of all the fun.

Subtitle: How My Mom Transported 5 Dinners for 13 People from Indiana to Florida in August without Giving Anyone Food Poisoning

What? Not eat out on vacation? Who wants to cook while they’re vacationing? Probably nobody, but with a little planning making your own food on vacation can be easy and will save you hundreds of dollars. (It also helps if you have a mom who does all the work. More on that in a minute.)

I’m not going to talk about using crockpots, hotpots, toasters and coffee pots in a hotel room, although I have done that before. This info will be most useful for those of you who rent a house or cabin or if you camp. These are also great ideas if you are doing a “staycation” and want to eat at home, but keep it simple and good.

Using Dry Ice to Transport Food

My parents packed a very large cooler about 4:30am with the food, which was already frozen solid. They bought dry ice that morning. There were guidelines on the package of dry ice that said to use something like 12 lbs. for 48 hours. Because of the heat, they decided to use 20-25 lbs. of dry ice. They packed it on top of the food because cold descends. The dry ice was also wrapped in newspaper to better insulate. All the ice was gone when the cooler was opened, but the food was still frozen.

You need to know that my parents left Indiana at 4:30am on one day. The cooler was not opened until about 4:30pm the next day! That is a long time to keep food frozen in August. The cooler just hung out in the back of their van while they drove and then enjoyed a half day at Epcot. We were a bit nervous before opening it, fearing it had all rotted. But it worked!

Tip: If you can’t find dry ice, check with a local welder.  They usually have plenty and will sell it to you, although it is a good idea to check with them ahead of time to be sure they will have it for you.

Update 2016: My parents packed the cooler with the frozen food and 60 pounds of dry ice on Thursday around noon.  We didn’t unload the cooler until Saturday around noon.  Everything was still frozen and there were still pieces of dry ice.  Do be careful unloading if you have pieces of dry ice remaining.  It will burn your skin if you touch it. We used tongs to remove the dry ice, and towels to handle frozen metal pans.

I’m not sure why the amount of dry ice has increased so much since we started this. We’ve never had anything thaw before.  Maybe we’ve just gotten nervous about it?

The Menu:

There are lots of different foods you could make that could be assembly only and frozen to reduce your cooking and clean up time on vacation. These are some of the foods we made. Click the links for recipes. I took these photos with my old point-and-shoot camera.

Update 2016: This is the exact menu we ate this year (and every year).  It works for us.

Stuffed Shells

Chicken Fiesta with Black Beans

Chicken Tetrazini

Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Hashbrown Casserole

A few other tips

Make good use of foil pans and crockpot liners. They will greatly speed up the cleanup process.

We used a grocery shopping service called We Go Shop in Orlando. That saved us spending our vacation time buying perishables that couldn’t be frozen.

Update 2016: We’ve used We Go Shop a number of times. They are wonderful to work with.  I highly recommend them.

Mom also made and froze a cake, cookies, waffles, banana bread. Obviously, there was some work in planning and preparing the food, but it really paid off in the end.

Pressure Cooker Re-do – Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches done

The other day, I decided to alter the recipe for Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa and make it work for the pressure cooker.  Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes.  I’ve been thinking that all this pressure cooking frenzy going on around the interwebs was a bunch of craziness.

And then I tried it for myself.

Now, I will say that the sandwich meat isn’t as tender in the pressure cooker, but it was still good.  The key to know which appliance to use is know what the timing of your day is like.  If you have time to put the food into the slow cooker in the morning, then that’s the way to go.  But if you have more time in the afternoon (hands on time is still short), and can wait 30 or so minutes for dinner, then the pressure cooker is your friend.

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches

I used chicken tenders that were still frozen.  I gave them set the pressure cooker for a 12 minute cook time.  The total time it took was about 30 minutes, including the time to come up to pressure, cook and pressure release.

Pressure Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. frozen chicken tenders
  • 16 oz. jerk marinade
  • 1 mango
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rolls, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, still frozen, in pressure cooker.
  2. Pour jerk marinade over chicken.
  3. Set timer on pressure cooker for 12 minutes.
  4. When cooking time is done, do a quick pressure release.
  5. Shred meat and serve.
  6. While chicken cooks, peel and dice the mango. Dice the cucumber. Toss together with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Steak on a Charcoal Grill – You can do this!

Fillet mignon on grill

I love to grill, but I admit that I’ve never really used charcoal to do it.  I’ve watched others grill over charcoal, but it intimidated me a little.

Then Kingsford Charcoal contacted me and asked if I would try their Kingsford Professional Charcoal to grill steak.  Perfect timing!  This is shaping up to be a tasty summer of outdoor grilling.  I’m hooked!

My first step was ordering a new charcoal grill.  I went with the Weber Kettle.

Next up – shop for steaks.  Costco had a pack of fillet mignon that looked wonderful.  Again, I was a little nervous to grill expensive steak.  What if I ruined it?  Shouldn’t I start with hot dogs?

The steak turned out to be so easy to grill.  The whole process takes about an hour, but it is easy to do.

The longest part of the process is waiting on the coals to get hot enough to cook over.  I use a chimney to light the charcoal.  You’ll need a few sheets of newspaper to roll up and place under the chimney.  True confession – I had to buy a Sunday paper for this, because we don’t take the newspaper anymore.  Pour the Kingsford Professional Briquets into the chimney, then light the newspaper at the bottom.  The flames will spread up through the chimney, catching all the charcoal on fire.

Kingsford Professional chimney starter

After about 45 minutes, the coals will become gray.  That signals the time to pour the burning coals into the grill.  Use grill gloves for this step so you don’t get burned.

Kingsford Professional

While the charcoal is getting hot, pull your steaks from the fridge and let them rest at room temperature.  You don’t want to put cold steaks on the hot grill.

I kept the seasonings simple so that they flavor of the meat could shine through.  I sprinkled each cut with kosher salt and pepper.  That’s it.

When the coals are ready, place the steaks on the hot grill.  Steak needs to sear and cook over high heat. Kingsford Professional Briquets are designed to achieve very hot temps. Since the fillets were very thick, I cooked them about 5-6 minutes per side, only flipping them once.  An instant read thermometer would be handy at this point, but I don’t own one yet.

Remove the steaks from the grill when they’ve reached the desired doneness.  Keep in mind they will continue to cook even after you’ve taken them off the heat.

fillet mignon finished with butter

Top each steak with a pat of butter and let them rest for several minutes before serving.  This is a good time to call everyone to the table, finish up side dishes, etc.

fillet mignon grilled done

Get out there and grill!

You can find Kingsford on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kingsford. The opinions and text are all mine.

3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – Grilling, Pressure Cooking and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

I’ve been knocked flat by a terrible cold this weekend.  I even thought I had a sinus infection, and went to the doctor.  She told me I had allergies.  Funny how I caught these “allergies” from my daughter (who was treated for a sinus infection earlier in the week) and have now passed along the “allergies” to my son.  Hmmm…

The result of this is that I did very little in the way of work and now it’s 10:45 on Monday morning and I just now realized I’d never written my post for today.

Here’s to catching up!

1.  Charcoal grilling

kingsford charcoal lit

I’ve used a gas grill for years, but I’ve been wanting to try charcoal for a while.  So far, I’m really enjoying it.  It does take longer than the gas grill, but there’s the added benefit of toasted marshmallows at the end of the meal, so it’s worth it.

We’ve grilled steaks and hamburgers on it so far.  I’m looking forward to more experimenting this summer.  I’ll have a post up soon about grilling the steaks.

2.  Pressure cooking

I’ve had my pressure cooker for several years now, but I don’t use it much.  In fact, I’d started a post about why I’m not jumping on the pressure cooker bandwagon.  And then I decided I’d better give it a try again.

I’ve adapted three different chicken recipes from slow cooker to pressure cooker in the last three days.  I’ve been posting my results on Instagram and Facebook.

chicken curry insta

Look for some pressure cooker recipes here on the blog soon, as well as my take on when it makes sense to use this appliance.

3.  I went to the grocery.

 

I realize this isn’t exciting.  But this is about as exciting as the last week has been for us.  I shopped with the Slow Cooker list, which turned out to be perfect for experimenting with the pressure cooker over the weekend.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – Easy Grilled Pizzas and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Easy Grilled Pizzas

For Mother’s Day I decided to grill out pizzas.  I’m not a fan of eating out on Mother’s Day.  It’s always crazy busy, and keeping kids happy in a restaurant isn’t the easiest anyway.  Of course, our kids are all old enough to behave in a restaurant now. We’re long past the baby/toddler/preschool days.  Still, it’s just nicer to skip the crowds and eat at home.

The grilled pizza idea came from the Sorta Awesome podcast.  I love this podcast and a recent episode covered all things grilling.  Laura Tremaine, one of the show’s hosts, shared that she likes to make grilled pizza using naan.  This is an Indian style flatbread.  You can find it in grocery stores.  I’ll be doing a post on this soon, because it really is the easiest way to do pizza for a group.

We brushed the naan with olive oil on both sides and added sauce and toppings.  It was a bit of a clean-out-the-fridge affair that night.  We had some leftover ham slices, pineapple cubes from the freezer, a quick homemade sauce, pepperoni, red onion, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Everyone added what they wanted and then the pizzas went on the grill for a few minutes.

Quick, easy and crowd pleasing!  I should have taken photos, but I didn’t think about it.

2.  Company group #1

Our son, Isaac performed in the musical Aladdin last week.  He played Sultan and did a great job!  On Thursday night, we had the first set of grandparents come to see him.  I wasn’t sure how many we’d have for dinner, but it turned out to be eight of us that night.

I followed the Weekly Meal Plan I’d printed and shopped with earlier in the week.  BBQ Pork Sandwiches with Quick Cole Slaw fit the day perfectly.  I put the meat in the crockpot in the morning and it was ready to eat when we were.

3.  Company group #2

For the second night of the production, my parents came.  The Weekly Meal Plan came in handy again.  This time I went with Enchiladas with Chili Tomato Sauce.  And because we had nine people, one of whom isn’t a big fan of beef, I also made a recipe of White Enchiladas as well.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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Clearing out the Fridge and Freezer – 3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  “Stray” meals from Weekly Meal Plans

This week I wanted to cook a few of the meals that we hadn’t gotten to from some of our Weekly Meal Plans.  Each week has six meals, but sometimes I don’t get around to all of them in a week.  That’s actually kind of nice, because it means I have a few meals with ingredients ready to go for later.

This week I made Cottage Pie and Smoked Sausage Sheet Pan Dinner.  Both of these had been held over from a previous week of meal plans.

Smoked Sausage Sheet Pan Dinner with seasoned potatoes

2.  Freezer clean out – Live and learn…not so much

A year or more ago, our deep freeze in the garage kicked the breaker off and proceeded to thaw all the meat inside.  On Wednesday it did the same thing.  That is a sad, messy, expensive way to clean out the freezer.

This time we’re going to swap out the switch and get an alarm, so that if it happens again we can deal with it before losing all the meat.

3.  Photographing 3 more meals

I’m working on a special project that I know you’re going to love.  Part of it involves cooking and photographing quite a few recipes.  I did three more this week, including this Garlic Dijon Tilapia with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash.

Garlic Dijon Tilapia with Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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