I never thought I’d write a blog about cooking. I never liked cooking. Truly, did not like cooking. I eat because my body requires it. I’m not sure I really like cooking now. But I must have been bitten by the domestic bug during our wedding because I find myself in the kitchen more, thumbing through cookbooks, searching online for healthy recipes and wandering the grocery store aisles for ingredients. Or maybe it’s just more fun to cook for two.
Most of the recipes I’ve been trying lately are those made in the slow cooker. When my husband moved in, he brought this handy kitchen gadget. So easy to use! Just drop your ingredients into the cooker, set the time and go about your day. You return to a great smelling house and dinner is ready. We even purchased liners to make cleaning easier.
Although I have a small, newfound interest in cooking, I still have a firm resolve to eat healthy. I’m not a fan of butter and salt (yes, both grandmothers cringed at this). But I’ve discovered some delicious, healthy slow cooker recipes that are low on fat but high on awesome flavor. Full disclosure that none of these recipes were created by me. They’re too good not to share. However, I usually tweak to suit our tastes so I listed the true recipe rather than my tweaked versions. Another disclosure is that I don’t eat pork or beef so my favorite recipes involve chicken, turkey or seafood (or I’ll swap ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken).
Chuck Wagon-Style Turkey Chili
We love this Weight Watchers recipe! It is delicious and filling. The only downside is that the original recipe makes only enough for one bowl for maybe four adults (and not really hungry men) so if we’re having company or want leftovers, I make a double recipe.
1 pound uncooked lean ground turkey breast
1 large onion, chopped
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves
15 1/2 oz canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup barbecue sauce, hickory flavored (I’ve used honey or Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1/3 cup canned tomato paste
1/3 cup water
3 Tbsp chili powder *
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp table salt
Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium high heat. Add the turkey, break it up, and cook thoroughly. Transfer the turkey and any juices to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover and cook until vegetables are softened – usually 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Stir in additional water if chili appears dry.
*Justin is not a fan of spicy so I test the chili powder amount – sometimes I’ll add only 2.5 tablespoons or even skip the chili powder and use a low sodium mild chili seasoning packet.
Chicken and stuffing
I have seen, and tried, several variations of this recipe, using the slow cooker or not. My sister made this recipe long ago for us and Justin really liked it. This is the version that Justin tweaked to fit our tastes (he told me that he ‘wings’ it when he makes this so I confirmed a few items with my sister!).
4-5 chicken breasts
1 can low-fat cream of mushroom soup
3/4 of can (from soup) 1/2% milk
4-5 low-fat Swiss cheese slices
Stove Top stuffing, uncooked
1/2 cup low-fat unsalted butter, melted
Mix soup and milk together in small bowl. Place chicken in slow cooker. Place a slice of Swiss cheese over each chicken breast. Pour soup mix over chicken and cheese. Pour in Stove Top stuffing. Pour melted butter over top. Cook on high for four hours.
Easy Crock Pot Chicken Stew
We invited my mom over for dinner when we made this easy recipe (found on allrecipes.com) and she really enjoyed it. There are a lot of variations possible for this!
1 large can diced tomatoes (drain half of liquid)
1 can low-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 can low-fat cream of celery soup
1 bag frozen mixed veggies (you choose what veggies)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup low-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the cans of soup and milk in slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, spices and chicken. Stir. Add vegetables and stir. Cook on low heat for five hours until the chicken is cooked.
(Sort Of) Mexican Chicken
Another recipe that has many variations. I really tweaked this from the original Weight Watchers version. For instance, it calls for 12 corn tortillas to be cut into strips. We found that many didn’t allow the juices to soak through so the tortillas sort of ‘sit there.’ Use half. I also pour a bit of the liquids over the chicken, then layer the tortillas, then pour the remaining liquid. This prevents the chicken from drying. You can also add black olives or frozen corn.
2 cups chicken breast, cooked and diced
6 corn tortillas (original recipe calls for 12)
1 can low-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can low-fat condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 small can chili with beans
4 oz green chilies, chopped
1/2 lb (8 oz) low-fat grated cheddar cheese
Place chicken in slow cooker. Cut tortillas into small strips and lay over the chicken. Mix soups, broth, onion, chilies and chili in medium bowl. Pour over tortillas. Top with cheese. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
I hope you get a chance to try to these recipes, and enjoy them like we do. And yes, I’m sure this particular blog brings a very big smile to my mom’s face. She loves to cook. And she makes fantastic tasting food (LOVE her spaghetti sauce). For years, she’d shake her head, wondering why the cooking bug never bit me. But no worries, Mom, I’m taking two aspirin and will call you tomorrow.