Candied Spiced Nuts #improvcooking

Even though it’s October (and the weather is still feeling like August…), I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving. I know, I know, but I get to host this year and I’m pumped! We’re not sure if we’ll have a big crowd or just the four of us, so I’ve got several menus floating around in my head.

I knew this month’s Improv Challenge theme, Sugar and Spice,  was perfect for trying out some of the recipes I’m considering. Sugar and spice is SO fall – apple spice, pumpkin spice – but I couldn’t get these nuts off my mind, so they won out.

This is such an easy recipe – the slow cooker makes it totally hands off. Just mix, let the slow cooker do it’s thing, then spread them out to cool. They were so good – and a perfect pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack!

CandiedSpicedNuts

Candied Spiced Nuts
(adapted from Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Grease the crock of a slow cooker and add the nuts. Add the sugars and cinnamon and stir. Add the water and stir until everything is evenly combined and wet.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle with remaining  seasonings. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container.

You can check out the other Sugar and Spice themed recipes that bloggers made here:

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Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sliders with Dill Pickle Slaw #Crocktober

Fall always seems like the perfect time for slow cooker recipes. It seems like we’re squeezing more and more into these shortening days, and being able to have a warm meal minutes within walking through the door is both convenient and comforting.

Today, I’m linking up with a few other bloggers for #Crocktober! You can check out their perfect-for-fall meals here:

 

BBQ chicken in the slow cooker is nothing new – but a few extra steps and this makes a really special meal. After you pull the chicken, it gets added to slider rolls, covered in glaze, and baked. A quick pickle slaw tops it off.

My pickle-loving crew loved this – a perfect little meal for a busy night or a perfect tailgate dish!

DillPickleSliders

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sliders with Dill Pickle Slaw
(slightly adapted from Southern Bite)
Makes 12 sliders

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup barbecue sauce
12 sweet Hawaiian rolls
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. barbecue seasoning
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. pickle juice
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Add the chicken to the slow cooker and cover with barbecue sauce. Turn to coat. Cook on low for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred.

Preheat the oven for 350 and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Leaving the rolls together, cut in half. Place the bottom half in the greased pan. Top with chicken. Add the top half of the rolls.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, barbecue seasoning, Worcestershire, brown sugar, and yellow mustard. Brush evenly over all of the sliders.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle juice, sugar, salt, and garlic powder.

Toss the cabbage and chopped dill pickle with enough of the dressing to coat. Refrigerate until serving.

When the sliders are done, serve with the dill pickle slaw.

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs

There’s nothing new about cocktail meatballs. I’m sure you’ve had them a million times. But I wanted to share this recipe today because it’s a great, easy option for your Super Bowl party.

This version uses the slow cooker – it’s a mix-it-up-and-forget-it dish that’s always a crowd pleaser.  Use a slow cooker liner for even easier clean up!

CocktailMeatballs

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
(from Cincy Shopper)
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer

12 oz. chili sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups grape jelly
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 lbs. frozen meatballs

Add all ingredients, except meatballs, to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Stir in meatballs. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix

Just about two weeks until the Super Bowl! Are you having a party? We’re going to one with some of our best friends and I’m super excited about it.

We’ve been chatting about the menu for weeks. Chili, a nacho bar, and pickle dip are all on the short list. This is a contender, too.

I made this up as a Christmas day munchie and it was well received. This is a great make-ahead option and it’s done in the slow cooker, which is awesome. I used a slow cooker bag for this to aide with cleanup (it was a breeze!) but I also kept the mix in the bag while it cooled, instead of spreading it on baking sheets. I just shook the bag/ mixed it around every few minutes until it was fully cooled. Super easy and it worked perfectly!

RanchChexMix

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix
(from Oh Sweet Basil)
Serves 8-10

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups mini pretzels
3 cups oyster crackers
3 cups Cheezit crackers
1 cup dry roasted, lightly salted peanuts

Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker bag or spray with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the butter, ranch mix, Worcestershire, sugar and corn syrup in a small bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients together in the slow cooker. Pour liquid mixture over and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every half hour. When finished, pour the contents onto large baking sheet sand continue stirring as it cools to avoid it lumping together. Store in an airtight container.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

This meal was so easy! Are you sensing a theme around here? If it’s not quick and easy, I pretty much can’t handle it these days. Going forward, let’s just assume everything I post is quick and easy unless I say otherwise.

On top of being easy, this is freezer friendly. I prepped and popped it in the freezer – and then thawed the day before cooking. If you’re someone who likes to prep ahead, this is a fantastic option.

CranberryOnionPorkRoast

Slow Cooker Cranberry Onion Pork Roast
(adapted from New Leaf Wellness)
Serves 4

2 lbs. pork loin
15 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dried minced onion

Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

I love sweet potatoes. And I love that making them in the IP is so damn quick.

This is a great, basic method for cooking them. I served them mashed with cinnamon honey butter (yum!) but if you were baking them to top with pulled pork or cooking them to use for another recipe, this is the way to go!

IPSweetPotatoes

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Honey Butter
(method from Add a Pinch)
Serves 4

4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
1 cup water
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place a steamer basket in the Instant Pot and add sweet potatoes. Pour 1 cup of water over. Cook on manual for 10 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes cook, mix together the butter, honey and cinnamon.

Serve the potatoes topped with cinnamon honey butter.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Baked Beans #CookoutWeek

One of the fun parts of #CookoutWeek has been getting acquainted with some of the sponsors. I got the opportunity to try out True Made Foods sauces and I’m a total convert.

If you haven’t heard of them, the gist is this: they infuse their sauces with vegetables and cut back on the sugar to make a product you can feel good about. Why am I so obsessed with this? I have a toddler that LOVES to dip anything and everything. If I can get some extra veggies in him while he slathers his dinner in ketchup, I’m all about it. This isn’t just a toddler ketchup, though – they’re really good and will easily please a more sophisticated palate. Wins all around.

I used two of the sauces they sent – the ketchup and the bbq sauce – to make up a batch of slow cooker baked beans. They were amazing. While most baked beans are loaded with sugar, these are pretty modest – but you don’t miss it at all. They’re full of flavor and a perfect accompaniment to any cookout.

CrockpotBakedBeans

Slow Cooker Barbecue Baked Beans
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 8-10 as a side

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 cup True Made Foods Ketchup
1/2 cup True Made Foods Barbecue Sauce
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper

Add beans and onions to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients until well combined. Pour over beans and stir to combine.

Cook on low for 6 hours. Vent the lid for the last 15-20 minutes to thicken the sauce, if desired.

Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Pulled Chicken

I had bought chicken to make something else – and then realized that my day was entirely too busy to make what was planned. After scrambling around Pinterest for a few minutes for something I already had ingredients, I found this recipe.

This is simple, but good. My toddler totally devoured it. And demanded most of the leftovers for himself.

HoneyMustardPulledChicken

Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Pulled Chicken
(from Wonky Wonderful)
Serves 6

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
1/4 cup water +2 Tbsp., divided
2 tsp. cornstarch

2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. sugar

Sandwich rolls, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, Dijon and 1/4 cup water.

Add the chicken to the slow cooker. Pour the honey mustard mixture over and toss to coat. Cook on low for 4 1/2 hours, remove chicken and shred.

Whisk together the remaining 2 Tbsp. water and cornstarch until smooth. Whisk into the slow cooker. Return chicken and stir to coat. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until thickened.

While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon, honey and sugar. Toss with red cabbage. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve pulled chicken on rolls, topped with cabbage slaw.

Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros

Most people don’t think of slow cooker meals as a summer thing, but there are plenty of great, summery recipes for the slow cooker. This one is particularly good – fresh lemon juices and herbs make up the marinade for the chicken. Pair the cooked chicken with fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes and cool tzatziki sauce for a great summer meal.

This also freezes well – before or after cooking – making it a great option to stock the freezer during the warm months!

ChickenGryos

Slow Cooker Chicken Gyros
(from Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1 onion, diced
1/4 c. water
1 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. allspice
1 t. lemon pepper
Tzatziki sauce, tomatoes and pitas, for serving

Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Shred and serve in pitas with tzatziki sauce and sliced tomatoes.

Creamy Chicken Chili

I really can’t get enough of my slow cooker this fall. It’s being used nearly every day for something or another, it seems. So when my coworker, Dawn, mention that she tried-and-loved this chili made in the slow cooker, I couldn’t wait to try it out too.

It’s really good – and really easy to toss together in the morning. It’s a little spicy, but the cream cheese cuts most of the heat. If you’re not a fan of spice, try using diced tomatoes without green chilis and less cayenne.

Either way, it’s perfect for these chilly fall days!

CreamyChickenChili

Creamy Chicken Chili
(from Budget Savvy Diva)
Serves 6

1 T. olive oil
1 c. diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large chicken breasts
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder
1 t. onion powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. pepper
1 (8oz.) package light cream cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add chicken to a slow cooker. Top with cooked onions. Add all ingredients except cream cheese to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Place the cream cheese on top and cover.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Before serving, remove chicken, shred, and return to the slow cooker.