Slow cooking through January

For Christmas this year my parents got me a slow cooker. I had no idea how much it would change my cooking habits or at least infuse some new recipes into my life. My stash of pre-made frozen food ran out right around Christmas (although I can still find a few things of soup or chili). I’ve been trying to figure out how to make food for dinner that is healthy and doable as all mothers of small children know, late afternoon is not the best time for focusing on something other than your kids. Enter the slow cooker which I can put the ingredients into in the morning, or throughout the morning if it’s really one of those bad days, and have something ready to eat when Jordi gets home that is healthy and yummy and to boot the kitchen isn’t a total trash pit from having just finished cooking. So here’s some of the recipes I’ve tried and our experiences:

  • Macaroni and cheese. Oldie but a goodie standard. We liked this one a lot, although I find I want to put better cheese into it than just my massive bag of shredded costco mexican cheese blend. We recommend trying it.
  • Vegetable tortilla soup. We had this with cheese quesidillas. It came out ok, a little thin as we tend to like pretty thick soups. It may appear in our house again with less broth.
  • No noodle lasagna. Why would you want lasagna without noodles? I guess if you’re gluten free or otherwise sensitive. We like our pasta around here. But I also liked the dish, Jordi and Josie were not so thrilled. The eggplant turned out sponge-like, which didn’t bother me, because I dislike slimey eggplant and this was not at all slimy. We had it on pasta.
  • Lentil Stew. This looked like it had the right ingredients and it was certainly healthy but did not taste particularly good. We won’t be making that again. It needed more flavor.
  • Potato Leek Soup. It was tasty enough, but again not a big ‘wow’. I think it needed more garlic. With a lot of these soups it’s nice to have something different than the normal ones I make.
  • Indian Spinach with Tofu. You should make this, for dinner tomorrow. It was very yummy and quite easy. We had it with the frozen garlic naan from trader joes.
  • Sweet and sour tofu. This was a recipe that clearly was being forced into the crockpot as opposed to using the crockpots strengths, but it fared well. We liked it although the sauce was very sweet.
  • Broccoli and three cheese soup. This was ok, at this point I can’t remember what kind of cheese I used but I’m not sure I believe that broccoli does all that great being cooked a long time. Makes the house smell a bit funny.
  • Quinoa casserole. This was a big win and it was the second time I’ve ever cooked quinoa, the first time was good too and was only earlier this month. It was a light dinner with nice subtle flavors, Jordi went back for several servings.
  • Refried beans soup. Nothing out of this world but a good solid bean soup that was yummy and different from my normal ones.
  • Honey tofu with broccoli. Another recipe forcing a stir-fry into the slow cooker, I think this one I actually started too late and just made it a normal stir fry. It was good and Josie even ate her fair share, but lots and lots of honey.
  • Crockpot corn chowder. A light soup that was yummy. It might have been a little more to my liking if I had taken out some of the corn and pepper before I pureed it all up, but Josie is much more likely to eat things with a totally smooth consistency. We’ll be making this again.
  • Scalloped potatoes. This was awful, and I certainly didn’t try it with vegan cream cheese. I threw out the leftovers. Got to use my mandolin a little at least.
  • Black bean soup. I have a standard black bean soup recipe that I’ve always made for us, but it’s a little spicy for Josie and so this one was much more to her liking. We liked it too, I think we’ll try it again.
  • Vegetarian curry. Nothing too fancy, but it was dinner and yummy. Got even better the next night and a good way to get to eat Trader Joes garlic naan.

That was the new stuff for January. I’ve been working to keep menu planning at least a week or two in advance so that when I find time to go to the grocery store it’s not hard to make up a list of what we need and I’m also not left standing there at 5pm with two cranky kids and no ideas for dinner. February has yet not be so successful as January with the slow cooker, we’ve had some travel and celebrations that have us eating out, I’ve got some soups on the menu for next week that I’m hopeful about. The only trouble with the slow cooker is that most recipes call for broth or stock, which I think is drastically increasing the salt in our dinners since I generally cook with very little.

If you’ve got any vegetarian slow cooker recipes you love, please share! I also made these two recipes for friends as a gift, seeing as they have meat I obviously didn’t eat them, but the recipients said they were good.

3 Responses to “Slow cooking through January”

  1. Cheryl Says:

    I see you found the Year of Slow Cooking site – I love that site too and haven’t used as many recipes as I should! A note on the salt – one option would be to make your own veggie broth in mass quantity and freeze in typically used units. I’ve done this with chicken and turkey – it shouldn’t be too much trouble with veggies and you get to control the salt amounts.

  2. Pipita Says:

    Sopa (o crema) de caraotas negras. Los granos se ablandan, sin ningun alino. Cuando estan blanditas, se le agrega el anino, ya frito, (cebolla doradita, le anades ajo, luego pimenton y comino) se le anade la sal y azucar al gusto. Se pasa por la licuadora y se cuela. A la sopa se le agrega al servirla, pan (ese que viene en cuadritos pequenos con sabor a ajo). Para que quede rica por supuesto, se frie algo de tocineta ahumada, que le da un sabor esquisito!

  3. Bhuvana Says:

    I just got a slow cooker for Christmas too and have been enjoying it too! I also eat vegetarian most of the time, so all your recipes in this post are great. Here are a couple that I’ve tried: – (Mark Bittman’s Boulangerie Beans and Potatoes) – I cooked pinto beans in the slow cooker, then used the sweet potato variation listed at the bottom of this page. – (Slow Cooker Squash Stew) – This tasted pretty good but it was too soupy. Next time I make it, I’ll probably decrease the water and add something like barley to soak up the extra liquid.

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