Crave: A slow morning
photo by: Stephanie Frey/Mother Earth News Photo
Preparing meals in a slow cooker is a great way to save time. Simply place your ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, cover it, and let it cook all day. When you get home that evening, supper is ready–and as an added bonus, using a slow cooker also makes cleanup a breeze.
Soups and meats are among the most popular meals prepared in the slow cooker. Tougher cuts of meat are often used, because the process of slow cooking makes them tender. Soups, on the other hand, don’t necessarily need to be slow cooked for the purpose of tenderizing, but more as a way to allow the flavors of the meat, vegetables, spices and herbs to meld.
Anytime is a great time to use the slow cooker, but this time of year is perfect for a couple of reasons. First, as the weather turns cooler, soups and stews just sound good, more than likely because they warm the body and soul, making them a go-to comfort food in fall and winter. And secondly, with all the hustle and bustle as you prepare for the upcoming holidays, the ease and simplicity of making meals in the slow cooker just might make life a little less stressful.
With those things in mind, we’ve gathered some recipes from our archives that were designed for the slow cooker. Enjoy!
Breakfast: The most important meal!
When you’re in the mood for breakfast, but you just don’t have time to fix it on a busy weekday morning, turn to your slow cooker. You can’t go wrong serving breakfast for supper.
Or, if you’d rather have breakfast for your morning meal, put everything in the slow cooker the evening before, and let it cook overnight.
French Toast Casserole
Yields 6 servings.
12 slices bread, torn into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cans (5 ounces each) evaporated milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
1. Spray a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle in the bread chunks.
2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and mix well. Pour over bread in slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours, without lifting the lid. Remove lid and continue cooking for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Serve hot with maple syrup.
Yields 6 servings.
6 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cheese, herbs, spices, cooked meat and fresh vegetables of choice
1. Spray a slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add cheese, herbs, spices, meats and vegetables, and blend thoroughly with a fork. Pour into slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until eggs are cooked through and veggies are tender. Stir every hour to help eggs cook evenly so they come out light and fluffy.
Biscuits & Gravy
For this recipe, you’ll want to make the gravy the day before you plan to serve the meal, and you’ll want to fix it on a day you’ll be around the house, because it requires a shorter cooking time. Yields 8 servings.
2 pounds pork sausage
4 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepared biscuit dough
1. Cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through, breaking it up into small crumbles with a fork as it cooks. Remove sausage from skillet, and set aside.
2. Add butter to drippings in skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow butter to melt, and then stir in flour, a little at a time, blending until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Once all the flour has been added, cook and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Slowly start adding milk, a little bit at a time, stirring constantly until gravy begins to thicken some. Continue adding the remaining milk, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sausage.
4. Transfer gravy to a bowl, and let it cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
5. The next day, spoon the gravy into a slow cooker.
6. Roll out biscuit dough, and cut into rounds. Place dough rounds over gravy in slow cooker, with the sides touching slightly, but not crowded. Cover the dough rounds with 2 or 3 paper towels to absorb some of the moisture, so the biscuits will cook through and won’t be doughy.
7. Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, or until biscuits are cooked through and golden brown. Check biscuits for doneness after 3 1⁄2 hours. If not done, continue checking every 15 minutes until they are.
— Recipes from Capper’s Farmer archives