44 articles Articles posted in Cooking and Recipes

7 Day Slow Cooker Challenge – Beef and Guiness Stew

Beef and Guiness StewToday is the first day of my slow cooker challenge, and it was one of those awkward days where I had to be at an appointment in the mid afternoon. This meant that I needed to choose a dish for the day which could be put on around lunchtime and left for at least 6 hours, so I opted for the Beef and Guinness stew. It’s rubbish weather here (we’ve actually had the heating on today!) so coming home to something warm and tasty, bubbling away, was incredibly welcome.

If I’m honest, I don’t know the difference between a casserole and a stew, so this could be either, but I opted for a recipe without veg so that we could choose what to have with it – I’ve served it with red cabbage and mash, but you could choose anything you fancy (or have in the freezer).

Here’s the recipe:

Beef and Guiness Stew
 
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A tender, slow-cooked beef stew with Guiness and bacon.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Irish
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 900g diced beef
  • 150g streaky bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbs plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bouquet Garni
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 bottle of Guiness (or other stout)
  • Olive oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the onions and fry in a little oil until translucent
  2. Slice the bacon and add to the onions. Fry for 2-3 minutes
  3. Place the onions and bacon the the slow cooker
  4. In a bowl, season the flour with salt and pepper
  5. Toss the diced beef in the seasoned flour
  6. Fry the beef in a little oil in the same pan that you cooked the bacon and onions in until browned
  7. Once browned, add the beef to the slow cookers
  8. Add the stock, Guiness and bouquet garni to the slow cooker
  9. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  10. Serve with potatoes and veg of your choice

Often I shy away from dishes which require any sort of prep or pre-cooking because I feel like slow cooking should basically just be “chuck it all in”, but I can honestly say that the extra effort was well worth it here. The beef was super tender because it had cooked for so long, but the flavour was incredible because of the initial browning in seasoned flour and the salty morsels of bacon added bursts of savoury flavour to the dish. The stock, herbs, ale and juices from the meat and onions combined to make the most delicious gravy…I had to resist the urge to dip bread in the remaining sauce in the pot!

I also think this dish would freeze really well, so I’d be tempted to make a double portion and freeze half next time I made it. All in all, I’m really pleased with today’s recipe and I’m really glad I kicked off with this as it was just perfect for today!

Don’t forget to blog about what’s in your slow cooker and link up with the linky below.

LINKY REMOVED

Coconut and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (low sugar recipe)

Chia seeds are, in the world of food trends, pretty huge at the moment and it’s easy to see why. In terms of nutrition they’re quite a little power-house, containing more Omega-3 than salmon, pound for pound. The seeds come from a plant which is related to mint (although they don’t taste minty) and are high in fibre, protein and calcium amongst other things, and eating them has been proven to aid weight-loss. Some of us in the MTW house are a little iffy when it comes to dairy, which can make getting enough calcium hard, so adding chia will really help.

Chia Seeds

Getting seeds into your diet can be quite tricky if you don’t know how to prepare them, but luckily with chia seeds it’s really easy to make them into a pudding which uses just a few ingredients and is amazingly good for you. As you’ll know if you’ve gone through some of my slow cooker posts, we try to limit our sugar here in the Mum’s the Word house and instead opt for erythritol, which is actually a sugar alcohol which contains NO calories and none of the nasties of something like aspartame, and is zero-GI, making it completely safe for use by diabetics. If you also need Omega 3 supplements, this is our recommended site.

I’ve played around with a few chia seed pudding recipes, adapting as I go, and have ended up with something we all love…even Chuck likes it!!

Here’s how we make OUR chia seed pudding:

Coconut and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (low sugar recipe)
 
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A delicious pudding made from chia seeds and just a few other ingredients.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Healthy
Serves: 5x100ml portions
Ingredients
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • ½ a cup of chia seeds
  • 1½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • ½ a cup of erythritol
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Shaved coconut (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes until all of the ingredients are combined
  3. Pour into ramekins or individual serving bowls
  4. Top with a little shaved coconut (if you like it)
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 100ml Calories: 226 Fat: 19g Saturated fat: 13g Carbohydrates: 16g Sugar: 0.1g Sodium: 0 Fiber: 12g Protein: 4g

The thing that we love about this pudding is that it’s sweet enough to feel like a real treat for dessert, but not so sweet that it would feel overwhelming as a breakfast. A small 100ml portion is also incredibly filling and feels like a really nice alternative to porridge, especially if it’s a hot day and you don’t want to go off in the morning laden with a belly-full of hot oats!

chai seed pudding

Obviously, the flavour is very coconutty, which is great if you’re a fan of coconut, but not ideal if you aren’t, however you can also flavour it with other things. Husband uses protein powder as a supplement after weight-lifting and I’m thinking of adding a scoop of either chocolate or banana next time we make it (or maybe BOTH!) to see how it affects the flavour. I think people also add raw cacao powder to the mixture too, but I’ve not tried that yet.

Do let me know what you think if you give this a try, or if you have any alternative recipes for things to do with chia!

Slow Cooker Chorizo Stuffed Chicken with Ratatouille

Stuffed Chicken and Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Things have been a bit hectic in the Mum’s the Word house since Sausage went back to school; first, the girls were poorly (tonsilitis), then I was poorly (gall bladder) and then the car decided to go kaput, leaving us unable to make regular trips to the shops, so we were living on what we had in the cupboards and as a result, my slow cookers have been rather neglected! Yesterday, I decided that I needed to get back into slow cooking again with something completely new, so I tried a recipe that I’ve been seeing on Facebook for a while and thought I’d share it here. I’m struggling with a succinct name for the whole dish, but it basically consists of chicken stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese on a kind of slow-cooked ratatouille concoction! Here’s how we made it:

Stuffed Chicken with Slow Cooker Ratatouille
 
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Chicken breasts, stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese, slow cooked on a bed of ratatouille.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Mixed
Serves: 4 portions
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tub cream cheese
  • 12 slices of chorizo
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 punnet mushrooms
  • 300ml passata
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • New potatoes, to serve
Instructions
  1. Chop your onions, peppers and mushrooms and place in the bottom of your slow cooker
  2. Add the paprika to the passata and pour the passata over the veg mix
  3. Take your chicken breasts and slice ¾ of the way through the breast diagonally
  4. Open the flap in the chicken breast and stuff with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese and 3 slices of chorizo
  5. Close the flap over the stuffing and and place on top of the veg and passata in the slow cooker
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours
  7. Serve with new potatoes or side of your choice (would work well with sweet potato wedges, too!)

The end result was wonderful – the veg and passata were tender and fresh-tasting, while the cheese and chorizo gave the chicken a creamy, smoky quality which went really well with the ratatouille. Sausage wasn’t a huge fan because she hates mushrooms but it was a winner with the rest of us and will definitely be made again. It would go well with a number of different sides too, making it a pretty versatile, easy-to-make dish and I’m also pretty sure it contains several of your 5-a-day. Let us know what you think!

 

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

The beauty of slow cooking is that it’s often cheaper cuts of meat which respond really well to “low and slow”, which means that we can enjoy healthy, protein-rich meals without having to spend a fortune. I’m still using the slow cooker, on average, about 2-3 times a week so as well as saving on the actual meals, the cost of cooking is lower too as it’s much cheaper to run a slow cooker, even for 8 hours, than a conventional cooker.

Today’s experiment is Mongolian Beef; I’ve seen a few different recipes for this around the internet and they all call for brown sugar (a whole cup of it, no less…), which is something that Husband and I are trying to avoid at the moment, so as with the Pulled Pork, I replaced the sugar with erythritol to get the sweetness without adding sugar, although you can also use a little agave nectar. Find the best ones at Monica’s Health Mag.

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

Here’s how I made it:

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
 
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A slow cooked beef dish with ginger, garlic and carrots.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 800g diced beef
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup erythritol
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the corn flour and shake to completely coat the meat
  2. Place the meat in the slow cooker with the oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, water and sweetener
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours
  4. Add the grated carrots half an hour before serving
  5. Serve with egg noodles or a side of your choice and garnish with the chopped spring onions

This is exactly my kind of slow cooker recipe – aside from a minimal amount of prep, it really is a kind of “chuck it all in and wait” dish, which makes it perfect for busy days. It’s really cold here today so getting through the door after a chilly school run and smelling our beef cooking away was truly dreamy!

I’ve never tried it with the brown sugar instead of the sweetener, so I can’t compare, but I have to say it was absolutely delicious, even without the sugar and I certainly wouldn’t ever bother making it the original way. The meat was incredibly tender after being cooked for so long and the depth of flavour was really impressive for such a simple recipe. The girls and Husband really loved it and overall, it was pretty cheap to make, if you’ve got a few basics in the store cupboard. This will definitely be one that we add to our regular dinners.

Have you tried Mongolian Beef? Let me know what you think!

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

One of the things which has surprised me the most about using a slow cooker is that it isn’t all stews, soups and casseroles. Of course, I have made stews, soups and casseroles, but I’ve also made meatballs, cake, melt-in-the-mouth meat and even a ‘fakeaway‘ (which, to you and I, is basically a replica of a doner kebab!). Today, I’m doing something which is even more of a departure from what you’d expect of slow cooked fayre – pork stacks.

Here’s how you make slow cooker pork stacks:

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks
 
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Slow cooked pork stack with stuffing, apple, cheese and onion.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Pork steaks or chops (2 per person)
  • Stuffing, made up as per the instructions
  • 1 cooking apple, sliced into rounds
  • One onion, sliced
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 or 2 slices per stack
  • Tin foil for wrapping and making foil balls
Instructions
  1. (Before you begin, unless you have the type of slow cooker which can cook dry ingredients, it's wise to ball up some tin foil and place a cup of water in the bottom of your slow cooker, to prevent the pot from cracking which can sometimes happen with recipes with no moisture)
  2. Tear a square of tin foil off of the roll and place one pork steak in the centre
  3. Place a slice of apple on top of your steak
  4. Place a few rings of onion on top of the apple
  5. Place a couple of spoonfuls of stuffing mixture on top of the onions
  6. Top with a slice of cheese
  7. Place another pork steak on top and wrap the edges of the tin foil over to create a sealed parcel
  8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients
  9. Place the parcels in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low
  10. Serve with mashed potato and veg of your choice

Because of the slow cooking, the meat is incredibly tender and the flavours of everything almost melt together. One pork stack is more than enough for one person and the girls shared one, which makes this a pretty cheap meal – even from Waitrose, the meat (which is the most expensive part of the recipe) was only £4 for a pack of six, which was enough to feed us four. It takes only a little bit of effort to make a really tasty meal, which is something I seem to find every time I try something new in the slow cooker.

To me, this is the perfect family meal – tasty, pretty well balanced and something that all of us really enjoy. What’s not to love about that?! It is also great for weight loss!

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

Date Night at Home – Healthy Snack Ideas

Now that we live in the middle of nowhere, a full-on night out with Husband has become something of a rarity. We’ve had to be a lot more inventive when it comes to spending quality time together  and one of our current favourite things to do is to stick some music on, cook together, prepare some healthy snacks and play some online casino games. There’s nothing like a few spins of a roulette wheel to get the adrenaline going and obviously winning makes it even better! We also love the fruit machines – it’s like being in a pub without having to leave the comfort of our living room! Eating healthily at the moment means we have to think outside the box when it comes to finding fun snacks which are also good for us, but we’ve come across a few lately which have become firm favourites.

Topped Rice Cakes

Topped Rice Cakes

When we think of rice cakes, we often think of a dry, uninspiring cracker with little flavour and even less pleasure. However, if you change the way you view rice crackers, you can start seeing them in a whole new light and a great way to do this is to add toppings! Peanut butter with desiccated coconut and dried cherries will take your boring crackers from gross to gourmet with very little effort!

Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

It may seem a little odd to suggest chocolate as a healthy snack, but you’re free to indulge if you make the RIGHT choices. For instance, a slab of Dairy Milk isn’t going to be a great choice as there’s a ton of added fat and sugar. However, something of the dark chocolate variety, preferable 70% cocoa solids or higher and you’re on to a winner.

Popcorn

popcorn

Okay, so popcorn which is slathered in butter or toffee obviously isn’t the way to go if you’re trying to keep things healthy. However, if you buy plain kernels which you then pop and season yourself, you’ll massively reduce your fat intake and take this snack to a new level. Sea salt is tasty, as is a little smoked paprika if you like a hit of spice. We’d also recommend sprinkling cinnamon and a little granulated sweetener for a low-cal sweet alternative.

Wasabi Peas

Wasabi Peas

Wasabi Peas are an excellent snacking option because not only are they low calorie, but they’re also packed with protein, which means you’re potentially helping to build muscle while you play! The spice isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s also research to show that spicy food releases endorphins, so you’re actively making yourself happier on a chemical level by indulging in this green delicacy!

Guacamole

Guacamole

We’re huge fans of guacamole here, and we’d happily eat it with just about every meal, but it’s also great as a dip and contains a whole load of the good fats that our bodies need to function well. Opt for a wholemeal cracker or wholemeal pitta slices as a guacamole-delivery-system rather than high-cal corn chips and you’ll also be getting a much needed hit of wholegrain in your diet, too. If you were interested in finding some lovely healthy snacks check out matcha powder from Clearspring.

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank (Agnello Brasato)

About three years ago, before BB was even a person, Husband, Sausage and I went to Strada for dinner after a shopping trip. Strada is a chain of restaurants which serves modern Italian cuisine and on this particular trip, I had something called Agnello Brasato, which was basically a lamb shank which had been slow cooked in a tomato and red wine sauce and served with creamy mash and broccoli. For ages, I’ve been craving the meal again, so I decided to try to recreate it myself, with lovely results (although, as usual, my food presentation and photography leaves a lot to be desired!).

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)

Here’s how I made Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato):

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)
 
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Slow cooked lamb shank, stewed slowly in tomatoes, red wine and herbs.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 4 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 glass red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • A pinch salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • About 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 150ml chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Brown each of your lamb shanks before placing in your slow cooker (this step is optional)
  2. In a pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until translucent
  3. Add the red wine, rosemary, thyme and stock and bring to the boil
  4. Add the salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 2 minutes and then pour over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or until lamb is falling off of the bone
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and greens of your choice (we went for broccoli, but asparagus would also work well) and a few spoonfuls of the tomato stew

 

I can honestly say that this was just as nice (if not nicer!) than the one that I had a Strada all those years ago and definitely satisfied my cravings. The lamb came out so incredibly tender and the sauce was wonderfully rich and flavoursome. There was a load of sauce left in the pot after cooking and I froze it to use at a later date as a ragu to have with pasta. Let me know if you give this a go, I’d love to hear how yours turns out.

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked PotatoesAnother week, another slow cooker experiment! Today, we’re having slow cooker Hunters Chicken and I kinda devised the idea myself from a few other things I’ve seen on slow cooker forums and the like.

Husband is still being really disciplined with what he eats and sugar is one of the main things that he’s trying to avoid (he is on a keto diet and having great success with ample k), so instead of using a barbecue sauce from a bottle which is absolutely LADEN with sugar, I’m using the same recipe that Kate at WitWitWoo uses for her slow cooker pulled pork, but slightly modified for our tastes. As a sweetener, we use erythritol, which is granular like sugar and about 40% less sweet.

In terms of baked potatoes, I’m pretty fussy. The insides need to be super fluffy and soft, while the skins should be firm and crunchy so this method of cooking has been tried and tested over the last few years. I’m serving ours with sour cream and chives as it goes beautifully with both the chicken and the barbecue sauce.

Anyway, here’s the recipe and method for Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes:

5.0 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes
 
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A slow-cooker, low-sugar version of Hunters Chicken.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the chicken:
  • 5 Chicken Breasts (or one per person)
  • 100g Cheddar Cheese
  • 14 rashers of streaky bacon
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the sauce:
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (I subbed this with 10 teaspoons of Soy Sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the potatoes:
  • One baking potato per person
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cheese, allowing one large slice per chicken breast
  2. Slice each chicken breast lengthways, almost all the way through, creating a flap
  3. Place the cheese inside the flap and close
  4. Wrap 3 rashers of streaky bacon around each chicken breast, fairly firmly
  5. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker
  6. In a saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and stir whilst bringing to a simmer
  7. Once the sauce has started to simmer, give it a good stir and pour over the chicken breasts
  8. Cook on low for 2-3 hours
  9. Place your baking potatoes in a mixing bowl
  10. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes
  11. Give the oily potatoes a healthy sprinkle of salt
  12. Get your hands in the bolw and rub the oil and salt all over the skin of the potatoes
  13. Place in an oven at around 120°C (about gas mark 1 or 2)
  14. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until you're ready to serve

 

Here’s the finished result, although I took the photo before I put the sour cream and corn on the cob on the plate, hence it looking a little plain!

Slow Cooked Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoq

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms & Bacon

 photo 20160213_131317_HDR_zps6y4d4xt3.jpg

We’re off out to a party for my friend’s 40th birthday this evening and we had a whole bunch of stuff in the fridge, including some chicken breasts, which needed eating by today, so I decided to try this little concoction of the various different things! I don’t know about you, but I hate going on a night out feeling bloated and full, so on the rare occasion that I go, we tend to eat our main meal at lunch time, so I’ve chucked all of this in the slow cooker at 9am, to be ready for around 1pm.

Here’s how I did it:

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon
 
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Slow cooked chicken in a creamy garlic sauce with mushrooms and bacon, perfect served with pasta or potatoes.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g chicken breast
  • Mushrooms (around half a punnet)
  • One pack of unsmoked bacon lardons
  • One tub of Philadelphia (or other cream cheese)
  • Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker
  2. Chop the mushrooms into quarters and layer on top of the chicken
  3. Brown the lardons in a pan until lightly golden then place in the slow cooker
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder over the chicken, bacon and mushrooms, a little or a lot depending on your taste (we like a lot!)
  5. Gently spread the cream cheese across the top of the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours
  7. Serve with pasta or potatoes of your choice

 photo Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon_zps7ezg4sgm.png

Given the fact that this was basically just a “chuck it all in and hope for the best” recipe, it actually came out really well and was stupidly easy to make. The girls absolutely loved it (Sausage said “Mum, is this your secret sauce because it is DELICIOUS!”) and it’s definitely one that will make it into our regular rotation. We had ours with pasta as it was the quickest option for today, but it would also go really nicely with new potatoes or even mash and possbily some broccoli or asparagus on the side.

Slow Cooker Lava Cake

I have to say it: I am becoming a slow-cooker obsessive. Since Husband bought a Crock Potfor me about a month ago, I’ve cooked about a dozen meals in it, getting slightly more adventurous each time. Last night, I tried making dessert in it for the first time and I was so impressed with how easy it was and how well it turned out that I thought I’d share it with you. Behold, the LAVA CAKE!

slow cooker lava cake

What this picture is not showing you is that although it looks like a humble sponge cake, there is actually molten goodness inside (hence lava cake…), like a low-effort chocolate fondant, if you will. But, I cannot stress how easy this is to make.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package of chocolate sponge mix (we used Betty Crocker as it was all they had in the Co-Op at 4pm on a Saturday) plus the wet ingredients stated on the box (I think it’s eggs, oil and water)

1 package of Angel Delight (we used butterscotch and it worked SO well!) plus 300ml milk

Chocolate chips or chunks (I used a bag of milk and a bag of white chocolate chunks)

  • Grease your slow cooker with a little oil spray or butter
  • Mix up your cake batter and pour it into the slow cooker
  • Mix up your Angel Delight, leave to thicken for 5 minutes and then pour directly on top of your cake batter in the slow cooker
  • Sprinkle you chocolate chips evenly over the top of the mixtures
  • Cook on high for 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Serve with custard or ice cream and try not to make inappropriately lustful noises whilst eating.

It really is as simple as “chuck it all in and wait”, which is my favourite type of dessert. We got 6 massive portions out of ours, or 8 reasonable portions, and although it may not be the best looking dish once it’s served up, I’d be more than happy serving it to guests as it’s so damn tasty! I’m going to experiment with different flavours too; I’m thinking vanilla sponge and strawberry Angel Delight next time!

Have you made this before? What flavours did you use? Leave me a comment below!

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