New recipes offer easy, delicious dishes cooked ‘low and slow’

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Repin to win a Crock-Pot! The folks at Crock-Pot are offering Star-Telegram readers the chance to win a 6-quart slow-cooker and several Crock-Pot seasoning packets (a $65 value). To enter, follow the Star-Telegram Recipes board on Pinterest at Repin the recipes from this story to your own Pinterest board, and we’ll choose a winner at random on Wednesday, Oct. 23. To enter Crock-Pot’s second annual Slow Cookin’ Recipe Contest (the prize is a year of free groceries worth $8,000!), visit its Facebook page at by Monday.
Sausage-stuffed acorn squash Serves 4 to 8 A traditional sausage stuffing made with bread crumbs, egg and walnuts often ends up inside a turkey, but this stuffing goes into two pieces of hollowed-out acorn squash. This dish is heavy on the sausage, so it can easily be a meal all by itself or it can be served as an accompaniment to turkey or chicken. Depending on the size of your acorn squash as well as the size of your slow cooker, you may be able to fit only one acorn squash into the insert, in which case you should halve the stuffing recipe. When divided into halves or thirds, one squash should be enough to feed two or three people. Serve as a side or main dish with a green salad and rolls. 2 acorn squash 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 pound sage breakfast sausage 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 1 egg, beaten 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup unsulfured light molasses 1/2 cup apple cider 1. Slice off the stem ends of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Slice off a small piece from the bottom of the squash, so it will sit level in your slow cooker. Brush the edges and insides of the acorn squash with the olive oil. 2. In a saute pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop, crumble and brown the sausage, about 7 or 8 minutes, or until crispy and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a large bowl. Remove half of the fat drippings from the saute pan and discard. Cook the onion and garlic in the remaining drippings over medium heat until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the bowl. Mix in the bread crumbs, walnuts, and egg. Mix in the salt and pepper. Fill the squash with the sausage mixture. 3. Cut a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil large enough to fit the inside of your slow cooker all the way up the sides and spray with cooking spray. Place the squash cut-side up on the foil (but don’t wrap the foil around the squash) and brush the exposed flesh with the molasses. Pour the cider around the squash pieces. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. 4. Remove the squash to a cutting board by lifting it up by the foil, and cut each squash into halves or quarters. Nutritional analysis per serving: xxx xxx xxx — From The Southern Slow Cooker by Kendra Bailey Morris (Ten Speed Press, $19.99)
Vegetable omelet Makes 4-6 servings Ideal slow-cooker size: 6 quarts 5 eggs 1/3 cup milk 1/4 teaspoon salt pinch black pepper 1/3 cup chopped onion 1 garlic clove, minced 1 cup small broccoli florets 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini 1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper 1/2 cup your favorite grated cheese 1. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper. 2. Add onion, garlic, broccoli, zucchini and bell pepper. Stir. 3. Pour mixture into lightly greased baking dish that will fit in your slow cooker. Set dish on a small trivet or jar rings in slow cooker. 4. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours, until eggs are set and vegetables are softened. 5. Sprinkle with cheese and allow to melt before serving. Carefully, wearing oven mitts, remove hot dish from hot slow cooker. Slice and serve. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4: 767 calories, 54 grams fat, 54 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 130 milligrams cholesterol, 1,040 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 62 percent of calories from fat. — from Fix-It and Forget-It: New Cookbook by Phyllis Good (Good Books, $19.95)
Rosemary walnuts Serves 8 (makes 2 cups) Ideal slow-cooker size: 4 quarts Half stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted 1 pound walnut halves 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 4 teaspoons dried rosemary 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional 1 teaspoon paprika 1. Mix together butter and walnuts in slow cooker until nuts are well coated. 2. Stir in rosemary; salt, if you wish; and paprika. 3. Cover. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Stir. 4. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered at least 45 minutes longer, up to 1 1/2 more hours. 5. Serve warm. Or spread them out on a baking sheet to cool before storing. They’ll crisp even more as they cool. Nutritional analysis per serving: 397 calories, 38 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 16 milligrams cholesterol, 193 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 80 percent of calories from fat. — from Fix-It and Forget-It: New Cookbook by Phyllis Good (Good Books, $19.95)
Autumn latte Serves 6 Ideal slow-cooker size: 3 quarts 4 cups 2 percent milk 1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, decaf or regular 1/2 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin (from a can is fine) 2 tablespoons sugar 2-4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, depending how sweet you like your latte 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for garnish 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger Pinch salt Whipped cream, for garnish 1. Combine milk, coffee, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt in slow cooker. Whisk until pumpkin is mixed in well. 2. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours until steaming hot. Whisk again. 3. Ladle into mugs. Dollop whipped cream on top and sprinkle with cinnamon to be fancy. Nutritional analysis per serving: 130 calories, 3 grams fat, 19 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 107 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 23 percent of calories from fat. — from Fix-It and Forget-It: New Cookbook by Phyllis Good (Good Books, $19.95)
Balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts with pine nuts Serves 4 to 6 These dressed-up Brussels sprouts are perfect for the holiday table — and they leave the oven open for the main course. Chicken broth added savory depth, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and olive oil contributed intense flavor and richness. Pine nuts lent a delicate crunch. You can find balsamic glaze with the vinegar and salad dressings in most well-stocked supermarkets. Ideal slow-cooker size: 5 1/2 to 7 quarts. 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved 2 cups chicken broth Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1. Combine Brussels sprouts, broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in slow cooker. Cover and cook until Brussels sprouts are tender, 2 to 3 hours on high. 2. Drain Brussels sprouts and transfer to serving dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and oil, then sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan. Serve. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4: 235 calories, 14 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 165 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber, 46 percent of calories from fat. — from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition (America’s Test Kitchen, $26.95)
Poached salmon Serves 2 Rather than poach our salmon on the stovetop, where we’d have to carefully monitor the heat level, we decided to move this dish to the slow cooker to take advantage of its walk-away convenience. We started with two salmon fillets and kept the flavor profile simple, pairing our fish with lemon and dill for subtle flavor. To prevent the bottom of our salmon from overcooking, we rested our fillets on lemon slices and dill stems, then added a small amount of water to the slow cooker to create a moist cooking environment. A foil sling made it easy to remove the delicate salmon from the slow cooker without the fillets breaking apart. Ideal slow-cooker size: 3 1/2 to 7 quarts. 1 lemon, sliced 1/4 inch thick, plus 1 tablespoon juice 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill, stems reserved 2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick Salt and pepper 1/4 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1. Fold sheet of aluminum foil into 12-by 9-inch sling and press widthwise into slow cooker. Arrange lemon slices in tight single layer in bottom of prepared slow cooker. Scatter dill stems over lemon slices. Pour water into slow cooker until it is even with lemon slices (about 1/2 cup water). Season fillets with salt and pepper and place skin side down on top of lemon slices. Cover and cook until salmon is opaque throughout when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 135 degrees, 1 to 2 hours on low. 2. Combine sour cream, mustard, lemon juice and minced dill in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using sling, transfer fillets to baking sheet. Gently lift and tilt fillets with spatula to remove dill stems and lemon slices and transfer fillets to individual plates; discard dill stems, lemon slices and poaching liquid. Serve with sauce. Nutritional analysis per serving: 263 calories, 12 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 101 milligrams cholesterol, 161 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 42 percent of calories from fat. — from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition (America’s Test Kitchen, $26.95)
Street fair sausages with peppers and onions Serves 4 For a fun and easy weeknight meal, we used the slow cooker to make super-flavorful peppers and onions together with perfectly cooked Italian sausage. First, we jump-started the vegetables in the microwave to ensure that they’d cook through, then we added them to the slow cooker and nestled in raw Italian sausages. To season the vegetables as they cooked, we used a potent mixture of chicken broth, tomato paste and garlic. As they simmered, the peppers and onions absorbed the flavors of the sausage and braising liquid. Once the sausages were cooked through, all we needed to do was strain the peppers and onions and pile them high on sub rolls with the tender, juicy sausages. Ideal slow-cooker size: 5 1/2 to 7 quarts. 2 red or green bell peppers, cored and cut into 3/4-inch-wide strips 2 onions, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 cup chicken broth 1 1/2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausage Salt and pepper 4 (6-inch) sub rolls 1. Microwave peppers, onions, tomato paste, oil, and garlic in bowl, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in broth. Nestle sausage into slow cooker, cover and cook until sausage is tender, 2 to 3 hours on low. 2. Transfer sausage to cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Strain vegetable mixture, discarding liquid, and transfer to bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut sausage into 2-inch pieces. Serve on rolls with pepper-onion mixture. Nutritional analysis per serving: 881 calories, 60 grams fat, 52 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 129 milligrams cholesterol, 1,698 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 61 percent of calories from fat. — from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition (America’s Test Kitchen, $26.95)
2-packet chicken Serves 4 This is lazy cooking at its finest — this flavorful dinner comes together in roughly 2 1/2 minutes, and utilizes pantry and freezer staples. I toss in my chicken halves frozen solid, and they cook beautifully. If you’re feeding more people, you can add a can of rinsed beans and/or a can of corn niblets. Ideal slow-cooker size: 6 quarts 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen is fine) 1 (1-ounce) packet taco seasoning 1 (1-ounce) packet ranch salad dressing mix 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained Taco shells, corn tortillas or hot cooked rice or quinoa, for serving 1. Put the chicken into the insert, and sprinkle with the seasoning mixes. Top with the tomatoes. And that’s it — no need to add any additional liquid. Cover, and cook on low for 8 hours. 2. Serve shredded in taco shells or corn tortillas, or on top of rice or quinoa. Nutritional analysis per serving: 316 calories, 3 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 54 grams protein, 132 milligrams cholesterol, 1,348 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 9 percent of calories from fat. — from 365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O’Dea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99)
Pumpkin spaghetti Serves 6 I did a bit of freelance work for, and they emailed me this recipe to test out. It’s delicious, and a very nice change of pace from our normal spaghetti sauce. The pumpkin provides a lovely, buttery sweetness and creates a very rich texture without a drop of oil or cream. Ideal slow-cooker size: 4 quarts. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 1 onion, diced 6 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 pound spaghetti (I use gluten-free) 1. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes and tomato paste to the insert. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until onion is translucent and the sauce is bubbly. 2. Use a handheld immersion blender to blend to desired consistency (or carefully remove a cup of sauce, blend in a traditional blender, and mix back into the cooker). 3. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Toss the sauce with the hot pasta and serve. Nutritional analysis per serving: 368 calories, 2 grams fat, 77 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, no cholesterol, 1,158 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 4 percent of calories from fat. — from 365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O’Dea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99)
Beef stew with cinnamon and tiny onions Serves 6 to 8 A small amount of ground cinnamon and a splash of vinegar add an elusive flavor to this Greek-style beef stew. It looks and tastes familiar but is just different enough to make it special. For a lighter alternative to potatoes mashed with butter, I serve the stew with cauliflower and potatoes mashed with extra-virgin olive oil. 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 large onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped 24 pearl onions, trimmed, or frozen pearl onions, thawed 1/2 cup dry red wine 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 1 28-ounce can tomato puree 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Add the beef in batches, without crowding the pan. Brown the beef well on all sides, about 15 minutes per batch. With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a large slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 2. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the pearl onions, wine and vinegar. Bring the liquid to a simmer. 3. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the tomato puree, bay leaf and cinnamon and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 6: 799 calories, 54 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 57 grams protein, 199 milligrams cholesterol, 727 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 62 percent of calories from fat. — from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Sicolone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22)
Spiced chicken with pancetta Serves 4 to 6 Pancetta, Italian unsmoked bacon, combined with garlic, herbs, coarsely ground pepper, and the unusual touch of cloves, gives this rustic chicken dish a unique flavor. Prosciutto or ham may be substituted. Serve the chicken with roasted potatoes. 2 ounces pancetta or prosciutto, chopped 6 whole cloves 4 garlic cloves, chopped 3 fresh sage leaves, chopped 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 4 pounds bone-in chicken breasts, legs, and thighs (legs and thighs skinned if you like) Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup chicken broth 1. Spray the insert of a large slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. 2. Scatter half of the pancetta, 3 of the cloves and half of the garlic, sage and rosemary in the cooker. 3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Place the pieces in the slow cooker. Scatter the remaining pancetta, cloves, garlic, sage and rosemary over the chicken and add 1 teaspoon pepper. Pour in the broth. 4. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until the chicken is very tender and coming away from the bone. Taste for seasonings. Serve hot. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4: 261 calories, 9 grams fat, 1 g carbohydrates, 46 grams protein, 168 milligrams cholesterol, 553 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 31 percent of calories from fat. — from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Sicolone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22)

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Among the many joys of fall is the desire to return to slow cooking in the kitchen.

Almost nothing’s better than throwing together ingredients before leaving for work and coming home to the fragrance of a home-cooked dinner ready for plating.

Lately there’s been a harvest of new slow-cooker cookbooks offering innovative and updated recipes for main dishes, snacks, drinks and desserts. We’ve been testing recipes from the books that have crossed our desk recently. Here’s a closer look at some of our favorites.

•  The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22) offers beloved dishes from Greece, Italy, Morocco and more. It includes a recipe for what the author calls “the creamiest, easiest polenta I have ever made.” We absolutely fell in love with the spiced chicken with pancetta (see recipe) and have made it twice in the past two months.

•  Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition(America’s Test Kitchen, $26.95). From the practical minds at America’s Test Kitchen comes this second volume of “200 all-new, ground-breaking recipes.” We especially loved the simple poached salmon (see recipe). New to poaching seafood in the slow-cooker, we thought this method produced moist but flavorful salmon, and our household loved that there was just a trace of “fishy” odor in the air.

•  Fix-It and Forget-It: New Cookbook by Phyllis Good (Good Books, $19.95). This just-released book has 250 creative recipes. Among our faves: the vegetable omelet and autumn latte (see recipes), which you can throw together and cook for brunch before the rest of the family gets up on a Saturday morning; and the rosemary walnuts (see recipe), which would be perfect for holiday gift-giving. Tip: Be careful to use the correct amounts of walnuts and butter, or the walnuts will turn out overly greasy, as ours did.

•  365 Slow Cooker Suppers by Stephanie O’Dea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24.99). Popular blogger O’Dea ( offers 365 recipes for easy, tasty meals. There’s almost nothing simpler than her two-packet chicken (see recipe). And pumpkin spaghetti (see recipe) is a great way to incorporate one of the season’s best-loved ingredients. A warning, though: The first time we tried it, we let it cook too long, and it charred our Crock-Pot. On our second attempt, we wised up and lined it with a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner.

•  The Southern Slow Cooker by Kendra Bailey Morris (Ten Speed Press, $19.99). With recipes for beloved down-home dishes like pork ribs with raspberry sorghum BBQ sauce; buttermilk, corn and chive spoonbread; and lemon blueberry buckle, this cookbook is full of the tastes of the South. The sausage-stuffed acorn squash (see recipe) might have been our favorite recipe of the bunch; the squash cooked up tender but not mushy, and the molasses and applesauce give the sausage a subtle sweet flavor. Yum!

Stephanie Allmon, 817-390-7852 Twitter: @STFeatures

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