Simple Recipes for Your Mini Crock-Pot
Home-cooked meals are tough when you're working 40 or more hours a week, but they're a heck of a lot easier with your Crock-Pot. While you might cook most of your meals using your large 6-quart Crock-Pot, don't discount the usefulness of the mini. A 2- to 3-quart slow-cooker can be used to make a special meal for you and your significant other, a meal the kids have been hounding you for or a meal that doesn't leave you with a ton of leftovers. The mini Crock-Pot is also good for making desserts.
1. Chicken and Veggies
This one-pot meal is simple, and though you may want to eat it all yourself, you'll no doubt have to share. In a medium bowl, mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Place 4 bone-in chicken thighs in your mini Crock-Pot along with 1 cup chunky-cut carrots and 1 cup sliced red onions. Season with salt and pepper and pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies. Cook the chicken on low heat for 8 hours. For an extra touch, after the chicken has finished cooking in the Crock-Pot, broil it skin-side-up for 3 to 4 minutes or until brown.
2. Beef and Rice Soup
Warm soup on a cold night is comforting. This Crock-Pot soup makes enough to feed six, so you may or may not have leftovers. Season 1 pound of cubed beef sirloin with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the meat in a tablespoon of oil, cooking 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add the meat to your Crock-Pot and cover with 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 5 cups beef broth and 2/3 cup uncooked long-grain rice. Stir the soup to mix the flavors. Cover your Crock-Pot and cook on low heat for 8 to 9 hours. Crusty bread and a glass of wine go well with this hearty soup.
3. Saucy Sloppy Joes
Your mini Crock-Pot is perfect for those nights when your kids want kid-friendly food and you want something else, and Sloppy Joes are always a hit with the younger set. Brown a pound of lean ground turkey and a cup of chopped onions in a medium skillet over medium heat with 1 teaspoon of oil. Pour the meat into your Crock-Pot and add a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix the meat with the tomato sauce and seasonings to combine the flavors. Cover your Crock-Pot and cook on low heat for 6 hours. When done, spoon the meat onto soft hamburger buns and serve with baby carrots. If you prefer, you can use lean ground beef instead of turkey.
4. Very Veggie Barley
Barley is a hearty grain, making it a good fit for slow-cooking. Due to the chewiness and look of this dish, it resembles a risotto. In your mini Crock-Pot, add 2 cups water, 1/2 cup barley, 1/2 cup diced carrots, 1/2 cup diced sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup diced white potatoes, 1/2 cup diced winter squash, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cover your Crock-Pot and cook on low heat for 7 to 9 hours. This risotto is ready to go at this stage, but you can add chopped spinach or kale toward the end of the cooking time and allow the risotto to cook another 30 minutes. While this dish is good on its own, it also makes a good side dish with roasted chicken or baked salmon.
5. Crock-Pot Roasted Veggies
Roasting veggies is a good way to enhance flavor. But if you're using the oven to make chicken or a casserole, you may not have room for a pan of veggies. This is when your mini Crock-Pot comes in handy. Before you leave for work, add 2 cups baby carrots, 2 cups quartered fingerling potatoes, 1 cup cubed rutabagas, 1 cup cubed turnips, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss the veggies with the seasonings, then add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover your Crock-Pot and cook on low heat for 7 to 9 hours. These veggies go well with anything, from hamburgers to shrimp skewers.
6. Apple Crumble
Imagine walking through the door after a long day at work to the sweet scent of apples and cinnamon cooking away in your mini Crock-Pot. It's not hard to make it happen. Peel and cut three apples into chunks. Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar in your Crock-Pot. Layer the apples on top of the sugar. Season your apples with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. In a medium bowl, mix 1/3 cup whole oats, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour the crumble into the Crock-Pot and evenly spread it over the apples. Cover and cook on low heat for 4 hours. Serve warm and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Adapated from: Damndelicious: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies
- Adapated from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe: Beef and Barley Soup
- Adapated from: A Pretty Life in the Suburbs: Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
- Adapated from: Health Slow Cooking: Root Veggie Risotto
- Adapted from: The Spruce: Crockpot Roasted Vegetables
- Adapated From: How Sweets It Is: Slow Cooker Apple Crumble
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.