5 Crock Pot Recipes for Busy Weeknights

On a busy weeknight, the last thing you want to think about is complicated meal prep. Slow cooker recipes take the hassle out of dinner — simply toss the ingredients into the Crock Pot in the morning and come home to a hot, flavorful meal. Whether you’re juggling social engagements or shuttling kids to after-school activities, these easy Crock Pot recipes make it easy to serve tasty, filling meals.

Chicken Soup

On a cool fall day, Crock Pot chicken soup is a welcome treat. With this easy Crock Pot recipe, you can bid farewell to time-consuming browning and sauteing.

Chop the following ingredients into small pieces and combine in the slow cooker:

  • One onion
  • Four garlic cloves
  • Four carrots
  • Six stalks of celery
  • Five potatoes

Then, pour in 12 cups of chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss in two bay leaves. If you want an extra pop of flavor, throw in a teaspoon of thyme or cayenne pepper. Add extra seasonings to taste: oregano and parsley are both great options.

Shred a rotisserie chicken into small pieces, and add it to the soup. If you want a heartier soup, add corn, black beans or dried quinoa. Allow the soup to cook on low heat while you’re at work; the soup is ready when the potatoes are tender.

Vegetable Chili

With the Crock Pot, coming home to a hot, spicy bowl of vegetable chili after work is a breeze. Hours of cooking enable the flavors to come together, resulting in a rich, satisfying taste.

Create a thick tomato base by pouring the following ingredients into your Crock Pot:

  • 46 ounces tomato juice
  • 28 ounces canned tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce

Then, chop one onion, one bell pepper, five cloves of garlic and two jalapeno peppers, and add them to the tomatoes. Stir in five tablespoons of chili seasoning.

Once your base is ready, stir in your favorite beans and veggies. Consider kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas or pinto beans. Zucchini, corn, fresh tomatoes and carrots make excellent veggie additions.

Cook your chili on high heat for three hours, or leave the Crock Pot on low heat for six to eight hours. Serve with shredded cheese or chopped fresh cilantro.

Chicken and Vegetables

Crock pot recipes aren’t limited to soups — it’s perfect for cooking whole chickens. The low, slow heat results in juicy, tender meat that falls easily off of the bone.

Start by buying a chicken that fits into your Crock Pot, and leave it in the refrigerator until it thaws completely.

Before work, cut your favorite vegetables into three-inch pieces. Start with carrots, celery and onions. If you’re looking for a more filling meal, chop potatoes and mix them in. Peel two or three heads of garlic, chop them, and toss them on top of the vegetables.

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Cut a lemon in half, and slip it into the cavity. Rub the outside of the chicken with your favorite spice rub, or slip it under the skin and rub it directly on the chicken breast. Set the prepared chicken on top of the vegetables, close the lid, and set the Crock Pot on low heat while you go to work.

After about eight hours, check the internal meat temperature and ensure that it’s at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Pop the chicken in a pan and set it under the broiler for five minutes to achieve crispy, golden-brown skin.

Lasagna

Crock Pot lasagna isn’t as beautiful as traditional lasagna, but it’s just as delicious — and much easier.

Gather a few base ingredients: no-boil lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and pasta sauce. Rub olive oil on the bottom and sides of the Crock Pot. Pour sauce into the bottom of the pot, and use a spatula to spread it around.

Put down a layer of noodles, breaking them as necessary to fit the Crock Pot. Spread ricotta over the noodles, add a layer of sauce, and cover with shredded mozzarella cheese. Continue layering noodles, ricotta, sauce and mozzarella. When you get to the top layer, spread extra sauce on top and cover with a layer of mozzarella. Sprinkle parmesan on top.

Once you’re comfortable with the base recipe, modify it to suit your tastes. Layer in additional ingredients, such as:

  • Browned, ground hamburger
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Sliced fresh vegetables
  • Crushed garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the lasagna on low heat for 6-8 hours.

Crock Pot Pumpkin Pie

With a Crock Pot, it’s quick and easy to prepare a dessert for the whole family.

Put a 15-oune can of pumpkin into the bottom of the Crock Pot. Mix in 12 ounces of evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat two eggs and pour in two tablespoons of melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the pumpkin mix until you achieve a smooth texture.

Spice up the pumpkin with seasonings to taste. Consider cinnamon and nutmeg. At a minimum, stir in:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Two tablespoons pumpkin spice

Cook the pumpkin pie mix on low heat for up to four hours. Turn off the heat when a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Lighttraveler / Shutterstock.com

Lighttraveler / Shutterstock.com

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