Sometimes you just want to throw food in the slow cooker and forget about it for 3 hours. If that food happens to be deliciously cheesy pasta then you are in luck! I have a brilliant recipe here for you that will provide sustenance and comfort on even the laziest of days!
1tbsp corn flour
1/2 tsp salt
~100g (2 cups) grated cheese
2 cups pasta (macaroni traditional, other pasta works just as well!)
3 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
Crunchy bacon bits
– Throw everything into the slow cooker except the bacon bits. (Try to do it in the same order as the ingredients list, at the very least keep the butter and the cornflour on the very bottom.)
– Turn the slow cooker on to High.
– Wait 3 hours, stirring it occasionally.
– Serve scattered with crunchy bacon bits!
When I first heard about the slow cooker method of cooking bread I was astounded. There was no way that would work, right? No way at all… I had to try it!
I am rather happy to report that it does, indeed, work! If you want a quick (slow), hands off way to get a loaf of sandwich bread on the table then this is a brilliant method! And it is quite a versatile one too. You can try it with breadbuns, flatbread, boules, anything really. Just remember to line the crock pot as otherwise it will stick to the bottom (trust me, I’ve made these mistakes so you don’t have to!) and also remember to get the bread out of the slow cooker once it has finished cooking or you will get soggy bread due to condensation. The only other issue is the anaemic look that this bread has… it’s not quite the glorious golden crust of home made bread. A grill or a blowtorch takes care of that one though! Just lightly toast the top of your loaf until you get the desired hue.
This bread is the answer to my issues with crisp, crunchy homemade bread. I am all for a cracking crust. Really, I am… except when I’m not. You know, when you really just want some worthless white bread for a soft sandwich, or your wisdom teeth are playing up and crunch is BAD! I know that supermarket loaves are filled with horrible things, but prior to this loaf I had never managed to create a delicious, soft crust in my home cooked bread. Now, I can finally get that delightfully squishy texture in the comfort of my own home!
Makes 1 2lb loaf
500g strong bread flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
300ml tepid water
– In a large mixing bowl place the flour, then on one side the yeast and the other the salt.
– Mix to combine then all and make a well in the centre.
– Add the oil and the water.
– Mix until it all comes together into a dough.
– Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
– (Alternatively, combine and knead using the dough hooks on a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer, whichever you prefer. For a truly hands off approach!)
– Shape your loaf and place in a tin (if using) or line the slow cooker. (Check before starting that your loaf tin will actually fit in the slow cooker!)
– Place the loaf in the slow cooker, pop on the lid and turn it up to high.
– Bake for 2 hours. This may well vary from slow cooker to slow cooker so check and if it’s not then just give it a bit longer. When the base sounds hollow, it’s done!
I love chilli. It’s such a comfort food. Especially when you get to load it up with cheese! Some weeks I know going in that work is going to kick my ass. So I try to be prepared. If I make a vat of chilli at the beginning of the week I know I have a home cooked meal ready and waiting for me whenever I make it home. The red meat is going to help me get through and give me a much needed iron boost and the veggies that are hidden in there mean that I’m not missing out on too many vitamins. All in all this chilli recipe is a real lifesaver. I love this mix of spices, if you don’t have smoked paprika in your arsenal I highly recommend it, it really adds an edge to the dishes you use it in. The chocolate is a nice little addition too, subtle but very worth it!
750g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 large pepper, finely chopped (I only used green to use the damned thing up! Nigella is right, they’re simply unripe!)
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
1 beef stock cube, crumbled
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
5tbsp tomato purée
1tbsp granulated sugar
50g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– I love slow cooking because the directions basically boil down to this: Throw everything but the kidney beans in a slow cooker, give it a stir and then put the lid on and leave overnight/through the day. 8 hours is what you’re aiming for.
– When you’re ready to eat it you add the kidney beans and leave for another 30 minutes. If you left it to cook overnight and switched it off during the day you can put it back on high with the kidney beans in there until it heats through.
– Serve with rice or nachos, creme fraiche and cheese!
For years I have read about Pulled Pork in American food blogs and seen it on cooking shows. I have always been inrrigued by the idea. It always looked and sounded delicious. One thing that stopped me, however, was that I was never sure about preparing that amount of pork. I mean, what if I didn’t actually like it! I live alone and have a small family so if I ended up with tonnes of pork no one liked it was going to be rather a large waste of time and money.
Then, I came across a small pork shoulder in Tesco that seemed perfect for my purposes. Small enough to fit in the small slow cooker and small enough that it would do as a meal for 4 not 5000! I immediately grabbed it and proceeded to research the best recipe online. I’m pretty happy with the recipe I pulled together from here and there. Some places simply suggested chucking a bottle of your favourite BBQ sauce in with the pork and cooking it that way but I don’t have a favourite BBQ sauce and that seemed like cheating a little bit! I wanted something I could tweak the spices for as I saw fit. This is the recipe I came up with.
I love that you can actually put this on in the morning and come back after work to find your house smelling of BBQ and dinner all but taken care of. That is my idea of a true slow cooker recipe! So often with recipes with cooking times of 3 hours or so I’ll be out at work when it would need to go on and I may as well just cook the thing the traditional way when I get home. This is so convenient and more than worth the lack of time and effort it takes!
Serves 4 (8 breadbuns)
1 small boneless pork shoulder (~400g)
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/4 cup tomato purée
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
– Put all of the ingredients except the pork in the slow cooker and give a little mix.
– Add the pork and nestle it in the sauce so it’s covered.
– Turn the slow cooker on to Low and cook for 8 hrs.
– Remove the pork from the slow cooker and put it in a bowl. Take 2 forks and ‘pull’ the meat apart with them until its all broken up.
– Turn the slow cooker up to high and add the meat back in.
– Leave it for another 30 minutes then serve in bread buns with crisps and pickles!