Autumn is just one of those seasons that involves special foods and dishes that we don’t necessarily enjoy other times of the year. And you know we could never just pass up the opportunity for a culinary celebration of all the fall foods! Two weeks ago we shared 17 Autumn Desserts that are sure to delight, and last week it was 14 Flavorful Fall Sides. As much as we might like to just have sides and desserts, main dishes are pretty important when it comes to dinner, so today we give you 9 Savory Autumn Main Dishes.
I hope you are getting to enjoy a taste of fall in your part of the world. Between cooler temperatures and leaves on the brink of turning from the greens of summer to the vibrant brights of autumn, we’re ready to welcome all that is fall around here! Last week I shared 17 Autumn Desserts with you and today let’s talk sides. These 14 Flavorful Fall Sides to be exact …
Autumn Appetizers to whet your appetite
I’ve spent several weeks rounding up the best recipes for your slow cooker in every category I could think of. We started with sandwiches and side dishes and moved on to Tex-Mex favorites and breakfast/brunch options. The variety of flavors you can achieve with slow cooking is absolutely amazing, moving way beyond soups, stews and chicken. Today, I’m adding some international flavor to our series with slow cooker recipes from around the world that I’m sure your family will enjoy.
Africa, India and the Middle East
- This African Pulled Beef Sandwich is based on a sandwich served at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And while it may not be as authentic as the one you would find in Africa, it’s so flavorful you just might think you’re there!
It’s a well-established fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Some would argue that it’s also the tastiest. But many would also agree that it’s the toughest one to get on the table and actually enjoy before the demands of the day kick in. With the aid of your slow cooker and a little outside-the-box thinking a healthy make-ahead breakfast can be more than a possibility. Today I’m sharing enough slow cooker breakfasts for a month of weekdays. That’s an entire month’s worth of prepped the night before and simply scooped out and enjoyed in each morning.
- This Breakfast Casserole from Karen at 365 Days of Crockpot includes all the basics – sausage, eggs, hash browns and cheese. And you really can’t go wrong throwing in a few veggies too, like spinach or mushrooms.
- This Easy Breakfast Casserole is perfect for a late morning brunch or cooking all night for an early breakfast. It’s a classic comfort food at it’s best
- I’ve added a little trick to my slow cooker Hashbrown Casserole that allows you to enjoy some breakfast ham or smoked sausage with your hashbrown casserole and very little extra effort.
- This Loaded Cheesy Potato Casserole is not your basic cheesy potato dish. It’s been kicked up a notch or three compliments of my sister and her crowd-pleasing comfort-food recipe.
- Frittatas are such a filling option for breakfast or brunch, and this Ham and Swiss Frittata is no exception. It’s loaded with wonderful flavors and it just looks pretty sitting on a plate, though it won’t last long there at all!
Grains & Sweets
- Grits are a staple here in the south, but they do take a chunk of time in the morning. Unless you have this recipe for Slow Cooker Grits from Add a Pinch, that is. Then you can put your grits in the night before and they’re all ready for a hearty southern breakfast come morning.
- This Cinnamon Swirl Pancake Bake from Dawn at Cutefetti only takes about an hour in the morning and it bakes while you get the rest of your day started. As opposed to stopping your routine to fix breakfast. How wonderful is that?!
- Peanut butter and chocolate chips and granola and a slow cooker? There’s really no need to convince you to try this Chocolate Chip Granola from Mary at Barefeet in the Kitchen now is there? Yum!
Oatmeal 6 Different Ways
- If you’ve ever wanted a big slice of apple pie for breakfast, but just didn’t see it as a healthy option, then this Slow Cooked Apple Oatmeal recipe is for you. In an attempt to keep it healthy, I would recommend adding milk as opposed to ice cream as a side.
- If hot spiced apple cider is more to your liking, then you’ll want to toss this Hot Spiced Apple Cider Oatmeal into the slow cooker before you head to bed tonight. Waking up in the morning shouldn’t be a problem with the lovely scent that will greet you!
- The citrus flavor with the sweet-tart cranberry taste is a great way to start the day. Especially when it comes in the form of a bowl of Cranberry Orange Oatmeal as opposed to say a sugar-topped muffin.
- It’s a good thing when your husband texts you mid-morning to tell you that breakfast was awesome. When he does that two different morning, then you know you have a winner of a recipe. You can find out what all the fuss is about this Gingerbread Oatmeal!
- Peaches and cream for breakfast? Yes, please! You can add this Peaches and Cream Oatmeal to your slow cooker and set it to be ready in the morning. You’ll find the recipe and a sweet little tip to make your slow cooker programmable, just in case you didn’t purchase a programmable one.
- Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal is full of all the pumpkin pie spices we know and love, and you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving, or October to enjoy it. It’s perfectly cozy and tasty all year round!
Fruits & Such
- Scalloped Peaches would make for a wonderful weekend breakfast paired with a favorite protein and a tableful or family. There’s something about fresh fruit that makes you just want to slow down and enjoy a bit. It’s such a great tone to set for the day, don’t you think?
- Steph’s Poached Stuffed Pears, from her blog 52 Kitchen Adventures, would make a fine dessert. But why not breakfast with their fruit, nut and sweet spice ingredient list. It’s definitely a sweet way to start your day!
- This Blueberry Butter is similar to an apple butter, but obviously with blueberries. Steph shared this on her blog 52 Kitchen Adventures and it’s such a great way to savor the flavor of blueberries all year round, on toast or pancakes or mixed in with yogurt. Yum!
- Homemade Apple Sauce is super easy to make if you have an apple corer/peeler. And once you have the homemade apple sauce, you’ll be hard pressed to go back to the store-bought variety. Ever.
Photo credits to Kimberly at Daring Gourmet
- Did you know that you can make Yogurt in your slow cooker using this recipe from Kimberly at The Daring Gourmet? It does take time for the yogurt to process, but the hands-on time is minimal and the result is a creamy Greek yogurt that you can top enjoy with pretty much all of the other breakfast recipes I’ve shared here.
Clearly, slow cookers are for much more than just dinner!
Try a few of these recipes this week and tell me if your morning coffee doesn’t taste just a little better when it’s accompanied with a hearty breakfast that you didn’t have to stress over as soon as your feet hit the floor! Which one will you start with?
We’re in the middle of a series on 7 Habits of Eating at Home with tips on each habit to help in establishing out own healthy habits. We’ve covered topics like planning meals around your calendar, quick and simple grocery shopping tips, stocking your freezer and the 15-minute meal. Today we delve into some tools and tips for mastering time-saving cooking methods.
Habit #5 – Master time-saving cooking methods
In Habit #1 we talked about consulting your calendar when making out your meal plan so that the amount of time and the time of day available for cooking matches up with the recipe.
Strategically choosing slow cooker recipes, pressure cooker meals, sheet pan dinners, and 15-minute meals depending on what your day or week is looking like will make a huge difference in your success with eating at home.
But in order to make all of these amazing options for saving time in the kitchen work, you need to learn how to best use these appliances and cooking methods and which one makes the most sense for the different mealtime scenarios that come up in your schedule.
It really helps to practice with these appliances and cooking methods at a time when you aren’t in a rush so that you can figure out the individual quirks or steps for each one without a lot of pressure or stress to get it right the first time. Don’t give up if you have a failure or two. It could be that you’re just learning how to use the appliance, and with a little perseverance, you’ll come to find that it’s one of your absolute favorite kitchen tools!
A good recipe will go a long way to making you successful – and I’d like to think that the recipes we have here on the site are good ones that will make cooking a delicious meal for your family easy and enjoyable!
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Tips for Using the Slow Cooker
You can make a ridiculous amount of good food in the slow cooker. Prep time is fast and there’s little to no standing in the kitchen monitoring the food as it cooks. That’s a huge plus if you have a lot of other things to do besides keep an eye on the stove!
One of the biggest issues you may run into with slow cookers is that they tend to cook too hot. Most often, this is because you’re using one that is too big. If the food doesn’t fill the crock at least half way, chances are it will cook hotter than it needs to, resulting in dry and over-cooked food. Some slow cookers are better than others at cooking consistently, too.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use the slow cooker:
- To save even more time by cutting out prep, you can make easy freezer-friendly slow cooker meals that are ready to go into the slow cooker in the morning without making any extra messes in the kitchen.
- If you are going to be gone until dinner time, choose a recipe that can handle cooking all day long. Nothing like coming into the house after a really long day and smelling the delicious smell of dinner already cooked and hot for you and your family to enjoy!
- During the summer, I love using my slow cooker to keep my house cooler by not using the stove and oven as much. You can get TONS of inspiration in our super popular summer slow cooker series, 100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes and 30 Days of Whole Food and Garden Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes!
- There are lots of ways you can maximize the usefulness of your slow cooker, too. Try out some of these slow cooker hacks and see what you think!
Tips for using the Instant Pot or any electric Pressure Cooker
The digital, electric variety of pressure cookers are fairly new. I have the six quart 6-in-1 version and I use mine all the time. It’s such a handy kitchen tool! They’re really easy to use, but there is a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never used a pressure cooker before. Read through your manual very well and keep it handy so you can refer to it as needed as you set things up the first few times. I recommend trying to making something simple in the Instant Pot for the first time, like rice.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from using my pressure cookers this past year.
- The most important thing to remember when using the Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker is that you’ll need to add at least 1 1/2 cups of liquid to the pot to get it to come to pressure. However, remember that the liquid doesn’t have to be water! Things like broth, tomato sauce or juice, enchilada sauce and any other liquids work too. A good instant pot recipe will account for the need for liquid, but if you experiment with your own recipes, that’s something to keep in mind!
- Also, remember that the amount of time you set the pot for is not the time that your dinner will be done. You need to allow extra time for the pot to come to pressure before the cook time even starts. The amount of time needed for the pot to come to pressure and then the food to cook varies a lot. And it is usually still a lot faster than cooking on a stovetop or in the slow cooker so it’s a great option when you need to cut down cook time a bit.
- Picking good recipes that are made for cooking in the instant pot is ideal for cooking a successful meal when you are starting out! Every week, we put instant pot as well as slow cooker instructions for many of our recipes in the Weekly Meal Plans. It’s been a hit with our members and I’ve enjoyed cooking these recipes as well!
Looking for a few recipes to try out? Here are a few of my favorites on the blog.
- Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken Cacciatore Sandwiches
- Pressure Cooker Apple Sauce
- If you precook meat in the instant pot, there are loads of great ways to use it up! You can get lots of ideas for what to do with all kinds of proteins and links to my live demos on how to cook meats in the instant pot in this post here.
If you are considering buying a pressure cooker, but aren’t sure which to go for you can read my honest review of the two brands I bought in this post here.
Tips fop making fantastic Sheet Pan Dinners
A sheet pan isn’t exactly an appliance, but it is a really useful tool to have in the kitchen! You can put nearly any type of meat and vegetable combination on a sheet pan and have a marvelous dinner with less time and mess than if you cook each item individually.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when making a sheet pan dinner.
- The best thing is to use a very large sheet pan like this one. If you don’t have a large pan, you can use two regular sized sheet pans, but the large one is really nice and not expensive. If you have a bigger family, two large ones can really make it easier, too!
- Timing is everything with sheet pan dinners. Figure out which ingredient will need the longest cook time and place that in the oven first. Then add the other ingredients later so they get the proper cook times as well.
- Be sure to oil the pan or use parchment paper to keep clean up easy. After all, the whole point of saving time is to spend it with those around your table, not standing at the sink scrubbing off baked-on food!
- These sheet pan dinner recipes are super popular at our house and with our readers! Try one out and see what you think! Once you see how easy they are, you’ll have inspiration for endless varieties of meals you can toss together on a sheet pan and get in the oven for easy family meals.