NOTE: Roasting the butternut squash in the oven is what makes
this recipe so incredibly good. The squash caramelizes and everyone
licks the bowl clean. Yes, this is an extra step, but it's well
worth it. My advice? Caramelize a few trays of butternut squash and
freeze a bunch in bags. Then you can throw them in pasta, serve
them as a side, and use them for this soup.
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) Peel and cut the butternut squash into large chunks, leaving
out any seeds. Put pieces into a gallon Ziploc bag. Pour in olive
oil and maple syrup and rub well to cover each piece with the
liquids. Open the bag and pour onto either two Pyrex dishes or a
cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.
3) Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until squash is soft when
pierced with a fork.
4) In a frying pan, melt the butter. Add diced carrots, onions
and celery and cook over medium to low heat until soft, about 8
5) Cut and peel apples into chunks.
6) Place the squash, apples and sauteed vegetables into the slow
cooker. Add cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cover with vegetable
7) Set the slow cooker to high and cook for at least two hours,
and up to six.
8) Puree soup with hand mixer or in a blender. This keeps in the
fridge for up to five days. It's a great diet dish on its own, but
divine with a dollop of sour cream.
1) Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into large, equal dice of 1
inch. Mince the garlic and onion.
2) Set a frying pan over medium heat and pour in olive oil,
garlic and onion. Saute until translucent and soft, about 5
minutes. Add the spices and saute for another minute, filling the
house with warm enticing smells.
3) To keep things simple, I use pre-cooked kielbasa for this
recipe. Cut the sausage into 1-inch rounds. If using sausage that
was not pre-cooked, such as chicken sausage, cook it thoroughly in
a separate pan.
4) Place the pan-fried vegetables in the slow cooker. Add the
sweet potatoes and the canned tomatoes. Stir well. Add the sausage
and stir again. Add the vegetable stock and stir again. Set the
slow cooker to high and cook for at least two hours until the sweet
potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
5) Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
This soup should be served hot and will keep in the fridge for
two to three days.
1) In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onions and garlic.
Saute until soft and translucent. Add the carrots and saute for two
2) Add the turkey, crumbling into tiny pieces. Saute until
cooked through. Season with cinnamon.
3) Add the canned pumpkin and mix thoroughly.
4) Transfer to a slow cooker.
5) Add the canned tomatoes and stir to break up tomatoes.
6) Drain and rinse canned beans. Add to the pot. Stir and season
with salt and pepper.
7) Cook on high for two hours.
8) Add canned corn and cook for five minutes.
9) Serve with cream cheese.
NOTE: Don't be daunted by the prep; this is the dish that made
me fall in love with my husband.
1) In a large frying pan, heat olive oil. Place as much of the
chicken in the pan as you can to cover the bottom. Brown the
chicken on both sides, about four minutes each. Repeat for any
additional pieces of chicken. Set aside.
2) Dice the onion and garlic, add ancho chili powder and saute
in the chicken juices until translucent and soft.
3) Pour white wine in the pan. With a wooden spoon, get all the
caramelized bits of chicken and onion off the pan. Bring wine to a
boil and reduce by half, about 3 minutes.
4) Add carrots and green pepper and saute for a minute.
5) Pour all the contents of the frying pan into the slow cooker.
Add the chicken, pour the Russian Dressing and apricot jam on top.
6) Cover the slow cooker and set on high. Cook for at least
three to four hours.
You can serve the dish immediately or reheat with some rice or
If my slow cooker were a man, I would marry it. When I walk in
from the cold, surrounded by hungry kids, and this cheap and simple
appliance greets me with the aroma of a ready-made dinner, I have
been known to bend down and kiss it. My slow cooker is my right
hand, my secret weapon in the daily fight to get family together
around the dinner table.
Without it, we might starve.
I don't believe in just dumping ingredients into a slow cooker.
Taking an extra 5 to 10 minutes to sear meat and vegetables before
turning on the slow cooker will improve the flavor of your dishes
dramatically. A few years ago, I purchased a multi-function slow
cooker that allows me to sear food before setting it to slow cook.
Pure genius. Everything stays in one pot and there's less to clean,
but the same results can be achieved if you have a traditional slow
cooker and a frying pan. You'll just have an extra pot to
From the moment the kids get out of school, life is a whirlwind
of activities. Let your slow cooker do the heavy lifting by cooking
while you run around. Whether you're craving a bowl of golden
vegetable soup or a hearty pumpkin chili, your slow cooker can
deliver a delicious dinner on even the busiest nights.
Vanessa Druckman is the crazed suburban mom of four and author of Chefdruck: French Foodie Mom, chefdruck.com.
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