A slow cooker is a busy mom’s best friend. Not a week goes by that I don’t put it to good use to feed my family. I’m really hard on my slow cookers, and so the one that I received only a few years ago is already on its last computer chip. (I’d be really interested in hearing your slow cooker recommendations. Do you have one that you love? Do you have one you’ve used for 20 years and it never fails you? Slip your suggestions into the comment box for me?)
I can’t remember at what point in my mothering career I figured out how to make the slow cooker work for me, but I remember that it completely changed my attitude towards dinner. You see, when you’re mothering little ones, it’s really hard to find large chunks of time for food prep. I can’t find an uninterrupted hour to brown the meat, soften the onions, and chop the carrots. But a slow cooker allows me to do all that prep work in small chunks over the course of a morning.
Today I’m sharing a recent winning recipe from my slow cooker. It started with a Martha Stewart recipe, but I changed it so much that the original recipe was hardly recognizable in my version. Here’s what that morning looked like for me, and how I make my slow cooker work for me.
7:30 a.m.–Realize I’ve forgotten to thaw the meat. Remove it from the freezer and let it sit in a sinkful of water.
7:45–change a poopie diaper
8:00–pull out the slow cooker; plug it in and turn it on high; add a chunk of butter to the pot so it can start melting
8:15–help the Sweet Pea with her morning math lesson
8:45–chop the leeks and the garlic
8:50–settle an ownership dispute over Legos
9:00–add the leeks and garlic to the slow cooker, stir a bit, and replace the lid
9:05–take a shower and put on clothes (not jammies)
9:30–prep butternut squash and mushrooms; realize I’ve forgotten to thaw the chicken broth; remove it from the freezer and add it to sink with the sausage
9:45–add the veggies to the leeks and garlic
9:50–mop up water off of the bathroom floor; tell the Peanut that sinks are not swimming pools
10:00–put dry clothes on the Peanut
10:15–grab some scissors and head to the garden to snip some herbs; spend more time than necessary gathering said herbs, because it is quiet and peaceful in the garden, even in winter
10:30–return to the house upon hearing screams of anger
10:35–(put scissors down) and extract hugs and apologies for wounds inflicted during a ninja fight
10:45–chop herbs and add to slow cooker, along with spices; remove the sausage from the sink (which has long-since been thawed) and chop; add to the pot
11:00–put all of the broth into the slow cooker, even the chunk that’s still frozen; replace the lid and sigh; I’m on the home stretch
11:15-1:00–threaten children with no lunch if they do not tidy up the house from their morning play; make/serve/clean up lunch
1:00-3:30–put the Littles down for naps; herd the Biggles to the dining table for school time; teach lessons; smell soup cooking; get excited about dinner time
3:45–chop the kale; wrestle the Peanut’s pacifier out of her mouth and put it away until bedtime
4:00–add the kale to the pot; switch heat to low; replace lid
4:30–realize I’ve forgotten to thaw the bread from the freezer; remove bread, wrap in foil, place in low oven until dinner time
4:45–ask the Sweet Pea to set the table for dinner
4:46–ask the Sweet Pea to set the table for dinner
4:47–ask the Sweet Pea to set the table for dinner
4:48–tell the Sweet Pea if she does not set the table for dinner there will be no dessert
5:15–the Sweetie Pie walks in the door; herd the children to the table and serve up the bowls
5:30–give thanks for this meal that is miraculously gracing our table; breathe deep, grab spoon, eat dinner
Check your sausage for “illegal” ingredients like sugar and gluten. I like Applegate Farm brand.
You can also make this recipe on a stove top if you’re in a hurry. But I like the long, lazy style of a slow cooker.
Source: Erin at Plan to Eat
Course: Allergen-Free Soup and Stew
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1 leek thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small butternut squash peeled and diced
- 1 1/2 c mushrooms chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh sage chopped
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 pound Italian sausage sliced and cut into quarters
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth homemade if possible
- 2 cups leafy greens kale, chard, collards, etc.
- Turn a slow cooker on high, and melt the butter in the crock while it warms up. Add the leeks and garlic; replace the lid and allow to soften–about 20-30 minutes. Add the remaining veggies, herbs, and the sausage. Replace the lid and allow to soften–about 30-45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and allow to cook on high for 6-8 hours.
- 30 minutes before serving, switch the heat to the low setting and add the greens. Replace the lid and allow the soup to simmer until the greens have melted into the soup.