Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili

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Do you hate beans but like chili? Do you like beans but also like chili that’s a little different? Do you like chili? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions then this chili is for you. It’s beanless and beefy and incredibly satisfying, which is good because though it may be spring SOMEWHERE, in Ottawa we’ve had some major flooding and on Monday it stopped raining enough to SNOW. ALL. DAY. So we kind of need something cockle-warming. This chili is adapted from one my parents found on the internet and printed out and that I stole off their fridge in Florida and smuggled across the border.

Slow Cooker Texas Beef Chili 1

Start with 2lbs cubed beef chuck or stewing beef, and huck that in a non-stick skillet on high to sear all the sides. Chuck the browned beef into a large slow-cooker pot.

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Next, add in 2 tablespoons Worcestershire (“wooster”) sauce, 1 cup beef broth, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Now, the recipe did not say to drain the tomatoes so I didn’t and I found my chili ended up a bit on the watery side (I also added twice as many tomatoes as the recipe asked for). I thickened the sauce with some cornstarch later on and it turned out super awesome, but I’ll leave it to your discretion to either drain the tomatoes or use a smaller can.

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Dice up the following: 1 white onion, 2 red bell peppers, 2 large carrots, 2 celery stalks, and a couple large green chilis. I used Anaheim chilis because they are huge and not too hot and I wanted to be able to feed this to LongJohn. Gather as well 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons paprika (ours is smoked), 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Chuck all that in the slow cooker.

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Don’t forget to give it a bit of a stir.

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Cook that sucker on low for 8-12 hours, or on high for about 6.

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Before serving, juice 1 lime and add the juice to the mix.

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Serve garnished with either grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, or chopped cilantro (or all of the above, who are we kidding?).

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Slow Cooker Dip Trio – Dessert!

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Basically, it’s cream cheese glazing for cinnamon buns, in a slow cooker. This is definitely a fun dip to make for parties, and there’s plenty to go around. We also served cut up fruit and there was a ton of sauce still left at the end. If you have a large slow cooker, follow the instructions in the original recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron for making the fondue in a separate container within the slow cooker. If you have a wee one, you can just plop all the ingredients straight in (as we did) and go from there.

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Start by grabbing a bowl and using it and an electric mixer to beat together 1 8oz package plain cream cheese (room temperature) and 1/2 cup butter (also room temperature) until mixed and fluffy.

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Tip in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat that up too.

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Then slowly add in 2 cups icing sugar and beat it (carefully) until fully combined.

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Dump that whole thing in your slow cooker and leave it on low, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

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When you’re ready to serve it, you probably want some cinnamon buns to go with it. If you don’t have any pastries handy, but want some, grab some of those rolls of pre-fab biscuits.  The Pie did not know that the rolls kind of exploded when you opened them, and even though I warned him in advance he was still startled by it, so exercise caution. Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray a muffin tin or two with cooking spray.

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Grab one of the biscuits from the tube and flatten it into an oval.

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Dip it first in melted butter, then in a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar.

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Plop.

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Roll the oval into a tube.

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Then roll the tube into a spiral. Give it a squeeze in the hopes that it will stay together.

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Plop the spiral into your muffin tin. For the record, the Pie made all the ugly ones.

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Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the rolls are golden and no longer gooey.

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Serve them hot with your fondue and a couple forks.

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And some napkins!

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Meals en Masse: Honey Chicken with Quinoa

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Here’s another quick-to-make slow-cooking easy-to-freeze recipe that is highly satisfying and adaptable (which I adapted, of course, from i heart naptime). You can use fresh or frozen chicken breasts in the recipe, which means that even if you didn’t plan ahead you’re still going to be just fine.

Honey Chicken 1

Take 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine are frozen) and plop them in the bottom of a slow cooker pot turned to low.

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Chop up 1 sweet onion into bite-sized pieces (the original recipe calls for onion powder but I think real onions are better).

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In a bowl, dollop 1 tablespoon olive oil, the equivalent of 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a bunch of ground pepper, as much as you like.

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Add to that as well 1/2 cup soy sauce and 3/4 cup honey and give it a good stirring.

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Pour the sauce over your chicken and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

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And if you happened to have additional chicken breasts, you can chuck those in a freezer bag with more onions and more sauce (I made the recipe in triplicate) and chuck those in the freezer for later.

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I realized just now that I wrote “April ’17” on these bags. I hope future me isn’t too sleep-deprived to think that they were made by an even more future-me.

The chicken is done when it falls apart on you.

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I decided to go whole hog and shredded it with a fork to expose all the chickeny bits to the sauce.

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I served it on top of a quinoa-bulgur blend that I cooked with just a little bit of lemon juice added to the water, a little bit of extra sauce, and garnished the whole thing with a pinch or two of white sesame seeds.

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Warm Vanilla Apple Cider

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When we were on vacation at the Landmark Inn in Cooperstown, they had warm apple cider from the Fly Creek Cider Mill simmering in a crock pot in the dining room all afternoon and it was heaven to come back to at the end of the day. Why not do it at home too? I modified this from a Martha Stewart recipe and it’s so easy I wonder why I don’t do it all the freaking time.

Warm Vanilla Apple Cider 1

I doubled the recipe to accommodate my massive family so don’t let the pictures scare you. Start with some apple cider of your choice. This stuff from Farm Boy doesn’t QUITE match up to the Fly Creek stuff but it’s pretty darned good. Tip about 6 cups apple cider into the bowl of your slow cooker and put it on low heat. You have the option to add some brown sugar to the mix, about 2 tablespoons. This cider is pretty sweet as it is, so I didn’t bother.

Warm Vanilla Apple Cider 2

Grab 2 whole nutmeg seeds and a vanilla bean. Split and scrape the bean and dump all that goodness into the pot and give it a good stirring. Leave it be. Do this first thing in the morning before, say, a lunch party, and just let it do its thing all morning while you do other more important things.

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When you’re ready to imbibe, whip up some heavy cream in a chilled bowl. Add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness. Scoop out all the solids in the slow cooker with a mesh spoon and ladle the delicious cider into a heat-proof mug. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you’re all set for amazing!

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Slow Cooker Dip Week: Buffalo Chicken Wing

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Finally, the middle dip!

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week. Today we’re making BUFFALO CHICKEN WING DIP.  This recipe may seem a little odd as a dip, but it works — trust me!

Drain a 10oz can of chunk chicken and break it up with your fork.  I think next time I make this I will use real roasted chicken instead.  But this still works.  Chuck the chunks in your 1.4qt slow cooker.

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Add in 1 8oz/250g package cream cheese. Pour in 1/2 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing.  I went with blue cheese.  Buffalo wings aren’t right without blue cheese.

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On top of that, pour in about 3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce.

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And then grate over that 3/4 cups cheddar cheese.

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Cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to melt everything together, and serve with everything you like to dip in dips!

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This would have been easier to stir if I had cubed the cream cheese first. Oops.

Slow Cooker Dip Week: Spinach and Artichoke

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP WITH BACON.  This dip, adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, is easy and fantastically tasty, and we halved it to fit in our 1/4qt slow cooker.

First, cook up a couple slices of bacon.  Drain those on paper towels and crumble them when they’re cool.

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Dice up about 1/2 a sweet onion and a few green onions, and chuck them in the bacon skillet with a little bit of the bacon fat and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

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Chuck those in your 1.4qt slow cooker when they’re ready to go.

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Roughly chop up the contents of a 14oz can of artichoke hearts and huck those in, as well as about half a drained 10oz box frozen spinach.

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Chop up a sweet bell pepper finely and chuck that in.

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Crumble up about 2oz blue cheese and pitch that in too, as well as 4oz package plain cream cheese (that’s half a block package).

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Add in as well as much minced garlic as you like, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and give the whole thing a good stir before covering and cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 hours, until everything is all melty and lovely.

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Stir in your crumbled bacon and you’re good to go.

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It’s the one on the right. Stay tuned for the middle dip on Friday!

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Slow Cooker Dip Week: Bacon Cheeseburger

As a thank you for babysitting Ruby one weekend, Cait gave me these three wee 1.4 qt crock pots as a wee present.

Dips Week 1

Apparently Ruby is more evil than she looks.

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For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making BACON CHEESEBURGER DIP.   This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker.

Start with 8 slices of your favourite bacon.

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Cook those up nice and crispy, then drain them on a paper towel.  When they’re cool enough, crumble them up with your fingers.  Save a few tablespoons for garnish later on.

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Then, with your pan still hot (and redolent of bacon), chuck in 1/2lb lean ground beef and cook that stuff up until it’s no longer pink.  Drain that sucker.

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Chuck the ground beef and your crumbled bacon into your 1.4qt slow cooker.  Turn it on to low.

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Grate up 1 cup cheddar cheese and chuck that in, as well as a 10oz can diced tomatoes, juice included.

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Cube up 1 8oz package plain cream cheese and add that in as well.

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Cover and cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until everything is hot and bubbly and melted together.

Slice up a few handfuls parsley and chuck that in for colour.

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We also sliced up some bell peppers for dippin’.  And crackers too.

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Garnish with your remaining crumbled bacon and serve (it’s the one on the left).  Stay tuned for the rest!

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