With autumn well under way and winter fast approaching, I find myself craving some serious winter warmers in the food department. I’ve mentioned before I’m a real foodie and I love serving up healthy, hearty meals for my family to enjoy, especially on these colder evenings.
I was gifted a slow cooker a couple of years ago by my Mum and honestly it took me a good year to start using it properly. Initially I figured it was another chunky piece of cookware you pull out of the cupboard once or twice a year, pop back in and forget about. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that, but at the time I of course appreciated the gift, but didn’t truly appreciate how much use I would actually get out of it. Now there is no going back, I’m a convert. I will say the main things I do use this for is chilli con carne and typical stews, but recently I have been branching out and becoming much more experimental. Which gave me the idea for this post. Even if you don’t own a slow cooker you can still cook all these dishes in a large pan, on your hob over a low heat. Now I don’t know much about slow cookers in general but I gather they arnt all the same. Apart from all cooking your food slowly, I’m guessing some are like mine with many a setting, which fortunately comes with one you can fry/brown your meat with first. If yours doesn’t come with this, simply brown off in a separate frying pan prior to adding to the slow cooker.
For each recipe I have to recommend bread. All types of bread~ crusty tiger baguette, soft, floury baps, a tasty uncut loaf. Oh and a good layer of proper butter, extra points if it’s Welsh 😉 Now let’s get going…
(This amount feeds my family of 5)
•4 chicken breasts
•3/4 baker size potatoes
•1 whole small swede
•1 brown onion
•3/4 celery sticks
•1 clove of garlic
•2 & 1/2 pints of chicken stock made with 2 stock cubes
1) Dice and brown off the chicken breasts, then add them to slow cooker
2) Roughly chop all the vegetables, finely chop the garlic and make up 2 & 1/2 pints of stock using the 2 stock cubes
3) Throw everything into the slow cooker, pour over your stock and slow cook for approximately 4 hrs.
*You could cook for longer but I find my water starts to evaporate after this time and I try to avoid adding more and more water as I don’t like to dilute the taste. Each slow cooker can vary in cooking time so adapt to suit your machine*
4) 5 minutes before serving, I tend to stir in a small amount of gravy granules to thicken up the liquid slightly and give it an even richer taste. Don’t add too much though as you will just end up with gravy.
Best served in a bowl with some yummy floury rolls to dip dip!
Slow Cooker Sausages Amy’s Way
This recipe came about by accident when I had planned to make a sausage casserole, but forgot the tomatoes and decided to just roll with it. I kind of just made it up as I went along just basing it on a typical stew style meal. Turns out this is super delicious, the garlic really adds something to the sausages, and the texture after slow cooking them is just perfection. I suppose you could add anything you liked into this really like I did and make it a ‘you way’.
(Feeds my family of 5)
12 good quality pork sausages
Small punnet of mushrooms
Few handfuls of sweetcorn
1 large clove of garlic
2 pints of beef stock
1) Brown off the sausages for approximately 10 minutes in a frying pan then pop into the slow cooker
2) chop the mushrooms, onion, garlic and baton the carrots, throw into the slow cooker along with the sweetcorn
3) Pour over the stock, season if you wish, then cook for approximately 3 hrs. *Again depending on your slow cooker these times may vary*
4) Around 10 minutes before the end of cooking I sprinkle over some beef gravy granules
5) Serve with mashed potato, broccoli and some crusty bread for dipping ~ delish
Chilli Con Carne
Whenever I think of chilli con carne I automatically think of bonfire night as it has long been the traditional nosh for that typically night in my house. Having said that I do enjoy this dish anytime throughout the year but especially in the winter. Nothing warms the cockles and clears the airways like a bit of chilli. I like mine with a right good kick so 3 tsp of chilli might be too much for some so just adjust to taste.
500g beef mince
1 red onion
2x 400g chopped tomatoes
Chopped mixed peppers
1 Tin kidney beans
2 cloves of garlic
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
1&1/2 pints beef stock
3 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1) Brown the mince, drain the fat then add to the slow cooker
2) Chop the onion, peppers and garlic, pop in the slow cooker. Add the 2 tins of tomatoes then rinse and drain the kidney beans, throw these all in too
3) Now add 2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée and all the spices. Pour over the beef stock and cook for approximately 3 hrs
Chilli con carne is one of the few meals I like to serve simply. Just some plain rice and a good pile of chilli, as I don’t like anything to mask over any of the delicious flavours in this super tasty dish. You could however plonk a huge tablespoon of sour cream on the top, grate over some mature cheese or plate up with a side of nachos for dipping. This is great for freezing if you have left overs and you could use to fill jacket potatoes, taco shells or even stir into pasta.
And finally if you have any of that crusty bread left over and your not too shy to mop up I am definitely not one to judge 😉
Thanks for reading and happy cooking ✨