Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Slow cooker strategies

Photo from Six Sisters' Stuff
I've been using my slow cooker a whole lot this summer, mostly as a tool to get supper to cook itself while I do other things.  I'm going to share some main dishes and a side dish that I've found really useful.

First up, the side dish -- the Slow Cooker Roasted Vegetables pictured above.  We get lots of produce from friends, and this is an awesome way to use it.  The picture above actually does not do this recipe justice.  It is much more colorful than this.  I don't usually add the cheese on top.  This would be a great side with pizza or calzone, or with a quiche or even scrambled eggs.  Of course it would also be a wonderful side with any grilled item.  I like the fact that this recipe includes potatoes.  I cube the potatoes because they take longer to cook, but cut veggies like zucchini and peppers in much larger chunks.

Oh -- this recipe calls for a salad dressing mix.  I always make my own.  Here's the recipe:


1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each:  pepper, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, sweet red pepper flakes
Pinch of paprika

    In a custard cup or small bowl, mix all together.  Whirl briefly in a blender if you like a finer texture (I skip this step).  Makes the equivalent of 1 packet Italian dressing mix.  May double or triple the recipe if you need more than one packet of mix in whatever you’re making.

(I was a little disappointed in the lack of flavor the first time I made the veggie recipe, so recently I’ve been tripling this dressing mix recipe to use in it and it is much improved.)

This Tex-Mex Quinoa Casserole is a very flavorful meatless recipe.

Photo from Chelsea's Messy Apron
We have enjoyed it a lot.  Just pay attention to the cooking time and temperature.  It needs to cook at High for only 3-4 hours.  Otherwise it will get mushy.  When it does, the taste is still wonderful but the mixture looks regrettably like dog food.

Lastly, one more recipe which I do not have a photo for.  This is adapted from the Fix-and-Forget-It Lightly cookbook.  It's a fantastic way to use up large amounts of zucchini.


1/2 cup uncooked rice (I used 1 cup of quick-cooking brown rice)
1 lb. zucchini, cubed
1 lb. yellow summer squash, cubed (or just use 2 lb. zucchini)
1 large onion, sliced
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 medium sized sweet pepper, any color, sliced in strips
4 celery ribs with leaves, sliced (optional)
2 large tomatoes, sliced (or, use 1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tblsp. olive oil, divided use
Shredded cheese, optional

1.  Spray slow cooker insert with cooking spray.  Spread rice in the bottom of the insert.
2.  Layer in the zucchini, summer squash, onion, and sprinkle with basil. 
3.  Combine the brown sugar, salt and pepper and sprinkle half of this over the basil.  Drizzle 1 Tblsp. of olive oil over.
4.  Top with sliced peppers, celery (if using) and tomatoes.  Sprinkle remaining brown sugar mixture over this layer.  Drizzle remaining olive oil over this layer.
5.  Cover.  Cook on High for 3 to 4 hours or until vegetables reach desired degree of doneness. 

Stir casserole before serving and top with shredded cheese if you like.  I serve this as a main dish so I like to add some shredded Mexican blend cheese to give it more protein.  Pepperjack would probably be good, too.

Makes 6 servings. 

Slow cooker meals will be great for those beautiful fall days, too, when you just want to work or play outside and come home to a nice supper all ready.  Enjoy these!


  1. I must check on crock pot large one won't me too useful going forward for me. Roasted veggies have the best flavor...I can almost tolerate them that way.

    1. Oh yes, you are going to need a smaller crockpot, aren't you? I'm not sure on sizes either. I own a couple of small ones, but both are too small for main dishes, even for one person. They are better for dips, etc.

      So you are not a veggie lover, I take it? Must have missed that on your blog.

  2. these recipes sound sooo good and i love using my slow cooker so much...can't wait to try your great recipes...

    1. Oh, I know, BJ. I use my slow cooker all the time, at least several days per week. Helpful in any season!

      Enjoy the recipes if you try them!


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