After a bunch of you asked us for advice on ‘quick meals’, we immediately thought CROCK-POT! So, this week's theme is all about fast, good-for-you meals you can make in your crock-pot. It’s not just for stewed meats and soups (although, there is some of that too!). We’ve laid out the recipes and made it easy to shop for each dish too with our downloadable PDF shopping list.
Check out Season Generously for some additional breakfast & sweet recipes too. Happy eating!
Monday: Slow-Cooker Zucchini Lasagna
Adapted from: primaverakitchen.com
Time: about 15 minutes prep, 6 hours cooking
We’re kicking off slow-cooker week with a surprisingly good meatless Monday recipe – Zucchini Lasagna. Now, I know the idea of a) lasagna in a crock-pot sounds weird and b) some would say lasagna without noodles isn’t lasagna. But, I promise it’s really good!
This carb-free, gluten-free recipe is easier to make than a typical lasagna, because you don’t have to stand next to the oven to make it. It only takes about 15-minutes to prep and the slow-cooker does the rest. What’s better than that?!
One quick tip – zucchini give off a LOT of liquid when it’s cooked. So, this will be liquidy when it’s done. If you used a slotted spoon to scoop it out, you’ll be left with only the goodies and none of the liquid.
15-oz part-skim ricotta
1 large egg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup spinach, chopped (I’ve used other greens to make this and they all taste bitter aside from spinach)
Salt and pepper
4 cups homemade tomato sauce or your favorite tomato sauce
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1. Slice zucchini lengthwise into pieces about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and in a large frying pan, quickly cook each slice of zucchini about 1-2 minutes on each side (to help draw out some of the moisture). Once all the pieces are cooked, set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, and spinach. Stir well and set it aside.
3. Line and lightly coat the inside of a 6-quart slow cooker with a slow-cooker liner and cooking spray. Ladle 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the slow-cooker making sure it coats the entire bottom of the
cooker. Layer 5 or 6 zucchini slices over the sauce to cover. Place 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture over zucchini and top with the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers until all your ingredients are all used up. 3. Top the lasagna with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
4. Cover and cook on high for 3.5 hours. Turn OFF (don’t leave on warm) the slow-cooker and let stand for 3 hours. Before serving, top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
Tuesday: Slow-Cooker Cranberry Meatballs with Honey Glazed Carrots & Rice
Adapted from: delish.com
Time: 20 minutes prep, 4 hours cooking
There are a million recipes out there all claiming to be the best meatball. They all use similar ingredients and use one of three methods (bake in the oven, pan fry, or cook in sauce). Some even do a combination of methods. But meatballs don’t have to be complicated to make. As long as you have some kind of meat, a binder, and some added flavor, you can make a good meatball.
With two kids under 3 years old, I don’t always have the time to stand around and cook for hours. So, this recipe takes 15 minutes to prep. and the slow-cooker does the rest. I serve this with rice, but pasta or veggies would be great too.
1 lb. ground beef (85/15)
1/2 cup regular bread crumbs (NOT panko)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, chives, Worcestershire, eggs, and garlic and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Roll into 1” meatballs.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Place meatballs on top. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours, until the meatballs are cooked through.
3. Toss well with the sauce in the slow cooker before serving. Garnish with chives. Enjoy!
Honey Glazed Carrots
Adapted from: thereciperebel.com
Time: 5 minutes prep, 6 hours cooking
Carrots are a great super food that can be used a bunch of different ways. While you can easily cook them faster in a pot on the stove, that involves being able to stand there and stir, and my girls just don’t always allow for that to happen! Ha! So, I’ll take the help from my slow-cooker. I prep this during my little ones' nap and it’ll be ready to pair with any main dish for dinner. It guarantees a healthy dinner that I don’t have to put much thought behind.
2 lbs. baby carrots
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1. Place carrots, juice, honey, salt and butter in a 4 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until tender. Stir in orange zest and serve. Enjoy!
Wednesday: Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup
Adapted from: lecremedelacrumb.com
Time: 30 minute prep, 4 hours cooking
A few years ago, I went traveling to France and I fell in love with this little cafe in Paris that made the BEST French onion soup I’ve ever had in my life (to this day!). When the cooler weather hits here, I always think back to that day in Paris and how just the smell of that soup, warmed me.
So you can imagine how excited I was to find a crock-pot version of French onion soup that gave me all the amazing flavors without much work.
The caramelized onions…the salty broth…the gooey cheese…the crunchy bread… oh my, it’s good!!! You’ll love this. A lot!
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 yellow onions, skins removed and thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
6 slices crusty french bread
8-12 slices Swiss cheese
1. Add butter and onions to a large skillet, season, and saute over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until onions are translucent and start to brown. Cover and cook about 5 minutes longer to let them caramelize a little more.
2. Transfer onions to slow cooker. Add garlic, broth, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.
3. About 20-30 minutes before serving, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place slices of bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in preheated oven for about 5 minutes, then flip the bread slices over and return to oven for another 5 minutes or so until bread is dried and crunchy. Set aside.
4. Place oven-safe bowls on the baking sheet. Fill each with soup from the slow cooker. Place 2 slices of swiss cheese (overlapping) on top of the soup so the edges are hanging over the sides of the bowls. Bake about 10 minutes until cheese is melty. Serve with crusty bread and garnish with parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Thursday: Slow-Cooker Chicken Taquitos
Adapted from: cremedelacrumb.com
Time: 10 minutes prep, 4-8 hours cooking
Day 4 of slow-cooker week and we’re having taquitos, but with a healthy twist. No frying here! These are baked and golden brown on the outside for a crispy crunch. And filled with a cream cheese chicken slow cooked for hours. Top it with salsa or sour cream or anything else you fancy, and you have one good looking dinner!
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt + pepper, to taste
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese
6 12 inch whole wheat tortillas
optional: cilantro, salsa, sour cream, or other toppings as desired
1. Add chicken, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste, cream cheese, and water to crock pot. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours.
2. Minutes before serving, remove chicken from crock pot, shred with two forks, and return to slow cooker. Give it a stir. Let it cook about 15 minutes longer.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the middle of each tortilla. Top with 1-2 tablespoons shredded cheese. Roll tightly and place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, until tortillas are slightly browned and shredded cheese is melted. Serve with desired toppings and sauces. Enjoy!
Friday: Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from: cremedelacrumb.com
Time: 10 minutes prep, 8 hours cooking
Even though stroganoff is really good when made on the stovetop, I don’t always have time to do that. So, I wanted to find one that used a crock-pot instead.
The problem is all the slow-cooker stroganoff recipes use cream of mushroom soup. I’m not a fan of all the added salt! I tried a few and this is the one I like the most. It’s easy to make, makes the meat tender, and is the ultimate comfort food.
1 1/2 – 2 pounds stew meat (round or chuck cuts)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature
4 tablespoons cornstarch + 1/2 cup beef broth
12 ounces noodles, cooked
1. Lightly grease your slow cooker, then add stew meat and sprinkle Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste over the top. Add mushrooms, beef broth, garlic, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
2. About 30 minutes before it’s finished cooking, stir corn starch into 1/2 cup beef broth and stir mixture into slow cooker. Add cream cheese and sour cream to slow cooker then cook another 20-30 minutes on high, stirring occasionally until cream cheese and sour cream are incorporated and sauce is thickened.
3. Taste, add salt and pepper to your personal taste if needed, and stir in noodles. Serve immediately garnished with cracked black pepper and fresh parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Julie is a stay-at-home mom of two girls and with a passion for all things food. She loves growing, cooking, and, of course, eating food! She started meal planning years ago to stay organized and eliminate food (and money!) waste and started sharing it on her own blog, Season Generously.