Slow-cooking makes hearty and economical winter meals a snap to make, and I’ve shared two of my favorite recipes in my column, The Recipe Box, in the March issue of Direct Magazine. Investing a little time to do some advance prep the evening before allows you to quickly combine everything to cook in the morning. Your reward? Delicious dinners waiting for you at the end of the day, with plenty left for quick meals through the week!
Super Simple Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Chicken and Slow Cooker Taco Soup are both so easy, so delicious, and perfect for dinner on evenings that are still a bit chilly even as the days are beginning to warm up.
Leftover soup makes a terrific lunch, and it freezes really well so if there are only two of you at home, this recipe makes enough for you to have that lunch or a second dinner and freeze a container for another time. If I’m going to be pressed for time in the morning, I’ll brown the onion and cook the meat the night before and refrigerate it, so that in the morning I can literally just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a good stir, and forget about it until dinner. (You can also make the soup completely a day or two ahead; cool and refrigerate, then reheat it in the slow cooker. This gives all the flavors a chance to meld – like chili – and it will taste even better!)
The soup is deliciously warming, and you can use a spicier taco seasoning (and throw in some roasted jalapeno peppers) if you want even more heat. Shredded cheese, sour cream and avocado or guacamole and fresh cilantro are excellent toppers to serve with it, and although tortilla chips are good, I think Fritos Corn Chips are the best accompaniment (not being sponsored by Fritos, they’re just my favorite for this dish!).
Lemon Herb Chicken couldn’t be easier. Garlic cloves and sliced onions are placed on the bottom of the slow cooker, and the whole chicken goes on top. Salt, and pepper all over the outside and inside, with a little onion and lemon in the cavity (be sure you remove the giblet packet before cooking!), and herbs over the top ensure you’ll have great flavor throughout.
It smells divine as it cooks – so homey and comforting! The meat will literally fall off the bone, so you don’t have to worry about a fancy carving job. Leftovers make great quesadillas and chicken salad, or add shredded chicken to soups and green salads.
Chicken that is made in the slow cooker doesn’t brown like chicken roasted in the oven; if you really want that lovely color you can carefully lift the chicken out of the slow cooker and place it on a baking sheet, then under the broiler for a couple of minutes. (You probably won’t get the chicken out in one piece but do your best to place the pieces skin-side up on the baking sheet.
Another tip: strain the cooking liquid into a container and refrigerate. Remove the fat from the top, and you can use the liquid in cooking as you would broth or stock. Be sure to taste your dish before adding additional salt and seasonings, since you’ve already got lots in the liquid. Roasted potatoes are a wonderful side dish with the chicken – rice is good too, and fresh vegetables or salad. Don’t forget to save the wishbone, and enjoy, y’all!!
I love to cook comfort food. I’ll make fish and vegetables or meat and vegetables and potatoes or rice. The ritual of it is fun for me, and the creativity of it. Reese Witherspoon
- 1 5-6 lb. whole roasting chicken
- *2 yellow onions, sliced in rings
- *2 lemons, washed and cut into wedges
- *6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 cup low salt/unsalted chicken stock
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Herbs de Provence
- *Prepare in advance and store in airtight container in refrigerator.
- Set a 6-7 quart crock-pot/slow cooker on low heat.
- Remove neck and giblets from the inside of the chicken, rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat dry.
- Place onions on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place the chicken on top of the onions.
- Sprinkle Kosher salt and pepper all over chicken, inside and out.
- Place half the lemon wedges inside the chicken, and place the remaining wedges in slow-cooker.
- Place 3 cloves of garlic inside the chicken and place the rest on top of the onions.
- Pour the chicken stock over.
- Crush the dried Herbs de Provence between your hands as you sprinkle it over the chicken.
- Cover and cook on low approximately 7 hours, or high 5-6 hours.
- Remove and slice the meat. Serve with the onions (optional) and roasted potatoes.
- Strain the cooking juices and chill, then remove the fat from the top. Store in the refrigerator and use as you would chicken stock or broth (taste your dish before adding additional salt and seasonings since there is already some in the liquid).
- 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cans chili beans (no meat), with sauce
- 1 14 oz, can of corn, with liquid
- 1 14 oz. can black beans or kidney beans
- 1 28 oz. can tomato puree, with juices
- 1 package taco seasoning mix
- 1 package Ranch Dressing mix
- 1 ½ cups water (add more if you desire a thinner soup)
- Shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro
- Tortilla or corn chips
- In a 6-7 quart crock pot/slow-cooker, combine chili beans, corn, black/kidney beans, tomato puree, taco seasoning and ranch dressing.
- *In a large pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they are translucent, approximately 5 minutes; add to slow-cooker.
- *Add ground beef to the pan and sauté until the meat is cooked through, drain fat and add to the slow-cooker.
- Stir well, cover and cook on low 5 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.
- Serve in bowls topped with grated cheese, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and tortilla/corn chips alongside.
- *Cook in advance; cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator. You can also make the soup completely in advance and reheat in the slow cooker.