It’s finally that time of year. The time when moms and dads high-five each other and, heck, even strangers in the grocery store aisles, knowing victory is almost upon us. That’s right…it’s back to school time. This is a time for celebration. And I want to help you celebrate with these amazingly, deliciously easy slow cooker recipes.
That’s right, dust that baby off, and let’s get cooking. Slow cookers, pressure cookers—whatever you’re into these days. This edition of What To Eat Now is all about getting the kitchen gadgets out for a lil’ help to get dinner on the table with zero fuss. It’s the perfect time to just throw everything in the pot and have a delicious dinner waiting for you when you get home from work, school and everything else this season has to offer. As with all my recipes, feel free to get creative and tweak them any way you’d like to suit you and your family’s tastes. Most of these recipes serve six. That way, even if you’re just a fam of 4, you still have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. What? Dinner and lunch from one meal? Yes.
Boom, you’re welcome.
Now, most of these dishes do require a little bit of prep or another side dish that you’ll have to do a bit of cooking for. But I promise you they are all worth the extra effort. I so hope you try these slow cooker favorites, and they soon become your family’s faves, too.
First up, we have my Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Creamy Parmesan Polenta. Umm, yes. This is ultimate fall comfort food in a bowl and so, so easy to make.
I suggest getting nice marinated olives for this dish like you find in the deli section of most grocery stores. The more exciting the olives, the tastier the dish. Try to get olives marinated in olive oil, herbs, garlic, chilies…whatever you like. Polenta is just Italian ground cornmeal, so if you have trouble finding it, look for finely milled cornmeal at your store, and that will do just fine. Depending on the mill of the grain, it can take 20 to 30 minutes to cook. Have a taste while you’re cooking to see if it’s done. Alternatively, if the thought of making polenta seems a bit too daunting after the endless hours of marching band/soccer/ballet practice, feel free to serve this gorgeous chicken dish with some gluten-free pasta or crusty rolls if that’s more your speed. No matter what vehicle you put this dish on, it will be delicious.
Next we have my Slow Cooker Beef Randang with Jasmine Rice. Don’t be intimidated by the name or ingredients. Trust me…this is the ultimate curry dish to warm you up on a cool night. Randang is a Malaysian beef curry that is truly PACKED with flavor—unsurprising, once you see all the spices and herbs in this dish.
Try to find a good Asian market to source some of the ingredients, like the fresh lemongrass stalks, and to keep the price down. If you are at all a curry lover (guilty!), then I know you are going to live for this dish. Making this in the slow cooker is perfect because Randang tends to be cooked low and slow for hours until the meat is truly just falling apart. Traditionally, this is quite a fire-y curry, but feel free to add as little or as much of the chilies as you fancy. Serve this simply with a bit of steamed Jasmine rice and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. There are layers upon layers of flavor in this dish. It’s magic. I so hope you try it and love it as much as I do.
Lastly, you have my Eggplant and Ricotta Lasagna. This is low carb, vegetarian and gluten free. Pow! I love this dish for a meatless Monday night. I know some will find the salting/baking process of this to be a bit fiddly for a slow cooker dish, but I promise you…it is worth a few extra minutes of prep to avoid the dreaded soggy lasagna. No one likes that.
I love this dish because you can throw it together in no time using mostly what you already have in the pantry. Try to find the most gorgeous eggplant you can. You want shiny, vibrant purple and unblemished skin. Also, check around the stalks to see if they look fresh. Use any store-bought pasta sauce you like, I prefer to use Emeril’s Home Style Marinara for this. What can I say? My dad’s brand really is my favorite! This dish is better on the second day, so don’t fear if you have leftovers. I like to serve this simply with a good gluten-free roll or baguette to sop up all that sauce and goodness. But feel free to serve with pasta or whatever your family likes.
I so hope you enjoy these dishes. Happy back to school, everyone!