Category Archives: Slow Cooker

Slow Cooked Lamb and Mascarpone Polenta

Lamb and Mascarpone Polenta

Yesterday morning Bruce and I made the decision to spend our Memorial Day afternoon down at the river.  By mid day, we were on our way to the 53rd annual Boatnik Memorial Day Celebration on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon.  Before we headed out the door, I had a pound of fresh Oregon free range lamb that I tossed in the slow cooker to cook low and slow for an easy dinner when we got back home.

If you don’t own a slow cooker, I highly suggest that you go out and get one.  Slow cookers are perfect for busy people such as Bruce and myself.  They are inexpensive to buy and really easy to use.  Just toss in your ingredients, plug it in, disappear for a few hours, and when you get back, dinner will be nearly done!

In all the years that I have lived in Oregon, I never once attended Boatnik…  I am now asking myself what the heck was I thinking?  Boatnik is three days of carnival rides, food, boat races and tons of family fun!

Bruce and I found a shady spot under a tree along the river with a great view of the jet boat race.  The weather was perfect and we sat right before the finish line.  We ate our lunch and watched the jet boats fly by on the surface of the water.

These little jet boats go crazy fast!  During one part of the race, a boat driver caught a bit too much air and crashed his boat.  Fortunately, he’s doing okay.

What fun!  I really want one…  I’m quite positive that Bruce would say nope, uh-uh, no way, no how, not happening Tess…  Oh well, I’m not gonna argue.  I know when to save my bullets :).

By the time we got home, we had tender lamb waiting for us in the slow cooker.  I added a splash of white wine, some flour to thicken the sauce, prepared the mascarpone polenta, picked lettuce for the green salad and less than an hour later, dinner was ready.   It was simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Slow Cooked Lamb Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lamb stew meat (I used local Oregon free range)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 white wine
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 2 tsp garlic paste

Begin by grabbing a nonstick fry pan.  Place on stove and heat to medium high heat.  Add lamb, onion and canola oil.  Cook until lamb is golden brown and the onion is cooked.  Add mixture to slow cooker.  Add black pepper, seasoning salt, thyme, 1 cup water, and 1 chicken bouillon cube.  Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

When you get back, whisk together the 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 Tbs flour and 2 tsp garlic paste.  Add mixture to crock pot, give a quick stir and cover.  Cook for another half an hour or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  Meanwhile, prepare the Mascarpone Polenta…

Mascarpone Polenta Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2/3 cups polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

Grab a covered sauce pan and bring to water, salt and olive oil to a boil.  Add polenta and whisk to mix.  Cover, turn heat down to low and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally until polenta is cooked and thickened.  Stir in the mascarpone cheese.

Ladle hot polenta onto four plates or shallow bowls.  Divide lamb mixture and add to top of the mascarpone polenta.  Garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme.  Serve with a fresh green salad on the side.  Makes 4 servings.

Guava Chicken


Guava Chicken

My son called me the other day just to gently point out to me that I did not live up to my promise to post easy recipes that he could make in his slow cooker while he studying at the university.   During our conversation he asked me to come up with something Asian inspired that he can toss together quickly and serve with jasmine rice.  My slow cooker Guava Chicken is just the ticket.  It’s easy to make, tender and flavorful.  Not to mention, I assembled the ingredients in about 10 minutes.

My slow cooked Guava Chicken is made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, guava jelly, Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, garlic and rice vinegar.  It’s sweet, tangy and has just the right amount of spice.  Next time you find some guava jelly at your favorite grocery store, buy some and make this.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup guava jelly
  • 1/4 cup Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chives

In a slow cooker, add the chicken.  In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the garnishes.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Cover and cook on low for about 4-6 hours or until fork tender.  Taste your seasonings, correct and serve with fluffy jasmine rice.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chives.  Serves about 4.

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Lentil Chicken Sausage Soup

Technically it’s spring here in Southern Oregon. The operative word is “technically”…  It did not feel like spring because today was just gray and rainy.  To add to the annoyance, Bruce and I were out of town over the weekend and when we came home late Monday, we were low on groceries.  We were out of milk, bread, and other basic necessities.  Missing key ingredients in my kitchen makes it tough to make a decent dinner for a busy weeknight.

Fortunately, I always keep lentils, yellow onions, chicken stock and fresh celery on hand.  I also had a half pound of fully cooked asiago cheese red pepper chicken sausages in my freezer.  Before I left for work early this morning, I snagged my little slow cooker from the cupboard, plugged it in, tossed in my ingredients, and turned it on low.  All in all, I spent about 10 minutes assembling dinner.  When I got home from work, I grabbed a couple of bowls, fished out the bay leaf and garnished the soup with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  It was simply delicious! It was ridiculously easy to make and I got two thumbs up from Bruce. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 cup lentils (picked over and rinsed)
  • 1/2 pound chicken sausage links (chopped)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt or to taste
  • water if necessary
  • garnish with grated Parmesan cheese

Grab a slow cooker.  Add all ingredients except for seasoning salt, water and garnishes.  Cook on low covered for 6 – 8 hours.  Add water if the soup is too thick for your liking.  Add seasoning salt.  Taste your soup and correct your seasonings.  Ladle up and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.  Makes about 4 servings.

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Lamb Chickpea Stew

Sometimes weekends are just as busy as weekdays.  Cleaning the house, yard work, and laundry often consumes my precious time off.  When I have a weekend like that I need to remember that I have a slow cooker tucked away in my cupboard.  Preparing a meal with a slow cooker is simple, saves time and tastes wonderful.  Just toss in the ingredients, cover, turn on low and disappear for about 6-8 hours.  Come back and dish up.  Easy…

My Indian inspired Lamb Chickpea Stew is satisfyingly simple and tastes fabulous.  It has tender bits of lamb, tasty chickpeas, and garam masala in a tomato spinach broth.  Garam masala is a North Indian spice blend made with cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and cardamon.  I found my garam masala in the spice section of my favorite grocery store.  Serve the Lamb Chickpea Stew with naan or with a scoop of basmati rice.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 3/4 pound lamb stew meat
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp garam masala spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh spinach

Begin by tossing all the ingredients in the slow cooker except the spinach.  Cook on low for about 6-8 hours or until the lamb is tender.  Add the spinach about 5-10 minutes before serving.  Cook until spinach has wilted.  Dish up and serve.  Makes 2 – 3 servings.

Mixed Bean Soup

Mixed Bean Soup

It’s been two weeks into 2012 and I am happy to say that I am doing a fairly good job of living up to my New Year’s expectation of being less wasteful in the kitchen.  Often times when I make soup from dried beans that I purchase in those little plastic bags, I have some leftover beans.  So, I keep a jar in my cupboard just for that purpose.  I toss the leftover dried beans into the jar and I give it a gentle shake to mix them up, taking care not to break the beans.

My little jar of mixed beans is proof that cooking a great bowl of soup is not rocket science.  Every time I make my mixed bean soup, it is not exactly the same as the last time and in fact may taste a bit different than the last time I made it depending on the mixture of the beans.  I say so what and who cares?  The point is to use what you have, make it taste great and be less wasteful.

I bet you may be wondering what’s currently in my mixed bean jar?   There are some black beans, pinto beans, brown lentils, great northern beans, split peas both green and yellow, lima beans, black eyed peas, garbanzos, and red beans.  After I shot this photo, I removed 2 cups of beans from this jar for my soup and  I then tossed in some Anasazi beans and lima beans for later use.

My recipe for Mixed Bean Soup is hearty, good for you and very easy to make.  You can use whatever mixture of dried beans you have on hand or if you want, you could buy a more expensive premixed blend of beans.  My Mixed Bean Soup has Italian style tomatoes, beef stock, onions, celery, carrots, oregano, basil, cumin, and I even tossed in a bit of leftover ham that was tucked away in my fridge.  You could even make this in a slow cooker if you would like.  Just toss in all the ingredients, place on low, cover, and walk away for about 8 hours.  Cooking time may vary depending on the type of beans that you use.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 cups dried mixed beans (picked over and soaked in water overnight)
  • 2 quarts of beef stock (use more if desired)
  • 1 – 28 ounce can of Italian style crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrot (chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped ham (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Place all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover, cook low and slow for about 2 hours or until beans are tender.  Stir occasionally. Be sure to taste the soup and correct your seasonings.  Dish up, garnish with parsley and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.  Can be frozen for later use.

Note: This is a really good recipe for busy college students.  It’s easy on the wallet and you can get a few good meals out of this…

Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne

Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne

Can you believe that I started my new year without any resolutions?  Nope, none, nothing, nada…  I have a tough time keeping resolutions.  Every year I say I have one, I am good for a few short months and then my bad habits creep right back up on me.  This year is different.  I decided that this year I am having “New Year’s Expectations”.  Expectations, I know I can do.  Expectations are attainable and having expectations is how I operate.

One of my expectations for 2012 is to be less wasteful in the kitchen.  Instead of buying expensive store bought vegetable and meat stocks, I will make my own.  It saves money and helps keep spoiled vegetables in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator to a minimum.  I also expect to be more creative with the use of leftovers.  That also saves money and valuable refrigerator space too.

Last night I made a gorgeous prime rib roast for New Year’s Day dinner.  I had a couple of pounds of the roast leftover in the refrigerator this morning.  Living up to my “new” expectations, I decided to make a Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne.  My Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne is made with leftover prime rib roast, cranberry beans, homemade beef stock (from the prime rib), onions, garlic, carrots (leftover too!), extra dark cocoa powder  and fragrant spices.  Top your bowl of Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne with fresh grated cheddar cheese, green onions and red bell pepper.  Makes about 2 quarts of chili or 8 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 cups dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1 pound leftover prime rib or roast beef cubed (fat removed)
  • 1 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock (0r more if needed)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbls. extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbls. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbls. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onion and chopped red pepper.

Begin by washing, picking over and soaking the cranberry beans in a bowl of water overnight.  Grab a large pot with a tight fitting lid.  On medium heat saute your onion, shallots and carrots in the olive oil.  Cook until onion is opaque.  Add soaked cranberry beans and the remaining ingredients with the exception of the garnishes. Cook for about 4 hours on very low or until beans are cooked to your liking.  Be sure to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally.  Taste the chili, correct your salt level, add additional stock if needed and ladle into bowls.  Garnish with shredded cheese, sliced green onions red pepper.  Note:  Go ahead and make this in your slow cooker.  About 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Creamy Split Pea Soup

Creamy Split Pea Soup

I love the holiday season and but this year has been one crazy busy year.  For the past month I have not been able to spend much time in my kitchen.  We attended holiday parties, hosted parties, wrapped gifts, decorated our home and we are all  so tired.  We really had a wonderful spending time with family and friends this holiday season.  However, the holidays are almost over and I am now looking forward to my normal routine.

Today was a lazy day.  I needed to take it easy and unwind before going back to work tomorrow.  We have no plans, no shopping, no going out, no nothing, nada…  As a result, I decided to make an easy pot of Creamy Split Pea Soup.  My recipe for Creamy Split Pea Soup is easy to make, delightfully creamy and is really good for you.  It has onions, celery, parsnips, coriander, cumin and a hint of smoked salt.  I even re-purposed a leftover veggie tray from a party last night and made some awesome homemade vegetable stock to use in my soup.  My creamy split pea soup is  perfect with a loaf of crusty french bread or a big chunk of homemade corn bread.  If there are any leftovers, I like to freeze it for a later date.  Enjoy! –  Tessa


  • 2 cups dried green split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (approximate)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped parsnips
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Begin by washing and picking over your split peas.  Add all the ingredients to a medium to large pot.  Cook on low for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours on the stove top or until the split peas are cooked.  You can also cook this in a slow cooker for 8 hours on the low setting or about 4 hours on high.  When the split peas are done remove the bay leaf and blend with a hand blender until smooth and creamy.  Taste your soup, correct your seasonings and dish up.  Garnish with chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika.  Makes about 2 quarts of creamy split pea soup.

Ras El Hanout Lentil Soup













Ras El Hanout Lentil Soup

A couple of weekends ago while visiting my son up at the University, I found at a local store an aromatic spice blend called Ras El Hanout.  I never heard of Ras El Hanout before until I read the recipe for “Fatima’s Lentils with Spiced Cured Pork Shoulder” at one of my favorite food blogs called Cooking in Sens.  I did a bit of poking around the web and found that Ras El Hanout is of North African origin (Moroccan) and literally means “top of the shop”.  I also learned that there are hundreds of variations of Ras El Hanout and there is really no one original recipe.  The Ras El Hanout that I purchased is a blend of ginger, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.  I am fairly confident that it wont take me long to figure out how to make a similar spice mix myself for use at a later date…

A couple of months back I promised my son I would post recipes using a slow cooker.  If you don’t already know, using a slow cooker for meal preparation is perfect for busy college students.  Just toss in the ingredients, turn on low, go study, come back about 7 hours later and dish up.  My son G (that really is his nickname) loves Indian and Asian inspired dishes and I am sure that he will like this simple recipe.   This easy slow cooker soup is made with lentils, carrots, onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock and the wonderfully exotic Ras El Hanout spice blend.   Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 cup dried lentils (picked over and washed well)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (12.5 ounce)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbls. Ras El Hanout
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste

Begin by picking over and washing the lentils well.  Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.  Put on low for 7-8 hours or 4 hours on high.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with your favorite naan or flat bread.  Makes about 2 quarts soup.

Ham and Lima Bean Soup













Ham and Lima Bean Soup

Last week after I bought my son a slow cooker I promised him that I would post simple recipes that he could make while studying at the university.  He has a rigorous class schedule and other activities that keep him busy throughout the day.  So, cooking dinner for himself may not be as convenient as he would like it to be.  My goal is to help him create dishes that are quick to pull together, fairly healthy and since he’s a college student, dishes that are easy on the wallet.  My recipe for Ham and Lima Bean Soup is satisfyingly simple and tastes fabulous with a slice of fresh baked cornbread or a crusty French roll.

My savory Ham and Lima Bean Soup is made with a smoked ham shank, lima beans, onions, celery, carrots, and spices.  If you can’t find smoked ham shanks at the store, it’s no big deal.  Feel free to substitute a cup of coarsely chopped ham or a small smoked ham hock.  If you are in a vegan mood, go ahead and omit the ham and use a good quality vegetable stock instead.  Makes about 4 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Oh, if you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t despair!  You can easily cook this on your stove top.  Just go low and slow.  Cook it tightly covered and keep an eye on it.  It will cook faster on the stove top than in the slow cooker.


  • 1 small ham shank
  • 8 ounces dried large lima beans (soaked in water overnight)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 celery stalk chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbls. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • seasoning salt to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Begin by chopping your vegetables and place them into the slow cooker.  Add the ham shank.  Drain and rinse your lima beans well and add to the slow cooker.  Add all the ingredients into the pot with the exception of the chopped parsley and seasoning salt.  Cook on low for about 7 hours or until the beans are tender (or on high for about 4 hours). Remove the ham shank from the pot and set aside to cool.  When cool enough to handle, use your clean fingers and pick all the ham from the bone.  Add the ham back to the soup and continue to cook a bit more or until the ham is heated through.  Toss out the ham bone or any inedible pieces.  Fish out your bay leaf, taste your soup and correct your salt level with the seasoning salt if necessary. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

Note:  The soup can be frozen and the recipe can be doubled.  Also, I have learned that not all slow cookers are created equal.  You may find that yours cooks faster or maybe even slower than my recipe describes.