Slow cooker a lifesaver during the holidays

Slow cooker a lifesaver during the holidays

Corser

Corser

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, our tendencies are not to eat a nutritious meal.

This time of year we are out and about shopping for our loved ones, decorating our homes, and planning Christmas activities and meals for the big day. But we must stop and take the time and remember to eat a healthy meal while we continue our busy planning. I like crockpot meals when I am busy, and find it is less stressful to have the slow cooker help me in this venture.

Why cook with a crockpot? Penn State Extension says this:

  • Having a meal at home in the slow cooker eliminates the temptation to order take-out, which is often less nutritious and more expensive.

  • Slow cookers usually allow one-step preparation. Placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker saves preparation time and cuts down on cleanup.

  • Slow cookers are useful throughout the year. Coming in from a cold winter day, the aroma of hot soup is welcoming. Slow cookers also work well for summertime use; they do not heat the kitchen the way an oven might.

  • As a result of the long, low-temperature cooking, slow cookers help tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.

  • A slow cooker brings out the flavor in foods. A wide variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, including one pot meals, soups, stews and casseroles.

  • A slow cooker uses less electricity than an oven.

I would like to share a few such recipes that will be a healthy selection, affordable in ingredients, preparation time, and give you and your guests comfort.

I love quick and easy recipes especially when I am busy. The Christmas season is one of those times when family and friends are a priority to spend time with. Remember: easy cooking is the best and, I believe, the most satisfying.

Proudhappymama.com says this:

“Christmas brings family and friends together. It helps us to appreciate the love in our lives that we often take for granted. May the true meaning of the holiday season fill your heart and home with many blessings.”

As always I could not agree more. May you experience many Christmas miracles and peace!

Jacqueline Iannazzo-Corser is a contributing writer to The Monroe News, writing about food and recipes. She is a chef, co-owner of Public House and an adjunct professor of culinary arts at Monroe County Community College. She can be reached at [email protected]

Meatballs Snowballs with Vegetables

Serves 12

Ingredients:

1 large bag of frozen fully-cooked meatballs (either beef or chicken) or homemade

1 Jar of Grape Jelly 10 to 12 oz.

1 Jar of Chili Sauce 12 oz. size.

Fresh Parsley (optional)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours.

Note: If you do not like Chili Sauce because of the heat you can select regular catsup as a replacement or an Asian garlic Chili sauce.

Jingle Bell Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 12

Ingredients:

8 oz. Velveeta cheese sliced into ½” thickness, ½ block

4 cups whole milk

Salt and Pepper for taste

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

2 cups macaroni uncooked

4 tbsp. Unsalted butter sliced into ½”thickness

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Select low setting on crock pot

Combine all ingredients in crockpot except shredded cheddar.

Cook for 2 to 3 hours

Stir periodically during cooking process

Add shredded cheese the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Serve

Note: Serve with a crisp salad, breadsticks, or garlic bread.

Chicken Tacos

Serves 12

Ingredients:

16 oz. of salsa mile or medium

1 to 2 limes

1 package taco seasoning

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or dry

3 lb. of chicken pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix salsa, salt & Pepper, lime juice, taco seasoning, and cilantro in the crockpot

Mix chicken pieces into the sauce and cook for on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Serve on Soft hard taco shells or Soft Tortillas.

Note: The frozen section of your grocery store features chicken pieces that are already cut and ready for your crockpot.

Simple Crock Pot-Pot Roast

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 to 4 lb. chuck roast, rump roast, or shoulder roast

Salt and pepper to taste to taste

1 to 2 oz. dried onion soup mix

1 onion, diced

3 potatoes, diced

3 large carrots, chopped

3 to 4 stalks of celery

½ cup water

Directions:

Rub salt and pepper on chuck roast and place it in the crock pot.

place onion soup pack, water, and vegetables over the top of roast.

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours

Crock Pot Pea & Ham Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients:

10 to 12 oz. of cubed ham or ham pieces

1 Bag of Split Peas 16 oz.

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Chicken Broth low sodium 6 Cups

1 Medium Onion

2 Tablespoons of Oil

2 Cloves of Garlic minced

2 to 3 Carrots Chopped

2 to 3 Celery Chopped

Directions:

Rinse peas in a colander before use.

Using cooking oil sauté garlic, carrots, and celery for 2 to 3 minutes.

Place peas, carrots, garlic, celery, and ham pieces with the 6 cups of chicken broth in crockpot.

Cook contents for 8 to 10 hours being sure peas are soft.

Vegetarian Crockpot Pasta Fagioli Soup

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 large can of diced tomatoes with juices

1 can white beans drained

1 can red kidney beans drained

4 cups vegetable broth

1 ½ cups of ditalini pasta

Salt & pepper to taste

3 large carrots sliced

3 sticks celery chopped

1/2 medium onion chopped

Directions:

Prepare vegetables and place into crock pot

Place beans, broth, tomatoes, and seasoning

Stir all ingredients.

Cook contents for 6 to 8 hours.

Add uncooked pasta to mixture 30 minutes to serving.

Note: If you do not want to add pasta to crockpot mixture, cook prior to serving and add. You can refrigerate the noodles one-day prior in an airtight container (be sure they have cooled), or a zip lock baggie. These noodles are good for 3 to 5 days.

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: Slow cooker a lifesaver during the holidays