Slow Cooker Summer Vegetable Pesto Soup {and a Slow Cooker Giveaway!}

Tender summer vegetables are slow cooked with white beans and pasta, and served with a dollop of fresh basil pesto and Parmesan toasts. Slow Cooker Summer Vegetable Pesto Soup is a great way to enjoy your summer produce without heating up the house!

Slow Cooker Summer Vegetable Pesto Soup

I was just having this conversation with my sisters yesterday about eating soup when it’s 90° outside. All 3 of us give it an air-conditioned thumbs up. I really have no problem with soup and grilled cheese sandwiches right smack in the middle of my summer, and there’s so much produce! So it stands to reason that vegetable soup just makes plain old good sense.

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Crock Pot Broccoli Soup

I love broccoli.

crock pot broccoli soup recipe

Is that a weird thing to love?

Broccoli seems like a super weird thing to have stuck at the end of a bunch of posts about cookies. Call it the broccoli-cookie-detox.

So anyway… broccoli soup. In my crock pot. I’ve had a thing for broccoli soup since I was little. I think once I had a bowl at a restaurant where my mom worked and I was hooked. If I see broccoli soup (cream of OR cheese… either way I’m happy) on a menu, chances are I’m gonna order it. My kids do not share my sentiment. They will eat broccoli without argument but not in soup. No sir.

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I Blame the Coffee

I’ll admit that I have an unreasonable relationship with coffee. It’s my sidekick. Coffee wakes me every morning. It keeps my fingers warm while I clutch my mug, wishing this old house had better insulation. Coffee keeps me company while I write. It wakes my sleepy head up early everyday and occasionally gives me a sweet iced pick me up in the afternoon. A tall cup of joe is a great excuse to loaf around a cozy coffeehouse with my sweetheart and a newspaper, and then buy the little guys fancy hot chocolate. It’s a great companion in the car (so long as your car dancing does not spill it) and a welcome distraction when you need to wander from your desk and be off task for a few. Coffee can accompany whipped cream, add ooomph to your chocolate cake, flavor ice cream, and braise beef.

Yep. It’s awesome. And it’s also my scapegoat.

I don’t need a lecture on the perils of caffeine dependency. We all have our vices. But coffee does tend to provide me with a most reasonable explanation for my sometimes out of turn behavior. Not paying attention? Not enough coffee. Talking too much? Too much coffee. I have a short fuse. I blame the coffee.

Chad and I made a quick run to the grocery store the other night. Just a milk, eggs, cereal kinda thing. It wasn’t crowded and we wove our way from the produce towards the dairy department with ease. Let’s discuss grocery store etiquette for a minute. In my world, you walk like you drive: stay to the right. If you have to walk in front of a person that’s scanning a shelf for something, you say excuse me. If you need to peruse cans of green beans but someone else beat you to it, you mind your personal space and wait your turn. If there is a woman eyeballing the shelves for healthy cereal that doesn’t break the bank and you need the corn syrup laden discount bag of garbage that’s behind her, you need to refer to rules 2 (say excuse me) and 3 (mind your personal space and wait your turn). You do not lean in behind her and her boyfriend, reaching your arm past BOTH of them like you’re leaning in for a group hug and grab your crap without saying a word. Because that woman WILL freak out on you. And then she will blame the coffee.

I make no apologies. We made it out of the grocery store unscathed, my mood greatly improved by the woman dressed as a pirate that I spied shopping the deli. Chad says he would still love me if I dressed like a pirate. And he totally tolerates it when my coffee withdrawal inspires me to loudly correct rude strangers in the grocery store. Maybe it’s because I make a mean pot roast.

But maybe not.

Heat a little oil and sprinkle all sides of a 3 or 4 pound beef chuck roast with coarse ground black pepper and kosher salt. Over medium high heat, brown all sides of the roast and then remove it to your slow cooker. Saute onions in the drippings left in the pan until they are golden brown. Then add garlic, thyme, a little kosher salt, more coarse ground black pepper and onion powder.

Add coffee and balsalmic vinegar and then bring it all to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute. Then add all of it to the slow cooker with the beef roast.

Add potatoes if you like, and then cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Halfway through tuck carrots and celery in with the roast, recover and continue cooking.

When the roast and vegetables are done, remove them to a plate for serving and ladle the drippings into a saucepan. Skim the fat off the top and over medium heat wisk in the cornstarch (you can add a little of the broth in a cup and mix it with the cornstarch until it’s smooth to keep the lumps out of your gravy- then pour this into the remaining drippings on the stovetop).

Coffee Braised Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Ingredients

A 3-4 pound beef chuck roast

kosher salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste (I’m partial to freshly ground or coarse)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

2 onions, very coarsely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 cup strong coffee

2 tablespoons balsalmic vinegar

3 cups of potatoes, cut into “two-bite” size pieces

3 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into sticks

7 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

To Make

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season all sides of the beef chuck roast with the kosher salt and coarse ground pepper and then brown it in the skillet. Remove it to the slow cooker. Add the onions to the skillet and saute until soft and golden. Then add the garlic, thyme, kosher salt, onion powder, and black pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes and then por in the coffee and balsalmic vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another minute and then empty the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. If you are using potatoes, add them now. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 7-8 hours. In the middle of cooking, add the carrots and celery. When the roast is done remove it to a plate. Ladle the drippings into a saucepan and wisk in the cornstarch until it’s thickened over medium heat. Serve the roast with the gravy.

And have coffee after dinner.

Recipe adapted from Eating Well.

Crock Pot Crazy

My mom gave me a crock pot for Christmas. This thing is amazing. Mom sent me a message asking how I like it?

How do I like it???? “Loooove it,” is what I told her. “It is like a magical pot of cooking happiness!!! Why did I never have this insanely awesome invention before now???”

So since Christmas I have been putting everything in the crock pot. Yes, you are all in trouble. I have scribbled a slew of slow cooker recipes down on scraps of paper that are currently littering various surfaces of my countertop, window sill, and desk. I will eventually need to share them all, just for the sheer joy of it.

I can cook dinner at 10 o’clock in the morning!!!

I’m gonna figure out how to bake a cake in this thing.

Maybe you’re tired of chili recipes, but don’t say I didn’t warn you (Chili Cause I’m Cold). I love chili. And for 2 whole entire days this week it felt like winter in North Carolina. I was thrilled. And armed with a freezer full of chicken and a slow cooker. So with that I give you Chicken and Black Bean Crock Pot Chili.

Put some chopped onion in the crock pot. I cut up a whole onion. And then half of another one (I like onions). Then pour in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of fire roasted tomatoes (roasty toasty flavor; MMmmmm), a can of black beans, a can of light red kidney beans, and half a chopped red bell pepper (green works, too- also the green peppers are actually affordable, but I had red on hand). Stir, stir, stir. Then you will need a package of chili seasoning (or 2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder/seasoning), some cumin, a little crushed red pepper for heat (if you like, and I do!)and then stir some more.

Nestle your chicken breast down into the tomato and beans, cover slightly, put the lid on the slow cooker and go! I let this work itself out on low for 5 hours. Then I took the chicken and put it on a plate and shredded it with a fork. I stirred it back into the pot and eplaced the lid for another hour. You could cook this longer if you prefer– or if that’s what your work schedule requires– 8 hours on low wouldn’t hurt a thing. Garnish with a little low fat cheese and…….done!

Dinner in about 10 active minutes leaves you with lots of time to do something else. If you are cooler than me you will use your time on something besides washing dishes (where do they all come from????).

Chicken and Black Bean Crock Pot Chili

Ingredients

1 1/2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 ounce) can of fire roasted tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can of light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 a red or green bell pepper, diced

1 package chili seasoning (or 2 tablespoons of your favorite way to season your chili)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

2 boneless skinless uncooked chicken breasts (3 if your chicken breasts are smaller- it was about 1.5 pounds total)

To Make

Stir together all ingredients except the chicken breast in a slow cooker. Situate the chicken breasts on top of the bean and tomato mixture and cover slightly. Cover and cook on low for at least 5, but up to 7 hours. Remove the chicken to a plate and shred with a fork. Replace the chicken and stir in. Cover and continue cooking for another hour. Sprinkle with a little shredded low fat cheese and stay warm!