With October just a few days away, we are now in the full swing of fall!! Halloween is just around the corner, and the cool weather is finally setting in. Fall is the best time to break out the crock-pot and make some good ole hearty soups, stews, and chilies! By using the crock-pot, you don’t have to worry about coming home and making dinner. It’s already done! Never used one before? Here are some tips to get started. If your mornings are crazy (who’s aren’t?), go ahead and prepare everything in the dish the night before and stick it in the fridge. Because of the tight seal, moisture won’t be able to evaporate. With that being said, go easy on the amount of liquids you include in your dishes. Only use the amount called for. While your delicious meal is cooking, you might get the urge to see how things are going. RESIST THIS URGE!! Opening a slow cooker while it’s cooking releases all the built up heat, and can take up 30-45 minutes to get back to the temperature. Wait until your meal is almost done to add ingredients such as rice, pasta, or herbs. This will help you avoid mushy pasta or rice (yuck). These slow-cooker meals are great for weekdays when you have to pick the kids up and have limited time to whip up a good meal.
The mix of basil, beans, and sausage make a soup that will have your taste buds singing. It can also be made in a slow cooker!
· 1 lb. sausage
· 2 14½ oz. cans of Italian style diced tomatoes
· 2 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
· 2 cloves of garlic, diced
· ½ c fresh basil chopped
· 2 tbsp. Italian seasoning
· 1½ t salt
· 1 tsp. pepper
· 2 32 oz. containers of chicken or vegetable broth
· 16 oz. package of ditalini pasta, cooked
· Garnish: thinly slice mozzarella cheese or goat cheese crumbles
Brown sausage and drain. Add remaining ingredients except pasta, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Place a serving of pasta in each bowl and pour soup over top. Sprinkle mozzarella and/or goat cheese over soup and pasta. Enjoy! And get seconds.
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
This soup is like a fiesta in your mouth. The combination of cheese, beans, and corn work together in perfect harmony for an easy soup on a cool October night.
· 1 tbsp. olive oil
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
· 1 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
· 8 oz. cream cheese
· 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
· 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
· 1 cup frozen corn kernels, drained
· 2 cooked chicken breasts (about 2 cups) from 1 roast chicken, chopped
· 1 cup chicken broth
· 2 green onions, chopped
· 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Instructions: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot, over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the enchilada sauce and cream cheese. Break down the cream cheese with a wooden spoon and cook until the cheese has completely melted. Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, frozen corn and stir. Add the chopped chicken breast and chicken broth. Stir and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, or just until the soup is really hot. You don’t want to boil this soup for too long because the cream cheese could curdle. If you find the soup is too thick, add a bit more chicken broth. Remove from heat and top with green onions and mozzarella cheese before serving.
When the days are really cold, nothing compares to a big bowl of beef stew. This is a great fall comfort food. This classic is sure to be a crowd pleaser with everyone!
· 1 1/2lbs stew meat
· 2 cut into bite sized pieces
· 1lb white potatoes (about 1 large potato) peeled then chopped
· 8 oz. whole mushrooms cut into small bite sizes
· 2 carrots, chopped
· 2 ribs celery, chopped
· 1 onion, chopped
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 3 tbsp. tomato paste
· 1 tbsp. gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
· 1 tsp. salt
· 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
· 1/2 tsp. pepper
· 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
· 1 bay leaf
· 32oz beef broth
· ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
· ½ cup frozen peas
Add ingredients from stew meat to beef broth into a crock pot then cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meat is tender (it will depend on how big your stew meat is cut.) Add flour to a bowl then add a ladleful of cooking liquid and whisk until smooth. Pour back into crock pot then stir well to combine and cook on high for 30-45 more minutes, or until broth has thickened (Note: broth will continue to thicken while cooling.) Add peas then let sit until heated through, 5 minutes, before serving.
Chili is another classic dish for fall/winter meals. The hearty taste makes everyone feel good. While you might not think to cook chili in a slow cooker, guess again. It’s super easy to make and you won’t sacrifice flavor.
· 2 lbs. lean ground beef
· 1 small Roma tomato diced
· 1 small onion chopped
· 2 cloves garlic minced
· 1 30 oz. can tomato sauce
· 1/4 cup chili powder
· 2 tsp. ground cumin
· 1 tbsp. salt & pepper
· 1/2 cube beef bullion
· 1 cups water
· 1 4 oz. green chilies can, drained
· 1 16 oz. pinto beans can, drained
· 1 16 oz. chili beans in sauce can
· 1 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
In a skillet, heat ground beef and onion until cooked through. Drain excess grease and set aside. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients including the cooked ground beef. Stir and set on low. Cook for 6-8 hours until ready to eat. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
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