Photo by Flora Westbrook
Winter ain’t over just yet! With possible snow still on the horizon, we’ve got you covered with these warm and comforting, kid-friendly meals you can easily make in the slow cooker. Dressing them up with some fresh herbs, bright citrus and other toppers, though, will help keep your sight on Spring (and please the adults in the room).
Place 1 pound (or more) boneless chicken thighs in the slow cooker with a generous sprinkling of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder, plus a pinch of salt and a 14.5-ounce can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (drained). Cook for 8 hours on low. Shred using two forks, stuff into tortillas, and bake them off with a bunch of cheese on top.
Dress it up: Chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) for crunch.
Place 1 pound ground beef (brown first, if possible), celery-carrots-onion mirepoix mix, garlic powder, 3 cups chicken broth or stock, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1 1/2 cups milk, 4 cups cubed potatoes, and 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Dress it up: Halved cherry tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, cooked chopped bacon or bacon bits for smokiness, and homemade croutons (toss day-old bread pieces with olive oil and dried herbs and bake in a 350ºF toaster oven for 15 minutes or so) for crunch.
Mac n’ Cheese
Place 1 pound uncooked, rinsed elbow pasta, 2 1/2 cups whole milk, 3 cups shredded cheddar or extra cheddar cheese, 4 ounces American (or other melty cheese) cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dry mustard powder in the slow cooker. Top with 1/2 a stick of cubed, unsalted butter and cook on low for 8 hours.
Dress it up: Steamed broccoli, grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, torn basil leaves, balsamic glaze (made by microwaving balsamic vinegar on 30% power in the microwave for 2 minutes), and a touch of panko breadcrumbs for crunch.
Place 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced yellow onion, a few garlic cloves, 4 cups chicken broth, 1/4 cup soy sauce, a touch of rice vinegar, a package of sliced mushrooms, and some minced ginger (or ground ginger) in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 hours. Remove chicken and add ramen noodles (from a few packages, discarding the chemical-laden seasoning) or Udon noodles. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes while you shred the chicken.
Dress it up: Soft- or hard-boiled egg, baby spinach leaves, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds, thinly sliced scallions, chopped fresh cilantro, Sriracha sauce or sliced jalapenos, peanuts (or almonds or cashews) for crunch.