Great Crock-Pot Meals

Great Crock-Pot

Now that it's getting colder outside, you're looking forward to a nice, warm, hearty dinner that's ready when you get home. It's the perfect time of year to break out that crock-pot or slow-cooker to make a thick, beefy chili or a chunky vegetable stew. We've got some suggestions for great crock-pot meals that'll warm you up after a long, cold fall day. 

Meatballs

This is a versatile dish because you can customize it to taste. If you like a more tangy and fresh option, you can add ingredients like citrus dressing or lemon zest; if you like them more traditional, add tomatoes and cilantro. Just add the flavorings that you like to a bag of frozen meatballs, leave it in the crock-pot, and come back in a few hours after watching a movie or running errands.

One option is to make honey garlic meatballs. Mix together a quarter cup of honey, ketchup, and brown sugar, then add a few minced garlic cloves and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Pour the mixture over a bag of frozen meatballs and leave it on the crock-pot for four hours.

Lasagna

You don't just have to bake lasagna in the oven- you can make it in the crock-pot as well. It's a great, hearty family meal for those colder fall nights. Start by cooking a pound of ground beef round until it's no longer pink. Layer the bottom of the crock-pot with tomato sauce, then add a layer of frozen ravioli. Over top of the ravioli, add some ground mozzarella cheese. On top of the cheese, add a layer of beef. Continue adding layers until you've got your lasagna. This should be ready in about 4-6 hours.

Chicken

Chicken is a great option for the crock-pot because the slow cooking time allows the chicken to really soak up the flavor and moisture. Chicken is also such a versatile base: you can make anything from barbeque chicken to cacciatore. Or you can make a simple, inexpensive chicken and rice dish. Pour a few cans of vegetable stock or cream of chicken soup into the crock-pot, add your boneless skinless chicken breasts, and it'll be done in about 7-8 hours. Then mix the chicken with some rice and you've got a family dinner that everyone will love.

Beef Stew

This is the ultimate winter comfort food. While it has more ingredients and it takes slightly longer to make, you can cook a lot at one time and freeze it for later. Add chunks of potato, cooked beef, corn, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, onions, flour, celery, and beef broth into the crock-pot. The stew should be done in about 6-7 hours.

You can also add variations to the traditional beef stew. If you're a vegetarian, substitute tofu or soy for beef. Likewise, if you're not a fan of certain vegetables, you can substitute those in and out as well. Crock-pot stew gives you a wide range of options to slow-cook the foods you love in order to retain the moisture, flavor, and texture of a great autumn meal.

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